Bailey’s Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting

I saw this recipe in my Facebook timeline feed and figured that, with a few tweeks, that it would fill my deep and abiding, end of year chocolate needs. We used Bailey’s Irish Cream instead of vanilla extract. The 1 cup of boiling water made the batter super thin – it resulted in light cupcakes but, I don’t know about you but I want density with my dark chocolate. We also used my favorite frosting for a nutty, creamy finish.


Bailey's Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup very best quality cocoa (I used Droste)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 28 to 30 muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will thin out considerably). Pour batter into cups about 2/3 full.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or 22 to 25 minutes for cupcakes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting.


Chocolate Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz package cream cheese
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup good quality cocoa
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons Praline liquor or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all together. Frost cupcakes. Lick spoon. Dab a little bit behind your ears and celebrate the start of a new year!


Rum Chata Cocktails and Cheesecake

We have a bottle of a yummy cream liquor called RumChata and had a hankering to use it as more than just an after dinner drink. RumChata is made with Caribbean rum and cream with the addition of Horchata spices (including cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, etc).

Here are a couple of cocktails plus an alteration of Michelle’s cheesecake from my publisher, Bella Books , Thanksgiving blog (scroll down once you click through to find her recipe) to include bittersweet chocolate and RumChata.


RumChata Egg Nog Au Lait

2 parts RumChata
2 parts egg nog
2 parts coffee

Serve hot, cold or colder.

For hot, heat all the ingredients except the nutmeg in a small saucepan. Pour into a mug and sprinkle on nutmeg to taste.

For cold, whisk into a mug all the ingredients, except the nutmeg. Stir in a couple of ice cubes. Sprinkle on nutmeg to taste.

For frozen, place a mug of the cold RumChata Egg Nog Au Lait in the freezer for an hour. Stir with a fork and eat with a spoon.


Mint Choco Chata Cocktail

2 oz RumChata
½ oz green creme de menthe
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

Stir RumChata and creme de menthe together. If you don’t mind your drink to be a weird dark green, mix chocolate into the liquid. Otherwise, drizzle the chocolate into the glass in a creative pattern. Place in a couple of ice cubes and then pour over the cocktail.


Choco-Chata Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup sugar
4 package cream cheese, room temperature
4 eggs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons Rum Chata

Mix the butter with the graham cracker crumbs and press into a well buttered springform pan. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Add in the eggs one at a time. Add in flour. Alternate in the melted bittersweet chocolate and sour cream. Add in RumChata. Pour into prepared pan.

Spread the filling over the crust in the pan. Gently lift the pan and tap it down on the counter two or three times to settle the filling and help disperse air bubbles.

Place the cheesecake in a 200 degree F oven. (The lower-temp baking process makes for an exceptionally creamy cheesecake. The usual pan of water used when baking cheesecake is NOT used during this method.) Bake cheesecake for 3 hours. Remove from the oven. Crank the oven temperature to 500 degrees F. Return the cake to the oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes for a golden brown the top.

Take cheesecake from oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, without releasing the side of the pan, run a knife along the inside edge of the cheesecake to loosen it. Cover and refrigerate the cheesecake until chilled for 3 hours or overnight. 

This recipe is for a 10″ springform pan. If using a smaller size, drop out 1 package of cream cheese and reduce the graham cracker crumbs to just a cup with 3 tablespoons of melted butter.

2016 Reveillion Dinner – Cafe Adelaide

A writer friend of mine came into town and we took advantage of the holiday season to go to Cafe Adelaide for their Reveillion dinner. The word comes from special meals that were served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve (ie the awakening or reveillion). These days, the special menus are available all December. You can find a list of all the restaurants participating in Reveillion HERE.

We made reservations through Open Table but the first one they had was for 8:30pm. The restaurant wasn’t that busy so they sat as soon as we arrived around 8pm.

We started with the Crab Bisque. Very smooth and light. The saffron gave it a lovely color. It went very well with the Hemingway Daiquiri that I ordered.


