A Tale of Two Loves

Of a dessert revolution and the inspiration that we find all around us. More »

Inspiration Found

This is our gallery of current dessert projects. Everything from spiced dark rum pumpkin to drunken Irish car bombs. More »


Our collection of cupcake wrappers, shopping lists and other free printables. Check back often for more updates. More »


Anatomy of an ‘Upcake

Here’s a helpful little diagram illustrating what goes into each of our 21 & ‘Upcake cupcakes.

Friday Movie Night: Nacho Libre


So we’ve decided to start a new weekly post: Friday Movie Night. Each week we’ll suggest a new movie (since we are total movie buffs over here) and a snack/dessert to go with it. Of course, we’ll have to add our own 21 & ‘Upcakes twist to it, but sometimes you need a night in, a good movie, a few friends and tasty treat to bring it together. This week’s movie: Nacho Libre.

Nacho Libre, if you haven’t seen it, came out a few years ago and stars Jack Black in one of his true-to-form comedic roles. Basic plot-line: Berated all his life by those around him, a monk follows his dream and dons a mask to moonlight as a Luchador (Mexican wrestler). It’s sure to brighten your spirits this weekend if you find yourself not at theatres watching the Avengers, not celebrating Star Wars Day (May the 4th), or recovering from Cinco de Mayo.

And what goes better with a Mexican themed movie than churros, a Mexican fritter that’s fried and coated in cinnamon and sugar. We’ve found this recipe from our friends over at All Recipes, but if you don’t feel up to frying your own churros you can always buy frozen in a pinch. In any case, you can make it your own by pairing it with some Mexican Hot Chocolate. Granted it may be a little warm down here in Florida for hot chocolate, but once you have churros dipped in hot chocolate, you’ll never want to go without again.

Mexican Hot Chocolate is given it’s name by the type of chocolate that is used to make it, it’s generally infused with different spices such as cinnamon, almond, and vanilla. Often times you can find these in your local market or even Walmart will sometimes carry it, look for the Ibarra or Taza brands. If you can’t find it, don’t worry, you can substitute it with one ounce semisweet chocolate, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 drop almond extract for 1 ounce Mexican chocolate. We also like to add a little chili powder to it for that added kick, and it really helps to bring out the flavors in the chocolate. To make this whole evening a 21 & ‘Upcakes evening though, we suggest adding a little tequila to your hot chocolate.

Once you’ve cooked up your churros and Mexican hot chocolate, it’s time to sit back, relax, and let Jack Black provide the laughs.

Churro Recipe

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup white sugar, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water, 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour until mixture forms a ball.

Heat oil for frying in deep-fryer or deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Pipe strips of dough into hot oil using a pastry bag. If this is too much, you can also turn them into little dough balls, less authentic, but also less intimidating for those of us afraid of scalding hot oil. Fry until golden; drain on paper towels.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Roll drained churros in cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces Mexican chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2-3 oz silver tequila (to taste so you can always add more “1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor”)
  • Dash of salt
In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients and 1 cup water over medium heat, whisking constantly, until hot but not boiling, about 8 minutes (the mixture should be smooth). Pour into 4 large mugs and dip your churros as you go. If you have a milk frother, this is a golden opportunity to try it out as well. Enjoy!  


Key Lime Margarita Cake Shot


It’s officially May and officially too hot down here in Florida. Our forecast for this week includes multiple days in the 90s, I think Florida decided to skip Spring along with Winter this year. Nonetheless, one good thing about Summer and warm weather, a whole new world of diversions, drinks, and desserts come to the forefront again. One of my personal favorites: sitting at the beach, or by the pool, with a margarita in hand, scents from the BBQ mingling with the scents of the warm summer air, and the hope of key lime pie for dessert. So we here at 21 & ‘Upcakes thought, why not combine these into one delicious dessert for summer? Well at least the margarita and key lime pie, we’ll save the BBQ for another time and place. We present to you the Key Lime Margarita Cake Shot.

This joyful little bite-size morsel is perfect for the first of May. It has the refreshing taste of citrus, is small enough you can still fit in that bikini next week, and has the added little punch of tequila. I also have to give a shout out to my friends Brent and Cynthia for this one. Brent is a friend who is actually on an R&D team for a major dessert company and he recently brought over a mini, layered key lime cake which started the wheels turning. Then my friend Cynthia challenged us to create something with key lime, whether it be cake or pie. We chose both.

