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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The Little Things

IMG_6515 |coffee & donuts al fresco with my husband & puppies|

Andrew and I spent last week in Mexico (look out for photos next week). It was absolutely incredible. Exactly what we both needed- fun in the sun and plenty of R&R. It’s always bitter sweet coming home from a vacation, but I had plenty of fun this week to make the transition back to real life fun. Happy Friday!

IMG_6489 |ruff day for Pipes on our 2 hour hike|
IMG_6502 |midweek steak & wine, yes please|
IMG_6504 |shopping in Beverly Hills with mama|

IMG_6507 |drooling over the cakes & cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery|

Links to Make the Weekend Come Back Sooner

I could definitely use some distractions on this Monday morning. I have a bad case of the Monday Blues. Here are a couple links to make the weekend last a little longer. Hope everyone has a good week.
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1. Coffee is healthy (YAY!) but here are a few ways to make it healthier.

2. 21 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Genius–def could use some motivation these days.

3. I am obsessed with watching home renovation shows. My dream is to buy a fixer upper and do a major renovation. Here is a complete kitchen renovation with appliances and all that only cost this couple $5,000.

4. The cutest portable meals and snacks you can make in a muffin pan.

5. I’ve started planning our summer vacation and am so excited. We’re trying to make it as low cost as possible, but still enjoying ourselves. I’ll be putting these tips to save money while traveling to good use.

6. Getting the most out of your favorite beauty products..

Day Trip to Redlands & Oak Glen

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Over the weekend, my hubby and I did a day trip to visit my sister in Redlands.  She goes to University of Redlands and since she’s been away at college I’ve become quite fond of this small little town on the way to Palm Springs.  Like any good trip, it was completely planned around food.

The first stop on our food tour was Carolyn’s Cafe for their coffee cake.  As you can see in he picture below, the cake is topped with an ice cream size scoop of butter.  The butter gently melts down the warm coffee cake.  It is sweet, soft, crumbly and extremely buttery.  It is decadent goodness.

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After going into a food coma, we drove up in the hills to Oak Glen. It’s a quaint town just an hour and a half from Los Angeles, but feels a world away. It’s a 5 mile loop with dozens of shops and scenic views. There are apple orchards along the route and spots for apple picking. The small mom and pop shops offer tons of different apple varieties, most I’ve never even heard of.

Our on way up the mountain we stopped at Mom’s Country Orchard. It’s the cutest little shop that sells hundreds of jams, jellies, nut butters, fruit butters, BBQ sauces, mustard, and honeys. There are countless varieties and you can sample any flavor you like. I probably sampled 20 different preserves and they were all delicious. I am the biggest fan of samples–it’s the reason I go to Costco.

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After our sampling, we headed to the heart of Oak Glen.  We stopped at Snow Line Orchard for for mini. apple. cider. donuts. Each step of the donut making process is done right before your eyes.  After the mini donuts are fried, they are topped with a healthy dose of cinnamon sugar and handed to you still warm.  They are heaven in a teeny tiny mini bite. My sister and husband started looking at me funny after the noises I made after my first bite… They are slightly crisp on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside.

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After all our sweet treats, we walked around the Oak Glen Preserve with our pups. The leaves were changing colors. It was absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking. Andrew and I have been planning a trip to Yosemite soon, but walking around the nature preserve in Oak Glen felt like we were in Yosemite. It was cool and crisp and truly felt like fall. We don’t really get the feeling in Los Angeles so this was a treat.

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On our way back down the mountain to Redlands we saw four deer! It added to the magic of Oak Glen. Before heading home we had to have our favorite shredded beef tacos from Cucas. It was a fun filled (and delicious food filled) day in Redlands & Oak Glen with my hubs, pups, and sister.

Salted Caramel Latte

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Most of my family are chocoholics, but I’m the weirdo who can take it or leave it. When it comes to caramel I definitely fall on the addicted end of the spectrum. My favorites: caramel apples, caramel sundaes, milk duds, carmelitas, and of course a caramel latte.

Salted Caramel Latte (serves 1)
What you need:
1/4 cup ground coffee
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp store bought caramel sauce
1/4 cup milk
pinch of French fleur de sel/sea salt

What to do:
Brew the ground coffee with the water in a large French press and let steep for 5 minutes. (If you don’t have a French press, brew coffee double the strength you ordinarily do. While the coffee is brewing, heat the milk in a small sauce pan. Once the milk is warmed through use vigorously whisk or use an Aerolatte Milk Frother to make foam. Microwave the caramel sauce till it’s hot (without the metal cap!).

Now that you have everything prepped you can make your latte! Add a tablespoon of caramel to a large coffee mug, stir in coffee, pour milk and foam, drizzle more caramel on top, sprinkle French sea salt on top and take a sip and relax.

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