Strawberry Pistachio Cupcakes

I don’t know if cupcakes are still a thing or not (I’m behind on a lot of food trends, try not to judge me), but I figured Mother’s Day is the perfect day to bring them on back because let’s face it, mom’s happen to really like cupcakes. That’s a fact, feel free to quote me on that. I know what you must be thinking though, cupcakes are a fad. They’re practically out the door. No one likes them. Much like kale, they’re on their way out, but you know what I say to those cupcake doubters, those cupcakes haters? “What did cupcakes ever do to you?!?!” They’re just trying to live their life. They’re nothing but adorable mini cakes trying to get everyone to like them. That’s all. Nothing else. They’re tiny cakes packed with tons of flavor allowing people to eat as many as possible without guilt because let’s face it, tiny cakes are made to be guilt free. Call me crazy, but I like to believe that they are virtually calorie free. I’m sure that’s how it works. So go ahead and eat as many as you can. Do what you like. Have a ball. Throw a cupcake party. Make sure you invite me though. 

One of my all time favorite flavors happens to be pistachio (pistachio almond ice cream is the bee’s knees by the way, but that’s a story for another time), so I think it’s a huge understatement to say that I am super obsessed with this recipe. Okay so if I’m being honest, obsessed doesn’t even begin to describe it. The idea of pistachio cake makes me all sorts of happy and just in case you didn’t already know, let me refresh your memory. These Mini Pistachio Boston Cream Pies are all that’s right in the world. Nothing screams fancy schmancy more than miniature versions of one of my favorite desserts. That was when my eyes were opened for the first time.

I know that not everyone has a mom like mine who loves BBQ, so I’m sure the latest post, Strawberry Rhubarb BBQ Wings might not be everyone’s go-to Mother’s Day recipe. But have no fear, I’ve got you covered. I thought it best to share a recipe on the other end of the spectrum as well because I consider myself a fair and balanced kind of guy. Where there’s a savory post, there has to be a dessert. So here we are cupcake recipe on hand, and not just any cupcake but a super delicious cupcake at that. Get in the kitchen and bake up something sweet for the moms in your life. They deserve all of the cupcakes. After all, they carried us for all of those months and fed us and raised us and taught us everything we know. If being the number one super women in all the world doesn’t deserve a cupcake, then I don’t know what does. My mom deserves all the cupcakes and so much more. 

[Read more…]

The Classics: Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

I had an undying love for boxed yellow cake mix when I was a kid. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one out there with the same love affair. If I’m being perfectly honest I still have a soft spot for it (shh, don’t tell anyone). I have been known to buy a box, make it and eat it all in one evening. What can I say? Some days are harder than others, and the only medicine is to make cake from a mix. Let’s not talk about it. It has been a while though, so I think that should allow me a bit of forgiveness. When I was younger, I actually made boxed cake all the time and sometimes, more like all the time, I’d act like I had my own cooking show. I’d go through the making of my boxed cake as if I was talking to an audience that wasn’t there, through an invisible camera. “And now we add 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil and 3 large eggs to our mix and stir it until combined.” It was all pretty legit. Why anyone would want to watch a cooking show where someone was making cake from a box mix, was beyond me. I didn’t even think about that as a kid. I just had the most popular cooking show in my imagination, and everyone wanted to watch it. Humble brag. 

Those days are long gone, and although I sometimes crave a boxed cake mix every now and then, I do actually more often than not, just make my own version at home, from scratch without all of the guilt. Although, I still want to eat the entire thing in one sitting so I guess not much as changed in that respect. Who doesn’t like a classic recipe though? That one go-to “fill in the blank” recipe that you can count on to always come out right. I think this post is the epitome of “The Classics” series, and it’s what I had in mind when I first started it a few months ago. It’s my childhood. It has been a while since I created and posted a TCA Classics recipe so I’ll refresh your memory on the concept and the recipes that have gone before. 

