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Chunky Monkey Cupcakes and My First Cake

Chunky Monkey cupcakes made of sweet banana cake topped with peanut butter cream cheese icing and a look back at my very first cake.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

Cupcakes to Cake

You guys know I am all about the cupcakes. Every week you guys watch me pull flavors together into bite-sized mouthfuls of joy and call them cupcakes. And being MsCupcakeasaurus, why wouldn’t I be?

Something you may not know is that I have been caking for almost eight years. By caking, I don’t just mean whipping a mix together and slathering icing over it.

The Art of Caking

Caking involves idea preparation by gathering source materials and analyzing size and shape to determine the best fit for the cake being prepared. It means drawing up plans and sketches and paying attention to all the little details. It means sculpting the cake like a statue emerging from marble. Caking is art after all.

 

Free Baking Conversion Cheat Sheet

Over the years, I have not always taken pictures or written step by step tutorials or documented every step of the journey along the way. I make cakes because I enjoy caking. I enjoy bringing the food to art and the art to food.

Flavor combinations are my chemistry experiments and dimensional cakes are my masterpieces. I love playing with new techniques, new materials or ingredients. One of the reasons I enjoy caking so much is that it feels like an art form that I can continuously learn from. That, and they taste good.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

 Today, I will be sharing with you my very first ever caking endeavor.

You may have noticed that I have been caking for as long as I have been a mom. The very first cake I really put my heart and soul into was for Little Cakeasaurus Rex’s first birthday. When he isn’t busy being a dinosaur, he is busy being a monkey. We lovingly nicknamed him Monkey since he was a baby.

As any over zealous mom would be, I created a theme of monkeys and immediately started developing ideas for his main cake and his smash cake. He had blow-up monkeys to toss around, monkey plates and napkins and of course a monkey cake. He had a cake for his guests and he had a personal smash cake.

The Smash Cake

Every little kid needs a smash cake for their first birthday. It is the tradition! I love smash cakes for the little ones. That first birthday is all about seeing their little eyes bulge out of their heads with sugar. There is nothing like taking that first fistful of delicious cake.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

For the smash cake, I decided to go with a German chocolate cake and have the coconut frosting serve as the textured monkey fur. Admittedly, my skills at the time were limited and the monkey face looked more like a bear but Little Cakeasaurus Rex loved it. He had no problem figuring out what to do with his smash cake. Hands in the cake and then straight to the mouth.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

Little Chunky Monkey

I love watching little ones feed themselves at this age because they still fist their food and are practically licking their palms. Too cute!

I’ll remember next time that monkey ears should be more on the side of the face rather than on the top. Also, don’t mind the little yellow hair tuft I tried to create. Monkeys can be blonde too, right?

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

 

The Guest Cake

The cake for the guests was a large vanilla sheet cake with a large mound of banana cake on top. I was so inexperienced and had no clue what I was doing. I went totally overboard on measuring out how much cake I would need for a one-year-old’s birthday party. In true First Time Mom fashion, I made enough to feed everyone at the party, the park and halfway down the street.

To give you an idea, I had no clue how to even carry this large of a cake to a park two blocks from the house. I purchased a huge white plastic cutting board and that became my caking station. I still use this cutting board as my preferred surface for rolling fondant or cutting out biscuits.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

In all honesty, I baked two 9×12 inch cakes for the base. I slid them together and covered them with icing. If you are counting, that is a total of four standard cakes for one party. This was the first time I would bake that much cake for one party but it definitely wasn’t  the last.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

If you are wondering, it is no secret how I made the dome-shaped cake. I didn’t have a pan that shape that is for sure. I actually used a stainless steel mixing bowl and baked it right in the oven.

Obviously, be careful when using alternative baking pans but, the bowl worked out great and I still use it for other caking endeavors. I will remind you to take a good look at the shape of the bowl though. If you are wanting a hill shape like I was, you will want a shallower bowl to create a soft mound. However, I have also used a much deeper mixing bowl to create the Drunken Carolina Cake so that I had enough space for good sized cake layers.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

Monkey Time

The idea I was wanting to create was a mischievous monkey sitting atop a huge pile of bananas. The pile of bananas had to be made of banana cake of course. The banana cake wasn’t going to be enough though.

Nothing quite looks like a pile of bananas than a pile of bananas. After icing, I also completely covered the mound in Banana Rama candy pieces I purchased from a local candy shop.

Heap of Bananas birthday cakeOriginally, all the bananas were going to be yellow bananas but this is a very mischievous monkey and he needed some colored bananas too. The monkey was a purple monkey bath toy so it was super safe for the kiddo to enjoy long after his party was over.  A funky colored monkey totally deserves a pile of funky colored bananas.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

To add a bit more decoration without going overboard any further, I added Piroulines around the outside edge of the sheet cake which provided great bamboo. A few green leaves and blades of grass with green icing and I had my masterpiece.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

Can you tell I was proud of myself? I made a little card label with a silly monkey sticker for good measure. I am so proud that this was my first caking adventure. It brings back wonderful memories of my little one’s first birthday and it was the start of a wonderful adventure I still pursue today.

