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. 

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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. 

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Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon and Pecan Rugelach

Well hello again! If you haven’t already noticed by now, I’ve been away for a while. I sincerely apologize for that. Believe me, it hasn’t been by any choice of mine. The holidays have kept me quite busy.  Thanksgiving taught me that there is no limit to how much turkey I can eat. I know that it seems like I haven’t been working on the blog, but if you really think about it,  I have been working on new recipes for the blog to share with you guys. I’ve teamed up with a few companies that I’m super excited to work with and although I can’t share the recipes or all of the details right at this moment, I do want you to know that some new and exciting recipes (that I’m most proud of, mind you) are coming to the blog very soon. And by very soon I mean a couple of weeks. I’m just itching to tell you guys all about them. To let the cat out of the bag and spill the beans but unfortunately I can’t just now. I can tell you though that these recipes I’m talking about are going to blow your socks off. Blow them clear across the country. I think that justifies my absence, right? 

The other day I was video chatting with my mother—which by the way, I had no idea she even knew how to Facetime, but I gotta tell you she’s more of a pro than you and I could ever dream of being—so she proceeds to tell me that I’ve been neglecting my blog for far too long. She hasn’t gotten any email updates from me recently, and she’s worried that I’m going to lose all of my followers if I don’t post anything soon. Thanks mom. Now, I’m no cookie pro baker but I do have to inform you that I am a professional cookie eater. Don’t believe me? It’s on my resume. (It really isn’t on my resume, but how cool would that be?) Anyhow, as I was saying, my mother was throwing shade my way so I knew that I needed to get my act together.  

After that, I wanted to get into the holiday cookie-baking spirit so I decided to think outside of the box for a bit. I didn’t want to share an easy recipe of something we’ve all seen far too many times. I wanted something that was unique and perhaps maybe even new to some of you. Rugelach sort of made all the sense in the world because you can easily fill it with whatever your heart desires. These are loaded with butter, cinnamon sugar, dark chocolate, cherries and pecans. I don’t think it gets any better than this, but luckily for me, I’m not complaining about the situation. Rugelach kind of look like croissants but the doughs are completely different from one another. This one is a little more dense than pie crust, but it’s still super delicious. If you’ve never made these before or have never tried them for yourself, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve been missing out. Don’t worry, you still have time to catch up to the rest of us. I’ll even help you eat your way through. I’m willing to take one for the team. 

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Peanut Butter Cream Pie + Giveaway!

I’m extremely excited about this post, so much so that I don’t even know where to begin. It’s been about two years in the making. Although, I wasn’t aware of how exciting this was going to be when we first started. It’s a great day because my friend Joy has released her second cookbook, Homemade Decadence, and I couldn’t be more proud of her! It’s really an incredible book and I think everyone should go out and get themselves a copy right now. If not just for the sheer excellence of the recipes and images themselves, but also because I had the honor of working with her on this book, helping her style and photograph the images. I can’t even begin to tell you about all the fun times we had working on this book together. We literally have countless stories of a very hungry cat trying to eat everything in sight—and I do mean everything, from avocado ice cream to honey cupcakes—and the acrobatics we did, juggling so much in a tiny apartment in Venice, Ca. Sometimes winning at life and sometimes failing miserably, but always having a blast. This book holds a special place in my heart because of those memories. 

But enough about me. I’ve got some great news for YOU all, and it’s not just this peanut butter cream pie either. Well, it’s not only that. Although, to be perfectly honest, this pie is pretty spectacular so that should be great news enough. I didn’t want to stop there though. I decided to go all the way. So I’m giving away a free copy of the book to one lucky winner. (That means you). Yup, it’s the very first contest/giveaway I’ve ever organized here on The Candid Appetite, and I’m glad this gets to be the first one. I kind of feel like Oprah right now and I can’t get enough of it.

So here are the rules: in order to enter the contest/giveaway you need to leave a comment down below telling me about the best dessert you’ve ever eaten. And I want vivid details too, like where did you eat it? Did you make it yourself? What made it so special? What were the ingredients? (You don’t really have to answer all of that, just the name will do, but I’d love to read all about it!) You have until Friday at midnight to enter, and then I’ll randomly select one winner and notify you on Saturday! Disclaimer though, it’s only open to US residents. (I’m sorry international friends, but I’m not made of money and shipping internationally costs too much). Are you going to win this book? I hope you do! You’ll never know unless you enter! Good luck, I’m rooting for you! 