We started with a layer of graham cracker crust soaked in a light key lime juice glaze, because what’s key lime pie without the crust? Next we topped it we moist key lime cake recipe we found that we of course tweaked and kicked up to ‘Upcake status by adding a dash of key lime margarita. (Which, by the way, is delicious and if you want the recipe for any goings on you may have in the next few days, it can be found on the Food Network site here.)

Then we added a layer of key lime margarita pie. That’s right, key lime pie and a key lime margarita met and created a beautiful bundle of joy that is a spiked pie filling. Once that re-hardened a bit in the freezer we topped it with another layer of cake and a lime twist to finish it off. We wanted to put a real key lime twist on top, but apparently it’s still too early here in Orlando for key limes to have found their way up here.

The result: a bite-size piece of joy that is key lime to the Nth degree. So what are your May and Summer plans? Any recommendations or requests? Or maybe even your favorite Summer drink? Submit your idea and if we turn it into a post, we’ll give you a shout-out too.

Celebrate With Cake

Wonder Woman Cake

We have some great news fellow revolutionaries, our very own Sydney is now certified as an EMT in the state of Florida. And what better way to celebrate than with cake? So that’s exactly what we did. As a surprise we made her favorite cupcake (chocolate raspberry) into a layered cake with the ganache in between the two layers and decorated with Wonder Woman. Since, you know, EMTs save lives just like Wonder Woman. That, and we’re all total geeks over here.

We may have added a little something extra too. If you know Sydney, then you already know her obsession with peanut butter and putting it on everything, so we couldn’t make a cake and not include peanut butter, right? So we tried adding a Reese’s peanut butter “ganache” layer to the chocolate raspberry one. Now I may be biased, but I think that this turned out to be one of the most amazing things I’ve ever tasted. Imagine the best chocolate cake you’ve ever had, then combine it with the most decadent PB&J you’ve ever had, and you’d be getting close to this cake. Though I am also quite partial to peanut butter and basically anything that has peanut butter in it.

You will have to forgive us slightly on the overall “prettiness” of the cake seeing as SOMEONE kept trying to come into the kitchen when we were making it. This same person was supposed to be testing for 2 hours, but instead was done in an hour…. Silly over-achievers, always messing up surprise parties. We did manage to make the stars around the Wonder Woman symbol “shine” with use of candles, though – hoorah for last minute thinking.

Tip for those of you making layered cake with a gooey layer in between, make sure EVERYTHING is cooled completely (cake and ganache centers). When you try to hurry and just throw it all together, against your better judgement, you end up with the ooey gooey layer spewing out the side like a squashed, over-stuffed PB&J sandwich. And believe me, you do NOT want to waste that much chocolate and peanut butter goodness.

Nevertheless, we still managed to surprise her and I think she liked the cake, maybe too much, if that’s even possible?

So remember fellow revolutionaries, there’s always a reason to try something new and always celebrate with cake!

Caramel Appletini Dessert

Caramel Appletini Dessert

It is yet again the 21st and time for the Recipe of the Month. This month: the Caramel Appletini Dessert, or as we like to call it, The Queen’s Apple. What follows is our inspiration for such a serendipitously timed release.

Once upon a time, there was a series. A series that captivated the world o’er with it’s allusions to childhood and a flair for the dramatic. A series that had minds racing and hearts pounding each episode. That series was, and still very much is, Once Upon a Time.

Now I’m not sure how many of you out there in the blogosphere know this show, but I know many of you have seen it at least once. If you haven’t and you love fairytales turned on their heads, I’d give it a watch – it’s worth it. Though I feel as though I can guarantee that everyone out there has at least heard the story of Snow White and the Evil Queen desperate to be “fairest of them all.” These are the characters upon which ONCE is particularly focused: Snow White (Mary Margaret) and the Evil Queen (or Mayor) Regina. *Side note for all you ONCE fans – REGINA is actually Italian for Queen. You learn something new every day.* 

Recently the show has been on a hiatus awaiting the final 4 episodes during May sweeps, and tomorrow marks the return – hence the serendipitous timing. So we decided to take our inspiration for this dessert straight from the Evil Queen herself and try our hands at an apple dessert so sinfully delicious that none other than the Queen herself could’ve inspired it.

