Tasting Tour NYC: The Chocolate Room

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

The Chocolate Room
269 Court St.
www.thechocolateroombrooklyn.com

Display case at the Chocolate Room in Brooklyn

Heading to a dinner party with no time to bake, I stopped by this chocolate-focused dessert shop in my old neighborhood.

Box of treats from the Chocolate Room

I went right for the cupcakes, of course, but they only had two left. That gave me the opportunity to sample more goodies! Though I was tempted by a small chocolate layer cake, I decided on cookies–two chocolate chunk and two chocolate peanut butter–and brownies to fill up my box.

Plate of Chocolate Room baked goods

They were a hit with the group of women at dinner that night, we all got to try a little of everything. I will note that nibbles of a brownie paired nicely with sips of red wine.

I thought all the baked goods were nice, but I have to vote for the cupcakes as my first choice (duh?). They were light, the cake not heavy or dense at all, and the rich and silky smooth chocolate frosting was a good contrast.

 

[ Posted in Bakeries, Candy/Cookies ] [ Leave a comment ]

Champagne Cupcakes

Baking with bubbly! What better way to ring in the new year? 

Champagne Cupcakes

For these mini treats, I reduced champagne to use as the flavoring. I used inexpensive André, a California sparkling, keeping the good stuff to drink! The actual bubbles can be problematic, and intensifying the flavor is no bad thing, so I recommend this rather than using champagne straight from the bottle. 

Champagne Cupcake Ingredients

This recipe makes for tasty cake and frosting. The champagne flavor is subtle, but there is a hint of that celebratory beverage.

Champagne Cupcakes Sprinkles

Champagne cupcakes are perfect for New Year’s Eve, engagement parties, birthdays, or any other bubbly-worthy occasion!

Champagne Cupcakes

Happy New Year!

Recipe: Champagne Cupcakes

Makes 18 cupcakes (or 36 minis)

1 stick butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons reduced champagne
7 ounces plain yogurt
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
FROSTING:
1 1/4 stick butter
1 pound powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons reduced champagne

First, reduce 1 cup of champagne to 1/2 cup by boiling in a small pan on stovetop. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

Cream the butter and sugar at medium speed, then reduce to low to add the eggs one at a time.

Add the reduced champagne.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the yogurt, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, do not overmix.

Scoop into lined tins and bake for about 20 minutes (10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes), turning halfway through.

Remove from oven and let cool in pans for 5 minutes. Cool on racks until room temperature before frosting.

For frosting: Beat the butter until smooth. Slowly add half the powdered sugar, then 3 tablespoons reduced champagne. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix, adding more champagne if needed to reach desired consistency.

[ Posted in Booze, Holidays, Recipes ] [ Leave a comment ]

Peppermint Cupcakes

One way I love to get into the Christmas spirit is to do some holiday baking!

Santa Hat Cupcakes

My office requested cupcakes for its annual holiday party, so I decided to make peppermint cupcakes–both chocolate and plain peppermint.

I baked minis with my regular chocolate cupcake recipe, substituting Nielsen-Massey Peppermint Extract for half of the vanilla and using a teaspoon of Nielsen-Massey Chocolate Extract instead of the brewed coffee.

Nielsen-Massey Peppermint Extract Cupcakes

Pure Peppermint Extract pepped up my chocolate cupcakes and made for a delightfully pepperminty buttercream. The Chocolate Extract worked with the cocoa to make the cake extra flavorful.

Peppermint Cupcakes in progress

I also made plain peppermint cupcakes, see recipe below!

Piping Striped Pepperming Frosting

To make the red and white striped icing for the chocolate peppermint cupcakes, I painted two stripes of red icing down the piping bag (I used a chopstick). I then carefully filled with white icing. It had a nice striped effect when I piped.

Peppermint Cupcakes

For the plain peppermint cupcakes, I made “Santa Hats” by piping a smooth swirl of red icing, then filling the base with white and a little ball on top.

Santa Hat Cupcakes

They were festive additions to the party, where they were a sweet hit!

Peppermint Cupcakes

Peppermint Cupcakes at Party

I packed extras in plastic party cups for guests wanting to take a few to-go!

Thank you to Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors for the chocolate and peppermint extracts! Nielsen-Massey uses premium ingredients sourced from around the world to craft their all-natural pure flavors. Learn more at www.nielsenmassey.com.