We kicked things off with The Classics: Buttermilk Fried Chicken, where I introduced to you the idea of simpler posts with less images of recipes we all know and love. Plus, I shared with you our fancy hashtag (#TCAclassics) so that when you give these recipes a try, you can share and tag them so we can all have a look. We’re always searching for that one classic cookie recipe or classic apple pie recipe, so I wanted The Classics to be just that. The recipes you’re looking for. The recipes you love. Things took a savory turn when the second installment brought us, The Classics: Bacon Cheeseburger. Everyone needs a really great All-American burger recipe. Even if you think you don’t, believe me you do. The third round, The Classics: Cinnamon Rolls was where we learned a very important lesson that cinnamon rolls should always be the size of your head. If they’re not, you’re doing it all wrong. The last classics we had was the mother of all American classic recipes, The Classics: Apple Pie. Here I enticed you with large slices of pie topped with ice cream, and I regret nothing. This time around, The Classics: Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream is bringing you a classic birthday or party cake to entice you and your guests. Not having party or your birthday is still a year away, this makes for the best anytime cake. I just cleaned the house, cake! I took out the trash, cake! I didn’t get a parking ticket, cake CAKE! Bottom line is that cake is the answer to everything. 

[Read more…]

Lemon, Poppy Seed and Blueberry Streusel Pound Cake

Okay, so the honest truth is that I had to make this cake a total of four times. Yes, you read that right. Four times before I got it right. I was ready to scream, pull out my hair, denounce pound cakes for life and give up on everything because a little ol’ pound cake was defeating me. This is why I never make pound cake by the way, because I feel like they’re always so difficult, for some unknown reason. It’s not like they require a lot of ingredients or attention for that matter. In theory, they’re kind of simple to make. Yet it’s my baking kryptonite. For those of you that think I never mess up in the kitchen, think again. Even I, with all of the baking experience I have, still make mistakes from time to time. It’s totally normal. In fact I’d be worried if I didn’t mess up because those little hiccups humble me and make me a better cook/baker. So don’t be hard on yourself if things don’t always come out right the first time. Just keep trying.  

The very first attempt of this cake, I forgot to toss the blueberries in flour so they all sank to the bottom of the loaf pan, causing a not-so-pretty wet mess at the bottom, forcing me to lose half of the cake to moisture. No good. I clapped my forehead and called myself a dummy for forgetting such a crucial step. Sure I was disappointed, but I started all over again without thinking twice about it. So off Julian went to the grocery store for me and got more blueberries and cream cheese and almonds so that I could go in for round two. I made the cake again, this time a bit faster since I didn’t have to photograph it step by step. I was thankful for that. The second time was also a failure. When I removed my precious pound cake from the oven, the center had completely caved in. I started laughing (masking the irritation) because I haven’t had a cake cave on me in many years since I started baking. I don’t know what happened, maybe I opened the door too soon or maybe there was a movement or loud bang by the oven at some point and it scared my cake into ruin? Who knows. Anyhow, I was ready to give up at this point but Julian (and my mother, through various frustrated phone calls all made by me to her) kept telling me to try again. Believe me I didn’t want to. So there I went off again to the grocery store to buy yet another box of blueberries and cream cheese and almonds and butter this time around and I got home and did it once again. Mind you it’s like 11:30 at night at this point and I’ve made this cake for a total of three times now. 

