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Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting

Spending 2 hours making a dessert is more than I’m usually willing to commit to.  But if you’ve got a special birthday party, you’re trying to get a raise, or you really pissed somebody off… these may do the trick.

mex-choc-cupcake-vertical

I doctored a chocolate cake mix with cayenne pepper and cinnamon and turned store-bought dulce de leche into a super yummy frosting.  And there’s sprinkles.  Cupcakes are NEVER FINISHED UNTIL THERE ARE SPRINKLES.  Life lesson, folks.

mex-choc-cupcake-stand

Give it a try!  It takes 2 hours… but at the end you have cupcakes!  That’s probably a better outcome than you’ll get with almost anything else you can spend that time doing, amiright?


Print Recipe
Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting
Course Dessert
Cuisine Moderate Effort
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Frosting
Course Dessert
Cuisine Moderate Effort
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Frosting
Instructions
Make cupcakes
  1. Put all cupcake ingredients into a bowl and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat for another 2 minutes.
  2. Fill cupcake pan with liners and divide batter to make 24 cupcakes. Bake according to box directions, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
  3. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Make frosting and decorate
  1. Beat cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Add dulce de leche and beat until well combined. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Put frosting in a piping bag or zipper bag and store in refrigerator to firm up until ready to use.
  2. When cupcakes are completely cool, snip off the end of the bag of frosting to create a hole approximately 1/2 inch in diameter. Pipe a swirl of frosting onto each cupcake.
  3. Sprinkle frosting with sprinkles of your choice (I used cinnamon sprinkles and chocolate crunchy pearls). Sprinkle with a small amount of fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt.
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choc-mousse-closeup

Chocolate Mousse

I love stupid-easy recipes.  There are 4 ingredients in this dish, and it takes about 20 minutes of active work to make it (plus a few hours for chilling it in the fridge between steps).  It would only take 10-15 minutes if you decided not to pipe the mousse and just threw it in some dishes as-is.  And on top of that… IT’S CHOCOLATE MOUSSE!

choc-mousse-ruffled-sides

This mousse is so rich and decadent, you could easily have this be 6 servings (instead of the 4 big servings here) and even a sugarwhore like me wouldn’t complain.  You make it with a microwave and the whisk attachment on your mixer.  No cooking! Love it!

I chose to serve these in jars instead of pretty glasses or cups because I was transporting this to a dinner party and having individual, beautiful servings while still being able to easily transport them was really appealing.  Also, I’m totally pandering to the “put shit in jars” crowd.

choc-mousse-beautiful-bite
Doesn’t that just make you happy?  Don’t you want to put it in your mouth and savor the creamy, chocolatey goodness?  Well you can!  This is easy easy EASY to make! 

choc-mousse-wayclose

The whole key to this recipe is to use really good chocolate.  Don’t skimp on that.  Use darker chocolate if you like it more bitter (and adjust sugar as needed, or just leave it out).  I used 66% dark chocolate here, and it only needed 2-3 Tablespoons of sugar to get it to a nice sweetness level.  You could easily make this with milk or white chocolate as well, but you probably don’t need extra sugar in that case.


Print Recipe
Chocolate Mousse
OMG this is SO EASY! Don't bother with "real" chocolate mousse, just make this instead.
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat cream in microwave until very hot (but not boiling).
  2. Place chocolate in a mixing bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir cream and chocolate until completely emulsified. Add vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract. Chill 2 or more hours until completely cool and thickened.
  4. Whip with the whisk attachment of your mixer until color lightens and mixture is thick but still a bit runny (very soft peaks).
  5. Taste for sweetness and fold in powdered sugar if desired. Stop here, or continue to whip until desired consistency is reached. Be careful not to over beat the mixture!
  6. Spoon or pipe mousse into jars or cups, add sprinkles if desired, and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
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clean-cake-side

Orange Almond Cardamom Cake

I was feeling fancy and needed something to put on a buffet table at a party (Drag Race All Stars premiere!), so I dug an extremely expired cake mix out of the pantry and whipped up this paragon of elegance and beauty.  I was worried that being more than a year past the “use by” date would affect the leavening in the cake mix, but you can see that wasn’t an issue.

This cake turned out really well – moist and delicate with a perfect, subtle balance of flavors.

close-up-crumb

I love how the inside of this cake looks — tender crumbs mixed with flecks of ground almonds and a little bit of orange zest.  So pretty!  My whole house smelled good after I baked this.

Because a bundt cake generally doesn’t have a lot of icing on it, the cake has to be awesome all on it’s own.  And this one really, really is. But it’s always better to add just a little more sugar in the form of an icing glaze!  This is a quick one to mix together – the only trick is to make sure you get the consistency right.  Too thin and it runs right off the cake, too thick and it’s goopy and doesn’t drip down the cake in a pretty way.  I test the consistency by draping a line of frosting across my fingertip (because then I can lick it off later) and if it stays pretty solid for a few seconds you’re good to go.

close-up-wet-icing

I’m glad I get invited to so many events — it gives me the perfect excuse to bake.

Oh.

I think I just figure out why I get invited to so many events.

Well, it’s a win-win.

clean-cake-side
This beauty was only outshone by the Drag Race contestants themselves.  And I’m okay with being shown up by drag queens.

Try making this one yourself – it’s a perfect afternoon snack with a cup of tea.


