Ganache-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

Ever since I made these, I have been thinking about making them again – but doing things a bit differently to make sure that the Ganache stays intact.  Someone even commented on the post and alerted me to a web discussion going on about this very issue – with the very recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. It was an interesting discussion, I could tell that there were a lot of frustrated bakers out there.  I wasn’t that frustrated just because the cupcakes were so outstanding, so what if the Ganache ended up melting through the cake. Still, it was fascinating.  There was even one person that suggested Cook’s Illustrated PhotoShopped the picture, and made it look like the Ganache stayed together.  Whatever will be, will be.  But I wanted another chance.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and it was the word “filled” that caught my attention.  I read the recipe, and there it was – fill the cupcakes after they bake.  I know, I know – of course that’s how you do it – but it was so cool to think you could actually put a spoonful of Ganache on the batter, and have the cake bake around it.  That method just wasn’t in the cards for me, and I decided that filling the cupcakes after they bake was the only way for me to be successful quickly – without making hundreds of cupcakes to figure out the best method.  Well, this one certainly worked – the problem was that the filling and the frosting were the best parts – the cake was nothing to write home about.  Nothing like the cake in the this version.  So – I bet you can guess what I am going to do next?  Exactly – this process with the other cake – I can’t wait!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 7 1/2 ounces; do not exceed  61%  cacao)

Filling and Frosting

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (do not exceed 61% cacao)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup standard muffin pans  with paper liners. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into medium  bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and  fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well incorporated  after each addition. Beat in vanilla, half of flour mixture, then 1 cup hot  water. Add remaining flour mixture; beat just until blended. Let batter stand  until cooled and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips.  Divide batter among muffin papers (about ¼ cup batter each).

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out with  some crumbs attached, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely in  pans.

Filling and Frosting

Bring cream just to boil in heavy small saucepan. Place  chocolate chips in medium bowl; pour hot cream over. Let stand 1 minute, then  whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand at room temperature until cool and  firm, about 2 hours. (Alternatively, chill ganache until cool and firm, stirring  occasionally, about 1 hour.)

DO AHEAD Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let  stand at room temperature.

Whisk 1/3 cup water, sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, and  coarse salt to blend in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely  simmering water. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until soft peaks form, about  5 minutes. Remove bowl from over water and continue beating until frosting is  cool to touch, stiff, and billowy, about 2 minutes. Beat vanilla into  frosting.

Using thumb, press down center of each cupcake from top to  bottom, forming deep pocket. Spoon or pipe ganache into pocket  of each  cupcake.

Frost cupcakes, forming tall peaks.

DO AHEAD Cupcakes can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room  temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Ganache-Filled Chcoolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

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Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti

I love a good biscotti – in fact, I would much rather have a biscotti than a cookie any day of the week.  I didn’t always feel that way though, over the years I have grown to love that crunchy-not-too-sweet cookie.  I remember when I went to college, and my grandmother sent me a care package.  I was so excited, I ripped the box open, and there was a big tin of Mandel Bread.  I was a little let down.  Yes, I did love anything she made for me, but Mandel Bread was just not my favorite.  It was hard and crunchy, and not very sweet – but my grandmother was smart.  Mandel Bread stays fresh for days, even weeks, in a container.  At that point I didn’t drink coffee – but now that I think back to that delicious Mandel Bread, it would have been perfect dunked into a strong cup of espresso.

So – over the past few weeks, with the end of the school year – things have been a little crazier than usual.   In addition, work has been keeping me extremely busy these days, starting very early in the morning and going late into the evenings.  I have had a lot of baking to do for specific events, and I have had to choose my baked goods very carefully - looking particularly for ones I can bake ahead of time.  I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, and I knew they would last at least the three days they mentioned in the text.  Usually I like to make biscotti and coat them in chocolate, but the dried cherries with the pistachios looked so flavorful that I would be able to skip a step.  These were outstanding – so nice and crunchy, and chock full of cherries.   They had a wonderful flavor that went perfectly with a nice cup of espresso.  I think they were a big hit at the event I made them for…and fortunately I was good and ready and not stressed beforehand.  Thanks Nan for turning me onto these amazing treats…

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1  cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp. baking  powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking  soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher  salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp.vegetable  oil
  • 1 Tbsp. orange  zest
  • 2 tsp. lemon  zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond  extract
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with  parchment paper. Combine first 6 ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted  with a paddle. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl,  whisk together eggs and next 5 ingredients. Add egg mixture to flour mixture;  beat on low speed until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Fold in cherries and  pistachios.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; divide in half.  Using floured hands, shape each dough half into a 16″-long log. Brush off excess  flour; transfer logs to prepared sheet, spaced 5″ apart. Flatten each log into a  2″-wide strip. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until browned and set,  about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to  250° and arrange 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom  third.

Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer  biscotti to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut each strip diagonally  into 2/3″-thick slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on baking  sheets.

Bake biscotti, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until  crisp, about 40 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks; let cool.

DO  AHEAD Can be made at least 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room  temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti

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Jalapeno Corn Pudding

Growing up on the east coast, I looked forward to the short window that would open each summer when we would finally get fresh corn on the cob.  During that window, I think we had it with dinner almost every night.  If I remember correctly though, the window didn’t last very long, and then you were back to frozen or canned until the following year.

When I moved to Denver, the window seemed to be much bigger – it must have been because of the long hot summers we had.  One summer by boyfriend (now husband) decided he wanted to grow his own corn in our small 3×10 rectangle of land we called our garden.  He carefully mapped out just a small portion (since he didn’t want to give up on any of the other veges) of the plot to attempt the corn.  Sure enough, come August, we had a few ears of fresh corn to eat, right from our own garden.  It was pretty amazing.

Now we are here in Seattle, where the window for fresh corn on the cob is the biggest yet – it starts in mid-June and easily goes through August.  Seems a little counterintuitive, since we have only had about 3 days so far above 70 degrees, and barely any sun? But yes, the corn gets shipped in from Eastern Washington, and for the most part it is pretty good.  Nothing like right from the garden, but better than frozen or canned.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit and even though the corn was not nearly as sweet as it will be this summer, the dish was still wonderful.  You definitely want to serve this immediately for best results, since it comes out of the oven nice and puffed up (due to the egg whites), but I was still eating leftovers a few days later, and warmed up in the microwave, it was still delicious.  It is perfect next to a delicious rack of ribs, or some other BBQ food – but we had it with some delicious Carnitas at a friend’s house, and it was the ideal side dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped seeded jalapeno chiles
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipped cream
  • 1 cup chopped roasted red peppers (from a jar)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Manchego cheese or sharp cheddar cheese

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butt a 2-quart shallow baking dish.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, corn, jalapeno, and garlic; saute until soft, about 4 minutes.  Stir in cornmeal.  Add milk and cream; stir over medium heat until thick batter forms, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Stir in red peppers, green onions, cilantro, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper;  cool 15 minutes.  Stir in egg yolks. Using mixer with clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form.  Fold whites into batter.  Transfer to dish.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake pudding until top is golden and center is just set, about 35 minutes.  Serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Jalapeno Corn Pudding

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Mango-Coconut Sherbet

My family goes a little nuts over mango.  Ok, yes, I have my own obsessions that are slight oddly:  fennel, cucumbers in cocktails, cream cheese frosting - but mango?  Definitely not one of my must haves in life.  I actually love the flavor of mango – I just hate cutting them up.  I hate that strangely shaped pit – and I also hate it when you cut the mango too close to the pit, and the mango gets a little fibrous – almost hairy.

For a while I was getting mango in our CSA basket, and I dreaded the day I actually had to slice them open.  I swear my girls (even my husband) would circle like vultures, trying to get as much mango as they possibly could – making it almost a competition between the three of them.  I always had to tell them to go sit down and let me slice in peace – the last thing I wanted was to slice one of their hands instead.  I finally stopped getting them, it was getting too dangerous.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and I have to say, I do love a good mango sorbet.  The fact that this had coconut milk in it made it that much more interesting to me.  I pretty much love anything with coconut milk – yes, I guess another one of my obsessions.  I had to buy some mango to make this, but I told my family that these were off-limits.  They waited patiently all week for them to get ripe, and for me to make the sherbet.  Well, I think it was worth the wait – this was pretty spectacular.  I swear I could have just stopped before putting the mixture in the ice-cream machine – it was so smooth and delicious – tasted just like a mango smoothie – but the final product was excellent.  I served it two ways – with shredded coconut on top, and with grated lime peel.  Both were delicious.  If you are looking for a light dessert this summer, definitely mark this one down.  If I ever happen to have some spare mango lying around, I know exactly what to do with it – right, who am I kidding?

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cubed peeled ripe mango
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted

Preparation

Combine cubed mango, sugar, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and coconut milk in a blender; process until mixture is smooth, scraping sides as necessary. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions to soft-serve consistency. Spoon sherbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 2 hours or until firm. Sprinkle each serving with coconut.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Mango-Coconut Sherbet

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Chicken and Carrot Stew

I was stuck inside a conference room all day today with no windows.  In a way, it would have been nice to look at the partially blue sky.  When I finally left the building, I decided not to put my jacket on because, after all, it is June.  That was a mistake – even with as nice as it was outside – it was still freezing.  Ok, so maybe not literally freezing, but certainly not a week away from summer weather.  Yes, in the Pacific Northwest, we call this Junuary.  The most dreaded month of the year.  The month when you finally start wigging out because of the weather.  At least in my family.

