Cupcakes

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

aka Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Almond Ganache Filling and Coconut Buttercream

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I can’t even with these cupcakes! Just look at their adorableness! Now I haven’t discussed it much on the blog, but I am not a decorator. I love to bake and I love to cook, which is mostly because I really, really (did I say really?) love to eat. But I do not like trying to make my food look pretty. If it ends up looking nice in the end that’s just an added bonus. I do not have the patience for it, although one day I would like to learn how to decorate and style my baked goods and dishes better.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

In the meantime, I’m just a regular home baker trying to make the best tasting things I can dream up. Where I’m going with all this is that if I can make these cupcakes look this ridiculously adorable that means you can, too. As long as you’re armed with the right ingredients and the right tools then you will be good to go.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now, I’ve been so busy talking about the cute tree decorations that I haven’t even gotten to how amazing the cupcake tastes. I am obsessed with my Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes and my Chocolate Ganache so adding almonds and a coconut buttercream seemed like a fitting and delicious enhancement. The texture of the coconut buttercream is light and fluffy, while still being rich enough to stand up to the chocolate cupcake. You can adjust the intensity of the coconut flavoring based on your personal preference. That chocolate almond ganache is its usual swoon-worthy self amped up with chopped almonds to be the perfect molten surprise. Now have a bit of everything all together and yippee! Damn that’s good!

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

My favorite part about these cupcakes though are the reason I was inspired to make them: they remind me of my Babu. Everyone in my family has ceramic Christmas trees that my grandma painted. I know everyone in my family thinks about Babu everyday, but especially when they turn on their ceramic tree. They are decorated with little colored light “ornaments” and when they light up they remind me of everything that is wonderful and simple about Christmas. They make me think of family and tradition. I’m instantly transported to sitting with Babu at my parent’s house and putting in all the little lights while the smell of her cookies comes from the kitchen. Then suddenly we’re eating the cookies, making Christmas paper chains, putting ornaments on the tree, then snuggled in her bed reading our favorite Christmas stories. She even let me sing her Christmas carols and anyone who knows how, um, interesting, my singing voice is will know what a saint she was for that.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although I loved, and very much miss, our crazy Christmas mornings with all my aunts, uncles and cousins, one of my favorite Christmas mornings with Babu was when I was older. We were at my parents’ house for Christmas morning and since it was just my brother and me, who were both in high school, everyone was sleeping in before present-opening. Babu and I are early risers so the two of us sat by the tree in the still, quiet house and opened a couple of our presents for each other having our very own private mini Christmas morning. It is a memory I will cherish forever. So happy holidays and merry Christmas to all my friends, family and fellow food lovers! Take a moment, or two, throughout all the craziness to enjoy the little things that will mean so much to you for years to come.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Christmas Tree Cupcakes
 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
for the chocolate almond ganache
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1- 12 ounce bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped almonds, more or less depending on preference
for the coconut buttercream
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, more or less depending on preference
  • Additional sweetened shredded coconut for decoration
for the tree decorations
  • 24 pretzel sticks
  • ½ bag green candy melts
  • Nonpareils
Directions
for the cupcakes
  1. Make the Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes according to the instructions then let cool.
for the chocolate almond ganache
  1. Heat the cream over medium heat until steaming, stirring constantly.
  2. Once steaming, remove the cream from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir then let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the butter to the chocolate mixture then stir until smooth. You might have to return to the lowest heat possible while stirring to get it completely smooth.
  4. Add the chopped almonds and stir to combine. Let cool until only slightly warm (I'm not sure if the cooling is completely necessary, but I thought the hot ganache would seep into the cupcake).
for the coconut buttercream
  1. Beat the butter for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and fluffy, with an electric mixer.
  2. On low speed carefully add the sugar, milk and coconut extract and mix. If the frosting looks too thin slowly add some more powdered sugar, but I didn't need to for this recipe. Add the shredded coconut and stir well to combine.
  3. Spread or pipe a thin layer onto the top of the cupcake. You might find piping easier because of the open hole with the ganache. Top with some shredded coconut for a "snow" effect.
for the tree decorations
  1. Line two baking sheets with wax paper. Use a baking sheet with edges so the nonpareils don't go flying all over your kitchen. Place the pretzel sticks a few inches apart.
  2. Prep a pastry bag with a skinny round tip (I think I used a Wilton round tip #2). Heat the candy melts in a double boiler over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. Be sure not to overheat so the chocolate doesn't seize up. Carefully transfer to the pastry bag.
  3. Pipe the chocolate over each pretzel stick in the shape of the a tree. I made single zig-zag lines then went over them two more times. Start up a bit from the base of the pretzel stick so there's room to press the decoration into the cupcake. Do a couple then top with nonpareils or have a sprinkle elf help and sprinkle after you pipe (thanks, Matt!). Let sit at room temperature until firm then carefully pop off the wax paper. To place in the cupcakes I found it easiest to hold and press from the little bit of pretzel at the top - the chocolate is fragile and will break if you press it.
Notes
You can typically find candy melts (sometimes called chocolate or candy wafers) at your local craft store, such as Michaels or A.C. Moore.
This recipe makes enough ganache and buttercream for about 35 cupcakes so you will have leftover unless you make a double batch of cupcakes or reduce the ganache and buttercream recipes.