Still A Monkey

The kiddo still embraces his monkey side by collecting cute monkeys we find on our adventures. Currently, we have one from Cape Canaveral and Tampa Zoo.  Just a few weeks ago, I offered my little monkey a special treat.

I treated LCR to Chunky Monkey Cupcakes!

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

These moist banana cupcakes remind me very much of that original banana cake but in smaller cupcake form.  Top that off with a peanut butter cream cheese icing and you will be making all the monkeys smile.

Even walking down memory lane, I couldn’t leave you hanging without a scrumptious cupcake recipe to keep you satisfied.

You have now seen where the caking magic started. Tell me about your baking start. Do you remember your first real baking endeavor as an adult? I clarified that sentence because I was baking and cooking tons growing up. This one just sticks out in my mind as the first cake I researched and planned and put my heart and love into making.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

Do you have that one dish or cake that sparked your love for it? I’d love to hear all about it or better yet, see it.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes
Chunky Monkey Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Chunky Monkey cupcakes made of sweet banana cake topped with peanut butter cream cheese icing
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
15-20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
15-20 minutes
Chunky Monkey Cupcakes
Chunky Monkey Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Chunky Monkey cupcakes made of sweet banana cake topped with peanut butter cream cheese icing
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
15-20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
15-20 minutes
Ingredients
Banana Cupcakes
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing
Servings: cupcakes
Instructions
Banana Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat bananas, eggs and sugar on medium high speed until forming a thick mash.
  3. Add vegetable oil to the banana mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  6. Using a spatula, fold in vanilla extract. Spoon batter into cupcake tim filling cups 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Toothpick will come out clean when cupcakes are done. Cool on a cooling rack before icing.
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing
  1. In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat softened cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Add in half a cup of peanut butter and mix on medium speed until well bleneded.
  3. Add powdered sugar to cream cheese mixture a cup at a time mixing thoroughly between each addition.
  4. Add milk and vanilla extract and mix until well blended.
  5. *Taste it. Your icing can be more sweet or nutty depending on how much sugar or peanutbutter you add. I prefer a light and sweet flavor so I stuck with 2 cups powdered sugar and a 1/2 cup of peanutbutter. If you want a thicker peanut butter flavor, just add more peanut butter.*
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Drunken Carolina Cake

Hey guys!

I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about by a “Drunken Carolina” Cake but I promise I’ll get to that in a minute.

I recently had a conversation with one of my readers about providing more recipes for those with less time on their hands. Now, honestly, I have a soft spot in my heart for recipes from scratch. Some of the many recipes I run across online that require a box cake mix just make me sad. I think a big part of this is that our society has become so accustomed to picking things up from the store that we’ve tricked ourselves into thinking the box mix is easier or cheaper. But, in reality it is not.

I’m sure you’re thinking well a box mix is just $1.89 and less hassle. Funny you should say that though because plenty of those box mixes still require eggs, oil and sometimes even milk. The only thing it has replaced is the flour, sugar and flavoring which are usually things you already had on hand prior to the $1.89 box. The box still requires you to mix and bake it, which all from scratch recipes require as well. There are even recipes and Pinterest pins out there on how to improve a box cake mix by making it taste more like it is from scratch. Seems pretty silly if the from scratch version ends up being easier and cheaper from the get go.

So that is the end of my rant on box cake mixes. Since I do listen to my readers though and take their advice to heart, (because let’s face it, I want to give you what you want) I have decided to add something to the lineup for the new year. Many of you are aware I used to be a single working mom for a good five years or so. During that time, I didn’t feel like I had the time nor energy to make many or anything from scratch. I’ve been in those shoes and understand those shoes. On Mondays, I am going to start posting Minute Monday recipes. These are recipes and life hacks that I discovered the hard way while working a full-time job, going to school online and raising my son by myself. They are specifically designed for you to enjoy and have just as much heart and soul in them as my from scratch recipes because I’ve been there. I know how hard it is to provide healthy, delicious food when your feet ache from being on them all day. I also know that specific anxiety of bringing something delicious to the work potluck that still looks pretty when you’ve had maybe an hour to whip something together the night before. I’ve got your back.

Drunken Carolina Cake

What better way to start off my Minute Monday rant about box cake mixes  than with a super easy delicious box cake mix recipe? I love the irony guys, I really do. I will preface this one by saying this is not a “minute” recipe. It is fairly easy but because of the unique shape of this cake it does take longer than average to bake.

