Cakes, Cupcakes & Brownies

PPQ: Totally Rummy Pound Cake

by Shawnda on February 26, 2012

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Brownies,Project Pastry Queen

I chose this week’s Project Pastry Queen recipe, Totally Rummy Pound Cake. It was cake + booze. Surely it would be a winner.

But if I could do it all over again, I’d go back and choose a different recipe. Because it turns out that I’m not as big a fan of rum as you’d think. Or as I’d think… Captain & Diets excluded :) And this cake has a lot – A LOT – of rum in it.

I made half a recipe (thank goodness) and baked it in a small loaf pan. It didn’t really rise much but while it baked, my kitchen smelled a whole lot like Spring Break 1998. I couldn’t bring myself to make the glaze for the cake, which called for even more rum, so I macerated some chopped strawberries with a little sugar and served it on top.

My husband graded it with a half-hearted “It’s okay I guess.” There aren’t many recipes in the book that I haven’t cared for but I guess they can’t all be winners. So now that I’ve totally sold you on the cake…

Totally Rummy Pound Cake

A dense, rummy pound cake studded with Texas pecans.


  • For the cake:
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • For the glaze:
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp dark rum


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spray a 9-inch loaf pan with baking spray.
  3. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and bake 5-7 minutes, until browned and fragrant.
  4. Cream butter and sugar on high for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time.
  6. Add the vanilla and rum, mixing until completely combined.
  7. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
  8. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients to the bowl in three additions, alternating with two additions of the sour cream.
  9. Add half of the pecans to the batter and mix well.
  10. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with remaining pecans.
  11. Bake ~40 minutes, until browned and a skewer in the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached.
  12. Let cool in pan 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool.
  13. To make the glaze, heat the butter, water, lemon juice, and rum in a small pan over medium heat.
  14. Bring mixture to boil and cook for ~1 minute.
  15. Pierce the cake many times with a skewer and brush/pour the glaze of the cake. Let rest 1 hour before serving, overnight preferred.


Yields: 8 servings

Adapted from The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes



Mexican Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Buttercream

This week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge was selected by Jen of Sweet Morris: Mexican Chocolate Fudge-Pecan Cake.

And I’ll be honest. It nearly killed me. Or at least started a day that nearly killed me.

If you learn nothing from today, make sure that you always keep your kitchen countertops clean. Especially the area surrounding your freshly frosted cake. Because you never know when a stray elbow into the side of a cake plate will send your beautiful cake flying and crashing into it.

It was an appropriate start to the day which included a pricey dessert dish shattering on the floor (totally unrelated to the cake), running out of gas on I10, and finding water dripping from the kitchen ceiling.

But at the end of the day, there was cake served out of a bowl by the scoop and grapefruit margaritas. And that made it mostly better. Until it came to the part where I had to clean up drywall dust.

I wasn’t actually going to post a picture of my sad, crumbled little cake but let’s be honest, everyone sends a cake flying at some point or the other. The cake itself is killer whether you serve it by the sad, crumbled scoop or a perfect slice. It reminds me a lot of the best chocolate cake recipe ever, Martha Stewart’s Devil’s Food Cake. It gets its deep chocolatey flavor from Dutch process cocoa and a spicy warmth from a generous dose of ground cinnamon. And it stays insanely (my apologies to those who hate the word) moist for days.

The original recipe is written for a bundt pan (or 18 cupcakes, served inverted), topped with a fudge-pecan glaze. I made half the cake recipe in 6-inch pans, reducing the sugar by 33% and replacing the buttermilk with fat free Greek yogurt. I also skipped over the glaze because I had half a batch of buttercream frosting in the freezer that I wanted to use – to which I added a well-rounded 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste to the frosting. Magical, I tell you. Completely magical.

My husband debated which was better – the cake or the frosting. My vote was cake… but it was made exponentially better with the magical frosting.

You can find the full recipe for the cake and glaze over at Sweet Morris. Next week, I’m hosting a rummy pound cake. The recipe had me at “Rum” :)



King Cake Cupcakes

Let the good times roll, huh?

I feel like it wasn’t all that long ago, my girlfriends and I were sitting around at lunch, deciding how we were going to squeeze 8 girls into a hotel room barely big enough for 1… but cost like it should hold 39. Discussions of grabbing odds on who’d be the first Hand Grenade victim, who’d be the first back to the hotel (I wanted the bed!), and who wouldn’t stumble back ’til day break because she couldn’t remember the name of the hotel (ahem, yeah… I’m so sure that’s why she was out all night).

Only it really was that long ago. And I’ll be honest. I’m totally okay with that. Most of the time :P

King Cake Cupcakes

So I took my friend Erica’s King Cake recipe and made just a few changes to end up with King Cake Cupcakes. The dough in this recipe is on the lighter side and that made it ideal to form into individual king cakes. You get a sweet, light pastry dough that rises and domes beautifully as a cupcake. (They’re “cupcakes” in name only, they definitely have a more pastry/cinnamon roll-like texture than cake-like).

Filled with a cinnamon-cream cheese mixture and topped with a light glaze, they’re a far safer and much cheaper way to celebrate Mardi Gras.

At home.

Where there are no Hand Grenades.

King Cake Cupcakes

Cupcakes inspired by the Mardi Gras favorite: sweet pastry dough filled with cream cheese and cinnamon.


