Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes

(and a gender reveal–NO, not mine)

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 13

I first made these chocolate butterfly cupcakes for my sweet Little J’s 6th birthday. I was feeling very nostalgic about having my last baby in kindergarten and we had a super fun cooking party with a few of her friends. It is (by far) my favorite kids’ birthday party that I’ve hosted. I still get a little bit weepy just thinking about it. If you like a good sentimental cry, you can read about it HERE.

Then last month, a friend asked if I could make some gender reveal cupcakes to announce the sex of their upcoming new baby to their other four children. While I am perfectly content with the 5 children I already have and have no desire to start again with another one (5 years and counting until we are empty nesters!), celebrating with other new moms always makes me reflect on my own babies that are not babies any more.

So I happily agreed, and immediately knew that I wanted to make these butterflies again, for my friend and her family who are welcoming a new life into their family, and for me to reminisce about my own little ones and the joy it has been parenting them. And having my Little J (who isn’t so little anymore) help me make the butterflies and cupcakes was a really great experience.

And because writing this is making me feel nostalgic all over again (and this is my blog so I get to indulge my wistful feelings as much as I want), here is my Little J, then and now:

Little J 2010 2017-09-13 15.54.09

Enough about me and my maudlin ramblings; you really just want to hear about the cupcakes. For my friend, I made my favorite dark chocolate cupcakes. They are tender and moist and absolutely delicious. It also doesn’t hurt that they are easy to make. They start with a cake mix, but the addition of pudding and sour cream takes them well beyond your average chocolate cupcake.

For the “gender reveal”, I cut out a section of the top of each cupcake and filled it with a blue filling (It’s a Boy!!). For the filling, I mixed the white frosting with some of the leftover blue candy melts from the butterflies and piped it into the cut-out centers.

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The frosting I used is a cooked vanilla frosting. It is not as sweet as a traditional buttercream, but is light and fluffy and delicious. I tinted the frosting with pink and blue food coloring to make a striped frosting.

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 10

To create the two-toned look, use a paintbrush and food coloring to paint stripes onto the inside of a pastry bag. (Credit to my hand model Little J!) Carefully spoon white frosting into the bag. Before frosting the cupcakes, squeeze out a small amount of frosting until the color begins to show in the frosting. I used a 1M tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 11

Now on to the butterflies. Full disclosure: these are time consuming. But they are not particularly difficult. Just be prepared to spend several hours making them if you plan to make a lot.

Items needed:
chocolate and colored candy melts, stencil printed on paper, waxed paper, toothpicks, foil, pastry bags (one for each color), one writing piping tip, small round sprinkles. Optional: heating pad

Draw your desired butterfly wing shape onto a sheet of white paper using a permanent marker. Cut pieces of waxed paper (one for each set of wings you are making) large enough to cover the stencil. You can also draw a set of antennae if desired (see example HERE).

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 1

Place a small amount of colored and chocolate melting disks into separate pastry bags or Ziploc bags. Melt in microwave—Start with 30 seconds, squish bags, then add an additional 10 seconds if not completely melted.

To keep the chocolate melted while making dozens of wings, I placed a piece of plastic wrap over a heating pad and set the bags on the heating pad while they weren’t being used.

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 4

I used a writing tip to pipe the chocolate, but I just cut off a small end of the bag to squeeze out the melted colored candy.

Place a small square of waxed paper over your stencil paper. Use the melted chocolate to trace around the edge of one wing at a time.

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 2

While the chocolate outline is still wet, squeeze a small amount of colored chocolate into the center of each wing section. I used pink in the top section and blue in the bottom section. Use a toothpick to spread colored chocolate to fill the wing. Use a toothpick to gently swirl chocolate edges and colored chocolate. Sprinkle edges of wings with round sprinkles, if desired.

Work with just one wing at a time. The chocolate hardens quickly!

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Let the wings harden completely before assembling butterflies.

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To make the body and assemble the butterflies, fold a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil in half and then into a v-shape with a flat bottom (about 1/2” wide).

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Using the melted chocolate (remove the writing tip), pipe a body onto a separate piece of waxed paper (or directly onto the bottom section of the folded foil). Make little dollops of chocolate, being sure that they touch.

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 15

Place segmented body (before it hardens) into the folded foil and place the wings at an angle into the still soft chocolate body. Prop them up underneath if the foil doesn’t hold them. (Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of this step)

Don’t use your fingers to support the wings while the body dries: the chocolate will melt in your fingers and ruin the wings.

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Gently press a butterfly onto the top of each frosted cupcake.

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Did you know that a group of butterflies is called a “Kaleidoscope.” What a perfect description of these butterflies! Whatever they are officially called, your family will call them beautiful and delicious!

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RECIPES:

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 11  Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 12

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

1 box dark chocolate fudge cake mix
1 small box (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
½ cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350°F . Place cupcake liners in muffin tins.

In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and beat with a mixer for 2 minutes.

Fill cupcake liners just over halfway. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 30-36 cupcakes.

 

Cooked Vanilla Frosting

2 cups whole milk
10 Tbs flour
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups butter
2 cups granulated sugar (do not use powdered sugar)
Optional: gel food coloring

In a small saucepan, mix the flour and milk until no lumps remain. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until mixture thickens (and is just about to boil). Remove from heat and let it cool completely to room temperature.  Stir in vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl (a stand mixer works best for this) cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled milk mixture and beat for 5-7 minutes, until frosting is light, fluffy and completely uniform throughout. Beat in food coloring, if desired.

This frosting looks best when piped with a large decorating tip, but can also be spread with a spatula.

Yield: frosting for 24-36 cupcakes

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Cookies by Julias: Valentine Shortbread Cookies

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2 Julias + 1 day off of  school = Tons of cookie fun

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These 2 cute girls wanted to bake cookies on their day off of school, and since one of them is allergic to eggs, they decided to make shortbread cookies. But traditional rectangles were way too boring, so they went with hearts. And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

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And once the chocolate melting and dipping started, their creative juices really got flowing!

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If you are looking for more traditional shortbread cookies, you can always go with plain-old-boring-rectangles:

shortbread-1

 

RECIPE:

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Valentine Shortbread Cookies

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
4 ½ cups flour
Dark chocolate and/or colored candy melts

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Make sure that butter is very soft, but not melted. Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer for 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Gradually add flour, mixing well.

Lightly sprinkle flour on a pastry board or mat. Gently press or roll dough until dough is about 1/3” thick (dough will be softer than a normal cut-out cookie dough). Use a heart cookie cutter to cut out shapes and use a thin metal spatula to transfer hearts to ungreased cookie sheets, leaving a small space between cookies.

Bake at 325°F for  about 20 minutes. Do not brown. Cool on a wire rack.

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt about 1 cup chopped chocolate in microwave by cooking in 30 second increments, stirring after each heating, until completely melted. Dip cookies as desired. To drizzle chocolate, place chocolate or candy melts in a Ziploc bag and cook for 30 seconds in microwave. Squish bag and repeat as needed until melted. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke a small hole in one corner of the bag and drizzle melted chocolate over cookies.

Place cookies on parchment paper or wax paper to harden. You can chill them in the refrigerator, if desired, to speed up the setting of the chocolate. Higher quality dark chocolate will take longer to harden than the candy melts.

Makes 2 ½ – 3  dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (and Treats): Easy Chocolate Nutella Fudge

Nutella Fudge

DAY 7: Chocolate Nutella Fudge

Can you ever go wrong adding Nutella to a dessert?

Here is a perfect example: a rich, creamy fudge made even more delicious by adding Nutella. Plus lots of toasted nuts. And nuts are protein, so that makes this healthy, right?

You can also make this completely smooth and creamy, but I love the addition of chopped toasted nuts. I like lots of nuts per bite, so I use 2 full cups of chopped nuts, but if you just want the nuts sprinkled here and there, use less. My ideal fudge would be a pile of nuts with just enough chocolate to hold the nuts together in one piece!

I used a small cookie scoop to scoop the warm fudge into miniature foil cups. You can also spread it into an 8” square pan and cut it into squares.

Nutella tip: to easily measure Nutella, warm the jar of Nutella in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (be sure that all of the foil seal is removed first!). Spray a measuring cup with oil or cooking spray, then pour warm Nutella into the measuring cup.

RECIPE:

Nutella Fudge

Chocolate Nutella Fudge

1 cup Nutella
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (about 1 heaping cup bittersweet chips)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3 Tbs salted butter
1/8 tsp salt (omit salt if using salted nuts)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups chopped toasted nuts, optional **

If you are making fudge in a pan, lightly grease an 8” square pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper, letting it hang over the edge on 2 sides. If you are making individual fudge cups, lay 48-64 miniature foil baking cups on a rimmed baking sheet or tray.

Place Nutella, chopped bittersweet chocolate, sweet milk and butter in the top of a double boiler. Heat water in the bottom of the double boiler to a simmer, reduce heat to low and place the top of the double boiler with the chocolate mixture over the water. Stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Stir in salt, vanilla and chopped toasted nuts.

Spread warm fudge into the prepared pan OR use a small cookie scoop (or spoon) to drop about 1 tablespoon of warm fudge into each foil cup. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until fudge is firm.

