Maple Nut Cupcakes

If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that I’m a maple addict. I fell in love with maple everything when I was very young, and my obsession hasn’t abated with age. Today I indulged myself in the kitchen, and used almost an entire bottle of my beloved Mapleine. May I just say it smelled like heaven in here?

Not only did I make Maple Nut Cupcakes, I made maple crumbles and hard candy maple leaves for decoration. The cupcakes delighted me, because they came out extremely light and fluffy. The crumble was just as I expected, too. The leaves – those were a bit of a challenge. I know what NOT to do now, and can steer you in the right direction if you want to try making them.

If you like to lick cake beaters, you are going to love this batter. Seriously. It tastes just like maple nut ice cream, and is irresistible.

I used cream cheese frosting for these cupcakes, adding Mapleine (my favorite maple flavoring) to about a half cup of it for painting stripes in my pastry bag…giving the frosting some pretty brown accents when piped.

This recipe makes at least 36 cupcakes – maybe a few more. I have a tendency to fill my cupcake liners too full, giving my cupcakes that dreaded “muffin top” look. If you are more restrained, you’ll probably get 40 much more attractive cupcakes. The folded in egg whites are what make the cakes so light and tender, but also a little more delicate, so I recommend that you walk gently and avoid slamming doors while they are baking, just as a preventive measure.

Maple Nut Cupcakes
Makes 36-40
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavoring (more if you want a stronger maple flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3¼ cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and 2 cups of sugar together until very light.
  3. Separate eggs. Put whites in a small bowl and set aside. Add egg yolks to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
  4. Add maple flavoring and vanilla and beat well.
  5. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together twice.
  6. Combine the sour cream and milk. Stir well, but don't worry about getting all of the lumps out.
  7. Add approximately ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the batter and stir until combined. Add ⅓ of the sour cream/milk mixture and stir until combined. Repeat until all has been added and mixed.
  8. Stir in the walnuts.
  9. Beat the egg whites until foamy and slightly thickened. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently but thoroughly fold the egg whites into the batter.
  10. Spoon into lined cupcake pans, approximately ⅔ full.
  11. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
  12. Cool in the pans on a rack for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pans, letting the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.




Cream butter and sugar together

Cream butter and sugar together

Add egg yolks and flavorings

Add egg yolks and flavorings

Stir in walnuts

Stir in walnuts

Fold in egg whites

Fold in egg whites

Fill liners 2/3 full

Fill liners 2/3 full

8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pounds powdered sugar, divided (about 7 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until light and creamy.
Add salt, and gradually add 6 cups of powdered sugar, beating well.
Slowly add whipping cream, beating well for 1 minute.
Add additional powdered sugar if needed for desired piping texture.


maple nut cupcakes vertical

To make the Maple Crumble, all you need is a candy thermometer and pure maple syrup. I used Grade B organic syrup from Trader Joe’s for two reasons:

  1. Grade B maple syrup actually has a stronger maple flavor, which is a good thing in my book!
  2. My sister had just given me a bottle, so I didn’t have to go to town and buy some.

The recipe for making crumble is the same one you would use to make those lovely little Vermont maple candies that come out during the holidays. The pure-sugar-melt-in-your-mouth candies that many of us have overindulged in, making ourselves sick even after our parents warned us not to eat more than one or we’d be sorry. Whew. I feel better.

To make crumbles, you simply stir the mixture a little longer than you would if you were pouring it into molds. Spread out on a lightly buttered cookie sheet, it dries quickly and can be crumbled easily with your fingers. If you have any left over, it would be wonderful on hot cereal or mixed into a streusel topping for muffins!

1 cup pure Grade B maple syrup (don’t try using regular syrup – it won’t work!)

  • Lightly coat a baking sheet with butter.
  • Pour syrup into medium sauce pan (to give it room to foam) and turn heat between medium and medium-high.
  • Cook, stirring gently, until it reaches the soft ball stage – 235 F.
    Remove from heat immediately and allow the mixture to cool for 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir until the mixture begins to thicken. Spread onto the prepared pan. If it is too thick to spread evenly, cover with a piece of foil and press to flatten.
  • When dry and firm, crumble it with your fingers and keep in a airtight container until ready to use.
Syrup is at soft ball stage.

