Hot Chocolate Mini Cupcakes

We are finally somewhat settled in our new place and ready for guests! For our housewarming/birthday pre-party, I baked mini chocolate cupcakes. Some got vanilla icing, the others got spicy chocolate.


I’d intended to roast a habanero and make my Habanero Chocolate Icing, but I could not find any hot peppers at the grocery near our new apartment. Without time to search, I did my best with what I had at home.

I went for the hot sauce.

I used Brooklyn Grange’s Rooftop Hot Sauce, which I got as part of With Love from Brooklyn‘s “Brooklyn Heat” selection. Yum.


I didn’t want to go too crazy. I have a higher spice tolerance that some, so I held myself back. I used about 2 tablespoons in a half batch of chocolate icing. They only had a hint of spice, an afterburn.

Guests said I could have added more, so now I know. If the cake had also had spice, it might have been a different story!

Chocolate Vanilla Housewarming

I did the vanilla frosting for any wee guests—I know children mostly just lick off the icing—or anyone else who wasn’t into spicy.

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Chocolate & Pear Cake

Pears Chocolate Cake SliceStill have an abundance of Christmas-gift pears? Grab some chocolate and let’s bake!


I had 10 small Bosc pears (each less than 4 ounces). A tart or pie seemed the obvious choice to use them, but my husband and I had just finished off an apple tart I’d recently baked, so I wanted something different.

This torta di pere e cioccolato recipe is from Brooklyn’s Al Di La, a lovely Italian restaurant in Park Slope, by way of Deb of Smitten Kitchen (thanks for getting it out of them!).

Chocolate and Pear Cake

A little powdered sugar on top prettied it up (and hid the imperfections).

I made 2/3 the recipe in a 6.5″ diameter, 3″-deep baking dish to bake a small cake for dinner with another couple. That put three of my little pears to use.

As a cupcake baker, a cake that spends almost an hour in the oven intimidates me. I cooked for 20 minutes, turned, then another 20 minutes. I put it on for about 10 minutes more, paranoid by comments of not baking long enough. The edges were darker brown than I like, but it was cooked through and still moist.

baked pear chocolate cake

Bittersweet chocolate and pears taste deliciously fancy together! It was a treat. Now I need to go try it again at Al Di La.

Thanks to the Daily Meal for this baking playlist


[ Posted in Desserts, Fruit ] [ Leave a comment ]

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Merry Christmas!

Ginger Couple

I baked gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting for my office holiday party. I couldn’t resist making some ginger people to top them!

Ginger People

The frosting was, I must say, amazing. I’d made cinnamon before, and cream cheese, but never the two together. Definitely recommended! I basically just added a teaspoon of cinnamon to my regular cream cheese frosting.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

[ Posted in Candy/Cookies, Decorating, Holidays ] [ Leave a comment ]

Apple Pie to Go-Go

Thanksgiving is coming! Traveling? Baking an apple pie?

Slice of Apple Pie

Last year, I spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, and my mother-in-law asked me to bring a pie. I was happy to provide the pie, but I wasn’t sure how to get it to upstate NY in primo condition. I’ve been foiled before by train heaters and bumpy car travel. After much consultation with friends (and my bestie, the internet), I decided to make the dough and filling separately to transport, then assemble and bake upon arrival.


I made the French Apple Pie from The Cotton Country Collection, a cookbook almost everyone in my north Louisiana family owns. This recipe incorporates a custard and apricot preserves into the pie filling.

I baked with Golden Russets from Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva, New York.

This heirloom apple has a firm flesh with an intense sweet-dry flavor. It is a great keeper and very versatile for eating, cooking and juicing.

I also added one Granny Smith to make up the required amount and add some variety, always nice in apple pie.


I made the dough ahead of time, divided it into 2 and froze each piece in plastic wrap. I cooked and spiced my apples and froze them in a gallon freezer bag.

Frozen Apple Pie FIlling

The night before traveling, I made the custard, which I refrigerated.

On travel day, the frozen items went in a tote to cool during the train ride, and the custard traveled with an ice pack in a cooler bag. (Note that you likely could not do this for plane travel due to liquid constraints. In that case, I would probably freeze a prepared but unbaked pie to carry with me.)


I was more grateful than stressed by my mother-in-law’s help with the pie construction. She definitely has more experience with pie-baking than I do. She started hands-off but couldn’t help but get involved! It was fun to do together.

Cut Out Pie Crust

I used a small heart cookie cutter to cut holes in the top crust.

Have a tasty Thanksgiving!

Baked Apple Pie

See also my blog post at Farm2Me about freezing pie filling (for a more basic apple pie recipe) prepared with all your extra autumn apples!

[ Posted in Desserts, Fruit, Holidays, Recipes, Technique ] [ 1 Comment ]

Bake a Change for She’s the First

Happy Birthday, She’s the First!


My husband bought this cupcake from a #BakeAChange bake sale, a fundraiser for She’s the First, which provides scholarships to girls in low-income countries. This annual bake-off helps raises money for these girls who will be the first in their families to graduate high school.

What a great reason to buy a cupcake! I wish I’d known about this. Next year, let’s Bake a Change for education ourselves.

Though this particular campaign ends today, the organization’s birthday, you can donate or sponsor a girl at any time. Learn more at

[ Posted in Charities ] [ Leave a comment ]