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Mini Pistachio Boston Cream Pies

We’ve finally finished unpacking all of the boxes, putting everything into its proper place and assembling all of the furniture we bought thinking we could totally build everything ourselves. Why did we think this was such a great idea? It isn’t so much all of the difficult instructions made entirely out of hard to decipher pictures that gets us, but more so all of the manual twisting and turning of the screwdriver. We really should invest in a power drill. Thankfully, it’s all taken care of now with only a minor amount of cursing under our breath (not a single one from me, mind you).

We’re currently in that state of not wanting to leave our home because it’s just so nice, and it still seems so unreal to us. Like we’re vacationing in someone else’s house. Do you know the feeling? I’m also currently in the state of making sure nothing is out of place. I’m positive I’ve started to get on Julian’s nerves walking around dusting everything, vacuuming, mopping and sweeping all the time. I can’t help it, I’m a perfectionist. Sue me.  

This is officially the first post I’ve shot in the new place and I have to say that it’s been a fun and exciting adventure, to say the least. It has been a little weird, though, mostly because I have to get accustomed to everything all over again. It’s funny how one can get so comfortable somewhere and feel so out of place the second you find yourself somewhere else. I was moving so slowly making and shooting this, for some reason, trying to adjust to my new surroundings, familiarizing myself with the kitchen and forgetting where exactly I put everything away. “Where did that spoon go?” “What cupboard did I shove that bowl in?” “Is it time for a drink, yet?” The answer to which is always, YESSSSSS! It’s always time for a drink…and chocolate. Luckily for us, this here post happens to involve dark chocolate and pistachios. Two of my favorite things. 

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Baked Salted Caramel Chocolate Doughnuts

I think by now you’re already well aware about my love—some might call it an obsession and maybe they’re right—with doughnuts. In case you didn’t already know, maybe these Baked Blueberry Crumb Doughnuts will convince you. Or these Baked Peanut Butter Chocolate Doughnuts topped with chopped peanuts and lots of chocolate. Finally, perhaps these Bourbon Blueberry Basil Doughnuts will do the trick. They’re perfectly boozy and sweet. It’s safe to say I’m addicted, but nothing to worry about because I have a number to a group on hand, just in case it ever gets to that point. Not that it ever would because I don’t see a problem with eating doughnuts by the dozen until you can’t eat anymore. That’s totally normal, right? Yeah, it’s normal. Doughnuts are meant to be eaten two at a time and frequently, at that. You can quote me on that. 

My love for doughnuts is so big that I actually created a special day for them. National Doughnut Day, which is on June 6th by the way (just around the corner), is a holiday that I created to celebrate the best dessert/treat/breakfast item ever invented. You’re welcome. Okay, so maybe I personally didn’t create the day itself (I totally should have though). I actually don’t know who did, but whoever declared June 6th National Doughnut Day, is a hero in my eyes. I’ll never forget you. Thank you random person I don’t know for making this special day possible. A monument should be built in your honor. National Doughnut Day? More like National Jonathan’s Favorite Holiday Let’s Celebrate by Eating Tons of Doughnuts Day. Or something like that. I’m still working on the name. 

So in honor of this special day, I decided to make doughnuts for the blog. Also, I began realizing that I hadn’t posted a doughnut recipe in a while. We can’t have that. That’s a really big problem. So I thought since I don’t have any chocolate doughnuts on here yet, I just needed to make a chocolate doughnut recipe. And what goes better with chocolate than salted caramel? Well, maybe crushed up salty pretzels because it’s the way it always should be. I baked these because I was too lazy to go through the entire process of making the dough, letting it rest, rolling out the dough and cutting them and then frying them. My head was hurting just thinking about it. I also didn’t fry them because I figured if I slapped on the work “Baked” right to the front of this recipe, it would instantly become healthy. So here I am with my healthy doughnuts, taunting you to make them and eat them. You can thank me later, right now, just go out and celebrate National Doughnut Day. 

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