Sunday, March 17, 2013

Return of the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy St. Patty's Day!!! Jeff and I started out our St. Patty's weekend celebrating our dear friends' puppy's 1st birthday. :) Too cute, and sooo funny to watch these pups eat their "pupcakes." 

Then, this morning I took Jeff to the airport at o-dark-thirty, so we found a breakfast place that was open before 6 am... The Five Point Cafe - dive bar and diner, and I can't believe we've never been there before - it's literally down the hill from us... I had a corned beef hash and J had a breakfast burrito. A nice treat before he's gone for a week on a business trip.

OK, now on to those cupcakes. :) This is a repeat recipe from St. Patrick's Day two years ago, and I had a hankering for them again. Since I'm going to Mom and Dad's tonight, I thought I'd contribute the yummy festive goodness. Someday, I will post the story of how I tried a Pinterest trick of making my own green glittery decorating sprinkles. Definitely one for that Pinterest failed project blog... 

I chose to use this Guinness Chocolate Cupcake &  Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting recipe, from Nook & Pantry. Then the Irish Whiskey Chocolate Ganache filling from Smitten Kitten. The recipes for the cupcakes are similar on both sites, but I chose the first one because it went well with the frosting. And the Whiskey Ganache filling just makes these so much more exciting. Because what else do you put in cupcakes made with Guinness, topped with frosting made with Baileys... besides WHISKEY of course!!!! 

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey’s Cream Cheese Frosting

2 C unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 C Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C light or dark brown sugar
4 oz./1/2 C unsalted softened butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg
1/2 C sour cream (or greek yogurt)
1 12 fl. oz. bottle/1 1/2 C Guinness or stout beer

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter or line with paper cups two 12-count muffin tins.

In a large bowl briefly whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add one egg and beat until evenly mixed and fluffy, make sure to scrape down the mixer bowl once in a while. Add the second egg and vanilla extract and beat again until light and fluffy.

Add the sour cream and beat in, then with the mixer running, slowly pour in the Guinness.

Sift the dry ingredients into the batter and slowly stir the batter until it is evenly mixed and there are no streaks of flour. Make sure to stop the mixer frequently to scrape down the sides and make sure to mix up any flour pockets hidden on the bottom of the bowl.

Divide 1/4 C of batter into each muffin cup, you’ll get about 20 – 24 cupcakes.

Bake at 350 degrees F on the middle rack for 20 – 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake in the middle of the pan should come out clean. Make sure to rotate the pans halfway through baking. Set on a rack to cool to room temperature before frosting.

For layer cakes: baking 25 – 30 minutes, rotate the pans around halfway, a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes should come out clean.

Bailey’s Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz. bar of cream cheese, softened
1 4oz. stick of unsalted butter, softened
2 C confectioner’s sugar
4 – 6 Tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, add the cream cheese, butter, and confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the Bailey’s, more or less depending on how boozey you want the frosting, and beat until completely incorporated into the frosting.

Ganache Filling (This will leave you with extra filling, but is that a bad thing? I think not!)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons good Irish whiskey 

I decorated mine to look like a tall glass of Guinness with the nice foamy goodness on top... in penguin cupcake wrappers because I'm awesome and ran out of plain foil wrappers. Penguins celebrate St. Patrick's Day, right?!

Also, I have no idea why this text is now showing up weird? It's really because these cupcakes are so important I don't want you to miss the recipe. :) 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pike Place Stout Beef & Coffee Chili

After a long week, and a long weekend, on this very CHILLY day, we decided to make some CHILI. :) My dad had put up this recipe on his food blog a while ago, and I decided to try and replicate it. It turned out wonderfully smoky, spicy, and toasty warm. Just what we needed since our heater in our apartment isn't working - darn!

Pike Place Stout Beef & Coffee Chili
adapted from Dad's recipe


1-1/2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb+ steak cut into ½” cubes (I used chuck)
1 can diced tomatoes
½ bottle dark beer (I used Pike Place Stout Extra Stout, Dad suggested a porter - probably would try with a Porter next time)
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
beef broth (see directions for quantity)
3 TB brown sugar
3 TB chili powder (I used a mixture of chili powder, Ancho chili powder, and smoked paprika)
1 TB cumin
1 TB dried oregano
Cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to taste (start with ¼ tsp) (Omitted - and it was plenty spicy!)
Salt and pepper
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans (or sub 1 can for pinto) [We are not eating a lot of beans right now, so I put in about 5 medium chopped parsnips instead - worked well, since they have a nice earthy texture and flavor]
1 (8oz) can chopped green chilies
2 fresh hot chili peppers, seeded and chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put some oil in big dutch oven and heat on stovetop to medium/medium-low. Add chopped onion and chopped peppers. Sauté briefly then add garlic and chopped meat. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Put in oven for 1 hour uncovered. You brown the meat this way instead of on stove-top. And it's the most beautifully yummy smell you will ever smell.

