Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes with RumChata Frosting

Happy Fall Y’all!!  I have turned my favorite fall cocktail into a cupcake and let me tell you – the result was delicious!

A group of my friends and I had a fall themed painting party at one of those wine and canvas places that have become so popular over the last few years (I highly recommend Canvas Mixers is you are in the South Jersey area!).  I wanted to bring a pitcher of my Caramel Apple Pie Cocktail but you can only bring wine or beer to the venue, so I decided to bake my booze into some cupcakes!

These cupcakes contain all the ingredients from one of my most popular recipes on the blog: apple cider, Pinnacle Caramel Apple vodka, and RumChata.  Everyone at the painting party loved them, and we all had a great time creating our masterpieces!

Now, on to the recipe.  As I tend to do, I started off with a boxed cake mix, doctored it up a bit and topped the whole thing off with a made from scratch frosting.

Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes with RumChata Frosting

Cupcake Ingredients and Directions:

1 box of white or yellow cake mix
Eggs and oil as called for in directions on box
Pinnacle Caramel Apple vodka, or Caramel vodka
Apple Cider

Combine mix, eggs and oil.  Omit the water as called for on the box and substitute equal parts apple cider and caramel apple vodka.  My mix called for one cup of water, so I substituted 1/2 cup apple cider and 1/2 cup vodka.  Bake according to package directions and let cool.

RumChata Frosting Ingredients and Directions:
(adapted from Butter Cream Frosting II on allrecipes.com)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon RumChata

Cream butter and shortening in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add all other ingredients and beat well.

Caramel Apple Cider Cupcakes with RumChata Frosting

I also added some orange gel color to some of the batter and decorated those one for Halloween. 🙂

Halloween Cupcakes

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Cranberry Pecan Pie Magic Bars

Hey all!  Hope everyone had a great summer!  It’s been a while since I made anything worth blogging about.  A business law class (whose dumb idea was it to take THAT in a 5 week condensed summer session???) left me pretty burnt out  and uninspired.  I have spent the last few weeks hiding out in the air conditioned glory of my living room and watching Naked and Afraid XL on the Discovery Channel.

Leave it to my favorite season to bring me out of my baking funk… About two weeks ago all kinds of fall themed goodies started popping up in my Pinterest feed, and then I saw an article about the newest seasonal flavor of M&Ms – Pecan Pie!  I managed to get my hands on a bag last week and then these Cranberry Pecan Pie Magic Bars were born!

These Cranberry Pecan Pie Magic Bars are made with tart dried cranberries and Pecan Pie M&Ms! Perfect for #fall or #Thanksgiving! #magicbar

Cranberry Pecan Pie Magic Bars
Adapted from Samoa Magic Bars by The Domestic Rebel

Ingredients

Cake Base
1 box of Butter Recipe cake mix from Betty Crocker
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted

Brown Sugar Crumble
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Topping
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup Pecan Pie M&Ms
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.  (I used a metal, nonstick pan.  The baking times may vary if you use glass.)
  2. In a large bowl combine the cake mix, egg and melted butter until a soft dough forms.  Press the dough evenly in the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.
  3. While the dough is baking, make the brown sugar crumble by combining the melted butter, flour and brown sugar with a fork until crumbs form.
  4. When the 10 minutes is up, remove the pan from the oven and pour about 1/2 cup of the sweetened condensed milk on top of the cake.  Next, evenly cover the cake with the dried cranberries, chopped pecans and Pecan Pie M&Ms.  Drizzle on the remaining sweetened condensed milk and then top everything with the brown sugar crumble.
  5. Return to the oven and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, until the crumble begins to brown.
  6. Remove from the oven.  Allow the bars to set at room temperature until cool before cutting into bars.

These Cranberry Pecan Pie Magic Bars are made with tart dried cranberries and Pecan Pie M&Ms! Perfect for #fall or #Thanksgiving! #magicbar

These bars would be perfect for a fall bake sale, or a Thanksgiving dessert table – not that you need a specific reason to make them.  Sometimes you just want something to stuff in your face snack on while you watch Fear the Walking Dead (why is it so stressful?  We KNOW what happens!!).

These Cranberry Pecan Pie Magic Bars are made with tart dried cranberries and Pecan Pie M&Ms! Perfect for #fall or #Thanksgiving! #magicbar

Whatever your reason for making them, you will find these magic bars an easy treat to whip up.  If you can’t find the Pecan Pie M&Ms the Harvest Blend M&Ms would make an excellent substitute.  I just love the fall color palette!

Now, I just need Mother Nature to get on board with my seasonal obsession.  Today’s forecast high is 94 degrees!  Not quite pumpkin picking weather just yet…

These Cranberry Pecan Pie Magic Bars are made with tart dried cranberries and Pecan Pie M&Ms! Perfect for #fall or #Thanksgiving! #magicbar

Pumpkin Pie Soda Float

I’m just surrounded by people with good ideas lately.  Last week a friend provided the inspiration for my Chocolate Dipped Double Caramel Apple Oreos (you heard me right – go check ’em out if you haven’t already) and then over the weekend my mom and brother gave me the idea for this:

Pupmkin Pie Soda Float | Shake Bake and Party

My brother had picked up some Maine Root Pumpkin Pie Soda from Wegmans a few weeks ago and he brought me two bottles.  I had them in the fridge, waiting for a day that felt a bit like fall (it was almost 90 in Jersey just last week) and Sunday turned out to be the day.

