Tag Archives: cream cheese

Chocolate Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting

For Christmas, I was going to make the kids in my life crayons out of the letters of their names.  I purchased what I thought was an oven-ready mold, but when it arrived it was a tiny, plastic, chocolate mold.  My mistake, but rather than resell it I thought I would utilize the chocolate mold by making alphabet suckers in primary colors for Tommy’s 1st birthday party.


After a series of unfortunate events, such as me forgetting to spray the mold before placing what turned out to be too soft of chocolate in, I pushed my hand through the plastic breaking the alphabet into an uneven half. (Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the bloody picture). But, I was still able to utilize the yellow melted chocolate on top of the cupcake frosting.

To make the cupcakes:

To make the frosting:

  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 fresh juice from lemon
  • Food coloring

To make the chocolate:

  • 1/4 bag white chocolate chips (a pricier brand, like Ghirardelli, will taste best)
  • 1 Tbsp. whole milk
  • Food coloring

Start by making the cake.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a mixing bowl, blend together cake mix, almond extract, oil, water, and eggs using an electric hand mixer.  Whirl around until smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Add in the chocolate chips and fold over with a spoon until they are well dispersed into the batter.

I chose to make mini cupcakes with mini, white paper cups.  If you are cooking these for yourself, you can eliminate the paper cups by spraying or Criscoing the muffin tin.  Fill each cup about 3/4 from the top. They will rise in the oven.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. To check if they are ready, simply stick a wooden toothpick in the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, they are done. If it has batter on it, they need more time in the oven.

In the meantime, you can start the frosting. With a clean electric hand mixer and bowl, combine together the cream cheese, lemon juice, whole milk, vanilla, butter and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar. 

 Blend on medium speed until smooth, approximately 3-5 minutes, slowly adding in more powdered sugar, section by section, until you’ve used 1 1/2 cups (more if you like it a little stiffer for accurate piping, less if you like your frosting on the soft side). 

Finally, add in your favorite food coloring color (or multiple to make such colors as purple or orange).  I chose blue, using maybe 20 drops for a deeper hue.

Now is a good time to make the chocolate letters.  To make a double boiler, simply add in an inch of water to a large pan. Bring the water to a boil and place a smaller pan filled with your chocolate ingredients on the inside. Again, pick your favorite color to dye the white chocolate chips. Stir constantly, until the chocolate is melted enough to spread.  This method is a fool-proof way of not burning the chocolate. 

On parchment paper, create your letters by hand using a toothpick or small spoon.  Stick the parchment paper into the freezer for 10-15 minutes.


When your cupcakes are cool, frost them using a spoon, piping bag, or, like me, a cookie press that also serves as a frosting gun.

Pull the chocolate letters out and immediately peel them from the paper. If you take too long, stick them back in the freezer for 5 minutes and finish the remaining letters then stick them into your frosted cupcakes. 

Though my friend was excited for chocolate suckers, as someone else also brought cupcakes to the party, these minis were delicious and easy to pop in your mouth without feeling guilty after a high-fat, filling dinner of Portillo’s Beef Sandwiches.  I personally enjoy minis because they not only look cute; you feel you can eat more because of the size. This isn’t necessarily true, but comforting during the process.

The addition of lemon and vanilla into the cream cheese frosting was my personal favorite.  It was subtle, not overwhelming, but noticeably different in comparison to previous cream cheese frosting recipes.  The almond extract in the chocolate was almost invisible, so feel free to add in another teaspoon, but the chocolate chips definitely initiated a heavier cupcake.  They melted leaving little pockets of condensed, smooth chocolate.  Finally, the chocolate letters were a fun addition, clearly stating the purpose of the cupcakes (“Happy 1st Birthday Tommy”), that people could take off and eat.  Next time I will arrange to take more time on this part so each letter is consistent and easy to read.

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Spice Cake Drenched in Cream Cheese Frosting

I obtained this recipe, after suffering its wonderous, moist, frosted phenomenon, from old family friends.  They deserve credit for this amazing cake I continue to make at least once a year. It’s perfect for that rich, Christmas or Thanksgiving dessert you were assigned to bring to the party.

For the cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream (cream cheese substitution is okay)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 heaping tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 heaping tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 heaping tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 eggs

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Start by preheating the oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.  Grease and flour either a 13″ x 9″, 2 round cake pans, or a bundt cake pan (these would also make excellent cupcakes). 

Beat all ingredients with a hand mixer on low for 30 seconds.image  Beat for a remaining 3 minutes on high.image

Pour batter into your pan.  imageBake for approximately 40-45 minutes for a rectangular pan or 30-35 minutes for the round pans or bundt cake.  When a toothpick comes out of the center clean, the cake is finished cooking.

While the cake is cooling, whip up the frosting.image In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, milk and vanilla together on low-speed with a hand mixer until smooth. image In doses of about one cup, add in the powdered sugar. image Cream together until frosting is smooth and spreadable. image

Spread cream cheese frosting over cake. Enjoy.image

I doubted the fridge’s holding of unexpired sour cream, and used cream cheese in the cake instead only to find out the next day we had not one, but TWO fresh cartons of sour cream. Whoops. The only difference I noticed was the dense cake was less moist than its sour cream compromised counter-part.  It was still enticing, then again, what, covered in cream cheese frosting, wouldn’t be?

I made a mini sampler size for taste testing, just in case the cake didn’t turn out using cream cheese inside the cake. Andrew refused to touch it, so I gave it to my mom and Dave first. They all agreed it was well-prepared and delectable, despite my impatience for both the trip to the store to buy sour cream and to allow the oven to fully heat up to 300 degrees Farenheit.

The spices remind me of sipping on a gingerbread latte from Starbucks, or slurping up some Pumpkin Black Bean Soup (minus the cayenne), not to mention it makes the whole house smell like a lit Yankee Candle.  Each bite is dribbled in luscious cream-colored gobs of icing.

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Parmigiano Reggiano Spinach Artichoke Dip

I was on appetizer and wine duty this Thanksgiving.  Despite my efforts to narrow it down to just one appetizer, I was only able to diminish myself to two.  This hot, cheesy dip is perfect for the vegetarian in the group to chow down on before the rest of the Turkey day meat lovers stuff their bellies with turkey, ham, gravy, stuffing and bacon-infused green bean casserole.

Inside the pie dish, you’ll need:

  • 1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 14 oz. artichoke hearts,  drained and chopped
  • 1/2 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup light mayo
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp. sriracha
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or just Parmesan)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.


Start by mixing together the creamy, liquid ingredients like the cheeses, mayo, sriracha, sour cream and garlic.

The sriracha gives the combo a vibrant pinkish, orange color.


Next, add in the drained spinach and artichokes.

Pour your light green  concoction into a baking dish.


I chose to use a glass pie dish for display purposes, but you can use an 8″ x 8″ square pan or any other dish.

Bake in the center of oven for 20-40 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown and bubble.

Serve with Hint of Pepperjack Tostitos, multi-grain crackers or Pepperidge Farm Cheese Crisps.

This dip, best served when steeping hot, was even better than the spinach dip you may order as an appetizer when out at, say, T.G.I. Fridays.  The artichokes were plentiful (which I always find restaurants to jip on), and the spinach wasn’t too  irony tasting,  a delicious pair with the creamy cheese and mayo.  The sriracha gave our taste buds a slight kick in the pants. For a party of 9, we only demolished half of this filling spread.  I finished the rest the next few days for lunch with the Pepperidge Farm Cheese Crisps. They added another salty sweet aspect which was to die for.

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Nutella & Peanut Butter No Frost Cupcakes

It was my mom’s birthday this Friday, so I decided to wake up early and make her some cupcakes. To keep it simple I stole the idea of adding Nutella or peanut butter to the top before baking and wala, no need to frost the cupcakes! Mini anything is the perfect bite-sized, guilt-free snack, so I made more minis than regular sized cupcakes.  They are just so adorable too.

To bake these treats:

  • 1 box yellow Jiffy cake mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Nutella

imageIn a mixing bowl, mix together the cake mix, flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, cream cheese and vanilla using an electric hand mixer until well blended. To make it easier on yourself you can use two boxes of Jiffy, milk, vanilla, and an egg.  I decided to make more cupcakes than the little box allowed for, so I started throwing together a few items to a. spice up the plain cake mix and b. increase the overall volume of my batter.
imageNext, take three small mixing bowls,  preferably microwaveable.  This will be your topping.  I chose to experiment with three different blends, so you can do the same, pick one, all three or try your own.  In your first small bowl, add approximately 1/4 cup peanut butter. I used organic, as it was easier to stir and a little softer than the regular Jiffy.  In the next bowl add the remaining peanut butter and 1/4 cup Nutella mixing thoroughly.  In your final bowl, combine the cream cheese and remaining Nutella until creamy.  To soften the concoctions, throw each bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds.

I used both mini cupcake pans and regular sized muffin tins, spraying the regular sized as I didn’t have paper cups.  In the mini pans, fill each cup 3/4 full.  With the remaining batter, add in one banana, blend with a hand mixer, and fill the regular sized cups 3/4 of the way full. I then tossed some chocolate chips on top for added flavor and a delicious pairing with the banana, but you can also mix these in.