After 1 hour, remove from oven to a burner on medium heat. Reduce oven temp to 300. Add the rest of the ingredients except for beef broth. Stir chili well and let it come back up to heat slowly. Add beef broth until amount of liquid is appropriate and consistency is how you want it. Cover pot and return to oven for at least 1 hour.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake

Every year we have a gag gift exchange with my mom's extended family (her dad, and his 2 brother's families). We are lucky enough to all live close, and to be able to keep this tradition alive. There were 32 of us this year!! And it just keeps growing! 

I was tasked with bringing a dessert. :) My favorite. I decided to try this White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake. I was discouraged how this turned out - I told Jeff it looked like Christmas blew up on top of the cheesecake...but everyone (including me) loved it!! I guess don't judge a dessert by its looks?  

Forgive the terrible picture... I can't figure out how to edit the photo within the blog editor. But you can see why I wasn't super excited with how this turned out. I decided last minute to bake a Rum Cake to bring as well, just in case this cheesecake was a flop. Good news: both were a hit, and we snarfed them all up! 

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
From Midwest Living

8 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1-1/3 cups white baking pieces
2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup butter, meltedf
2 8 - ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 3 - ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 8 - ounce carton mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup finely crushed hard peppermint candies (such as candy canes or striped round peppermint candies)
2 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1/3 cup white baking pieces
Crushed hard peppermint candies (optional)

In a heavy small saucepan, heat and stir the 8 ounces white chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth.  Take care not to scorch the chocolate!! Remove from heat; set aside.
For crust: In a medium bowl, stir together graham crackers and butter until combined. Press crumb mixture firmly onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (do not go up the sides of pan.) Bake in a 325 degree F. oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool on a wire rack
For filling: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar and salt with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in melted chocolate and extract until smooth and combined, scraping sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Stir in 3/4 cup candy.
Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a 2-1/2-inch area around the outside edge appears set when gently shaken. [This was hard for me to judge - I let it bake for probably about 60 minutes, and my cheesecake "fell" leaving a taller rim around the edges... so what do you do? Cover it up with melted white chocolate and peppermint, of course!]
Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a sharp small knife, loosen the cake from the sides of pan; cool for 30 minutes more. Remove sides of pan and cool completely. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
To serve, set the cheesecake on a serving plate (do not remove the cheesecake from the bottom of the springform pan.) Melt the remaining 2 ounces white chocolate in a heavy small saucepan over low heat. Drizzle melted chocolate over cheesecake in a zigzag design. [BWAHAHA - this sentence seems so straightforward - make sure you're using good white chocolate, and keep it warm while you "drizzle", otherwise it will seize up.] If you like, sprinkle top with additional candy. Cut in wedges with a sharp knife dipped in warm water. (To store any remaining cheesecake, cover and chill in refrigerator up to 2 days.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Oven roasted veggies

 OK so pretend I'm writing this in the fall... 

 Or not, because you all know how much I love the fall. So it's not THAT weird for me to be posting this in December??

And you can make roasted veggies anytime! Not just in the fall!! 

 OK, so here's the recipe. :)

Chop up ANY root or other veggies.
Here are some ideas:


Bell peppers
Potatoes (red, purple, yukon gold, sweet, etc.)
Onions (white or sweet are best)
Brussels sprouts (sliced in half)
Butternut squash
Hatch chili peppers
(Get the idea? Almost anything works!)

Toss chopped veggies with olive oil to coat, and salt and pepper. 

Roast in 375-425 degree oven (depends on the veggies you're using. Potatoes will take longer to cook.) I put them on a pan with foil so it's easy clean up - easy to make, easy to clean up - hmm, I like the sound of this!

Roast for 30-40 minutes. Brussels are best when they're getting brown and crispy, all other veggies taste great when they're tender. 