This time around I felt really confident. I told myself this was it, this time it would work. So I made it all again (with my eyes closed practically), poured the batter into the pan, topped it with the streusel and popped it into the oven. I even kiss the pan and said a little prayer before closing the oven door. I crossed my fingers and continued with some other work. I made sure to not make any sudden movements by the oven door, tip-toeing when I needed to, nor did I open it prematurely. This time around, I waited until the time was up. I open the oven door and all I saw was horror. Complete and utter horror. Low and behold, it was the biggest disaster of my entire career. Not only did the cake batter bubble over out of the pan and onto the baking sheet, but it also caved in (big time) and the blueberries sank once again. The trifecta of cake mishaps. I threw the cake away, with the pan, slammed everything shut and went to bed. I lost hope. I started looking at other jobs, getting ready to stop blogging and photographing and baking and cooking altogether—I exaggerate for the effect. Before bed Julian (and through one last phone call with my mother) convince me to not give up and just try again. Take it slower and do it carefully, they said.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I already shared some photos of the process and got you all excited about this cake on instagram, I would’ve just scratched the entire idea and done something else. I realized though, that I couldn’t just leave you guys hanging. I promised you a blueberry pound cake and by George I was going to deliver one. So I woke up super early the next morning, took one last trip to the grocery store for some more blueberries—which I single handedly have kept the blueberry growers rich—and more cream cheese and almonds and a lemon. I get home and start for the fourth time. Although this time around I changed the recipe a bit by removing an egg, adding more butter, losing the baking powder and baking soda and calling it good, making sure to toss those blueberries in flour. I poured it into the pan, topped it with streusel and put it in the oven without much hope. One hour and a half later I had the most perfect pound cake I have ever made/seen. I let it cool (in a kitchen cabinet above the sink because Napoleon has gotten into the bad habit of trying to eat anything in sight) and did the biggest celebratory dance ever known to mankind. That is the story of my adventure of making four pound cakes in less than 24 hours. I have to say though, it all paid off. This cake is pretty epic. 

[Read more…]

Chocolate Strawberry Filled Cupcakes

When I was a little boy I was crazy about those chocolate Hostess cupcakes. The ones with the white swirl on top. Do you remember those? I’m sure you do, they’re pretty popular, or at least they were back in the early nineties when I was growing up. Well anyhow, I couldn’t get enough of them. My sister on the other hand hated them. She wasn’t (and still isn’t to this day) the biggest fan of chocolate. She was all about the twinkies, though, which I could never get down with. They weren’t my cup of tea. I secretly loved that she had her own strange tastes and that she didn’t like chocolate cupcakes because it just meant there was more for me. Those classic white swirled cupcakes have always inspired me and for the longest time I’ve wanted to make my own version of them on the site, but I never got around to it, until now. What better time to do it than on Valentine’s Day when chocolate desserts are sort of a must. 

I actually saw a photo of cupcakes with handwritten “I love you’s” on the internet, and I knew I needed to take the idea and run with it for Valentine’s Day. It just felt so right. Copying is a form of flattery after all, right? Thanks Martha Stewart for the smart idea. You’re always one step ahead of everyone else. So the design has been done, but the cupcakes? The cupcakes are all me. Rich chocolate cupcakes filled with my all-time favorite frosting, strawberry cheesecake, and then because there just wasn’t enough chocolate already, I went ahead and dipped them in a dark chocolate ganache. Melted white chocolate finishes them off. They taste like chocolate dipped strawberries and they’re the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day! 

There was a point a few years ago when cupcakes were the biggest thing on Earth and everyone who is anyone was sharing their recipes. Clearly I’m behind on the times. They might be a little taboo these days but I’m totally bringing them back. They’re a necessity on certain holidays and I’m sure no one will complain about these. So let’s forget about what we should or shouldn’t be cooking and baking. What’s in or what’s out and let’s definitely not pay attention to what people are saying because that’s not important. All that matters is that we’re happy and content in what we’re doing in life. So let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with those we love, family members, friends, significant others, and pets and stuff our faces with all of the chocolate and all of the cupcakes. 

[Read more…]

Chocolate Butterscotch Hazelnut Cake

Okay, so I know it’s January and this whole New Year thing literally that just happened, and we’ve made resolutions and promises to ourselves to eat healthier and make better choices from now on. I’m all for it…just not at this very moment, clearly. While everyone else is eating salads and vegetables and saying no to desserts, I’m over here tempting you all with this behemoth of a cake. What’s wrong with me?! I obviously didn’t get the memo, but that’s okay because I didn’t really want that memo to begin with. All I can say is that I’m very sorry, I just couldn’t help it. Don’t blame me. It’s not my fault. This cake happens to be a special cake. A birthday cake, to be exact, and I’m posting it so that we can all celebrate together, because a cake like this deserves to be admired and shared. A cake like this is worthy of breaking a few New Year’s resolutions here and there. I won’t judge, and I’m definitely not complaining. 