We started with a divine apple cake that near approaches the same taste and texture as your grandmother’s homemade banana bread. We baked it with a fresh cut Golden Delicious apple slice on top to give it a very specific look and that added touch of apple. While we used Golden Delicious, if you’re going to be baking these any time between October and January, we recommend buying some Honey Crisp apples instead to be authentic to the show (even though they actually use candied Red Delicious on set – Regina just says they’re Honey Crisp). Also, they’re amazingly delicious.

Next we added a middle layer of appletini cream cheese frosting and topped it off with a drizzle of appletini caramel sauce. We found the cream cheese help cut the sweetness of the martini and the carmel drizzle. Unlike Regina’s revenge, this dish is best served warm, so either use it directly out of the oven, heat in the microwave, or warm then individual cakes in the oven before serving. And if you want to take it even a step further, a scoop of (Snow White) vanilla ice cream wouldn’t hurt it.

So we hope you give it a try for your next dinner, or even for a certain premier that may be less than 26 hours away, and enjoy this month’s recipe: Caramel Apple Dessert.

Queen’s Apple Dessert
4 Cups Apple, Peeled & Diced Small (3 cups Granny Smith & 1 cup Golden Delicious)
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Oil
2 Eggs, beaten
2 Tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Golden Delicious Apple (sliced along the circumference)

Mix apples and sugar in large bowl.
Add oil, eggs, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Add dry mixture to wet mixture 1 cup at a time and stir until combined.
Pour batter into 2 greased standard 8″ x 8″ X 2″ baking pan.
Place thinly sliced apples around the top of the cake (you can fit 4-6 depending on apple size).
Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting around each of the apple slices to create circular mini-cakes.

Appletini Cream Cheese Frosting
11 oz Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1 1/4 Tsp Apple Martini
8 Tbs Butter (1 stick at room temperature)
2 1/4 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla

Mix together well the cream cheese and butter.
Add sifted powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
Stir in Apple Martini and vanilla to taste.
Set aside or in the refrigerator until cake cooled.

Appletini Caramel Sauce
2-to-1 ratio of caramel sauce to Appletini
You can use store-bought caramel sauce (on the ice cream aisle) or make your own using the below recipe:

1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
4 oz Individually Caramel Candies

Combine heavy whipping cream and caramels in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool for a few minutes before putting it in a piping bag, ziplock bag with a small snip cut off in the corner, or squeeze bottles (can be found at Michael’s or online).

Appletini (if you have a favorite recipe you can use that too, but go easy on the vodka for this one)
2 fluid ounces butterscotch schnapps
1 fluid ounce vodka
3 fluid ounces sour apple schnapps
2 fluid ounces cranberry juice

Pour the butterscotch schnapps, vodka, apple schnapps, and cranberry juice into a cocktail shaker.
Cover and shake until mixed.
After using in recipe above, add to shaker and remix.
Pour into frosted martini glass.

To Assemble
Once the cake has cooled, cut around the apple slices to create circular mini-cakes. Then cut them in half, gently so as not to ruin the shape.
Re-heat cake if needed.
Spread a layer of frosting between the two halves and re-assemble.
Drizzle with warm caramel sauce.
Melt in the deliciousness of fairest apple dessert of the all.

What Will You Do In 5 Years?

5 Years Blank-01

Since posting our latest update about the History of Cakes, we’ve been a bit reflective ourselves. In recognizing the importance of knowing where you came from and how it relates to how far you’ve gone, we also understand that there has to be a goal or end point as well. We started thinking, if this is from where we’ve come, where do we want to go to?

So we came up with our own 5-year “bucket” list, to freeze this moment in time as a starting point to look back on in 5 years. To see how far 21 & ‘Upcakes will go and our own personal lives as well. Since isn’t the point of a revolution to change how we see and interact with the world? Below you’ll find Danielle’s list, it’s simple and brings home the point of how precious our time really is and what’s important in life. Have a look, we’re not shy, hopefully it will inspire you to consider doing the same.

So we challenge you with this: What would you do in 5 years? Do you see yourself the next Betty Crocker or maybe just one to your kids? Do you see yourself living in some far off place, experiencing new adventures every day? Or maybe you just want to start as simple as taking time to curl up on the couch with that book you’ve been meaning to read. Take today as opportunity to reflect on what you really want out of life. And remember, no one ever did anything extraordinary by being “realistic”.