Print Recipe
Orange Almond Cardamom Cake
This doctored cake mix is moist and flavorful with a perfect, subtle balance of flavors. Also, it makes you look like Martha fucking Stewart. View recipe video at https://youtu.be/sJOxG7ZBY14
Course Dessert
Cuisine Moderate Effort
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Cake
Icing glaze
Course Dessert
Cuisine Moderate Effort
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Cake
Icing glaze
Instructions
Make the cake
  1. Put cake mix, cardamom and ground almonds in a mixing bowl.
  2. Zest 1 orange into the mixing bowl. Juice 3 oranges into a measuring cup and top up with water (if necessary) to equal 1 1/4 cups.
  3. Add orange juice, vegetable oil, yogurt, vanilla and eggs to bowl. Mix batter according to package directions.
  4. (Optional) Taste batter -- risking almost certain death due to raw eggs -- and add orange oil (or orange extract) to taste.
  5. Use baking spray with flour to grease a bundt pan. Fill pan with cake batter and tap pan on counter a few times to remove any air pockets.
  6. Bake according to directions on cake package, or until toothpick inserted in center comes our clean(ish). Baking may take slightly longer than expected on the package due to extra added ingredients.
  7. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and let stand until completely cool.
Make the icing
  1. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Zest orange, putting half in bowl with sugar and setting half aside for decoration.
  2. Juice half of orange into bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in cardamom.
  3. The icing should be thick enough to hold a line on your finger for a few seconds. If icing is too thick, add more orange juice. If icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  4. Spoon icing glaze over the cake, trying to distribute evenly. Sprinkle the top of the wet icing with remaining orange zest. Allow icing to dry before serving.
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grasshopper-tart-cut-2

Grasshopper Tart

grasshopper tart top

Vortex of minty delight

I was pissed I wasted so much time making Grasshopper Chocolates, but the delightful tart I made from the leftover ganache makes it all feel better.  It’s a delectable, fluffy, minty cloud in a chocolate crust.

Ganache is easy to make – it’s just cream and chocolate heated up and stirred together until they emulsify.  I increased the difficulty a teeny bit by steeping fresh mint in the cream before I made the ganache.  But it was so worth it.  The beautiful, fresh flavor of that mint shines through – it’s subtle, and doesn’t taste like mint “flavoring” at all.

grasshopper tart

A thing of beauty, just waiting to be eaten (also how I describe myself for online dating purposes).

So what do you do with leftover gorgeous, gooey ganache?  Turn it into a tart!  I wanted the filling to be delicate, like the mint flavor, so I lightened it with whipped cream.  The resulting cloud of fluff melts in your mouth – sweet and cold and subtle.  The mint doesn’t smack you in the face, but it’s plenty strong enough to hold its own against the cookie crust.

grasshopper-slice-and-tart

Come and get me, big boy.

Speaking of cookie crust, I find it hard to make any other kind.  Not because crust is hard, but because cookie crust is better.  I’m going to get yelled at by pie crust fans now, but I don’t care.  My chocolate cookie crust and I can’t hear you.  And it couldn’t possibly be easier to make.  Mix cookie crumbs and melted butter, press it into a pan with your hands, maybe compact it a little further with a glass… and you’re pretty much done.  Refrigerate it for a bit to set the butter.  If you want a more crisp crust, you throw it in the oven for 8 minutes.

The final decoration is what takes it from a yummy tart to a thing of beauty, though.  Really, this part takes just a few minutes and turns an everyday looking thing into something spectacular.  Watch 5 less minutes of Game of Thrones and just go for it, okay?  You can do it, I have faith in you!

How to cut corners if you want this to be faster (I’m not guaranteeing it will make you hear angels sing anymore if you do this, though):

  • Skip steeping the fresh mint in the cream. Just heat cream, pour it over the white chocolate, and flavor with creme de menthe and peppermint oil.  You will probably think this tastes just as good.  It doesn’t.  But go ahead.
  • Use a store-bought cookie crust.  That’s reasonable.
  • Instead of whipping cream from scratch, you could use cool whip to lighten the ganache.  Just don’t tell me about it later, that stuff tastes weird.
Print Recipe
Grasshopper Tart
OMG, a minty cloud of delight poured into a chocolate cookie crust. This is fucking delectable. You can make it easier by skipping the step where you steep the fresh mint in the cream for the ganache... but don't. Really, don't. The fresh mint flavor is heavenly.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Moderate Effort
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 4 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Moderate Effort
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 4 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Chop mint and place in bowl. Heat 8 oz of the heavy cream to a simmer (do not boil) and pour over the mint. Let steep for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the cookie crust. Grind sandwich cookies in a food processor to make fine crumbs. (Do a good job, but don't forget to eat any remaining big chunks before continuing.) Melt butter and add to crumbs. Pulse to combine.
  3. Press crumbs into an 8-inch springform pan (or tart pan) covering the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides. Use the bottom of a glass to compress the crumbs for a firm crust. Use nonstick cooking spray on the bottom of the glass if the crumbs stick. Chill crust for 30 minutes.
  4. OPTIONAL - for a crisper crust, bake it at 350 degrees farenheit for 8 minutes and allow to cool completely before filling.
  5. Strain mint out of the steeped cream and reheat the cream to a simmer (do not boil). Place chopped white chocolate in a bowl and pour hot cream over it. Let sit for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir the cream and white chocolate mixture, starting in the middle of the bowl, until they are emulsified. Stir in creme de menthe and peppermint oil. Chill ganache until cool to the touch and thickened.
  7. Whip remaining 8 oz of heavy cream with powdered sugar until you have medium peaks (lift the beater up and the peaks stay there).
  8. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the ganache to lighten it. Fold in remaining 2/3 of the whipped cream until no streaks remain, trying not to deflate the mixture.
  9. Pour ganache mixture into the chocolate crust and smooth top.
  10. Melt milk chocolate in a small zipper bag, cut off the tip and pipe a spiral onto the top of the tart filling. Use a toothpick to drag lines out and in from the center to create a pattern.
  11. Chill in refrigerator until filling firms up a bit, 2-4 hours or overnight.
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