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Archive for Cookies/Cake/Pastry

VALENTINE GIFT: Chubby Wubby Cookies


Raspberry Chubby Wubby cookies. Photo
courtesy Cake Chicago.


Gifted cake maker Mary Winslow of Cake Chicago also turns out “Damn Good Cookies” and “Ugly Truffles.” Everything is primo quality and delicious.

Mary calls her chocolates and cookies “laid back luxury sweets.” The wedding cakes are anything but laid back: both classic and modern designs. If you like looking at wedding cakes, there are dozens in the photo gallery. We picked up a few ideas.

But before you pop the question (or are the popee), send someone some Chubby Wubby for Valentine’s Day. There’s nothing Valentinesque about them, but anyone who’d rather have chocolate cookies than chocolate candy will be thrilled.

For gluten sensitive Valentines, there’s a gluten-free version (along with gluten-free brownies and chocolate chip cookies).


Chubby Wubby sandwich cookies are soft, rich, chubby chocolate cookies—about two bites worth—studded with chocolate chips. The sandwich layer flavors are universal favorites:

  • Chubby Wubby Chocolate Cookie—gluten free
  • Chubby Wubby Hazelnut Cream Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Mint Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Caramel Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Peanut Butter Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Raspberry Cookie
    A 12-piece box is $25, a 16-piece box $34. Get yours at



    Peanut butter Chubby Wubbies: a new way to enjoy chocolate and PB. Photo courtesy Cake Chicago.




    VALENTINE’S DAY: Make Heart-Shaped Whoopie Pies

    The biggest challenge to New Year’s diet resolutions is Valentine’s Day. Hopefully, we’ve lost a pound or two in January so we can proceed with “the sweetest holiday.”

    We’re starting with heart-shaped whoopie pies. They require an investment in a heart-shaped cookie pan, which can be used year-around: for Mother’s Day, engagement and anniversary parties, to say “I love you” to someone special, and so forth.

    The same pan makes jumbo cookies. Add a stick to make cookie pops.

    It will be love at first bite when you turn out goodies with this dishwasher safe, nonstick pan. The 12-space pan makes 12 cookies or 6 whoopie pies. Recipes are included.

    The pan is $12.95 at Sur La Table stores or online.

    BYO whoopie pie recipe.


    Heart-shaped whoopie/cookie pop pan from




    PRODUCT: Super Bowl Macarons, Valentine Macarons


    The battle of the macarons. Photo courtesy
    Dana’s Bakery.


    In addition to the Super Bowl, we’re celebrating the Mac Bowl: the battle between two macarons for the title of tastiest.

    Dana’s Bakery, a wonderfully creative maker of delicious macarons (a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week—here’s the review), has created two flavors for the occasion:

  • Denver Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons
  • Seattle Sea Salt Caramel Macarons
    In vibrant team colors, each bite is a victory. Get yours at The line is certified kosher.

    Who needs chicken wings, guacamole and pizza? We’re set with our Super Bowl macarons. Game on!




    For Valentine’s Day, Dana has transformed the classic Sweethearts candy, also called conversation hearts, into macarons.

    Sweethearts are made by the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO), makers of Necco Wafers. Each hard heart-shaped candy is printed with a romantic message: “Be Mine,” “Kiss Me,” “Adore Me,” and “Crazy 4U” are some of the messages.


    Sweethearts date all the way back to 1866. In 1847, 26-year-old Boston pharmacist Oliver R. Chase invented a machine that cut lozenges from wafer candy—similar to Necco Wafers.



    Macarons for your Valentine, atop a bed of Sweethearts candy. Photo courtesy Dana’s Bakery.

    While it turned out to be the world’s first candy-making machine, the original intent was to create lozenges to soothe the throat or to settle the stomach. The line between “losenge” and “hard candy” is pretty slim.

    In 1866 Oliver’s brother, Daniel Chase, designed a machine that pressed designs onto the wafers, and began printing sayings on what had become “candy.”

    Sweethearts were launched by NECCO in 1901. In 2010 the recipe was changed to allow for bright modern colors; contemporary sayings have been added, such as “Email me” (no doubt soon to be “Text Me”) and “LOL.” NECCO receives hundreds of suggestions a year on new sayings.

