L’Instant Cacao: Bean-to-bar Chocolate Shop

If you’re old enough to remember, the Grateful Dead had a song that went, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” (There are other reasons you might not remember things back then, especially if you were the type that listened to the Grateful Dead.) But that could be the tagline for a number of things, some as recent as 2020, the Covid crisis, and others…

If you’re old enough to remember, the Grateful Dead had a song that went, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” (There are other reasons you might not remember things back then, especially if you were the type that listened to the Grateful Dead.) But that could be the tagline for a number of things, some as recent as 2020, the Covid crisis, and others that stretch back longer, such as the bean-to-bar chocolate movement.

I was there at the beginning of it in the United States, and I clearly remember when Robert Steinberg handed me a melting wad of freshly-made chocolate he pulled out of his pocket at a baking event, that was folded up in a little foil packet, as if it was a part of a drug deal. That eventually bloomed into Scharffen Berger chocolate.

They were the pioneers of bean-to-bar chocolate making in America, back in 1996, and now there are close to two hundred artisan chocolate makers in the States. That’s amazing, considering when Robert and his business partner John Scharffenberger, told me they were going to make chocolate from scratch, I thought it was a crazy idea and would never get off the ground. Thirteen years later, they sold the company for a reported $50 million. So if you want to ask someone for business advice, you might want to ask someone other than me.

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Fudgy or Cakey? These Glorious Brownies Are Both

We’ve teamed up with Miele to streamline your weeknight dinner routine with smart, delicious recipes the whole family will want to dig in to. Here, food writer and recipe developer Posie (Harwood) Brien shares the secret to her favorite brownie recipe:…

We've teamed up with Miele to streamline your weeknight dinner routine with smart, delicious recipes the whole family will want to dig in to. Here, food writer and recipe developer Posie (Harwood) Brien shares the secret to her favorite brownie recipe: steam!


When it comes to my dessert cravings, I tend to gravitate toward something warm and freshly baked, like a soft, tender cake or a chewy cookie. But whipping up a dessert isn’t always in the cards—I don’t always have the time (or the foresight) to plan anything very involved, especially if I’m already prepping and making dinner.

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Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

I have lots of mini pumpkins around my kitchen during the Halloween and Thanksgiving baking seasons. I always get a variety of sizes and, while I bake the larger sugar pumpkins, I generally use them as centerpieces and they show up as props in the background of lots of …

The post Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes appeared first on Baking Bites.

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

I have lots of mini pumpkins around my kitchen during the Halloween and Thanksgiving baking seasons. I always get a variety of sizes and, while I bake the larger sugar pumpkins, I generally use them as centerpieces and they show up as props in the background of lots of my seasonal pictures. These delicious Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes make a fantastic centerpiece, but they make an even better dessert because they are completely edible!

The cupcakes start out as chocolate cupcakes and turning them into pumpkins is surprisingly easy, though I should let you know in advance that you’re probably going to end up with some frosting on your fingers as you work. Decorating is slightly messy whenever you’re working on a round cake, but it is well worth a few sticky fingers!

In addition to the base chocolate cupcakes, you’re going to need a relatively big batch of buttercream frosting. The frosting not only covers the cake to give it a pumpkin shape, but a small portion of it is dyed green to pipe a vine (for a bit of color) on top of the finished pumpkins. When frosting cakes like these, it is better to have extra frosting than not enough. You can always make more if you run out, but I err on the side of caution and simply bake more cupcakes to use up leftovers.

The fun of these Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes is all in how they are put together. The lids are cut off the cupcakes and the stumps are sandwiched together with a bit of buttercream. The two-tier cakes are then shaped, with the help of a pairing knife, into a more rounded pumpkin shape by cutting off the sharp top and bottom edges. A crumb coat is applied and the cupcakes are chilled. The crumb coat will hold all the chocolate cake crumbs in place when you apply the final coat of frosting. Don’t skip the crumb coat because it makes decorating easier!

Once you apply the final coat of icing, drag the tip of a knife through the frosting to create vertical lines, giving the pumpkins a more realistic finished look. Chill again, then finish the icing by coating it with orange sanding sugar. This not only gives the pumpkins a slightly sparkly loo, but it makes them much easier to handle. Chocolate stumps are added to the top of the cakes, along with swirling green vines.

Don’t throw out your cake scraps when working on these cakes! They are used to make edible “dirt” to surround the cakes when it is time to serve them, finishing the pumpkin patch look. These pumpkins are made with chocolate cake batter, but you can actually use almost any cupcake recipe to make them. That said, chocolate cake or spice cake will give you the best look for your “dirt” crumbs.

If you do want to dress up your mini pumpkins for a spookier look, you have a couple of options. First, you could color a bit of buttercream with black icing and pipe on a jack o’ lantern face. Alternatively, you could poke mini chocolate chips into the pumpkin for an even easier face design. Finally, you could simply add on some candy eyes to give the pumpkins a little personality.

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes
1/4 cup butter
2 oz dark chocolate (chocolate chips are fine), chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup hot coffee (or hot water)

Frosting

1 cup butter, room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3-4 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
orange and green food coloring
1/2 cup orange sanding sugar
6 small chunks of chocolate (for the stems)
candy eyes (optional)

Make The Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt together butter and dark chocolate until smooth. Allow mixture to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter mixture, cocoa powder, sugar, egg, vanilla extract and buttermilk until smooth and well-combined. Add in flour, baking soda and salt and whisk to incorporate. Pour in hot coffee and whisk until batter is smooth. Divide evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until the cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting

In a large bowl, beat butter until soft. Add in about half of the confectioners’ sugar, along with the milk and vanilla extract. Gradually blend in additional confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and smooth. Set aside a small portion of the frosting to be dyed green for the vines. Use orange food coloring (approx 1/4 – 1/2 tsp gel coloring or 1/2 – 3/4 tsp liquid food coloring) to dye the rest of the icing bright orange.

Assembly

Cut the tops off of two cupcakes and remove the wrappers. Place cupcake lids in a bowl for scraps.
Add a bit of frosting to the cut top of one cupcake and invert the second onto it, making an oblong cupcake. Using a paring knife, trim the top and bottom edges to round them off. Place trimmings into the scrap bowl. Repeat with remaining cupcakes to make 6 round cakes.
Carefully frost the round cakes with orange icing to make a crumb coat. Chill for 15 minutes.
Frost the cupcakes more generously to cover the crumb coat. If necessary, stick a skewer into the cupcake to hold it still while you frost. Use the tip of a knife to make ridges in the frosting and give it a more pumpkin-like shape. Chill for 20 minutes.
Coat pumpkins with sanding sugar, gently pressing it into the frosting and smoothing out any imperfections with your fingertips (chilling the cake should make them easy to handle).
Place a small piece of chocolate in the top of each cake to act as the stem, then pipe a swirl of green vine near the top for color. Add on candy eyes, if desired.

Take all the cake scraps and crumble them into small pieces. Make a pile of cake crumbs on a serving plate (or a small pile on each serving dish, if plating individually) and place the pumpkins on top of the “dirt” crumbs to serve.

Makes 6.

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Dulce de Leche Brownies

I thought I’d share this recipe for Dulce de Leche Brownies from The Sweet Life in Paris because I had several jars of what the French call Confiture de lait in my refrigerator from another project. Since I happened to love the combination of ca…

I thought I’d share this recipe for Dulce de Leche Brownies from The Sweet Life in Paris because I had several jars of what the French call Confiture de lait in my refrigerator from another project. Since I happened to love the combination of caramelized milk and dark chocolate, I thought – Why not combine the two in brownies?

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Werewolf Cookies

Wee Werewolf Cookies … Howl cute! These so-soft chocolate sugar cookies with chocolate buttercream are super fun for Halloween! You’ll definitely want to sink your teeth into a few.  These cookies are quick, easy and kind of addictive. And you should totally bake some even if you don’t want to decorate them. I based them […]

Howl Cute Werewolf Cookies

Wee Werewolf Cookies … Howl cute! These so-soft chocolate sugar cookies with chocolate buttercream are super fun for Halloween! You’ll definitely want to sink your teeth into a few. 

Chocolate Cookie Dough

These cookies are quick, easy and kind of addictive. And you should totally bake some even if you don’t want to decorate them. I based them off these vanilla sugar cookies that I can’t stop making. They are so good!

The dough is scooped, rolled and then flattened slightly for a sweet little round canvas. 

So Soft Chocolate Cookies

Once the cookies are baked and cooled, scoop a small amount of chocolate buttercream on top. 

Wee Werewolf Chocolate Cookies

But how do we go from that to these sweet-fanged faces.

Let me show you.

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Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Meet your new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. These cupcakes have it all — moist, rich cake, thick fudgy frosting, even sprinkles on top. They’re perfect for birthdays, baby showers, holiday gatherings, and everything in between. Continue r…

Meet your new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. These cupcakes have it all — moist, rich cake, thick fudgy frosting, even sprinkles on top. They're perfect for birthdays, baby showers, holiday gatherings, and everything in between.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins with streusel topping are tender, moist, and perfectly spiced. Enjoy for breakfast, as a snack, or dessert. They are a must make for fall! I created this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe for our cookbook and it …

These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins with streusel topping are tender, moist, and perfectly spiced. Enjoy for breakfast, as a snack, or dessert. They are a must make for fall! I created this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe for our cookbook and it has been a HUGE hit. I am so glad you guys agree that…

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Easy Fantasy Fudge

This fudge recipe is adapted from the original Kraft back-of-the-can recipe—but with extra chocolate. It’s easy to make with marshmallow fluff, chocolate, evaporated milk, and walnuts. It makes a huge batch so you can share with friends! Co…

This fudge recipe is adapted from the original Kraft back-of-the-can recipe—but with extra chocolate. It's easy to make with marshmallow fluff, chocolate, evaporated milk, and walnuts. It makes a huge batch so you can share with friends!

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whole wheat chocolate oat cookies

Because I am happiest when I let cakes be cakes, and cookies be cookies in all of their real-butter-and-refined sugar bliss, I rarely swap whole wheat or other ingredients in desserts in an effort to put a health halo on them, with two excepti…

Because I am happiest when I let cakes be cakes, and cookies be cookies in all of their real-butter-and-refined sugar bliss, I rarely swap whole wheat or other ingredients in desserts in an effort to put a health halo on them, with two exceptions. The first is morning baked goods, usually muffins like these I’d make for the kids on a weekday, which just feel more breakfast when they least resemble, say, a birthday cake, not that there aren’t days that require that, too. The second is when I think the baked good is improved by the ingredient swap — more crisp/craggy, dynamic or flavorful. I just never expected it to happen to what we call our House Cookie — a one-bowl oatmeal cookie I’ve probably made many times a year for well over a decade, always putting extra scoops in the freezer, so we can have freshly baked cookies when life demands them.

what you'll needwhip butter, sugars, saltadd the flour, oats, chocolatethick doughscoopedbaked

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread-perfectly spiced homemade pumpkin bread with chocolate chips. Everyone’s favorite fall quick bread recipe!  I love fall for many reasons, but Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread is at the top of the list, along with Pumpkin C…

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread-perfectly spiced homemade pumpkin bread with chocolate chips. Everyone’s favorite fall quick bread recipe!  I love fall for many reasons, but Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread is at the top of the list, along with Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars. There is nothing better than pumpkin AND chocolate!  This…

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