Now that may sound like a lot to ask and it can be daunting at first, but you may just find that what you really want isn’t that far off. And to help get the ball rolling, we’re offering any piece of 21 & ‘Upcakes merchandise of your choice from our store for free. Just submit your goals for the next 5 years either below in the comments or email us at 21andUpcakes@gmail.com. We’ll select one winner at random from all the submissions on May 1st. We’ve also included a blank template for you if you’d prefer to print and write out your own goals. Happy contemplating.

Be sure to check out http://www.leapyearsresolution.com/ if you want to have some help for the first 4 years too.

History of Cake

They say you can’t know how far you’ve gone, unless you know where you came from. So we thought we’d take this moment to reflect back on just how far desserts, and in particular cake, have come in the past century or so. And now that we know a starting point, how far do you think desserts can go?

Originally designed by Jay Layman

Mudslide Stix Recipe


We’re going to institute a new Recipe of the Month program, where each month we’ll give out one of our recipes until the app and book are released. This way we give a taste of ‘upcakes to inspire our fellow dessert revolutionaries.

This month’s recipe is Mudslide Stix. What can be better than a Twix bar? A homemade Twix bar with Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream included. We can thank Pinterest for the idea of homemade Twix bars and the bottle of Friday’s Mudslide mix that’s been in our fridge for the alcoholic inspiration. This is also a surprisingly easy recipe for you to follow, so if you love Kahlua, Bailey’s, caramel and chocolate, read on.

We started with Stella D’Oro Italian cookie bars, we used the mix of chocolate and vanilla flavored to add some variety. Next we added a drizzle of Bailey’s and Kahlua chocolate ganache to each cookie and underneath. Then we rolled out some soft caramel chew candies using a glass or rolling pin and stretched them until they were the same size and contour of the cookies. This helps keep the ganache in place and from mixing with the outer chocolate shell.

So next time you want to bring someone chocolates, why not make them yourself and add an extra little kick to your treat.

Mudslide Stix Bars
- 12 oz Candy Chocolates
- 5 oz Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
- 1/2 oz Kahlua Cafe Liquor
- 1/2 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
- 12 Stella D’Oro Italian Cookie Bars
- 12 Carmel Soft Candies (flattened out)

Heat the cream over medium-high heat until just before boiling. Once simmering, pour over the chocolate chips and let sit for two minutes. After two minutes, whisk chocolate until smooth then add the Kahlua and Bailey’s, set aside to cool.

Top the cookies with a drizzle of the ganache and cover with a flattened out caramel. Smooth the melted chocolate over the cookie, we used the piping bag method which proved incredibly helpful. Let them harden at room temperature and serve. If you are making them ahead of time, keep them in the fridge until a few hours before serving for optimal freshness. Just be sure to let them come to room temperature before serving again or else the caramel will be rock hard. Enjoy!

Heroes Assemble


Sorry for the radio silence lately, fellow dessert revolutionaries, the flu rolled through our team last week and like Superman we were unable to withstand the kryptonite of sickness this time. Thankfully we were able to get some new inspiration before succumbed completely. We recently had the opportunity to attend a superhero-inspired party with a few of our caped-crusader friends. And by attend, I mean we hosted it.

Yes, our movie-buff nerd-dom extends to the DC and Marvel universes and beyond. Though in reality, who doesn’t love super heroes? I mean – Batman – ’nuff said.

But I digress, in planning said party we of course had to deck it out in as much hero gear as you’d find in Batman’s utility belt. We had the Avengers table cloths and party favors, Spiderman napkins, 3D plates and danglers, a 600+ hero sticker book, Batman cupcake liners, oversized BAM and POW signs for pictures, and of course lots and lots of candy – because what fun is it to be 5 again if you can’t eat all the candy you want?

As for food, among other things we had Phoenix’ Fire, which was a Buffalo Chicken dip. Now while there was no alcohol in this one, it was delicious and a lot of people were asking for the recipe. So if you’re interested, it’s super easy. Take 2 packages of chicken (either breasts or thighs, but we used a mix) and boil the meat till it’s fully cooked. Then after it’s all cooled, shred the chicken with a fork or your fingers, whichever is easier. Mix in 2 boxes of cream cheese, 1 bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, and 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. Pop it into the oven at 350F for 10-15 minutes, or until the mozzarella is all melted and serve with Frito’s Big Scoops. It’s that simple and everyone LOVES it. Credit goes to my coworker from a Super Bowl party a couple years ago.