See? So forgiving, and SOO easy. Do this same method with broccoli (toss with Olive oil, S&P, roast till brown and crispy) and asparagus (same, just not as long in the oven). YUM! 

Marcoux Southwestern Cornbread

Southwestern Cornbread
Straight from Jeff's Uncle Ken Marcoux

"A family favorite, Carol first created this recipe when we lived in Albuquerque about the time
Marc was born, and won first prize in the Albuquerque Tribune’s Great Green Chili Cooking

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies – Hot or Mild, your choice (we like hot!!)
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 cup cream style corn (canned)
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup butter, melted
2 extra-large or jumbo eggs, well beaten (just use a fork to beat them in a large cup!)
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated - put ½ cup aside for use later in the recipe
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies - we like them hot, but use mild if preferred

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Stir together the cornmeal, salt and baking powder. Add corn, sour cream, melted butter,
eggs, cheese and chilies. Stir until well blended.

3. Pour into greased 9-inch round cake pan (or use another pan of similar volume or use
individual muffin cups). Sprinkle reserved cheese over the top of the batter in the pan.

4. Bake for approximately one hour, until the cornbread is nicely raised and beautifully
browned on top. Reduce cooking time by about 20 minutes if using individual muffin cups.
You may want to reduce cooking times for all variations of this recipe and substitute careful
watching the first time you make this recipe because times are for high altitude cooking.

NOTE: If your first batch of cornbread seems dry or crumbly, add about ¼ cup water, milk or
cream the next time you bake the recipe, again this is an altitude issue if it happens

Now from Michelle:
I served this with an easy throw-it-together chili, and it was delightful - both with the chili, and just by itself for a snack!! Yum! Green chilis and the added cheese absolutely make this cornbread.

Pumpkin Cognac Cheesecake

Made this last year for my practicum group while still in the program, and it got rave reviews :) Tried it again for Halloween this year at Grandma's, and again, it was a hit. Think it's a keeper!

Pumpkin Cognac Cheesecake
Originally from: Cool Culinary

2 lbs cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp GOOD vanilla + 1/4 cup cognac or brandy
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup canned Libbys pumpkin (not the pie filling!)
1/4 tsp cinnamon, pinch of cloves, sprinkle of nutmeg + pinch kosher salt

Take a 10′ spring form pan,
Spray the pan w/ non-stick spray. Wrap pan very tightly in aluminum foil all around the bottom & sides.

Pulse a 1/2 box of Famous dark wafer cookies in cuisinart, into a bowl, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter. Press into to the bottom of the pan. Whew the hard part's over!

*You could also make a crust using any chocolate wafer cookies, OR gingersnaps for a twist!

Beat cream cheese until smooth, and LUMP free, scraping bowl frequently, mix in sugars, molasses, vanilla, cognac, eggs, yolks, sour cream, pumpkin &; spices.

Pour into the prepared pan. Set into a pan with tall sides & fill w/ warm water. (I have skipped this step both times I've made it, and it just takes a little longer to bake and you have to watch it carefully to make sure it's baking evenly. Bad, I know! SO don't skip this.)

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let sit for another 20-30 minutes. Cake should be set & fairly firm! I stick the blade of a very thin paring knife thru the center, it should come out clean. Your going to cover the top, so don’t worry if you have a few cracks. I usually don’t. Let cool in the water bath. Chill overnight.

Remove foil wrapper, run a hot wet knife around the cake & unmold.

You can press crushed chocolate wafers into the sides or ditto w/ amaretti cookies.

You can cover the top w/fresh whipped cinnamon cream, or white chocolate buttercream or a smooth layer of chocolate ganache or anything else that sounds good to you.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Espresso Fudge Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Espresso Fudge Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from this site.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. In a separate larger bowl, cream butter and sugar together with mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed, and add vanilla, egg. Add milk/flour mixture alternating while still mixing. Stir in chocolate chips at the end. Pour into greased cupcake pan or cupcake liners. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (If you hit a chocolate chip, your toothpick won't be clean - ha!) Watch these carefully, and adjust if your oven is too hot/too cool. Cool on wire rack.

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tsp cocoa powder
splash of milk

Mix cream cheese and vanilla at medium speed until creamy. While beating, add sugar, cocoa, milk gradually. Spread on cooled cupcakes with spatula or knife. Top with chocolate chips, coffee beans, shaved chocolate, whatever you like.