Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting

Good Morning! I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start. This week is filled with fun things for me, which I am super excited about. I’m currently sitting in a hotel room in Michigan, off to do some college visits. After I fly back tonight, I’m only in school for 2 days before my physics class and I head to Six Flags for Physics day! After a long day at the amusement park, I’m headed straight to upstate New York for even more visiting. I can’t wait!
This week was also a bittersweet goodbye to MSM for another year. Most of my friends graduated this year, so I was so proud of them but also so sad that they won’t be able to join me again for next year. I took all of my finals and did my make up jury, which I’m happy to say I got an A- on! Overall, it’s been a stressful few weeks, but now that it’s over, I’m so excited to get back in the kitchen and work on making some great summer recipes for you guys!
As you’ve probably figured out by now, I love dessert. My favorites have to be a warm oatmeal brown sugar cookie coming out of the oven, but cupcakes are a close second. I was looking for a cupcake recipe that has ingredients that you probably all have in your pantry right now, because I don’t have zucchini flowers or stone fruits all the time, so I know you don’t too. While the cupcake was so moist and delicious, the highlight for me was the frosting. It is too easy to make and absolutely fantastic. The combination of the peanut butter and the cream cheese makes it so creamy, but the brown sugar makes sure that it doesn’t get as sweet or chalky because of the copious amounts of powdered sugar that other recipes use. What are you waiting for? Get baking!


Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting from How Sweet It Is

makes 12 cupcakes


  • 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to mix. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and egg until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and milk, again mixing until combined. Slowly pour in melted butter, continuing to whisk. Add in the flour, soda and salt, mixing with a large spoon until batter is smooth.
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to liners. Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until tops are puffy and golden, and don’t jiggle when touched. Let cool completely.

Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting

  • 6 ounces cold cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • raw turbinado sugar for topping, if desired
  1. Add cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth, then add peanut butter and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add in brown and powdered sugars gradually, with the mixture on low speed. Once everything has been added, turn to medium-high speed and mix for 4-5 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides. If you’d like the frosting a bit sturdier, add additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing like before. Frost cupcakes!

The perfect way to make any boring meal extraordinary. I’ll be waiting (for the frosting of course)!

-Rayna 🙂


Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Happy August everyone! It’s hard for me to believe that July is already gone and that school starts THIS MONTH. That is wayyyyyy too soon. As usual, I had gymnastics and the usual schedule this week, but I’m also gearing up for a 2 week intensive chamber music program with some of my best friends. The first week I am playing Tchaikovsky string quartet Number 1, and the second week I am playing Dvorak’s American string quartet. It’s going to be a lot of work getting all 4 movements of both quartets in tip-top shape, but I’m ready for an exciting 2 weeks.

Onto these beauties. I had made these cupcakes because my brother was always talking about how much he loves red velvet cupcakes and how he wanted me to make them. But of course, after I make these cupcakes from Amy’s Bread and the icing from Gourmet, my brother says he actually doesn’t like cream cheese frosting and only eats the cupcakes that don’t have icing on them. Grrr. Also, since the recipe was made for a 2 layer 9″ cake, my mom was concerned that the recipe wouldn’t make enough cupcakes and had me double the recipe. There were so many cupcakes I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had cooling racks set up all around the kitchen (where cupcakes weren’t either cooling or ready to go into the oven) and the world’s largest bag full of cream cheese icing, going around the kitchen dotting each of these moist, delicious cupcakes with a dollop of tangy cream cheese icing. Even though I made have made a few too many cupcakes, they were certainly delicious. Who wouldn’t love an adorable red velvet cupcake on a warm summer night?

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Makes 1 2 layer 9″ cake

Ingredients- for the Cake

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 9″ baking dishes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, cocoa, baking soda and food coloring until it is a smooth paste Add in the boiling water slowly until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour and the baking powder. In a different bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Add the flour to the butter in 3 parts, alternating with the red mixture until just combined. Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans and bake for 35 minutes, or until the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Completely cool before assembling the cake.

Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Icing

  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Scrapings of one vanilla bean (optional)


  1. Beat all the ingredients together until fluffy. Spread on the cake.

To Assemble the Cake

  1. Take one layer of cake and spread a layer of icing on it. Place the other cake on top. Frost with the cream cheese icing.

A classic treat that’s sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face. Enjoy!

– Rayna 🙂







Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

It’s been a long week. Gymnastics competition season is in full flight right now, second semester is now well under way, and I’ve had not 1, not 2, but 3 orchestra concerts within the past 2 weeks. To answer your question, I am MORE than ready to just lay down and eat cookies and sleep all day.

One of my favorite things to do is to bake things with friends. Whether it be another fellow baker of mine or just a friend who loves to eat cookies so that would be everyone, baking is just such a cool thing to do. Besides, you get to eat it at the end, which is what we all want anyway, right? One day, I had my wonderful friend Anna spending the night, so clearly we had to bake. I’d had my eye on these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling for awhile, and with a brand new can of pumpkin in our house, I knew these would be what we would make.

Ohhhhh boy. The pumpkin cake itself was SO moist and full of spices, and the coolness of the cream cheese combined with the sweetness of the maple syrup was an irresistible combination- not a single drop was left behind because I licked the bowl until it was squeaky clean! I know that red velvet is all the rage around Valentine’s Day, but I promise, these babies do not disappoint. Now, if you’ll just leave me with a plate of these while I sleep all day. Have a nice weekend!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

From Brown Eyed Baker

Makes 2 dozen assembled pies

Ingredients for the Pumpkin Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I left this out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Maple Cream Cheese Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used low-fat but I wouldn’t use fat free)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking trays with a baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and canola oil. Add the pumpkin puree until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Using a small cookie scoop or a large spoon, scoop the batter onto the baking trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. While the cake is baking, prepare the filling: Beat the butter and the cream cheese in a stand mixer for about 3-5 minutes, or until there are no lumps. Add in the powdered sugar (slowly) until just combined. Add the vanilla extract.
  7. To assemble the whoopie pies: Take about 1 tablespoon of the filling and place it on the flat end (an upside-down) of one of the cakes. Take another cake and make a sandwich with it.

Now if someone will make these for me while I’m sleeping… 🙂

-Rayna 🙂



This cookie has a very funny story behind it. My best friend Deanna and I were hanging out in October, and while baking another item we decided it would be a good idea to make rugelach dough as well. Because of schoolwork and gymnastics and classical viola, I barely had any time to bake as it was, so certainly I couldn’t do a roll-out cookie such as rugelach! So this dough went into the freezer, and now I finally got a chance to make this traditional Jewish cookie.

Rugelach is conventionally a cream cheese dough (such as this one) and I made 2 batches- one with raspberry jam on the inside and one with a layer of brown sugar. The cream cheese dough was very good, but if it had sat overnight rather than in the freezer for a few months, I’m sure that it would have turned out even better. All in all, this was such a fun cookie to make, and they’re just too cute as well!

Rugelach- Dough from CIA Baking and Pastry

Makes about 30 cookies

I don’t feel comfortable giving you guys the recipe, but rather I encourage you to buy this spectacular book that will teach you all of the basics of becoming a spectacular baking and pastry connoisseur.

For the filling, I just used raspberry jam (you can use whatever flavor you would like!) in one batch, and I used just a thick layer of brown sugar in the other. I would add something to the brown sugar to make it adhere better next time, and probably add some sort of crunchy element (i.e. nuts).

Off to bake with my new treasure, the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book!:)

-Rayna 🙂