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What do you do when your favorite west coast chica decides to make an appearance a mere 4 hour drive from you? You make her cupcakes and meet her in Orlando, of course! Since I never get to bake for said friend, I knew I wanted to make something special, but what? So many recipes, and so little time! Then it hit me, there was only one recipe that would work for the woman who introduced me to my favorite indulgent cool weather beverage, the chocolate chia latte. I had to make Chocolate Chai Cupcakes!
- Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tbsp instant coffee
- 1/3 veggie oil
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamon
- 1/8 tsp ground clove
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 4-6 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 4-6 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350F and line your cupcake pan.
- Combine all cake ingredients and mix on medium until thoroughly combined.
- Divide the batter between the 12 liners and bake for 16-18 minutes (may take more depending on oven).
- Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Beat room temperature butter until smooth, then incorporate cinnamon and cocoa powder.
- Beat in powdered sugar a cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
- If frosting becomes too stiff, beat in heavy whipping cream a tbsp at a time until it loosens.
- Add vanilla and beat on high for one minute.
- Frost cooled cupcakes.
- While cake is baking, combine heavy whipping cream and semi sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.
- Heat for 30 second intervals, stirring vigorously after each, until the ganache is completely smooth.
- Set aside to cool. Hot ganache will melt the frosting.
- Dip cooled cupcake into ganache and let set for about 15 minutes.
- Frost cupcakes with chocolate cinnamon frosting and then drizzle with remaining ganache. Top with a chocolate truffle and enjoy!
You may have noticed that I’ve been using pre-packaged mixes for my cake bases as of late. I have two reasons for that. The first, a lot of the things I bake go to work with Andy, and they have to last a couple of days. Scratch baking, while delicious, doesn’t have the longest shelf life; box mixes have a bit more longevity (a tip I picked up watching archived episodes of Good Eats). Also, I have been baking a lot more so I can practice piping and cake stacking. Using a mix as the base and then adding in my extras saves me a bit of time and allows me a little more energy for getting creative with frosting, fillings, and garnishes. Baking is a lot of fun, but don’t take the fun out of it by trying to do everything from scratch and all at once. It’ll help keep things fun 😉
With three kick-ass recipes under my belt, I am finding myself more and more adventurous when it come to the recipes in Sweet & Vicious. In the interest of dipping my toe a teeny bit further into the pool, I decided to try my hand at Maniac Fire Bread, which, with its combination of rich chocolate and spicy serrano chile, sounded like it would be awful or amazing. Oh, and of course, you can’t forget the accompanying Raspberry Smoked Sea Salt Butter.
- This recipe is surprisingly easy; the only difficulty I had was the handling of the chile. You see, something about the oils in any chile pepper irritates my hands and causes them to swell. Unusual, but something to take in to consideration every time a recipe requires that particular addition. Fortunately, Andy was gallant enough to taking on the task of mincing so my temperamental skin was spared.
- Flavor-wise, I was worried that the chile would be too much for what is a fairly simple bread, but it wasn’t an issue. The richness and the sweetness of all that chocolate and cocoa powder kept the spice from being anything more than the occasional sensation of heat on the back of your pallet. That was a pleasant departure from the cloying sweetness of some of the classic quick bread recipes.
- I’ve already had two people ask me for a copy of this recipe. I find that truly impressive. Not only did they like it, they liked enough to want to make it for themselves even before knowing whether the recipe is complex or not. High praise indeed.
This recipe came to me courtesy of one of my west coast friends Verhanika. She is entrepreneur, mother, blogger (Issues & Tissues), and all around bad-ass boss bitch. We met freshman year of college and have been friends ever since. In some of our recent phone conversations, she’d mentioned making herself a Chocolate Chai to enjoy while were on the phone or to wind down in the evenings. Finally I broke down and asked for the recipe because it sounded amazing, and it was.
