Watermelon Cookie Slices

Watermelon Cookie Slices and Coconut Cupcakes

Tropical Dinner Party

Last week, I celebrated my half birthday. While I’m not exactly sure where I’ll be for my birthday in December, I’m determined to make it somewhere warm! (So obviously, Chicago isn’t going to cut it. :-P) In honor of the half and to celebrate the start of warmer temps, I hosted a tropical-themed dinner party for a some close friends. It only seemed fitting to recap a couple recipes from the event for my first Fiesta Friday Blog Party. (Thanks for the invite to participate, Jhuls!)

The full dinner party spread looked like this:

  • Appetizers: watermelon, chips & salsa, drunk gummies and fruit glazed meatballs
  • Main course: pineapple & ham fried rice, BBQ pulled chicken on Hawaiian rolls and ginger & garlic green beans
  • Dessert: double coconut cupcakes and watermelon cookie “slices”
  • Drink: tropical ginger punch

I also had a few fun and tropical wearables – leis and party glasses, courtesy of Oriental Trading. (I had to practice restraint when browsing through the Luau section — so many cute and appropriately themed things!)

Tropical Dinner Decorations

OK, time to skip to the desserts. The watermelon cookie slices really DID taste like watermelon! (Several friends were convinced I’d melted watermelon Jolly Ranchers into the batter, as they swore that’s what they were reminded of when sampling the cookies.) But the solution to make these cookies was a lot simpler. I turned a box of Betty Crocker Watermelon Cupcake Mix into cake mix cookies, and added some icing and green sugar to create the rind. I used my roommate’s “muffin tops” pan to create the larger cookies, and cut them in half once they’d baked (and had time to cool) to create the slices. (Want to learn how to create cake mix cookies? See my recipe for Strawberry White Chocolate Cookies.)

Watermelon Cookies
Watermelon Cookies
Watermelon Cookie Slices

Watermelon Cookie Slices

The Double Coconut Cupcakes were a bit more involved, though I still used a box of cake mix for the base batter. (Hey, I had three other courses to worry about! :-P) Once out of the oven, these cupcakes were super light and spongy. The condensed milk and coconut on top makes them look pretty even without the frosting.

Double Coconut Cupcakes

  • Servings: ~2 dozen cupcakes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Double Coconut Cupcakes

The Makings:

Coconut Cupcakes

Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 1/4 cups almond coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 egg whites

Frosting:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons almond coconut milk
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

The Sweetness:

Coconut Cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small frying pan, cook sweetened coconut flakes over low-medium heat for a few minutes. Stir often and watch carefully, as the flakes will easily burn if left unattended.

2. Mix toasted coconut with condensed milk. In a separate bowl, combine cake mix, milk, vegetable oil and egg whites together using a mixer on low for the first minute and at medium speed for another 2 minutes.

3. Insert liners in muffin tins and fill liners about 3/4ths full with batter. Scoop condensed milk/coconut mixture atop batter on each cupcake.

Coconut Cupcakes

4. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Coconut Cupcakes

5. While cupcakes are cooling, create frosting by beating butter smooth with a hand mixer. Gradually blend in powdered sugar to form a crumbly mix. Next, add in milk and mix until desired consistency.

6. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle tops with toasted coconut.

This recipe was adapted from Crazy for Crust.

”Fiesta

More Sweetness:

Coconut-Apricot Macaroons  Margarita Cupcakes  Churro Cupcakes

 
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Cinnamon Churro Cupcakes

Churro Cupcakes

In a month, I’ll be exploring the sights and sounds of New Orleans for the very first time. (There will be beignets! And yes, I do plan to blog about the best bites discovered from my NOLA adventures. :)

These cupcakes remind me of a different type of “donut” – the churro. A good churro has fried, cinnamon-y sugar goodness in every bite. While these Cinnamon Churro Cupcakes don’t do the fried part justice, they are deliciously packed with cinnamon and sugar, both baked in and topped with a crunchy glaze. :) Dollops of cream cheese frosting top it all off. Serve these cupcakes – or these Margarita Cupcakes, too – at your next Cinco de Mayo party or at any other fun fiesta.

Cinnamon Churro Cupcakes

  • Servings: ~2 dozen cupcakes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

The Makings: (1 batch yields ~2 dozen cupcakes)

Churro Cupcakes

  • All-purpose flour – 3 cups
  • Baking powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Ground cinnamon – 1 tablespoon
  • Butter (room temperature) – 1 cup (2 sticks)
  • Sugar – 1 3/4 cups
  • Eggs – 4
  • Vanilla extract – 2 teaspoons
  • Milk – 1 1/4 cups
  • Cream cheese frosting – 1 can

For crunchy topping:

  • Butter – 4 tablespoons, melted
  • Sugar – 1/4 cup
  • Ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

The Sweetness:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder and cinnamon.

2. Cream sugar and butter together using a mixer. Add eggs in, one at a time, followed by vanilla.

Churro Cupcakes

3. Use mixer to blend in dry ingredients in three batches, adding in milk in two batches inbetween flour mix-ins.

Churro Cupcakes

4. Fill lined muffin tins 3/4ths full with batter and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Churro Cupcakes

Churro Cupcakes

5. Allow cupcakes to cool and prepare crunchy topping by first melting butter. Mix together cinnamon and sugar in a separate small bowl. Once cupcakes are cooled, brush butter on top of cupcakes and then dip into cinnamon sugar.

Churro Cupcakes

6. Place dollops of cream cheese frosting atop the crunchy topping.

Churro Cupcakes

Churro Cupcakes

This recipe was adapted from Lady Behind the Curtain

More Sweetness:

Margarita Cupcakes  Lemon Cool Whip Cookies  Strawberry Margarita Jello Shots

Chick Cupcakes

Chick Cupcakes

Easter is almost upon us! Growing up, my mom always assembled the BEST Easter baskets for me and my brother. His would be filled with chocolates and mine would contain all of my favorite fruit-flavored items, plus a stuffed animal or two. My mom used to pull together similar packages for us for Valentine’s Day, too. I miss those, but from time to time, we still get surprise packs by mail. :)

The little spring chickies above make adorable cupcakes. I used Pillsbury’s Orangesicle cake mix for my base and yellow sugar, candy orange slices, white chocolate chips, black icing and lemon icing to craft these creatures. The roomie plans to take some to her family’s holiday get together tomorrow.

The Makings:

Chick Cupcakes

  • Cake mix – 1 Box
  • Eggs – 3
  • Canola oil
  • Water

For garnish:

  • Yellow sugar
  • Lemon icing
  • Black icing
  • White chocolate chips
  • Candy orange slices

The Sweetness:

Chick Cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix as directed on the package.

Chick Cupcakes

2. Pour cake mix into lined cupcake molds and bake for approximately 18-22 minutes. Allow cupcakes time to cool.

Chick Cupcakes Chick Cupcakes

3. Frost cupcakes with lemon icing. Then roll frosted cupcakes in yellow sugar.

Chick Cupcakes Chick Cupcakes

4. Divide each candy orange slice into 3 sections – 1 to make the beak and 2 for the feet. Make 2 small cuts into each of the feet pieces to give a “zig zag” effect. Use a dab of icing to secure feet and beak pieces to base.

Chick Cupcakes Chick Cupcakes

5. Place chocolate chips upside down to create eyeballs and a black tube of icing to create pupils. Plop two dollops of lemon icing on sides of cupcakes to make mini wings. (To do this, I used my Cuisinart cookie press and an icing tip.) And that’s it! You’ve now created some super sugary chicken feed. :-P

Chick Cupcakes

Chick Cupcakes

More Sweetness:

Dragon's Deviled Eggs  Spring Macarons  Tie Dye Cupcakes

Tie-Dye Cupcakes: The Go Blue Batch

Tie Dye Cupcakes

To prepare for a bus ride from Michigan back to Chicago, I stopped in the community library’s bookstore for reading materials and a few DVDs. For $10, I picked up several Cooking Light issues, American History X and Hairspray on DVD, and the book, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. (I’m reading Larson’s Devil in the White City now, and it’s fascinating.) I also really couldn’t resist grabbing two CDs for an additional $2. LOVE me some *NSYNC. While perusing through my magazines, I saw a recipe advertorial for tie-dye cupcakes. I tore out the sheet and stashed it in my bag along with a few others, including recipes for Fried Chickpea and Arugula Pita Sandwiches and a Shrimp, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad.

When my neighbor invited me to a football game watch for my alma mater, the University of Michigan, I figured I had my reason to test out a “Go Blue” version of the treat. The original recipe suggested using three different flavors of JELL-O, but I opted for two instead: Berry Blue and Island Pineapple, and left the third batch of batter plain. JELL-O comes in so many flavors; I think it would be fun to recreate the recipe using alternative flavors. Maybe I’ll work in the Margarita JELL-O to my next batch of Margarita Cupcakes. :)

*NSYNC CDs

The Makings:

  • White Cake Mix – 1 box
  • Eggs – 3
  • Oil – 1/3 cup
  • JELL-O – 1/4 cup of dry gelatin mix per flavor (I used 2 different flavors; The small JELL-O boxes will work, and you’ll have leftovers.)
  • Frosting, assorted sprinkles and food coloring (optional)

The Sweetness:

1. Preheat oven to XX degrees. Follow cake mix instructions on box and divide batter into 3 portions.

2. Stir 1/4 cup dry JELL-O mix into each batter portion. (I opted to leave my third bowl untouched.) Add food coloring to intensify color in batter, if desired. (I used about 5-10 drops of blue and yellow food coloring.)

3. Take turns spooning colored batter into each cupcake liner; each cupcake should have all 3 colors. (I varied the order of spooning/layering, so that some would have blue batter on the bottom, some had white and some had yellow.)

4. Bake cupcakes for 16-20 minutes. Frost and decorate once cupcakes are cool. (I found a bottle of Easter-themed sequins and used only the blue and yellow ones. I brought a cupcake with just the orange chicks to the party, too, to give to a non-Michigan fan.)

The cupcakes were devoured at the party. The JELL-O flavoring came through in taste, but was subtle and lighter than expected. (We also took home a W that night; HAIL!)

This recipe was adapted from Kraft Recipes

More Sweetness:
Margarita Cupcakes  Coconut-Apricot Macaroons  Lemon Cool Whip Cookies