Syrup is at soft ball stage.

If too thick, cover with foil and press to flatten.

If too thick, cover with foil and press to flatten.


maple nut cupcakesHard candy leaves would have been easy if I’d had hard candy molds, but I had to improvise, using a small maple leaf cookie cutter. The recipe made a little more than I expected, so my candy was thicker than it should have been, making it hard to form the leaves. So…I learned how to get around that, and am passing it on to you.

You’ll need a small leaf-shaped cookie cutter, a large baking sheet with sides (think jelly roll pan) and a candy thermometer.

This recipe was slightly revised from a Taste of Home recipe.

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons Mapleine (or other maple flavoring)
a stick of butter for greasing the cookie cutter

    • Butter a large baking sheet with sides.
    • In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Turn your burner to a temperature between medium and medium-high. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.
    • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the candy thermometer reads 300 F. Immediately remove from heat.
    • When the bubbles have settled a bit, add maple flavoring. Stir well and pour into pan. Lift and drop pan several times to spread the candy. You may have to help spread it with a metal spatula.
    • Watch the candy carefully. Once it is beginning to firm, but is not yet hard, press the cookie cutter lightly into butter and then into the candy. Butter the cutter for each leaf. Once all of the leaves have been cut, go back over them with the cutter to make sure they are still cut clear through.
    • Once the candy is hard, carefully punch out the leaves. The extra candy can be eaten in broken pieces or crushed as a decoration for cookies or pastries.

      Too thick! Pan was too small, but you get the idea, right?

      Too thick! Pan was too small, but you get the idea, right?

Hard candy maple leaves

Hard candy maple leaves

The most important part of this post is the cake recipe. I loved eating mine without any frosting or decorations, which – with my sweet tooth – is saying a lot! Whether you use canned frosting, sprinkles from a jar, or jump through all the hoops above, what really matters is that cake. I think I’m in love!



Macadamia Nut Eyeballs

candy round upThere’s always something fun cooking with this crazy group of bloggers I hang out with. This month we’re challenging ourselves with Halloween candy. That could be taken two different directions – a recipe made with Halloween candy OR homemade Halloween candy. I opted for making my own, because…well…what’s creepier than eating eyeballs?

eyeballs on leaf watermark
These are so simple. A softened caramel is wrapped around a macadamia nut (you could use hazelnuts if you prefer) and then dipped in dark chocolate and white chocolate. A touch of red food coloring for blood vessels, and they’re ready to pile in a bowl for brave souls to grab.

Here’s what you’ll need:

This recipe gives you more than enough chocolate for dipping, because the chocolate needs to be deep enough for smooth results. If it thickens as you work, simply microwave it for 10 seconds and stir.

Macadamia Nut Eyeballs
12 chewy, crunchy, melty eyeballs...perfect to eat as-is or to decorate cupcakes or cookies.
  • 12 macadamia nuts
  • 12 caramels
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate (chips are okay)
  • 12 ounces white chocolate
  • 12 dark brown mini M&Ms, or chocolate chips
  • red food coloring for adding blood vessels to finished eyeballs
  1. Place 4 unwrapped caramels at a time on a small plate and microwave for 10 seconds to soften.
  2. Wrap one softened caramel at a time around a macadamia nut and roll in your hands to smooth into a round ball. Repeat until all nuts are covered.
  3. In a small bowl or a coffee mug (make sure the container is completely dry), melt the dark chocolate. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly. Repeat at 15 second intervals until chocolate is thoroughly melted. You may thin the chocolate by adding 1 teaspoon of shortening if desired.
  4. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  5. Using a fork or a special chocolate dipping tool, dip each ball in the chocolate. Tap well on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate and slide the ball onto the waxed paper. A toothpick can be useful to help slide the ball from the fork.
  6. Add a dark brown mini M&M or chocolate chip (pointy side down) to the top of each ball for a "pupil". For a really creepy look, use a red mini M&M.
  7. When all of the balls have been coated, move the baking sheet to the refrigerator for 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm.
  8. Melt the white chocolate in a clean, dry bowl or mug using the same method for melting the dark chocolate. Stir until just barely warm; if it is too warm it will melt the dark chocolate when dipping.
  9. Using a fork or chocolate dipper, dip each ball quickly in the white chocolate, almost to the top. This will leave a dark "iris" and the M&M "pupil" showing. Tap well and carefully slide the eyeball onto the baking sheet. Refrigerate until completely firm.
  10. With a toothpick dipped in red food coloring, make thin lines on the white part of the eyeball, creating blood vessels. Allow the food coloring to dry before serving.
  11. Enjoy!



