Chocolate Cupcakes: Heaven in a Little Tin Cup

Did you know that the best way to eat a cupcake is to turn it into a Sandwich? Seriously, if you remove the wrapper and pull the cupcake in half, you can make a sandwich and not get icing all over your face by placing the bottom half on top of the frosting. It is like magic really….. Enough about that.

I may be biased but these chocolate cupcakes are one of the best I have ever had. They are moist and sweet but not too sweet but the frosting…. The frosting! Perfection, sheer perfection….

This is one of the recipes that I do not believe has to be particular about adding the wet to the dry, you can jut throw it all in together except for the water, that is a critical step where timing is important.

Here is what you will need:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp cake flour

1 cup sugar

7 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp espresso powder (you can use instant coffee granules If you have to)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup butter (melted)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup boiling water

Mix together buttermilk, melted (and cooled) butter, egg (beat well before adding) and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder; stir well to combine (or use your mixer).

Combine wet and dry and mix until well combined, add the boiling water; the batter will be very “loose” but that is how it is supposed to be.

Place in muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes at 350.

Meanwhile, make the frosting:

1 block of cream cheese (at room temp)

1/4 cup of butter (at room temp)

2 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp sour cream

1 tsp lemon zest

1 quick squeeze of lemon juice (no more than 1/2 tsp)

3 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (please make sure it is confectioners sugar)

Mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla, lemon zest and juice until well combined and there are no lumps. Add sugar and mix until combined.

If you don’t have a fancy piping bag with metal tip, just do what I do and use a gallon sized Zip-loc bag. Place the corner of the bag into a large drinking glass and fill with frosting. Cut the tip off and squeeze on the cupcakes in a circular motion!

Chocolate Chip Cookies: Sweet Treat for you to Eats and Some things you need to know….

So, these cookies are the flat and crispy on the outside kind so don’t expect the dense cake like cookie here; these are the male-y crispy sweet goodness kind of cookies.

First things first, you must start with room temperature everything. Take your butter* and eggs from the fridge at least an hour before you begin to cook.

Pro Tip: If you are short on time, you can unwrap the butter and place it on a plate with a glass bowl on top which speeds up the softening process.

When creating the dough for any cookie it is vital to follow the order indicated which usually indicates mixing the dry in a separate bowl and combining with the wet after that is combined. There is generally a reason for this however explaining the science of that is boring so I will skip right past that. Here are a few things to consider when making any cookie:

  • If the recipe doesn’t indicate specifically the type of flour, look for baking powder or baking soda. If the recipe lists that as an ingredient, use All Purpose Flour (AP) and if it doesn’t, look for another recipe because nothing good comes out of self-rising flour.
  • If the recipe calls for “extra large” eggs, I always beat one extra egg and add half. If the recipe is a detailed to indicate the size eggs to use, don’t alter anything until you try it first, this is a seriously thought out process so don’t discount that value.
  • You don’t ever need to add the eggs “one at a time”, just make sure you beat them really well. Generally you are adding the eggs to other wet ingredients so you can’t hurt the batter; if it tells you to add the eggs to dry ingredients for a cookie, move on and don’t make those bricks.
  • Vanilla is a beautiful addition to any baked good, feel free to be liberal when adding this but never add less. Never.
  • Baking power and baking soda are NOT the same thing. Please don’t ever make that mistake
  • Never use salted butter (in anything except that beautiful gold brick of goodness Calle Kerrygold to slater on toast). You want to control the amount of salt in all dishes.
  • Take that round paper can of Morton Salt and use it to put out fires only, use the box of Morton Kosher Salt when including in recipes. Maldon Sea Salt Flakes are simply perfection when sprinkling on cookies or fudge.
  • It is always a good idea to chill dough before you bake cookies, peanut butter, sugar, and chocolate chip cookies benefit the most from this.
  • You cannot turn a simple sugar cookie recipe into a “cut out cookie” recipe, it will not hold up.
  • You can add nuts, candies, toffee, oats, etc. to any cookie recipe, just don’t overdo it. Always remember to toast your nuts please, you will thank me later.
  • Invest in either vanilla beans or Madagascar vanilla, it makes all of the difference. If you are going to use that “imitation vanilla extract” crap, just buy chips ahoy. The beans aren’t necessary and maybe not worth the effort unless you are making ice cream so go with the Madagascar variety, you can get a giant bottle at Costco.
  • You can make the “balls” and freeze them then bake one (or 5) at a time. Just put them on a pan in the freezer so they don’t touch until they are frozen solid then move to a more space friendly container. Bake an additional 3-5 minutes depending on your oven. Just watch them for doneness and make note for future baking.

Here is what you will need:

2 cups flour

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 – 1 tbsp kosher salt

Dash of cinnamon

2 sticks of butter (softened)

1 1/4 cup brown sugar (I like dark)

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate (I like to purchase a chunk and put in chunks and shavings but chips work nicely also). For the love of all things good, please do not use Milk Chocolate. Please….

Mix together the dry ingredients, you can use a whisk, sifter or fork; just make sure it is combined. Okay, if I am being honest, you can add them all in the same bowl as the wet without combining first but it is a good practice to mix them separately.

Note: I have a stand mixer but I always use my hand mixer for this because you can mix gather dough too much (quite easily actually) which results in a funky texture. Just use your hand mixer or a wooden spoon, nothing fancy needed here.

Cream the butter and sugars together until they look a little “fluffy” (read: it is creamy without any noticeable lumps of butter) then add the eggs And vanilla making sure you beat them well as no cookie every survived that gross stringy egg white that didn’t get incorporated enough.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until halfway incorporated then toss in the chocolate (and nuts or candies or anything you wish to add here), continue to mix until just combined. Chill for a couple of hours (one hour minimum but overnight is great).

One thing I recommend you invest in here is a cookie scoop, it really helps make sure all cookies are the same size (it is not about aesthetics, it is about cooking time). Scoop out the cookies on a large lined baking sheet (I highly recommend the Reynolds Non-Stick Aluminum Foil for this) making sure there is room for them to “spread” without touching and bake in a 325 degree oven for ~15 minutes. I always bake on the second lowest rack to take advantage of the slightly higher heat which appears to assist with the crispy-ness.

Ovens are different so the time is specific to your oven specifically. They should look a little underdone when you pull them out, watch them closely.

I suggest, also, sprinkling with a touch of the Maldon Sea Salt before baking. Give it that extra something special. Enjoy!!!

As an extra bonus for you, here are some of the things I like to add to cookies, add one, add all. You can omit the chocolate and add anything else, they are your cookies so make it your Fro-Yo:

  • Bacon (um, a million times yes!)
  • Plain M&Ms
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Nuts, any (toasted please)
  • Oats (toasted please)
  • Banana Chips
  • Toffee
  • Caramel Bits
  • Coconut
  • Raisins
  • Whatever you have in your pantry, just. Make sure the moisture content is very (very) low.