Chocolate Cupcakes with Grand Marnier Icing

I gussied these chocolate cupcakes up for Halloween, creating pumpkins with little spiders lurking on them, but without the spiders they would be perfect for Thanksgiving – a real crowd-pleaser. Grand Marnier makes these an adult indulgence, of course, but you can always replace the liqueur with orange juice if you are feeding them to littles.

I’ll go with the booze, thank you very much.

I love Grand Marnier and usually splurge on a bottle every year. Mostly for baking, though a little occasionally makes its way into a small brandy snifter. Who can resist that? What amazing flavor it imparts to buttercream icing! It doesn’t take much, so you could just buy one or two of those mini bottles at the liquor store if your budget is tight, or go with a knock-off version.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Grand Marnier Icing
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Author:
Makes about 30 cupcakes Decorating them like pumpkins uses a lot of icing! If you choose to simply frost the cupcakes, you can cut the icing recipe in half.
Ingredients
  • CAKE:
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (I use a mixture of regular and extra dark)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup oil (I use peanut oil, but canola would be good too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup hot coffee
  • Grand Marnier for drizzling over cupcakes before icing (optional)
  • ICING:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons shortening
  • 9 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Orange food coloring (optional)
  • Chocolate slivers, green icing for decorating.
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder.
  3. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Beat well, scraping the bowl often.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition.
  5. Stir in the coffee until mixture is smooth.
  6. Fill cupcake liners a little more than half full, but no more than ⅔ full.
  7. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until top springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a rack.
  9. Once cool, you may want to poke inch-deep holes in the cupcake tops and drizzle each cupcake with ½ teaspoon Grand Marnier, letting it soak in through the holes.
  10. ICING: beat together the butter, shortening, and 2 cups of the powdered sugar until creamy.
  11. Add Grand Marnier, frozen orange juice, and cream. Beat until well combined.
  12. Add the remaining powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl often. Beat on high until fluffy, adjusting if necessary by adding more powdered sugar or cream to achieve a thick icing that will hold shape when piped.
  13. Add orange food coloring, if desired.
  14. With a pastry bag fitted with large round tip, pipe a mound in the middle of each cupcake. Starting at the base of the mound and working your way around the icing mound, pipe from bottom to top, releasing pressure on the pastry bag as you reach the top. Put a small sliver of chocolate in the center of the top for a stem and, if desired, use a small amount of green icing to add leaves.

Fill a little over halfway.

Poke holes with a skewer and drizzle with Grand Marnier.

Use large round tip to make a flat circle then center mound (like a witch’s hat). Or . . . just make a mound.

Pull icing up from the base of the circle to create a pumpkin.

Now just stick a little sliver of chocolate (or get creative: a pretzel stick, piece of Tootsie Roll, cacao nib, whatever) on top and, if you want, add a few leaves and curlicues with green icing and a tiny writing tip. I piped small spiders on mine with melted chocolate (because the crow requested them) but if you don’t want to get all crazy, you could just do this: 

Added bonus to taking this shortcut: you would only need half of the icing recipe for the pretty little floret. A drizzle of chocolate or a few sprinkles, and it’s a thing of beauty.
Enjoy!

Lorinda

Thanksgiving Treasures

Thanksgiving ideas from The Rowdy Baker

Thanksgiving ideas from The Rowdy Baker

When I was young, the anticipation of Thanksgiving was almost as exciting as that of Christmas. Thanksgiving was the beginning of the holiday season, but more than that, it was all about our family traditions and creating the warm memories that I still cherish today.

In elementary school I loved the songs we’d sing: “We Gather Together”,  “Come Ye Thankful People Come” “Over the River and Through the Woods”,  “Now Thank We All Our God”. (We were allowed to sing hymns in public school way back then.) My mother would sometimes make us torture entertain our guests with our wobbly renditions of these songs before dinner.thanksgiving songs

(Um, yes, I may have “forgotten” to return this book in 6th grade. I believe the statute of limitations applies here!)