We moved here from Denver, one of the sunniest places in the US, and the first year we were here, I thought my husband was going to pack his bags and run back.  We have lasted 15 years, and I have no intention of ever leaving (except to go live in France that is…) – but every year June starts to wear me down.  What gets me through it?  Cooking.  At least when it is cool out, I still feel like cooking in the kitchen, and turning on the oven.  After all, we don’t have air conditioning when it does actually get warm out.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and even though it is technically not stew weather – it is here.  I really had no intention of posting this one, but it was my family that convinced me.  They loved it – all of them, especially the girls.  They even ate the cooked carrots, which is virtually impossible to get them to do.  The flavor of this stew was wonderful, and it really wasn’t too rich – even with the heavy cream.  It was a perfect meal to serve in Junuary.  For your sake, I hope you are firing up your BBQ – but if you get the urge to cook inside, or if you happen to live somewhere like me – here is a recipe that will make you smile.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 1/4-inch-thick rounds peeled carrots  (about 3 medium-large)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2  medium)
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping  cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon  mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Fresh thyme sprigs (for  garnish)

Preparation

Cook carrots in large saucepan of boiling salted water 3  minutes. Add leeks to pan with carrots and cook until carrots are tender, about  3 minutes longer. Drain; set aside.

Sprinkle chicken with sea salt and freshly ground black  pepper. Whisk flour, thyme, and paprika in medium bowl. Toss chicken in flour  mixture. Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium- high heat. Add  chicken to skillet and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Add wine;  boil until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Scatter carrots and leeks over  chicken. Add broth, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15  minutes. Add cream and mustard. Stir until sauce thickens slightly, about 2  minutes. Season sauce to taste with sea salt and pepper. Transfer to large  shallow bowl. Scatter parsley over and garnish with thyme  sprigs.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chicken and Carrot Stew

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Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut cream pie has always been one of those desserts I have held in very high regard.  It is a multi-step process, that if done right, is completely outrageous.  I remember growing up my grandmother used to make a lemon merengue pie - and every time she served it I secretly hoped that she decided against the lemon flavor and went with a coconut filling.  No such luck.  Her lemon merengue pie was outstanding, but lemon desserts were not my thing growing up.  When I finally got my first taste of coconut cream pie, I was hooked.  It was amazing – the best diner food ever.  After that, whenever I would see it on a menu, I had to go for it.  I have had a lot of different kinds over the years, but have never attempted to make one myself….until now.

There is a bakery in downtown Seattle that serves the most amazing coconut cream pie – they use real whipped cream as the topping with big pieces of shredded coconut.  The problem is that it is almost too rich for me.  A few bites is all I really need to feel satisfied that I had an amazing dessert.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light - and what appealed to me the most was the fact that the topping was merengue instead of whipped cream!  It reminded me of my grandmother’s pie – the way I longed for it – with coconut cream in the middle instead of lemon.  This pie was incredible.  You would never know it was a light recipe – it tasted just as rich and creamy as you would want your coconut cream pie – but the merengue offered it a lighter balance.  Both girls went nuts over the pie – especially my younger one, who seems to take after me when it comes to sweets.  She ate it nice and slow – to savor every bite.  I loved watching her eat it.

So, give this a try – perfect for an afternoon BBQ or a fancy dinner party – just so versatile, and your guests will be very impressed – and happy that you saved them a few calories in the process…

Ingredients

  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°.

Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under; flute. Line dough with foil; arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes; remove weights and foil, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Combine milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cups coconut. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; stir seeds and pod into milk mixture. Bring milk mixture to a simmer; immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl. Gather edges of cheesecloth; squeeze over bowl to release moisture. Discard solids.

Combine 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Return milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter; whisk until smooth. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 6 minutes, stirring to cool. Pour into prepared crust. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Place 3 egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high-speed until soft peaks form. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 250°. Pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high-speed until thick. Spread meringue over pie. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Top with toasted coconut before serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Coconut Cream Pie

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Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Egg

When my husband was little he went through a phase where he only wanted rice for breakfast.  From what I hear, he was such a skinny kid that his mother let him eat pretty much whatever he wanted – as long as he was eating.  That would not fly in my house – and yes, my girls are pretty tiny to say the least.  I love a good bowl of rice, but rice for breakfast would not be my choice – unless I added a handful of granola and topped it off with some milk.  Now you’re talking…

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit and I immediately thought of breakfast, and then my mind went straight for dinner.  As I have mentioned many times before – I love a good egg for dinner.  Add some bacon, leeks and risotto to that, and boy do you have yourself a killer meal.  My favorite restaurant Tilth will occasionally serve a poached or sous vide egg on top of their risotto or homemade pasta dish – and it makes me melt.  I love breaking into that egg and watching the yolk get into all those nooks and crannies – creating a beautiful silky sauce that coats the dish.  Yum, with a capital Y.  Well – that’s what this dish was all about.  I closed my eyes, and I swear I was eating at my favorite restaurant.  The kids loved it too – my older daughter loved the eggs so much – she had two.  That was quite a compliment.

