Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes!

This is my favourite cupcake recipe! It’s the moistest cupcake you’ll ever make, but yet it’s so easy! You’ll just need to get your hands on some good cocoa powder and some dark chocolate, 70% cocoa or more is best!

Ingredients:

  • 350 g all purpose flour
  • 60 g cocoa powder
  • 350 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 150 g dark chocolate 70% cocoa or more
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 240 ml cold coffee
  • 240 ml buttermilk
  • 210 ml vegetable oil

Method:

Sift together your all purpose flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Chop your dark chocolate roughly and mix into your dry ingredients (I used 70% Cocoa Lindt Dark Chocolate). Now in a separate bowl, mix your wet ingredients: eggs, cold coffee (make sure your coffee is cold, you don’t want to cook your eggs), buttermilk and vegetable oil. If all of these ingredients are at room temperature your cupcakes will turn out better, there will be less of a temperature change when you put them into the oven. Pour your dry ingredients into your wet and mix well. Put this mixture into a measuring cup or pitcher so you can pour out your batter easily. This batter is a lot more liquid than other cupcake batters so don’t be worried!

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Pour the batter into your cupcake parchments 3/4 of the way. This recipe will make exactly 24 cupcakes! Bake at 340 degrees fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted through the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean. While your cupcakes are baking I find the perfect opportunity to make the buttercream.

Ingredients:

  • 300 g soft unsalted butter
  • 520 g icing sugar
  • 150 g salted caramel

Method:

In a stand mixer on a medium-high speed cream your unsalted butter until it becomes a pale yellow colour. Add half of your sifted icing sugar and mix on low until it has combined. Add the remainder of your icing sugar and again on low mix until its combined. When all of your icing sugar has incorporated, beat on the highest setting for 5 minutes. When the air has been incorporated in the buttercream, add 150g of salted caramel and mix on a medium speed for a few more minutes! If your icing consistency is a bit too thick, add a couple tablespoons of milk to loosen it up. Prepare all of your icing by putting it into piping bags and put the rest of the salted caramel into a piping bag with no tip.

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Hopefully by this time your cupcakes should be done! Let them cool in the cupcake tins for 5 minutes, then to the cooling rack they go!

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When the cupcakes are fully cool, insert a chopstick or something similar through the middle of your cupcake. This is where the salted caramel piping bag comes in! Fill a generous amount of salted caramel inside the hole you created with the chopstick. Pipe your icing any way you like and there you go! A moist salted caramel chocolate cupcake!

Enjoy!


Salted Caramel!

A super easy salted caramel recipe! This sweet and salty topping is great on ice creams, desserts and even better inside cupcakes (recipe for cupcakes sometime this week)!

All you’ll need are some basic kitchen essentials and you’re set to make this yummy topping!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbps water
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 candy thermometer

Method:

First of all make sure you have everything ready. Measure out your ingredients and have everything prepared. Caramel isn’t very lenient, the time frame from perfect to burnt is about 60 seconds. There is no time for fumbling! A good tip is to have a damp kitchen towel ready so when you stir your ingredients together the pot doesn’t slide around. Have your vanilla and cream premixed for your convenience as well.

In a heavy bottom pot (choose one with higher sides because it will bubble quite a bit) add your sugar and water. Try not to get any sugar on the sides of your pan and just in the middle. This will avoid any sugar crystals forming and your caramel will be nice and smooth. Turn on your heat to medium and add your sugar thermometer. The mixture should boil, starting off with large bubbles, but the longer it boils the bubbles will decrease in size, thats when you know you’re close! This process should take about 4 minutes.

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Your sugar should start to turn a brown/caramel colour when you get around 170 degrees celsius, it’s important not to stir this mixture. If you want to mix it, just slowly swirl your pan around. !!DISCLAIMER!! Be very careful, sugar is extremely hot and will stick to you if you get any on you. I like my caramel to be around 190 degrees celsius, it has a complimentary bitter tone, but if thats not your thing, you can stop your caramel around 180-185 degrees celsius. Put your pot on your already prepared dampened towel and slowly drizzle in  your whipping cream. A slow steady stream will ensure that everything stays smooth! The mixture will bubble up a lot, but everything is ok, just keep stirring and adding your cream. When you finish, add your teaspoon of salt and stir until dissolved. Do not try the caramel at this point, it is still very very hot. Cool on your kitchen counter for a couple hours and it will keep in an air tight container in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.

There is your recipe for an easy salted caramel! After you try this recipe out, I think it will definitely be a favourite! A recipe using this salted caramel making it into chocolate cupcakes with a salted caramel centre and salted caramel buttercream will be posted later this week!

Enjoy!


La Grotta Del Formaggio!

La Grotta Del Formaggio  located in the heart of the old “Little Italy” has been here since 1977!

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This delicatessen, located on Commercial and 2nd Avenue has graced Vancouver with some of the best authentic Italian cheeses, cold cuts, charcuterie and preserves. If you’re ever looking for some strange oils, vinegars or even just different Italian cookies this shop is bound to have it! The shelves were stocked with everything imaginable!

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I decided to drop in for some lunch. The sandwiches here are talked about quite a bit so what better to do than to pick up a sandwich and a coffee and enjoy my afternoon off! I arrived at around 12:30PM and thankfully there was no line up. There was quite a few people working there, stocking shelves, cutting deli meats and making food orders, they all seem to be really busy, but they don’t neglect their customers. I came in and took a look around taking pictures of all their interesting stuff! One of the ladies around the sandwich making area asked me what I would like and showed me their system of sandwich making. So first you choose your bread!

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Bread choices

 

 

If you want oil and vinegar in the sandwich, mayo or mustard (they have some really cool options like pesto mayo), then you choose your cheese, veggies and meat. They have freshly sliced cheeses and it always changes depending on what they have on hand, she told me that the selection today was swiss/emmentaler, provolone, smoked provolone and dill havarti.

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Cold cuts

 

Ultimately I got a half whole wheat focaccia with oil and vinegar, spinach, tomatoes, onions, artichokes, banana peppers and sliced turkey. This was all pressed in a panini press and served hot! During the wait for the panini, with some sneaky eavesdropping I had heard a customer ask for the Italian meatball sandwich and how it was absolutely amazing! Unfortunately they were sold out of the meatballs and you’d have to come early if you wanted some. This may account for another trip to La Grotta Del Formaggio if you know what I mean! Who can pass up a meatball sandwich! After a few minutes, I got my sandwich and paid the $8.00 for my half focaccia (a little steep for a sandwich I thought). I then left because they don’t have much of a seating area except for two tables out in front on the sidewalk. To my surprise, the sandwich was still hot and crisp when I arrived home and oh boy were they right! The sandwich was amazing! I would describe it like a gourmet Subway! They don’t skimp on toppings and the meat was like a couple cm thick!

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I was enjoying it so much, the $8.00 price tag didn’t even bother me! I would definitely come back to this deli and next time I will be sure to try the meatball sandwich!

La Grotta Del Formaggio on Urbanspoon


Cream of Mushroom Soup!!

Wow! Am I seeing straight?! A week of rain?! Well what can ya do, ill just make a hearty cream soup to keep you warm inside and out! I had went to a buffet prior this week at the Grand Villa Casino and the soup of the day happened to be cream of mushroom. This was my most hated soup as a child, but I decided to give it shot and had a small bowl, who knows, maybe my tastebuds have changed. Unfortunately not, it was just as bad as I had remembered, but now that I’m older, I realized that I hated it not for the wrong reason. I hated the soup because the consistency was off (I swear this was just milk, cornstarch and canned mushrooms). So for my challenge of the week, I decided to make a mushroom soup from scratch with quality some ingredients that I could stand by!

I picked up a couple pounds of mushrooms and let the experiments begin! By the end of the day I had a rich and creamy mushroom soup that I was so proud of! I thought I’d share it for all of you mushroom haters! I hope this recipe changes your minds!

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 lbs white button mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 90 g butter
  • 90 g all purpose flour
  • 2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 L half and half
  • 1/8 cup of chopped chives
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

So with creamy soups I like to use a roux as thickener, some like cornstarch, but I think a roux just adds a little decadence and body.  A roux simply put is equal amounts butter and flour that is cooked down together. Although there are different types of roux, which ranges between blond roux’s to dark roux’s depending on what colour you want your soup to be or the richness you desire. There are some golden rules with roux though, if you have a cold roux, you need to add hot liquid and if you have a hot roux you need to add cold liquids. This rule will ensure you have a creamy smooth broth, if you don’t follow it, you’ll get clumps of flour in your soup and who likes that?! Now that we have the educational part of roux out of the way….

How do you make it? Easy! You add your butter in a small pan on medium heat and after it has melted add your flour. Cook this mixture down of a 3 minutes (it should look a bit frothy and foamy). Be sure to cook down the flour now so you don’t need to simmer your soup for too long afterwards! When you finish put it aside and let it cool down.

Clean and slice your mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms with a bit of olive oil in a heavy bottom stock pot. Add a pinch of salt, you want to make sure that you season the whole way to develop the flavours. Once your mushrooms are cooked set them a bowl. Deglaze the bottom of your pot with the white wine and cook down on high for 5 minutes (I like to add the wine for acidity, if you don’t choose add wine then put a couple tablespoons of sherry vinegar in). Now once the alcohol has burned off, add your stock and dairy. Get your liquids to a boil, whisk the hot cream into the cold roux. A cup at a time making sure that you have no lumps. Once you have all of your cream incorporated, you can strain the mixture to make sure there are no lumps or if you’re confident you did everything correctly then add your mushrooms right back in with one clove of grated garlic! Season the soup with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

Let this simmer for 10 minutes on medium low stirring occasionally. Finish the soup off with the finely chopped chives and enjoy! When serving the soup drizzle a little olive oil on top for a bit of added finesse.

Enjoy!


Hakkaku Ramen!

Rainy day in Vancouver, whats new, right? I guess it’s a good day to go out looking for a bowl of hot soup. Hakkaku Ramen in North Burnaby it is! I had heard that this noodle house was pretty on point with its authenticity, so why not give it a try! The restaurant was really small surprisingly with only about 10 tables. It was pretty busy when I arrived around 6:00PM, but luckily we didn’t have to wait long to get seated.

Their menu was pretty simple to understand, it had only about 6 ramen choices: Shio, Miso, Hot Miso, Shrimp, Curry and Shoyu.  With all the ramen at this restaurant you have the choice between a rich broth (more fat and body) or regular and any choices with chashu (pork) you get the choice between belly or shoulder. They had a few appetizers like gyoza and chashu bao (bun with chashu in it). I tried went with something simple as an appetizer and got the gyoza and for a my main I got the hot miso ramen to warm me up!

Gyoza

The gyoza was pretty tasty. Really juicy and the sauce it came with is pretty similar to the normal gyoza sauce served at other Japanese restaurants, just more concentrated and oily. The presentation was a little off with the caramelized starchy bits hanging off of the dumplings, but I can’t complain because they were pretty tasty.

I got my ramen seconds after I finished taking pictures of the gyoza. It came on a large wooden platter with a spoon. I thought the platter was pretty handy and cleaver, just an easy way to place the large bowl on the table without spilling. The smell was pretty overwhelming! I was so hungry at that point, for the sake of this review I had to take a picture with it still in tact!

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Hot Miso Ramen

 

What arrived in front of me was a huge bowl of noodles, bamboo, corn, bean sprouts, chashu, half a 6 minute egg, green onions and all in a spicy miso broth! Wow did it ever hit the spot, the regular broth was just rich enough for me, it was flavourful and the ratio between the vegetables and noodles/broth was perfect! The chashu was a little tougher than I’ve had before, but since I chose the lean option, I kind of expected it. Although for being a hot miso ramen it was pretty mild; I would only give it a 3/10 on the heat factor.

My sisters both got different ramen’s. The miso ramen and the shrimp ramen, they both looked just as good! I took a spoonful of the shrimp ramen and I thought it was really yummy. It came with a couple shrimp patties that looked like it had some sort of chive in it. The broth was really light and delicate. I would definitely order the shrimp ramen if I ever had the chance to come back.

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Shrimp Ramen

 

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Miso Ramen

 

Miso Ramen

Overall I think the experience was pretty good. The bill was under $35.00 for 3 people. I was pleased with the low price point for some quality food! I rate Hakkaku Ramen an 8/10. I would definitely come back to this restaurant!

Give it a try if you’re in the area!

Enjoy!

Hakkaku Ramen 八鶴 on Urbanspoon


Double Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies!

I guess you know it’s getting close to the end of the school year when requests for cookies come about! My sister had asked me to bake her class a couple dozen cookies and I couldn’t think of anything better than a double chocolate sea salt cookie! These rich cookies are packed chocolate chips and topped with a little pink himalayan sea salt for a nice luxe finish!

