Cupcakes, Desserts, Recipes

Maize and Blue Cupcakes

My dad’s birthday was last weekend, and to celebrate, my parents and sister came down to Bloomington for the weekend. We hung out at home and went to the Indiana/Michigan football game. My dad is a huge Michigan fan [born in Ann Arbor; it’s in his blood!] so when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he said, maize and blue, kind of as a joke, I think.

Maize & Blue Cupcakes... perfect for the diehard U of M fan!
Cupcake tower!

My initial thought with that request was something lemon and blueberry. However, I quickly nixed that idea because my dad isn’t the biggest fruit lover you’ll ever meet, so I thought I should find a recipe that he would love. It was for his birthday after all. After spending some time researching recipes and scouring cake supply stores, I finally found something that would work: food coloring.

I chose to make cupcakes out of a simple white cake and buttercream frosting, and use gel food coloring to dye the cupcakes and frosting. I dyed half the cupcakes and half the frosting maize, and the other half of each blue. Frost the maize cupcakes with blue frosting and frost the blue cupcakes with maize frosting… and you have a true Michigan cupcake dream! Next time I’ll have to be more adventurous with the decorating. I can’t say I am an expert cupcake decorator but these did turn out pretty cute if I do say so myself… and they were tasty too!

The cupcakes were moist and rich, even a week later as I was finishing up the leftovers. The frosting was sweet but not overly sweet, which is a welcome change from the frostings that leave you in a sugar coma. Paired with vanilla bean ice cream, this is the perfect birthday dessert.

The Birthday Boy!

Maize and Blue Cupcakes & Buttercream Frosting

cake from The Taste of Home Cookbook and frosting from Good (Cheap) Eats



  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cups half and half [this recipe called for buttermilk, but I used what I had…]


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pans with paper liners or grease well with cooking spray. This recipe should make 24 cupcakes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg whites, one by one, mixing in between each addition. Mix in vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add to butter/sugar/egg mixture gradually, alternating with half and  half; beating well to combine after each addition.

If desired, divide batter in  half and add food coloring to desired shade. I used gel food colorings, which provide more intense color. 🙂

Fill individual tins 2/3 of the way full, then bake for 15-20 minutes. Mine took about 17 minutes to bake. They are done when they spring back when lightly touched in the center. Remove from tins and let cool on cooling rack, frost, and enjoy!

For the frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, half and half, and vanilla. Mix on low until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Adjust with additional sugar or milk, depending on your desired consistency.

Frost when cupcakes are cool… otherwise you’ll have melty frosting! And no one likes melty frosting…

Here are some more photos of game day! 🙂

My husband shares his name with the IU quarterback. Ben is such a good name! Interestingly enough, my Ben is a huge OSU fan. Needless to say, he was rooting for IU… just like the IU Ben. However, Michigan won–a present for Dad!
Ben and Sarah
Ben thought my hat was gross. It did clash with my sweatshirt…
Indiana Marching Band
IU Marching Band before the game.
mom and daughters
With my mom and sister, freezing and getting wet in the rain at the game!
Maize & Blue Cupcakes... perfect for the diehard U of M fan!
A cupcake enjoyed with ice cream after the game!

Are you a sports fan? I’m not, except for running… but going to the game was more fun than watching football on TV! How about you?

Cakes, Desserts, Recipes

Chocolate Cake That Changes Everything

I’ve been on a dessert kick lately. I promise though, it’s not my fault. Last week I had to make desserts to take to two separate occasions. And one recipe failed in presentation [due to the lack-of-parchment-paper-incident-of-2010 so I had to make a third, which was so difficult fun!

This is dessert recipe 2 of 3 that I made last week. It is by far my favorite, and chocolate cakes aren’t really my thing.

However, they are my Grandpa’s thing, and I was in charge of making him a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for his 89th birthday last week. It’s his favorite, and I had to oblige.

Grandpa sporting new oven mitts!

This cake changes everything in regard to my feelings about chocolate cake. It’s another Martha winner.

Chocolate Cake & Frosting | this chocolate cake changes everything! {}Moist. Rich. Tasty. Sweet, but not too sweet. With a frosting that has a slight tang to it… not sickeningly sweet and great when cold.

My mom said it was one of the best she’d ever had.

It even comes highly recommended by…

Chocolate Cake & Frosting | this chocolate cake changes everything! {}

Negley is my husband’s new pet dinosaur. He’s a velociraptor, to be precise. Anyways, he came along to the birthday celebration and he wholeheartedly enjoys this cake, so you should too.

Chocolate Cake & Frosting

  • Servings: 18
  • Print

by Martha Stewart


  • 3/4 cup + 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, divided, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons oil [Martha suggests safflower, I used canola]
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/8 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 3 ounces fat free sour cream
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, melted
  • cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking spray to grease pan, then dust with cocoa. I used a 9×13 baking dish because I had to transport the cake 4 hours in the car, but the original recipe calls for 2 8″ cake pans, so feel free to take your pick. 🙂 A layer cake would be much prettier!

In an electric mixer, combine 3/4 cup cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs one by one, mixing in between to fully combine. Then gradually add in buttermilk and mix to fully incorporate. Repeat with water, oil, and vanilla. Once all ingredients are added, mix on medium speed until smooth and batter is free from any lumps.

Pour batter into pan(s). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Place on cooling rack to cool. [If using round cake pans, turn cake out onto cooling racks after about 15 minutes.] Cool completely before frosting.

Meanwhile… make that frosting! [Note: if using round cake pans, just double this recipe to ensure you’ll have enough frosting.]

In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add cocoa mixture to cream cheese concoction in 1/3 cup increments, mixing until fully incorporated. Pour in the chocolate [it helps to melt it in a glass measuring cup with a spout] while mixer is turned on low, then add sour cream and beat until combined, scraping the sides as necessary.

Frost the cake once cooled, and be sure to lick the beater! No eggs=safe indulgence! 🙂 Top with a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips and you have yourself one chocolaty treat to enjoy.

Feel free to let the cake sit overnight… if you can help it. I refrigerated it because the frosting had dairy in it, and it was ever-so-tasty the next day. Remember, Negley thought it was good and you will too! 🙂

Cakes, Desserts, Recipes

Butterscotch and Chocolate Yellow Cake

Who doesn’t love a homemade birthday cake? Certainly not anyone I know! 🙂 This is a recent occurrence though. When I was growing up, I wasn’t the biggest fan of cake. True story. I would eat a piece at birthday parties and dinner, but I would never request it as a dessert of choice. Some years I asked for a “cake” of cheesecake instead. In fact, 9 times out of 10 I would rather eat fruit than chocolate. However, as I’ve gotten older, my tastes have changed. I still looooove fruit [and am LOVING the summer berries right now!], but I do enjoy cake and other chocolate-ly sweets too! In fact, here I am on my last birthday:

Sarah eating cake.Wowsers. What a flattering photo! 😉 Anywhoooo, now that I like cake, I’m always on the lookout for cake recipes. Mixes in a box are good, but the real good stuff is always homemade [with the exception of brownies. The best brownies I’ve ever had are from a box. Anyone care to remedy that? Just let me know!]. The following recipe is one I made a few months ago for husband’s birthday. It was fairly simple to make and the cake was divine–a delicious mix of buttery yellow cake and sweet chocolate and butterscotch chips, almost like a cookie in cake form. Yum! The frosting was good too, but I might have had better results if my cream cheese hadn’t been funky. Yeah… ugh. This cake was inhaled… so don’t say you weren’t warned. Without further ado…

Ben with his cake.

Butterscotch & Chocolate Yellow Cake

  • Servings: 12-14
  • Print

adapted from OddMom


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened [if using unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt; otherwise, omit salt]
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for garnishing
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips, plus more for garnishing
  • cooking spray


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, gently combine the flour and baking powder. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, thoroughly mixing each in individually. In a liquid measuring cup, add the vanilla tothe milk and whisk until combined. Add half of the milk into the butter mixture, and then add half of the flour mixture. Mix well, and repeat. Using a spatula, fold in the butterscotch and chocolate chips.

Grease and flour [generously, so the cake doesn’t stick–keep a pastry brush on hand to remove flour from a cooled cake prior to frosting it] 2 9″ round cake pans. Using a greased measuring cup, fill the 2 cake pans evenly. One thing I like to do is alternate the pan I am filling up [1 cup of batter in pan A, 1 cup in pan B, etc.] to help ensure that the layers will be equal and not uneven. Cake surgery is not my forté!

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cake should be golden and springy in the middle. Allow to cool in the pans for about 7 minutes, and then carefully remove to cool completely on wire racks.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the ingredients for the frosting.


  • 8 ounces 1/3 less Fat “Neufchâtel” cream cheese [husband loves to say “Neufchâtel!”], softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa

In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and cocoa and then add in 1/3 cup increments to the butter and cream cheese, beating until creamy.

After cake is cooled, place one layer of the cake on a cake stand or serving platter or plate. Frost the top only, then place the second layer on top of the frosting, forming a cake sandwich. Continue to frost the cake, working from top to bottom until cake is frosted. Garnish with butterscotch and chocolate chips on top.

Serve to a hungry birthday husband [or wife or friend or mom or dad or sister or brother or cat… just kiddin’!], and be the hero of the night!

And if you have to transport the cake across town, then rig up a super cool contraption using blankets, a seatbelt, and a Captain Morgan box in your car to protect the yummyness!

Cake in the car

Or use something practical, like oh, a cake carrier. I’d like one… [hint hint!]

Cake carrier

Okay, off to dream of cake…and cake carriers…