 

This particular cake has a little story behind it. My soon to be mother in law, who Little Cupcakeasaurus Rex has lovingly named Grams Cracker (apparently we have a thing with naming people after food) shared with me a recipe that she wanted me to try out. It was referred to as a “Baked Alaska” cake. I like to be fairly accurate in the naming of my flavored cakes because, well, I feel it is important for you to know what exactly you are sinking your teeth into. I have never had a Baked Alaska dessert so I looked it up to learn what we were attempting to recreate in cake form.

Drunken Carolina Cake Drunken Carolina Cake

From a little Google Fu, I discovered that Baked Alaska is pretty much layers of different ice creams covered with meringue and then blow torched. Keywords: ice cream, meringue, and blow torch. This “Baked Alaska” cake recipe on the other hand, had zero of those key words anywhere in the recipe. This was my red flag that this particular recipe was really inappropriately named and I had the responsibility of fixing it.  So I changed some key ingredients in the recipe and decided to name it after home. Does it necessarily have anything to do with North Carolina? Nope. Is the liqueur used in the cake made in North Carolina? Nope. Did I maybe just inappropriately name my own recipe? Maybe, but it is so delicious you won’t care what state it was named after.Drunken Carolina Cake

There are two things that are necessary for this recipe that maybe not everyone will have on hand. One is a stainless steel dome-shaped mixing bowl. I just mean that it is deeper than it is wide. Also, a bread knife with a serrated edge will be helpful for this recipe too.

Take two boxes of Devil’s Food cake box mixes and prepare almost as it directs on the box. EXCEPT, instead of adding water, you will replace that with Kahlua. I mixed the batter in a separate bowl than the one I was baking in. Then, grease and flour the stainless steel mixing bowl and pour the Devil’s Food cake batter in. This will bake at 325 degrees for about an hour and a half. If the top is the least bit questionable, add another 10 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean.

Drunken Carolina Cake

I learned the hard way on this one. I took it out too early the first time. Removed it from the bowl and everything and then I noticed a little crack in the side of the cake. The next thing I know I have an oozing lava cake all over my kitchen.

When you pull it out of the oven, go ahead and turn the bowl upside down on a cooling rack but leave the bowl on just to hold everything in place.

Drunken Carolina CakeWhen cool, you may need to level out the bottom of the cake by cutting some off with the serrated knife. The cake should form a good-looking dome. With the same knife cut three layers into the cake that are approximately even width apart. Set each layer to the side.

In a small microwave safe bowl, microwave 1/2 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chip pieces. Only  heat for a few seconds each time and then stir until smooth to prevent from burning the chocolate.

Drunken Carolina Cake Drunken Carolina Cake

In a large mixing bowl, beat one package of cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add in one cup of powdered sugar and the melted chocolate until well blended. Then, with a spatula fold in two cups of whipped cream and add in a 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips.

Drunken Carolina Cake

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly between the three layers, and end with the top of the dome cake. Frost the completed dome with the remaining whipped cream. Now, I’m in Florida and of course my Cool Whip wasn’t wanting to cooperate. The cake was still delicious of course but my sad whipped cream was melting down the sides of my cake.  Just remember to let the whipped cream completely thaw before you try to frost the cake. My melted cream I felt spoke volumes for how warm this winter has been and I couldn’t imagine a Drunken Carolina cake any other way.

Drunken Carolina Cake

Drunken Carolina Cake

Though this cake takes a couple of hours, it is well worth it and makes a huge impression. Everyone loves the dome, what can I say? I hope you enjoy it as much as we did for dessert at our New Year dinner party. Let me know if your family creates a new cake variation and we can name it after your home state too!

 

Drunken Carolina Cake
Print Recipe
A twisted take on a "Baked Alaska" cake. Layers of Devil's Food cake with Kahlua added and divided with a chocolate cream cheese mixture and frosted with whipped cream.
Servings Prep Time
1 cake 30 minutes
Cook Time
90 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 cake 30 minutes
Cook Time
90 minutes
Drunken Carolina Cake
Print Recipe
A twisted take on a "Baked Alaska" cake. Layers of Devil's Food cake with Kahlua added and divided with a chocolate cream cheese mixture and frosted with whipped cream.
Servings Prep Time
1 cake 30 minutes
Cook Time
90 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 cake 30 minutes
Cook Time
90 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cake
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, follow the instructions for the Devil's Food cake mix except replace the water with Kahlua.
  3. Grease and flour a dome shaped stainless steel bowl. Pour batter into floured bowl and bake on 325 degrees for 90 minutes. If the top wobbles at all, bake for an additional ten minutes or until a tooth pick comes out mostly clean from the center.
  4. Once cake cools, cut into three even layers with a serrated blade.
  5. In a microwave safe bowl, heat for a few seconds at a time a 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chip morsels. Add a few seconds at a time until the chocolate mixes smooth.
  6. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until creamy and smooth. Fold in 2 cups of whipped cream and remaining mini chocolate chip morsels.
  7. Divide the cream cheese mixture and spread across each layer of the cake. The cake will form a dome shape. Use the remaining whipped cream to frost the outside of the dome.
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