Chocolate almond ganache adapted from The Curvy Carrot.
Coconut buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart.
Chocolate tree inspiration from Just a Taste.

Rainbow Inside-Out Faux Hostess Hi-Hat Cupcakes & One Year Blogiversary!

Rainbow Inside-Out Faux Hostess Hi-Hat Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Today is an amazing day. It is Lemon & Mocha’s one year blogiversary! What is a blogiversary you ask? A blog anniversary, of course! It has been one year since I wrote my first ever post on this site.

Rainbow Inside-Out Faux Hostess Hi-Hat Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

For years I would hungrily read others’ food blogs eager to start my own and was always delighted when there would be some epic and exciting blogiversary post. I couldn’t wait to one day have my own blogiversary and here we are, how crazy is that?

Rainbow Inside-Out Faux Hostess Hi-Hat Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I cannot say enough to thank my family, friends, blog readers and hungry web browsers who have encouraged and supported me throughout this past year. For anyone who has ever shared Lemon & Mocha with a friend, made one of my recipes, liked a Facebook post, or simply let me know the photos made them hungry, I love you!

Rainbow Inside-Out Faux Hostess Hi-Hat Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Every single comment and e-mail is sure to make my day and brings even more joy to something I already love doing so much.

Rainbow Inside-Out Faux Hostess Hi-Hat Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Deserving of a very special thank you is Matt who has been by my side for every photo shoot, gorge session, kitchen melt-down (yes, there were quite a few of those), WordPress update and post edit. The amount of love and time he has put into Lemon & Mocha simply because he knows how much it means to me is remarkable; I am forever grateful and blessed!

Rainbow Inside-Out Faux Hostess Hi-Hat Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Here at Lemon & Mocha we are celebrating with something very exciting- this unbelievable recipe for rainbow inside-out faux Hostess hi-hat cupcakes. Whew, that was a mouthful, but the name says it all! Oh baby, these are out of this world! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, as well as previous posts on my Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes and chocolate ganache. Enjoy and thanks for visiting!

Rainbow Inside-Out Faux Hostess Hi-Hat Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Rainbow Inside-Out Faux Hostess Hi-Hat Cupcakes & One Year Blogiversary!
 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 24 chocolate cupcakes, chilled in the fridge
  • 18 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (2¼ sticks)
  • 4½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2¼ cups marshmallow creme (Fluff)
  • 4½ tablespoons heavy cream
  • Food coloring, if desired
  • 1 batch chocolate ganache, still warm and in the saucepan
Directions
  1. Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, marshmallow creme, and heavy cream with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer. Start slowly to make sure you don't coat your kitchen with powdered sugar then increase the speed to medium or medium-high. Continue to beat until the mixture is fluffy.
  2. If planning to make the cupcakes rainbow colored, divide the filling into 4 separate bowls. Dye each bowl of frosting a different color. I did green, blue, yellow and purple. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a wide round tip with 1 color of frosting. To frost the cupcakes I piped a circle rim around the edge of the cupcake then loosely filled in a thin layer so the top surface was covered. I then piped around in a circle slowly bringing the swirl inwards as it got higher and brought it to a point. After frosting place the cupcakes in the freezer and chill until the frosting is hardened. Continue with each color of frosting.
  3. Working with 2 cupcakes at a time, take the cupcakes out of the freezer. Tilt the saucepan with the ganache and dip the frosting portion of the cupcake into the ganache. Make sure the frosting is completely coated. Place the ganache-topped cupcakes in the fridge to chill then repeat with 2 more cupcakes. Keep chilled in the fridge until serving.

Frosting from The Curvy Carrot.

