Circus Mouth Cupcakes

July 15th, 2012

Yesterday was the 5th Annual Cupcakes Take the Cake Cupcake Picnic.  I attended the event for the first time 4 years ago (time flies!) and introduced my Cupcake Kebab and it went viral! Although I could never live up to that unexpected response in future years, I’ve still used the event as an opportunity to share new creations like the Sangria Cupcake Stack, Dirt and Flower Cupcake and this year…Circus Mouth!

Circus what?! Allow me to explain…

I knew I wanted to make something colorful this year – and I also wanted to try baking something in a cake.  So, I went to the source and looked for inspiration at Bake It in a Cake!

Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cupcakes in progress…

I found a recipe for Circus Animal Cupcakes and my creation inspiration had begun! I wanted to incorporate 5 layers to honor 5 years of the picnic and use all “circus food” related flavors (popcorn, licorice, cotton candy, candied apples, etc).  So I needed a filling, frosting, garnish and topper. And have all the flavors actually taste good together!

Red Licorice Filling setting up.

I found the perfect filling thanks to Cupcake Wars and their Red Licorice Filling Recipe  (ALWAYS use Red Vines – NO Twizzlers).


The frosting would come from a recipe I’ve been using for years – Cotton Candy Buttercream Frosting.

Cotton Candy Buttercream Frosting

And then it was time for the garnish…I found inspiration from a Popcorn Cake Recipe but rather than form it into a cake I simple placed it on my cupcake and used Pretzel M&M’s and chopped up Circus Peanuts in place of regular pretzels and M&Ms.

Caramel Apple Mini Cupcakes getting ready for the oven. Note: I learned to use less caramel per mini next time!

My original plan to make a Candied Apple Mini Cupcake as my topper was thwarted by the lack of red hots in the many stores I stopped at to find them.  So it became a Caramel Apple Mini Cupcake instead.  I used the caramel topping (minus nuts) used in this Betty Crocker Recipeand then added a Baked Apple Donut Hole Batter on top.  I learned a critical lesson in this step…USE LESS CARAMEL! As it baked, the caramel began to overflow which in turn caused it to land on my stove floor and set off my smoke alarm. Oops.  Thankfully not all the caramel was lost and the minis didn’t burn!

Center L-R: Cupcake filled w/ Red Licorice Filling, Plus Cotton Candy Frosting, Plus Popcorn Garnish and finally the Caramel Apple Mini on top!

After everything was cooled it was time to assemble! I originally placed vanilla wafer sticks in the center of the Caramel Apple Minis but they proved to be more trouble than they were worth as they began to wilt by the cake’s moisture and also caused some cakes to split. I decided the cakes were okay on their own!

And finally…the finished product. Circus Mouth Cupcakes – Your mouth will be full of circus food flavor w/ every bite! 🙂

Presenting the Circus Mouth Cupcake!

Celebrity Nibbles by Nora, Episode 4

June 27th, 2011

Episode 4 of Celebrity Nibbles by Nora – just in time for the 4th of July!

And here is the recipe for the B. Frank Cranapple Beer Cupcakes…

Inspired by Beer Spice Cake Recipe from, Easy Cranberry & Apple Cake Recipe by Ina Garten from and Pretzel Icing Recipe from

B. Frank Cranapple Beer Cupcakes

B. Frank Cranapple Beer Cupcakes

Makes 13 Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients

1 Granny Smith apple (peeled, cored and diced)

6oz dried cranberries

1 Tbsp orange zest

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

***Use 2 oranges for zest/juice***

1 cup beer

1/2 cup margarine

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients (fruit and beer) together and set aside.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the margarine and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add flour mixture alternatively with beer mixture and mix well until combined.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter. Bake about 20 minutes. Cool.

Pretzel Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

1 cup pretzels, crushed into crumbs/smaller pieces

16 oz cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup milk


In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Then add sugar until well combined, followed by vanilla and then pretzel crumbs/pieces.  Add milk a little at a time to get the right consistency. ***You can always add more but it’s hard to remove if you add too much.  With this in mind, you may not use all of the milk.***


Once Cupcakes have cooled, generously frost them with the Pretzel Cream Cheese Frosting. For an additional patriotic touch on top of your B. Frank Cranapple Beer Cupcake you can add pretzels dipped in red, white or blue candy melt and add the same colored sprinkles (see photo and video). Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.




John Gallop III

And here’s info on “Before They Are Superstars Taste Tester” John Gallop III’s show, The Pig, or Vaclav Havel’s Hunt for the Pig.

SoHo Think Tank/Ohio Theater’s ICE FACTORY presents

Untitled Theater Company No. 61’s production of the English-language premiere of The Pig, or Vaclav Havel’s Hunt for a Pig

A theatrical-musical-technological-gastronomic extravaganza text by Václav Havel adapted for the stage by Vladimír Morávek

Featuring music from The Bartered Bride by Bedřich Smetana

Translation and additional text by Edward Einhorn

Direction and musical arrangements by Henry Akona

With: Katherine Boynton, Elizabeth Figols Galagarza, John Gallop, Andrew Goldsworth, Robert Honeywell, Michael Hopewell, Jenny Lee Mitchell, Mateo Moreno, Phoebe Silva, Moira Stone, Terence Stone, Michael Whitney, Sandy York

Accordianist/Assistant Music Director: Melissa Elledge, Cello: Michael Midlarsky, Violin: Amanda Lo

Choreography/Assistant Producer: Patrice Miller, Set Design: Jane Stein, Costume Design: Carla Gant, Lighting Design: Jeff Nash, Video Design: Kate Freer and David Tennent, Dramaturg: Karen Lee Ott; Assistant Director: Joe Pikowski, Stage Manager: Elizabeth Irwin

Wed June 29 – Sat July 2, 7pm

Václav Havel needs a pig he can slaughter and cook for a party with his dissident friends. An American journalist arrives for an interview. The villagers have a pig to sell, but where is it? And why is everyone singing The Bartered Bride? Food, drink, song, video, politics and celebration collide in this adaptation by experimental Czech director Vladimír Morávek of Havel’s text and Smetana’s music. Untitled Theater Company No. 61, the company that brought you The Havel Festival, presents the English-language premiere of this theatrical-musical-technological-gastronomic extravaganza, translated by Edward Einhorn and directed by Henry Akona. Celebrate the 4th of July by joining us at a Czech zabíjačka feast. Reserve a table and enjoy a meal or just sit back and enjoy the party.

Tickets $18/$35 with meal. Buy them here:

Limited seating, so purchase your tickets early!

Three Legged Dog (3LD)

80 Greenwich Street

New York, NY

Pom Wonderful Valentines Cupcake Contest Recipe

March 30th, 2011

Another recipe contest caught my eye via Pom Wonderful and I was admittedly hesitant to enter because the winner was determined by number of votes online – which made it more of a popularity contest than about quality of recipe.  BUT since every entry equaled a dollar donated to the American Heart Association, I decided to give it a shot anyway!

The recipe submitted needed to have a Valentine theme and include Pom Wonderful juice in the recipe.  So this  is what I came up with while watching Gwenyth and Cee Lo shake it at The Grammys. 🙂

Honey, Pucker Up! Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 oz Bottle of Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
1/4 cup Lemon Juice

Frosting Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

4 cups powdered sugar

½ cup honey

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Cupcake Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 1 muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, Pom Wonderful and lemon juice.

Stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

Fill each cupcake liner ¾ full. Bake about 30 minutes. Makes approximately a dozen cupcakes.

Frosting Directions

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix until there is a good spreading consistency.  Add more powdered sugar if necessary. Spread generously on cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

Alas, I didn’t get enough votes to get in the top 3, but when I shared this creation with the guards and maintenance crew  at work, they gave it a thumbs up and I think you will, too! 🙂

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest Entries

March 18th, 2011

Back in October, Nichelle Stephens of Cupcakes Take the Cake gave my name to the organizers of the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest Kickoff Event.  Per the title, the event was held to promote their recipe contest with this year’s focus on cupcakes!

I’d never entered a recipe contest before but after attending the event, I felt inspired and decided I’d give it a go!

Each recipe had to include Scharffen Berger Chocolate and at least one of their 13 Adventure Ingredients.  After some brainstorming, I came up with 4 recipes (you could enter 10!) and invited friends over for a taste test in November.  1 recipe idea didn’t make it to the tasting after I saw how it turned out by the other 3 did!

I got some great feedback and tweaked the recipes accordingly, then entered them and crossed my fingers!

Alas, the winners were announced recently and my recipes weren’t even finalists.  But I will still share them with you here in case you want to embark on a non-finalist cupcake adventure! 😉

Entry #1 – “What the What?!” Cupcakes Recipe

Photo taken by Emilie Soffe


Adventure Ingredient Used – Stout

6 oz apricot preserves
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 Tablespoon Dijon prepared mustard

Prepare this up to a day ahead of baking your cupcakes.
Combine all ingredients, cover and chill until ready to use.