So – go ahead and try this, and I really don’t think it matters if you serve it for dinner or breakfast – this is definitely a dish to make when you want to impress someone.  Fortunately it is not too difficult – and boy is it worth it.  I can’t wait to make it again…

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 5 cups low-salt chicken  broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale  green parts only; about 2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice (about 10 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian  parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh Italian parsley leaves  (for garnish)
  • Additional finely grated  Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Preparation

Bring large skillet of water just to simmer over medium-low  heat. Sprinkle water with salt. Working with 1 egg at a time, crack into small  bowl and slide egg into simmering water. Cook eggs until whites are cooked  through but yolks are still runny, 3 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon,  carefully transfer poached eggs to medium bowl filled with ice water. DO  AHEAD Eggs can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate in same  bowl of ice water.

Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan; cover to keep warm.  Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until  crisp, stirring occasionally. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper  towels to drain. Add leeks to drippings in pan; cook until soft but not brown,  stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer 2 generous tablespoonfuls leeks to  small bowl; reserve for garnish. Add rice to pan; stir 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine;  stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1D2 cup warm broth to saucepan; stir  until broth is absorbed. Repeat adding broth and stirring until rice is tender  but still firm to bite and sauce is creamy, stirring almost constantly, about 23  minutes total. Add bacon, chopped parsley, butter, and 2 tablespoons cheese.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, heat poached eggs in medium skillet of simmering  water just until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide risotto among 6 bowls. Top risotto in each bowl with  poached egg. Sprinkle egg with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley leaves,  additional cheese, and reserved leeks.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Egg

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Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Another weekend down, and only two more before school gets out.  Our weekends have been jam-packed with end-of-the-year activities.  Fortunately most of them come with an opportunity to bake – unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time to do so – but I am finding time when I can, and so far I have been pretty happy with the results of my “power baking” – as I like to call it.  I have lots of fun stuff to share…so stay tuned.

So what exactly is the different between a cupcake and a muffin?  Aside from the fact that people often feel like it is ok to eat a muffin, like they are healthy or something , as opposed to a cupcake.  I am starting to think that the difference is the frosting.  The muffin doesn’t have any, while the cupcake does.  Although, the muffin can have a topping, just as long as it is not creamy?  I’m pretty sure that must be the definition.  I decided to “Bing-It” and see the real answer.  Well, obviously this is not the first blog post to cover this topic – in fact, it seems as though I may have just discovered the most popular food blog topic out there.  And yes, I was indeed correct – everyone basically came to the same conclusion.

I found these beauties in Cooking Light, and my younger daughter decided she needed to help.  She hopped on the counter, and was ready.  She did a great job, especially placing the chocolate chips on top.  She took her job very seriously, and as you can see, she was meticulous.  These cupcakes – I mean muffins – were decadent – definitely on the edge of a cupcake without the frosting.  They were moist and chocolately, and definitely good with a cup of coffee – although just as good after dinner (we had them both ways).  So, give these a try, and make sure you tell people they are muffins, maybe they will feel better about eating a few…

Ingredients

  • 7 9/10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate minichips, divided
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine 1 cup water and next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in 1/4 cup minichips. Add oil mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups, and coat liners with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup minichips evenly over batter. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Sesame-Soy Cucumber Salad

I have mentioned previously about my obsession with cucumber cocktails…but I failed to mention that I am pretty much just obsessed with cucumbers in general.  I am the only one in my house that likes them, and I can easily eat an entire cucumber in one sitting – easily.  I love how easily they take on a marinade – and how just a little bit of seasoning can go a long way.

I remember when we lived in Denver (the sunniest place on earth) and my husband was just in the beginning stages of his gardening passion – he would basically grow anything.  He decided to try cucumbers, and little did he know they would grow like weeds.  He hates cucumbers, so luckily for me, I had loads of them all summer long.  He tried to eat them and tried to like them, but just couldn’t do it.  That was the last year we grew cucumbers – he decided he couldn’t waste the space on something he didn’t like.  Also – aside from eating them raw, I have to admit, zucchini is much more versatile.  You can bake, cook, roast, grill, pretty much do anything with zucchini – they are just as easy to grow – and my husband loves them.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light - and it looked so good, I had to make it – and eat it – all of it – by myself.  It was really no trouble though, the entire dish was gone in a matter of minutes.  It was super easy – and would be delicious alongside some grilled chicken or steak.  So give it a try, and don’t be like me – wait a day before eating – it actually gets better the longer you wait…

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced seeded cucumber

Preparation

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add cucumber; toss to coat.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Sesame-Soy Cucumber Salad

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