Mocha Mini Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting

Mocha cupcakes

She mutely ate her cupcake as the others chattered around her. They would never understand what she was contemplating. To speak would be an open invitation for them to pass judgment, to hand her their opinion. She could envision what each would be. She could hear them justify their harshness, “We just want what’s best for you.” No, they wanted what was best for them, what they could comprehend; what fit within their world. She thought of that old adage about opinions and assholes. She smiled and kept eating.


Mocha Mini Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting

  • Servings: 36 mini cupcakes
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This is my go-to moist chocolate cake recipe with a bit of extra espresso flavoring.

Ingredients

    Cake Ingredients
  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Espresso plus cold water
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Frosting Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz. dulce de leche
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, cold
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • pinch salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside. Combine espresso with cold water to equal one cup. Mix espresso, oil, vanilla and vinegar together. Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. The mixture will be wet.
  2. Pour the batter into paper mini-cupcake cups and bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
  3. While cupcakes cool, make frosting by beating ingredients together until light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes.

Candied Orange Peel

Candied Orange Peel

I adore candied citrus peel. You won’t offend me if you’re not a fan (yet). You probably only know those chewy, tooth sticking, flavorless, processed nuggets that come in a grocery store tub. That’s what I thought candied peel was all about, too – until I made my own. Then, ooohhhh, I fell in love. Hand-crafted candied peel is pliant and juicy with the perfect balance between bitter peel and sweet syrup. Making your own takes a bit more work than opening a tub, but it’s the difference between a frozen beef patty and aged ribeye steak. I always make more peel than what’s needed for a recipe. That way, I can toss the remaining peel in sugar for a sweet snack.


Candied Orange Peel

  • Servings: 2 cups peel
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Ingredients

  • Peel from 3 oranges
  • 18 oz. water
  • 6 oz. corn syrup
  • 20 oz. sugar

Directions

  1. Place peels in a pot of cold water, bring to boil, and drain. Repeat this two more times.
  2. Combine 18 oz. water, corn syrup, and sugar in a pot. Bring to boil. Add drained peels, reduce to simmer and poach for 1 hour. Cool peels in syrup. Store in syrup in refrigerator.
  3. To roll in sugar, dry peels on a cooling rack overnight. Cut into strips 2” long by 1/2” wide and toss in additional sugar. Store at room temperature.

candied-peel

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

soup

I’ve been practicing my staring technique.  Staring at a blinking cursor on a blank screen; staring at a cooling mug of coffee; staring at raindrops traveling down the kitchen window; staring at the television.

“I should bake,” I think, but can’t even manage that.

I’m lingering before a crossroads, staring at divergent paths mere steps ahead. I cannot walk towards any one direction, on a road to any outcome.  I’m weary. I want to rest a while, here in the center of the road, and just stare towards an unknown.

My brain was not meant to process all this.


Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

  • Servings: Serves 8-10
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Ingredients

  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups green beans, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh sage, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • ½ cabbage, shredded
  • 2 14 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
  • ½ bag frozen peas

Directions

  1. In a large pot, saute onion, carrots and celery until beginning to soften. Add green beans and saute 5 minutes longer. Add garlic, oregano and sage and sauce for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 45-60 minutes until beans are almost tender.
  2. Add zucchini, cabbage and beans and cook another 15 minutes or until cabbage has softened and green beans are tender. Add peas and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

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Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Chocolate Walnut Cookies

I’m calling it emotional whiplash. I’ve done a 360 in three months. Providence proved a fickle companion. I’m back to November’s discontent. Others’ decisions to retire, to fire, to stay has flung me back to the beginning yet again. One step forward, three steps back.

Speaking of going back to the beginning, this is a riff on a cookie I created for my final Culinary School menu. In an effort to self-soothe, I ate the entire dozen in one sitting. It didn’t work.


Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Lower in calories than a normal chocolate cookie recipe, easy to make, and loaded with good fats from the walnuts – however,  I  still recommend sharing.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse pecans and sugar in a food processor until mixture resembles sand. Add cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, extract, and egg white. Process until dough comes together in a large ball.
  2. Measure dough into 12 balls. Roll in powdered sugar, and place on a lightly-coated baking sheet. Press dough balls with a back of a glass until they measure about 1.5” – 2” across. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pan.

Chocolate Dulce De Leche Bars

Chocolate dulce de leche bars

Call me the uncertain Siren, keeping sentry over heaving oceans, afraid to beckon you; frightened that my foolish desires will leave you shipwrecked on rocky shores below. Yet, equally, I fear that the sweet chorus from my lips is not enough to entice you from your charted course. So I watch your ship pass, this melody trapped within my throat, and collapse heartsick atop my island bluff.


Chocolate Dulce De Leche Bars

  • Servings: 12 large or 24 bite sized bars
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Oh my – chocolaty and creamy deulce de leche on top of a buttery shortbread crust.You can also reduce the salt in the shortbread to ¼ t. and sprinkle the tops with sea salt just before serving. Recipe from Gourmet magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 13.5 can dulce de leche
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, at least 60%, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Make shortbread: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 9” square pan, line bottom and sides with 2 sheets of aluminum foil, butter foil.
  2. With a fork, blend together butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add flour and blend until a soft dough forms. Spread dough evening in pan, patting evenly into pan and prick all over with folk. Bake until golden 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack, about 30 minutes.
  3. Make Topping: Bring cream and dulce de leche to simmer in a pan until fully combined. Whisk together yolks in a bowl and then slowly add cream mixture to yolks, tempering to avoid curdling eggs. Return to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture registers 170 degrees. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture through a sieve over cooled shortbread and chill, uncovered, until set, about 2 hours. Transfer to cutting board using foil and cut with a hot, clean knife (dip in hot water and wipe clean between cuts). Chill until ready to serve.