Campfire Cupcakes

Nothing rings in July 4th like sizzling fireworks and campfires.  Whether on vacation or at camp, some of the best summer memories are built up around the ethereal glow of beach bonfires.  Even a backyard campfire is enough to spark major summer atmosphere.

Need some quick inspiration for an outdoor potluck or a kid’s summer birthday party?  Test out these sweet and salty mini campfire cupcakes.

This frosting technique can be used on any cupcake flavor, but I think it looks best on a deep chocolate color.  Build up layers of tufted orange and red icing piped with a star tip, and when you’ve reached your desired height, delicately arrange a tent of pretzel sticks.  You won’t find a tastier type of kindling!

In theory, this same technique can be applied to a larger cake, using jumbo pretzel sticks as garnish.  Just be sure to eat some cake with all of that frosting!

Get ready to craft some cupcakes with precision fit for a girl or boy scout.  Bring the fire to your next party!

Scroll down for the recipe.

Chocolate Cupcakes

(Makes roughly two dozen cupcakes)

  • Butter or nonstick cooking spray, for the cupcake pans
  • 2 ½ cups (315 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 1 cup (95 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 ½ cups (360 ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot strong-brewed coffee
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Grease and flour two cupcake pans and set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the oil and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. With the mixer on, add the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract.
  6. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  7. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  8. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  9. With the mixer on low, stream in the coffee.
  10. Mix on medium low for no more than 30 seconds, or until combined.
  11. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans.
  12. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a tooth-pick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  13. Let them cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cupcake from their pans.

To Assemble: Mix white frosting (even store-bought vanilla will work!) with orange and red gel food coloring.  With a star shaped piping tip, pipe frosting onto the cupcake, building up layers that taper upwards.  As a finishing touch, place pretzel sticks in a cone formation around the icing.

Berry Cupcakes and Bucket Lists

I had a mini-crisis as I was putting together this cupcake recipe.  The berries were just too good on their own.  It almost felt like it was disrespecting the berries to mix them up into cupcakes.

It’s that time of the year when even the berries at your shadiest local bodega are gorgeous angels.  I infused this buttercream frosting with a natural raspberry jam and simply garnished the cupcakes with the beautiful berries in order to maintain their vital integrity.

How do you inject summer adventure in your life when professional goals and routines are running rampant?  Just like infusing a buttercream frosting, you have to choose ingredients wisely and blend well.  I recently concocted a summer bucket list of sweet distractions that will see me through until September.

  1. First of all, I want to visit this boat graveyard on Staten Island.  The haunting and moody images captured by South Korean artist Miru Kim have me wanting to plan a visit, the drearier the day, the better.
  2. A week ago I passed by some colorful walls in SoHo and saw a sign for a mural art class… has anyone done this?  I need to find out more!  In the meantime, I’ll be thinking of some insightful and provocative imagery to scrawl onto buildings and freight cars.
  3. In honor of my birthday, I want to make a pavlova, a meringue cake usually topped off with whipped cream and berries.  Fun fact, the pavlova is apparently named after a Russian ballerina.  I’m most likely going to try out this recipe!
  4. I need to finally get that tattoo I’ve been talking about since last year!  Looking into my crystal ball, 80-year-old Hadley of the future finally approves.  That is all.

Add these strawberry raspberry chocolate cupcakes to your June pastry repertoire, and you won’t regret it.  Each bite is a little burst of summery inspiration.  Snack on them while you’re writing your own summer bucket list!

Scroll down for the recipe.

Strawberry Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes

For the cupcakes (makes about 24 mini cupcakes):


  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk


  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat together the butter and the sugar.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla extract
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.
  5. Gradually add the dry mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, alternating with the coconut milk.  Stop mixing once well incorporated.
  6. Fill lined cupcake containers 2/3 full with the batter.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting: 


  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 1 drop red food coloring, if desired


  1. Beat the butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy
  2. Gradually add the confectioners sugar
  3. Add jam and food coloring.  Beat until well incorporated.

Wait until the cupcakes cool to add frosting.  Garnish with raspberries and strawberry cutouts, as desired.