I had plans to just drink the soda while daydreaming about Halloween until my mom mentioned a conversation she had with my brother about adding some vanilla ice cream to it and turning it into a float.  So then I had to go to the grocery store in the middle of Sunday afternoon, which I usually try to avoid (you know how mobbed the grocery store gets the few days before Christmas?  That’s how our Wegmans is EVERY WEEKEND) to buy some vanilla ice cream.

Pumpkin Pie Soda Float | Shake Bake and Party

I have sadly developed some kind of adult onset lactose intolerance (seriously, I couldn’t have developed an allergy to cauliflower or something?) so I got vanilla almond milk ice cream.  You can obviously use any kind of vanilla ice cream – the creamier the better!  I didn’t have any on hand, but you could top this off with a drizzle of caramel sauce if you like things to be fantastic.

This was really good, and makes an easy fun treat for the kiddos if you have them.  You could also make an adult version by adding a splash of Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka which, of course, I did.  Either way you’ll end up with a glass of cold, creamy, pumpkin-y deliciousness.

Pumpkin Pie Soda Float

Ingredients

Pumpkin Pie Soda
Vanilla Ice Cream (or other flavor of your choosing)
Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka (optional)
Caramel Sauce (optional for garnish)

Directions

1. Pour chilled Pumpkin Pie Soda into a glass.  If using the vodka add a splash and give it a stir.
2. Add as many scoops of ice cream as your little heart desires
3. Top with caramel sauce (optional)

Spiked Pumpkin Pie Soda Float |Shake Bake and Party

The Obsession Continues – Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies

Hey all!  I’m back, and I brought more cake mix cookies!!  If you happened to miss my last post about these UH-MAYYY-ZING Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake Cookies that I made using cake mix, you should definitely go check it out!  Go ahead, I’ll wait… : )

…So you can see why I am totally digging cake mix cookies, right?  They are so easy to make, and every time I have made them the cookies are perfectly soft, chewy and full of flavor!  They have yet to disappoint, unlike some other recipes I have tried lately.

Even though it’s supposed to be almost 90 degrees again tomorrow here in NJ, I am in full on fall recipe mode.  I spent last weekend baking pumpkin and apple cake mix cookies (as well as a sweet treat for this month’s Spiked Recipe Challenge – Seasonal Beers) and I spend a ridiculous amount of time pinning pumpkin related everything to my Fall Pinterest board.  I can’t wait for crisp weather, crunchy leaves and cozy fires in the fireplace.

Fall leaves in Vancouver
Fall leaves in Vancouver (Photo credit: VancityAllie)

To help usher in my favorite season, I would like to introduce you to my Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies!  As I mentioned, these are cake mix cookies and I used another one of the new seasonal Pillsbury cake mixes I found at the grocery store a few weeks ago.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies

Let me tell you, this cake mix smells heavenly.  I mean, it’s got caramel in it – how could it not?  I used white chocolate chips in this recipe, but regular chocolate chips would be also be a delicious add-in.  I’ve ogled those chocolate dipped caramel apples on numerous occasions, haven’t you?

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies

Same simple concept as the Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake Cookies.  Cake mix, pudding mix, oil, eggs = YUMMY COOKIES!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies (Once again inspired by and adapted from Kitchen Meets Girl’s Funfetti Cheesecake Cookies)

Ingredients

1 box Pillsbury Caramel Apple cake mix
1 small box instant cheesecake pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, divided

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.  Combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil and eggs in a medium bowl until a dough forms.  Mix in 1/2 cup of the white chocolate chips.
3.  Form dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.  Use the remaining white chocolate chips to press into the top of each cookie.
4.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown slightly.  Remove from oven, cool for 2 minutes and then move to a wire rack.

Makes about 24 cookies.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies

I ate quite a few of these and then had to take the rest to work before I ate them ALL.  Looking at these pictures now though, I wish I hadn’t.  I’m hungry and I could really go for a cookie…

A Taste of Things to Come

I am impatient.

I am tired of summer.  Tired of 90 degree days with 70% humidity.  Tired of stepping out the door in the morning to go to work and watching my hair expand from the corner of my eye.  Tired of getting all sweaty just from breathing.  Oh, and I’m REALLY tired of mosquitoes.  Seriously, what purpose to those damn things serve?!  West Nile Virus freaks.

Anyway, I cannot wait for fall to start!!  Cooler days, chilly nights, fall foliage, Halloween, fall festivals, my birthday (hint hint!), apple cider and all kinds of pumpkin flavored goodies!!!!

Fall tree branch leaves along river
Fall tree branch leaves along river (Photo credit: Nature Pictures by ForestWander)

Pumpkin pie, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin scones, pumpkin bread, and now this…

It exists, and tonight I found it.  I am beyond excited about this.  Last fall I tried numerous times to make a yummy pumpkin pie drink using a pumpkin spice liqueur that shall remain nameless because it was SO gross.  I was dejected all the way through Christmas.

I LOVE Pinnacle flavors so when I saw that they were coming out with Pumpkin Pie I knew it would be good.  Of course, as soon as I got home with the bottle I had to try it.  So I’ve mixed up a test drink and it is just slightly shy of awesome.  Since I want to tweak it just a bit, I won’t be sharing the recipe today but the Perfect Pumpkin Pietini is just one of the many wonderful things that will be heading your way this fall…(provided I don’t get laid up with West Nile Virus).

Come on September 22nd!!