Halloween Spider Cupcakes

Hmmm… for some reason, I have this thing about halloween and spiders.  Three years ago, the theme for the kid’s halloween treats were spiders too.  That time, I used gummy spiders.  This year I decided on a no-frosting chocolate cupcake with 8 pretzel sticks for legs and big candy eyes.

(although halloween is not really a holiday or an event that we locally celebrate, there are sales and marketing pitches for it.  after all, the kids love the candy-collecting activity and the dress-up costumes!)

To be honest, I found the basic design on Google images – there were lots of ideas especially for the legs but well, all I had on hand were chocolate covered pretzels.

The kid liked them anyway and was excited to give some to her classmates!

And, if you notice there is a picture that is not like the others… technically speaking, the halloween treats this year are… spiders and one ant.

The ant face was designed by hubby, with the one piece of pretzel stick that was left over.  As you can see, the single pretzel was broken into 3 and were just enough for the antennae and the mouth!

Happy Trick-or-Treating!

Chocolate-swirled Bread

This is another one of my mom’s recipes… which the kid loves!!!  I actually like it too, even if I am not a fan of chocolate per se.

Again, because I don’t have permission to share the recipe, I cannot write it here.  What I can say is that this loaf is basically a sweet bread recipe where the dough is flattened into a rectangle and butter is brushed on the dough.  A mixture of cinnamon and sugar is sprinkled lightly over the brushed butter and then a handful of chocolate chips is spread all over.  The sweet bread dough is then rolled tightly into a fat loaf and placed inside a loaf pan then baked!

After baking, the top is brushed with butter again so that the crust becomes soft!

Yummmm!

84 Mini Cupcakes!

Who knows where this recipe is from… I certainly don’t know.  All I know is that I was flipping through a second-hand cookbook and a paper with this recipe was tucked inside the pages.  It was titled “Big Batch Cupcakes” and specified that it made 4 dozen 2-oz cupcakes.

It was perfect timing, actually, since I had to bake at least 6 dozen mini cupcakes so I tried the recipe!

1/2 tablespoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in
1/2 cup hot water

1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs
1/4 cup rice bran oil
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup thick yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

The instructions were straight-forward and easy –

Dissolve the instant coffee in the hot water and let cool slightly. Set aside.

Sift together all the dry ingredients.

Add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix about 2 minutes or until everything is combined.

Scoop or spoon into prepared cupcake tins/pans (the recipe made 7 dozens or 84 pieces of mini cupcakes!).  To make the mini cupcakes a bit interesting, I added about half a teaspoon of cheesecake filling to the batter.

Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

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I used ganache to frost 6 dozens of mini cupcakes before I ran out.  There was a bit of coffee buttercream left over from the mocha cake I made earlier, and with that I managed to frost half a dozen, which left 6 plain ones…

 

Pan Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe intrigued me!

So I thought of trying it…

My first attempt was a dismal fail –

The cookies spread so much it stuck together forming 1 weird looking mass.

My second try was better – I “contained” the spreading of the cookies by baking them in a pan with shallow round cavities.  But the cookies were too soft.  I think perhaps I may have underdone the baking slightly.

My next one was even better, but I still baked the cookies in a shallow round mold…

My final one was by far the best one.  But it was waaay tooo tedious.  I don’t have a big oven so technically only 2 large cookies would fit my cookie sheet! It took me the whole afternoon to bake 11 cookies!!!

The recipe can be found on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

 

Triple Chocolate Mini Cupcakes

While I have my standard go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes, I still try other recipes.  Especially when the recipe is by a well-known chef/baker/the like… more so if the recipe is featured in the New York Times…

So, this is Mark Bittman’s recipe (and yes, I bought 2 copies of his book How to Cook Everything – a hard copy and a soft copy!) but since I intended to make mini cupcakes, I halved the recipe, and of course, made some adaptations to suit me (ok, I admit I’m lazy so I like the dump-it-all-in-the-bowl method) –

The adapted recipe –

1/4 cup butter
45 grams unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup flour
1/8 cup black cocoa (my addition)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

ganache
62% chocolate buttons

Melt the butter with unsweetened chocolate; stir until smooth.  Cool slightly before using.

Combine the dry ingredients together (flour, black cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar).  Note that the original recipe did not include black cocoa but I wanted a super dark, almost black cupcake!

Add the egg, cooled chocolate mixture, vanilla and milk; mix well.  Note that the original recipe specified that the egg/s be separated and the whites beaten to soft peaks but like I said I am lazy!!!

So anyway, fill paper-lined mini muffin tins about 3/4s full and bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 9 to 11 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting and garnishing.

Shameless but proud momma here – my kid helped me frost some cupcakes.

Really now, they’re pretty good considering her age…

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s good news… and there’s bad news…

The good news is that the kid loved the cookies.

The bad?  The kid was disappointed because the recipe for these cookies came from someone else.  She has this idea that I am the world’s greatest cook and baker (let’s see up to when that lasts… but I am absolutely enjoying it in the meantime!)

Anyway, these cookies were BFF’s request.  And the original recipe is from Mrs. Fields.  Although technically I changed it since I did not like raisins (and BFF did not like it either!) so it got swapped out for chocolate chips (dark mini chips and bittersweet chips).  I also used only 1 kind of sugar (raw or washed sugar that is available locally) and baked the cookies at 325F instead of the original 300F.