Chocolate Custard Filling
1 ½ cups water
1 ¼ cups sugar
½ Tablespoon corn syrup
¾ cup Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder and 1 ¼ cups of the water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally.

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of water. Whisk into cocoa mixture and return mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.  Continue to cook and whisk constantly until mixture becomes thick.

Remove mixture from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Pour mixture into bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure you press plastic wrap gently against the surface in order to prevent a skin from forming. Chill about 45 minutes until firm.

½ cup margarine, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup stout beer, room temp, no foam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 1 muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In large bowl, cream margarine and dark brown sugar together, add egg and beat well. Set aside.

In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, baking soda and salt.

Add flour mixture alternatively with stout to egg mixture. Beat well.

Fill each cupcake liner up to ¾ full of batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup butter, softened

Use mixer to blend all ingredients.

Photo taken by Emilie Soffe

To Assemble
Once Cupcakes have cooled, use a pairing knife to cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake and fill centers with Chocolate Custard. Cut off pointed end of cake cone so it fits back on top of the cupcake, covering the custard-filled hole.

Frost cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Then glaze Frosting with 2 Tablespoons of the Topping.

Recipe #2 – Beet-iful Carrot Cupcakes Recipe

Adventure Ingredients Used – Beets, Meyer Lemon


Photo Taken by Emilie Soffe

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¾ cup milk
1 ½ tsp Meyer lemon juice
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups beet puree
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple,drained
1 cup grated carrots
1 ½ cup orange marmalade

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl and set aside.
Combine milk and lemon juice. Add the milk mixture to the eggs, beets, sugars, oil, pineapple and carrots in large bowl and mix well.
Gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.

Pour 2 Tbsp batter into each liner. Add 1 Tbsp orange marmalade to the center and top with an additional 2 Tbsp batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tsp vanilla
5 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
4 oz Scharffen Berger 70% Bittersweet Chocolate, Melted

Mix cream cheese, vanilla, powdered sugar and butter until just combined. Then mix in cocoa powder and melted chocolate. Frost cooled cupcakes.

Candy Carrot Garnish
2 medium size carrots
½ cup pure maple syrup

Photo Taken by Emilie Soffe

Peel carrots length wise to get 24 long strips.
Simmer maple syrup in sauce pan and add a few carrot strips at a time. Let strips simmer until they start to appear translucent (about 2 minutes). Transfer strips to wax or parchment paper and allow to cool.
Twist them in a “curly q” and place on top of frosted cupcake.



Entry #3 – “Pant and Pucker” Cupcakes Recipe

Adventure Ingredients Used – Chili Pepper, Molasses, Buttermilk

Chili-Lime Peanut Garnish

Photo Taken by Emilie Soffe

1 cup raw peanuts
½ Tablespoon olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons lime juice
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon pulverized dried chili pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Toss peanuts in bowl with olive oil, salt and sugar until they are coated evenly. Spread peanuts out on baking sheet.

Roast peanuts and stir occasionally for about 30 minutes until they are fragrant and begin to darken.

Pour peanuts into bowl and add lime juice, hot pepper sauce and chili pepper. Toss to coat. Cool.

Store in airtight container in refrigerator until ready to use.

Lime Curd Filling
2 Limes, zested
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
¼ cup lime juice
pinch of salt

Pulse sugar and lime zest in food processor until zest is finely minced into sugar.

Cream butter and beat into sugar mixture. Add eggs one at a time, then lime juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour mixture into saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes until thickened.

Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon pulverized dry chili pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup dark molasses
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
½ cup margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare muffin pans with 15 cupcake liners.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda into bowl. Mix in chili pepper and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix buttermilk and molasses together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time until mixed well. Then add vanilla.

Begin adding a third of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Mix until combined and then add a third of the buttermilk mixture. Mix until combined and continue to alternate until everything is mixed together.

Fill each cupcake liner up to ¾ full of batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, cocoa, milk and vanilla until creamy. Mix in additional cups of powdered sugar until your frosting appears to be a good spreading consistency.

Photo Taken by Emilie Soffe

To Assemble
Once Cupcakes have cooled, use a pairing knife to cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake and fill centers with Lime Curd. Cut off pointed end of cake cone so it fits back on top of the cupcake, covering the Lime Curd-filled hole.

Frost Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and Garnish with several Chili Lime Peanuts.

photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo