Chocolate Cupcakes with a Vanilla Swirl Icing

I am a sucker when it comes to a good chocolate cupcake, I find there is something nostalgic about them, and this recipe does the trick! It really brings me back to my childhood when there would be a birthday party to go to every other weekend. I love this recipe for its simplicity, and since the cupcakes are not overly sweet, the fluffy vanilla icing on top ends up becoming the perfect sugary balance. I found the recipe on Sweetapolita, a baking blog that I can look at for days! Check out this amazing cake! Inspiring right?
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This weekend was a big one for us. We hosted a Super Bowl party at our place and went all out with the food. I think there will be leftovers for weeks! It was really the first time we entertained for that many people and it definitely won’t be the last.  I was going to get all creative with the dessert, seeing so many great ideas on Pinterest that blew me away, but I decided to stick to simplicity with a swirled blue frosting to go with the team colours. The blue should have been darker, but nobody complained. I also added some red sprinkles on top at the last minute for the Patriot fans in the room.
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This is no healthy dessert like my last delicious recipe I posted here, I won’t lie, but I don’t mess around when it comes to nostalgia. And lets be honest, it was the Super Bowl and I wasn’t about to introduce some healthy dessert to a room full of hungry men.

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I decided to do a swirled icing on top so it was a little more interesting and I think it turned out pretty nicely despite my lack of piping skills, don’t you think?  It’s definitely something I want to practice. There are so many amazing things you can do with a piping bag! Next time I make these, i’ll use a wider tip so the three colours can be better defined and maybe add more icing per cupcake for height and drama. All in all I was really happy with the flavour and look of these little guys and I think everyone at the party was too.

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If you’ve been looking for a classic chocolate cupcake/frosting combo, this is one to bookmark. Whether you know someone with a birthday coming up or you are hosting a party like I did, or even just looking for an excuse to bake cupcakes (you can always find an excuse to bake cupcakes), you have to give this one a try!

The Nostalgic Chocolate Cupcake Adapted from Sweetapolita

(makes 12)

  • 3/4 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract

Fluffy Vanilla Swirl Frosting adapted from Sweetapolita

  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups (375 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Few drops of food colouring in colours of your choice

Heres what you need to do: 

For the Cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with cupcake liners
2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt
3. In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
4. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix them for 2 minutes on medium speed carefully because it tends to splash. Divide batter among (2/3 full or just less) liners. Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.
5. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it’s hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.

For the Frosting 

1. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Try not to eat too much of it in the process.
2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat on low speed until well combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy once again, about 6 more minutes.

To decorate the cupcakes
1. Divide the frosting into 3 parts. Tint 2 of them in shades of your choice and leave the last one white.
2. Into a medium or large pastry bag fitted with a large closed star tip, add a spatula-full of each frosting colour I used this tutorial to help me out. Twist the top of the bag and pipe a generous swirl on each cupcake, working in a circular motion from the outside in.
Note: The cupcakes will keep at room temperature in a container with some airflow for up to 3 days.
Enjoy!

10 Reasons Why I Love Figs

I love figs for many reasons, here are 10 of them.

1. They taste amazing

2. They are rich in minerals that contribute to health and wellness.

3. They are super versatile and can go well in sweet or savoury dishes.

4. They are beautiful to look at.

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Photo Sources {Left to Right} Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Middle Image, Image 5, Image 6

5. If you can’t find them fresh, dried figs are just as delicious.

6. They make a pretty centrepiece for your table.

7. They are super easy going and can be eaten raw, dried, baked, sautéed or pureed.

8. They are sweet but only from natural sugars (Candy you have met your match)

9. They are fun to photograph

10. They make me happy

So there you have it! Now I’m curious, What do you love about figs?

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

I am not one to write down my smoothie recipes, because most of the time I wing it depending on what I have in my freezer, fridge and pantry. The one thing I never let myself run out of is frozen bananas. It’s the perfect way to save those bananas that you buy that go brown before you can enjoy them. I peel them up, cut them in half and keep them in freezer bags ready to use for baking and… smoothies! I wrote this one down because it was just so delicious, and I ended up drinking it for breakfast for 4 days straight. It’s packed with delicious things, and uses the bananas and dates for a natural sweetness.

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Photo: Jessica Pevzner

 

Ingredients
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup of loosely chopped kale
3 Ice cubes
1 cup of nut milk or rice milk or any kind of milk you love
1/2 frozen banana
2 pitted dates
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/4 cup of rolled oats

Directions:
Always put the liquid in first and then add the rest of your ingredients. Pulse slowly to break up the chunks and then blend until smooth and enjoy!

What is your favourite smoothie recipe?

Hummus; The Homemade Way.

I love hummus! It’s the perfect snack, not only is it healthy, it’s also super tasty and delicious with vegetables, breads, crackers or in a sandwich! I love putting a bunch of fresh veggies in a pita with a ton of hummus for lunch, yum! This week, instead of grabbing one of those pre-made hummus’s at the grocery store, I grabbed a can of chickpeas and a bottle of tahini (that will last me a lifetime) and decided to make my very own homemade hummus!
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The process was way easier than I thought. It’s all about the order in which you mix the ingredients together, and it actually tasted better than the store bought hummus. (Obviously this is a matter of opinion, but try it out yourself and you’ll see.) By making it from scratch you know exactly what’s going into your food, and the added bonus? You save so much money!

