Cupcakes with peanut butter frosting

(Nationalcupcakeday.ca)

(Nationalcupcakeday.ca)

Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:49 PM ET

Calling all bakers and animal lovers: The second-annual National Cupcake Day takes place Feb. 24 and everyone is invited to bake their best cupcakes — all in support of the SPCAs and Humane Societies across Canada.

National Cupcake Day will help shelters across Canada give a surrendered animal a new forever home; rescue a neglected or abused animal and give it a second chance at a new life, and provide emergency surgery to injured animals. Initially launched by the RSPCA in New South Wales, Australia, National Cupcake Day began in parts of Canada last year, and the initiative has since then been growing fast across the nation.

To sweeten the pot, celebrity chef Anna Olson, host of Food Network Canada’s Bake with Anna Olson, is joining the party this year as a Cupcake Crusader. A long-time supporter of animals and the SPCA, Olson has created an original cupcake recipe specially for this year’s event.

“Cupcakes are the universal feel-good dessert,” says Olson. “When I discovered that National Cupcake Day helps animals, it was the icing on the cupcake. Whether you make my cupcake recipe or whip up a batch of your own, this is a great chance to feed your body and your soul with a little taste of happiness.”

“It’s amazing the power a cupcake can hold,” says Alison Cross for Ontario SPCA, provincial office. “The response to last year’s launch event was phenomenal and this year we encourage bakers and animal lovers across the country to get involved — it’s a fun event that makes a life-saving difference in the lives of animals who desperately need our help, and it’s a sweet way to show your support.”

Anna's Cupcake's with Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 2 1/2 cups (625ml) cake & pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. (12ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. (2ml) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. (2ml) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. (2ml) salt
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (500ml) mashed ripe banana
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. (10ml) vanilla extract

For cupcakes, preheat oven to 350F.(180C.). In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add butter and, using electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, blend in butter on medium speed until mixture is a rough, crumbly texture and no large bits of butter are visible.

Whisk mashed banana, eggs and vanilla together and add this to flour mixture, beating well on medium speed until batter is well-blended (it will be wet). Divide batter between cupcake liners (an ice cream scoop works well) and bake cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes, until brown just lightly and spring back when gently pressed in centre. Cool cupcakes in tins before frosting. Frost with following:

Frosting:

  • 8 oz. (240g) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (150ml) smooth peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp. (45ml) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (625ml) sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese, peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add icing sugar and vanilla and beat first on low speed until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until frosting is fluffy. Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes while at room temperature, then chill until ready to serve. NOTE: For a school-safe, nut-free cream cheese frosting, simply omit peanut butter and increase butter to 6 Tbsp. (90ml) keeping all other measurements same.

DECORATING IDEAS: Top cupcakes with a sprinkle of coloured sugar, Skor toffee bits or chocolate chips. For “pupcakes”, you can make puppy faces out of chocolate wafer cookies. A smaller cookie or a circle of rolled fondant can be placed on as the muzzle, with chocolate chips as nose and eyes, and crescent cookies as ears. All features and details can be drawn and adhered using melted chocolate in a small piping bag.

Carrot Pineapple Cupcakes:

Decadent and delicious!

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) each vanilla and rum flavouring
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) finely grated orange rind
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) each cinnamon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 cups (500 ml) grated carrots (about four, choose young carrots)
  • 3/4 cup (175ml) canned pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) sweet coconut, toasted
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) raisins (optional)

Line 12 muffin cups with jumbo paper liners or butter well. Heat oven to 350F. (180C.)

In large bowl beat butter until light and fluffy; beat in brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then vanilla, rum flavouring, orange rind and lemon zest.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir, or with mixer at low speed, add half of these dry ingredients to butter mixture. Add buttermilk and, when incorporated, remaining dry ingredients. Sprinkle carrots, pineapple and toasted coconut over surface; fold in with as few strokes as possible. Gently blend in raisins, if using.

Using slightly rounded 1/4-cup (50 ml) measuring cup or scoop, fill paper cups; tap pan smartly on counter to eliminate air pockets. Bake in centre of oven until well rounded and cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool on rack.

Makes 12.

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups (500 ml) icing sugar
  • Coconut flakes, slightly toasted
  • In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light. Beat in zest. Gradually beat in icing sugar. Spread over cupcake, making swirls with spatula.
  • Sprinkle with coconut flakes
  • Makes enough to ice 12 cupcakes.

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