S’mores Cupcakes

Ever since coming across the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe I have been creating as many variations as my waistline can afford for me to make. I am determined to try every variety I can imagine. The reason all my cupcake creations tend to have this chocolate base is 1- chocolate is superior, 2- I still haven’t found a vanilla cupcake recipe I love and 3- the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe is just so, perfect, that I can’t imagine anything tasting any better.

So with that said, now that summer is approaching there is one dessert lingering on everyone’s mind: s’mores. Lemon & Mocha has brought you s’mores fudge and now, s’mores cupcakes. These photos were taken quite some time ago before Matt and I had our groove down and I hope to update them in the future, but I couldn’t wait any longer to post this face-stuffingly-delicious recipe.

Gooey marshmallow fluff oozes out of these cupcakes that are topped with chocolate ganache and a super fancy, but simple, graham-coated chocolate-dipped marshmallow. I definitely snuck a few of these on their own instead of topping all the cupcakes. :)

S'mores Cupcakes
 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh hot coffee
for the filling and toppings
  • 12 ounces Marshmallow Fluff
  • ½ cup heavy cream, optional
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 24 marshmallows
  • ⅓ cup graham crackers crumbs, divided
  • 1 cup chocolate ganache
Directions
for the cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together until combined. Line 2 cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Place a tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture into each wrapper and press to evenly cover the bottom of the wrapper. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Once the mixture is combined add the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Carefully stir in the hot coffee until well combined. The batter will be extremely liquidy.
  6. Pour the batter evenly between the 24 paper liners over the pressed graham cracker mixture. Bake on the middle rack of an oven for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with no batter on it.
  7. Completely cool cupcakes on a wire rack before filling and topping.
for the filling and toppings
  1. Line a baking sheet or firm cutting board narrow enough to fit in your fridge with wax or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Using a cupcake corer, apple corer, or knife create a large cavity in the center of each cupcake. Reserve the top of the removed cupcake piece. Fill the cavity with 1-2 tablespoons of Marshmallow Fluff. If the Fluff is too thick to handle, whip it with some heavy cream, a couple tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Place the top of the removed cupcake piece on top of the Fluff filling to seal the cupcake back up. Place the cupcakes in the fridge to chill.
  3. While the cupcakes are in the fridge melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler over medium heat. Once melted remove from the heat and stir in the vegetable oil until smooth. Dip half of each marshmallow in the chocolate and place on the prepared baking sheet or cutting board. Sprinkle the dipped marshmallows with graham cracker crumbs before the chocolate sets. Place in the fridge to harden.
  4. Remove the cupcakes from the fridge and carefully dip the top of each cupcake in the chocolate ganache to coat it. Place a chocolate dipped marshmallow on each cupcakes before the ganache sets. Sprinkle with the remaining graham cracker crumbs, place it in the fridge for the ganache to harden.

Cake from Foodess.

Black Forest Cupcakes

Ever since I discovered how simple it is to fill cupcakes I have become obsessed with creating multi-component mini cakes. The added layers of complexity take an already delicious treat from a “yum” moment to a “wow” moment. Or, if you’re lucky, a “wow-I-can’t-breath-because-I’m-too-busy-shoving-this-amazing-cupcake-in-my-mouth” moment.

When I was challenged with creating a cupcake rendition of the German classic Black Forest cake I set right to work. The essential makings of a Black Forest cake are chocolate cake, whipped cream and cherries. The chocolate cake aspect was easy as I already have my perfect chocolate cupcake recipe memorized. I decided to keep the filling simple by using pre-made cherry preserves to give me more time to focus on the whipped cream, but you can certainly make the cherry preserves yourself if you are feeling extra ambitious.

Before getting to the whipped cream topping I knew these cupcakes had to have a little something extra. Although the cupcakes are chocolate I wanted something additional since more chocolate is always better. The most delightful chocolate ganache was hardened on the top of each cupcake to create a wonderful hard shell to contrast the lightness of the fluffy frosting, while also helping cover up the incision marks from filling the cupcakes.

Then onto the final piece: the whipped cream. The whipped cream would have to be light and airy, while still being sturdy enough to act as a frosting for the cupcake. With a bit of tinkering I achieved the perfect texture and was soon piping it into my mouth. I mean onto the cupcakes. Topped with some shaved chocolate and a fresh cherry the Black Forest cupcakes were completed. When you make these cupcakes be sure to admire their beauty before serving them as they won’t last very long!

