On Vanilla-thons, Gluten-Free Baking & Empathy

by kellybakes in , , ,

Hello. My name is Kelly and I suffer from chronic empathy. Okay, so maybe 'suffer' is a bit harsh, but it is fair to say that sometimes my overwhelming desire to relate to others has caused me a bit of pain. My earliest empathetic memory stems from third grade: I would lie to my friends about the A's I got on tests and say that I got far lower marks so that they wouldn't feel so bad about their own exams. It continued well into adulthood, as I made friends by sharing embarrassing stories to put new friends at ease. I'm self-deprecating because I like you. I overshare because I'm excited to have something in common with you. Take it as a compliment...

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Friday, I'm in Love: The Birthday edition!

by kellybakes in , , ,

Well, folks, it's that time again. Friday is glorious for many reasons, but today is especially special for a few reasons. First and foremost, it's my BIRTHDAY! (yay!) which means that I headed up to CT for the weekend, took the day off to do and eat whatever the heck I please and am spending a long weekend with my family and friends.

Despite being a terrible sharer, I don't want to hoard all the fun. I'm bringing along some cupcakes AND presents for you in the form a GIVEAWAY! (woohoo!) More on that at the end of the weekly love. (You'll want to read on. Trust me, it's a good one!)

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Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes & Falling in Love

by kellybakes in ,

Pumpkin spice latte cupcakes

Do you remember when you first fell in love? When you first experienced that head-to-toe giddiness that seemed to make your brain go into overdrive, replaying blissful moments on loop until you thought your heart couldn't beat any faster and your cheeks had no more room to stretch your smile?

I fell in love in October of my senior year of college. I sat on a bench overlooking a dam, drinking Starbucks and reading Ezra Pound's poetry with a handsome blonde man. I told my creative writing class it was the way the autumn sun dusted the already orange dappled tree tops with an amber glow. I told the man it was his beard. In truth, it was the coffee...


I fell in love with fall after one sip of my first pumpkin spice latte. I was a stranger to Starbucks for most of my life, but in that moment, all that mattered was the sweet kiss of vanilla whipped cream, the rush of pumpkin flavor following and the warm cinnamonny smell dancing up my nostrils. The world went silent, including the handsome man and his words I once clung to. As his mouth flapped on noiselessly about what I can only imagine was modernism and epic poetry, I hugged my white cup to my chest in blissful ignorance, smiling as I sighed and took in the scenery with new eyes. I was lovedrunk on the ultimate autumnal elixir and I haven't looked back ever since.

[Dramatic, I know, but isn't love always that way?]

Pumpkin spice latte cupcake

These cupcakes are a bit like that, too. They showcase both flavors, pumpkin and coffee, with equal intensity. The silky Swiss meringue buttercream is reminiscent of a milky latte and the moist pumpkin cupcake laced with hints of cinnamon, ginger and clove bring to mind all the warmth of fall. If you prefer one flavor over the other, adjust the amount of coffee liquor (I used Cafe Patron) to suit your tastes. You can also play with toppings. Javaheads, add a scant dusting of ground coffee to the top of each cupcake. Pumpkin-fiends, make yourself some pumpkin spice syrup and give each swirl of frosting a sexy drizzle of pumpkin on top. Then, save the syrup, froth some milk, and make yourself a pumpkin spice latte to wash down these cupcakes. Twice the pumpkin. Twice the love!

pumpkin spice latte cupcakes & falling in love
Recipe Type: dessert
Author: kellybakes, cupcake recipe adapted from Ina Garten & SMBC adapted from Dyannbakes
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 12
Perfect for Starbucks addicts, coffee lovers and autumn admirers alike, these cupcakes are sure to make the perfect addition to a fall menu!
  • For the Pumpkin Cupcakes
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I love cinnamon, but if you don't, add 1 tsp!)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 C canned pumpkin puree (for the love of all things good and delicious do NOT use pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 1/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1/3 C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • Pumpkin Spice Syrup (optional, see link in post)
  • Ground Coffee Beans (optional)
  • For the Coffee Buttercream
  • 3 oz egg whites
  • 6 oz granulated white sugar
  • 12 oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 T coffee liquor (I went a little coffee-heavy, but feel free to adjust to your taste. I used Cafe Patron, but you can also use Kahlua or to keep things kid-friendly, espresso or coffee flavoring)
For the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cupcake tin with 12 liners.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients in a bowl. Set Aside.
  3. In a larger bowl, stir together oil, pumpkin, sugars and eggs until well combined.
  4. Slowly add in flour mixture, stirring carefully until combined.
  5. Divide batter among tins. Bake for 20-25 minues or until a tester comes out clean.
  6. Set aside to cool completely.
For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Prepare double boiler. In the bottom pan, add 1-2 inches of water and allow to simmer. Add top pan, combine sugar and egg whites. Whisk constantly until mixture reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (at this point, the sugar will have dissolved and you can rub the egg whites with your fingers and you shouldn't feel any granules).
  2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixter fixed with the whisk attachment.
  3. Beat for 10 minutes on high or until mixture is glossy, white and forms stiff peaks. The mixing bowl should be cool to the touch.
  4. Slowly add butter, one cube at a time, making sure it is well incorporated before adding the next cube.
  5. Repeat until all butter is added. If your frosting curdles, do not fear! Keep beating. Eventually it will come back together.
  6. Once all butter has been added, add the coffee flavor. Taste to adjust.
  7. Frost cupcakes with a large tip. Dust with coffee grounds or drizzle with pumpkin spice syrup.