Cherry Bomb Cupcakes

Just living is not enough, one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. — Hans Christian Anderson

Easy sides for your outdoor BBQ days or your next potluck.

Best-ever baked beans

Cook’s notes:  When I saw the title for this recipe best ever baked beans, I was a bit skeptical. We all have what we think is our own best baked bean recipe. But one spoonful of this side dish will have you smacking your lips and wanting more. I could say it serves six but since it’s so tasty a realistic guess would be four. It can be prepared the night before and then reheated. It can easily be doubled.

Recipe from Food Network 

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. ground beef

1 cup sweet onions, diced

3/4 cup mini sweet peppers, diced yellow, orange and red

1 can (28 oz.) Bush’s baked beans maple and bacon cured 

1/4 cup barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray brand)

1/4 cup ketchup

1 TB. spicy brown mustard or yellow mustard

1 TB. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. soy sauce

2 TB. brown sugar

Optional 4 slices of cooked crumbled bacon

Directions:

Brown ground beef, onions and peppers. Drain and crumble ground beef. Set aside.

In  large saucepan add ground beef, peppers, onions and rest of ingredients. Cook on low 30 minutes uncovered.

Cherry bomb cupcakes

This is a dessert that will float your boat or your taste buds! Or maybe even both. Buttermilk makes the cupcakes moist and cherry coke/cola captures the flavors of a favorite drink.

A half teaspoon espresso powder was added to draw out the natural flavors of chocolate giving it more depth. Recipe makes 10-12. If you are looking for more of a Fourth of July theme use red, white and blue cupcake liners and red. white and blue sprinkles. A box cake mix can be substituted. Make batter according to box directions except substitute 1 cup Cherry Coke and 1/3 cup cherry liquid for water. Avoid overbeating batter so cupcakes rise nicely.

Cupcake ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour

3 TB. cocoa powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. espresso powder

¾ cup sugar

8 TB. butter, at room temperature

1 large egg

½ cup buttermilk

¾ cup Cherry Coca-Cola

¼ tsp maraschino cherry juice

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Maraschino cherries, stemless

Cupcake directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

In a bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder and salt. Stir together and set aside.

In another bowl, combine the sugar and butter and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg until incorporated.

In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, coke, maraschino cherry juice, and vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture on low speed, alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.

Insert 1 maraschino cherry in the middle of each cupcake and cover with batter.

Bake for about 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting ingredients:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 TB. softened butter

3 TB. cherry juice or Cherry Cola

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Milk

3 cups powdered sugar

Frosting directions:

Beat cream cheese and butter. Add in cherry juice or Cherry Cola, almond extract and powdered sugar. Add in milk beating until desired frosting consistency.  

Decorate with half a straw and cherry with a stem. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set frosting.

Twice a month The Seasonal Plate food column will highlight dishes inspired by the changing seasons. My passion for travel, poetry, writing, exploring new cuisines, trying recipes and cooking  have been inspiration for the recipes I have published on my blog http://www.sockfairies.blogspot.com.

Questions/comments at: theseasonalplate@outlook.com

Sue Ready is a writer, poet and former middle school teacher. She is the president of the Northwoods Arts Council in Hackensack. Sue publishes monthly dog stories called The World According to Bella at http://www.wwnrockport.com/

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