    Sweetheart macarons are available from



    TIP OF THE DAY: Breakfast Cupcakes

    What’s the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?

    Cupcakes have a finer crumb (from using cake flour versus all-purpose flour), a bit more sugar and are iced, adding even more sugar.

    While muffins do have somewhat less sugar, don’t let the name lull you into a sense of “better for you”: They are cake rather than bread.

    The line between cupcakes and muffins can be thin indeed, as you can see in these “breakfast cupcakes” from the blog Lovely Little Kitchen (photo at right; here’s the recipe).

    Both the frosting and the cupcake batter contain Greek yogurt, which delivers more protein and less fat. They cupcakes contain two cups of zucchini and are garnished with heart-healthy almonds.

    After you make the first batch, you can decide to lower the sugar, substitute agave or honey, use whole wheat flour, etc. (Look online for how to substitute—slight adjustments are necessary.)

    Here’s a fun breakfast idea:



    This a zucchini almond cupcake is the fraternal twin of a zucchini muffin. Photo courtesy Lovely Little Kitchen.


    Buy or bake carrot or zucchini muffins made with whole wheat or other whole grain flour (brown rice flour, cornmeal, whole oats, blends, etc.) Both the flour and the vegetables provide added fiber. Let everyone ice and garnish their own.

  • Icing options: nonfat versions of cream cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt, plain or sweetened with agave, honey or a non-nutritive sweetener
  • Nuts: chopped, sliced or whole smaller nuts (pistachios and pine nuts, for example)
  • Seeds: chia, flax, hemp, pomegranate, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
  • Fruit: fresh or dried berries, dried cherries or cranberries, raisins or other favorites
    While you can’t call these cupcakes health food, the are a better alternative to conventional muffins and breakfast pastries—not to mention cupcakes.

    And they help you get some nutrition into the breakfast-resistant.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Clementines

    Today’s tip comes from guest blogger Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog. Her recommendation: clementines, a small mandarin. Note that it’s a “mandarin,” not a “mandarin orange”; the two are separate genuses (more about that below). But even Produce Pete calls clementines and mandarins “oranges,” so do what you can to spread the truth.

    “I’m infusing every morsel that crosses my path with a bit of edible sunshine while the real thing plays hard to get,” says Hannah. “Grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes are always close at hand, spilling out of the refrigerator fruit bin and lining the kitchen counters with a cheerful spray of neon colors. Their natural luminescence does wonders to lift spirits through the most gloomy of days. But it’s truly the bold, bright, astringent flavors that sustain me through winter.

    “This year, I’ve added a newcomer to that lineup: the petite yet powerful clementine. Cuties Clementines [in California’s San Joaquin Valley] were generous enough to ship an entire crate of these glowing orange orbs straight to my door.

    “Not to be overly dramatic, but what a revelation! Gone are the days of meticulously picking at the stringy pith of oranges before the segments become edible. The skin practically falls off of these juicy half-moons, nary a seed in sight.”


    Clementines are mandarins, not oranges. “Tangerines” are a made-up term for a mandarin in general—see why below. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.


    Clementines from California are available from November through April. Not only are they naturally sweet and delicious; they’re also seedless, compact, and easy to peel. This makes them perfect for fruit bowls, backpacks, lockers, glove compartments, tote bags and even back pockets.

    You can use clementines anywhere mandarins and oranges are called for, from a breakfast yogurt parfait to sorbet to the clementine tart below.


    A clementine-matcha tapioca tart. Photo and
    recipe © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet



    “Bursting with flavor, sweeter and more mellow than an orange but still plenty punchy, clementines sounded like the ideal pairing with matcha,” says Hannah, whose sweet spot (pun intended) is vegan desserts. She has published several books on the topic.

    “Cutting through the bitter powdered tea and balancing out the whole dessert, clementine segments top chewy tapioca pearls, cradled in the easiest mini tart shell you’ll ever slap together. There’s no need to break out the rolling pin: This crust is merely pressed into the pans and won’t slip or slide under the heat of the oven. There’s no need for pie weights.”

    The recipe is cholesterol-free and vegan (although you can use conventional milk and butter).

