Craft Beer + Chocolate = The New Cupid Couple

It’s that chocolate gift giving time of year again!

With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year, you may wish to look beyond landing a dinner reservation; it will surely be a cluster of a night for most restaurants.

If you need a fun idea that does not even require you to step into an overcrowded restaurant, then I’ve got you covered.

Stay in instead and do it right with a fancy craft beer and chocolate pairing.

beer and chocolate pairing

Here is my craft beer and chocolate pairing guide for the sweet love in your life:

Before selecting chocolate and a beer to pair it with – it is important to remember the three Cs of beer pairing – compare, contrast and cleanse.

Compare: If you want your chocolate and beer to have similar flavors.

Contrast: Flavors that are different but complement each other nicely.

Cleanse: Lastly, if you’re eating a greasy or fatty food like sausage (doesn’t apply to this situation since we are talking about chocolate pairings); an ideal beer would be a pilsner as it works to cleanse the palate.

Peace Love and ChocolateCraftBeer. Com – Beer and Chocolates Not So Secret Love Affair

https://www.craftbeer.com/beer-and-food/beer-and-chocolates-not-so-secret-love-affair

beer and chocolate

The Kitchn – Beer and Chocolate Four Delicious Pairings

http://www.thekitchn.com/beer-chocolate-four-delicious-pairings-179314

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

2013 Food Bloggers Cookie Swap | Always Room for Dark Chocolate and Butterscotch

Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding Cookies for the 2013 Food Bloggers Cookie Swap.

Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding CookiesIt is probably no surprise to anyone that dessert is one of my favorite parts of any meal, which is why I was so delighted to participate in this year’s great food bloggers cookie swap. The food bloggers cookie swap supports Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. How could I say no!!

For the cookie swap I decided to make butterscotch pudding cookies dipped in dark chocolate.

Butterscotch Pudding Cookies? It’s a super-moist, tender brown sugar cookie with instant butterscotch pudding and butterscotch chips added to the mix. It’s kind of like butterscotch heaven, in my mind. The cookies themselves are not super-sweet, but rather tender with subtly vanilla and brown sugary. The dark chocolate ganache is very minimally sweet, but oh-so-tasty.

Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding CookiesLesson learned: chocolate-dipped cookies are much more rich and satisfying than non-chocolate-dipped cookies.

Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 (3.4 oz.) package of butterscotch pudding mix

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup butterscotch chips

Dark Chocolate Ganache

6 ounces dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tbsp.

Pinch of fine-grain salt

Chocolate sprinkles

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until creamy and fluffy.

Add in the pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla extract. Beat well until incorporated.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the butterscotch chips with a spatula.

Drop cookies onto baking sheet with a cookie scoop and bake for 10 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges.

Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan; take the cream off the heat just before boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and add the salt; allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir until the ganache is smooth.

Once the ganache is totally cooled dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate then cover in sprinkles, transfer the cookie to parchment or wax paper. Repeat the process until all of the cookies are half dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 30 minutes.

Apple Pie Muffins

Yes, you read the title correctly – Apple Pie Muffins. Just like warm apple pie if you eat them hot out of the oven like I did. Two wonderful buttery worlds collide and the resulting muffin is everything you need this Thanksgiving.

I did not want these to be typical muffins with barely recognizable pieces of apple and a little spice. I wanted these to be hearty, enthusiastically spiced apple muffins with big chunks of Granny Smith apples and a sweet and buttery crumble topping.

Apple Pie Muffins

If the thought of baking a pie for Thanksgiving is a little daunting, then why not bake apple pie muffins instead?  Honestly who does not love apple pie muffins with a crumb topping!

Apple Pie Muffins

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2 cups peeled, chopped Granny Smith Apples

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 tbsp. butter, melted

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 cup muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla and 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved.

Pour butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in apples. Use a cookie or ice cream scoop to fill each muffin well, filling the cups to the top.

In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, rolled oats, and cinnamon. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of melted butter, mixing until well blended. Sprinkle this over the tops of the muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed.

Cool on wire rack. Store at room temperature.

Granny Smith Apples

Fun Food Fact:

While an apple a day might keep the doctor away, it may be the perfect substitute for your morning java too! Believe it or not, you may feel as awake and energized as you did post-coffee.

Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

When I ate one of these cookies, suddenly everything in life made sense. Well, maybe not everything. 

Like if you told me that at age 40 I’d be writing many fragmented and run-on sentences about the food I love to eat on the internet, sharing my life everyday with some invisible internet friends and taking pictures of things I’m about to put in my mouth… I would have clichély laughed in your face. In fact, I still am sort of laughing.

Have you tried Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter?

Cookie ButterIt is a “deliciously unusual spread reminiscent of gingerbread and made with crushed biscuits”. I’ll clarify for you, just like the little biscuit cookies you get on Delta flights (aka Biscoff cookies)?  This spread tastes exactly like it.

My thoughts on “Cookie Butter” the flavor is amazing.  I love gingerbread.  I think some might have a problem with the texture — it was almost too smooth. When I first dug in, I was comparing it to peanut butter (which I prefer crunchy).  Since I did love the flavor, I decided it would be perfect in a cookie.

Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel CookiesI was right so right.

Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Speculoos cookie butter or Biscoff spread

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

Milk – as needed

1/2 cup chopped pretzels

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt butter and cookie butter in a microwave-safe bowl in microwave in 30 second increments. When fully melted, mix butter and cookie butter until fully combined. Set aside and let cool.

Place cooled cookie butter mixture in large mixer bowl and cream with sugars.

Mix in vanilla extract and eggs.

Add in flours, salt, and baking soda. If dough is crumbly, add milk until dough achieves desired consistency.

Mix in chopped pretzels and chocolate chips.

Scoop dough onto cookies sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until set and slightly underdone.

Let cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack.

Store in an air tight container.

Enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Cut-Out Cookies

Snickerdoodle

Fall is here, it’s a little difficult to tell with the temperature still warm here in Southern California. But the signs are popping up everywhere else. I think a lot of us really get the first taste of fall when Starbucks reintroduces the pumpkin spice back into their lineup! I know I found myself digging in the back of the closet for my favorite sweaters to drop off to get dry cleaned the day after I saw the sign.

Fall makes everyone think about warm clothes, warm drinks and warm spices. And it makes me think of apple pie, apple cider, warm gooey cinnamon rolls or maybe just a hot cup of spiced chai. All of those things have at least one thing in common; cinnamon. For me, cinnamon is the quintessential fall spice.

And what could be better on a fall day than a nice snickerdoodle? You really can’t go wrong; it’s soft, warm, tender and most importantly has a mellow sweetness and a little cinnamon kick.

Snickerdoodle

If you’re looking for a great new recipe for cut out cookies, that will be perfect for fall, look no further!

snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodle Cut-Out Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, cold

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

3-3 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Instructions

Cut cold butter into chunks; combine in mixer with sugar and cinnamon until fluffy (about 1 minute).

Add egg and vanilla extract, beat until fully incorporated.

Scrape down the bowl and then just measure and scoop all the flour directly into the mixing bowl, add the salt and baking powder and mix on low speed until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. This will only take about a minute and the dough will form a ball on the beater and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface and use your favorite cutters to cut out shapes.

Line your baking sheets with parchment for even baking (and easy cleanup) and place cookies onto sheets.

Place baking sheets into the freezer for about 10 minutes (this prevents the dough from spreading) while the oven heats to 350 degrees.

Bake cookies for about 10-12 minutes depending on your oven.

Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating.

snickerdoodles

Meatless Monday – Be In The Know

No idea how I haven’t heard of this roasted fall vegetable and ricotta pizza before, but I’m glad I did one more search on Pinterest to introduce me to it.

Whenever I scroll through the Martha Stewart website, it makes me feel like there might be a really crazy, OCD housewife living in me. It excites me. Scares me a little.

Meatless Monday Featured Recipe:

Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza – Martha Stewart

Veggie Pizza

Sweet Tea Vodka Cupcakes

A few days ago, when Orange County decided to be a beautiful 97 degrees, I stuck my head in the freezer. It was one part drama and one part necessity. Mostly drama, I think.

As I was in there, with the cold air hitting my face aka heaven, I took a peek around. Lots of ice cream. Normal. And then there it was a bottle of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. YES! Cupcake time!

Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka

lemon5

Sweet Tea Vodka……. the perfect summer drink or cupcake.

Seriously though, this is basically a summer cocktail in cupcake form. The vodka is definitely not over-powering at all; but there’s a touch of tea and a whole lot of lemon involved. And yes, it’s still miserable in The OC.

lemon3

Sweet Tea Vodka Cupcakes

Ingredients

1 stick butter, room temperature

1 ½ cup powdered sugar

3 tbsp. lemon zest

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup milk

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. sweet tea vodka (I recommend Firefly it’s the best)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

Combine butter, powdered sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend.

Mix in half the flour mixture. Then add the milk and lemon juice. Then mix in the other half of the flour mixture until just combined.

Pour batter into a lined cupcake tin, almost all the way to the top.

Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 16-20 minutes, until cooked through and slightly golden at edges.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for a few minutes before moving to rack to cool completely. When cool, brush lightly with about 2 tbsp. of sweet tea vodka. I did two layers.

lemon4

Sweet Tea Vodka Frosting

Ingredients

1 stick butter, room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 tbsp. sweet tea vodka

1 tbsp. lemon zest

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy.

Add in sweet tea vodka, lemon zest, and lemon juice and combine.

If you need to add more powdered sugar to reach your desired consistency, you can.

Pipe frosting on to cupcakes. Or slather it on with a knife.

You can top the cupcakes with whatever you want. I decided a sugared lemon peel was appropriate.

Cupcakes On Tap – Blue Moon Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes…. Before Summer Vacation Ends

It’s Labor Day on Monday. I know this because I have received a dozen invites to all sorts of social gatherings kindly remind me, that summer vacation is coming to an end. One invite was even nice enough to go so far as to Google Map the party from my home, too–it was helpful…and bossy. :)

So yes, it’s Labor Day weekend. And I decided to share a Cupcakes On Tap recipe with you – Creamsicle Cupcakes with Blue Moon beer for me to make and for you to make.

Blue Moon Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Do you love Belgian white ales in general and especially love the citrus notes in Blue Moon or Shocktop.

These little guys are light and fluffy and the orange infused cream cheese frosting is so simple and really good. They’re a fun treat to bring to any get together. So go make them this weekend, okay?! Enjoy!

Cupcakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/3 cup Blue Moon or Shocktop

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixer, beat together butter and sugar for 10 minutes, until extremely fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, being careful to incorporate completely before adding the next egg.

In 3 portions each, alternate adding flour and beer until a batter forms.

Adjust and add more beer if the batter seems too stiff for cupcakes.

Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners/baking cups. And fill 2/3 full.

Bake until springy in the center but not overcooked– approximately 20-25 minutes.

Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

Ingredients

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

4-6 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. orange juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Orange food coloring

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, orange extract and vanilla.

Gradually add powdered sugar.

Gently fold in a pinch of orange food gel color.

Put the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a pastry tip of your choice.

Pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Store cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Blue Moon

Happy Labor Day Weekend!!

Limoncello Cut-out Sugar Cookies

If you like lemon, you will LOVE these cookies.

Daisy Cookies II

Taking a bite into these cookies and you truly get a “burst” of lemon. The lemon cookie dough consists of lemon zest, and lemon juice. If you wanted to spice things up a bit, you could also substitute limoncello (this is what I did) for the lemon juice in the recipe. Mmmm…

Daisy Cookies I

The cookies, not surprisingly, have a soft and cake texture. The lemon royal icing provides a perfect balance to the tartness of the lemon. I think they would be a wonderful addition to a brunch spread, great for a wedding or baby shower, and a great complement to afternoon tea.

Baby Shower Cookies

Limoncello Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 tsp. limoncello or fresh lemon juice

3/4 tsp. grated lemon zest

2/3 cup light brown sugar (light preferred but dark will do)

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

In your large mixing bowl or the work bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter with the limoncello or fresh lemon juice. When it is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes) add in both sugars and the egg beat for another 3 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together the flour, cream of tartar and the salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix for about 3 minutes to combine thoroughly.

Divide the dough into two roughly equal portions, flatten into discs about 1 inch thick and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Before rolling out the cookies set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350 degrees.

Flour your work surface and bring out one of the dough disks. I have you divide this so that the dough stays cool while you are working with it. If it starts to get sticky at any point, return it to the ‘fridge and work with the other disk.

Using your rolling-pin, gently roll back and forth over the dough. When you have a long oval, turn it 90 degrees and roll away from yourself so you have a roughly square dough about 1/4 inch in height.

Tip: Don’t roll these cookies too thin. They will get too crisp if you do.

Cut into desired shapes. Knead the scraps back together and roll out again until you’ve used up all the dough.

Place them about 1” apart on the sheet pan. When you have a full sheet pan slip them into the hot oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes. They should just have a thin slightly darker brown rim around them when they are done.

Remove them from the oven and place the whole sheet pan on the cooling rack. Allow the cookies to sit on the hot sheet pan for another 2 minutes to finish cooking all the way through. Remove them from the sheet pan with a spatula and allow to cool completely on the rack before icing.

Doves

Lemon Royal Icing

Ingredients

4 tbsp. meringue powder (found at any craft/baking store)

1/2 cup water

1 lb. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. light corn syrup

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.

Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine.

Add in the corn syrup and lemon juice

Increase speed to med-high and beat for about 5-10 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not over beat.

Remove icing and divide into separate, covered container. The number of containers will be based on how many colors you are using. Keep the icing covered at all times when you are not working with it, as it dries out quickly.

Dilute icing with water so it is a pipe able consistency, but be careful and only add a tiny bit of water at a time because it dilutes rather easily. Add coloring when the icing is at the right consistency for piping and place it in a piping bag fit with a small, round tip. I used a #2 tip for piping these cookies. Pipe thin, smooth outlines on each of the cookie and set aside.

Once all of the outlines are piped, add the icing back to its appropriate container and dilute it to a “flooding” consistency. Just make it thin enough that it is easy enough to spread within your outline.

Repeat steps with each cookie and let them harden overnight before placing them in an airtight container.

Boozy Dulce de Leche Cake Doughnuts

Boozy Dulce De Leche Doughnuts

Is it fall yet?

I understand people’s whole thing with summer…I get it. But honestly, I’m sweating. The air conditioner’s going. The bugs are out (and won’t leave). And I’m all summer-ed out.

Unfortunately, in Southern California, it is still summer, with temperatures predicted to get up in the high 80′s this weekend. That sucks for me because I can’t stop dreaming about chunky sweaters, beautiful boots, warm cozy snacks, comfort meals and drinks.

So I took it upon myself to make a very “fall” like doughnut in the month of August. This should go without saying, but this doughnut can be made anytime of the year; however I’m actually really looking forward to having this in the fall while sitting outside sipping on coffee in a gigantic sweater.

boozy dulce de leche doughnuts

This is one of the most comforting recipes I’ve made to date. Super easy too.

Plus… it’s an excellent excuse to eat doughnuts. I love that I’m in charge of all the rules.

Boozy Dulce De Leche Doughnuts

Boozy Dulce de Leche Cake Doughnuts

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream

1/3 tsp. vanilla extract

Oil for frying

Instructions

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the center.

In a large measuring glass, whisk together milk, egg, butter, baileys and vanilla extract. Pour into the center of the dry ingredients then mix with a large spoon. Stir until dough is combined but do not over mix. The dough will be sticky! Cover with plastic wrap and set the bowl in the fridge for 1 hour.

After an hour, remove dough and place on a well-floured surface. Roll dough out to be about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Using a doughnut cutter, biscuit cutter or… something round, cut circles into the dough.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat so it’s about 2-3 inches deep. Carefully drop 3 to 4 doughnuts at a time into the oil and fry for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, flipping the doughnuts after a minute or so. Drain on paper towels and repeat until all the doughnuts have been made.

For the Glaze

Ingredients

1 (13-ounce) can dulce de leche

1 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream

1/4 cup water

Instructions

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the dulce de leche, baileys and water. (Note: If you want really boozy doughnuts, change the proportions in the glaze to 3 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons baileys).

Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave, and then whisk to combine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then dunk each doughnut into the glaze.

Let set for about 30 minutes.

Boozy Dulce De Leche Doughnuts

Enjoy! :)