You can go the extra mile and buy dried chickpeas, but I decided to skip that step and buy them in a can. I also skipped the step where you shell the chickpeas and opted to just throw them in as is. By shelling them it creates a creamier hummus, but leaving them on was just as good in my opinion, and it saved me 10 minutes and another mess to clean up!

Homemade Hummus Recipe (adapted from Inspired Taste)

Ingredients:
1 – 15-ounce can (425 grams) chickpeas
One large lemon about 1/4 cup (59 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (59 ml) tahini (I used Clic but any will do)
A large garlic clove, roughly chopped
about 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving (this is not a science)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water
dash of ground cayenne for serving

Directions:
1. In a large bowl or food processor add lemon juice and tahini and process for about 1 minute, scrape the sides and continue to process for another minute. The result should be a whipped and creamy mixture!
2. Add the olive oil, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic to the whipped mixture and process for another minute.
3. open a can of chickpeas and drain them in a colander under cold water, add half of the chickpeas to the mixture and process until smooth then add the remaining chickpeas and repeat the process. (this should take about 1 to 2 minutes)
4. depending on your texture preference, if you find it too thick at this point, add water to the mixture while the processor is running to make the consistency just right. About 1 to 2 tablespoons should be enough.
5. Put the hummus in a dish, add some olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne for color and flavour, serve and enjoy!

You can keep the hummus in a sealed container for up to a week!

Food Therapy; Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

When stress hits, everyone deals with it differently. Some take a walk, some read a book, others take a bath. I find that when I have had a rough day or I am feeling overwhelmed, all I need is a little food therapy. Once I start creating in the kitchen, my mind is completely focused on the task at hand and all of my days stress disappears! The greatest part is that I get a reward at the end… the delicious finished product to eat, enjoy and share with others!

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These easy Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut cookies were my food therapy. They are not only easy to make and delicious to eat, they are also fairly healthy for a cookie. I substituted the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar for 3/4 cup of pure maple syrup. You can find the rule for subbing maple syrup for sugar here!

These cookies came out great! They are so big and fluffy, filled with sweet banana, maple syrup, oats and a little added touch… coconut. Delicious!

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Ingredients: (Adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 cup (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
1/4 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut (optional and add for your own taste)

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 355 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
3. Put butter and maple syrup into a separate bowl and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
4. Reduce speed to low, add egg and vanilla; mix until well combined.
5. Mix in the banana and add the flour mixture to it slowly; mix until just combined.
6. Fold in oats and chocolate chips.
7. Grease a cookie sheet with a bit of oil
8. Drop about a tablespoon of the mixture at a time onto the cookie sheet, carefully spacing them in order to give them room to expand (about 2 inches apart).
9. Bake cookies until golden brown or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
10.Let them set for 12 to 13 minutes and then transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.

Chai Infusion

Every year for Rosh Hashana or Passover, my family and I drive out to Toronto to celebrate at my aunts. What I love most about the holidays is that we get to eat all the best comfort foods in one sitting with all the people we love! At our dinners, everyone ends up bringing their own special dish, so we can count on the tried and true favorites being there as well as some special surprises.

This year we’re heading over for Rosh Hashana, and in the spirit of my last post on fall and all things cozy, I decided that I was going to make and bring these delicious fall inspired Pumpkin Cupcakes with a Chai Buttercream Icing. This is pure comfort food if you ask me and since I wanted to make something that would be easy to transport during the 6 hour long drive, cupcakes were the best bet. I could also decorate them when I got there which made me really happy – because let’s face it, isn’t that the best part of baking?

These cupcakes were perfect and truly inspired by the delicious pumpkin chai tea that I have been drinking daily. By adding a chai flavour to the buttercream I was able to create the perfect marriage! Since the buttercream recipe calls for 1/2 cup of milk, I decided I would infuse it with the chai flavour by bringing it to a low simmer and seeping 2 chai tea bags in it for about 5 minutes. I then let it cool and added the mixture to the recipe as called for. The results were perfect! These cupcakes turned out just the way I imagined them. They were moist and had the ultimate balance of sweet and savory. The strong spicy pumpkin flavour of the cupcakes really complimented the very sweet chai buttercream icing on top. The perfect fall treat!

Ingredients:

(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

Cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside (I use parchment paper so they slide off easy). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices; set aside
2. In the bowl combine butter, 4 cups sugar, infused milk, and vanilla and chai concentrate. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for about 2 minutes after each addition, until icing reaches desired consistency (you may not need to add all the sugar).
3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched,  20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Icing:
Ingredients:
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Latte Concentrate to taste (optional)

Directions:
1. Simmer 1/2 cup of milk on low with 2 chai teabags for 5-8 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
2. In the bowl combine butter, 4 cups of sugar, infused milk, vanilla and chai concentrate.
3. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Gradually add the remaining sugar (1 cup at a time) beating for about 2 minutes after each addition, until icing reaches desired consistency (you may not need to add all the sugar).

Enjoy!