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On our recent trip to North Carolina, Andy and I discovered a wonderful new place to procure donuts when visiting his parents. Well…”discovered” might not be accurate, we actually learned about the chain from my brother in law; he and his wife had first encountered the chain when they were visiting the Outer Banks, and while we were all trying to find somewhere to go to dinner, he realized there were not one but two locations with in easy driving distance from our hotel. Donuts and adorable water fowl? I was definitely game for a trip.
I will admit I was a tiny bit trepidatious when we walked into this little shop. I know donuts are sugary and insipid, but this place was so damn pink and cheery. I’ve become a bit of a snob in my ripe old age, and I like my bakeries/restaurants a little more “small town local” and just this side of hipster-y. But we were already there and I was so tired at this point, so I figured “why the hell not”.
To give the place a fair shake, we ordered two of their pre-designed donuts (cinnamon sugar and blueberry pancake) and did two build your own (lemon blackberry & chocolate peanut butter). At this point, I got a little…well…pissy watching the two highschoolers haphazardly dumping toppings on our order and slapping our box together willy-nilly (I sound like such a grumpy old lady!), so by the time we got our order, I wasn’t even interested in trying the donuts and I put them in the back of our car so we could enjoy them as a road snack later… aka when I was in a better mood.
After all that, I’ll be damned if those donuts weren’t pretty freakin’ awesome. 5 out of 5 stars, would go again, highly recommend. We both liked the blueberry pancake the best, closely followed by the lemon blackberry. I am actually sad that this place is a 10 hour drive away. Oh well, holidays in the NC just got that much better.
The take away from this: I’m a mean old grumpy pants when I’m sleep deprived and under the weather, and I should always trust my brother in law when it comes to awesome places to eat.
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen these days. To be completely honest, I don’t usually put a whole lot of effort when it come to dinner during the week. A lot of open this bag and reheat this frozen entree type of thing. However, a couple friends of ours have recently become parents, and we’ve been taking meals to them a few times a week. Where I am unwilling to make the effort just for us, it’s a completely different story when it comes to someone else. Mostly I make dinner items that are easily microwaveable, but I’ve also been trying to throw in hand-sized baked goods that are easily consumed in between feedings and diaper changing. This weekend I decided to whip up some Cranberry Maple Muffins.
- After making the Apple Cider Muffins last month, I knew I’d have to overfill the cups to get the generously sized muffins (I think) most of us prefer. With that in mind, this recipe yielded 8 muffins instead of 12.
- I used real maple syrup (from Canada, no less), and if “maple” wasn’t in the title, no one would be able to tell it was an ingredient. It brought the needed sweetness, but if you want straight up awesome maple flavor? This is not the recipe for you.
- This is a personal preference, but without the maple flavor being noticeable, I thought these muffins needed something extra to round out the flavor. My vote would be for some sort of citrus.
This is the second recipe I have tried from Baked Occasions, an early birthday gift from Andy (you can find the first here), and I have to say that this book is definitively helping me push my baking skills a little farther. Of course I had to tweak the recipe just a tiny bit so I could make cupcakes instead of the recommended layer cake, but I think the integrity of the recipe is still intact.
- These cupcakes almost didn’t make it to the oven; I had a brain fart and used the wrong kind of flour (all purpose instead of cake). I got lucky and it didn’t seem to make much of a difference in this case, but there was that moment of “do I go ahead and bake it or do I throw it out?” Andy’s vote is always to bake anyway; he is more than happy to take care of any reject recipes that I don’t feel comfortable sending to my testers.
- I was a little concerned about how the flavors would blend (chocolate, cream cheese, sour cream, cinnamon), but it all came together wonderfully. So much so, that one of the testers said it was one of the best cupcakes he’d ever had.
- I chopped up the left over dark chocolate to sprinkle over the cupcakes; they were looking a little sad and unfinished even after they were frosted.
- My two biggest take-aways from the recipe are 1 – I need to bake with sour cream more, and 2 – chocolate cream cheese frosting is awesome 🙂
I have to tell you guys, I am embarrassingly proud of how well these cupcakes turned out. The frosting was sweet and very berry-y, the filling was fruity and tart, and the cake was so good I’d have eaten it without the frosting. Very rarely do I bake something and not want to tweak the recipe, but this was exactly what I wanted. Originally, I’d planned on making blackberry cupcakes for my birthday, but between office cake, desserts from friends, and special treats from my husband, there was no way I needed any additional baked goods. Now that birthday week is officially over, our kitchen is no longer stocked with an over abundance of sweets. Plus Easter. You have to have something special for Easter. The lime flavor addition was very last minute, but it completely made the cupcakes.
Ingredients and Directions:
- 1 box of Plisbury Classic White Cake
- 3 eggs
- 1 stick of melted butter
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tbsp lime zest
- Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake tins.
- Combine ingredients in large mixing bowl, mix until thoroughly incorporated.
- Fill cupcake liners 2/3rds full and bake 19-23 minutes.
- Allow cupcakes to completely cool before filling and frosting.
- 24 oz frozen blackberries
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- the juice from half a lime
- Combine sugar, blackberries and lime juice in a medium sauces pan and place over medium heat.
- As the berries start to release juice, reserve one cup of the juice (for the frosting), then continue to let the berries simmer and reduce until they reach a thin syrupy consistency (approximately 20-25 minutes).
- Allow the filling to cool before piping into cupcakes.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 all purpose flour
- 1 cup blackberry juice
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- the juice of half of a lime
- zest from one lime
- 3 sticks up butter cut into cubes
- Combine sugar, flour, cream and both juices in a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Whisk ingredients and allow them to cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the consistency of a soft pudding (roughly 10-15 minutes).
- Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and beat on high until cooled (6-8 minutes).
- Once mixture has cooled, reduce mixer speed to medium and start adding the butter a couple of cubes at a time until all the butter has been incorporated.
- Switch mixer back to high and whip frosting for 1-2 minutes.
To Build the Cupcakes
- Use a cupcake corer or a knife to cut a hole in the middle of each cooled cupcake.
- Fill the cavity with blackberry filling.
- Frost each cupcake and decorate however you like.