Category: white chocolate

Pink velvet hot cocoa for you & your Valentine.

Yep, it’s February. That means time for Valentine’s Day- get over it. It’s  freakin’ cute. Stop being so goddamn cynical and enjoy the loooooove.

Loooooove. Not love. Loooooove.

Pink velvet hot cocoa! Insanely easy and insanely pretty.

So yeah, you can hate on Valentine’s Day. But nobody can hate on hot cocoa. And this here just happens to be some PINK velvet hot cocoa. Thanks to A Beautiful Mess for the recipe idea!

Plus, how BEAUTIFUL does it look? Wouldn’t this be a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert beverage? I think so.

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Dark-chocolate-peanut-butter-filled-white-chocolate candies from heaven.

Finally- it’s heading into the second week of December. Christmas is like, the Mount Everest for bloggers. Especially food or crafty bloggers. Since before Halloween it’s been a slow build-up to right now. First came all the fall stuff, then the spooky stuff, then the turkey stuff. But now… now shit is getting’ real. All the good foods, cakes, cookies, snacks, decorations & crafty stuff is out right now. It’s officially CHRISTMAS!

What would Christmas be without tons of insanely delicious sweets, candies & cookies? Horrible. I mean, it’s only natural. It wouldn’t seem right to have a Christmas or a holiday season without a little over-indulgence. If not now, then when?!

Homemade Reese's- white chocolate filled with dark chocolate & peanut butter.

These little babies right here are a result of late-night holiday cravings. Inspired by my original creations- which were also a late night craving. Thankfully, they’re insanely simple to make and take all of a half hour tops, including the melting.

Homemade peanut butter cups! No preservatives, no chemicals!

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Cheery lil’ cherry Christmas muffins.

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It never fails; every holiday season, I try to come up with different pretty little muffins and things that can go from breakfast to lunch to “snack time.” Whether it’s breads or loaf cakes or muffins or rolls, I like to have things on hand that can be grabbed at any time of day, whenever anyone pops in or decides they want one with a cup of coffee or tea… or a glass of milk. Because this is the time of year when people are always coming by, stopping in, etc. and you’ve gotta have something on hand to give these wandering wassailers, whether they’re coming morning, noon or night.

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Cupcakes don’t always go with breakfast. And they’ve also got a shorter table-life than muffins. Muffins last forever, it seems. And in the new issue of the Food Network magazine, there’s a buttload of inspiration in the form of a booklet with 50 muffin recipes! So I guess I’m not alone in my idea that muffins make great snacks for last-minute guests, eh?

A lot of the recipes sounded amazing, but the ones I really liked I had bigger plans for. So I gathered up some things I had in my cupboards- dried Bing cherries & white chocolate chips, namely- and threw ‘em into my favorite muffin recipe base. If I had had some pistachios, I’d have thrown them in there too. Pistachio goes well with both cherry & white chocolate. Oh- and cranberries would work just fine instead of cherries- both fresh and dried. The tartness of both cherries & cranberries work because of the sweetness of the white chocolate.

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WHITE CHOCOLATE CHERRY MUFFINS

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons set aside
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter — melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs – beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios (optional, I didn’t have any)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. and grease up 12 muffin cups or put liners in them (I prefer liners because it’s less messy that way).
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, stir together milk, eggs, cooled butter, and vanilla until blended. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add milk mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in cherries, then white chocolate chips. DON’T OVERMIX THE BATTER.
  3. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling them almost to the top; top each muffin with a sprinkling of sugar from reserved 2 tablespoons. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.
  4. Remove muffin tin to wire rack; cool 5 minutes and remove from tins to finish cooling. Serve with whatever you like, whenever you like.

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The cool thing about the white chocolate chips in this case is that they don’t melt like semisweet or milk chocolate chips would. They stay whole, as do the cherries, so you taste each of them separately & get the texture too. That’s why the addition of unsalted shelled pistachios would be great! Not only would it make the muffins Christmas colors, but the texture of the three separate things would be awesome. Chewy cherries, thick white chocolate and crunchy-ish pistachios.

And they go great with milk & pretty paper straws, too.

Table runner custom-made for me by Yoyo of topstitch.org/topstitch.artfire.com

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Hoppy Easter.

My mom’s Easter tree this year!

Again, this year, I had no idea what I was going to make. That’s been a common theme. I was lost as to what I was going to make for Valentine’s Day, then for St. Patrick’s Day, then again for Easter. It’s just been that kinda year I guess. I saw a million cute things but I hate repeating the same shit everyone else does.

But that’s basically what I ended up doing anyway. Pfft.

