Firefly: Shiny Mudder’s Milk Chocolate Cupcakes

Today is the tenth anniversary of the premiere of one of my favorite shows of all time: FIREFLY! That’s right, ten years ago today, the first episode (but not technically the pilot) of Firefly aired on Fox.

Alright, now, if you haven’t ever seen Firefly, go away right now and watch it. There’s only 14 episodes (because it was foolishly and tragically cancelled), including the pilot, and they’re all available on both Netflix Watch Instantly and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

What better day for a Firefly marathon than on the show’s tenth anniversary? You’re going to love it (cause why wouldn’t you love a a wild west story set in outer space and filled with the likes of Captain Tight Pants, a.k.a. Nathan Fillion?!), and you’ll be talking about how “shiny” things are and knitting yourself a Jayne hat in no time.

When you’re done, come back here and make these cupcakes while you sing of the Hero of Canton and find ways to work Firefly quotes into your every day conversations.

If you have seen Firefly, and you obviously adore it, because it’s impossible not to, then you should still go watch a marathon of it while you enjoy these Mudder’s Milk cupcakes.

Mudder’s Milk: Liquid bread. Basically. And 15% alcohol. Full of protein, vitamins, and carbs. Yummmmm…?

Of course, these aren’t actually Mudder’s Milk, obviously, they’re chocolate tres leches cupcakes, but I like to think that everyone in the ‘verse would prefer these to real Mudder’s Milk anyway. And they do have milk in them, after all. Three milks, as a matter of fact.

Now, I aim to misbehave today, by scarfing down too many of these and spending the entire day with my favorite Browncoats, so make like a leaf on the wind, and soar. I’ll see you guys after the show. 🙂

I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, using all the ingredients above (eggs, all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, hot coffee, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt)…except only half. Because there’s only three people in my family, and we didn’t need 30 cupcakes. 😉

I’m a firm believer that the secret to these cupcakes is mixing the cocoa powder into the hot coffee to dissolve it. I let it cool to room temperature, then mix it into the batter, and the cupcakes come out moist and chocolaty every time.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, gently poke several holes int he top of each one to make room for the treas leches. Yum!

Be sure to sit all of your cupcakes up on a wire cooling rack that’s placed over a rimmed baking sheet, so that you can catch all the mess.

The tres leches filling for these cupcakes is pretty standard (one part sweetened condensed milk, one part evaporated milk, and one part half and half), except that I added a generous amount of cocoa powder.

Because chocolate makes everything better.

Alright, now, here’s where it’s time to get real about these cupcakes.

Tres leches cake is meant to be made in a pan. Period. I’m not saying you can’t make these as cupcakes, but seriously, there’s a reason you make it in a pan. Filling these cupcakes is tedious and messy. It’s totally worth it. But I thought you should be forewarned.

I decided to use a pastry bag fitted with my smallest writing tip. I simply filled the bag (in a glass since the milk mixture is very runny), then I filled the holes in each cupcake, over and over again, until I had used all of the milk mixture.

Again, this is messy work.

And you have to keep pouring the milk back into your measuring cup, so that you can keep filling the cupcakes, because a lot of it runs down into that rimmed baking sheet. But don’t despair, the cupcakes really do soak it all up; it just takes four or five passes to get it all done. You can see in the above photo that the holes are beginning to stay filled with milk.

The cupcakes have to chill for several hours, or overnight, before you can frost them, so I decided to spend that time making some fun Firefly decorations for mine.

The frosting portion of my decorations is a simple, delicious chocolate whipped cream. Once it was piped on, I edged the cupcakes in cookie crumbs and little gold stars.

But first, I made my fondant decorations.

I decided to keep it relatively simple, and recognizable, so I made the Serenity emblem (Serenity is the name of the ship, which s a Firefly class ship…which is where the name of the show comes from). :).

I didn’t want it to have a new, spotless appearance, though, because Serenity isn’t new. Or spotless.

I started out with simple yellow (and later, orange) circles of rolled fondant. The yellow ones were slightly smaller, since they were going to sit on top of the orange ones.

I kept the colors relatively light, because I’m going to “age” the fondant next.

I started out by adding “dents” with the ridged edge of my food coloring jar. I simply pressed the lid’s side randomly into the fondant a few times.

Next, I used crumpled up paper towel to press and gently pinch the fondant for more texture.

To age the circles even more, I brushed them with a brown wash of watercolor “paint.” Just add a drop of brown food coloring to a tiny amount of water and lightly brush it over the fondant, allowing it to pool slightly in the cracks and creases. The more water you add, the lighter the color of the paint will be, so you may need to experiment a bit until you get the color right. If you get too much pooling of paint, or you want it slightly lighter, you can use paper towel to gently blot away any excess.

