Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

A couple weeks ago I tested out these cupcakes for the baby shower I threw. They are super time consuming and a pain in the rear but worth every second. These are delicious cupcakes and everyone that tasted them agree. Plus mini which makes them even more fun!

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Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

The Cupcakes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined.

Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.

To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.

Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip and pipe Dark Chocolate Frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt (I used fleur de sel). Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers – do NOT refrigerate.

Salted Caramel Filling

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

Directions
Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.

Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.

Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions
Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.

With electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture.

Frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month in an air tight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Book Baby Shower

My friend and her husband are having a baby and I offered to throw the shower. I thought it would be a good way to test out all my Pinterest skills. I wanted to do a book themed shower and fortunately they agreed. This was also the first coed shower I had hosted. It was at two in the afternoon so I just did snacks and dessert.

I was very happy with the results and the mom and dad-to-be looked so happy so we will call it a success!

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Mother’s Day

Since I am the only woman in my family without kids yet, I thought I would celebrate the mom’s by making brunch.

We had donut muffins with nutella filling, fresh berries with greek yogurt, beautiful toast from Macrina Bakery and western skillet. It was a wonderful meal and so fun to celebrate my mother, sister and sister-in-law.

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Nutella Donut Muffins

Ingredients
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Nutella

For the coating
3-4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Combine and mix oil, sugar, egg, vanilla and milk in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and stir only to combine till no dry flour is left.

Place a tablespoon of the mixture in each mini muffin hole. Add 1 teaspoon Nutella into the center of each and then cover with about 1 tablespoon more of batter until 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes.

While muffins are baking melt the butter in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar.

Shake muffins out of muffin pan while still warm. Dip muffins in the melted butter and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place on a wire rack and let sit 10-12 minutes. These are delicious warm!

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Mother's Day

Western Skillet Eggs

Ingredients
1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 large green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 pound thinly sliced ham, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 slices sourdough bread, torn into pieces (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for topping
8 large eggs

Directions
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Whisk the half-and-half, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste in a small bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until just softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers; cook until the peppers are soft and the shallots are golden, 5 to 6 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, ham, bread, parsley and 1/4 cup water and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Remove from the heat.

Make 8 evenly spaced indentations in the bread mixture with the bottom of a ladle or small measuring cup. Crack an egg into each indentation. Slowly pour the half-and-half mixture over the eggs. Bake, rotating the skillet a few times, until the whites are set, about 15 minutes. Top with parsley.

*I added pepper jack cheese to the top for extra flavor. I also turned these into individual servings by dividing the mixture prior to adding the eggs and putting them in large ramekins, then adding eggs and baking.

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Spot Shrimp

Spot shrimp season opened this weekend and we headed out to catch our limit! We were oh so lucky to hit the sunniest weather yet this spring. We caught just over two limits (180 spot prawns) so were happy with our first shrimping adventure this season.

We basically are using this website spot prawns as a guide for how to treat them after catching. So far so good.

Tonight for dinner I tried out a new recipe and hope to have many more this season! This was a delicious, light recipe with a bit of spice. The recipe called for a spicier pepper and I chose to go with the Serrano and I can’t imagine going much hotter. It was delicious!

Spot Prawns with Lime and Cilantro

Ingredients
1 pound spot prawns, or other large prawns, shell-on
Zest of 1 lime
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 bird’s eye chili, thinly sliced (I used Serrano)
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil

Directions
Prepare your prawns: use a pair of kitchen shears to cut through the back of the shell. Cutting through the shell lets you devein the prawn easily. In a large bowl, mix together the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the zest, chill and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat up a cast iron skillet (I just used a regular large frying pan) over medium-high heat. Add a bit of olive oil to the pan. When hot, add the prawns and cook without moving for 2 minutes. Flip and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, until pink and firm. Toss the shrimp in the dressing. Enjoy hot.

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BLT Scallops

Occasionally I get a wild hair for Monday dinners and go all out. I made these BLT scallops, what a treat. They are incredibly rich but delicious! The bacon risotto is to die for with or without the scallops. These would be great for an appetizer.

BLT Scallops
Makes 6 appetizers or 2 main courses.

Ingredients
3 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup arborio rice
3 tablespoons white wine
2 cups chicken stock, heated
1/4 shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and diced

For Scallops
6 large diver scallops
dash salt
salt white pepper

For Garnish
2 Romaine lettuce leaves, shredded finely

Directions
Make risotto. In a medium sized saucepan, sauté bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon but leave the fat. Add shallots to the same pan and sauté shallots until soft. Add Arborio and toss to coat with shallots and fat. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Add hot stock, about 1/2 cup at a time and stir . Cook until absorbed. Repeat until rice is slightly al dente’. When rice is almost ready, add tomato and stir to combine. Cook another 5 minutes. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until combined. Add bacon and set aside.

Start scallops. Dry scallops well with a paper towel. Season with salt and white pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over high until smoking. Put scallops in oil and do not move until golden brown (about 1 minute per side).

Place scallop over risotto (on scallop shell if you have for appetizers, divide risotto evenly among shells). If making an entree, place three scallops over half the risotto per plate. Garnish with shredded lettuce.

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Salsa!

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo I wanted to post a recipe for salsa. This recipe is so ridiculously easy and surprising but remarkably delicious and fresh tasting.

Easy Blender Salsa

Ingredients
14 oz can diced tomatoes
10 oz can orginal Rotel
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded or not (depends on how spicy you like it)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
juice of 1 lime

Directions
Put all the ingredients in the base of a food processor or good blender (food processor works better if you have it) and pulse to combine for 30 seconds or so until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve with chips or over tacos.

Another Winning Crab Cake Recipe

We found a bag of crab in our freezer this week and what better thing to whip up than some crab cakes! I tried a new recipe this time and I highly recommend it! I even made the tartar sauce and it was a fantastic compliment with a couple squeezes of lemon. Make sure to refrigerate at least an hour to help keep the crab cakes together.

Maryland Crab Cakes
Makes 6 crab cakes

Ingredients
1 large egg
2½ tablespoons mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup finely diced celery (you’ll need one stalk)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 pound lump crab meat*
½ cup panko
Olive oil

Directions
1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Combine the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, celery, and parsley in a large bowl and mix well. Add the crab meat (be sure to check the meat for any hard and sharp cartilage) and panko; gently fold mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat. Shape into 6 crab cakes (about ½ cup each) and place on prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat a large nonstick pan to medium heat and coat with olive oil. When oil is hot, place crab cakes in pan and cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Be careful as oil may splatter. Serve immediately with tartar sauce or a squeeze of lemon.

*If you can only find jumbo lump crab meat, you may need to break the pieces up a bit. If the clumps are too large, the crab cakes won’t hold together well.

Quick Tartar Sauce

Ingredients
1 cup mayonnaise
1½ tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced red onion
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

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