    Ingredients For 10-12 Tartlets

    Press-In-Pan Olive Oil Pastry Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
    Matcha Tapioca

  • 1/2 cup small tapioca pearls
  • 2-1/2 cups vanilla coconut milk beverage, plain non-dairy milk or cow’s milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy margarine or butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    To Finish

  • 4-5 clementines, peeled and segmented
  • Garnish: fresh mint leaves (optional)

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F; lightly grease 10-12 three-inch tartlet molds.

    2. MAKE crust: Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice, stirring thoroughly to incorporate. Drizzle in the water very slowly, adding just enough to bring the dough together without making it wet or sticky.

    3. BREAK off 2-3 tablespoons of dough for each tartlet and press it evenly across the bottoms and up the sides of the molds. Make sure there aren’t especially thick edges left around the base, so that the entire crust cooks evenly.

    4. BAKE for 10-15 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through the process to ensure even baking, until golden brown all over. Let cool completely before popping the shells out of the molds.

    5. MAKE the tapioca: Pour 2 cups of very hot water over the pearls and allow them to soak for 2-3 hours. This will soften them and prevent hard centers from remaining after cooking. Rinse with cold water and thoroughly drain.

    6. PLACE the soaked pearls in a medium saucepan along with the milk. Whisk together the sugar, matcha, cornstarch and arrowroot in a separate bowl and break up any clumps of matcha.

    7. ADD mixture to the pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Allow the mixture to come up to a boil, whisking periodically. Be sure to scrape along the sides and bottom to prevent sticking and burning. Once the mixture bubbles vigorously for a full minute, turn off the heat; then add the butter/margarine and vanilla extract. Stir until the butter/margarine has completely melted; then distribute the mixture between the baked tart shells, filling them to the top.

    8. COOL the tapioca filling fully; then top with clementine segments and optional mint leaves (if the leaves are large, cut into a chiffonade [finely cut strips]). Serve at room temperature or chill for 2 hours.

    There are three basic citrus types—citron, mandarin and pummelo—from which all modern citrus derives via hybrids or backcrosses.

    While they look like small oranges and are often called “mandarin oranges,” mandarins are a separate species that includes the clementine, mineola (red tangelo), murcott (also called honey tangerine), tangelo, temple and satsuma, among others.

  • Oranges are from the order Sapindales, family Rutaceae, genus Citrus and species C. × sinensis.
  • Mandarins are from the order Sapindales, family Rutaceae, genus Citrus and species C. reticulata (clementines are C. clementina).
    Clementines alone have numerous sub-species, some more commercial than others (the Clemenules Clementine is the largest commercially grown variety). “Cuties” are a marketing name for clementine mandarins generally sold before Christmas. The same fruit is called a murcott or tango mandarin after the holidays. Why ask why?

    More Confusion

    Mandarins are also called loose-skin oranges—a usage which is both unfortunate and confusing given the numerous, highly distinctive differences between the two genuses. According to the experts at U.C. Davis:

  • In the U.S., where the name tangerine first came into common usage, mandarin (or “mandarin orange”) and tangerine are used more or less interchangeably to designate the whole group. Since mandarin is the older and much more widely employed name, its use is clearly preferable.
  • The term “tangerine” was coined for brightly-colored sweet mandarins that were originally shipped out of the port of Tangiers, Morocco to Florida in the late 1800s; the term stuck.
  • Presumably because of the orange-red color of the Dancy variety, which originated in Florida and was introduced in the markets as the Dancy tangerine, horticulturists have tended to restrict the use of the term tangerine to the mandarins of similar deep color. However, this is a usage of convenience only and the tangerines do not comprise a group of natural significance.
    The mandarin probably originated in northeastern India, home of the Indian wild mandarin, Citrus indica Tan. As with all agriculatural products, many hybrids followed. The King and Kunenbo mandarins, for example, originated in Indo-China and the Satsuma mandarin originated in Japan. The Mediterranean mandarin is believed to have been cultivated in Italy.

    The mandarin reached the Mediterranean basin in the early 1800s, and about 1825 in Florida. Thanks to the University of California Davis for providing this information. You can read more here.



    RECIPE: Matcha Shortbread Cookies

    Bake ‘em or buy ‘em: matcha shortbread
    cookies from Tea Aura. Photo by River Soma


    January 6th is National Shortbread Day. Coming on the heels of new year’s resolutions, where many of us have resolved to eat better, what’s a cookie lover to do?