Dip it in dark chocolate.

Dip it in dark chocolate.

Slide onto waxed paper.

Slide onto waxed paper.

Dipping in white chocolate, using my toothpick method.

Dipping in white chocolate, using my toothpick method. (See “Note” below.)

A variation on the theme. pupils!

A variation on the theme. pupils!

eyeballs watermark

NOTE: I have issues with dipping, lacking the coordination to do it without a great deal of sighing and swearing. So…instead of putting the M&M on the chocolate when it’s warm, I used a toothpick stuck where the “pupil” would eventually go to help guide the ball in and out of the white chocolate, a two-handed method. Then, once the completed eyeball was firm, I used a small paring knife to carve out a spot for the M&M. So…in case you don’t have the dipping knack either, that’s an alternate method. Just sayin’.

The alternate method, adding the pupil after the eyeball is firm.

My alternate method, adding the pupil after the eyeball is firm.

These little guys are awfully good. Certainly much better than they look! As long as you’re going to the trouble of making them, I’d make as many as you have the patience for. Trust me – they disappear quickly!

Here are the other fun Halloween candy recipes this group has created.

Tampa Cake Girl’s Snickers Overload Cheesecake.

Hun, What’s For Dinner’s No-Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pops.

Moore or Less Cooking Blog’s Chocolate Covered Caramel Popcorn Balls.

Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom’s Spider Crunch Bites.

Happy Halloween!

Fly on the Wall – Ahhhhhhctober Edition

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 13 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.fly1gifcropped

Ahhhhhhhhhhh…finally! It’s October and I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I still have some odds and ends to finish up – chores to be done before the snow flies – but things are slowing down and I’m able to spend more time playing in the kitchen. (Happy dance!)

I’ve baked some fall treats, much to The Man’s great satisfaction (garden and harvest make for a disappointing lack of “goodies”) but here’s something I’ve never made before! The smell of cinnamon, molasses, and oats was heavenly. Here’s what it looked like before I added the eggs, coconut oil, and molasses:

Mixing it up by hand in the big blue roasting pan.

Mixing it up by hand in the big blue roasting pan.

Want a closer look??

Um....are those...worms?

Um….are those…worms?

Wait a minute. I think there might be a little extra protein in this mixture! Maybe it won’t be so obvious when it’s baked?

Eeeeuw, no, they're still there. Just a little toasty now.

Eeeeuw, no, they’re still there. Just a little toasty now.

That’s okay – the ladies have no objection to their homemade “Flock Block”

So spoiled.

So spoiled.

There are lots of recipes on the internet for Flock Blocks – a nice treat for the girls, especially in the winter when they’re stuck inside a lot and get bored. I pretty much winged my recipe, and it worked really well. They love it! If anyone’s interested, here’s how I did it.

Flock Block
These flock blocks are a real treat for chickens. Don't be too generous with them though, or your girls won't eat their regular food. These aren't as hard as commercial flock blocks, and won't last as long, but you will feel good about the wholesome ingredients you use!
  • 4 cups scratch
  • 2 cups omega egg supplement
  • 4 cups 9 grain rolled cereal
  • 1 cup dried mealworms
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ½ cup crushed oyster shells
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil (or lard if you wish)
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a very large pan, mix all ingredients through the cayenne pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, molasses, peanut butter, and coconut oil together until thoroughly combined. Add to dry ingredients.
  4. Stir well, using your hands.
  5. If you are using disposable foil pans, there is no need to grease the pans first. Simply press the mixture firmly into the pan. If you are using regular pans (bread pans, cake pans, pie pans, etc.) I advise spraying or greasing the pan first. Really pack the mixture down in the pan!
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Without opening the oven door, turn the heat off and let the blocks sit in the oven overnight.
  7. This makes 6-8 large blocks. Wrap and freeze any that won't be used right away.


