Wednesday, October 18, 2017

HOMEMADE HOSTESS CUPCAKES: National Chocolate Cupcake Day!

Today is National Chocolate Cupcake Day, so I thought I'd post a homemade recipe for a nostalgia chocolate cupcake: Hostess CupCakes. FYI: Hostess CupCakes are back on the shelves after a short hiatus, so you can also buy them today. But-- they'll taste so much better if you make your own.   

Hostess CupCakes were produced and distributed by Hostess Brands. The basic Hostess CupCake is a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing and vanilla creme filling (Marshmallow Fluff flavor), with distinctive squiggles across the top. Hostess claims that it was the first commercially produced cupcake. Maybe. I grew up with TastyCake cakes and pies, and the Chocolate Cupcakes were my favorites. TastyCake makes the same claim about first produced.

From Wikipedia:
The Hostess CupCake was first sold on May 11, 1919. According to author Andrew F. Smith, it was the first commercially produced cupcake, originally produced by the Taggart Bakery as the Chocolate Cup Cake. Hostess has also claimed that it was "the first snack cake ever introduced to the market. In 2004, rival Tastykake disputed this claim, claiming that Tastykake introduced the first snack cake.
Originally, two cupcakes were sold for five cents. Until 1950, the Hostess CupCake did not have any filling or the white squiggly line across the top.
 
In 1947, D.R. "Doc" Rice, who started his career at Hostess in 1938 with a job that entailed dumping baked cakes on a table, was given the task of developing the Hostess CupCake further. These developments culminated in an updated cupcake in 1950. A white line consisting of squiggles was added to the top in order to distinguish the Hostess CupCake from other brands. The vanilla creme filling was also added. Rice got the idea for using a creme filling when a new machine for injecting filling into Hostess Twinkies became available. Improvements were also made to the cake mix and the chocolate icing in 1950.

HOME-MADE HOSTESS CUPCAKES

Ingredients

2 sticks salted butter, softened  (8 Tbsp in a stick)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup natural cocoa powder, (Hershey's Baking Cocoa )
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1/3 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar

For Frosting and Decoration 
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp salted butter, softened
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a 6- and 12-muffin tin with paper liners.

Cupcake Batter:
In bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer, cream 2 sticks of butter and granulated sugar together at medium speed, just until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs, one at time, and mix just until combined. In measuring cup, stir 1/2 the cup of hot water and cocoa together until smooth. Add cocoa mixture to butter mixture and mix on low speed for additional 10 seconds.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in batches alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour and beating after each addition until ingredients are just blended.
Fill each prepared muffin cup half full with chocolate batter.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Filling: 
Using clean bowl and stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat marshmallow fluff, 1/3 cup butter, and 1/3 cup powdered sugar together until combined and fluffy, about 1 minute. Using handle of small fork or spoon, make hole in the top center of each cake. Gently rotate the utensil in each hole to create a small cavity at each opening. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe in just enough marshmallow mixture to fill each hole.
Make sure it doesn't explode; once you feel it growing in size, stop infusing. Use wet fingertip or  back of spoon to tamp down marshmallow peaks, ensuring filling is even with top of cupcake.

Frosting:
In small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until bubbles form at edges. Add chocolate and remove pan from heat, stirring until chocolate melts. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and continue to stir until smooth. Let cool for three minutes.
Transfer chocolate to large deep glass bowl. Dip top of each cupcake into chocolate to coat, letting the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
Let the cupcakes rest on a wire rack set over paper until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Frosting decoration:
In small bowl, beat 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar together until smooth, about two minutes. Transfer frosting to piping bag and decorate top of each cupcake with squiggles. Serve immediately. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

CHOCOLATE PASTA RECIPES: NATIONAL PASTA DAY

Today is National Pasta Day, and I hope you're out there having some great pasta dishes at your favorite restaurant or cooking up a storm in the kitchen. I used to make my own pasta a lot, but not so much anymore. There are so many fresh pasta vendors in my neighborhood. However, since it is National Pasta Day, I thought I'd post a few recipes for Chocolate Pasta.
 

Chocolate Pasta

Ingredients
1 3/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Cocoa powder
2 Egg
4 Tbsp Water

Directions
Mix flour and cocoa well. Mound on work surface or in large bowl. Make deep well in center of mound and break the eggs into it. Beat eggs in twith fork, adding about 2 Tbsp water. Using circular motion, draw flour and cocoa into center. Toss in another Tbsp of Water. Stir with fork until all flour is moistened. Add more water as needed. Finish mixing by hand. Pat dough into ball. Clean off work surface, and flour it. Knead dough for about 10 minutes, or until dough becomes silky and elastic. Cover dough and let rest for half hour. Roll out 1/4 of dough at time. A machine makes this easy. Allow pasta to dry a little before cooking. Makes 4 to 5 cups of cooked pasta---plenty for dessert.

You can always buy some great dark chocolate pasta. There are many brands. My market sells fresh chocolate pasta!

Here are two recipes from Pappardelle (they make great Dark Chocolate Pasta)

Dark Chocolate Pasta with Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
1 pound Pappardelle’s Dark Chocolate Pasta
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Cook pasta in pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cool water.
Melt chocolate chips and butter together in small saucepan. Add powdered sugar and milk. Stir constantly and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low simmer. Cook for 8 minutes, continuing to stir constantly. Add vanilla.
In serving dishes, add pasta, top with chocolate sauce. Garnish with favorite topping.

Chocolate Noodle Kugel

Ingredients
1 pound Pappardelle’s Dark Chocolate Noodles (these really are quite good)
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 cup whole milk
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 pound container of sour cream
1 pound container of small curd cottage cheese

Topping:
2 cups cornflakes, coarsely crushed
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish (lasagna style pan).
Meanwhile, cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain, then return to cooking pot and add butter. Toss until noodles are well coated and butter is completely melted.
Whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined, then whisk in sour cream. Stir in cottage cheese and add to noodles. Spoon gently into baking dish.
For topping, stir together cornflakes, sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle over noodles. Dot with butter and bake kugel until edges are golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Let stand before serving.

Have some chocolate pasta recipes? Love to see them.

Monday, October 16, 2017

How to Make Chocolate Liqueur: National Liqueur Day!

Today is National Liqueur Day!

What exactly is liqueur? FYI, it's not liquor. In different places in the U.S. liqueurs may also be called cordials or schnapps. The word liqueur comes from the Latin liquifacere which means to liquefy. A liqueur is an alcoholic beverage made from a distilled spirit flavored with fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers --or in the case of this blog--Chocolate--and bottled with added sugar or other sweeteners. Liqueurs are not aged long and are usually sweet.

For National Liqueur Day, here's a recipe for How to Make Chocolate Liqueur. Chocolate liqueur is simple to make, and you should try it. Of course you can always buy Chocolate Liqueur, and I'll have to admit that Godiva has an awesome dark Chocolate Liqueur. You might also want to try Mozart Black Chocolate.

But if you want to make your own, try one of the following two recipes for Making Chocolate Liqueur.

As always, use the best cacao nibs or cocoa, vodka, and vanilla. You won't have the results to taste today, but it will be worth the wait! Great for holiday presents, too!

How to Make Chocolate Liqueur

1. CHOCOLATE LIQUEUR
The recipe is from Serious Eats, one of my favorite sites.

Ingredients
 2/3 cup cacao nibs
1 1/3 cup vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

Directions
Combine cacao nibs and vodka in sealable glass jar. Shake and let steep for 8 days.
After initial steeping period, bring sugar and water to a boil. Let syrup cool, then add to jar along with vanilla extract. Let steep an additional day.
Strain out nibs through sieve and filter through a coffee filter into bottle or jar. Store in this jar.

II. CHOCOLATE LIQUEUR
This Recipe from Creative Culinary uses Scharffen Berger Cocoa Powder. 

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsweetened good cocoa powder (Scharffen Berger)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup vodka

Directions
In bowl, dissolve cocoa powder in boiling water.
In saucepan, bring sugar and water to simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Add sugar syrup to cocoa syrup.
Strain through fine-mesh sieve into jar with lid.
Add vodka, cover and refrigerate for one week.
To serve, stir well and strain again through fine-mesh sieve.
 
These two recipes should get you started. Want to try some variations? Use less sugar and maybe add almond extract--or use rum instead of vodka. Experiment!

You can drink your Chocolate Liqueur straight, use it to make truffles, or make a martini.

Have a wonderful National Liqueur Day. Make it Chocolate!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

The leaves are starting to turn, and pumpkins are everywhere, so for today's post, here's an easy recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins from allrecipes.com.

I use a natural pumpkin puree that I always have in the pantry for doggie stomach upsets (pumpkin is good for dogs), but use Libby's if that's what you have..or pumpkin puree you make yourself if you've already started carving your pumpkins.

As always, use the best chocolate chips--and make sure your oil is fresh. These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are a great way to start the day on a brisk morning!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water.
In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt.
Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.