Tag Archives: dessert

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. ūüėČ

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. ūüôā

Happy Toddler and Happy Mommy!

Nutella Yogurt

18 Jan

Okay, this isn’t so much a recipe as a rave.¬† I’ve told you before about my love of Nutella.¬† And a loooong time ago I discussed some tummy trouble I’d been having.¬† I still try to eat yogurt on a regular basis (3-5 times per week) even though I’ve recently discovered that part of my troubles stem from lactose intolerance (apparently brought on by my bout with the stomach flu two whole years ago).¬† Thank goodness for Lactaid!

Anyway, I usually buy those little containers of yogurt for $.50 or $.75 a pop…¬† The really truly good ones at Henry’s and Trader Joe’s are up to $1.25 apiece and seriously worth it in flavor, but I always feel weird about spending that kind of cashola.¬† So I broke down on Saturday and purchased a big ol’ tub of nonfat vanilla Brown Cow yogurt at Henry’s for around $3.¬† I’ve tried all kinds of brands but this is my favorite by far.

Anyway, this morning I decided I wanted a little more flavor.¬† I love chocolate yogurt (it’s like dessert!) so I figured why not stir in a little Nutella?¬† The best part is that just a half a teaspoon helped to flavor the whole cup of yogurt – so even though it’s definitely more sugar than I’d normally have for my daily yogurt intake, it’s not liable to spike my blood sugar too much.¬† It’s a treat, but it’s an amazing treat.¬† Do you remember my Nutella cream cheese frosting?

It’s exactly like that.¬† But, you know, healthy.¬† ūüôā

Banoffee Pie, and Pies With Friends

5 Dec

My family and I traveled to Ireland in 2005, and the tiny town of Ennis, in Shannon, had the most incredible meal at an Italian – yes, Italian in Ireland – restaurant.¬† After the meal our host (my 5th grade teacher and my mom’s friend, Ms. Sutherlin) suggested we order Banoffee Pie.

Banoffee Pie (or Banoffi pie) was created in the late 1960s by Ian Dowding, a British chef.¬† I’ve linked to his website below,¬† but it seems everyone in Britain has their own variation on the dessert.¬† Whatever recipe you use, one thing is clear: it’s a mixture of bananas, toffee (or, as we’d say in San Diego, dulce de leche), and whipped cream flavored with a little coffee.¬† It sounds seriously weird but it works.¬† It’s creamy and sweet but surprisingly not cloying or heavy.¬† It’s INCREDIBLY easy to make.¬† And while it may not be the most beautiful pie in the contest, it’s darn tasty!

Today I had the occasion to try out a recipe for Banoffee pie.¬† You see, my friend Carrie has a tradition, for the last several years, of hosting a Pie-Off at her home.¬† Like a Bake Off, competitors’ creations are judged for taste, creativity, and looks, with awards handed out according to a very scientific voting system!¬† ūüôā¬† It’s kind of competitive, but mostly, it’s about friends getting together and sharing food.¬† We were invited this year for the first time, and I knew I had to bring it.¬† Hubby and I had actually each planned on making a pie, but ran completely out of time to do a ton of baking, so it was lucky that this recipe had very little baking time!¬† I’d never made this recipe before, and of course I made a tweak or two to the original, but it turned out quite nicely for a first attempt!

The only thing that gets tricky, time-wise, is making the toffee – it’s not like you can just whip it up in two minutes – but you can probably purchase a tin of ready-made dulce de leche and cut out the toffee making entirely if you’re in a real hurry.¬† Either way, prep is minimal, taste is awesome, and it’s a keeper of a recipe!

Oh, and if you’re wondering, I “won” 2nd in the Taste category, behind a nut-and-raisin pie passed down from another guest’s grandma, so I consider that a victory!

Banoffee Pie (adapted from Ian Dowding)

  • 1 pie crust.¬† I used a Pillsbury crust because my own luck with pastry making is terrible, but Chef Dowding has “the” recipe on his site.¬† Most of the recipes I’ve seen – and the first pie I ate – had crusts made from British digestive biscuits (which are like graham crackers without the brown sugar).¬† I’d actually intended to make mine from digestives too but didn’t have a chance to get to a store that carries them.¬† You can find them at Cost Plus and subsitute them in your favorite graham cracker crust recipe.
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3-4 large ripe (not overripe!) bananas.¬† They should have almost no brown spots, so that they don’t look brown and gross when you cut into the pie.
  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant coffee (I used Starbucks VIA Columbian, and it lent the perfect hint of coffee without being overpowering or bitter, but you can use whatever you have or can find inexpensively, as long as it’s not flavored)

The day before: This is the EASIEST way to make the toffee; there are several very effective ones but this is a no-brainer for me: Remove the label from the can of condensed milk.¬† Place it in the bottom of a crock pot and fill the crock pot with enough water to cover the can entirely, with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water above the top of the can.¬† Turn the crockpot on low and walk away.¬† Let the crockpot cook for 6-8 hours and then turn it off and leave it for another 3+ hours or until cool to the touch.¬† You want to make sure that the can isn’t hot enough to explode when it hits cool air, so just leave it until you’re sure.

Assembly of the pie: Bake and cool your crust completely.  Open the can of toffee and smooth it over the bottom of the crust.

Crust, meet toffee.

I told you this was easy!

Now place your bananas in a single layer on the toffee.¬† Sort of push them in so the carmely goodness oozes around them.¬† You will get messy, and the top of the bananas won’t look too pretty.¬† Oh well.

Sort of like a bananas foster pie, minus the pyrotechnics

I should note here that the original recipe called for 5-6 bananas.¬† I don’t know if they just have smaller bananas in the UK, or if the chef squashed them together differently or had multiple layers of fruit, but I only really needed 3.¬† As you can see, it’s not an exact science.

With a stand or hand mixer, whip together the cream, powdered sugar, coffee crystals, and vanilla until the cream is thick.¬† I make whipped cream on a relatively regular basis (several times a year) so I know the texture I like is somewhere not quite to the stiff peaks stage.¬† But if you don’t, you’ll need to experiment.¬† Just be careful not to whip too much, or you’ll get sweetened curds and whey.¬† Which might be a treat for Miss Muffett but won’t be very tasty on your pie.¬† Smooth your cream onto your bananas and make the top as pretty as you can.

The finished product

And just because, here’s a photo of the Pie-Off table.¬† All NINE pies (and no repeats!).¬† Mmmmm…¬† That was some good eating!

Clockwise, from top left: Raspberry Velvet Tart, No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Lemon Cream Pie, Chocolate Orange Mousse Pie, Apple Pie, Banoffee Pie, French Nut Pie, Bourbon Carmel Truffle Tart!

I think the best part of tonight – I mean, aside from the utter decadent deliciousness – was the company.¬† We’d never met any of the other guests, and most of them were strangers to each other too.¬† But when you get together a good group of people, eating and talking and being just slightly competitive, it works.¬† At least with good hosts!¬† Thanks Carrie for the invite – can’t wait for next year!

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‚Äôs really not necessary ‚Äď 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‚ÄĚ 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

  • ¬ľ pound figs, pureed
  • ¬Ĺ cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 ¬Ĺ tsp lemon extract
  • ¬Ĺ tsp almond extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¬Ĺ 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! ūüôā¬† 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!¬† ūüôā

Asti Spumante Cupcakes

31 Aug

I’m baaaaaack!

Where have I been?¬† What have I been up to?¬† Well, pretty much everything.¬† Except blogging, that is.¬† I’m currently job-hunting and have been making some great strides – still nothing concrete, but I’m feeling much better about the whole process.¬† And I was out of town for a week visiting family.¬† I joined Twitter (eek!), to¬†sharpen my social media skills, performed a duet (not to mention all the choir work) at my friend’s concert, committed to¬†planning and coordinating another friend’s wedding,¬†planned the marketing¬†strategy for my other¬†friend’s production company,¬†and have been attempting to keep the garden going even though last week was so hot I could barely move and didn’t want to be outside during the day at all.¬† Our living room, at one point, was hotter with the air conditioner and fans going full-blast than the outside air was (and the outside air was mighty hot).

So I haven’t been cooking, pretty much at all, until tonight.¬† My garden has done some strange and wonderful things, but I’ll save them for another post.

For now, I’ll focus on my first cooking project in about a month.¬† Asti Spumante cupcakes!

My husband and I had opened up a bottle of Asti to drink with pizza over the weekend (what?¬† it’s an awesome combination – I like it more than pizza with beer!) and we had quite a bit left over, so I decided to put it to good use.

I looked online for recipes, searched through my cookbooks, and ultimately just started throwing things into my stand mixer’s bowl.¬† The recipe is one I’ve never seen anywhere – all the champagne cupcakes I saw online used a ton of egg whites, and I hate separating eggs and wasting yolks when I’m baking a cake.¬† I sort of made up the proportions as I went, so I’m actually a little surprised at how nicely the cupcakes turned out.

But nice they are!¬† They’re not so sweet you get a rush; you can enjoy the subtle bite of the asti spumante and the nice fruity flavor it brings to the party; the texture is soft with a beautiful dense crumb.¬† In short, they’re everything I wanted in a Spumante cupcake.¬† The added bonus is that they bake up flat – so if you were to, say, make these into a nice big cake, you’d be able to stack and frost and everything without having to mess around with cutting it.

Asti Spumante Cupcake!

Elisa’s Asti Spumante Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract*
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp¬†very fine lemon zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups Asti Spumante

Okay, this is a basic cake method.  So you know how that goes, right?

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the extracts and zest and mix in.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat to combine, add 1/2 of the Spumante, beat to combine.  Repeat the additions, ending with the flour mixture.

For a little twist, cut back on a bit of the Spumante and add fresh berries, if you wish.  I added mashed raspberries to a third of my mixture and they were divine; sweet and tart together!

Spoon into 18 standard lined cupcake cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes.  Remove from oven when a toothpick comes out clean. 

Naked Cupcake ūüôā

Let cool completely and frost with a buttercream or cream cheese icing!

Enjoy!

* Originally I wrote “1 tsp” of vanilla extract, but I only actually used 1/2 tsp.¬† I think the recipe might benefit from having a little more vanilla flavor but I wanted to fix it to reflect what I actually did, which was quite good.

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