Well, it HAS been a while, hasn’t it?! I’m getting settled into my job, so I have the time to update this more regularly. My lovely friend Kristen was moving out of her apartment today, and I offered to bake her some cupcakes as she had recently bestowed upon me some of her incredible handcrafted pottery.
As for the roses, well, they’re from my sweet boyfriend, surprising me out of the blue.
In order to craft a cupcake worthy of Kristen’s taste buds, I searched through her pintrest and found a mocha cupcake recipe to use as a base for these babies. They’ve been well received and as for my own opinion, they’re my favorite cupcakes I’ve ever made or eaten.
The honey in the frosting complimented the flavor of the chai tea within the cupcake, the cake itself was moist and flavorful but not overpowering, and the aftertaste was pleasant.
Lets get started!
- 3/4 cup hot and strong chai tea
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature (Hint: I stick my butter from the fridge into the microwave for 18-20 seconds and it’s perfect for creaming)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature (Hint: I cheat and stick cold eggs in really warm water for 5 minutes, it’ll bring them right down to room temperature)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 dash of ground ginger
- 1 cup buttermilk (Hint: I use 1 cup regular milk (2% or whole milk work best) and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and it works about the same.)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (USE IT I PROMISE IT MAKES THE CAKE MOIST AND DELICIOUS AND THE TASTE ISN’T AFFECTED AT ALL.)
- 4 cups of powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoons salt
To make the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake trays with 24 cupcake liners. (I used leftover valentines liners and some shiny metallic ones.)
- Once the tea has steeped long enough in hot water, add the cocoa powder to the cup, stir well, and set it aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground ginger. Set it aside.
- Mix the buttermilk and vanilla extract together and (you guessed it) set it aside.
- Cream the butter, salt, and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Once sufficiently creamed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the cream mixture and whisk until smooth. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and whisk until smooth. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, whisking again. Add the second 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture, whisk well. Finally, add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture and whisk until it almost looks velvety (or, y’know, combined).
- Add the chai tea and cocoa mix to the batter, mixing well.
- Add the mayonnaise and stir it in. (TRUST ME, OKAY.)
- Fill each of the cupcake liners evenly with the batter. (I used about two spoonfuls to fill each of the liners.) (HINT FROM MY GUY: If you come up a bit short, if you fill the empty cupcake nooks (without liners) halfway with water, it will help the rest of the cupcakes baked evenly.)
- Pop the trays in the oven for 16-18 minutes. I would suggest doing a single tray of 12 at once so the oven doesn’t get crowded and not distribute the heat properly.
- They are done once a toothpick can come out clean after being poked into the cupcake.
To make the frosting
- Whisk together the powdered sugar, cream, honey, cinnamon, and salt until smooth and slightly thick. (It will be a bit less thick than buttercream frosting, but still a substantially thick frosting.)
- Frost the COMPLETELY COOLED (very important that they are COMPLETELY COOLED) cupcakes with the frosting, either using a spoon (warning if you use a spoon the lure of eating all of the frosting before it hits the cake will intensify), piping bags, or a knife to spread the frosting on the cakes.
This recipe should make 24 cupcakes, but I’m not going to bother telling you a serving size because really, who can just eat one cupcake and call it a serving?
Back in April, I took a trip to the wonderful Pizza Lola in Minneapolis with a foodie friend. (Brilliant place, you should definitely check it out if you ever get the chance.) We ordered a simple Margherita Pizza and fell in love with the medley of ingredients. I just laugh, laugh, and laugh when people try to tell me that there isn’t any tastable difference when the produce comes from the supermarket versus when it comes from a local farm.
Now, for this recipe, I didn’t have any farm-fresh produce on hand, but I just HAD to attempt to recreate the magic Pizza Lola created. This recipe isn’t a copy of what Pizza Lola made, but it is pretty dang good for a home-chef.
Lets get started!
- 2 1/4 teaspoon (1 package) instant dry active yeast
- 1 cup warm water (not hot!)
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cups bread flour, or as needed
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- A few shakes of garlic powder (optional)
- A few shakes of dried basil (optional)
- A few shakes of oregano (optional)
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 5 medium-large plum (also known as Roma) tomatoes
- 1 & 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Add the water, yeast, sugar, and a 1/2 cup of the flour into a mixing bowl. Stir well and let sit for 20 minutes. It might get bubbly.
- Add olive oil, salt, garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, and 2 cups of the flour, and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until it’s together enough to turn out on to a lightly floured work surface to knead.
- Knead for about 10 minutes, while adding more flour a little at a time, to produce a soft, elastic and slightly sticky dough. Do not add too much flour, just enough to keep it from sticking to the work surface as you knead.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Drizzle a few drops of oil and coat the top of dough to prevent the surface from becoming dry.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
- Once the dough has risen for 2 hours, plop it onto a greased cookie sheet and squish or pat it into a 11 by 13 inch rectangle. It doesn’t have to be perfect, after all, it’s just going into your mouth and stomach , where your eyes can’t see!
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and pop the pizza dough into the oven for 8 minutes.
- While it is baking, take out those deliciously plump tomatoes and fresh basil. Thinly slice the tomatoes, shred the basil, and halve the garlic clove. I could probably have sliced the tomatoes thinner, but it worked out all the same.
- Also, mix 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and whisk until combined.
- Once that is all done, the 8 minutes should be up. Remove the pizza from the oven and brush it with olive oil before rubbing it with the halved garlic cloves. Mince the garlic cloves into tiny pieces after rubbing the crust with the halves and sprinkle over the crust.
- Arrange tomato slices on crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border; sprinkle evenly with cheese.
- Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is golden.
- Sprinkle pizza evenly with sliced basil, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the vinegar mixture evenly over the pizza. Serve to your very impressed guests!
What’s a girl to do when she craves coconut, chocolate, and pecans?
Make german chocolate cake, of course!
After much searching, I found a great recipe in my Taste of Home magazine and set about creating this deliciousness.
To make this cake, it should take about 30 minutes to prepare the batter and thirty minutes to bake it. You can use the baking time to make the frosting and icing, or to wash the dishes. Whatever floats your boat!
The recipe will make enough for 12 people.
Lets get started!
- 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups evaporated milk
- 3/4 cup butter
- 5 egg yolks, beaten
- 2 cups flaked coconut
- 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon shortening
- 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
- Line three greased 9-in. round baking pans with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper and set aside. In small saucepan, melt chocolate with water over low heat; cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
- In a small bowl and with clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into creamed mixture; fold in remaining whites.
- Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
- For frosting, in a small saucepan, heat sugar, milk, butter and egg yolks over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla extract. Cool until thick enough to spread. Spread a third of the frosting over each cake layer and stack the layers.
- In a microwave, melt chocolate and shortening (about 20 seconds at a time so as not to burn the chocolate) ; stir until smooth; drizzle over cake.