Basil Cupcakes with Grapefruit Icing

Have you heard? Savory is the new sweet.

I love sweets as much (if not more) than the next person but some days, I crave savory treats.

Ever since making my basil blueberry ice cream last year, I've been testing the waters to see how many baked treats I can make with basil. Good news, the answer is a lot. This week, it was basil cupcakes! 

It's no secret that I love throwing icing on things or that muffins with icing might as well be cupcakes, which is why I went with a basil cupcake as opposed to a basil muffin. The muffin can be arranged for another time. 

These cupcakes are savory but sweet lovers shouldn’t worry, the grapefruit icing is the perfect sweet topping! If you’re looking to remind everyone that spring has arrived, go for some colorful cupcake liners and decorate the cupcakes to look like flowers.

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (210g) granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (170g) butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons (20g) of chopped basil, packed
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup (122ml) milk
  • 1 1/2 cup (215g) flour
  • 1 ½ (6g) Teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ (4g) Teaspoon salt

Icing Ingredients (Adapted from the Wilton Buttercream Icing recipe)

  • ½ cup (102g) solid vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (500g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons grapefruit zest
  • 2 drops of orange food gel

Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside
  • In a stand mixer, cream sugar, butter and basil together until light and fluffy in appearance
  • Turn mixer to low and add one egg at a time, followed by the vanilla and milk
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, and baking powder
  • Gently mix dry ingredients into wet
  • Fill muffin tins ¾ of the way to the top and bake for 18 - 20  minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean
  • While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting
  • In a medium bowl, cream shortening and butter until light and fluffy
  • Beat in vanilla extract
  • Beat in confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, scraping down the sides as you go
  • Once sugar is completely incorporated, beat in milk and grapefruit zest
  • For optional color, add two drops of orange food gel and gently mix until color is incorporated
  • Once cupcakes are completely cooled frost them

Avocado Chocolate Truffles

Since enrolling in my chocolatier certification course with Ecole Chocolat earlier this spring, I’ve been pushing the limits of my chocolate comfort zone. From exploring new flavors to mastering new techniques, I’ve really enjoyed diving into the world of chocolate confections headfirst.

I started the recipe development module a few weeks ago, so I thought it was about time that I share something here!

One of my big takeaways from my chocolate class is that I shouldn’t limit myself to cream when making truffles. It sounds so simple but I had never thought to put apple cider in my chocolate instead of cream until this month! As the title indicates though, this is not what I’ll be talking about today.

My Instagram feed has been blowing up all week with Mexican recipes to prep for Cinco de Mayo but I decided to skip the guacamole this year and go with something a little less ordinary: avocado chocolate truffles! I’m sorry for the name calling but after you try these you will agree with me that guacamole is just no match for this extraordinary dessert!

You might notice that I used weight here for the truffles rather than cups. Not all avocados are the same so you want to measure it out to get the perfect balance of chocolate to vegetable. Too much chocolate and you won’t get the creaminess of the avocado. Too much avocado and your truffle will taste like guacamole.

You also might find that there is too much chocolate to dip the truffles in and you end up with leftover at the end. That’s done on purpose. You want to have room to dip so that you can get a proper coating on your chocolate. The extra chocolate can be laid on parchment paper, let to harden and then saved for your next adventure whether that’s dipping more truffles, nibbling on it, or something else entirely.

Ingredients

  • 2 Avocados (180g) Avocado
  • 700g Dark chocolate, about 4 cups worth of chips or pieces
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • ¼ Cup (40g) white chocolate chips or pieces
  • 3 Drops of green cocoa butter

Recipe

  • Mash up avocado in a small bowl and set aside
  • Using a double boiler, melt 360g dark chocolate
  • Add avocado and salt to chocolate and use a handheld blender to combine
  • Let sit for about an hour, or until it starts to harden
  • Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet
  • Using clean hands, roll the ganache into truffles and place on prepared sheet
  • Let harden for another hour or so before dipping in more chocolate
  • Using a double boiler, melt the rest of the dark chocolate
  • Dip the truffles in the chocolate and put back parchment paper
  • Once the chocolate is set, melt white chocolate and green cocoa butter together
  • Drizzle white chocolate over truffles
  • Let sit to harden before enjoying

Almond Cranberry Biscotti

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love tea time.