Recipe: Mini Peppermint Cupcakes

Makes 36 mini cupcakes

1 stick butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Peppermint Extract
8 ounces sour cream
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line mini muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Cream the butter and sugar at medium speed, then reduce to low.

Add the eggs one at a time, then the peppermint extract.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Mix in the dry ingredients gradually, alternating with the sour cream, until just combined (don't overmix).

Scoop batter into lined muffin tins and bake 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Baking time varies by oven, so check them often!

Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove to racks and cool completely before frosting (If I have time, I like to bake the cupcakes the night before, frost the next morning).

[ Posted in Holidays, Recipes, Technique ] [ Leave a comment ]

Double Pumpkin Cupcakes

I made an apple pie for Thanksgiving, but I had to have something pumpkin, too.

Pumpkin CupcakesThese are great for fall and into winter holidays. The pumpkin makes the cake so moist. People have loved these every time I’ve baked them, from office parties to family gatherings.

Double the recipe below for a “normal” batch, I wanted the just nine that this made.

pumpkin cupcake wrappers

I was given these cute pumpkin wrappers a few years ago. I was happy to finally use them!

I’ve done these before with cinnamon icing, but I decided to double down on pumpkin. I was worried that the frosting wouldn’t work out, the butter and pumpkin did not cream together as one recipe I saw describe them as doing. It worked out once I started adding the vanilla and powdered sugar, though!

Pumpkin Frosting

Recipe: Pumpkin Cupcakes and Frosting

Makes 9 cupcakes

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
5 oz. pumpkin purée (use canned or fresh, but make sure it is pure pumpkin - this is 1/3 of a 15 oz. can or a bit more than 1/2 cup)
FROSTING:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 oz. (a bit less than 1/2 cup) pumpkin purée
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and line your tins with 9 liners.

Beat the butter and two sugars on medium until creamed. Add the egg.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and spices.

Add the vanilla extract to the buttermilk.

Alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients until just combined, then mix in the pumpkin purée.

Scoop into tins with a ice cream scoop or your preferred method, filling about 3/4. Bake for about 22 minutes, turning halfway through. Cool for 5 minutes in pans, then cool completely on a rack before icing.

For frosting: Beat together the room temperature butter and pumpkin purée until as smooth as possible. Add the vanilla and spices. Slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing well.

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

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce

Gingerbread “cupcake” with Limoneira lemon sauce

One of my favorite desserts as a child was my grandmother’s gingerbread, which she topped with lemon sauce. The smell of this gingerbread hits me with straight nostalgia. It brings back many happy childhood memories of enjoying comforting food in cool weather and anticipating the holiday season.

Gingerbread by Amelie

The spices in the recipe are typical of gingerbread—ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. If you have Steen’s Sugar Cane Syrup from Louisiana (I can’t eat pancakes without it), that’s what you use. Molasses will do in a pinch.

I recently learned that the recipe for the gingerbread itself had been passed to my grandmother by a long ago neighbor of hers who had gotten it from her mother. So, really, it is a woman named Mattie Lou’s gingerbread (or perhaps her grandmother’s? You never know!). To me, however, it will always be my grandmother Glo’s gingerbread.

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce

I love these flavors. The gingerbread spices contrasted with the tart lemon sauce make this a perfect dessert for me.

Glo recommends doubling the lemon sauce recipe. And you should always listen to my grandmother! I used bright, juicy Limoneira lemons for this batch. 

You can prepare the dough ahead of time. This batter will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

I hope this gingerbread helps your family make wonderful memories, too!

Thank you to Limoneira, a sustainable citrus grower in California, for the lemons! Visit www.limoneiralifestyles.com for lemons and oranges, natural skin care products, and more.

Recipe: Glo’s Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce

Makes 9x13 pan or 24 muffins

2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses or sugar cane syrup
3 eggs
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
LEMON SAUCE:
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar, then add the syrup. Beat in 1 egg at a time.

Put baking soda in buttermilk and add to mixture. Add dry seasonings into the flour and sift in slowly.

Pour into a 9x13 pan or muffin tins and bake about 30 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Make lemon sauce by combining sugar, cornstarch and water over low flame, stirring constantly. When thick, remove and stir in remaining ingredients.

Serve lemon sauce over gingerbread, warm.

[ Posted in Desserts, Fruit, Muffins/Bread ] [ 3 Comments ]