Realistically, I can justify the expense and effort by considering it a “last meal” for some of them. I refuse to feed 20 chickens through the cold winter when I’m only getting four eggs a day…mostly from the 7 young hens. I’m afraid it’s time to do something about this situation. I’m heading to the coast to visit a Facebook friend I’ve never met before (squeee!) the first week of November, and hopefully when I come back there will be chicken in the freezer. That’s all I’m going to say about that.fly1gifcropped

October is when I get the urge to stock up for winter. I don’t know why; we’ve never been snowed in more than a week or two, but I can’t fight the compulsion to stock the shelves!

My neighbor and I went to Costco (a 3 hour round trip) and I spent an obscene amount of money on baking supplies. Ninety pounds of flour. Brown sugar, white sugar, powdered sugar. Chocolate chips. Nuts. Vanilla. Yeast. Cinnamon. Yep – I’m ready for holiday baking! Oh yes, and I got coffee and some basic supplies. My husband almost peed himself when he looked in the back of her truck and realized that everything back there was OURS. Know the best part? I forgot some stuff and she and I are making another trip next week. My list grows daily.

That neighbor, Pam, is so much fun! We think a lot alike, which is possibly a little scary. She had Starz added to her TV just so that I could come over and watch Outlander. I’ve read the series of books a bazillion times, and was dying to see the TV series. Bless her heart! It is even worth risking a mauling by her attack turkey to get to go watch it with her…and believe me, that bad boy wants a piece of me!!! He paces back and forth in front of the screen door, giving me the evil eye while I’m inside her house, then “escorts” me to my car. I hide behind her and get pretty creative with my defensive moves. Next time I go over I’ll take my camera so you can see what I mean!fly1gifcropped

Where we live, “open range” means keeping our fences mended and our gates closed during late summer to keep unwanted cows out of the yard and garden. If you live in an open range area, it is your responsibility to keep ranging animals off of your property. If you are in a closed range area, it’s the animal’s owners who are responsible. Oddly, the road in front of the house is the dividing line. The people across the way are in open range. We are not. But…cows don’t know this, so we keep our fence closed when cows are on the move.

Most of the time.

I honestly don’t mind it when the cows visit. They look great grazing on our hill, and make me wish we owned a few. But cows leave a lot of runny piles of poop everywhere, and because I leave the orchard gate open so the chickens can free range, the temptation to gnaw on the apple trees is just too much for them. The Man left the gate open and the cows came in and helped themselves to apples. I’d already picked all I wanted, but went to shoo them out of the orchard anyhow. Out of six cows, five of them “shooed”. The other one stood his (yes, this one was a young steer) ground.

Being the tough (cough cough) gal that I am, I picked up the hose and swung it his way a few times. He looked bemused.
He was not impressed.
Daisy and Otis had no intention of herding this guy out, so I picked up Daisy’s ball and lobbed it at the steer. For the record, I throw like a girl.
He was still not impressed.
Daisy did chase the ball as it flew in his general direction, but that just made him kick up his heels a bit.
He was most definitely not impressed, nor was he amused.
So I went towards him, swinging my arms and yelling. I stomped my feet.
He stomped his back and came towards me…not quite what I had in mind.

He won. Pffft. Those apple trees needed pruning anyhow.
cow eating apple2

It was dark when The Man got home, and apparently he didn’t understand my predicament.

Him: “Did you lock up the chickens?”
Me: “NO! There were cows in there.”
Him: “Did you close the orchard gate?”
Me: Giving him the look. “NO! There were still cows in there.”
Him: “Did you close the chicken door?”
Me: “What part of “there were cows in there” don’t you understand?!”

