Recipe: Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream via @poorandpretty feature

As I was preparing to write this post, I realized the only photo you’ve ever seen of my “little” brother Chris is this one from when he was about 4. So here’s a more recent one – from his graduation from the Pre-Pharmacy program at UConn earlier this year!

Chris Graduation

Not so “little” anymore, right?!

Anyway, Chris loves Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, but his birthday (October 26) tends to be a little on the chilly side. So I made him Mint Chocolate Cupcakes to celebrate his 23rd.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream recipe via @poorandpretty

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream Frosting – makes 12 regular cupcakes or about 60 minis.

For the cupcakes, I used the same recipe I did for my Chocolate Dirt Cupcakes because it’s perfect and the cupcakes come out so most!

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used dark chocolate melting wafers)
  • ¾ cup black tea or coffee, hot
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ tbs vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

And the frosting is my standard buttercream with peppermint essential oil and green food coloring mixed in:

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp peppermint essential oil – make sure it’s food grade! Most peppermint essential oil should be, but definitely check. If you don’t have peppermint EO handy, you can use a flavoring or extract, but you may need to use more
  • 6 drops green food coloring (I used neon green)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream 3 via @poorandpretty

Cupcake Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line your cupcake tin with paper or silicone cupcake liners.

2. Add the cocoa powder and chopped chocolate into a medium bowl and pour the hot coffee or tea over it. Whisk together until the chocolate has melted and your mixture is smooth. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Dirt Cupcakes - finely chopped bittersweet chocolate - poorandpretty

(Here’s a reference photo for how small the chocolate should be chopped.)

3. In another medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

4. Once your chocolate mixture has cooled, mix in the eggs, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract.

5. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in two parts, scraping down the sides of the bowl and whisking until smooth each time.

6. Fill each cupcake liner about ¾ of the way, then bake for 16-20 minutes. While they’re cooking, make your pudding.

7. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack or in their tin for about an hour.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream via @poorandpretty

Frosting Directions:

1. Cream butter with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) in a medium bowl, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to get any devious clumps of butter.

2. Pour in one cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix well — again, scraping the sides of the bowl for clumps. Then, repeat with the other cup of confectioner’s sugar.

3. Mix in your vanilla extract, peppermint essential oil, and green food coloring.

4. Mix in your milk, one tablespoon at a time.

5. Add more confectioner’s sugar if necessary.

6. Frost your cupcakes and enjoy!

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Recipe: Copycat Harry Potter Pumpkin Juice

homemade pumpkin juice via @poorandpretty 550

homemade pumpkin juice via @poorandpretty

This time last year, Stan and I were gearing up for our five-year-anniversary trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Since they’ve opened up the second part, I’m so wishing we could go back this year, but I’ll settle for making copycat drinks instead. (It’s much less expensive!) I made pumpkin juice for the first time a few weeks ago when Stan and I visited our friends Dave, Jessica, and their kiddies to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. You know me — I love themed parties! I read a lot of recipes, and finally settled on an adaptation of this one from Bryton Taylor. It tastes pretty darn close to what they’re serving up in the Wizarding World. Even though it sounds like it would be gross, it’s actually really, really good. I was surprised how much I liked it. It would be a perfect kid-safe drink to serve at Halloween parties! Or spike it with a little bit of rum for adults. ;)

Pumpkin Juice, adapted from Bryton Taylor. Serves 8-10 people.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 29 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 6 cups apple juice
  • 1 9.6 oz can pear nectar (about 1 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup sugar

pumpkin puree via @poorandpretty

1. In a blender, blend water with canned pumpkin for a minute or so.

straining pumpkin via @poorandpretty

2. Sift this mixture through a fine mesh strainer, then pour the resulting liquid into a large saucepan or pot. Set the pumpkin puree aside.

pumpkin juice simmering via @poorandpretty

3. Add apple juice, pear nectar, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar to the pot and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

4. Optional: Add 1/3 cup of the strained pumpkin puree and let simmer another 10 minutes or so. I like adding the extra pumpkin puree back in because it gives the juice a little more of a gritty, cider texture, but you should do what tastes best to you!

pumpkin juice via @poorandpretty

That’s really it! You can serve it hot or iced. (I prefer it hot.)

P.S. Can anyone guess whose wand that is? I’ll give you a hint: it belongs to my favorite Harry Potter character.

