Archive for December, 2010

tis the season….to make about a thousand batches of every dessert you make best…and share with everyone you know – and don’t know. when every night involves throwing ingredients in your stand mixer, while wrapping presents or making dinner or (insert any errand)….you know it must be christmas season.

with 20+ people on the lazy bird christmas list….we wanted to come up with something cute….tasty….and cost efficient :)

about a month ago everyone on the pillsbury mailing list got a HAPPY BIRTHDAY email….but it wasn’t everyone’s birthday. the next day an email followed apologizing for the mistake and offering a digital recipe book (circa holiday 2008) in lieu of taking away the birthday giveaway we didn’t actually qualify for. lucky for us lazy birds…there was a simple and tasty recipe in the back of the book that answered our “what do we gift everyone with” problem.

world market came to the rescue for the jars…at a dollar a piece, we did quite well…even if we did have to clean out two different stores of these pretty little jars.

silky chocolate caramel sauce

3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
2/3 cup whipping cream
10 tablespoons butter
4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

in a medium-sized saucepan stir together brown sugar, whipping cream and butter over medium heat. stir constantly until mixture comes to a rolling boil.

add in chocolate and continue stirring until chocolate is melted and sauce is smooth. serve warm, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

we scooped up some ice cream to test out the sauce (as it was still about 70 degrees in texas) but for all of you who save ice cream for warmer weather…this sauce will also complement most of those desserts you have gotten from your neighbors and coworkers…cheesecake….brownies….cookes?! or just eat it with a spoon when no one is looking :) it’s VERY simple to whip up and very tasty.

wishing everyone a merry christmas and happy holidays! hoping your holiday has been filled with warmth, love and time with family and loved ones.



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listen…i put my adventure pants on and went a little wild. the results may not have been anything to brag about….but adventure means: unusual and exciting (and typically hazardous) and well…it was easily all of those things.

as mentioned before, i am currently inspired by scharffen berger’s chocolate adventure contest. the contest entails a list of “adventure” (some might say “crazy”) ingredients. the goal is to incorporate one or more of these ingredients into a cupcake….and of course come up with something fantastic! i picked two ingredients….one i knew i could work with: chili powder…and one i had never tried before: saffron.

chocolate and chili…that’s a given. (and the more successful of the two)

chocolate chili cupcakes
adapted from scharffen berger’s chocolate cupcakes. makes 12


1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon chili powder

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt

begin with your frosting as you’ll need to give it a few hours to cool and turn into its yummy goodness.

in a heat safe bowl combine chopped chocolate and butter, cut into small pieces. set aside.

in a small saucepan bring cream, sugar and salt to a simmer over medium heat. allow mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. remove from heat and combine with chocolate and butter. whisk together until smooth and glossy. let this mixture cool for 2-3 hours.

now for your cupcakes….

in a small sauce pan bring water and chili powder to a simmer over medium heat. remove from heat and stir in vanilla. (i’m making this the first step…because the next two don’t take much time. if you work at a normal speed your chili water should still be hot once all your dry and wet ingredients are mixed up…..if not…adapt this step for your own timing)

in your stand mixer combine your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt). mix together at a low speed till ingredients are mixed thoroughly.

add butter (melted) and egg. mix on medium speed for about a minute.

slowly pour in half of water/chili powder mixture and mix till well blended. pour in remaining water/chili powder and mix till blended, about half a minute.

pour batter into (lined) cupcake pan. these bake for 20(ish) minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test. let cool in pan on top of a wire rack.

I would recommend these little guys. the cupcake recipe, minus the chili powder, is so so tasty…especially if you get to enjoy them warm. with the chili powder, they add just the right amount of kick. the chili is subtle enough to not overpower the cake, but adds greatly to the flavor and aroma of the chocolate. (as I write this I’m imagining my dear friend rachel will be running to her cupboards to search for all the ingredients…she’s such a sucker for anything spicy…usually carrying around a bottle of red pepper flakes in her purse…i think you will love this one rach.)

saffron…on to the not so successful…(in my opinion)

i have never baked/cooked with saffron before. i’m sure i have eaten plenty of it, mixed into some rice or whatnot…but i couldn’t tell you what it looked like, smelled like or tasted like before this adventure.

saffron is…
found with your spices
comes in the form of small red threads or powder
is known for the bright yellow color it turns the food/liquid you mix it with
has a “hay-like” smell/taste
not one of my favorite things….

that being said….i’m not scared to try new things, and while i’ve discovered i don’t love saffron as a stand alone flavor…maybe you do…and maybe this is just what you were looking for.

saffron cupcakes
adapted from the cupcake project. makes 12 cupcakes.