Black Forest Cupcakes
 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
  • 1 batch Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1½ cups cherry preserves
  • 1 cup chocolate ganache
  • 1 ounce chocolate
  • 24 cherries
for the frosting
  • 1 8-ounce package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
Directions
for the cupcakes
  1. Using a cupcake corer, apple corer, or knife create a large cavity in the center of each cupcake. Reserve the top of the removed cupcake piece. Fill the cavity with a tablespoon of the cherry preserves. Place the top of the removed cupcake piece on top of the cherry preserves to seal the cupcake back up. Place the cupcakes in the fridge to chill.
  2. Remove the cupcakes from the fridge and carefully pour chocolate ganache over the top of each cupcake to coat it. It’s okay if it doesn’t look pretty because it’s going to be topped with frosting. Place it in the fridge for the ganache to harden.
for the frosting
  1. Whip the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and lemon extract in a metal bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Transfer to medium bowl then chill in the fridge.
  2. Clean out the bowl of the stand mixer and chill with the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. Once the bowl has had a chance to chill, whip the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks start to form, but be sure not to over-beat the cream or it will break. Remove the bowl of cream cheese mixture from the fridge and gently fold in the whipped cream.
  3. Remove the ganache-topped cupcakes from the fridge. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a round thick tip with the frosting. Hold the pastry tip over the center of a cupcake and squeeze until a large dollop covers most of the cupcake. Using a microplane, shave some chocolate over the whipped cream frosting and top with a cherry. Repeat for the remaining cupcakes. Store in the fridge until serving.

Frosting adapted from allrecipes

April Fool’s Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

What can you say about the humble potato? They are a starchy vegetable, inexpensive and abundant. They may seem plain and boring, but once transformed into french fries, latkes, scalloped potatoes and gnocchi, well you know where I’m headed with this. Of course we can’t forget mashed potatoes. Imagine the most perfect mashed potatoes you’ve ever eaten. A creamy and smooth texture, a buttery and rich flavor and the perfect combination of seasonings. I bet 98% of people could eat a whole plate of those perfect mashed potatoes. The other 2% are either allergic to potatoes or delicious things. Now imagine those perfect mashed potatoes in a little individual serving to have all to yourself. Now imagine those perfect mashed potatoes are actually cupcakes. Wait, what?

Did I trick you? Maybe the title gave it away. Happy April Fool’s! These aren’t mashed potatoes at all, but pumpkin cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting and salted butter caramel sauce. Although now I kind of want mashed potatoes.

But put that thought out of your mind and switch gears to dessert. A perfectly spiced and moist dessert that will have you swooning. And your mind reeling because you thought it was a cup of mashed potatoes. That’s a melted yellow Starburst on top, not butter!

Even if you aren’t that into April Fool’s and silly pranks aren’t your thing, you still have to make these cupcakes. If you continue to frolic about your days without tasting this exact combination of pumpkin, cream cheese and caramel, I’ll have to weep for you every night. And I dislike crying, especially when I’m trying to eat cupcakes. So go ahead and make these sneaky treats!

April Fool's Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Salted Caramel Sauce
 
Yield: 14 cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the frosting
  • 5 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
for the caramel sauce
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ teaspoons coarse salt
for assembly
  • 14 yellow Starbursts
Directions
for the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Completely line one 12-cup muffin pan with foil cupcake liners and two cups of a second 12-cup muffin pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until combined. Add the pumpkin, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla and stir until combined.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined, making sure not to over-mix.
  5. Evenly spoon the batter into the lined cups. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack until frosting.
for the frosting
  1. Beat the cream cheese and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
for the caramel sauce
  1. In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook until the sugar is a rich golden brown, making sure to stir often.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in half of the cream. Be careful as the mixture may splatter.
  3. Once combined stir in the rest of the cream, the vanilla and the salt. If any lumps form slowly whisk the caramel sauce over low heat.
for assembly
  1. Spread the cream cheese frosting on the cupcakes, slightly mounding the frosting. Create a well in the center of the frosting with a small spoon. Place 1 Starburst at an angle in the well.
  2. Drizzle warm caramel into the frosting well until it fills up and spills over like gravy.
Notes
Leftover caramel sauce can be kept in the fridge for 2 weeks and reheated slowly in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.

Pumpkin cupcakes from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Cream cheese frosting slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats.
Salted butter caramel sauce from The Perfect Scoop.
Cupcake assembly from Hello, Cupcake!