    Make matcha shortbread (or as a default, buy some).

    While it isn’t health food, matcha shortbread includes a very healthful ingredient—matcha tea. (See the nutritional benefits below).

    This shortbread recipe is from the Republic Of Tea, which sells matcha tea among hundreds of other varieties. They call the recipe “emerald shortbread” because of the green color. This recipe also includes ground almonds (protein—more nutrition!).

    You can use a shamrock cookie cutter for St. Patrick’s Day, a flower cookie cutter for spring or a Christmas tree cookie cutter for Christmas.



  • 7 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 6 tablespoons finely ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons matcha tea


    1. CREAM together the butter and powdered sugar. Mix in the egg yolk. In another bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds and matcha. Add to the first bowl and stir until the mixture forms a ball.

    2. ROLL into a 2-inch-wide log. Wrap and place in the freezer for 40 minutes until firm.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1/4-inch slices and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, or until the cookies just begin to turn golden at the edges. Let rest for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.



    Matcha is a powdered green tea with the consistency of talc that is used in the Japanese tea ceremony, or cha no yu. The leaves for matcha are ground like flour in a stone mill. The powder is then whisked into water. (Here’s the whisk [chasen] that you can use to make your own.

    Powdered tea is the original way in which tea was prepared in Japan. The steeping of dried tea leaves in boiling water didn’t begin until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

    Matcha tea has a wonderful aroma, a creamy, silky froth and a rich, mellow taste. It contains a higher amount of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, L-theanine amino acids, polyphenols, chlorophyll and fiber) than other teas, including steeped green tea.

    Matcha tea is expensive, but worth it if you love the flavor of matcha tea.

    According to, the price is a function of production costs.


    Matcha tea with the chasen, or whisk, used to stir it into a frothy beverage. The greener the matcha, the higher the quality. Photo courtesy Tafu | New York.


    Only the youngest, sweetest leaves are used. Covering the fields with bamboo mats (tarps) to create the shade-grown tea weakens the tea plants, and a longer recovery period is needed before they can be harvested again.

    At the factory, the stone grinders work slowly in order to maintain the nutrients in the tea, including the amino acid, L-theanine, which focuses the brain; it may help the body’s immune response to infection. Each grinder produces only about 40 grams of matcha in an hour.

    That being said, there are varying qualities of matcha tea. The deeper green color, the higher quality the matcha.

  • Matcha latte
  • Matcha ice cream and other recipes with matcha tea


    RECIPE: Chocolate Caramel Shortbread

    We couldn’t close out the year without a batch of buttery shortbread. This recipe, from Spice Islands, adds creamy caramel, a dark chocolate ganache icing and a sprinkle of sea salt.

    The recipe includes cashews. You can substitute another favorite nut (macadamias, pecans, pistachios, walnuts) or omit the nuts entirely.



    For The Shortbread

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped, salted cashews

    Shortbread topped with caramel, chocolate and sea salt. Photo courtesy Spice Islands.

    For The Caramel

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/3 cup Karo light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, fine grind (you can substitute table salt)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    For The Ganache

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Line a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with aluminum foil leaving overhang on 2 sides. Lightly grease the foil on the sides of the pan.

    2. MAKE shortbread crust: Mix butter and sugar until well blended in a bowl. Stir in flour and cashews until a stiff dough forms. Press dough evenly onto bottom of foil lined pan. Prick the dough using the tines of a fork. Bake shortbread 20 to 23 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and place on wire rack.

    3. MAKE caramel: Stir brown sugar, cream, butter and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture begins to bubble. Stir in salt and mix well. Continue to cook at a full boil without stirring for about 8 to 10 minutes until candy reaches 240°F. Stir in vanilla. Pour caramel over shortbread crust. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

    4. HEAT cream and chocolate in microwave on HIGH (100% power), stirring every 15 seconds until chocolate is melted, about 30 to 45 seconds. Evenly spread Ganache over caramel layer. Top with coarse sea salt. Place in refrigerator 10 minutes or just until chocolate is set. Cut into bars.
    Find more of our favorite cookie recipes.


