Tag Archives: baking

If You Give a Toddler a Cookie…

14 Nov

My toddler is on a vegetable strike. At one time she would gladly gnaw on roasted Brussels sprouts, sauteed spinach, baked sweet potato fries, and other veggies of every shape and size. Don’t mistake me, she’s been on this strike for quite a while, but I keep reminding her that she loved broccoli when she was little. She says she used to eat it when she was very little, but now she eats pizza.

At least she’s got good taste.

Anyway, I try to add vegetables in whenever I can to foods she WILL eat. She actually cooks with me a lot, so I am not hiding them. But somehow zucchini pancakes (we like the Smitten Kitchen version) are a million times easier for her to consider eating than even carmelized carrots. She knows there are veggies in there, but she doesn’t care.

I also try to cut the sugar in most recipes (although the pancakes above don’t need any adjustment) because we cooked with very little sugar and salt for her first year or so of eating. After that, most regular recipes are kind of overwhelmingly sweet or salty, so we are super careful. Trust me, she got candy at Halloween and has carefully picked a piece every day since, so I am not denying her. 😉

Anyway, when your toddler refuses dinner and asks for a cookie instead, you start thinking creatively. I actually made a version of these a few months ago when we were watching my best friends’ daughter, but today’s batch was even better. I am the type of cook who tosses in a little of this and a little of that, so the amounts aren’t an exact science, but the results should still be delicious.

I asked her if she wanted banana cookies, and she was excited. Then I asked if she wanted banana or “green banana” cookies, and she went running through the house squealing about green cookies. What can I say? Colored food is a hit!

What is fun about these is that they are really green. The photos don’t do them justice. They would be right at home at an Oscar the Grouch birthday party or on a Saint Patrick’s Day buffet. But despite all the spinach in them, they really taste like a light banana oatmeal cookie! I tried to pack as much flavor and nutrition into these as possible, but don’t stress. If you don’t have the seeds I list, just add a little more oatmeal.

Elisa’s Banana Oatmeal Green Cookies

  • 2 very ripe bananas (ok if frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach (if using fresh, use approx. 2 cups)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tbsp brown sugar (I used 2)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 melted butter or oil
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts (seeds)
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you could use stone ground whole wheat flour but I would probably use some white flour in place of some whole wheat)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Totally yummy and totally green!

Totally yummy and totally green!

In a blender or food processor, blend spinach, banana, yogurt, and milk until a thick smoothie consistency is formed. Add to a large bowl and whisk in eggs, vanilla, butter, and sugar. Add oatmeal and seeds and blend well with a spoon. Add salt, baking powder and soda, and flour. Mix well. Should be about the same thickness as pancake batter.

Spoon onto a baking sheet (we use a medium scoop and parchment paper, but a teaspoon and clean baking sheet will be just fine) and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

These cookies are soft and chewy, with lovely body because of the seeds. My daughter had FOUR, dunked in milk, four dinner. I wasn’t complaining. 🙂

Happy Toddler and Happy Mommy!

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Kale Carrot Applesauce Spice Muffins

6 Apr

My daughter turned a year old yesterday.

I’m not really sure how it happened.

She had my Lemon, Brown Sugar, and Olive Oil Cupcakes frosted with whipped cream for her birthday cake, with fresh berries.  And oh my did she love it!

But after yesterday’s indulgences (way too much pizza – thanks Grandpa! – and cake), I thought it would be good to have something quite healthy for breakfast.  Well, sort of healthy.  Healthy-ish?

You see, she’s been on a bread kick.  She loves anything baked.  Takes after me, I suppose. She used to be the kid who would sit down and plow through a plate of sauteed spinach or kale, no problem.  But lately…  She’s getting into the toddler years (she started walking in earnest 5 weeks ago) and starting some toddler pickiness.

So this morning I made eggs.  And served them with avocado.  And berries (which she scarfed; kiddo loves her fruit too!).  And these.

Oh my.  These.

They are nothing short of delicious.  You must know I like “healthy” (and don’t need things to be quite sweet).  But even if you are a little less ready to try “healthy” food, do give these muffins a try.  They really are extremely tasty, and have a lot of great nutrients inside!