This from a man who is afraid to put his hand in the nesting box to get an egg if there is a chicken in there. Pffft.fly1gifcropped

Even though I know better (I’m sure these sites are gathering critical information from me like what my favorite color is and what genre of music makes me want to dance) I can’t stop playing those stupid quizzes on Facebook. I can tell you that I know almost all of the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody, my favorite decade is the ’80s, and my nickname is “Sunshine”. I suck at music trivia (unless it’s old country lyrics), identifying books by their last lines, and have forgotten a lot of the old “Friends” episodes. I’m terrible at anything that has to do with history. I’m warm, caring, and should have been a chef. There’s more…way too much more. I think I need an intervention!fly1gifcropped

In case you’re worried that I might run out of pumpkin for fall recipes, I can assure you…there are lots more where these came from!pumpkins

The funny striped pumpkins are called “Lady Godiva” because they have naked seeds. – no shells. They pop a little like popcorn in the oven and are delicious. The pumpkin itself isn’t really worth eating, but the chickens and deer love it, so it’s not wasted. I harvested about 20 of these babies…and I’m thrilled. Such a yummy, healthy snack!

Lady Godiva seeds.

Lady Godiva seeds.


I’m very excited, because my sisters are coming to visit this weekend. One hasn’t been here in a couple of years, and the other has never seen the place. I warned them to leave their white gloves at home, but you know how that is, right? I have two days to get this place in shape. I’ve warned Lord Voldemort that if he comes this way he’ll be sleeping on a cot in the shop. We’re going to be looking at carousel after carousel of SLIDES. Slides from when we were young. And cute.  Sigh.  I should have lots of funny stories for you next month!fly1gifcropped

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In a Tornado
Stacy Sews and Schools
Just a Little Nutty
Menopausal Mother
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
The Momisodes
Follow Me Home
Crumpets and Bollocks
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Spatulas on Parade
Someone Else’s Genius
Battered Hope

Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake

apple-pecan-whiskey-cake-from-the-rowdy-bakerI’m one of those rare people who look forward to summer’s end. During the summer my time is stretched to the max between the garden, the house, visitors, and the blog; the thought of being free to play in the kitchen again is just heaven – like a kid bursting out of the classroom on the last day of school!

Of course, adding to my joy is the satisfaction of baking and cooking hearty cold weather foods. Right now I have a big basket of apples in my kitchen, so I used one to make a rich, dense, finger-licking Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake.

I’ve never been one to sneak tastes of cake batter (cookie dough is a different story) but after one taste of this batter, I was like a little kid with those beaters. I’m willing to risk salmonella for that batter any day! Besides, I use eggs from our own chickens, and I trust my girls implicitly.

I was going to leave the cake plain, but at the last minute I added a simple drizzle of glaze. I was in a tearing rush and didn’t beat it well enough, so you will see tiny little powdered sugar lumps where they do NOT belong. I’m sure you’ll plan your time better than I and mix it better…right?Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake watermark

This recipe has been husband AND neighbor approved!


Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 cup oil (I used peanut oil)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ½ cup whiskey (or you could substitute apple juice)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 1 cup peeled, cored, and chopped apple (about 1 average size apple)
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Set rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Sift together twice: the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom. Remove 2 tablespoons of flour mixture and toss it in a small bowl with the chopped apple. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, and molasses for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the whiskey and vanilla and beat well.
  5. Alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the buttermilk, adding one-third of each at a time. Beat on low with each addition, just until incorporated. Don't over beat!
  6. Fold in pecans and chopped apple.
  7. Grease and flour (or use a flour/oil combination spray like Baker's Joy) a bundt pan. Spoon batter evenly in pan an place in preheated oven.
  8. Bake for approximately 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  9. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn cake out to cool.
  10. This cake is delicious when served barely warm with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.

To make the glaze, combine 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons whiskey, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Mix together well. Slowly add milk until the glaze is the correct thickness for drizzling over the cake.

To make whipped cream to serve with the cake, beat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla (clear vanilla if you want the cream to be white) and beat until stiff peaks form.

There is no turning back now, you know; it’s officially fall and all of us “Foodies” will be inundating you with pumpkin, apple, maple, and cranberry recipes! Oooooh…and doughnuts. Maybe pumpkin apple maple cranberry doughnuts….