    RECIPE: Mini Champagne Cupcakes

    Mini champagne cupcakes. Photo courtesy
    Golden Blossom Honey.


    If you celebrate the New Year with champagne or other bubbly, how about some champagne mini cupcake to take a sweet bite of the new year?

    This recipe is from Golden Blossom Honey, a fourth generation family company whose honey is 100% American-made (not cheap Chinese imports). Their signature proprietary blend combines honey from three different flowers: clover, orange blossom and sage buckwheat*.


    Ingredients For 72-74 Mini Cupcakes

    For The Cupcakes

  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 orange juice
  • 3/4 cup champagne
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

    For The Frosting

  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 3 tablespoons champagne
  • 6 tablespoons pulp free orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • Garnish: gold or silver sanding sugar, edible glitter (especially these gold stars and silver stars), gold or silver dragées

  • Mini cupcake/muffin tin and papers


    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt.

    2. BEAT butter in a separate bowl on medium speed; gradually add sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then add honey, orange juice and champagne. Gradually add the mixed dry ingredients. Once combined, fold in orange zest.


    Delicious bubbly for less than $10 a bottle. Photo courtesy Martini & Rossi.


    3. LINE mini-cupcake tins with paper cups and pour batter evenly into each. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

    4. MAKE the frosting. In a large bowl whip powdered sugar, butter, champagne, orange juice, and orange zest on medium speed. Spread onto cupcakes and sprinkle with colored sugar, edible glitter or dragées.


    You can use any champagne you like. The champagne is more of a “romantic” ingredient in the recipe; the cupcakes won’t taste like Dom Perignon (about $200), Roderer Cristal (about $250) or even the “bargain”-priced Veuve Clicquot Non Vintage Brut Yellow Label (about $45).

    A $20 bottle will do, and a sparkling wine that isn’t from France will do. We enjoy two California sparklers made by great French champagne houses: Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley and Mumm Napa Brut Prestige both about $20. Yellow Tail Rosé from Australia is just $8 and and Martini Asti Rosé from Italy is about $15 (and you can find it in splits); they work great in this recipe.

    *Varietal honey comes from the particular flower named on the label: alfalfa, clover, orange blossom, etc. We know buckwheat honey and sage honey, from two different plants; but we’d never heard of a combined “buckwheat sage honey.” So we wrote to the National Honey Board and got this response from a representative:

    “While I’ve never heard of “sage buckwheat” honey, it’s possible that the bees could be visiting both sage blossoms and buckwheat blossoms, gathering the nectar and bringing that back to the hive. This would result in a cross between the two floral sources and thus, a mixture in the honey. Honeybees travel in a five mile radius, so if both plants were growing the that five mile area, then I’m assuming it could be possible.

    “I took a look at where each plant primarily is found. Buckwheat plants grow best in cool, moist climates. The buckwheat plant prefers light and well-drained soils, although it can thrive in highly acid, low fertility soils as well. Sage honey can come from many different species of the sage plant. Sage shrubs usually grow along the California coast and in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. So again, it could be entirely possible that they blend these honey’s together to get their ‘signature’ honey.”



    RECIPE: Tiramisu Cupcakes

    Mmm, mmm: tiramisu cupcakes. Photo


    For more than a few people, a mini cupcake at midnight is the right way to start the new year. This recipe marries tiramisu with cupcakes, filling the soft, moist cupcake with tiramisu, the luscious Italian dessert made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks, egg whites, sugar and mascarpone cheese, flavored with cocoa.

    In this recipe, cupcakes replace the ladyfingers. It’s from one of our favorite bakers, Lauryn Cohen of

    “I like to make filling my cupcakes easy—no cutting cones out or slicing and dicing my cupcakes,” says Lauryn. “Just stick a pastry bag into the cupcake and squeeze. It works every time, I promise!”

    She made these as mini-cupcakes for portion control, but you can make standard size cupcakes if you prefer.



    For The Syrup

  • 2-3 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • For The Cupcakes

  • 1-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    For The Filling & Frosting

  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces fat free vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coffee extract

  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate covered espresso beans*
    *Available at candy stores, coffee bean stores, food markets (including Trader Joe’s) and online.


