Still Winter

We’ve gotten a wee bit more than the less-than-1-inch of snow predicted for today.

BuddhaRedInSnow

It’s cold and gray and snowy today … all day. The perfect kind of day for staying in, snuggling with the dogs, and drinking hot cocoa! Here’s hoping that yours is a lovely one!

In case you missed these recipes before, here are a few cocoa posts:

Chocolat Chaud

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate (I actually still have a few of those marshmallow snowmen! Big grin!)

Orange Chocolate Chip Baked Donuts

Warm from the oven, these baked donuts are hard to resist!
DonutsOrangeChocChip

Orange Chocolate Chip Baked Donuts

Donut batter ingredients:

1 3/4 c. + 2 T. white rice flour (for gluten-free) or all-purpose flour

1/3 c. granulated white sugar

2 t. baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 c. buttermilk

2 lg. eggs

2 T. unsalted butter, melted

2 t. fresh, finely grated orange zest

1 t. orange extract

2.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Topping ingredients:

1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

1/4 t. ground cinnamon

1 T. + 1 t. fresh orange juice

1/2 t. orange extract

2 T. honey

cinnamon sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 6-mold donut baking pan with oil, set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, orange zest, and orange extract. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth. If the batter is a little too stiff, slowly stir in just a little bit more buttermilk. Fold in chopped chocolate.

4. Divide the batter between the oiled donut molds. Spread batter with the back of a spoon to smooth out tops. If needed, run your fingers under cold water, shake them off lightly, then use them to shape the donuts. Batter will stand slightly above the top of the donut pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until done to the touch.

5. While the donuts are baking, prepare the topping. Stir together confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, orange extract, and honey until very smooth.

6. When donuts are done baking, invert onto a cooling rack. Glaze right away, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.

More baked donut recipes:

Strawberry Shortcake Donuts

Cinnamon-Dipped Donuts

Enjoy! Have a great day!

Black Forest Cupcakes

CupcakeBlackForest

These light-textured chocolate cupcakes, served with whipped cream and cherries, are really fun for guests. An added bonus is that you can make the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze them until you have company. Just thaw, top with whipped cream, garnish and serve! Ready to start thinking about Valentine’s Day?

Black Forest Cake Cupcakes

Makes about 24

Ingredients:

2 c. all-purpose flour

2/3 c. Dutch-process cocoa powder*

1 1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. whole milk (or sour cream for a denser cupcake)

3 lg. eggs

2 t. cherry liqueur

1 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 c. granulated white sugar

1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. dried cherries, finely chopped

2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish

Sweetened whipped cream for topping

24 fresh dark sweet cherries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 12-muffin pans with muffin papers.**
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium size bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat together milk, eggs and cherry liqueur. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  5. On low speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scrape sides. On medium speed, beat in 1/2 of wet ingredients. Scrape sides. Repeat, beating in 1/3 of  flour mixture, remaining 1/2 of wet ingredients, and then remaining 1/3 of flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl in between.
  6. Mix together chopped cherries and chocolate and then fold them into the cupcake batter.
  7. Divide batter equally between muffin cups. Cups should be about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for 20 –  25 minutes or until no wet spots appear on muffin tops and muffins are firm to the touch. Do not overbake.
  9. Place muffin pans on baking racks for 15 minutes, then remove muffins, and place them on racks to finish cooling.
  10. To serve, top with whipped cream, grated chocolate and a fresh cherry.

Enjoy!

* If you need to, you can substitute natural cocoa, but Dutch-process has better flavor in this recipe.

** I use plain white papers for baking, then slip the muffins into decorative papers or foils for serving.

Spaghetti with Spinach & Peppadews

SpaghettiWithSpinach4

This is a simple dish to make – done in the amount of time that it takes to cook a box of spaghetti – but it has a delicious combination of flavors and is very rich and satisfying.

Spaghetti with Spinach

Ingredients:

8 oz. package of spaghetti (gluten-free is ok)

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. dry white wine*

1/3 c. finely chopped yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced (about 1 T.)

salt

red pepper flakes + extra for the table

several large handfuls of baby spinach (about 2.5 oz. by weight), washed and larger stems removed

2 oz. (about 2/3 c.) fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese + extra for the table

3 marinated peppadew peppers, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Put a large pot (8 qt. pot) of lightly salted water on to boil. When the water comes to a boil, add the spaghetti, stir. Cook until the pasta is almost done – when it needs about 2 minutes more cooking time. Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients. (That is, chop the onion, crushed the garlic, wash the spinach, and grate the cheese.)
  2. Add olive oil, wine, onion, garlic, a couple of dashes of salt and a couple of dashes of red pepper flakes to a large, deep skillet (about 12 x 3”.) Place on burner over medium heat. Stir ingredients. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the pasta when it is not quite done. Add nearly cooked pasta to skillet. Toss with olive oil mixture several times. Cook for about 1 minute. Add spinach. Toss with pasta several times. Cook for about 1 minute. Add cheese. Toss. Check pasta for doneness. When pasta is the desired doneness, transfer to a serving platter or to individual dishes. Garnish with chopped peppadews. Serve immediately.

Buon Appetito!

* I served the pasta with Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina and so used that in the dish.

Photography Challenge: Shadowed (Beauty Berries)

The garden was mostly in shadow the other morning, except for some warm sunlight on my Beauty Berries just after sunrise. From winter’s weather, the berries are a bit faded from how they looked a few months ago, but I am happy to still have even a little color in the garden.

BeautyBerriesInWinter

View my post on Shadowed Roses.

More on the Shadowed Photography Challenge.