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<strong>Do not </strong>eat this cupcake.
Cupcake with frosting

I'm AS. As a little kid I wasn't really allowed a whole lot of time in the kitchen, I guess because I was good at getting in the way. But there was one recipe I was encouraged to work on and that was cupcakes. Chef Jerry Pellegrino will tell you, these little treats bring out our creativity like nothing else.

The name "cupcake" derives from the measuring cup that is used to dole out the ingredients. A cup of this and a cup of that. To bake them you will need a "muffin tin" which is the same thing as a "cupcake tin". Jerry advocates using a non-stick tin so that you don't need the little paper cups. The trouble with those little paper cups is that when you peel them off, they take away the outer layer of caramelized cake batter, something that should be enjoyed.

As far as batter and icing, the sky's the limit. Here are some ideas Jerry came up with. And by the way, nothing says they have to be sweet.

Cheddar Scallion Cupcakes

Whipped Cream Cheese Icing

Cupcake 2 cups flour 1 tablespoon baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs ½ stick butter, melted 1 cup shredded cheddar 1 cup sour cream ½ cup chopped scallions

Frosting 4 ounces cream cheese, whipped scallions

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add eggs, melted butter, and cheddar, beating until combined.

Add sour cream and scallions and mix until combined. Mixture will be light and fluffy.

Drop by spoonful into greased small muffin pan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Best served warm or reheated in oven.

Frosting Top cupcakes with a dollop of whipped cream and slivers of scallions cut along the diagonal.

Italian Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Icing


1 pound extra lean ground beef

1/2 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage

1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

1 cup matchstick-cut carrots, finely chopped*

1 cup tomato pasta sauce

1/2 cup water

2 eggs

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

6 oz. your favorite cheese to stuff inside the cupcakes

Mashed Potatoes

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

4 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature

¾ cup heavy cream

Salt and hot sauce to taste

Paprika, if desired

Heat oven to 450°F. Spray 12 cup muffin pan with no-stick cooking spray. Place muffin pan onto 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside.

Combine all meatloaf ingredients except the cheese for stuffing; mix well. Shape the meatloaf mixture into 12 (2 1/2-inch) balls. Press ½ oz. of cheese into the center of each ball, covering evenly with meat mixture so cheese is in center. Place stuffed meatloaf mixture into muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature is at least 165°F and meat is no longer pink.

Boil the potatoes in heavily salted water until fork tender. Drain and allow to cool slightly. With a hand held mixer, beat the butter and cream into the potatoes. Season with salt and hot sauce and carefully pipe the potatoes onto the cupcakes. Sprinkle with some paprika for garnish.

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

Cupcakes 1 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

1 1/2 cup(s) cake flour (not self-rising) 1 tablespoon(s) baking powder 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt 2 stick(s) (1-cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans 1 3/4 cup(s) sugar 4 large eggs 2 tablespoon(s) maple extract 1 1/4 cup(s) milk

Ganache 2 cup(s) heavy cream 1 pound(s) semisweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips Pinch of salt bacon

Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the cupcake pans with your choice of cupcake liners. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in maple extract. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes until golden and the tester comes out clean. (Or until your house smells like pancakes!)

Ganache: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring cream to a full boil; turn off heat. Add chocolate, and swirl pan to completely cover with cream. Slowly whisk mixture until smooth. (To get silky-smooth ganache takes longer to mix than you think!) Add salt; stir until combined. Transfer to a clean bowl and let chill overnight or until spreadable.

When cupcakes have cooled, spread some ganache on top. Chill for a minute or two. While the cupcakes are chilling, cook up some of your favorite bacon however you like it. (Crunchy and toasted is recommended.) Chop in pieces and top the cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcake

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 ounces water

2 ounces red food coloring

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake tins as directed as directed in the recipe you are following.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add eggs and blend well.

Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring and add to the butter mixture.

Sift flour and salt together into this mixture.

One at a time, add the following ingredients: buttermilk, vanilla, and water.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda. Fold it into the cake batter. Make sure it's incorporated, but don't beat it.

Pour the batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn the cupcakes out of the tins and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup white sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly butter muffin tins and set aside.

Beat together the cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Batter will be thin.

Fill muffin cups 1/3 full with the chocolate batter. Top each one with a spoonful of cream cheese mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.