If fudge was prepared in a pan: For easier cutting, run the knife under hot water, then pat dry before using to cut the fudge. Run the knife along the edges of the pan and use the parchment paper to lift out the block of fudge. Rinse knife in hot water again, dry. and cut the fudge into 1” squares (cut larger squares, if desired). Rinse and dry knife before each new cut.

Makes 48-64 servings

**To toast nuts: Coarsely chop nuts and spread into an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at350°F for 5-10 minutes.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Fudge Toffee Cookies

Chocolate Toffee Cookies

DAY 2: Chocolate Fudge Toffee Cookies

An easy to make rich dark chocolate drop cookie made with toffee chips and nuts. Slightly crispy outside, and soft gooey middles. A great cookie for chocoholics!

Just be sure to use silicone mats or parchment paper on your baking sheets, or the toffee pieces will stick to your pans.

RECIPE:

Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Chocolate Fudge Toffee Cookies

16 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 2 ½ cups bittersweet chips)
½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts or toasted almonds
1 ½ cups (8 oz bag) toffee chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

Place chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat (or a double boiler) until melted and smooth, stirring often. Cool completely to room temperature.

Combine sugars, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the cooled chocolate.

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a small bowl. Add to mixing bowl and beat until just combined. Mix in nuts and toffee chips. Let dough sit, at room temperature, for 15 minutes before scooping and baking.

Drop  tablespoon-sized scoops of batter onto the lined baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes; do not overbake. Leave cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes, and then use a thin metal spatula to remove them to a cooling rack.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

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Chocolate Halloween Pretzels

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An alternate heading and photo I probably should have led with:

What Not To Do When You Move

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In the spirit of putting away some extra food for a rainy day, I have a 5-gallon bucket full of chocolate chips (of various varieties). Shown above: what used to be a bag of Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chips, Costco-sized bag. My favorite.

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Don’t judge my food storage choices. When the zombie apocalypse hits, what do you really want to eat: cracked wheat porridge or chocolate?

Before moving last year, I did not think about the effects that a month of sitting in the back of a moving truck in June/July, would have on my precious bucket of chocolate chips. So instead of a bucket full of chocolate chips, I had a bucket full of chocolate bricks. I have finally made it through the last bag!

The struggle is real.

This is certainly a lemonade from lemons kind of first-world dilemma. We ended up with some fun chocolate dipped pretzels to share at a recent Fall Fest.

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Don’t want to bother remelting the chocolate block? It also makes a good paperweight.

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A Birthday Experiment

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

Just wanted to give a little teaser of a recipe in progress. Next month I am making a couple of cakes for a church young women event. I wanted to try out a new recipe I hope to bring that night, and since Monday was my birthday, I figured that was as good of an excuse as any to try it out. Monday was also a holiday from school, so I enlisted Little J to help me. She was thrilled to help; she had been worried that with her two older sisters now gone at college, she would be on her own to come up with a birthday dessert for me.

This is not a traditional cake –in fact,  there is  no actual cake in it at all. It has a brownie base that is topped by chocolate, raspberry and vanilla mousses. It is not an especially hard cake to make, but is extremely time consuming, as there are long waiting periods throughout the assembly process.

We were pretty pleased with the result, although there are some additional changes I want to make to the recipe before I post it here. So you will have to wait until next month for the full revised recipe.

For anyone who lives close who would like to test it out for me, come on by! Since Little A won’t touch chocolate, there are only three of us left here to eat this enormous cake! (Don’t feel too sorry for him though- I am a sucker-mom and made him his own parfait out of the raspberry and vanilla mousses.)

It has been 4 days now, and we still haven’t made it halfway through. Help!!

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies:Buckeye Brownie Cookies

Buckeye Brownie Cookies

DAY 9: Buckeye Brownie Cookies

These cookies start with a simple cookie made from a brownie mix (and cream cheese to make them soft and gooey). Then they are topped with a mound of peanut butter fluffiness and drenched in dark chocolate.The topping is similar to the traditional Buckeye Candy, but not quite as sweet and dense (again, thanks to the addition of cream cheese). I think cream cheese is probably the most versatile of ingredients. It is perfectly at home in just about any recipe!

RECIPE:

Buckeye Brownie Cookies

Buckeye Brownie Cookies
———
(adapted from Inspired by Charm)

Cookies:
2 boxes brownie mix
½ cup butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 eggs

Topping:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz dark/bittersweet chocolate (about 1 ½ cups chips)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Topping (Prepare topping before baking cookies):
In a mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, 8 oz cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.

Cookies:
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the brownie mixes, melted butter, 8 oz cream cheese and eggs.

Use a medium cookie scoop, or tablespoon, to drop batter onto baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Use a small cookie scoop, or teaspoon, to spoon a ball of peanut butter topping onto each HOT cookie. Flatten topping just slightly with the palm of your hand. Allow cookies to cool for 5-7 minutes on the baking pan. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (in 30 second increments). Spoon melted chocolate over the top of each cookie. Allow chocolate to set before serving or storing.

If cookies are not going to be eaten the same day, store them in the refrigerator.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Texas Sheet Cake Cookies

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies 2

DAY 6: Texas Sheet Cake Cookies

A cookie for fans of the crowd-feeding chocolate cake with pour-on frosting known as Texas Sheet Cake. Now you don’t need a crowd to feed to have an excuse to indulge in a rich, chocolaty, nutty treat.

Also available without nuts. In fact, a great alternative is to make the icing without nuts, and stir in ¼ tsp peppermint extract for a fudgy, mint brownie-like cookie.

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies 1

These cookies are super rich and fudgy: serve with a tall glass of ice-cold MILK!

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies 3

RECIPE:

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies 2

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies
————
(adapted from Cookies & Cups)

Cookies:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Icing:
½ cup butter
2 Tbs cocoa powder
3 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup finely chopped pecans

Cookies:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or use silicone mats.

Combine butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt.

In a microwave safe bowl heat chocolate chips on high for 30 seconds. Stir. If chunks still remain, add another 20 seconds and stir again. Mix warm melted chocolate into cookie dough until evenly mixed.

Use a medium cookie scoop (or Tablespoon sized measure) to drop dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes until cookies just appear set. Do not overbake. Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Icing:

**DO NOT MAKE ICING UNTIL COOKIES ARE COOL AND READY TO ICE

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in cocoa powder and cook for 30 seconds, stirring with a whisk. Stir milk and vanilla into pan. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar. Stir in pecans.

Spoon 1-2 tsp of frosting over each cooled cookie. Stir icing if it begins to harden on top. If icing becomes too hard to easily spoon, place pan over low heat and stir until smooth.

Allow icing to set on cookies completely before serving or storing.

 

Makes about 4 dozen

 

**NOTE: These can also be made without nuts. For a mint chocolate icing, stir ¼ tsp peppermint extract into icing with the vanilla (do not use nuts).

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Easy One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars 2

DAY 4: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These should be called “Super-Easy-One-Bowl-No-Mixer-I-Forgot-To-Make-Cookies-For-The-Bake-Sale-Tomorrow-Don’t-Even-Have-To-Soften-The-Butter-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-Bars”

They are that easy.

These cookies will stay nice and chewy (without burnt edges and soggy middle) if you bake them in two 8×8” pans instead of one 9×13” pan.

Since we have one non-chocolate eater, I usually prepare the batter without the chocolate chips, put half of the batter in one pan and sprinkle the top with cinnamon/sugar. Then stir some chocolate chips into the remaining batter and put the chocolate chip version in the other pan.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars 1

RECIPE:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars 2

Easy One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

1 cup butter
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8” square baking pans (or spray with Baking Pam).

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave. Stir sugar and brown sugar into melted butter until incorporated. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the  flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pans.

Bake at 350°F for 28-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and then cut into squares.

Makes 32 bars

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Homemade Thin Mint Cookies

Thin Mints 2

DAY 3: Homemade Thin Mint Cookies

Sometimes you just can’t wait a whole year for those cute little Girl Scouts to knock on your door selling contentment in a box. If you absolutely must have Thin Mints before cookie selling season comes around again, this recipe is for you.

You could also dress them up for Christmas by adding some crushed candy canes.

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RECIPE:

Thin Mints 2
Homemade Thin Mint Cookies

2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
10 Tbs butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract
about 2 pounds dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add eggs and peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated.

Divide dough in half and place on two large pieces of plastic wrap. Using plastic wrap, shape dough into 2 logs about 2″ in diameter. Wrap logs securely in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1-2 hours, or several days.

When ready to bake, unroll plastic wrap from dough logs. Use a sharp knife to cut dough into 1/4” disks. Gently reshape edges into circles, if necessary. Place cookies on lined baking sheet, keeping unused dough in the refrigerator until ready to slice. Bake cookies for 10 minutes, or until dry to the touch. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool.

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave or in a double boiler (melt chocolate slowly). Dunk cookies into melted chocolate. Use a fork to turn the cookie over in the chocolate. Pick up the cookie with the fork, let excess chocolate drip off, and gently scrape bottom against edge of bowl. Place on parchment (or waxed paper)-lined baking sheets. Let chocolate harden before storing.

TIME SAVING NOTE: You can also just use your fingers to hold the cookie and only dunk the top and sides of the cookie, gently scraping the excess chocolate off of the top of the cookie before placing it on the parchment paper

Makes 4-6 dozen, depending on the size of your cookies

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