After the wash had dried for a bit, I lightly and randomly dusted areas of the fondant with copper luster dust.

On the yellow circles, I also used a brown food writer to handdraw the Serenity symbol in calligraphy.

Except, actually, the Hubster did it, because I’m a big chicken and didn’t want to ruin it. Didn’t he do a great job??

To finish these up, just dab the back of the smaller circle with a tiny amount of water, center the circle on top of the larger piece of fondant, and press gently. This will “glue” the two pieces together. Let the pieces sit and dry for a couple of hours before placing the on your cupcakes.

Truly. Happy anniversary. I love every episode of the Firefly that was made, and I miss all of the episodes that never were. I love that I got a chance to celebrate such a great how today, and I hope I’ve recruited a new Browncoat or two. 🙂

Even if you don’t catch Firefly, though, you’ve gotta give these cupcakes a try. Enjoy!

P.S. Want more Firefly anniversary fun? Be sure to stop by my friend Tina’s place, Sugar Bean Bakers, and check out her delicios Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cake!

Mudder’s Milk Chocolate Cupcakes
a.k.a. Chocolate Tres Leches Cupcakes [Printable Version]
Makes about 15 standard cupcakes, or one 9×13 sheet cake



1/2 cup (4 ounces or 125 ml) strong brewed coffee, hot
3/4 cup (42 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 125 ml) hot milk

1 1/2 cups (191 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup (250 ml) evaporated milk
1 cup (250 ml) half and half
1/2 cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
3 to 4 tablespoons (25 to 50 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (13 grams) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes: In a medium bowl, or a two cup measuring cup, stir the coffee and cocoa powder together until dissolved. Stir in the milk. Set aside until cooled to room temperature, or place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Once the cocoa/coffee mixture has cooled, preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined; stir in the vanilla. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the bowl and mix until just combined. Add 1/2 of the chocolate mixture, mixing again until just combined. Repeat with reamining flour and chocolate mixtures, ending with flour. Mix only until flour is just incorporated. Do not over mix.

Place 2 tablespoons of batter in each cupcake liner. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Allow to cool completely.

To make the tres leches: In a large bowl, or a 4-cup measuring cup, combine the sweetened condensed milk and the evaporated milk; set aside.

In a seperate bowl or meauring cup, microwave the half and half until hot, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cocoa powder until dissolved.

Add the chocolate mixture to the sweetened condensed milk mixture and stir to combine.

Assemble cupcakes: Gently poke several holes in each cupcake. Place the cupcakes on a wire cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Slowly pour the chocolate tres leches mixture over the cupcakes, allowing it to be absorbed in the holes. Repeat this process with each cupcake, several times, until all of the milk mixture has been used (you will have to pour the milk mixture back into your measuring cup from the rimmed pan periodically. Alternatively, you can use a pastry bag, fitted with a small writing tip to fill the cupcakes.

Place the soaked cupcakes in the refrigerator and chill for 5 hours or overnight.

To make the whipped cream: In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the heavy cream and cocoa powder on medium high speed until it starts to thicken. Reduce speed to low and sprinkle the sugar into the cream. Turn mixer to high and continue whipping until firm peaks form. Stir in vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Spoon or pipe a generous amount (about 1/4 cup) of whipped cream onto each cupcake and garnish as desired.

Recipe by Darla

Leave a comment


  1. Tamar says

    I have to say, the thing I find most endearing about your writing is your obsession with TV shows (and I mean that in the BEST way possible) because it DEFINITELY rivals mine. While I’ve never seen Firefly (according to what you’re writing here, this show came out when I was 10! Cartoon Network was more up my allie during *those* days) BUT if I had half your creativity I would be dreaming up Lost, House M.D and The Office-themed desserts on a daily basis!

  2. says

    Gah! Firefly is my 2nd favorite show (Whedon’s Buffy is 1st so it’s okay) and tres leches cake is my favorite dessert so this post basically makes me want to kiss you!

  3. says

    Oh My Word, don’t be weirded out but I totally have a crush on you right now! I Love Firefly (hence the Firefly, in FireflyConfections) & I LOVE Nathan Fillion. These cakes are too awesome for words, but there is a lot of love!!

  4. says

    Wow, I have never heard of chocolate tres leches before. I always make my standart tres leches. I am definitly in to try and making these cupcakes.They to look yummy!
    As for the TV show, I am clueless, but I am just clueless about anything TV related.

  5. Leticia says

    I’ve never seen Firefly, and never heard about it either, but Is Richard Castle there! I need to watch it! Seriously, I’m in love with Nathan Fillion! And I’ll be in love with this cupcakes, indeed…

  6. Cecily says

    The cupcakes look great. I would be so happy with Joss if he would just make another Firefly movie. It’s not to much to ask for. Capitan Tight Pants must come back.

