Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nutella Cupcakes with Creamy Nutella Frosting & Nutella Ganache

Remember how just the other day I said I really wasn't craving things like cake these days, and that I was totally cool with healthy sweet fixes? Well, it's still true, but I certainly enjoyed these cupcakes after making them on Saturday. Our neighborhood had a crab feast/cookout and everyone in the neighborhood got to sign up to bring a dish. I chose a dessert because I figured if I had a hard time getting out the door that it wouldn't matter if I was a little late, and because I think baking is way more fun then preparing a potato salad. I was having a hard time deciding what to make and when I finally decided on cupcakes, I knew they had to be these Nutella ones. I put Nutella in the cupcake itself, in the frosting, AND in the ganache topping. If you're a Nutella fan, this cupcake is definitely for you! I didnt' get a chance to take a picture before the cookout so I was secretly hoping there wouldn't be any left so I had an excuse to make them again, but Greg came back with two of them in hand. They were a hit in my house and a hit with the neighbors, and I definitely might have to make them again very soon! Enjoy.

Recipe for Nutella Cupcakes with Creamy Nutella Frosting & Nutella Ganache

For the cupcake
2 cups of water
2 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 2/3 cups of flour
4 tsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp. of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (16 Tbsp.), softened at room temperature
2 cups of granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup of Nutella
4 eggs

For the frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter (16 Tbsp.), softened at room temperature
1 cup Nutella
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. of heavy whipping cream

For the ganache topping
7 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (or 5 ounces chocolate chips - I used Ghiradelli)
2 Tbsp. Nutella
1/2 tsp. of coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Bring the water to a boil and then add in the cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat, let rest for a minute, then put in fridge to cool.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the Nutella and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Remove cocoa mixture from fridge and with the mixer running, add it in a steady stream and beat on low. Scoop batter into cupcake liners (I filled them almost to the top of the liner, but you can fill just 3/4 full if you want). Put in oven and bake for about 16 - 19 minutes (I baked mine for 17:30). Remove from oven and then transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, make the frosting. Use an electric hand mixer to beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Then add in the Nutella and mix until well incorporated. Add in 1 cup of the powdered sugar and mix and then add in the other cup and beat until smooth. Pour in the 3 tablespoons of cream and beat until well incorporated. Frost the cupcakes.

Once cupcakes are frosted, make the ganache topping. Put the chocolate or chocolate chips into a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. While the cream is heating, put the Nutella and coconut oil in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Then stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds. Continue as needed until the mixture is thin and pourable. Once the cream comes to a very slight boil and is hot to the touch, pour it over the chocolate or chocolate chips. Stir until smooth and creamy and then add in the Nutella mixture and stir. Use a spoon or fork to put over the frosting in a fun design or just globs, it still will taste the same! Put cupcakes in fridge so the ganache topping can harden before serving.

Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge. They taste amazing the first day they are made and pretty amazing the second day too. Store in fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe makes approximately 22 cupcakes. You should have enough frosting for all the cupcakes - unless you like TONS of frosting - then you might want to double the frosting recipe!

Recipe Adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Healthy Peach Cobbler Bites (made with cashews)!

Hi there! Time really flies. I can't believe I have not posted an entry on here in four weeks. I am really slacking these days. I was all set to post a new zucchini brownie recipe (see the old recipe here) a few weeks ago, but then I never got around to downloading the pictures...and now zucchini isn't really in season. I had made another awesome recipe with zucchini (zucchini, corn, and ricotta fritters) over the summer that I wanted to post, but I never got around to doing that either. But next summer I will post them! The thing is, you just don't really have much time when you have a baby in the house. It's the truth. Wendy is super active and loves to play, and she really doesn't want to nap during the day. She fights it hard. But she has a bit of a cold right now and she is actually napping (very sad for her, but I do enjoy the extra time while she is resting), so I am posting! Another thing besides having no time that changes after having a baby is food preferences. I had heard it before but didn't really believe it but it is definitely true for me. This might shock you, as it even shocks me, but I do not crave sugar much at all these days. I definitely still love dark chocolate, but I can totally pass up cookies, cakes, and other baked goods that used to endlessly taunt me. When I am craving sweet, I turn to things like granola or banana cookies. A new sweet and healthy treat recipe I tried last night are these  peach cobbler bites, that are made with cashews, coconut, dates, and peaches! They seriously taste like little pieces of peach cobbler and I love them. Greg is a huge fan too. I got the idea when I came across this recipe on Pinterest (follow me if you'd like at beffy78). At first I wasn't sure because cashews are super pricey, but they have them on sale at The Fresh Market in Annapolis on Saturdays so I bought a bunch. Then I looked for freeze dried strawberries but couldn't find them, and the alternative of using dried strawberries is ridiculously expensive (16.99 for 6 ounces - I don't think so)! So I tried them with dried peaches, and they are amazing. I think you will enjoy them too. They are great for a quick snack on the run. You can also choose not to roll them into balls and use the mixture to sprinkle onto yogurt or add to smoothies. Yum!

Oh, by the way, these are vegan, no-bake AND gluten-free. Score!

Recipe for Healthy Peach Cobbler Bites
1 cup of raw cashews
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
8 - 10 (or about 6 ounces when weighed with pit) Medjool dates, pitted and cut in half
1/2 tsp. of coconut oil
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
A pinch of coarse sea salt
A couple pinches of ground cinnamon (optional)
7 ounces of dried peach rings

Put the cashews and coconut into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times until finely chopped (about 10 - 12 seconds). Add in the dates and pulse until the mixture becomes a bit sticky (about 8 seconds). Add the coconut oil, vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse briefly (1 - 2 seconds). Add in the dried peaches and run the food processor for about 10 seconds or until the peaches are well incorporated. Put the mixture into a bowl, put on an airtight lid, and put into the fridge for a couple hours. Then use a cookie dough scoop to scoop and use your hands to shape into desired sized balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Recipe makes approximately 30 bites

Recipe Adapted from: Better with Cake 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bacon and Tomato Sandwiches with a Garlic Balsamic Mayo

Bacon and tomato sandwiches are pretty much the best thing ever. Seriously. There is nothing better than a big juicy tomato with crispy bacon and mayo in between two pieces of toasty white bread. Trust me. I have come across people in my life who had never had a bacon and tomato sandwich or even heard of one, so that is why I am doing this post today. It is for all of you out there who have never had the experience of the bacon and tomato sandwich, because I believe that everyone needs to have it.

Our tomatoes came very late this season. That means Greg and I were both craving these sandwiches for quite a long time. But now they are here and this is definitely our meal of choice! Serve the sandwich with a side of sauteed squash or your favorite chips. If you are not down with the balsamic mayo, just slather regular mayo on there instead. Enjoy!

Recipe for Bacon and Tomato Sandwiches with a Garlic Balsamic Mayo 

White bread
Large tomatoes, such as Beefeaters
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves
Garlic balsamic mayo

Cook the bacon according to package directions. Remove from oven and allow it to cool. While bacon is cooling, make the balsamic mayo (recipe below). Then very lightly toast the bread. While bread is toasting, cut the tomatoes into thick slices and sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the tomato slices. Assemble the sandwiches. My recommendation is to slather on about a half tablespoon of the mayonnaise onto two slices of bread, top one of the slices with 2 pieces of bacon, put one very large or two large tomato slices on top of the bacon, add on the basil leaves, and sandwich it up with the other piece of bread. You can use as much mayonnaise, bacon, tomatoes, and basil as you like per sandwich though!

Garlic Balsamic Mayonnaise (enough for 4 sandwiches)
In a smallish bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, several grinds of freshly ground black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Taste and then adjust to your liking.

Well there you have it! Now go make yourself one of these sandwiches. Yum!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Honey and Hemp Milk Chocolate Truffles

I have found a new addiction. I'm addicted to hemp seeds. I saw a post about them on a blog recently and then just a few days later I saw them in an aisle at The Fresh Market in Annapolis. So I bought a bag. I first tried them straight and loved them. Then I put them on cereal for breakfast, yogurt for lunch, and inside chocolate for dessert. These honey and hemp truffles are pretty awesome. I fell in love with them from the start. When I told my friends and family what was in them they scoffed but once they had one they kept coming back for more. You know what's great about these truffles? Not only do they taste delicious, they are also super healthy. Hemp hearts are full of Omega 3s, amino acids, and other great stuff that is totally good for your mind and body. You can make these truffles vegan by using vegan chocolate or skipping the freezing part and rolling them in cocoa powder or flaked coconut. The texture of the truffle filling is so smooth and creamy and the honey and chocolate compliment each other oh so well. Enjoy!

Recipe for Honey and Hemp Milk Chocolate Truffles

4 Tbsp. of hemp hearts
2 Tbsp. of coconut oil
2 Tbsp. of wildflower honey
2 - 3 ounces milk chocolate baking chocolate for coating
Extra hemp hearts for topping (optional)

Put the hemp seeds, coconut oil, and honey into a small bowl and use a spoon to mix well. Cover the bowl and put into the fridge for at least 2 hours. Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop up and use your hands to shape into about 1/2 to 3/4-inch balls and place in a parchment lined container. Cover the container and put into the freezer for at least 2 hours.

Break up the chocolate into small chunks and place into a small saucepan. Set the heat on medium-low and stir constantly until melted. Then drop a honey and hemp ball into the chocolate, use a spoon to coat, and place on a foil lined tray or plate. Sprinkle some hemp seeds on top of the chocolate if desired. Continue until all the honey and hemp balls are coated. Put in fridge to set and then store in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve chilled.

Recipe makes about one dozen truffles. 

*Original recipe