I made some simple vanilla-flavored cupcakes and topped them with vanilla frosting, then dipped them in chocolate sauce, then I added egg-shaped quins and white chocolate bunnies. Can’t get much easier than that, huh? THESE ARE NOT HI-HAT CUPCAKES. They’re just regular cupcakes dipped in chocolate. I used ‘The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake’ from the Cupcake Project for this, and the chocolate sauce is one I’ve used before that hardens when it dries but doesn’t really harden to a crazy hard consistency. It just hardens enough to not be melty and messy. Deelish. The white chocolate bunnies are just white chocolate bars melted & poured into bunny molds. Very, very easy. The larger molds were more like the traditional chocolate Easter bunny, but they were too large for toppers so I just paired each cupcake with one.

By the way, I’ve started using salted butter in my confectioner’s sugar buttercream. I find it adds a nice touch, takes away some of the super-sweetness that you can get from a high-sugar buttercream. Just a lil’ tip from me to you.

So I hope you all have a Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Eostre, Happy Spring! There might be another Easter-y surprise thrown in sometime this weekend. Maybe. Maybe not. *wink*

Simply put: I L♥VE Y♥U.

And sometimes that’s all you need to say.

But make sure you say it with a cupcake.

These are vanilla cake (Crumbs’ recipe) topped with a delicious chocolate sour cream frosting (Sprinkles’ recipe) made with 90% chocolate. Funny thing about that chocolate. A few weeks ago, me & Jay were out shopping & we saw that the Lindt store in our mall was closing. Ever since Jay went to Switzerland with his band in August, he’s been a fan of Swiss chocolate (thanks to me, who requested he bring me back some in the first place!) and Lindt is the most popular brand. Although I will say the chocolate he brought back from Europe tasted much better than the Lindt you buy here, I still like American Lindt. Same thing with Cadbury- when I go & buy the imported Cadbury chocolates, they’re so much better than the American version made by Hershey’s. Anyway, all of the chocolate in this Lindt store was 50% off, from the huge bittersweet bars to the little tiny milk chocolate bars. Needless to say, Jay went a bit cocoa- looney and purchased about $50.00 worth of chocolate (the full price would’ve been over $90.00) in a variety of flavors: dark chocolate mint, white chocolate with coconut, dark chocolate sea salt caramel, Mozartkuglen, bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, etc. And of course, he bought a ton of crazy dark chocolate: 50%, 65%, 70% and 90%. Jay really likes dark chocolate, you see. However, this high percentage dark chocolate was more like baking chocolate. There was no sweetness about it. Excellent quality, yes, but way too bitter & chalky.

So I got to steal all those bars to bake with! And chocolate is love, right? Or at least it mimics the feeling of being in love, thanks to compounds like phenylethylamine.

So that’s how these cupcakes were born. I had some 90% Lindt chocolate I was looking to use up, I found a new (to me) frosting recipe, and I had all these white chocolate chips. I piped the frosting on with nothing but a disposable pastry bag (no tip) then used an offset spatula to smooth it out. Why, I don’t know, because I just ended up covering up my neat-o frosting job with chips & sprinkles. Best frosting ever, by the way; not sure if it was the Lindt or the recipe… but wow. Oh! And let me take a minute to say I used a small batch of homemade buttermilk that I keep in a little Ball® jar in my fridge to make the cupcakes, and I’ll never use anything else again. Who’da thunk that a homemade not-even-real version of buttermilk would make the cakes taste so much better than store bought buttermilk? Hm.

SPRINKLES’ DARK CHOCOLATE FROSTING

Makes enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes, can be halved

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound plus 8 ounces powdered sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Melt and cool chocolate (until just slightly warm). Beat butter until light and fluffy.
  2. With mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar. Add salt, vanilla and sour cream and mix until very smooth.
  3. Add chocolate and mix until just incorporated.
*Don’t over-whip and add too much air into the frosting. The consistency should be rich and dense, like ice cream!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Spring has sprung.

Not 100% of course, but for the most part anyway.

I’ve done one of these little compilation posts for Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas, Valentine’s Day & St. Patrick’s Day, so here’s my springtime/Easter version. I don’t really do “Easter”, I like bunnies, baby chicks, lilies & chocolate… so I celebrate those things & call it Easter. I’m not one of those Wiccans or “Pagans” either. I’m Agnostic, but I do love me some holidays. I can’t help it. I love to decorate and bake and cook and that’s the best part of life, in my opinion. So why not celebrate everything!?