    Ttiramisu filling, tiramisu frosting. Photo courtesy


    1. MAKE the syrup (be sure to do this first). Stir together the espresso powder, sugar and water over low heat until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool while making the cupcakes.

    2. MAKE the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

    3. CREAM butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth and pale in color. Add eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Stir vanilla into milk. Switch mixer to low speed and add dry and wet ingredients, alternating with half the dry, all of the wet, and the remaining dry, making sure not to overmix.

    4. SCOOP batter into liners and bake for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. As soon as the cupcakes come out of the oven, poke hole in the tops with a toothpick, and, using a pastry brush, brush tops of cupcakes with the coffee syrup. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.

    5. MAKE the filling and frosting: Beat butter, mascarpone and yogurt in an electric mixer on medium/high speed until fully combined. Add confectioners’ sugar, a half cup at a time. Beat in the coffee extract.

    6. PLACE the filling/frosting into a piping bag with a narrow round tip. Push tip into top of cupcake and gently squeeze filling out of pastry bag until tip naturally starts to rise out of the cupcake. You will quickly get the hang of when to stop squeezing. Be gentle and do not over-squeeze. Once you have completed the filling, spread frosting over the cupcakes in a dome-like shape. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and top with a chocolate covered espresso bean.


    Alternatively, you can make cupcakes into a clock presentation for New Year’s Eve. Use any cupcake recipe and decorate the top of each cupcake with a different number from 1 to 12. Arrange them in a circle like the face of a clock, with chocolate pretzel rods as the hands.

    Here’s the recipe, plus Lauryn’s tips for baking perfect cupcakes.



    NEW YEARS EVE: Chocolate Caviar Tart Or Tartlet

    Dominique Ansel, the acclaimed pastry chef who invented the Cronut, has an entire store full of delicious things to eat.

    For New Year’s Eve, anniversaries and other special occasions, we like his chocolate caviar tartlet*. He fills a chocolate tart crust with caramel coffee cream and tops it with chocolate caviar pearls and gold leaf.

    You can use any chocolate tart recipe you like. Here’s a delicious coffee-chocolate tart recipe is from pastry chef Pichet Ong.


    Chocolate caviar comprises small beads of chocolate that are formed to look like real caviar beads (which are also called caviar pearls—check out our Caviar Glossary). They provide a visual delight, toothsome texture and of course, intense bites of chocolate.


    Caramel chocolate “caviar” tartlet with edible gold foil. Photo courtesy Dominique Ansel.

    Chocolate caviar is typically made from cocoa powder, sugar syrup, water and alginate to hold it together.

    Here’s the rub: Buying chocolate caviar in small quantities is costly. It’s sold as a gourmet novelty gift.

    But if you can see your way to buying seven pounds of it—the commercial size from top chocolate manufacturer Callebaut—for $56, it’s an affordable $8 a pound, and leaves you with a lot of caviar pearls to repackage in 8-ounce portions as Valentine gifts. Check it out.

    *A tartlet is an individual portion. A tart is a multiportion size, six inches or more in diameter.


    Milk chocolate caviar pearls. Photo courtesy



  • Godiva Chocolate Pearls. This item from the Chocoiste line seems to have been discontinued; it’s no longer on Godiva’s website. But it is on Amazon. In addition to the dark chocolate pearls, you can find milk chocolate pearls, mint dark chocolate pearls and white chocolate pearls, among other flavors, while they last. These chocolate pearls are larger than chocolate caviar pearls.
  • Venchi Chocolate Caviar. This fine Italian chocolate maker sells 1.4 ounces of chocolate caviar
  • in a classic glass caviar jar: $16.99 (or $12 an ounce). However, these are not round “pearls” but irregular “pebbles.” And given the price, it makes sense to buy the Callebaut chocolate caviar in bulk: You get 112 ounces for $56, or $2 an ounce.


  • Then there’s Gourvita: a retailer that sells caviar pearls made by Sosa Ingredients and packaged in the classic blue metal caviar tin. Gourvita is a German gourmet food store that sells the chocolate caviar on but ships it from Germany. A 100g (3.5 ounce) package is $33.90. That’s $9.69 an ounce—better than Venchi, but nowhere as good as the Callebaut bulk chocolate caviar.

    Don’t forget the edible gold leaf.

    And don’t forget to save a tartlet for us!



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