1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1/2 cup water

the night before melt a stick of butter and stir in two pinches of saffron threads. the butter will turn a vibrant yellow color (due to the saffron). cover and let sit overnight. stir mixture in the morning as it will separate a bit. you will use this mixture in your frosting.

preheat your oven to 350. line cupcake pan with wrappers.

in your stand mixer combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and baking soda. mix on low speed with whisk attachment till all dry ingredients are combined.

in a small saucepan whisk together saffron threads and 2 tablespoons of milk over low heat. bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and let cool.

in another small bowl, whisk together egg, 2/3 cup milk and vanilla. combine with cooled saffron/milk mixture.

move back over to your stand mixer and slowly pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients at a slow speed. mix till all ingredients are blended, being careful not to over mix.

pour batter into (lined) cupcake pan and bake for 20(ish) minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. let cool in pan on top of a wire rack.

saffron frosting
1 cup (plus a little extra) confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup saffron infused butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

with a hand mixer or stand mixer (whisk attachment) mix all ingredients together until blended. add sugar, if needed, for a thicker consistency.

frost cakes and enjoy….or not?! i’m really not gonna promise you anything on this one.

i wasn’t a fan….others called them “interesting”…others said the enjoyed them….they were “different, but good!” one co-worker loooved the frosting and said she wanted to bathe in it….but she felt like the cupcakes had too much saffron….and maybe they did. i fear i am just not a saffron expert….i’m probably never going to be one…and that’s ok.

the good news is….the saffron intimidated me the most of all the “adventure” ingredients….and now i can move on knowing I gave it a shot.

more to come…


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i’ve been inspired by the Chocolate Adventure Contest

so i’m working on my cupcakes….learning new tricks & tips and trying out new ingredients. these little buddies will be the base of some experimenting.  more to come!


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“my tongue is still thinking about mousse”

it is officially the holiday season, and we couldn’t be happier. this is one of my favorite times of the year. great food, plenty of dessert and warm fuzzy bath robes to lessen the chill in the old apartment. but, according to our kickboxing instructor this is when the average person gains an extra 8 lbs. and let’s face it, for our co-workers we definitely have to take some of the blame for those lbs. and for that, we apologize in advance. but in the meantime, please enjoy this delicious, easy cake layered with mousse and topped with almonds. and stay tuned at the end of this post for a twist on the ordinary chocolate chip cookie.


1 box devils food cake that includes pudding in the mix.

1 1/4 cups water

1/2 cup oil

3 eggs

3 cups whipping cream

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup sliced and toasted almonds.


1 – 15″ x 10″ x 1″ cookie sheet

1 – small cookie sheet

crisco for greasing

flour for coating

spatula for folding

mixer for mixing


prepare your cookie sheet. using shortening, coat the bottom and sides of your cookie sheet. lightly dust with flour and make sure to cover the entire pan. preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

mix your cake, as directed on the back of the box. pour into your flour coated pan and bake for 18 minutes. Do not follow the timing instructions on the back of the box. When cooking in such a shallow pan, it doesn’t need to cook as long as it normally would. during the last 7 minutes pour your almonds onto another cookie sheet and toast them. half way through those 7 minutes shake the pan a little as to toast other sides of the almonds.

while it’s baking, pour your heavy whipping cream into the mixing bowl and set your mixer on a medium speed and start whipping it up until you have whipped cream. approximately 8 minutes. while this is going, on low heat pour your chocolate into a medium sauce pan. as it starts to melt, stir constantly. once melted take off heat and add your almond extract and mix. set off to the side for about 10 minutes or until it’s cooled down. once cool fold into your whipping cream and mix until your cream is now chocolate brown. chill in the fridge.

let it cool. once your cake is out of the oven, let it sit about 5 minutes in the pan. after that, carefully flip your pan over using your cooling racks and remove from the pan. let cool completely. then divide in thirds, cutting approximately every 7 inches so that you have three separate cakes for layering. (using a bread knife) once separate place the first cake top side down, onto the serving plate you will be using. carefully apply a generous layer of mousse, leaving your edges mousse free. the idea is to have the layers exposed. add your second layer, spread mousse and add your third layer, spreading mousse on top. sprinkle almonds atop for garnish.

there you have it. the perfect little holiday party worthy cake that will have your quests salivating for more!!!!  please enjoy and may your holidays be filled with lots of family, friends and of course love.

chocolate, chocolate chip cookies

i have baked this recipe so many times i think i could make them in my sleep. please note that these aren’t your typical chocolate chip cookies. they are light and fluffy and almost cake-like and they are slightly less sugary than most chocolate chip cookies. i make these for my husband who is diabetic and he loves them so much. it makes me happy to see him eating chocolate chip cookies and knowing that they are a decent alternative when eaten in moderation.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup sugar substitute (i use splenda or apriva)

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons skim milk

1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


1 ungreased cookie sheet

mixer of course

1 medium bowl

1 small bowl

and the usual measuring instruments

preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

in a medium bowl, mix sugar, sugar substitute and butter until smooth. add your egg and vanilla and blend well.

in a small bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa together. alternating with the milk, poor into your butter mixture and blend well. stir in the chocolate chips.

on and ungreased cookie sheet, spoon out your cookie dough. bake for 7- 9 minutes. cool. enjoy.

quick and easy cookies, to enjoy at a moments notice.

happy holidays,


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sneak peak wednesday

did you know it’s cookie week?!?!?!

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