The real meaning of Easter:

Easter (Old English: Ēostre; Greek: Πάσχα, Paskha; Hebrew: פֶּסַח‎, Pesakh, “Passover“) is the central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year.[1] According to Christian scripture, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Some Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday[2] (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday and three days after Maundy Thursday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to be between AD 26 and 36, traditionally 33. Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox.[3] Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on March 20 in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar whose March 21 corresponds, during the 21st century, to April 3 in the Gregorian Calendar, in which calendar their celebration of Easter therefore varies between April 4 and May 8.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover.[4][5]

Relatively newer[citation needed] elements such as the Easter Bunny and Easter egg hunts have become part of the holiday’s modern celebrations, and those aspects are often celebrated by many Christians and non-Christians alike. There are also some Christian denominations who do not celebrate Easter.

Yeah so that last part applies to me. Delicious chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs filled with creamy fondant? Yes please. I guess, though, I more celebrate just the coming of spring itself, which is more like Ostara:

Old English Ēostre (also Ēastre) and Old High German Ôstarâ are the names of a putative Germanic goddess whose Anglo-Saxon month, Ēostur-monath, has given its name to the festival of Easter. Eostre is attested only by Bede, in his 8th century work De temporum ratione, where he states that Ēostur-monath was the equivalent to the month of April, and that feasts held in her honour during Ēostur-monath had died out by the time of his writing, replaced by the “Paschal month“. The possibility of a Common Germanic goddess called *Austrōn- was examined in detail in 19th century Germanic philology, by Jacob Grimm and others, without coming to a definite conclusion.

Linguists have identified the goddess as a Germanic form of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn, *Hausos, some scholars have debated whether or not Eostre is an invention of Bede’s, and theories connecting Eostre with records of Germanic Easter customs (including hares and eggs) have been proposed.

Notice the spelling similarities between Eostre and Easter? Hmm. Food for thought. I’ll let ya chew on that one.

So in short, I like to eat and make stuff, and that’s what holidays are all about, really. I don’t think you have to believe in a God to celebrate the coming of spring, especially after a winter where here in New York we got a whopping 60.9″ of snow total. At any rate… here are some delectable cupcake confections that celebrate this time of year, and can be adapted/used whether your celebrations are referred to as Ostara, Easter, Passover or just plain spring.

One of my favorite Easter cupcakes; lemon-vanilla cakes with a lemon-vanilla buttercream, topped with toasted coconut “nests” and Cadbury mini-eggs. Super cute and so easy! These were a humongous hit with everyone who ate them, I highly recommend trying them. Recipe here: Nest Eggs.

I grouped these two together because they’re in the same post from last Easter. The top ones are Creamsicle mini-cupcakes topped with a thick marshmallow Fluff buttercream, and the bottom ones are carrot cupcakes topped with a lavender-tinted cream cheese frosting. Check both recipes out here: Easter?
I didn’t actually make these for Easter, I made them for my grandmother’s 92nd birthday… however they’re a perfect springtime cupcake idea. A light chocolate cake topped with an Earl Grey/lemon icing and candied lemon peel garnish (which is deceptively easy). Very sophisticated & delicious. Find the recipes for the cake, icing and lemon peel here: Earl Grey with lemon “tea party” cupcakes.
Another one I didn’t make for Easter, I made them for Cupcake Rehab’s 1st birthday, but yet they would be totally appropriate for spring. Neapolitan cupcakes- vanilla cake, strawberry Kool-Aid frosting and chocolate sauce drizzled on top. Extremely delicious. Recipes: Neapolitan “happy 1st birthday Cupcake Rehab” cupcakes.
These I definitely didn’t make for Easter. But being that they’re almond cupcakes with a white chocolate buttercream, they’d be so cute with marzipan fruits or hand-rolled marzipan Easter eggs on top for Easter, wouldn’t they? This is one of my favorite cupcakes ever. Try them yourself: Frau Marilla’s Alpenblume Weiße Schokolade Kleine Kuchen!


So that’s that. If you’re not drooling by now, there’s something wrong with you. Also, I also have a recipe for chocolate hi-hat cupcakes that I made for Easter a few years back that I didn’t include above. So knock yourself out!  And If you’re looking for something more Passover-y, I have a recipe for sweet noodle kugel. I also have TONS of other cupcake and cookie recipes that can be adapted or used for this time of year, with just a little creativity.

As usual, I’ll be posting more spring-y things in the weeks to come so stay tuned... and tomorrow I’ll be guest posting over at Frosting 4 the Cause, so please come and check that out. I promise you’ll like it.

A new year & peppermint bark.