Image

Kale Carrot Applesauce Spice Muffins

Adapted heavily from 365 Days of Kale

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raw kale
  • 1 large carrot (you could really even use two)
  • 1/2 cup plain (full-fat) European-style or Greek yogurt (more protein this way!)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar or honey
  • 2 tbsp good oil (I used olive)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (honestly you could probably use all whole wheat but I didn’t want them heavy)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp clove
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In the food processor, finely chop kale and carrot.  I added the yogurt and applesauce and just blended the whole thing up together until it was all the texture of applesauce.

Put Kale mixture in a large bowl and add the rest of the wet ingredients (egg, sugar/honey, oil, and extracts).  Mix well.

In a small bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flours, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices).

Carefully mix the dry and wet ingredients until just combined. Scoop into lined muffin cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a light touch on the top of the muffin meets resistance.  Makes about 16 regular-sized muffins.

These don’t have a lot of fat in them, so they WILL stick to the liners.  It’s ok – they’re still delicious. 😉

 

Oh yes, and the obligatory birthday cake shot. <3!Image

Carrot Zucchini Breakfast Bread

4 Dec

For the last couple of days I’ve really wanted carrot zucchini bread.  Not just one or the other.  Both.  Zucchini are out of season, of course, so I thought I was out of luck.  Until I went to the Farmer’s Market today and saw some lovely zucchini just sitting there, three for $2…  I nabbed them!  And then I looked for a recipe.

But the recipes out there are so sweet.  They have a ratio of 1:1 sugar to veggies, and a cup or more of oil, which is just flat-out not healthy for me right now (especially since I really wanted this bread as a mid-morning snack).  What’s a girl to do but come up with her own? 😉

This is a seriously simple recipe.  Add everything except the flour and baking powder to a bowl and stir well before mixing that in too, pour into bread pans, bake, enjoy.  It’s a not-too-sweet and not-too-healthy breakfast bread (no cakes or doorstops here!) with tons of flavor from spices and a kick of almond extract, a little extra protein, and a 5:1 ratio of veggies to sugar.  Seriously, it hits the spot!

Carrot Zucchini Bread

Elisa’s Carrot Zucchini Breakfast Bread

  • 1 1/4 cups shredded and drained zucchini
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used grapeseed because we happened to have it around, but olive oil would be excellent, and any oil you like will do)
  • 2/3 cup almond meal or ground almonds
  • dash salt
  • dash ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup white flour

Like I said, this is a dead easy recipe.  Add all the ingredients except the flour and baking powder, stir until well mixed, add the flour and baking powder all at once and just stir until the flour is incorporated (don’t overmix!).  I divided it between two greased and floured loaf pans because I didn’t know how much it would rise, and baked them at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  It didn’t rise too much though (it barely doubled), so you can very likely have great success with just a single loaf pan, but you’ll probably need to bake this for upwards of an hour and fifteen minutes (as you might see from the photo, the bread I made tonight is slightly wet still – that’s what happens with so much vegetation in the batter!).  The bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  You could, of course, make this into a dozen muffins; adjust time accordingly.

This bread is soft, tender, flavorful, and not overpowered by sugar or fat like so many zucchini bread recipes are.  I’m totally smitten!!!

I’m Still Here!

22 Apr

I just came on my own site to look for a recipe (Buttery Plain Muffins, if you must know… Breakfast!) and realized it’s been over two months since I last posted.  Oops.  I wish I could say I’ve been out saving the world during those last two months, or that I have an exciting announcement (nope, no babies around here for a while), or that I’ve been cooking up a storm and can share all my latest recipes with you…  But really, I’ve been working.

I’ve been without full-time work for over a year now.  This economy just stinks, jobs are scarce in non-computing and non-healthcare fields, and most employers want a specialty (I tend to be a generalist, and can usually do anything you put in front of me, but this fact takes me out of the running for a lot of what’s available).  I LOVED my last job and would go back in a heartbeat, but because of some regulations with how I was hired (nothing I did – and no one did anything wrong at all, I was just classified as a special interim employee, and because the last position was at a government institution, there are a ton or regulations about employee classification…  No one expected the position to still be vacant by the time the regulations kicked in, or I’d have been hired in a different way), I had to leave after a certain amount of months.  If they called me up tomorrow and asked me to go full-time I’d take the position without any hesitation whatsoever.

I’ve been planning events for a really long time (like, more years than I’d care to admit at the moment), and worked for several years as an event planner for a nonprofit.  After the wedding I planned last November, I realized how much I really loved it.  Once the photos came back I started thinking seriously about starting a wedding planning business.  Of course this was something in the back of my mind since I planned our wedding in 2008…  But I was always stalling out with the details.  What should I name the business? What should I specialize in?  What should I charge?  Was I ever going to have a free weekend?  I finally just decided to go for it, whether I came up with a killer name or not.  In a single week I just jumped right in, found a name that I liked well enough, purchased the URL, started a Twitter, and created the basic outline of my business.  I then spent a painstakingly long few months designing my logo, writing out my website code by hand, and putting my thoughts in order.

I’m still learning how these things go, taking each client as an experience to learn from, and finding that some things are harder than I thought.  I’m still learning how to charge for things like my time (8-hour-marathon-design-session anyone?), figuring out what crafts I can handle (I made a giant mess of the first fabric bunting banner I created until I realized I could use my paper cutter to make beautiful straight lines!), and looking for clients.  I’m actually teaching myself things – like how to use Illustrator – and have been really pleased with what I have been able to create (when you visit my site, because I know you will, check out the Design section of the Gallery for an art-deco peacock invitation.  It was my very first custom art piece using Illustrator and I’m ridiculously proud of it).

And of course, I’m still looking far and wide for a “real” job too (I have an interview!Tuesday! that I’m really excited about), since I’m currently not making enough money to buy ramen noodles for the month without one, and the costs of starting a business are seriously understated!!!  But at least this a) keeps me busy, b) is an awesome creative outlet, c) is something else for the resume, and d) is potentially laying the groundwork for my future.  I may decide in a year or two or five that I am so done with weddings and social events and I want to go back to having my weekends free, but I may also decide in a year or two or five that I am ready to go full-time (er, since I’m currently not working any other jobs, I guess that should be “go back to full-time”) in the event planning world.

My husband has been SO patient with me, not complaining when I took over the office with my boxes and boxes of event supplies or when I forgot to make dinner for days in a row, or when I didn’t shower all day because I was working on a deadline, or when we didn’t have any food or water or TP in the house because I hadn’t gone grocery shopping in three weeks…  He is my rock, and the reason I can even do all of this – if I didn’t have his full support I’d never have considered spending money on a new business in a financially-strapped time like this.  I am blessed to have him, and blessed to have the incredible network of family and friends that I do (several of whom are in the industry – and who have been invaluable resources!!!).  I am blessed, too, with some incredible clients.  It’s the best feeling ever when you can meet someone and realize you’d actually want to be friends with them, even if they weren’t paying you to help them create something awesome.

For anyone who is wondering, the reason that a wedding planner (or a graphic designer, for that matter, since a lot of what I’ll be doing and I’ve been doing is graphic design) charges so darn much is because we’re always working.  Like, seriously, all hours of the day and night.  I will probably just have to figure out a way to go without sleep once I get a full-time job because I’m already waking up early and going to bed late, working through meals and time with the hubby, getting up on the weekends to finish projects, and having to physically be dragged away from the computer.  It’s grueling work, and wedding season is just gearing up!  It’s not glamorous, but it is rewarding to see the faces of the people you’ve helped to have the best event possible.  I’m currently making about $.05 an hour (maybe I can raise that up to minimum wage by the time this year is over?) because a lot of what I have to do is marketing, recruiting, creating content, designing and redesigning my website (after less than 6 months, I’m already realizing I want things that aren’t there, and I don’t like things that are…  oops), and working on things like invitations, which are so much fun to do but which are, after costs, not what I’d call money makers.  I’m also spending a ton of time in thrift stores, since I’m offering unique and vintage pieces to clients and performing event personal shopping too), and even the most focused and rewarding thrift store mission (like when I happened upon a 75% off sale on a TON of vases, scoops, cake plates, etc.) involves sifting through junk for an hour.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t had much time for this blog, or for the activities I so love to share on this blog.  I’m hoping I can achieve balance, but at the moment I’m just trying to achieve.

If you’d like to check out my site, please visit http://www.EventsbyElisa.com.  While you’re there, leave me some blog love, or like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.  I do try to keep up with those forms of social media, at least somewhat.  I can’t guarantee when the next time I post here will be (although I do hope it’s next week when I attempt – and hopefully score big with – some baked goods for my friend’s bridal shower – which I’m technically planning with myself as a client…  that’s fun). If you have any friends you know who are here in Southern California and are planning a wedding (or a shower, or a birthday party, although I do tend to focus on weddings because most people say they can’t afford a planner for a shower), please share my site with them.  I try to keep my rates as reasonable as possible (reason #438 why I am making $.05/hour at the moment?) and offer a lot of services (event design, planning, and/or coordination, graphic design, event shopping, etc.), so I’m a good value too.

Oh – and if you’re curious, the muffins were YUMMY. 🙂

Halloween Party!

4 Nov

A few weeks back, we were at my parents’ house.  It was a party they were having for the annual Air Show at our local Marine Corps Base – their backyard is right in the flight path and it’s always a spectacular show, with planes screaming over just a few hundred feet overhead – you can even read the pilots’ names at times, if you’re quick enough.  Anyway, the point is that my parents invited my best friend and his wife to come along to the party, and we were sitting at the table with them.  We happened to ask them what they were up to for Halloween.  Nothing, they said, so we suggested they come over to our place.

We always have tons of trick-or-treaters, so even though Halloween is my least-favorite holiday (something to do with scary masks the year I was three, I think), we thought it would be a fun way to spend the evening.  Later in the month, we happened to be hanging out with two other couples and mention the idea of coming over to them too.  Suddenly we had a party on our hands!

First, decorations.  We’ve only got 2 boxes for Halloween (as opposed to about a dozen big Rubbermaid tubs for our Christmas stuff), but we were able to do a little bit of decorating.

I love these guys... I bought them about 5 years ago at Big Lots, and haven't seen any scarecrows cuter since!

Above the television sat my two gorgeous pumpkins, a bunch of our photos (including this one from our first anniversary, courtesy of Melissa McClure Photography!) and these little cuties, picked up for us two years ago by my grandmother.

I spent a lot of the morning cooking, including spinach artichoke dip.  A couple of years ago I posted a recipe for this, but I tried to make this a little more standard:

Elisa’s Spinach Artichoke Dip

  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 bag (12 oz) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped (they have these at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic or 1 medium garlic clove, chopped fine
  • additional mozzarella for sprinkling over the top of the dip

Mix all the ingredients except the additional mozzarella in a bowl.  Smooth into a greased baking dish and cover with additional cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees until cheese is melty and browned.  Notice that I didn’t say what size a dish to use – that’s because you can really use anything it’ll fit into.  It depends on whether you want a lot of brown bubbly cheese on top (use a wide dish) or just a little (use a deep one).  This will feed 4-8 people, depending on whether you use it as an appetizer or a side dish.  Serve it with toasted baguette or tortilla chips.

Waiting to be uncovered and eaten... Spinach artichoke dip with chips!

I also made these babies, gorgeous fluffy cupcakes from one of my favorite blogs, Patent and the Pantry

Pretty and tasty!

I did make a couple of adjustments to the recipe, specifically the spices.  I used 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (mostly because I actually don’t have ground allspice, plus I actually like the mixture), and a pinch of ground cloves.  I’m not a big fan of ginger in pumpkin dishes – I’m not sure why, I just have never really liked it.  Anyway, these were originally a Martha Stewart recipe, and sometimes her stuff is a little too fussy for me but these were quite easy and really delivered on flavor.  With the cream cheese frosting (at the same link), they were perfect.  Honestly.  My sister commented that they tasted like pumpkin cheesecake.  Which gave me an idea…  I haven’t tried it out yet, but I’m pretty excited.  Let’s just say that if my idea ends up being good I’ll post it next week.  Anyway, I digress.

Our dinner was a pizza bar.  I didn’t get any good photos, unfortunately, but I made a TRIPLE batch of my basic bread dough recipe.  I mixed up the dough Saturday afternoon and let it proof in the fridge overnight in two huge bowls, and then Sunday morning I took it out and let it warm up to room temperature and get all beautiful and puffy.  I divided it into roughly the same size pieces and rolled them into 1 1/2″ balls and pulled them into odd-shaped thin crusts by hand and poked them with a fork so they wouldn’t rise too much in the oven.  I made five or six dozen of them, dusting the bottoms with corn meal and baking them in batches, 5 minutes at a time.

The beginning of our pizza bar, with plates and sauces. The pizza crusts are in the big basket at the back!

The rest of the pizza bar was made of various sauces, meats, vegetables, and cheeses, laid out and labeled (you can see the cute little labels I made in the photo below).  On the menu:

  • tomato sauce (bottled – the best one I’ve found is by Barilla)
  • BBQ sauce (our favorite is Sweet Baby Ray’s – it’s very sweet but full of great flavor)
  • Trader Joe’s curry sauce
  • garlic oil
  • homemade pesto (no real recipe for this one – I just blend up some basil leaves, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in my food processor)
  • roasted garlic
  • carmelized onions (cut and mixed with a little butter and salt, and placed in the crock pot on low overnight)
  • roasted eggplant from the garden
  • roasted zucchini
  • roasted sweet peppers
  • garlic mushrooms (sauteed with a little butter)
  • artichoke hearts
  • spinach
  • olives
  • cut basil leaves
  • figs
  • cooked chicken
  • Trader Joe’s sweet Italian chicken sausage
  • Trader Joe’s pepperoni
  • garlic shrimp
  • mozzarella cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • cheddar cheese

I know it's a poor photo, and this was before I dished out the meats. But you can see our toppings and the labels I made!

I had planned on using goat cheese too, my Mexican hot sauce, and fresh tomatoes.  But I didn’t realize the goat cheese had been opened the week before (and it was no good, sadly) and forgot the tomatoes and hot sauce completely.  Even so, one of our guests said there were just too many choices!  I say there are never too many…  Especially during a party like this, it’s totally worth giving people lots of options.  Each person grabbed one (or two, or three!) pizza crust and decorated it with exactly the toppings he or she wanted.  My favorite was roasted vegetable; my husband loved the BBQ sauce with chicken sausage and figs (no one ever said he was conventional!)

Of course I got to wear my Wonder Woman costume again, this time with a modification to the belt.  It still sort of flopped down, but at least it wasn’t unsticking all the time.  You can also see the “golden lasso” I got at WalMart for $1.75 (that Iaccidentally left at home on Friday).

I love this costume!

I also made my hubby’s costume – he was Clark Kent, wearing a blue shirt underneath his button-up that I applied an iron-on Superman logo to.  Since he used mostly clothes he already had, this was an $8 costume, thanks to Old Navy.

We had an awesome time with our friends, even though L&J couldn’t make it.  We had over 200 kids come to the door, gave out lots of pencils and plastic spider rings (what can I say?  we learned how expensive candy can be at our house on Halloween, plus it’s kind of fun to be different), and watched Halloween cartoons (including my very favorite “Disney’s Trick or Treat”, with Donald and his three nephews and Witch Hazel!  Thank you ABC Family for showing it this year!).  By the end of the night we were totally exhausted, but it was such a fun time that hubby suggested this might be an annual event.  We’ll see…  More than 6 people in our teeny living room would be a bit of a stretch, but maybe by next year we’ll have a new place?

Anyway, since we had costumes, we suggested our friends dress up too, and we took this on my camera’s timed setting:

Happy Halloween!

Fig and Honey Cakes

30 Sep

The weather today is strange…  It’s alternately pouring rain and thundering incredibly loudly.  Every hour or so the sun will peek out from behind the clouds.  To tell you the truth, I kind of love it! 

I had a ton of plans that got cancelled because of the weather; I really should have been cleaning the house, but I got a brand new box from our CSA and it had figs in it!  FIGS!

I love figs.  I really really love figs.  I actually didn’t try them until I was in my late twenties, and I mostly eat them either by themselves or in savory dishes, like my goat cheese pizza.  But the weather is just perfect for baking.  So instead of doing dishes or laundry (sorry honey!) I mixed up some beautiful fig and honey olive oil cakes.

This was another one of my “throw a bunch of stuff into a bowl and go for it” recipes – I sort of went off of my lemon, brown sugar, and olive oil cupcakes, but to add fig and honey made a big difference in how the cake came together, and I had to be careful not to add too much liquid or sugar.  I think that these cakes came out beautifully and are both tasty and moist.  I had originally intended to frost them with a fig buttercream frosting, but it’s really not necessary – in fact, I think that this cake would perfect topped with just a tiny bit of whipped cream!  Sadly, I didn’t have any whipping cream in my fridge, but just imagine the photo with a dab of whipped cream and a little wedge of fig…  Pretty, right?  You can make this into 18 cupcakes or two 8” cake layers (if you make a layer cake, you could probably make more fig puree and put that inside, and frost the whole thing with whipped cream, or you could just serve wedges of cake with whipped cream).  Enjoy!

Elisa’s Fig and Honey Cakes

  • ¼ pound figs, pureed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups cake flour (or sifted all-purpose flour)

It’s easy-peasy…  Again, throw in the olive oil, honey, sugar, fig puree, zest, extracts, and eggs, stirring them all together until they’re well-blended.  Add in the baking powder, salt, cake flour, and milk, and mix.  Pour into 18 prepared muffin cups or 2 eight-inch prepared cake pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (for small cakes) or 40-45 minutes (for full-sized cakes).

These smell incredible when they’re baking, and taste awesome.  No frosting needed! 🙂  And since they incorporate both honey and olive oil, they’re incredibly moist and tender.

These tasty little cakes would be perfect if you cooked them in beautiful little molds... And they're so yummy!

Nutella Cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

8 Sep

Nutella is a European chocolate hazelnut spread; it’s popular in Italy, slathered on toast for breakfast.  I love the stuff and will admit to having eaten it more than once directly off the spoon (I know, it’s not a health food, but sometimes a girl’s gotta have her chocolate fix!).  I’ve been wanting to use Nutella in cupcakes for a while, and this recent Fall-like weather inspired me to finally do it!  I’d seen some recipes for Nutella cake online but they all seemed very heavy – I wanted the flavor of Nutella in a nice, light cake.  So I adapted my Asti-Spumante cupcake recipe I posted last week (by adapted I mean really heavily adapted, this cake ended up having a totally different flavor and texture!).  The result?

A delicate, fluffy chocolatey cupcake that’s not cloyingly sweet.  If you haven’t figured it out by now I like my desserts on the less-sweet side, but I love lots of flavor.  The nutella shone through as the star of this cupcake, supported by a good dark chocolate base.  The texture was anything but heavy – in fact, one of my cupcakes was so delicate that the top came off as I was trying to gently remove it from my pan – and the cakes rose to pretty peaks in the oven.

If you like Nutella, or if you’re looking for a good, easy chocolate cake recipe, you’ll love this!  It comes together in one bowl, doesn’t involve sifting flour or beating egg whites, and tastes incredible.

Elisa’s Nutella Cupcakes

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee*
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup** cocoa powder (I only had the “normal” stuff at home; if you have Dutch process cocoa powder you may want to use less because the flavor is stronger)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

The #1 most important part of the process when making this recipe?  Scrape the sides of the bowl and the beater often!  Nutella is sticky stuff!

Beat together butter, Nutella, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until shiny and well-incorporated.  Add coffee, milk, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and flour (yes, I said add everything at once; I did it and it works like a charm here).  Mix slowly to prevent flour flying everywhere, and then beat until well-incorporated and fluffy.  Divide into 18 baking cups and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. 

Cool and frost with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).  These cupcakes are extremely delicate and on the drier side (surprisingly, given the amount of Nutella in them), so I wouldn’t recommend keeping them for more than a day or two.

Elisa’s Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting***

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 4 oz softened cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Using an electric mixer, beat all ingredients until light, fluffy, and fully combined.  Frosts 18 cupcakes.  This is a sweet frosting, between the sugar and the Nutella; I think it provides a nice contrast with the cake!

I tried really hard to get a good photo…  I think I need to get myself a camera that doesn’t freak out when there’s low light!

Nutella Cupcake with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting!

*I’ve been thinking a lot about the texture of these.  I love the delicate softness.  But they’re a teeny bit on the dry side.  So I had a quick idea about how to help keep them moist – substitute coffee- or chocolate-flavored liquor (Kahlua or a Starbucks liquor or something similar) for the coffee.  Let me know if you try this!

**My husband tells me that I should rename these “Dark Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes”, and he’s right – they definitely have an intense chocolatey flavor.  If you like a sweeter chocolate flavor, I’d say you should halve the cocoa.

***So according to my friend Danielle’s comment (below), the “cupcakes are a vehicle for the frosting”.  If you feel this way too, be prepared to double the frosting recipe!  🙂

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