Mini “Sno-Caps” Cupcakes

I happened to be walking down the candy aisle in the grocery store when these cupcakes popped into my head. It took me a couple of weeks before I finally decided on how I wanted to make them. (I must have a thing for combining my favorite candy with cupcakes, as you can see from my Good & Plenty cupcakes!) For these little yummy treats, I baked up some chocolate mini cupcakes, frosted them with dark chocolate icing, and topped them with my own dark chocolate nonpareils or “Sno-Caps”.  Nestle’s Sno-Caps are so tiny and bite-sized that I thought the cupcakes should be as well.

Here’s how I made them in more detail:
1) Bake a batch of mini cupcakes in a mini muffin pan using cake mix from a box or your favorite chocolate cake recipe. (I used Duncan Hines Devil’s Food flavor because it’s my favorite!) They take only 15 minutes in a 325 degree oven.

2) Let cupcakes sit in muffin pan for 5-10 minutes after baking and then remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

*I made 48 mini cupcakes and still had leftover batter. The frosting recipe and instructions for the nonpareils are for 48 mini cupcakes. I just used the rest of the batter to try out my whoopie pie pan and froze the cakes for another time! 🙂

3) While mini cupcakes are cooling, make your frosting.

Dark Chocolate Frosting
2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a small but heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate with butter, milk, and salt. Stir constantly (so chocolate doesn’t burn) until thick and smooth. This should only take a few minutes. Remove from heat. Add in the vanilla and stir a little to combine. Pour into a mixing bowl, scraping with a spatula to get all the chocolate into the bowl. Add in the powdered sugar. Blend on low speed with mixer to combine, and then beat on higher speed until well combined. The frosting should be thick and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

4) To make your “Sno-Caps” you’ll need:

6 oz. or more of white nonpareils (small, ball-shaped sprinkles, found in baking aisle of grocery store or where they sell cake decorating supplies)
1 – 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet morsels and 1 – 10 oz. bag of bittersweet morsels
2 – 12 oz. bags of semi-sweet morsels
(Depends on how sweet you like your dark chocolate…I used half Ghirardelli Bittersweet morsels and half Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet morsels. I find that the Ghirardelli melts more smoothly, so I recommend that brand if you can get it.)
Disposable decorating bag or a Ziploc bag
Wax paper

Pour half of the chocolate into a microwaveable bowl. (If you are mixing them, pour half the bittersweet and half the semi-sweet into the bowl) Microwave the chocolate on medium power for a minute. Stir morsels. Microwave another minute on medium power. Stir. Microwave on medium power at 30 second intervals now, stirring each time, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Do not over heat and do not use high power! Set bowl aside for a few minutes to cool a bit. While it cools you can make a template for your nonpareils. Using wax paper and a Sharpie marker, trace the circles of your mini muffin pan onto the paper.

Flip wax paper over…and line a rimmed baking sheet with it. (You want your baking sheet to have a rim so the sprinkles won’t spill out, but it should fit in your freezer as well.)

Get your decorating bag or Ziploc bag ready. Fill your bag about 3/4 full with melted chocolate, snip the end, and using a swirl motion fill the circles on your wax paper. I tried to make “mountains” like the Sno-Caps candy but when I added the sprinkles they mostly flattened out anyway.

I only did about 12 at a time. If you make too many at once, your chocolate will start to set up and the nonpareil sprinkles will not stick properly.

Generously sprinkle the nonpareils over your chocolate swirls, covering all the chocolate.

Stick the baking sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes or so, to let the chocolate harden. When they are ready, take the pan out of the freezer, peel off the chocolates, and set aside. Pour the unused sprinkles into a bowl to reuse (using the wax paper like a funnel).

You can either make all of these “Sno-Caps” first, then frost the cupcakes and assemble with the nonpareils, or you can do it in batches like I did. (I made 12 Sno-Caps, frosted and assembled 12 cupcakes, then made the rest in groups of 12 (melting chocolate as needed.)

5) Frost mini cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting…

6) Stick your custom “Sno-Cap” on top and gently press it into place.

I tried to create these as close to the candy as possible. The chocolate candy top adds a nice little touch. But…if you want a short cut, go ahead and just frost the cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting and sprinkle generously with white nonpareils (or turn over and dip them which might be easier and cleaner.) Just don’t let me know you copped out! 😉

Happy Sprinkling!

Red Hot Love Fudge

No, you are not seeing things. Yes, Valentine’s Day is over. But it’s still February so I didn’t think you’d mind too much. Besides, think how prepared you’ll be for next year!

I had every intention of posting this for Valentine’s Day, but I wasn’t happy with my recipe until now since I had to order one of the ingredients. “Red Hot Love Fudge” should deliver what it promises! Well, at least it should have enough cinnamon in it to live up to its name.

I have always loved those little red hot candies and when I came across a website that sold a similar type of fudge for Valentine’s Day, I had to figure out how to make my own. Occasionally I whip up some of the easy chocolate fudge from the Eagle Brand’s website, so that’s where I started. I took it in a whole new direction. It’s super easy and I think I got it just right…

Here are the ingredients you need:

1 – 14oz. can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 – 12oz. bag of white chocolate chips (I used Nestle)
2 – 4oz. baking bars of Ghirardelli White Chocolate
2 – jars of red hot cinnamon candies (Cake Mate Cinnamon Decors)
12-14 drops of Cinnamon Flavoring Oil (I use Lorann and bought the 1 dram bottle plus dropper. I had to order this, but you might be near a cake or candy supply store to purchase it there)

Before you start working with the chocolate, line an 8×8 square pan with wax paper, making sure it comes up on all sides.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a medium saucepan. Add the bag of white chocolate chips. Break up the white chocolate baking bars into smaller pieces and add them as well. Melt together over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so you don’t burn the chocolate at the bottom of the pan and everything melts evenly. Do not walk away!

When it has completely melted and looks nice and creamy, remove from heat.

Using the eye dropper of your cinnamon flavoring oil, add in about 12-14 drops. Feel free to taste as you go, in case you like yours with less cinnamon. The candies will give it a cinnamon flavor, but in my opinion it wasn’t dominant enough. I felt it needed the flavoring oil as well. My perfectionism cost me a timely Valentine’s Day post, but you’ll have that here occasionally. 🙂

Now stir in one bottle of the red hot candies. Add some of the second bottle, but you want to save some to sprinkle on top of the fudge. I think I used about 1 1/2 bottles to mix in, and half of a bottle for decorating. It’s up to you.

When all is combined, pour that delicious goodness into your prepared pan. (You used wax paper, right?) Spread the fudge so it gets in all the corners and is somewhat even on top. Plop on the rest of those candies wherever your heart desires. Keep in mind how you will be cutting it so that each piece will have the candies on top.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours, or until firm.

When it is firm enough, simply peel away the wax paper and place the block of fudge onto a cutting board. You can cut it into squares using a big, sharp knife or use heart cookie cutters. (The cutters take a little bit of muscle, but they look really cute.) If you are giving this as a gift, you’ll want to cut off the wrinkly edges and keep them for yourself.

So there you have it. Enjoy it now or wait until Valentine’s Day next year. Let me know what you think! (P.S. Use some of that cinnamon flavoring oil and make your own cinnamon toothpicks…remember those?)