We always had company, often foreign exchange students from the nearby college, grandparents, or any strays that my folks could coax into coming. The more the merrier! When we were very young, we’d hear my mom in the kitchen before it was light, preparing for the feast. As we got older, we were right there beside her, chopping celery and onions, and reaching our small hands into the (eeeeuwww) turkey cavity to pull out the neck and giblets that would go into her stuffing and gravy.

Crisp white linens, the good china and crystal (well, except at the “kids’ table”), candles, and the gravy boat were all placed carefully on the table. My father usually carved and served, and the wait was agonizing.

Now it’s my turn. Although I have my own style, I still produce the standard dishes…and then some. Beginning the week before Thanksgiving my kitchen becomes a whirlwind of flour that doesn’t settle until Christmas Eve.

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I’ve collected a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes together in one spot, each with a short description, photo, and link. Since this is a baking blog, I’ll leave the green bean casseroles and turkey to someone else and stick with rolls and desserts. Some are easy, some are more challenging. I hope you’ll find that all are festive and delicious.

Acorn Rolls in an edible cornucopia

Acorn Rolls cascade abundantly out of an edible cornucopia. Here’s a centerpiece for your table that won’t drop leaves, get knocked over, or block your view of the person across from you. Make a simple version or turn it into your own personal creative masterpiece.

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pumpkin cream cheese dessert edited

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dessert (aka: dump cake!) This dessert just may become a new tradition in your home. Warm, creamy, crunchy, and fragrant…this is seriously good. AND it has received more views on my blog than any other recipe. Ding-ding-ding…it’s a winner!

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pumpkin dinner rolls
Pumpkin Sandwich Bread makes beautiful dinner rolls, too. The pumpkin flavor is mild, making the rolls perfect for turkey sandwiches the next day.

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humble pie
Humble Pie is a pumpkin pie with pastry depictions of all the things you’re grateful for dancing around the top crust. This takes a bit of time, but you can always narrow it down to a few important choices if you’re short on time.

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caramel corn

Triple Trouble Caramel Corn, dumped in a pretty bowl, will keep the hungry hoards from sneaking into the kitchen to swipe olives, dinner rolls, and the bacon from the top of the turkey. (What? You don’t put bacon on top of your turkey? Oooh, you should try it. Just a few pieces draped over the top will baste your bird and add a little extra flavor.) This caramel corn can be made days ahead, which is always nice. It has bacon, maple, and pecans in it – perfect for Fall.

I have lots of cookie recipes that would be perfect for the occasion too, but I think I’ll save those for a separate post.

I guess this should have been named “Thanksgiving Carbs”, huh? Pfffft. Don’t think about that – just enjoy.

Lorinda

 

ABUNDANCE

 

164 - Thanksgiving Group PostSchool is in session, the weather changes, kids don costumes and it’s dark before dinner; all signs that holiday time is right around the corner. Before we know it plans are made, preparations have begun, and Thanksgiving is just weeks away.

Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion for ushering in the holiday season; it’s a time for stories, projects, cooking and sharing. That’s exactly what this post is about. I’ve linked up with 5 other bloggers, each sharing a piece of what the season has to offer. We have humor, thought, family projects and food.

I hope you’ll click on all the links below to see what we’ve all put together for you:
Home on Deranged has a family post about the first and last Thanksgiving spent with mom.
Kiss My List is sharing a simple but meaningful family craft project that does double duty as Thanksgiving decor.
Writer B is Me will share a humorous story about what happens when someone is asked to make the mashed potatoes one too many times.
Pink When shares a project you can display for Thanksgiving dinner and guests.
And Baking in a Tornado (the genius behind this group post) will share a recipe for that leftover turkey.

Blog7 036And I, of course, bring you dessert!

It’s so hard to leave room for dessert when your table is groaning with rich Thanksgiving food! My family always had a fairly late dinner, so we’d manage to tuck in a tiny slice of pumpkin pie after the meal, but serious damage to the pies had to wait for breakfast the next day. And oh, it tasted good the next morning.

