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Kick-Ass Cupcakes for Grad Party

OK, what are the latest (yes, I know there are old threads - let's do another!) amazing cupcakes that you've made?

I need them for my friend's son's graduation party.

Chocolate is already being done, as is lemon-raspberry.

I am thinking about retooling an old almond paste cake recipe with some browned butter, then frosting with butterscotch and topping with salty candied sliced almonds.

Does this sound stupid?

My other thought was gingerbread with orange cream cheese frosting.

Your ideas? Recipes?


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  1. Almond paste sounds great. Gingerbread reminds me of winter. How about going trendy to help them remember what was popular when they graduated, maybe salted caramel with bacon?


    Maybe do the chocolate to look like Hostess cupcakes to remind them of childhood?

    Recently, I've been popping in a scoop of cookie dough in the middle of cupcakes and that has been popular.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      Do you put the cookie dough in before baking? Any adjustment to baking time needed?

      1. re: cheesymama

        Yes, I put it in first, then batter over it. I always put them in shortest baking time and then check from then. It takes about the same time.

        Despite all the fun flavors, the most popular these days among kids is red velvet. I don't care for it myself but kids go crazy for them. What about mini red velvet cupcakes? I always think cupcakes are too big and minis are the perfect size.

      2. re: chowser

        Cookie dough, really? That sounds really interesting!

        I'm not doing the chocolate ones, so I can't do the squiggle......;-(

        Thinking about the bacon....

      3. The last three times I've made an assortment of cupcakes, vanilla bean was the first to go every time. It may seem plain jane, but people go for them. I do make mine with actual vanilla bean in both the cake and the frosting in addition to the normal amount of extract though. Plus, it gives people who aren't wild about chocolate (those people do exist) an option if they aren't wild about lemon (I love lemon, and while my lemon cupcakes are very popular, vanilla always runs out before lemon). People also get weirdly nostalgic over funfetti (I never saw the appeal, but is not horrible if you take your favorite homemade recipe and add your favorite brand of sprinkles instead of the boxed mix).

        I like your ideas in theory (really, I love gingerbread, almond, brown butter and butterscotch), but both of those options seem...heavy for June. Gingerbread is just heavy with spices traditionally seen in holiday baking and butterscotch reminds me of schnapps by the fire and ice fishing. Otherwise, in warmer weather, I tend to lean more towards things like coconut lime, margarita with a little salt in the frosting, champagne (sometimes with a strawberry or raspberry leaning), pineapple upside down (I tend to make it a little less syrupy/buttery in the summer) or pineapple coconut, snickerdoodle (not as heavily spicy as spice cake or gingerbread), creamsicle, or some almond variation like honey almond or apricot almond.

        3 Replies
        1. re: amishangst

          You make some great points. I would love to do the vanilla, with cooked flour frosting...the parent here wanted more exotic flavors...I might approach it with her.

          I was thinking about coconut or toasted coconut - the lime part sounds really refreshing!

          I've never ice fished or had schnapps!

          1. re: sandylc

            if not coconut lime, key lime is always a nice summer refresher… scoop out a little filling reservoir in the top of a graham flour or vanilla bean (with or without lime zest) cupcake and fill with key lime curd, top with a swirl of lightly sweetened whipped cream and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs

            peach cobbler -- vanilla or almond cupcake filled with peach preserves and topped with a streusel

            drumstick cupcakes? topped with buttercream dipped in a magic shell of sorts, sprinkled with nuts, and topped with a cone… or bake in a cone

            cheesecake cupcakes?

          2. re: amishangst

            margarita idea sounds great. also agree on good vanilla!

          3. I saw some dulce leche cupcakes at a local bakery recently which seems to be a popular flavor.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ruthie789

              i was also thinking of an awesome kahlua and cream cupcake i had at crave cupcake in houston. but, not for the underage set, of course.

              i also adored this one from crave -- man, was it fabulous! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/842374 -- an intense vanilla buttercream on a dark chocolate cupcake. WOWZA!

            2. The almond sounds good to me but if not that, what about cinnamon toast crunch cupcakes? I am not a cereal eater but I confess that I love that stuff and sneak a square periodically. These look really good to me:


              1. You could have a vanilla cupcake and fill with different fillings, strawberry is my favorite, with different icings.

                1. I have a question for more experienced bakers than myself! I'm making cupcakes from boxed yellow cake mix (already have it and the people I'm making them for wouldn't notice the difference between boxed and home made. Really.)

                  Can I substitute lemonade (home made,) for the water and add zest to make them lemon cupcakes? Will that be lemony enough?

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                    Why not just start w/ a lemon box cake? There are recipes for it, using a box cake w/ lemon jello:


                    1. re: chowser

                      chowser, I'm not interested in buying anything for this, I'm trying to use something I already have.

                    2. re: weezieduzzit

                      just use lemon zest and lemon juice. lemonade will make the cake too sweet.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        You don't think a cup of straight lemon juice will make it too sour?

                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                          I would use the zest and about 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 3/4 cup of water. No more sugar - the mix has more than enough.

                            1. re: sandylc

                              I'm glad I didn't need to add sugar... we don't have any!

                            2. re: weezieduzzit

                              oh, dear, yes, mix the lemon juice with water. had no idea what the proportions are for boxed mix. :)

                        2. I made malted milk ball cupcakes for my husband last year. He is a huge fan of malted anything and loved them.


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: foodieX2

                            Can someone please explain what a malted food is? I have also seen references to malted flour.

                            1. re: Ruthie789

                              malt·ed milk (môl′tĭd)
                              1. A soluble powder made of dried milk, malted barley, and wheat flour.
                              2. A beverage made by mixing milk with this powder and adding ice cream and flavoring. Also called malt, malted.

                              malt noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
                              Grain product used in beverages and foods. Malt provides a basis for fermentation and adds flavour and nutrients. It is made by steeping grain, usually barley, in water and allowing partial germination to occur. The flavour of beer primarily results from the malt from which it is made. The enzymes produced within the barley seed during germination break down starch into malt sugar, or maltose, which is then fermented by yeast to yield alcohol and carbon dioxide. Whiskey likewise is made with malt.

                              All that said I just know my husband loves anything malted!

                          2. I am loving these from Domestic Charm. A chocolate square on a mini Reeses.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Jerseygirl111

                              they are adorable, but wouldn't you need to disassemble it in order to eat it?