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Ingredients:

  • 125 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 150 g all purpose flour
  • 30 g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 125 g unsalted butter (soft)
  • 75 g brown sugar
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 300 g chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp himalayan pink sea salt

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

First melt your dark chocolate. You can do this one of two ways: a double boiler or microwaving it in intervals of 30 seconds(be sure to let it cool for a few minutes). In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream your butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until it turns to a pale yellow colour. Add your egg and mix for another 30 seconds. When your egg is fully incorporated add your melted chocolate and vanilla paste. Make sure your chocolate is cool so you don’t cook your eggs!

Sift together your dry ingredients (flour, 1/4 tsp salt, cocoa powder and baking soda) and mix it thoroughly. Pour your dry ingredients into the mixer and stir until it’s just combined

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Now for the chips! Take out your paddle attachment and fold in the chocolate chips in with a soft spatula (this just helps so your dough won’t be over worked)! Now to form the cookies. The easiest way for me is to use an ice cream scoop! I have a 5cm one, but you can use any size you like.  With my medium scoop I can get 12 cookies. I bake them on two lined baking sheets, 6 on each, just to make sure  there is plenty of room to grow. Sprinkle the balls of dough with the himalayan sea salt and bake for 16 minutes. For larger cookies bake for about 18-20 minutes and for smaller cookies check on them around 12-14 minutes!

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Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack! They won’t last on there for long!

Enjoy!


Meringue Kisses!

Got some left over egg whites? Well this recipe will definitely help you get rid of them and transform them into a nice sweet treat! I was never a huge fan of meringue, just because of the overwhelming sweetness and its lack of flavour, but this recipe has a nice chewy surprise in the centre!

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Ingredients:

  • 150g egg whites
  • 300g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 40 mini marshmallows
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • food colouring paste

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit

Method:

For this recipe you’ll really need a stand mixer, unless you have guns of steel! You’ll be whippin’ these egg whites for days! At the very least, a hand mixer will suffice! The recipe is pretty simple, you don’t need exactly 150g of egg whites, just weigh your whites and double the weight in sugar. Be sure to thoroughly clean your mixer, any amount of fat/oil in the mixture will make your whites not be able to form stiff peaks. An easy way to make sure there is no fat/oil is to put some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar on some clean paper towel and wipe down ur mixing bowl and whisk attachment with it.

Place your egg whites in and on a low speed and just start mixing. You want to start off slow so that you don’t break the strands in the egg whites. You want it to build, so just slowly mix until big bubbles start forming. You will get something like this.

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It should hold its shape if you tip the bowl upside down. Now is time to add the sugar. Turn your mixer back on at a medium-high speed and add your sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. You don’t want to add the sugar all in at once or it takes forever to dissolve and you may lose the bubbles you’ve already created. Once all the sugar is added, put in your pinch of salt. Now place it on high for 5 minutes.

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Your meringue should be forming stiff peaks, but still have a grainy consistency because the sugar has not yet dissolved. At this time I get my piping bags ready. It’s best to use disposable piping bags because painting in them might ruin the canvas bags. I insert a large round nozzle tip and with a paint brush I draw lines on the inside of the piping bag. Make sure that your bag holds its shape, you don’t want the bag to collapse and the colours to mix.

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I kept mine pretty simple and did blue with an accent strip of violet and pink with an accent strip of red. The best is if you use a colour paste because it’s thicker than food colouring therefore it’s easier to paint. It is also very pigmented so the colours will stand out more. Liquid food colouring will do just fine though.

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After 5 minutes put a little meringue on ur finger and rub your fingers together. If you still feel grains of sugar than whip it for a few more minutes and test it again. Your goal is to have it as smooth as pudding.

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Mine still needed a little more time so I got my baking pan ready and lined up the mini marshmallows. You can place them pretty close together because the meringues don’t grow or spread much during the baking process.

After I whipped it on high for another 3-4 minutes, it was ready to be piped. I carefully placed the meringue in the piping bags and let it settle to the bottom. The first bit won’t have any colour so I piped it back into the mixing bowl.

To get the perfect tear drop shape, put the tip about 2cm away from the marshmallow vertically. Slowly dollop the meringue on the marshmallow and it will slowly cover the full thing. Pull straight up and you should have the perfect shape!

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I don’t have much experience with piping, but mine turned out pretty good! Now put it in the oven for 35-40 minutes, check up on them around 35 minutes and  try to move one. If it pulls away from the parchment easily than they’re ready! My marshmallows inside ended up caramelizing and creating a gooey centre, it was an unexpected surprise! This is a great recipe for those who have a sweet tooth, I consider this more like a candy than a dessert! They are best eaten within 2 days, but will keep for a couple weeks in an air tight container!

Enjoy!