Category Archives: Recipes

Black Cherry Disaronno Cupcakes

I like making cupcakes, and I am always looking for an excuse. One of the things I’ve been doing consistently for the last few years is sending cupcakes to work with Andy for Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it, even if you’re in a relationship, the holiday can be a bit intense, and what better way to brighten someone’s day than with a cupcake? I gotta make sure my diligent taste-testers are taken care of, right? In the past, I’ve done some more traditional flavors – chocolate, chocolate-covered strawberry, strawberry, white chocolate, etc. – so this year I wanted to do something a little less expected. I liked the idea of going a little darker and more mature with the flavor profile, but I still wanted a little holiday “cheese” so I decided to pair black cherries and Disaronno. So good! Plus the cherries really did bake up almost black, which made things interesting from an aesthetic stand point.

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1 Box Betty Crocker White Cake Mix
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 veggie oil
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cherry puree
  • 4 tbsp Disaronno

Frosting:

  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe here)
  • 4 tbsp cherry puree
  • 4 tbsp Disaronno

Directions:
Cake:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
  2. Combine cake mix, egg whites, oil and water and mix thoroughly. Mix in Disaronno.
  3. Put two cups of mix into a separate bowl and mix in cherry puree.
  4. Fill cupcake wrapper 1/2 full of regular mix, top off to 2/3 full with cherry mixture. Swirl together with toothpick or skewer to create a marbled effect.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. While cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting.
  7. Add cherry puree and Disaronno to completed frosting and combine thoroughly.
  8. Frost cooled cupcakes and enjoy!.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

With a month to spare, I have finally completed #3 on my 31 before 32 and made the last of the 12 recipes from my Sweet & Vicious cookbook! There are so many great recipes I still can’t wait to try out, but I am happy to have the ones I “had” to do behind me. Since I’d done a few of the main recipes and a couple of the extracts, I wanted to try something from the back of the book. The frosting area seemed as good as any so I decided to tackle Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

So light and wonderfully fluffy! It made for some very pretty cupcakes.


I took some pictures of the process, just so you’d have an idea of how things were going to look as you went along. I find that sort of thing helpful whenever I’m trying out a new recipe.
The egg white/sugar mixture when I put it on ⇑ and took it off ⇓ the double boiler. 
How the meringue looked when it was ready for the butter. 

Notes:

  • I think the thing I liked best about this was the sweetness. I like sugar as much as the next pudgy American, but I hate frosting that is sickly sweet. Standard buttercream is easy to make, but usually it’s a bit much and has ruined many a cupcake for me. It’s really nice to have this in my back pocket for future baking.
  • This recipe also pipes like a dream; I had wonderful frilly frosted cupcakes with minimal piping bag manipulation, and it held its shape and didn’t dry out overnight.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Slow Cooker Cake

I did a thing. I found this recipe video online, and it seemed too easy to be real. I mean slow cooker baking? This sounds like a crazy Pinterest thing that you pin, but never ever make. Which it was until we had a really shitty week at the office and I knew we needed to do something to boost morale. Cake makes people happy, I’m too tired to make it at home, and it could get a blog post out of it, so… here we are.


The moment when I realized that I should have brought a whisk from home. Salad tongs and spaghetti scoops for days, but not a single whisk or whisk like object to be found. So I kicked it old school and used a fork. 
Ingredients blended and set to bake. Fortunately, my office is near the break room because even though the video said to leave for 4 hours, things started smelling a little singed around 2.5 hours in.Slight burning on the edge, but it was easily trimmed off and the other 90% of the cake was saved. This was about the time people started poking their heads into the kitchen to see what I was doing and how much longer they had to wait for their cake. 
Some frosting magic and TADA! 
Oddly shaped, but sure enough this crazy thing actually came out looking more or less like a cake and even more surprisingly tasted like a pretty decent cake. 

I had two coworkers ask me to write down the recipe so they could go home and make it for their families.

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Moist Yellow Cake Mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • chocolate syrup

Frosting

  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Reese’s cups

Directions:

  1. Grease inside of the slow cooker.
  2. Combine the first five cake ingredients and mix thoroughly. Take out 2/3 cup of mix and then add a generous squirt of chocolate syrup and mix together. Swirl together batter in slow cooker.
  3. Bake on high for 2-4 hours. The video said four and mine was a bit singed after two and a half so just keep an eye on it the first time you make it.
  4. Combine the first three frosting ingredients and whisk together with a fork until smooth.
  5. Top the cake with frosting, extra chocolate syrup and chopped Reese’s cups.

Notes:

  • Holy shit, guys, this works! It works! It works! It works! And you know what? It’s pretty good! It was all gone less than three hours after we frosted it. I will so make it again, and you bet your ass I will be baking more in my slow cooker.

Becky’s Brownies

A few months ago, I tackled the Maniac Fire Bread from Sweet & Vicious. It was pretty great, and one of my taste-testers was so in love that she HAD to have the recipe. Unfortunately, after reading the directions, she decided that the whole process was more than she cared to tackle with her limited baking skills. So I had a thought: what if I came up with something that combined the same flavors, but was much less complicated to complete? Say, something utilizing that most amazing of baking cheats, the box mix? Challenge accepted!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Betty Crocker Supreme Triple Chunk Brownies
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup veggie oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp minced serrano chile

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray brownie pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Combine mix, cinnamon, milk, oil and eggs in a bowl and mix thoroughly
  3. Mince the serrano and then fold into batter and pour into prepared tin.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
  5. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • Obviously, this isn’t quite the same thing, you know, being brownies instead of a quick bread, but the flavor is there and you still have the dense texture that is dotted with chocolate chunks. Plus, it’s easier to cut and consume.
  • I know a lot of bakers gasp at the idea of using mixes instead of baking from scratch, but let’s be honest – life is busy, and you don’t always have time to make everything from scratch. Besides if most people were given the choice between box mix brownies or no brownies, I’m pretty confident in asserting that they’ll happily take/settle for the box mix bakes. Sometimes it’s just better to work smart instead of hard.

Sweet & Vicious: Kahlo Cookies (Strangely Hot Mexican Chocolate Cookies)

Guys, I am so so very close to finishing off #3 of my 31 before 32 list! Recipe 11 of 12 tried from the wonderful and intimidating Sweet & Vicious. Do I wish I had managed to do it sooner? Yes, but some of these recipes were a little more complex than I anticipated, not to mention that almost every recipe had an ingredient that I had to make a special shopping trip for. I think that’s why being this close to the end make me feel strangely powerful. I won’t go as far as to say I defeated the book, but we fought to a draw and I am good with that.

Notes:

  • For the first time, in a very long time, these did not go to my trusted taste testers. They were good enough that Andy and I decided to keep them for ourselves. Now in all honesty, he is consuming 3 or 4 cookies to every one that I eat, but these are some of the best cookies I’ve had in a while.
  • I think the added heat is what makes these cookies something special. I think you could forgo the extract, but the chipotle pepper is essential. For me, it cuts some of the sweetness -and these are very sweet cookies-, and it forces me to slow down and really enjoy the complexity of what I am tasting.
  • If you guys are interested in the hot pepper extract, it’s fairly easy to make, but it does require two weeks to cure.  Comment below if you’re interested and I’ll post the how-to.