Margarita Cupcakes

VanderCook’s graduate dean, Mrs. Rhodes, is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.  On top of that, she’s an amazing mentor to me both as a person and a professional.  She’s had a tough year and despite it all, she shows up at work every day committed to making a difference for our students.  I wanted to do something special for her birthday this past summer.

Fellow Bridgeport fans have probably been to Pancho Pistolas – a little mexican restaurant on 31st Street.  It’s a VanderCook fave, and Mrs. Rhodes loves a margarita from Panchos.  I decided to see if I could turn a margarita into a cupcake and turns out I can… with a little help from Brown Eyed Baker and my niece, Chloe.


  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 2 T. tequila
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Pour batter into muffin liners and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool and brush with tequila.


  • 1 c. unsalted butter
  • 2 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 2 T. tequila
  • pinch of salt

The frosting ingredients listed above are what Brown Eyed Baker used in her recipe.  After tasting it I added the zest of 2 limes, doubled the lime juice and tequila and added another 1/4 c. powdered sugar.  I also wanted to roll the edges of the cupcakes in clear Wilton sprinkles to make it look like salt, but my niece took matters into her own hands, turned the frosted cupcakes upside down and dunked them.  She told me, “This is much easier, Auntie Ame.”  She was so excited with her idea that we just let it roll.

So easy to make, and the decorating possibilities are endless.  Enjoy!


Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Buttercream Frosting

My boss, Kaye, is wonderful to me. It was her birthday last month and I wanted to make a special cake so I kind of combined a number of recipes and came up with this one. It was perfect. Not too sweet, and the bourbon smell… wonderful.


Prepare a boxed dark chocolate cake as directed, adding 1 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to batter. Bake as directed in 9-in. round cake pans. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then flip onto wire racks to cool. After completely cooled, slice cakes in half horizontally.


  • 2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. chopped pecans

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In separate bowl, combine butter, eggs and pumpkin; mix well. Slowly add dry ingredients and then chocolate chips and pecans. Grease and flour 2 9-in. cake pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and pour into cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then flip out onto wire racks to cool completely. Slice cakes in half horizontally.


  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 2 (16-oz.) bags powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c. milk (more to thin if needed)
  • 1/3 c. bourbon (I used Jack Daniels)
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. cocoa (don’t add until later)

Combine butter, powdered sugar, milk, bourbon and vanilla. Add cocoa once cake layers are stacked. (Also, I purchased the mini bottles of bourbon at the liquor store instead of buying a huge bottle – it only cost $3 instead of $15.)

Carefully layer alternating layers of dark chocolate and pumpkin cake, spreading a thin layer of frosting between each layer – staying 1/8-in. away from the edges. The cake will be 8 layers thick. Once the top layer is on, add cocoa to remaining frosting and frost cake.

I drizzled the cake with melted Dove dark chocolate.

I promise that if you try this, you will LOVE it! 🙂


Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Using the ingredients listed in my Dark Chocolate Raspberry Torte (see below), cupcakes can be made with the following changes:

  1. When you finish making your raspberry cream, put it into a large ziploc bag instead of a plastic container.
  2. Fill cupcake papers 2/3 of the way and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  3. Remove centers of cupcakes and let cool completely.  (I found an apple corer worked very well for this.)
  4. Once cupcakes are cool, cut very tiny corner off the ziploc bag and pipe raspberry cream into the holes in the middle of the cupcakes. (I did this on a cookie sheet and picked it up and dropped it 3 inches to make cream settle so I could add more.)
  5. Put frosting into a ziploc bag, cut very tiny corner off bag and spiral frosting from center around and around until top of cupcake is covered.  (Should look similar to a rose.)  Immediately place a fresh raspberry and mint sprig on top and sprinkle with pink and/or chocolate sprinkles.

Keep cupcakes in the refrigerator at all times.

IDEA: These would be very cute for a baby shower (if the baby is a girl) or a bridal shower brunch.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Torte

There is a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Torte that I make for special occasions.  My sister’s 25th birthday is tomorrow, which seems like a special occasion; however, she and her husband can’t eat an entire cake.  I decided to try turning it into cupcakes and, despite my doubts, it worked out VERY well!  They’re reminiscent of gourmet hostess cupcakes in fact!  This post will be the cake recipe and the next post will be the variations to make the cupcakes.

I made this for a co-workers birthday and it served about 18 people as made following the directions below.



  • 1 box dark chocolate cake mix
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Raspberry Cream:

  • 10 oz. frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 4 t. corn starch
  • 8 oz. whipping cream

Frosting & Garnish:

  • Dark chocolate frosting (You can use off-the-shelf or make it yourself)
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries

1.  Raspberry Cream:  put thawed raspberries and syrup into blender and blend until liquified.  Pour through fine strainer to remove seeds (mine is VERY tiny, so this step takes me about 20 minutes) and let juice drain into a saucepan.  Add sugar and cornstarch and bring to a boil on the stove.  Let boil about one minute or until sauce starts to thicken.  Remove from heat and leave in saucepan to cool (or put it in the freezer for 15 minutes).  Beat whipping cream in mixer until peaks form, scraping the sides occasionally.  Add cooled raspberry sauce and beat until mixture turns pink (make sure it’s cool or you’ll ruin the whipping cream).  Put in plastic container and refrigerate.

2.  Heat oven to 350-degrees.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans (DO NOT use cooking spray – disastrous results).  In large bowl, beat all cake ingredients except chocolate chips for about 2 minutes.  Add chocolate chips and beat for a few seconds.  Pour batter into pans.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool 15 minutes in pans and then flip cakes out of pans and put them on cooling racks to cool.

3.  Place first layer, top side down, on serving plate.  Spread light layer of frosting and light layer of raspberry cream and put on 2nd layer (top side up).  Poke drink skewers or long toothpicks through both layers to hold together until frosting and raspberry cream set.  Frost cake and let refrigerate.  Put additional raspberry cream and fresh raspberries on top and serve.


  • fold 1 1/2 c. fresh raspberries into cake batter
  • bake in a greased and floured 9×13
  • make it a single layer cake and freeze 2nd layer for later use (if you do this, only make 1/2 the raspberry cream)

Happy baking!  I hope you enjoy this one.