Next week is Julian’s birthday (hooray)! So in honor of this awesome occasion, I’ve decided to bake him a cake made up of his favorite flavors; chocolate, butterscotch and hazelnuts. Just in case you were wondering, I’m posting the recipe a week early because I’m taking him on a special top secret (shhh) trip for a week to celebrate his day of birth. The day he came into this world. He doesn’t know where we’re going, exactly, which is very exciting and fun for me because I get to surprise him with our actual destination on the day we leave and yell out “SURPRISE!!” Really loudly. Like I said, fun. The bajillion questions he asks me on a daily basis though since he found out about this trip—Where are we going? I just want to know! Is it far? Just give me a clue! Where are we going? Is it Hawaii?—not so much. All I know is that I couldn’t sit back and let the day go by without making him something special, aka something drenched in chocolate. So here we are with a giant cake in our faces, staring us right in the eyes, on a month when we vowed to eat nothing but vegetables. Damn you cake, damn you. 

Since we’ll be away next week on his actual birthday (January 13th), I thought it would be a great idea to make him his cake in advance, and post it early so that we can all still have something to enjoy in his honor. Lucky for Julian that means he gets two celebrations, not to mention this delicious cake. So give me a hand and help me wish this guy a Happy Birthday. It’s because of him that this chocolate, butterscotch, Nutella, hazelnut and dark chocolate ganache cake exists in our lives. We owe him a lot. 

[Read more…]

Salted Caramel Apple and Pear Buckles

I needed a super fancy name for this post, hence the word “buckles.” Although in all reality, these are buckles. Buckles. Buckles. Buckles. I just really like saying “buckles” for some reason. Like that one very popular song I used to love as a kid. One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, close the door….wait, where was I? Oh that’s right, I was talking about how much I love these crumb cakes. That’s basically what buckles are, just really good coffee cake-like dessert. The perfect dessert or breakfast for autumn. Is it a problem that it’s been 80 plus degrees here in Los Angeles, and I’m baking for fall with the air conditioning running on full blast? I think it’s a problem. Clearly, Southern California didn’t get the whole changing of the season memo. Get it together LA! You’re way behind, it’s almost Thanksgiving. This is the part where you change the colors of your leaves and drop them to the ground. This is when you’re supposed to start pouring down on us all of this autumn rain. You’re doing it all wrong, California. You need to be more like the East Coast, or like Seattle. I’m all about Seattle weather. 

You know what I’m also all about? These salted caramel apple and pear buckles. AKA apple and pear spice cakes with a crumb topping. Even though it’s still hot as summer during the day in the West Coast, I still get a craving for a warm apple spice cake every November. I decided to take this recipe over the edge with a little (okay more than a little) salted caramel and of course let’s not forget about the cinnamon and oatmeal crumb topping. It’s like the world’s best coffee cake had a baby with the world’s best cobbler or fruit crisp. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me I should be spending my days eating all of the apple spice crumb cakes in the world.  Hey, what can I say? When the world talks to me, I listen. Especially when there’s cake involved. 

Speaking of cake, I’m having a really difficult time establishing if this cake is actually a breakfast or a dessert. Of course, if this is my mother or my doctor asking, I have most definitely decided that this is in fact not the perfect breakfast. Wink wink. Shhhh don’t tell anyone yet. This all stays between you and I.  Although I did actually make these with the idea on my mind that I need more breakfast recipes. So it can really go either way on this folks. I don’t care about what time during the day I eat it, just as long as I get to eat it. Am I right ladies and gentlemen? Of course I’m right. So now let’s go out and celebrate by making and eating these apple and pear buckles. It’s the only way to celebrate! 

[Read more…]