Our party guests soon arrived dressed to the T and running the gamut of super heroes, from Wonder Woman to Green Lantern and Wasp to Phoenix, with a few villains finding their way in by way of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. There were those of course that found the DC and Marvel universes too small, so we had Freakazoid, Dave Lizewski, and Mara Jade (from Star Wars) join the party.

And we wouldn’t be 21 & ‘Upcakes without some boozy desserts, right? Right. So we took our Raspberry Crush recipe (chocolate cupcakes filled with a raspberry liquor ganache and topped with white chocolate frosting), used the Batman cupcake liners, dyed the frosting Bat Signal yellow with the help of the ever-helpful food coloring, and went to work on the designs made out of raspberry liquor-infused chocolate. Everything from knock-out-punch dizzy spirals, Avengers A’s, X-men X’s, Spiderman webs, and, you guessed it, the Bat Signal. May not be out best work, but I think everyone had fun helping out.

So even if you’re in the middle of an epic battle with Apocolypse or just trying to bring something different to the party, you can take any recipe and make it super heroic with little bit of creativity. Just to get the ball rolling, we’ve uploaded a couple of new printables that may come in handy if you should find yourself attending a party of the superhero caliber – Batman and X-men truffle boxes. And in the meantime, remember to be yourself and be awesome – like Batman.

Click to Download

Click to Download

Phoenix’ Fire Buffalo Dip Recipe
2 Packs Boneless/Skinless Chicken (dark or light meat)
2 Packs Cream Cheese
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Bottle Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce

Boil the chicken until thoroughly cooked.
Once it’s cooled, shred with a fork or your fingers.
Mix the shredded chicken with cream cheese, mozzarella, and buffalo sauce in an oven safe dish until sauce is evenly distributed.
Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted.
Serve warm with Frito’s Big Scoops.

The Boy With The Bread

photo 3

Hunger Games opens at midnight tonight, staring the girl on fire and the boy with the bread. So we thought we’d try our hand at boozing up some bread. In that effort, we called to mind a dessert created by Molyvos in New York. It’s watermelon and feta cheese drizzled with honey and crumbled granola. So our thought was how to turn this into some sort of baked good. Cue 21 & ‘Upcakes’ Feta Beer Bread.

We started by mixing two of our favorite biscuit recipes a la Pinterest – 7-Up and Red Lobster biscuits (check our Inspiration and Yumm boards on Pinterest for these recipes). Arriving at 2 cups of Bisquick, 4 oz feta cheese, and 1/2 cup of sour cream.

Then we started playing mixologist in the kitchen figuring out which beer would pair perfectly with the feta. After a few options, we decided on Honey Brown lager. Somehow when you try a bite of feta cheese and wash it down with a sip of Honey Brown, the tastes meld into this one surprisingly new taste, which isn’t that exactly what you want from a recipe? So we added in 1/2 cup of the Honey Brown to the Bisquick mix.

We coated the pan with melted butter to make sure it didn’t stick while baking, then dropped in the cut biscuits to the dish. Baked them at 450F for 12-14 minutes, put a wash of melted butter on top, then popped them back in the oven at 350F for another 5-10 minutes until they were done and golden brown.

Now comes the experimentation factor. We tried it 3 different ways: plain, a honey glaze, and a watermelon honey glaze. You can choose which of the 3 you’d like or you can try all 3, completely your call. The honey glaze we made by just heating honey up in the microwave for a few seconds to make it brush-able onto the biscuits. Then the watermelon honey glaze was made the same way just add in a half-shot of Midori melon liquor.

We let people try each of the three and let them be the judge, so far the honey glaze is the favorite, then the watermelon-honey came in second. So if you’re feeling adventurous and wanting to roll with Panem’s favorite baker, go ahead and give the Feta Beer Biscuits a chance and let us know what you think.

In the meantime, we’ve designed a Hunger Games shirt for the baker in your family. Now we’re off to the midnight showing – Happy Hunger Games!


Feta Biscuits Recipe
2 Cups Bisquick
4 oz Feta Cheese Crumbles
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1/4 Cup Melted Butter
1/4 Cup Heated Honey
.5 oz Midori Melon Liquor

Preheat the oven to 450F. Coat the pan with melted butter, then mix remaining ingredients. Drop biscuits into the dish and bake for 12-14 minutes. Then put a butter wash over the biscuits, turn the oven down to 350F and continue baking for 5-10 minutes. Top with the glaze of your choice – honey or watermelon-honey.