Confession: Whether I’m at work or enjoying a slow Sunday at home, I love taking the time to brew a cup of tea. It’s a great way to be mindful on a daily basis, check in with myself and take a mini break from the day.  

Over the years, tea time has evolved to include decadent hot chocolate and beautifully decorated lattes but one thing hasn’t changed: my focus on the snacks! Biscotti is often discounted as the perfect tea time snack because it is so incredibly crunchy but I think that’s the beauty of it. You dip it in your drink of choice and it immediately becomes melt-in-your-mouth soft.

Biscotti is a pretty easy treat but you need to have the time to make it because that dough you make will go in and out of the oven so many times. For more on the history and meaning of the word 'biscotti', check out a post I did last summer on chocolate chip and dried blueberry biscotti. It might be time to make another batch of that soon as well. 

I’m never one to say no to chocolate so I’ve gotten in the habit of dipping my biscotti in chocolate. This step is optional but I highly recommend it.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups (260g) flour
  • 1 Cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 3 Large eggs
  • ¼ Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ Cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ Cup dried cranberries
  • ½ Cup white chocolate pieces (optional)
  • ¼ Cup roughly chopped almond slices for topping (optional)

Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl
  • Add eggs, almond extract and vegetable oil and gently mix to combine
  • Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes or until it feels firm (you may need to add more flour at this step if the dough is too sticky)
  • Add sliced almonds and dried cranberries
  • Divide dough into two and roll each part into a log
  • Flatten the logs to the desired height and width of your final biscotti, you will be slicing it once it is done baking
  • Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the top of the dough begins to brown
  • Remove from oven and let cool
  • Slice biscotti dough and place each slice on their side on the baking sheet
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes
  • Flip biscotti slices and bake for another 10-12 minutes
  • Remove from oven and place on cooling rack
  • Using a double boiler, melt white chocolate and place topping almond pieces on a plate
  • Dip biscotti into chocolate, roll in almond pieces and return to cooling rack until chocolate firms up

 

Mini Mason Jar Peanut Butter Cookie Parfaits

There isn’t much that I love more than a beautiful mason jar dessert, but mini mason jar desserts definitely make the list.

Confession time. I’m of the belief that all things mini tend to be more adorable, mason jars included. Think about it: puppies, tiny terrariums, teacup piglets, the miniature cooking trend. They all have one thing in common, namely being adorable and mini. Plus, when it comes to food, logic dictates that if it’s smaller I can eat twice as much. Right?

Mason jar desserts solve everyone’s biggest baking challenge, namely storing and transporting sweets. Since I spend the majority of my week at my day job, I do my baking in the evenings and bring treats into work the next day as a snack. Unlike my tupperware that seems to jumble everything and the pie dish I feel silly carrying on the metro, mason jars keep everything in place and fit nicely in my work bag. All I need to do is throw the lid on and tuck it into my bag, right next to my mason jar salad. Actually probably don't do that, I can't even begin to image the noise two jars of food would make when they bump into each other every time you jiggle your bag. 

This week, I’ve been craving peanut butter so I knew exactly what to make for myself! If you ever have serious peanut butter cravings like I do, this is the perfect quick fix for you. The crunch of the cookie pieces in these mini mason jar peanut butter cookie parfaits act as a nice textural contrast to the smooth creaminess of the rest of this dessert, much like the simple vanilla cookie flavor is a nice foil to the intense peanut butter flavor in the cream.

The recipe makes two jars so you can share it for dessert or eat one yourself and save the other one for the next day. Just remember that the longer you wait to eat it, the less crunch the cookies pieces will retain. Of course, if you're feeling really hungry you can make more of the recipe and fill larger mason jars. It won't be quite as adorable but it will still be delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ Cup heavy cream (separated)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (separated)
  • 3 Generous tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Cup vanilla wafer cookies

Recipe (Makes two servings)

  • Whip ½ cup heavy cream with 1 teaspoon sugar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form, about 3  minutes, and then set aside
  • Next, whip remaining heavy cream, sugar and peanut butter until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes, and then set aside
  • Place cookies in a ziploc bag and crush using rolling pin
  • Place heavy creams in two separate icing bags for easy piping, cutting a ½ inch hole to pipe from
  • Line up your mini mason jars and start to layer your three ingredients until filled to the top