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Recipe: Apple Gruyere Cup Pies

Apple Cup Pies feature

Apple Gruyere Cup Pies Recipe via @poorandpretty

I’m not really a pie person, but when my Dad asked me to make dessert for Thanksgiving three years ago, I knew it had to be pie. What’s Thanksgiving without pie?! So after binge watching Pushing Daisies for the millionth time, I decided on Chuck-inspired apple cup-pies with Gruyere cheese baked into the crust. My issue with pies has always been the crust-filling ratio. There needs to be more crust! Cup pies — mini pies baked in cupcake tins — totally solve that for me. And with apple season in full swing, I finally got around to making them again so that I can share them with you (and my grateful co-workers ;)!

Apple Cup Pies closeup via @poorandpretty

Apple Cup Pies — Makes about 12 mini pies. Recipe adapted from Cave Cibum.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 ½ sticks (28 tbs) salted butter, frozen
  • 5 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional, but it’s what Chuck would have done!)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 apples — peeled, cored, and chopped into cubes. I recommend Granny Smith, Gala, or Honeycrisp.
  • 1 ½ tbs sugar
  •  1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  •  1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 ½ tsp flour
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla

1 egg, beaten
sugar, for dusting

Apple Cup Pies - butter cubes via @poorandpretty

1. Let’s cut up all of that butta before it melts! Chop it up into nice, little cubes.

Apple Cup Pies - mixing in butter via @poorandpretty

2. Combine your flower, sugar, salt, and butter in a large bowl. Because the butter is frozen, you’re going to need to push it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until clumps begin to form. Then, mix in the grated Gruyere cheese.

3. Add vanilla and water and knead until you’ve got a nice soft dough. If it’s too dry, add more water. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into flattened disks. Wrap these discs in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to 2 days.

Apple Cup Pies - naked apple cubes via @poorandpretty

4. While waiting for the dough to chill, chop up your apples…

Apple Cup Pies - seasoned apple cubes via @poorandpretty

5. Add in your sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, and vanilla and mix them into the apples until they’re fairly evenly coated.

Apple Cup Pies - rolling out the dough via @poorandpretty

6. Once your dough is chilled, remove one disk from the refrigerator and roll it out onto a floured surface until it’s about ¼ inch thick.

Apple Cup Pies - dough cup cutouts via @poorandpretty

7. Use a large cup, biscuit cutter, or old Wonton Soup container (yes, that’s what that is) and cut out 12 circles.

Apple Cup Pies - dough cups via @poorandpretty

8. Grease alternating cups in two cupcake pans, and place your 12 circles into each greased cup. Push them in with your fingertips so they fit into the bottom and sides of the cups. If you don’t have two pans, you can take turns with the one you have, but when you bake the second batch, grease and use the unused cups.

Apple Cup Pies - dough cups filled via @poorandpretty

9.  Generously fill each pie with apple mixture. It’s okay — preferable! — if it’s overflowing.

Apple Cup Pies - crust heart cut via @poorandpretty

10. Roll out your second dough disk and use a smaller cup or biscuit cutter (about 3 1/2 inch) to cut 12 circles. Top each pie with these smaller circles and press the edges together to seal. Brush the top of each pie with beaten egg and dust with sugar, then cut some small steam holes in the tops. Get creative with your steam holes! I gave this heart one to Stan ♥

11. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°, then reduce the heat to 350° and bake an another 15 minutes, until the dough is golden and the filling begins to bubble up.

Apple Gruyere Cup Pies via @poorandpretty

11. Eat ‘em up! I like them best paired with vanilla ice cream.

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Recipe: Scandinavian Bulla Bread

Bulla Bread feature

Scandinavian Bulla Bread Recipe via @poorandpretty

A few weeks ago, my Dad mentioned these slightly sweet rolls his paternal grandmother used to bake when he was younger. “Bulla bread!” He said. He had never mentioned them before, but I’m always up for a baking challenge! His 50th birthday party this past Sunday was the perfect time to try my hand at them.

Bulla Bread 2 via @poorandpretty

Bulla’s origins look to be Finnish, but are made across Scandinavia. My great-grandmother was Swedish and Danish so this recipe was most likely engrained in her brain. (Kind of like Red Velvet cupcakes are for me). Take a dinner roll, add sugar and cardamom and that’s basically it. You can add raisins or cinnamon too, but having never made them before, I went for a basic recipe. I loved making them for my Dad, and watching he and his siblings reminisce while eating them. They made yummy breakfast treats the next day too!

Bulla Bread — makes 32 rolls. Recipe adapted from Snovej.

  • 2 cups + 2 tbs milk
  • 2 packages of dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar + 1 tsp, divided
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 5½ – 6 cups flour
  • 14 tbs (1 ¾ sticks) butter, room temperature or melted

1. Microwave the milk for about a minute and pour it into a big bowl. Dissolve the yeast in it, then stir in one egg and 1 cup sugar, and the salt and cardamom. Mix well.

2. Add flour 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition. After 4 cups, mix in the butter, then more flour until you have a nice dough that no longer sticks to your fingers. (This was about 5½ cups for me).

bulla bread dough pre-risen via @poorandpretty

3. When you’re satisfied with the consistency of your dough, cover it with a towel and let it rise in a warm place.

bulla bread dough risen via @poorandpretty

4. After 1-2 hours, it should have doubled in size. If not, let it rise for longer.

bulla bread dough kneaded via @poorandpretty

5. When it’s risen, pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead it, adding more flour if necessary.

bulla bread dough via @poorandpretty

6. Divide the dough into four equal-sized balls.

bulla bread dough roll via @poorandpretty

7. Roll each ball into a log about 8″-10″ long.

bulla bread dough cut via @poorandpretty

8. Slice each long into 8 equal pieces. I slice it in half first, then quarters, then eighths.

bulla bread ready to bake via @poorandpretty

9. Lay out your sliced dough on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Let rise for another 30 minutes or so.

baked bulla bread via @poorandpretty

10. Make an egg wash with your other egg and 1 tbs of sugar, and lightly baste your dough, then cook at 450º for 8-10 minutes.

Bulla Bread top via @poorandpretty

11. Sprinkle with sugar and enjoy!

For more ways to make Bullas, check out this recipe from Snovej.

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Holy Tomatoes, Batman! 20 Tomato Recipes

homegrown cherry tomatoes

homegrown cherry tomatoes

We are finally getting some ripe tomatoes from our garden! The trouble is, they’re sort of all ripening at once, and we’re having trouble keeping up with them. I mean, I love tomatoes, but you can only eat so many of them in one day! So I rounded up a few recipes from around the web that will help me put them to good use.

egg avocado toast via Design Love Fest

1. Egg, Avocado, and Tomato Toast via Design Love Fest.

smoked cheddar grits with tomatoes via oh my veggies

2. Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes via Oh My Veggies.

tomato zucchini fritata via Love and Lemons

3. Tomato Zucchini Frittata via Love & Lemons.

grilled bacon salad via smitten kitchen

4. Grilled Bacon Salad with Arugula and Balsamic via Smitten Kitchen.

Copycat Corner Pug Salad via poor and pretty

5. Copycat Corner Pug House Salad via Poor & Pretty.

caprese salad via poet in the pantry

6. Caprese Salad via Poet in the Pantry.

taco salad via two peas and their pod

7. Taco Salad with Homemade Tortilla Bowls via Two Peas and Their Pod.

Baked Polenta and Tomato Salad Stack via A Beautiful Mess

8. Baked Polenta and Tomato Salad via A Beautiful Mess.

cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes via Design Love Fest

9. Cheese-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes via Design Love Fest.

tomato pesto bites via Delightfully Tacky

10. Tomato Pesto Bites via Delightfully Tacky.

roasted tomatoes via cooking classy

11. Parmesan and Asiago Cheese Roasted Tomatoes via Cooking Classy.

tomato peach salsa via kokocooks

12. Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salsa via Kokocooks.

guacamole via poor and pretty

13. Guacamole via Poor & Pretty.

tomato tortellini soup via two peas and their pod

14. Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup via Two Peas and Their Pod.

tomato pasta sauce via Delightfully Tacky

15. Tomato Pasta Sauce via Delightfully Tacky.

gnocchi skillet with sausage and tomatoes via the kitchn

16. Gnocchi Skillet with Chicken Sausage and Tomatoes via The Kitchn.

tomato cheese tart via A Beautiful Mess

17. Tomato Tart via A Beautiful Mess.

heirloom tomato toasts via Love and Lemons

18. Heirloom Tomato Sun-Cheese Toasts via Love & Lemons.

caprese pizza via cooking classy

19. Four Cheese Caprese Pizza via Cooking Classy.

Beaker BLT wraps via Handmade Charlotte

20. Beaker BLT Wraps via Handmade Charlotte.

How do you prepare tomatoes? I’d love to see some of your favorite recipes in the comments!

 

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