Once all the muffin tins are filled, add a dollop of each mixture into the desired muffin tin batter.  With the mini cupcakes, I chose to go row by row added Nutella cream cheese then Nutella peanut butter.  image

The big tins with the chocolate chips is where I used the organic peanut butter.  Then take a toothpick and gently pull the topping out from the center to the sides, mixing it with the batter a bit. It seemed the softer the mixture, the easier it was to gradually twist into the batter, still allowed the heavy, sweet topping to stay on the surface.  The cream cheese mixture was definitely the easiest, followed by the organic peanut butter.  I’d suggest microwaving them all to keep them soft and manageable.


Once everything is well blended, toss your pans in the oven at 325 degrees Farenheit for 20 minutes or until cooked through.  Take out the large peanut butter banana chocolate chip cupcakes and add a few more chocolate chips to the top while the pan is still hot so they melt as a frosting, or toss back in the oven for a minute. I didn’t do this, but the peanut butter was a bit much to eat in one sitting, and I think the semi-sweet chocolate topping would break up the dryness of the peanut butter.



imagePlace on a cooling rack when completely finished. And definitely eat while these babies are hot!

imageYou can see on the mini ones how the Nutella/peanut butter/cream cheese sits in the middle and on the top of the cake creating a layer that requires no frosting.  Our favorite, by far, was the Nutella cream cheese, but they were all delightful and even light enough for breakfast.  The peanut butter was a tad on the excessive dry side, but really paired well with the banana. I’m wondering if it would be better as a mini also, as there was still the concentration of the topping, but an even amount with the cake batter.

imageThe simple nature of these makes them a quick snack or dessert, and they are easy enough that the kids will be glad to help out in the kitchen, if only to be the first one in line for a taste-test. The amounts are variable, and depending on your personal liking, you can adjust everything.

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Brogan Dip

This simple dip for chips and vegetables is a staple for any Brogan event.  My grandpa whips this up anytime a crowd is coming, and seconds are a must.  We had it tailgating this past weekend, and I decided to make more for a cook-out the following day.

To make it:

2 packs of Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 cup of milk
1 package of onion soup mix
Chips and vegetables for dipping

In a bowl, whip together with a fork or a hand mixer (creamier, well-mixed cream cheese with a hand mixer) the cream cheese and milk.  Use room temperature cream cheese or nuke it in the microwave for 15 seconds for better stirring.image

Add in a package of onion soup mix and stir until entirely mixed.


My favorite things to dip into this dip are carrots, celery, raw red peppers, Ruffles chips, and pretzels.  Layer the goodies around the bowl of dip for a classic, colorful look.

Adding in two cream cheese packets mellows out the salty, sweet onion soup mix and adding milk softens the dip so your chips don’t break against the hard cream cheese.  We have also tried it with half cream cheese, half sour cream, and it is just as good.  The trick is the cream cheese for a fattening, creamy, textured mouthful.


The “Brogan Dip” has taken out many a gallbladder in our family, it being said that most of our family ate this particular food before having their attack.  So you know it’s gotta be good.  I brought it to a cook-out at Daina’s, a non-dipper, who said, “Wow. I actually like this. I don’t usually eat dips.”

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Nutella Bites

I found this recipe on the main page when I signed in to WordPress and just had to make it for my cousin Eileen’s bridal shower. The Nutella Cheesecake Layer Bars are from The Moonlight Baker, and I changed the recipe around a tad.

For this version you will need:

1 cup Oreo Cookie Crumbs Pie Crust Mix or I purchased vanilla with chocolate filling wafers
1 cup Graham Cracker Crumb Pie Crust Mix
1 stick of melted butter
4 boxes of Philadelphia lite cream cheese, softened
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon of heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of Nutella
Line a greased 13 x 9″ baking pan with parchment paper, pushing it into the edges.

In a bowl, crumble the wafers to a dust and add in the graham cracker pie crust mix.


image  Pour the melted butter in the bowl and mix until coated.  Press the mixture into the base of the parchment paper lined pan.  Put in the oven at 325 degrees Farenheit for 12 minutes or until a slight crust texture.


In another bowl combine the cream cheese, eggs, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Stir together with a hand mixer until smooth.  Take about 2/3 of the mixture and set aside. In the remaining 1/3 add the Nutella and mix again with the hand mixer.  When the pie crust has finished and cooled for several minutes, layer in the white cheesecake mixture.  On top of that pour the nutella cheesecake mixture on top. I marbled the two together, but they still show distinct layers when cut open.

Cook the bars for a remaining 40 minutes or until slightly jiggly but mostly cooked.  When finished and the pan is cooled, refrigerate for at least 3 hours.


Cut into bite sized bars and savor this treat.  Unlike cheesecake, it isn’t too overpoweringly sweet.  The Nutella’s chocolate hazelnut doesn’t entirely take over the flavor, but rather melds lightly with the cream cheese for an even taste.  The crust adds a little crunch with a chocolatey sweetness to complete the light dessert.


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