- 1/3 cup of chocolate chips
- 1-1/2 cup of milk
- Heaping tbsp of David Rio Tiger Spice Chai
1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat combine chips and cover with milk. 2. As the chips start melting add your chai mix. 3. Whisk ingredients together until chocolate is fully melted and integrated into the liquid. 4. Carefully, pour into a tall mug, or two smaller mugs, and enjoy!
- The ambiguity on the milk measurement is to allow for people who’d prefer a smaller quantity of beverage or for a more concentrated flavor. Personally, I go for the 1 1/2 cup 😉
- If you can’t get your hands on the chai mix, you can steep 2 chai tea bags in the hot milk and then finish with a tbsp or two of sugar to add additional sweetness.
- This beverage is already pretty amazing on its own, but if you want to take completely over the top, you can garnish the final product with a dollop of whipped cream and dusting of cinnamon.
After a very intense week, I was looking forward to this past weekend quite a bit. I was ready to disconnect for a bit and indulge in something creative. I decided to work on an idea I had a while back, which is coming up with interesting ways to spruce up gluten free cake mixes (there are some really good ones out there these days), sort of like the Cake Mix Doctor recipes, but a bit more pretentious sounding. I also wanted to include fresh rosemary because I’ve tried in a few sweet applications, and I think it brings something unexpected to the flavor party.
Just for funsies, I came up with two variations: a Rosemary Olive Oil Cupcake with Blackberry Frosting and a Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cupcake with Whipped Ganache Frosting. I used the King Arthurs Yellow and Chocolate Cake Mixes as my bases, respectively. The Results:
Rosemary Olive Oil Cupcake with Blackberry Frosting – Pretty good. I was a little worried when I tried the cake without the frosting that it was going to be to herbaceous, but the sweet and fruity from the blackberry frosting went a long way to even things out. I think it needed a tart element to really give things some depth. I’d made a blackberry filling for these, but I forgot to fill the cupcakes before I frosted them (Oops). I think it would have done the trick, though.
Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cupcake with Whipped Ganache Frosting – A bit disappointing. The cake alone was almost perfect, but when paired with the whipped ganache, the subtle flavors of orange and rosemary were very much overshadowed by CHOCOLATE. I am still rolling this one around in my head; keep the cake and change the frosting? Or Keep the frosting and change up the cake? The frosting was a new 2 ingredient recipe I found online: equal parts chocolate and butter, melt together, allow to set up in the fridge and whip until light and airy. Rich, light and a little prone to melting, but as long as the weather is cool, I will be using it again.
Progress made, but no finished recipes quite yet. I’ll have to get back into the kitchen and give things another go. Although, considering how long it took to clean up the kitchen when I was done, it might be later rather than sooner 🙂
On our recent trip to Savannah, Andy and I discovered Chocolat by Adam Turoni. According to the company website, they boast two locations in the Historic District: one referred to as The Library and the other The Dining Room. We wound up at the flagship shop, The Dining Room, although after contemplating the map, we must have walked right by The Library location at least once, if not twice during the weekend.
After a quick look around to get the lay of the land, we quickly decided that we would absolutely have to try some of the truffles from the huge glass front cabinets against the wall, and I will admit when they handed me the silver tray to place my selected pieces on I felt pretty fancy. Well, as fancy as one can in yoga pants and a tank top, but you get the idea. As if the truffles weren’t enough, they had cleverly placed bell jars all over the shop offering specialty goods and services. And then there was the dining room table. Piled high with books, more bell jars, and delightful stacks and trays of all manner of cocoa infused treats. I forgot to take a picture of it, but I also purchased the most beautiful molded chocolate piece that looked like an ornate key hole. It was dusted with edible gold powder and very Alice in Wonderland-y. As I am sure you have guessed by now, Andy and I now have another “must-see” place to hit on our future Savannah trips. Next time I fully intend to find and visit the second location, you know, just for the sake of finding the absolute best spot of get our candy from.