  7. says

    Saddest thing ever! They should have/could have continued on with that darned show! It was SOOOOO good and only got better as each episode continued on. PLEASE BRING IT BACK SOMEHOW?!?? 10 years?? Not too long to restart it.

    • says

      Hello, half and half is a dairy product that is basically half cream, half milk. If you don’t have access to it, then you can use 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 cup milk, combined. I hope this is helpful! 🙂

  8. Michele says

    You are knocking it out of the park for me this week!! I made the *Amazing* No-bake Biscoff pie on Monday (I just polished off the last piece) and *I swear* I JUST started to watch Firefly again last night, completely oblivious to the anniversary. I’m feeling all close and friendly with your right now. 🙂 Thanks for the good stuff!!

  9. says

    Those are so pretty! I love them! I am waaaay to scared to do stuff with fondant, I’m worried I’ll ruin it and waste my time… 🙁 Speaking of cupcakes I need to make some soon… 😛

  10. Becca - Cookie Jar Treats says

    I have never seen Firefly… let alone heard of it. But then again I was 8 when it aired soooooo am I off the hook 😉

    These cupcakes look incredible! I can’t believe I’ve never thought of chocolate tres leeches! It seems so obvious o.o

  11. Donna D. says

    Aw, this kinda made me sad, I love Firefly and, oh, how great it would be if it was still going, ten years of Firefly would have been soooo awesome!!! I think maybe I need to make these cupcakes and eat a couple (or more) while I watch Firefly again!

  12. says

    ACH!! I love that episode where Jayne is the hero!!!

    I remember when Firefly came out… It was so exciting – and Joss Whedon is basically a genius. I’ve loved everything he’s done!!!! Did you know that they (the offending network shall remain nameless) actually showed the 9 or 10 episodes that were actually aired in the wrong order??? Grrr. I have it on DVD and watch it 2 or 3 times a year at least!

    I think Jayne was possibly my favorite character….

    But I also loved Captain Tightpants. A lot. I called someone that the other day and he looked at me like I was crazy.


    Another excellent creation!
    (And it’s seriously been 10 years??? Oh my goodness! Time just passes too quickly!)

  13. Anna says

    Had a firefly marathon 2 weeks ago… never too soon for another. Thank you for these shiny cupcakes. I have to admit took the mudders milk alittle further and added a 1/4 cup of coffee spiced vodka. “the hero of Camdon a man they call Jayne”. Everything’s shiny Cap.

  14. says

    Oh my, what a great tribute to a great show 😀
    I bought the firefly-dvd-box to my bf his first birthday after we got together, ’cause if he didn’t like it, I could safely sneak out of the flirt. Luckily he also loved it 😉

  15. says

    love LOVE firefly! that’s what i pop into the dvd player when i’m feeling under the weather and the only thing i can handle is mal and his “family” and a snuggly blanket. i’m sure i could find a way to add one of your cupcakes to that combination! looks wonderful. (btw, heard that firefly will be spoofed on castle soon)

  16. Jody says

    I was showing my work colleagues your blog today and we subsequently spent the entire afternoon wallowing in a sugarless black hole, day dreaming about these cupcakes. And the French toast ones. And the snickers ones. And the maple bacon ones. And that raspberry vanilla cream pie. Aaaaand pretty much everything.

  17. Christine says

    Firefly, Doctor Who, Star Trek…not only do you love the same shows that I do, but you are also an amazing baker! I wish I could incorporate my geekiness into my baking! Thanks so much for sharing! Shiny!

  18. Andrea says

    This is an awesome recipe! I love that you combine your interests with baking something as a tribute, and it’s not just “Oh I liked the flavor, so this is the point…” It’s much more fun this way. I LOVED Firefly, and thanks for posting this! Reading your “Best of 2012” and had to click around some more. Happy 2013!

  19. says

    You are my hero. My wife, Caroline of Chocolate & Carrots is constantly barraged with my love, err, obsession for sci-fi. Thanks for geeking out for the rest of us. Now, did you create any Battlestar Galactica goodies? Cylon Raider cookies? Battlestar Bundt Cake? Starbuck Ambrosia?

    • says

      Hi Logan! Thank you!! I have been brainstorming for something from Battlestar Galactica for a while. I’m pretty much obsessed with that show, so I gotta come up with something! I’ll make sure to let Caroline know in advance when I finally do!

  20. says

    I love you so very hard right now. I’m a huge Firefly/Whedon/Who/Tennant fan and this made me so happy there were tears! I promise, but they were happy tears so all is well. But I’m so making these for my Firefly party (can you belive my roommate hasn’t seen the entire season? Just goes to show I have to put that on the future roomie questionnaire!) and it will be shiny!!