Chocolate Cupcakes with a Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

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Yesterday was my mom’s birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!). We went out to a fun gastropub for dinner and then came back to our place after for dessert and presents.  These yummy cupcakes are made with coffee, which really enhances the chocolate flavor.  Again, I’m not the biggest chocolate fan, but I love the coffee addition.  The chocolate cream cheese frosting is rich and decadent and puts these cupcakes over the edge.  I love these blue polka dot cupcake liners I found at Home Goods.  They make for such a cute presentation (but to be honest they aren’t very practical for eating).  It was a great night celebrating my mama with my favorite people, good food, and a yummy dessert.

Chocolate Cupcakes (Cake recipe from: Sweetapolita)
Yield: about 24 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee (can be hot)
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Add all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and with paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer) and pour into prepared cupcake pan until 2/3 full (or just less). Batter will be liquidy.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to overbake. Cool on wire racks in pans for 5 minutes then gently turn cupcakes onto racks until completely cool.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cooled melted chocolate
tbsp spoon milk if too thick

Mix all ingredients with a hand mixer/stand mixer until smooth.

Scoop all the frosting into a piping bag or into a large ziplock bag and snip a small edge of the corner and pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.

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Gâteau au chocolat Reine de Saba | Chocolate Almond Cake

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Andrew’s mom, Veronique, made us this gateau au chocolate while she was staying with us. It was so delicious! I’m not the biggest chocolate fan so the fact that I remade this cake right after she left is a very good sign. It’s very light unlike most flourless chocolate cakes. It has almond flour and whipped egg whites that create a very light and moist cake. This cake is named for the Queen of Sheba and this cake is definitely fit for a queen.

Gâteau au chocolat Reine de Saba
Ingredients:
200 grams semi-sweet chocolate (about 7 ounces)
200 grams unsalted butter (about 7 ounces)
120 grams sugar (about 4 1/2 ounces)
200 grams almond powder/meal/flour (about 7 ounces)
5 eggs

Directions:
Melt chocolate and butter. Add sugar and mix well. Add almond powder and mix well. Add 1 full egg plus 4 egg yolks and mix well. Beat 4 egg whites until firm. Carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Butter a round baking pan. Bake cake for 25 minutes in a 350°F oven. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream (and berries if you like). Enjoy!


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Herb Salmon

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My herb garden is overflowing so I’ve been trying to test out different ways to use my herbs. This salmon is super easy and tasty. It screams summer and makes a pretty presentation for a weeknight at home or an impressive summer dinner with friends.

Here’s how I did it: I just chopped up about of half a tablespoon of each: parsley, scallion, tarragon and dill. Squeezed the juice of half a large lemon. Combine the herbs, lemon and some softened butter. Stirred it all together and coated the two salmon fillets with the herb butter. I then sautéed over medium high heat until each side was browned and cooked the way I wanted. I plated the salmon and topped it with more freshly chopped parsley, scallion, tarragon and dill and squeezed the remaining half a lemon over top. Voila. Enjoy.
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Summer Lemon Basil Chicken 

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This grilled chicken recipe with basil and lime (I used lemons from my tree) screams SUMMER! It is super delicious. This has become an instant favorite especially since I have several of the ingredients growing in my backyard: lemons, basil, and scallions.  This chicken recipe is light, fresh and healthy, perfect for dining al fresco on a warm summer night. 
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Winter Roasted Vegetable Salad with Whipped Goat Cheese

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I’ve made this salad a few times and each time it’s been a hit. It’s absolutely delicious–filled with parsnips, carrots (I used heirloom), apples, bacon, beets and a whipped goat cheese. Simply, mouth-watering. I made this salad over the weekend for my cousin’s shower.  It’s fairly easy to make, especially since most of the components can be made ahead of time.  It makes a gorgeous presentation and made a stunning addition to the buffet table.  The recipe is from The Little Paris Kitchen cookbook is by the adorable Rachel Khoo.  I just love her cookbook and show on Cooking Channel.  It reminds me of the days I studied abroad in Paris. Enjoy!

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