1-1/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter (1 225g bar); softened
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Eggs

2-1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats

1-1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes?)

Add honey, vanilla and eggs. Mix well.

Sift in the flour, soda, salt and oats. Don’t over-mix.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop mounds of cookie dough on to greaseproof-lined cookie sheets (I used a small cookie scoop); lightly press to flatten slightly. Bake about 15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Do not over-bake!

Cool on cooling racks.

I made about 5 dozen (approx. 1-inch) cookies.

Nevertheless, the kid loved the cookies and asked that I make some more!

B’s Hot Chocolate 2018 Christmas ed.

B: mommy, can you make me hot chocolate? With marshmallows?

M: of course

(Of course, i had to deliver more than what was asked… added chocolate on the rim, and topped the whole thing with ice cream and choco syrup!)

B: Wow mommy! It’s beautiful!

(And after tasting it)

IT IS SOOOOOOOO YUMMMYYYYY MOMMYYYYY! You’re the best at making the best stuff!

(I so love it when she thinks I’m the best 😍)

Death by Chocolate Cheesecake

I admit it. I have been obsessed with chocolate lately. I’ve made bourbon brownies, 2 toned chocolate and choco chip cookies, in addition to the usual, standard stuff I make. And I’m not yet done. Still on my list are Kladdkaka, Tableya Cupcakes, Creme de Cacao… and this Chocolate Cheesecake, which has been dubbed Death by Chocolate Cheesecake.

For this one I delved deep into my cookbooks. Both hubby and the kid are chocoholics, and both are very particular when it comes to chocolate – they have discerning tastes! They prefer a deep, complex, nuanced chocolate flavor. I finally hit the jackpot when I found this recipe in a special edition “magazine” of Fine Cooking.

I started with a ready-made, off-the-grocery-shelf Oreo cookie crust. I know I could have made my own chocolate cookie crust but having a ready-made one DOES give me more time to concentrate on the filling, which I believed was more important! The downside though is that the ready made crust could not contain the full recipe for the filling. So I had to polish my math skills and scaled the recipe to about 2/3 – even then I was afraid that the batter would spill over in the oven. But all is well that ends well, the batter puffed up during baking but settled in nicely upon cooling…

The recipe did not specify a topping but I had in my mind a chocolate masterpiece with 6 layers of chocolate! I imagined (1) chocolate cookie crust, (2) double chocolate cheesecake filling, (3) silky ganache topping, (4) dark chocolate curls, (5) chocolate syrup drizzle, and (6) chocolate ice cream on the side!

For the silky ganache topping, I wanted a “softer” consistency, so instead of a 50-50 mix of chocolate and whipping cream, I used a 40-60 proportion, using a bit more cream than chocolate.

For the chocolate curls, I finally used the gourmet dark chocolate bar that my brother-in-law gave as a present.

While I had envisioned the 6 layers, I ended up with just 4 because hubby decided that it was overkill (pun intended!) to go beyond the chocolate curls. (The kid happily doused her slice in chocolate syrup though, but skipped the ice cream so at least for her it was 5 layers!)

The verdict? HEAVENLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, just like that, I am the kid’s hero again! I just love hearing her proclaim – Mommy you are the best cooker and baker ever, ever! (Her exact words)

Two Toned Cookies

As they say, why mess up a good thing?

Well…

If it is to make it better, then, sure, why not?

My go-to recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies is the good ‘ole Nestle TollHouse recipe, although I always use half a recipe…

Anyway, I had visions in my head of a two-toned cookie – a hybrid of a chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate cookie studded with peanut butter chips!

I wasn’t really sure how I was going to do it… the chocolate chip cookie part was not the problem… the chocolate cookie was the question – and I am actually quite lazy, I mean I love baking so I will bake any chance I get, but I don’t particularly like washing dishes!

Anyway, to solve my issue, I halved the batter (without chocolate chips yet) by placing approximately half in another bowl.  I added half a cup of chocolate chips to one bowl and 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa and half a cup of peanut butter chips to the other bowl.

Drop half a teaspoon of each batter side by side (or top and bottom) then bake.

The little girl saw me baking and requested that the cookies be dipped in chocolate and sprinkles.  I thought it was a bit overkill but then, what they hey, why not?

We ended up with cookie pops that she brought to a playdate… it turned out that one of her playmates was having her birthday celebration that day!

Bourbon Brownie Birthday Cake

Hubby’s request was for a dark chocolate cake.

I had visions of a grand 2 or 3 layer cake, surrounded by bars of chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate shavings.  The vision would not become a reality.  An accidental fall (not too serious, but serious enough that my ankle and elbow are stiff) prevented me from baking and frosting an elaborate cake.  So what to do?  Hubby cannot miss out on his birthday wish??!!!!!!

Enter these deep, dark, bitter chocolate brownies laced with bourbon!  Instead of baking the brownies in an 8-in square pan, I baked them in a 7-in round, which gave them a bit of height.  The brownie could not be plain ‘ole brownies so in went a quarter cup of bourbon.

(This particular bourbon is sentimental to me – it was one of the few bottles I took from my late father’s liquor cabinet before it went up in smoke)

The ganache used to garnish the cake was also laced with bourbon, but only about half a tablespoon.

Hubby loved it!

It was especially divine with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream.