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Tag: chocolate

A Bad Day Making Cupcakes Is Still Better….

A Bad Day Making Cupcakes Is Still Better….

This carrier came in handy to store the cupcakes.
This carrier came in handy to store the cupcakes.

So how can one have a bad day making cupcakes?

Well, let me first say that I don’t bake that often and could use more experience. And so, this is what happened to me on Friday when I made Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes:

  1. If you burn yourself like I did, run the burn under cold water. Do not put ice or butter on the burn. Take an Advil (or other pain reliever).
    If you burn yourself like I did, put the burn under cold water. Do not put ice or butter on the burn. Take an Advil (or other pain reliever).

    I’ve got blisters on my fingers! I used a candy thermometer to determine the exact time to turn the heat off the homemade caramel sauce. I stuck it in the hot sauce on top of the stove, got a low reading and placed it on the stove top. I then picked it up a few minutes later to take another reading and OUCH! — burnt my thumb (see photo.)

  2. I overbeat the butter and cream cheese frosting. Instead of being light and fluffy it was heavy and runny. I was able to save it by adding a little more powdered sugar and then putting it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. That restored the texture enough so that the frosting adhered to the cupcakes.
  3. It took me all day to make. I started in the morning and didn’t finish until late afternoon. Admittedly, I ran one errand during this time and I think it would have went a little faster if I had more baking experience. But seriously, several hours to make 20 cupcakes?? And the recipe was supposed to make 28. I had lots of extra frosting left over too (more than enough for eight more cupcakes, just in case anyone is doing the math).

But the results were great. How could they not be? I made the chocolate cupcakes, caramel sauce and frosting all from scratch! And I’d do it again too. That’s how good they were.

Here are the recipes I used:

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Some pointers:

In hindsight, I don’t think I’d bother using the candy thermometer again. Not just because it burnt me but because it didn’t work at warning me that some of the caramel would turn hard and stick to the pan. At that point, I just dumped the butter in, turned off the heat, and then poured in the heavy cream. The result was still delicious and I had left-over caramel sauce which I can use to make ice cream sundaes.

This recipe didn’t call for it but others I considered did. After the cupcakes cooled I cut out a little section on top with a teaspoon. I then poured in a teaspoon or two of the caramel sauce and then put the cupcake piece back on top. Once you frost the cupcakes no one can see the incision. This gives the cupcakes more of that salted caramel flavor by giving them a tasty filling.

Chocolate Bark Christmas Gift

Chocolate Bark Christmas Gift

Colorful, tasteful, quick and easy chocolate bark.
Colorful, tasteful, quick and easy chocolate bark.

The only thing that would be easier than making this sweet treat would be going out and buying it. And it takes only about a half hour.

I got these recipes from the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine but altered the ingredients somewhat in the dark chocolate version to create my own flavor combination. I also doubled the recipes because they didn’t make much and who wants to waste time doing this in batches.

Put a few pieces in a small gift bag or box and you have an instant gift.

Chocolate Bark With Walnuts and Orange


  • Semi-sweet chocolate (Toll House chocolate chips are fine) (24 ounces)
  • Chopped walnuts (1 1/2 cup)
  • Candied orange peel (4 ounces, chopped)

A combination of flavors and colors for the holidays.
A combination of flavors and colors for the holidays.

What I did:

Lightly toast the walnuts in a hot oven (400 degrees or so for about 5 minutes).

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or waxed paper).

Melt chocolate in a double boiler on top of the stove. Do not let water touch bottom of pan. Stir frequently.

Combine walnuts with candied orange peel. Set aside 1 cup in another bowl.

Stir in the larger bowl of nuts and orange into the chocolate.

Dump chocolate mixture onto the parchment paper and spread to about 3/4 inch thickness.

Sprinkle the remaining nuts and orange mixture evenly over the chocolate and press into the chocolate.

Put cookie sheet into the freezer for about 20 minutes (do not allow to freeze).

Take out of freezer and peel off parchment paper. Break bark into pieces and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Should be good for about 2 weeks.

White Chocolate Bark With Pistachios and Cranberries
  • White chocolate (Toll House morsels are fine to use) (24 ounces)
  • Pistachios (chopped) (1 1/2 cups)
  • Dried cranberries (chopped) (1 1/3 cups)
What I did:
Followed instructions for chocolate bark above, using these ingredients instead of the chocolate bark ingredients.
Find more recipes in the Food section.
I’m Dreaming of a Black Forest Cake

I’m Dreaming of a Black Forest Cake

If you like cherry cordials, you'll love this.
Cherries and chocolate and whipped cream. Oh my!

Here’s the last recipe I’m giving out from our Easter feast. “What no recipe for the ham?” you ask. Sorry, but ham needs no recipe. You simply stick it in the oven.

“Someone defined eternity as a ham and two people.” That’s my favorite quote from the “The Joy of Cooking,” cookbook. And it’s true. We’re still eating ham leftovers.

But the Black Forest cake is long gone: just a distant chocolate, cherry and whipped cream dream.

Here’s how to make your own dreams come true:

Ingredients/Shopping List:

For the Cake:

  • All-purpose flour. (2 cups, plus 2 tbsp.) (I use King Arthur. It’s not bleached, and for me, local. It’s made in Vermont.)
  • Baking powder (1 1/2 tsp.)
  • Baking soda (3/4 tsp.)
  • Salt (3/4 tsp.)
  • Sugar (2 cups)
  • Cocoa (3/4 cup)
  • Eggs (3) (Always use “large” eggs for recipes.)
  • Milk (1 cup)
  • Vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
  • Vanilla (1 tbsp.)

For the Cherry Topping:

  • Tart pitted cherries (2 20 oz. cans, drained. Reserve 1/2 cup of the juice.)
  • Sugar (1 cup)
  • Cornstarch (1/4 cup)
  • Vanilla (1 tsp.)

For the Frosting:

  • Whipping cream (3 cups)
  • Powdered sugar (1/3 cup)

What I did:

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans. Cover bottoms with waxed paper.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Pour evenly into prepared pans. Bake 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.

Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges and remove to racks to cool completely.

While cake is baking prepare cherry topping (see below) and cool.

Split cooled cakes horizontally in half to make 4 layers. Tear 1 layer into crumbs and set aside.

Make frosting (see below) and reserve 1 1/2 cups of it for decorating the cake and set aside.

To assemble, place 1 layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup of frosting. Top with 3/4 cup of cherry topping. Top with second cake layer. Repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer.

Frost sides of cake with remaining frosting. Pat reserved crumbs into frosting on sides of the cake.

Pipe reserved 1 1/2 cups of frosting around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake. Refrigerate.

To make the cherry topping:

Combine the reserved juice, cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla. Cool and set aside.

To make the frosting:

Beat together the whipping cream and powdered sugar in a chilled bowl at high speed with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

(This recipe is from “The Treasury of Creative Cooking,” which features award-winning recipes from around the country, all illustrated with full-page color photos. It was given to me as a gift about 18 years ago.)

Find more recipes from the Easter dinner menu.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

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