Sweet Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting

Baking doesn’t have to be a complicated process.  Does it?  No, it doesn’t.  Sometimes you should just pick a recipe out of your tried-and-true recipe box and make a sweet treat without over-thinking it.  That’s exactly what I did when I made these chocolate cupcakes.  My mind had settled on something chocolaty, and something that I knew I was comfortable baking.  No new recipes, just tried-and-true.

Sweet Chocolate Cupcakes

1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1 1/4 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 c. margarine, softened

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. espresso powder

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. sour milk

1/2 c. hot water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Line 1 to 1 1/2dozen cupcake cups with cupcake papers.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, add butter, sugar, eggs, and melted chocolate chips. Mix until completely blended with electric mixer. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, and cocoa; mix again. Add flour, milk and hot water; mix thoroughly. Add vanilla; beat again until batter is light and fluffy.

Fill cupcake papers about 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of a cupcake. Remove from oven and cool on bakers rack.

Baker’s note: This is a thin cupcake batter, but don’t worry, the cupcakes will turn out just fine.

Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting

1 c. heavy whipping cream

3 tbsp. chocolate pudding mix

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Place ingredients in a chilled bowl and beat on high until cream thickens.  Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes.  Keep cupcakes in refrigerator prior to serving.

If you’d like to see what these cupcakes look like on the inside, check out this link.  I  have posted these cupcakes before, but the last time I made them I added cinnamon, and eliminated the espresso powder.  I also frosted them with a buttercream icing that favored a hint of cinnamon.

What’s the last tried-and-true recipe you made?

A casserole you won’t forget

I’ve been stopping by The Pioneer Woman’s website from time to time.   I’m sure you’re familiar with her.  If you aren’t, then I suspect you’ve been living (under a rock?)   I’m drawn to her recipes, stories,  photographs, and photographing tips.   Without question, she is a very talented and creative person.  I know she  doesn’t need a small time blogger like myself  promoting her, she does well enough all on her own.  But…..

Yesterday,  she posted a recipe for a Creamy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole.  The moment I saw the ingredients and her mouth-watering photo’s I knew I was going to be making it for dinner.   

I did make a few adaptations to the recipe.  I used a lighter margarine, not butter, used parmesan cheese from the jar,  and added 2 small garlic cloves of crushed garlic to the mushrooms as they were browning.  I also bought a store roasted chicken to save time, I used vermicelli instead of thin spaghetti,  and  I used skim milk instead of whole.  The biggest change I made was cutting the amount of spaghetti (vermicelli) the recipe called for in half, and increasing the chicken by 1 extra cup. I think if I had used more vermicelli the casserole wouldn’t have been creamy enough.  Remember I used light margarine, and skim milk.  

This casserole is a keeper!  It’s so delicious that I’m adding it to my tried-and true recipes.  Talk about comfort food – oh man! 

 

 

 

Have a heart – cookie that is….

I suppose what  inspired to make these cookies was a recent trip to Panera Bread.  As I was ordering my healthy lunch I couldn’t keep my eyes off of their heart-shaped shortbread cookies.  I love Panera’s shortbread cookies. My observant husband asked me if I’d like a cookie and I told him I would on Valentine’s Day.  He just grinned.  He also asked me if I’d like a heart-shaped donut from Dunkin Donuts too.  He knows me so well.

I found this sugar cookie  (not shortbread) recipe at  Wilton’s website.   Their sugar cookie recipe is quite different from my tried-and-true recipe.

I have never made a sugar cookie that the dough was this easy to work with, I think it’s because of all the butter.   The recipe specifically advises you not to refrigerate the dough prior to rolling out your cookies.  In this case, I put the dough on a lightly floured  piece of parchment paper.  The dough rolled out nicely without sticking and transferred to the cookie sheet with ease.  Prior to baking the cookies I sprinkled the tops  with pink granulated colored sugar in an effort to cut a few calories that frosting would have added.

These cookies should transport easily if you’re going to a Valentine’s Day party. The verdict on this cookie is at a tie in our house.  I prefer my tried-and-true recipe over this one.  My husband on the other hand, feels just the opposite.  So, I guess you will have to bake a batch of these and let me know what you think of them.

Does anyone have a great shortbread cookie recipe that you would compare to Panera’s?  If so, are you willing to share it?

**Update** I tried the shortbread cookie recipe that one of my readers recommended below.  To see the cookies, and get my opinion, see my blog post Get out your sifters for these shortbreads.

Mini-vanilla scones and your cooking personality

Have you ever wondered what kind of cook or baker you are?  No, I’m not talking about a good baker, or a bad cook, or visa versa.  I’m talking about the kind of cooking personality you have.  Until now,  I really had no clue that  someone had researched this and came to the conclusion that there are five distinctive cooking personalities.   

Looking at my own cooking traits, I admit for the most part, I like to try new recipes. Many times I veer off the recipe trail and tweak recipes.  I like the thought of contributing my own distinctive touch, tastes, or style to a recipe.  I’m always looking for a recipe that I can add to my tried-and-true file, and granted, there are only a few tried-and-true recipes in my file, but what I can tell you is this, once a recipe makes there,  my quest for a recipe for that particular dish is over.  Some of the recipes on my list of tried-and-true’s – my mother’s apple pie recipe, my apple cupcake recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Red Plaid cookbook, a carrot cake from Williams – Sonoma Baking cookbook,  a fudge brownie recipe I tweaked from Martha Stewart, and our family sugar cookie recipe.

From what I’ve found, Cornell University  researchers were the first to conduct a study to determine there are five different cooking personalities.  Their conclusions are as follows:

a) Giving: Friendly, well-liked and enthusiastic, giving cooks seldom experiment, love baking and like to serve tried-and-true family favorites, although that sometimes means serving less healthful foods.

b) Methodical:
Talented cooks who rely heavily on recipes. The methodical cook has refined tastes and manners. Their creations always look exactly like the picture in the cookbook.

c) Healthy: Optimistic, book-loving, nature enthusiasts, healthy cooks experiment with fish, fresh produce and herbs. Health comes first, even if it means sometimes sacrificing taste.

d) Competitive: The Iron Chef of the neighborhood, competitive cooks have dominant personalities and are intense perfectionists who love to impress their guests.

e) Innovative: Creative and trend-setting, innovative cooks seldom use recipes and like to experiment with ingredients, cuisine styles and cooking methods.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a cross-over between a giving and innovative cooking personality. Can you decide what type of cook you are? If you are looking for some interesting reading related to food topics you might want to check out Cornell’s Food and Brand site linked above

Okay, on to the good stuff.  I found this recipe for vanilla scones on cdkitchen.  I  followed the recipe to the letter with the only adaptations made to the glaze recipe. For my glaze I used 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon & sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water.  I made mini-scones by taking small pieces of dough and shaping it into very lightly greased cupcake tins.  I love the results.  These are scrumptious, and go great with a fresh cup of coffee, or tea.  I’m almost thinking these could go into the tried-and-true file they are so good.