Well it’s a new year and with a new year comes… a new copyright logo on the bottom of my pictures (which you may have seen on my champagne cupcakes)! In case you aren’t aware, I went about 3 years having this blog without needing to (or feeling the need to) copyright my photos, and then some dipshit named Sharon Louann Swann Stallings went and stole a bunch of them and used them as advertisements for her “up & coming baking business” on Craigslist & Facebook. Yeah, like I said, dipshit. Anyway, after that, in September or October of 2010, I decided I better tag ‘em with my blog name so that when they’re stolen, people will know, unless these dipshits have the ability to crop in Photoshop, which I highly doubt. So for the next 12 months you’ll see this new copyright on the bottom of the photos. It’s a shame I need to do this at all, I hope someday I can remove this step in my photo editing for good. But for now, it stays, just updated for 2011 and with all this other newness, comes a new recipe!

Most people think of peppermint bark as a Christmas-y treat, however, I think it’s also a great way to use up all your leftover candy canes after Christmas. Although, to me & my family, Christmas lasts until tomorrow which is Little Christmas, so it’s still appropriate to make it with those. You’ll never catch us taking our tree down before tomorrow! If anything, it’s up another week or two. The outside decorations, that’s a bit different. They had to come down before we’re hit with another blizzard.

Peppermint bark is a chocolate confection. Generally it consists of peppermint candy pieces in white chocolate on top of dark chocolate, but peppermint bark can refer to any chocolate with peppermint candy pieces in it.

It is especially popular around the Christmas season. Companies known for selling it seasonally include Williams-Sonoma, Ghirardelli, and Dove. Though they do not label it as peppermint bark, Hershey’s also sells peppermint Hershey’s kisses.

Peppermint + chocolate = wonderful. Funny story; Jay never liked the mint/chocolate combo until eating these. He’ll probably still deny liking it, though. I saw him smile when he ate a piece on Christmas- he can’t fool me.

Needless to say, I did indeed make mine for Christmas, and I put it in Martha Stewart treat bags and used them as place settings for the table on Christmas Day. This way, everyone could take theirs home with them and enjoy it. Although like I said, I think it’s a sweet way to use up your candy canes when the holiday is over, and I think it’d be equally sweet for Valentine’s Day, perhaps using white chocolate colored pink? Or even better: use white chocolate & pink Candy Melts with dried cherries. Or try making it with all white chocolate and crushed starlight mints, then drizzling melted pink candy melts over the top? Or for St. Patrick’s Day; white chocolate with crushed spearmint starlight mints or crushed green candies. You can do it in any way you like, for any holiday, even with cherry or blueberry or fruit-flavored candy canes.

My recipe is just a basic one, very simple. There are tons of them out there, and there are also commercially made pre-packaged ones that usually cost a pretty penny. Williams-Sonoma makes a fantastic one, but buying it really takes the fun out of it to me. This is a project kids would love- it takes no time at all, lots of smashing (the candy canes), very little cooking, no baking, and the end result is delicious.

PEPPERMINT BARK

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup crushed candy canes

Directions:

  1. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, smoothing out any wrinkles.
  2. Melt the semi sweet chocolate and 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Immediately pour the melted chocolate into the prepared pan and tilt the pan so the chocolate makes an even layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.
  3. Then, melt the white chocolate and remaining 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Immediately pour the melted white chocolate over the dark chocolate and tilt the pan so the chocolate is in an even layer. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes evenly over the white chocolate. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.
  4. Remove the Peppermint Bark from the pan by lifting the edges of the aluminum foil. Peel back the foil and break the bark into small irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Makes about 25 pieces, depending on how large you break it up and whether or not you double the recipe.

NOMS! CRUNCHY CHOCOLATEY PEPPERMINT NOMS ALL IN YOUR FACE!


If you like more peppermint flavor in your bark, stir some peppermint oil (not extract), maybe ¼ – ½ teaspoon, into the white chocolate before pouring it on top of the other chocolate. You can also put more melted chocolate over the top, like a drizzle. I split my chocolate up unevenly, so the semi-sweet chocolate layer is thicker than the white, and used some mini chips in the semi-sweet layer that I didn’t allow to melt completely, so that layer is a little chunky. See? So many possibilities! You could even use white chocolate chips in regular chocolate… whatever your imagination can come up with, it’ll work.

I also want to say that these candy canes were the best ever. I got them at Target and the flavor wasn’t too peppermint-y, it was a perfect balance of sweet and mint. Which made them perfect for peppermint bark. It’s a shame I now have to wait almost a whole year to buy them again. But on the plus side… Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it.

I think I’ll keep the snow up on the blog for a few more weeks, or maybe all through winter.