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.
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!
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
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
Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with baking liners or grease and flour the muffing cups.
Cream butter and sugar on medium-high for two minutes. Mix in one egg at a time, beating after each addition.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Turn to high and whip for 3-4 minutes, until light, fluffy, and smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides.
Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip or simply scoop and spread frosting with a small knife or spatula.
Let frosting crust - it should feel dry to the touch and not stick to your finger.
Just before serving, pull off small pieces of cotton candy, fluffing the "hair" before lightly pressing into the frosting.
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
My week to host Project Pastry Queen fell during Christmas so I picked the most Christmasy recipe I could find: Glazed Lemon-Cranberry Loaf Cake.
It’s “just” a small loaf cake scented with lemon zest, studded with fresh cranberries, and topped with a lemon syrup that soaks into the cake. I brought the cake to Christmas Eve dinner and it “just” went over really well.
I stayed true to the recipe but have no doubt it would work as beautifully with orange instead of lemon.
Glazed Lemon-Cranberry Loaf Cake
A moist lemony cake studded with fresh cranberries and glazed with a lemon syrup.
For the cake:
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 2/3 cup flour + 1 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar (I reduced to 2/3 cup)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk (I used 0% fage)
For the glaze:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350.
Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
Toss the cranberries with 1 Tbsp flour and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
Add the eggs and lemon zest and beat until thoroughly combined.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of the mixture and mix on low speed just until combined.
Add half of the milk and mix on low speed just until combined.
Add the remaining flour, mixing just until combined, and then the remaining milk.
Add cranberries and mix a few seconds longer.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake 45-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out with moist crumbs attached.
Cool the cake for 15 minutes and then remove it from the pan.
To make the lemon glaze, combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
Bring the mixture to a boil for 30 seconds.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Gently pierce the top of the loaf cake many times with a toothpick.
Use a pastry brush to apply the warm glaze evenly over the top of the loaf.
Slice into ~10 slices to serve.
Store leftovers tightly wrapped, will keep ~3 days.
One last Christmas treat. Just one, I promise! Because by the time you read this, I’ll very likely be running around like a crazy woman just before our trip to Indianapolis to see the Texans & Colts play. A trip that heavily relies on the weather to keep us from celebrating Christmas snowed-in in an airport in Missouri, without our kiddo. As soon as I finish packing, I plan on taping all of my fingers crossed.
So you remember that cookie exchange that I went to a couple of weekends ago? The one I’ve been talking about nonstop? Well, these brownies are one of the reasons I can’t shut up.
My friend Viula’s contribution to the exchange were brownies, topped with a peppermint frosting, ganache, and candy cane pieces.
If you are a chocolate + peppermint fiend like I am – and will continue to be for approximately another 5 days – you’re going to want to give these a try. They’re really easy to pull together, I didn’t even use a mixer. You simply bake up your favorite brownie (I used the box of Ghiradelli brownies that I keep hidden in the back of my pantry for emergencies. Because this was clearly an emergency.) and top it with a peppermint frosting, melted chocolate, and some crushed candy.
Your friends will love you. Your family will, too. And you’ll get a little more mileage out of those stretchy-waisted pants until the new diet starts on January 2nd.
Peppermint Frosted Brownies
Your favorite brownie dressed up for the holidays: topped with peppermint frosting, ganache, and peppermint candies.
Your favorite brownie recipe or mix (for an 8x8 pan), baked and cooled
For the mint frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp milk (I used skim)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1-2 drops red or pink food coloring
For the topping
3/4 cups chocolate chips
3 Tbsp butter
12 peppermint candies, roughly chopped (optional)
Bake your favorite brownie recipe/mix in an 8x8 pan, according to package directions.
Remove from oven and let cool to room temp.
Melt butter in a medium bowl and add milk and peppermint extract.
Whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth.
Add 1-2 drops of food coloring, just enough to tint the frosting pink.
Spread over the brownies in an even layer and let sit until the frosting has crusted, about 10 minutes (it won't stick to your finger when you touch it).
Melt remaining butter and chocolate chips in a small bowl.
Pour over the frosted brownies and spread evenly, and then sprinkle with candy pieces, if using. (When stored, the candy will absorb moisture and start to melt. If not serving by the next day, consider adding the candy pieces just before cutting and serving or omitting.)
Refrigerate until set. Cut with a sharp knife, dipping in hot water and wiping dry between cuts for a crisp, clean cut.
Will keep 5 days in an airtight container without candy pieces, 3 days with.
I love chocolate with just about anything. With peanut butter, with cherries, with sea salt, with caramel, and with dulce de leche. With bacon. The chocolate + mint combo doesn’t usually send me running for the kitchen but there’s just something about this time of year that temporarily wins me over.
It’s 70 degrees today but I didn’t let that get in the way of a little Christmas-inspired baking. I opened the windows, cranked up the Christmas music, and hit the kitchen to bake brownies. And if you happened to walk by my house during O Holy Night, I apologize. I don’t really have that kind of range… and I don’t really let it stop me
These bad boys consist of a chocolatey brownie that is swirled with a cheesecake mixture flavored with peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candies. It’s rich. It’s sweet. And it’s chock full of holiday spirit.
Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies
The perfect holiday treat: moist chocolate brownies swirled with peppermint cheesecake.
For the brownies:
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
For the peppermint cheesecake swirl:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
10 peppermint candies, unwrapped and finely crushed
1 tsp peppermint extract
Preheat oven to 350.
Spray an 8- or 9-inch square pan with baking spray and set aside.
To make the brownies, place butter and chocolate in a large bowl and microwave for 1 minute.
Stir and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
Add sugar and mix to combine.
Add eggs one at a time, whisking in between.
Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, and mix just until all dry ingredients are incorporated.
Pour into the prepared pan and spread the batter to cover the bottom of the pan but don't worry about it being even.
To make the cream cheese mixture, beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar together until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add sugar, egg, and flour and mix.
Add the peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candies to the mixture and mix until evenly distributed.
Using a spoon or rubber spatula, create wells in the top of the brownie batter. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into the wells. Use the tip of a knife to swirl the chocolate and peppermint cheesecake together. (The two batters have slightly different consistencies so use a swirl-and-fold motion to bring the chocolate swirl to the top.)
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, ~45 minutes. Cool in pan for 30 minutes before cutting into 9-16 squares and serving.
Leftovers will keep in a covered cake plate for 3-4 days. They can also be wrapped and frozen.
Yields: 9-16 servings
Adapted from Everyday Food's Cream Cheese Brownies