  • For the dough:
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil or cooking spray, for coating bowl
  • For the cream cheese filling:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used reduced-fat)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 rounded tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • For the glaze:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 tsp water
  • Decorating sugar in yellow, purple and green


  1. Add water and 1 Tbsp sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over top and let stand for 10 minutes. (If your yeast doesn't get puffy, don't keep going - buy new yeast.)
  2. Add melted butter, egg, egg yolk, remaining sugar, 3 cups flour, and salt, and then turn the mixer to low.
  3. Add only enough extra flour to get the dough to clean the sides of the bowl but not come completely off the bottom - it should be only slightly sticky when you touch it.
  4. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (45 minutes-1 hour in my 100-degree oven). While dough is rising, make the filling.
  5. Place filling ingredients into the mixer bowl (minus the melted butter) and mix on medium-high until completely smooth, 1-2 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 cupcake pans with 18 liners.
  7. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times.
  8. Stretch to a rectangle about 18x12 and brush with 2 Tbsp melted butter, leaving the top 1-inch dry.
  9. Spread cream cheese filling over the dough evenly, leaving the top 1-inch dry.
  10. Starting with the long side of the dough closest to you, roll jelly-roll style, pinching the last inch of the dough onto the roll and placing seam-down on the counter.
  11. Lightly pat/pull so that the roll is even diameter down its length.
  12. Trim the scraggly ends and then slice into rounds that are ~3/4-1 inch thick. Take care that they don't get any thicker than that, the rolls should sit level/just below level of the cupcake pan. Any taller and they'll grow too tall in the oven and fall over.
  13. Transfer the rounds to the cupcake pans and let rest while the oven preheats to 375.
  14. Bake ~25 minutes, until lightly browned and nicely domed.
  15. Remove from the oven and let cool ~10 minutes in the pan.
  16. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  17. To make the glaze, whisk powdered sugar, vanilla, and gradually add the water until you get a smooth and thick but scoopable glaze.
  18. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the glaze (or spoon over top) and then sprinkle with decorating sugar. Like cinnamon rolls, they're best in the first 2 days. If you're bringing them to a party, ice/sugar them the night before. When stored in an airtight container for much longer than that, the sugar and glaze will begin to melt from the pastry moisture. Delicious still, just not as cute.


Yields: 18 cupcakes

Adapted from Erica's King Cake

Estimated time: 2 hours



Dr Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 Cupcakes

I have been in love with the idea of Thing 1/Thing 2 cupcakes since they popped up online a couple of years ago. They really are absolutely perfect for a Dr. Seuss-inspired party or shower.

We baked our very favorite red velvet cupcake recipe in “greaseproof” (ahem, allegedly greaseproof) red and white-striped cupcake liners (although you can’t really tell there’s any white there) and topped that with a quick buttercream frosting. I chose that frosting because it crusts (and would hopefully make the cotton candy last a little longer), unlike my favorite cream cheese frosting – I frosted the cupcakes the night before, attached the labels, and then topped with cotton candy after the guests had arrived.

Dr. Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 Cupcakes

For the labels, we created 1.25-inch circles using Inkscape (a free, open-source vector graphics that’s similar to Illustrator) and a free “Dr. Soos” font. I attached those to the cupcakes with a drop of hot glue. And I didn’t burn myself, not once!

Dr. Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 Cupcakes

I purchased 3 containers of cotton candy from Oh Nuts! but only used 2 of them for 24 cupcakes. The cotton candy will begin to melt on contact with moisture so don’t top the cupcakes too far ahead of time before serving (your mileage will vary based on factors, like frosting type and humidity).

Thing 1 and Thing 2 Cupcakes

The perfect treat for a Dr. Seuss-inspired birthday party or shower: red velvet Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes topped with blue cotton candy.


  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp red gel food coloring (I used Americolor Red Red)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • For the frosting:
  • 2 sticks of butter, at room temp
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 Tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, optional
  • Blue cotton candy


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with baking liners or grease and flour the muffing cups.
  2. Cream butter and sugar on medium-high for two minutes. Mix in one egg at a time, beating after each addition.
  3. Turn mixer off and add food coloring and cocoa powder to bowl. Turn on low until just incorporated and then beat on medium for 4 minutes.
  4. Sift together the flours, salt, and baking soda and set aside. Stir buttermilk and vanilla together. Add dry ingredients to the bowl in three batches, alternately with the buttermilk in two batches, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat on medium until just combined. Add sour cream and vinegar and beat on low until combined.
  5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 25-35 minutes until the cupcakes test done with a toothpick. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a rack.
  6. To make the frosting, place all ingredients except the vanilla bean in your mixer bowl. Beat on low just until you have no more dry streaks of powdered sugar.
  7. If using a vanilla bean, split the pod in half, scrape with the edge of your knife, and add the scrapings to the mixer bowl.
  8. Turn to high and whip for 3-4 minutes, until light, fluffy, and smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides.
  9. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip or simply scoop and spread frosting with a small knife or spatula.
  10. Let frosting crust - it should feel dry to the touch and not stick to your finger.
  11. Just before serving, pull off small pieces of cotton candy, fluffing the "hair" before lightly pressing into the frosting.
  12. Extra frosting can be stored in the fridge for quite a while and even longer in the freezer. Bring to room temp and whip for a couple of minutes before using.


Yields: 24 cupcakes

Estimated time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Source & Vendor Information
Cupcakes: Inspired by Annie’s Eats
Cotton Candy: Oh Nuts!
“Greaseproof” liners: Amazon
Thing 2 Labels: DIY
Dr. Seuss-inspired font: Dafont