This was followed by fried oysters with a bacon covered cauliflower log. Separately the oysters and roasted cauliflower were good but, when eaten together the flavors really popped. Of course, how could you go wrong with bacon and oysters?


I’m a fan of snails (even the ones which aren’t basil-fed as these were) and the next course of pasta with escargot, sundried tomatoes and truffle butter was very, very good.


For the next course, I had the tournedos of beef with whipped potatoes. The ganache was a little sweet and took a little away from the flavor of the meat (which was cooked perfectly medium rare) but that didn’t stop me from eating every bite.


Cindy had the shrimp and grits. The shrimp was barbecued and pretty spicy but the grits did their job in cutting the heat to a manageable level.


Dessert was a chicory coffee custard in a orange flavored tart shell drizzled with caramel. Yum!


The fixed priced menu with its four courses was plenty of food for about $50 per person (not counting drinks). The staff was friendly and quick to check in but also allowed us lots of time to catch up and chat.

If you want to see their holiday menu, it can be found here:

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

I turned on the television to watch English Premier League soccer on the Spanish language channel, Telemundo. First thing that comes up is a commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’m not strong enough to resist temptation in two languages so I headed to the kitchen to make something with chocolate and peanut butter.

I went with a recipe from Maida Heatter. She’s an awesome baker and I go back to her cookie books regularly. In this cookie bar recipe, she added jelly – while it is a cool concept (peanut butter and jelly), I found it distracting so eliminated it. I also nixed the additional peanuts, as the chunky peanut butter gives it plenty of peanutty flavor and crunch. I like the deeper chocolateness of semi-sweet morsels and switched them for the milk chocolate chips in the original recipe.

These are sort of like blondies but more cake-like and with a delicious peanut butter flavor and plenty of chocolate chips.


Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Brand New Book of Great Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chunky peanut butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9X13 baking pan.

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, add the butter and vanilla. Beat until creamed. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Beat in the brown sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low and mix in the sifted dry ingredients. Stir in the morsels.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.

Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pan in the middle of cooking. Insert a toothpick in the middle to check for doneness. It should come out clean.

Remove from oven and let stand on a rack until cool. Chill until firm and then cut into bars.


US Senate Bean Soup in the Slow Cooker

It is cold outside (and inside my 130 year old house). That means it is time for making soup. Here is my take on the famous US Senate Bean Soup recipe. I add carrots and a bit of chicken stock for more flavor. Also, if you have the celery leaves at the top of your celery stalks, toss those in and fish them out when you remove the bay leaves. It gives an extra hit of flavor without adding another stalk.


US Senate Bean Soup in the Slow Cooker

1 lb dried navy or great northern beans
1 large ham bone, preferably with bits of meat left on it
1 onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 bay leaf
6 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
1  1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the beans and place in a large bowl.  Add water to cover by at least an inch and let the beans soak overnight.

In a medium sized skillet, sauté the onion in bacon fat or butter until softened. Toss in the chopped celery and carrots and just heat through. Place the veggies into your slow cooker.

Drain the beans and place them in the crockpot along with the ham bone. Pour in the chicken stock and water and stir well. Place your slow cooker on high. Once the contents come to a boil, add salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and the meat is falling off the bone, about 4 hours. Remove the bay leaves and the bone.  Shred the meat and add it back to the soup before serving.

I serve the soup with cornbread. It warms the kitchen and my heart as it is my mom’s recipe. She had no recipe, so when she taught me to make it, I had to continually stop her and measure out her smidges, dashes and dollops.

Oh, and something I learned. Because of holiday baking, I was short on baking powder. You can substitute 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tarter for 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

Mama's Cornbread

Mama’s Cornbread

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten into 1 cup of milk
1/4 cup of Crisco vegetable shortening

8”cast iron skillet

Preheat oven to 425 F with the skillet in the oven, melting the Crisco. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in a portion of the melted shortening until it is a loose but not runny consistency. Pour the mixture into the skillet, over the remaining shortening.

Cook for 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

For added corn flavor, replace 1/4 cup of the all purpose flour with corn flour.