'Cakes and Cupcakes': Lion House head baker offers easy tips to making cakes, cupcakes

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 29 2011 6:22 p.m. MST

1 (3.4-ounce) package chocolate instant pudding mix

1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips

Filling

1 cup milk

1 (3.4-ounce) package vanilla or chocolate instant pudding mix

1⁄2 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Buttercream Frosting

6 cups powdered sugar

2 cups butter (room temperature)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4-6 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin pans with cupcake papers and set aside.

For cupcakes: In a medium bowl, mix eggs, oil and water with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Add cake and pudding mixes and mix for 30 seconds more on low speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula; continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Spoon cake batter into each cup, filling one-half to two-thirds full. Place 6 or 7 chocolate chips on top of each cupcake. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool. Fill cupcakes and then frost using Buttercream Frosting.

For filling: In a small bowl, whisk together milk and pudding mix until it is smooth and starts to thicken. Fold in whipped topping. Place half of the filling in a decorating bag with a large round tip or in a quart-size zipper-lock bag with a corner snipped away. With a clean straw or the end of a round wooden spoon, make a hole in the top center of each cupcake halfway through. Squeeze filling into each hole until it comes to the top of the cupcake. Fills 28 to 36 cupcakes.

For Buttercream Frosting: In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter on low speed for 1 minute or until well mixed. Continue beating on high speed for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add more cream in small amounts if needed to achieve a spreading consistency.

Variations: Here are some fun variations to make with this recipe.

Chocolate/Chocolate: chocolate filling and chocolate frosting

Chocolate/Raspberry or Strawberry: chocolate filling and raspberry or strawberry frosting

German Chocolate: chocolate filling with a ring of chocolate frosting around the edge of the cupcake and German chocolate frosting inside the ring

Chocolate/Peanut Butter: chocolate filling and peanut butter frosting

"Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes"

Popcorn Cake

Makes 12 to 14 servings

18 cups popped popcorn

2 cups small gumdrops or plain or peanut M&Ms, or a mixture of all

1 1⁄2 cups nuts (mixed, peanuts, or almonds)

1 cup sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

1⁄2 cup water

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

2–3 drops food coloring, optional

Grease well a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.

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