As much as I love pumpkin pie, sometimes it’s nice to change things up a bit. Here is the dessert I’ll be serving this year instead of pie – Pumpkin Cake Roll with Butterscotch Cream Cheese Filling.

Pumpkin Cake Roll with Butterscotch Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Cake Roll with Butterscotch Cream Cheese Filling

Most people don’t frost cake rolls, but I wanted a whipped cream icing to lighten it up a bit. The leaves were made with white chocolate and a little food coloring. The Pumpkin Roll can be made ahead and frozen…just let it thaw for an hour and smother it with whipped cream before serving. If you don’t think it will be all be eaten right away, I would recommend that you use a non-dairy whipped topping or (my choice) stabilized whipped cream.

I believe this was the first cake I made from scratch. Had it not been foolproof, I probably would be using Duncan Hines mixes to this day – but it was so simple to make, I never looked back. My recipe is really old, and probably adapted from the original Libby Pumpkin Roll recipe. It calls for a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan. I don’t happen to have one, so I use a larger pan and spread mine a little thinner…and it works just fine!

Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling
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Author:
Serves 8-10
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ......................
  • BUTTERSCOTCH CREAM CHEESE ICING
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup powdered instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup (or more) chopped, toasted pecans
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Prepare a 15"x10" jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet with sides) by lining the bottom with waxed paper or parchment. Grease and flour the paper, or spray with an oil/flour spray like Baker's Joy.
  3. Beat eggs on high for 5 minutes.
  4. Beating continually, gradually add sugar.
  5. Add the pumpkin and lemon juice and mix until well combined.
  6. Sift together the dry ingredients and fold into pumpkin mixture.
  7. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan, and bake 12-15 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched.
  8. Coat a cotton dish towel generously with powdered sugar and turn the cake out onto the dish towel. Peel off the waxed paper or parchment.
  9. Starting from the short end, slowly roll cake and towel together. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely, approximately one hour.
  10. While the cake is cooling, make the butterscotch filling:
  11. In a medium bowl, combine the cream and pudding mix. Add the cream cheese and butter and mix together at medium-high speed. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.
  12. Unroll the chilled cake carefully. Spread with filling and roll it back up (without the towel this time, of course.) Refrigerate at least one hour.
  13. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or ice with sweetened whipped cream and serve.

 

Folding in the dry ingredients.

Folding together.

Spreading the batter.

Spreading the batter.

Roll up cake AND towel!

Roll up cake AND towel!

Add filling and pecans.

Add filling and pecans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make the white chocolate leaves, melt white baking chocolate (if you have candy melts, they’d probably be a lot easier to work with) in three bowls, with just a little bit of chocolate in two of them. Add green and orange Wilton candy coloring to the two small bowls. Note: chocolate does NOT like water, so regular coloring can make it seize up. Use powdered or oil based food coloring! Melt a small amount of dark chocolate in another small bowl if you wish. Put the melted white chocolate on a waxed paper covered baking sheet, drizzle it with the colored and dark chocolate, and spread it out thinly with a spatula, with as few strokes as possible.

Let it harden at room temperature and then cut leaf shapes with cookie cutters. Cut more leaves than you think you’ll need – a lot of them may break! Move the entire sheet to the refrigerator and let it harden completely. Separate each leaf carefully with a small spatula. If you want to shape the leaves, put each one on a square of waxed paper, melt in the microwave for 2-3 second intervals until the leaf is flexible, and shape by draping over scrunched up foil or a spoon handle, or by setting it in a small custard bowl. Chill again and place on cake.

Ready to melt

Ready to melt

Mixture of white chocolate colors.

Mixture of white chocolate colors.

Cutting out chocolate leaves

Cutting out chocolate leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too much trouble for you? One word: SPRINKLES. Everyone loves sprinkles.

From my kitchen to yours, have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving!