Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

It is really nice when you are appreciated for what you do and what makes you an amazing person. Everyone is amazing at something, to someone, which makes everyone as equally of a special person. And people should be more appreciative of the great things we all do and are. Which is why I am so fortunate to have great people around me, like my neighbors that live downstairs, Kerry and Scott. For one, our dogs are in love. Brody gets two sweet little Yorkie girl friends named Barley and Keeper that are only a few feet away. What a lucky dog!

Scott and Kerry on their wedding day :)

Last night I got to bake for these incredible people who have always, ALWAYS been there for me. It goes beyond them walking my dog when I am out of town, but how about just taking him out on a walk when I am sick so I don’t have to get out of bed? Or leaving my tulips at my door because I made excess pancakes that morning and brought them some over breakfast. Plus, they are just adorable with adorable dogs so you couldn’t ask for neighbors. But back to my point. Being appreciated. Kerry texted me yesterday asking if I could make cupcakes for her brother in laws birthday. Why? Because they would be better than anything she could buy in a store. I mean, that is the biggest compliment I could have gotten as someone who cooks. After picking her brain a bit about what her brother in law would like, we came up with this cupcake. He loves chocolate, so how about a Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Butter Cream frosting, topped with chocolate shavings? YUM!

Dark Chocolate Cake                      Vanilla Butter Cream
2 cups boiling water                                           1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 of a 100g bar rich dark chocolate                   2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder                       5 tbs vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups flour                                                 1/2 of the 100g bar rich dark chocolate, room temp
2 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract 
Optional: Dark Chocolate Pudding

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your cupcake pan with liners. Since I am doing a birthday cupcake, I have these cute little birthday liners. BUT, when you use a decorated liner, make sure to double up! Otherwise, with a dark cake like chocolate, the birthday design will be lost. I suggest putting a simple cheap liner inside a decorative liner.


In medium bowl, pour the boiling water over your cocoa and the 1/2 bar of chocolate. I would break the bar into a few smaller pieces rather than stick the whole chunk in. Whisk the mixture is all melted and smooth, set aside, and let the mixture cool. 

In another bowl,  sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set this mixture aside as well.  

In a large bowl, or your stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Once this is done and mixed well, it is time to add the chocolate and the flour mixtures.

For the next steps, add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Start with the flour mixture, chocolate, flour, chocolate.

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, making sure they are filled a little under the top of the liner. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Time to make the frosting. Combine the softened butter and powdered sugar together until they are well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract. I love a punch of vanilla flavor, so the frosting will not be a pure white, but an off white. Set aside and keep the frosting at room temp. Make sure if you are doing this at the same time as making the cupcakes you keep an eye on your cupcakes.

Once the cupcakes are out of the oven and cool, and please make sure the cupcakes are cool or else your frosting will melt, they are ready to frost! Take your frosting and put it in a piping bag with whatever piping tip you want to use. I actually don’t have a piping bag, and if you don’t either, any old ziplock bag will do. Just make sure to snip off the end of the bag and insert the tip before filling the bag with frosting.

Once your frosting is in the bag, you want to pipe starting from the outside in, and place a nice mound of frosting on top of the cupcake. I am not the best piper… but I try :)

Once they are all frosted, take a microplane and your second half a bar of chocolate, and grate the chocolate over the top of the cupcakes. If you want to add other decorations, go for it

Voila. Rich delicious and perfect for a birthday. Sidenote…. guess who got over zealous and turned the mixer on too high while making frosting?? ME!

Kitchen blunders… they happen to everyone.

Busy Bee

It has been a long few busy weeks! I apologize for not getting something food related on here in a while. Basketball season is intense, and with games every week it is hard for me to get home and get cooking! But I promise I will post something tomorrow or Thursday. At least that’s my goal.

I did, however, go to a BBQ joint in Venice, CA that I have been dying to try. Because of 2 things… killer mac and cheese, and roasted corn on the cob topped with chipotle butter, cojita cheese, and lime. Does that not make you want to drive there right now? Ugh… I just finished lunch and am already getting hungry!

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Lemon Ginger Corn Cake with Orange Marmalade Glaze

I wanted to bake today for my neighbors, whom so graciously watched my little nugget when I went to San Francisco for New Years. But, I also was too lazy to go to the store. So thats when it hit me. I may not have had everything I wanted, but I do have a pretty well stocked pantry. After scouring my goods, I came up with an idea for a delicious sweet and tart cake I knew they would love. All using uncommon ingredients. High five for reinventing the cake huh? :)

2 cups nonfat thick greek yogurt, set on counter for 20 minutes
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbs vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tbs lemon juice
1 cup ginger lemon juice or tea (if unsweetened tea, add 1/4 more cup white sugar)
2 cups all purpose baking mix (like bisquick)
1 cup cornmeal
6 tbs orange marmalade
2 tbs room temperature water
6 tbs creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and lightly flour two 8 inch round baking dishes. Whisk stick of butter and yogurt together in a large bowl. Add 2 tbs vanilla extract and two eggs.

Slowly, add the white sugar. Afterwards, add the lemon ginger juice or tea, and the 2 tbs lemon juice. Whisk until all is combined.

Next, add the all purpose baking mix and the cornmeal in alternating pours. Start with one cup baking mix, then one cup cornmeal, and end with the last cup of baking mix.
The dough will come out a yellowy color from the juice and cornmeal. Pour batter in the 2 round 8 inch baking dishes you prepared and bake for 30 minutes.
Once baked and slightly cooled, place one round on a large dish and the other on a cooling rack to completely cool. Once the bottom layer has cooled 3/4 way, cover it with the creme fraiche. This cake is sweet, and creme fraiche is super tart. Its a perfect balance. Once done spreading the creme fraiche, add the other layer.
Nowwe need to melt the marmalade down. Place the 6 tbs marmalade and 2 tbs water in a small pot and simmer at medium low. The marmalade will start to melt down and the water will help it from burning. Once the jam has started to melt, crank up the heat to medium until the jam starts to boil and thicken. Keep it at this temperature for only about 30 seconds, and then turn off the heat.
Take a fork and poke a few holes in the top of the cake so it soaks up some of the marmalade.We are using orange marmalade because it is a little bitter, helping to compliment the sweet cake. Once a few holes are poked, pour the marmalade over the top of the cake. Try and make sure the orange rinds stay on the stop of the cake for added effect. Let cool a bit, slice,and enoy :)
*I kind of like the messy, creamsicle almost looking swirl add the hot jam to the cake makes with the creme fraiche spilling over. You can clean it up if you like.*

Upside Down Potato and Onion Tart

I saw this recipe on the Hizzoner’s Deli blog, then died and went to heaven. I have no idea why this hasn’t been a staple in my holiday meals thus far. I bring you the Upside Down Potato and Onion Tart.

2 1/2 tablespoons butter
12 sprigs thyme, strip the leaves from the stems
1 large onion, sliced somewhat thickly (a tad more than 1/4 inch thick)
1 lb. potatoes, washed and sliced 1/8 of an inch
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup grated gruyère
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 cup grated mozzarella
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Melt the butter in a 9-10 inch ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. If you have a cast iron pan, use it. Unfortunately I do not. Add the thyme and onion and cook for 5 minutes.

Place the potato in a bowl. Add the oil. Coat the potatoes generously with salt and pepper.

Next, add the cheeses and toss to combine.

Take the bowl to your pan, and top the onion with the potato mixture

Place pan in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Take a large plate or serving dish and place it over the pan. Carefully, turn upside down to serve.

In all honestly, my pan diameter was a little wide. Next time, I will use a smaller pan so the circle looks more uniform
Caramelized onion goodness
Slice of cheesy potato heaven
Perfect side dish at a holiday meal or for a dinner with friends. Easy to slice, easy to serve.

Potatos, Cheese, and Onions. Everyone wins.

Belgium Chocolate Pudding with Creme Fraiche and Pink Sea Salt

Some of my friends get intimidated by baking. Not everyone has to be stellar in the kitchen, but there are ways to get around this. Specialty food stores like Trader Joes, Gelson’s, and Whole Foods make it easy for us to be impressive without having to work too hard.

Valentine’s day is coming up. We got a month people. And for those of you who are intimidated by the oven, I wanted to share with you a simple desert I throw together on occasion…. for myself… while I am sitting watching Friends reruns with my dog Brody. No. Big. Deal.

Women, we all love chocolate. And men, well they all love just about anything. So if you are the no-baking-kind-of-girl, but you still want to impress your man, try this.

1 container Belgium Chocolate Pudding (or any other rich dark pudding you can find)
* Do not buy jello pudding. You are looking for thick rich pudding If you can’t find a thick pudding, get chocolate mousse. Just trust me*
1 container Creme Fraiche
Pink Sea Salt

Grab your glasses. I kind of like using  a clear ones so you can see your layers. However, anything else beautiful or red or pink will do. The desert is pretty much done, you just have to assemble it. Carefully, take spoonfuls of your pudding and place it into a glass. Fill it about 3/5 the way up, and try and wipe any excess pudding you get elsewhere on the glass.

Next, take your Creme Fraiche and place a large dollop of it on top of the pudding, resting in the center. Shake the glass a bit to get everything settled together. Clean up any excess Creme Fraiche making the glass look messy.

Lastly, take your pink salt and sprinkle a little bit on top. You do not want too much! But, mixing the sweet pudding with the salt and the creamy sour Creme Fraiche is such a dynamite combination. Plus, the pink salt brings a Valentine’s Day vibe. Just make sure you do not overdo the salt.

Sorry, my camera was a little blurry
Yum! Creme Fraiche, pudding, salty bite….. delicious!

Oh and ladies, just remember. Don’t let him know you got stuff from the store. Remind him how you sweated all day over dinner and desert, so you get a nice massage later :)

Scheming, Plotting, Planning for you!

Happy Monday everyone! I am blessed to have amazing weather in Los Angeles and am enjoying the start to my week.

I wanted to ask all of you an important question. I want to know what YOU want to eat. What recipes do YOU need help with? What do you wish YOU saw more of on my blog? Because if it wasn’t for everyone that reads my page, I would just be a lonely girl talking to herself on the internet. And well that is just no fun.

Right now, I am scheming what dish men would want on Valentine’s Day. The holiday of love is fast approaching, and I want to give you something to make your honey’s heart melt. Because ladies. We all know that the way to a man’s heart involves food, football, beer, or a combination of the three. But for now, let’s focus on the food. I wanted to do a series of five dinners your boyfriend/ husband/ best male friend would die for, soaring you to #1 on their list of “People I Love”, if you aren’t already. With Valentine’s Day coming up, this is a perfect way to get things started.

Leave your comments, suggestions, hope, dreams, fears in a comment below. Or email me at thingsimakeinmykitchen@gmail.com

Graffiti Love Story- San Francisco

View of the city upon crossing the bridge

San Francisco was never one of my favorite cities. But, its growing on me. A lot! Especially after my last two visits; Outside Lands and New Years.

What I have come to love about SF, apart from some of the best food I have ever eaten (thank you Curry Village!!), is the spontaneous fabulousness you just come across. Its everywhere. I was fortunate on my last night to come across a spectacular love story written in graffiti. It started close to my friend’s house on 14th and Judah, and just continued for blocks; blocks of black tag on the faces of people’s houses. The best part about this, we found Jessica’s home and talked to her dad. Needless to say he was not pleased, but I want to thank him for ending my vacation like a fairytale.

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