Amazing Marble Cupcakes {with a twist…of course}

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This weekend, my 8-year-old son and I made these cupcakes together. The interesting ingredients resulted in probably the best cupcakes we’ve made. Yum!

Enjoy! Denise

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Amazing Marble Cupcakes

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
3 Eggs
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
8 oz. Pepsi
4 oz. Maraschino Cherry Juice
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground Cardamom
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
Maraschino Cherries

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line 2 cupcake pans with liners and set aside.
  • Add cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, Pepsi, maraschino cherry juice, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl.
  • Beat on low for 30 seconds then beat on med-high for 2-3 minutes.

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  • Pour 1/3 of cake batter to a small mixing bowl. Add the cocoa powder and mix well with a rubber spatula.
  • Divide the non-chocolate cake batter evenly between the 24 cupcake liners.

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  • Divide and dollop the chocolate batter evenly between the 24 cupcake liners.

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  • Using the dull end of a wooden skewer, marble the batter.

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  • Bake for 17-20 minutes.
  • Cool completely then frost with your favorite buttercream frosting and top with a maraschino cherry.20120826-135012.jpg
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Sweet & Salty Chocolate Toffee Cracker Candy

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I have thought about making this for a while. This recipe is not only easy, it is very rich and flavorful. My colleagues at work loved it…so I guess I need to make it again real soon!

My favorite thing about this recipe s that it is perfect for those last-minute “make & take” events because you can have the ingredients in your pantry….

Enjoy! Denise

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Toffee Cracker Candy

4 oz. Saltine Crackers (1/4 of avg. size box)
1 stick of Butter
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Powder (or extract)
2 teaspoons Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, divided
12 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Candies, Sprinkles, or Nuts

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and grease it with shortening.
  • Place the Saltines in a single layer on the lined cookie sheet; set aside.

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  • In a heavy saucepan, melt the dark brown sugar, butter along with 1 teaspoon of the pink salt, cinnamon and vanilla powder over medium heat.

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  • Bring to a boil while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Boil for 3 minutes.

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  • Carefully pour the mixture over the crackers. Use a metal spatula to spread the mixture evenly onto all the crackers.

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  • Place the cookie sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 7 minutes (toffee will bubbly).
  • Transfer cookie sheet to a safe surface.
  • Pour the chocolate chips over the toffee; set aside until chocolate chips soften and look glossy.

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  • Use a metal spatula or scraper to smooth out the chocolate chips evenly to cover the toffee layer.

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  • Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon of pink salt over the chocolate layer.

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  • Sprinkle with your choice of toppings.
  • Cool completely. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill. Cut or break into bite-size pieces.

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Easy as 3-2-1 -> Chocolate Coconut Water Martini

Chocolate Coconut Water? Absolutely! It is amazing.

I am a huge fan of coconut water and have it often with my lunch or after my work out. Recently, I discovered chocolate coconut water. Yum!

Below is my take one of my favorite cocktails…the Chocolate Martini.

Enjoy!

Denise

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Chocolate Coconut Water Martini

3 oz. Chocolate Coconut Water

2 oz. Vodka

1 oz. Kahlua

  • Fill your shaker halfway with ice.
  • Pour the ingredients into the shaker.
  • Cover and shake it good.

Serves 2

Note: I decided to rim my glass with equal parts unsweetened dark cocoa and splenda.

Pumpkin Turkey Chili (Calabaza Chili)

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is good to have an easy and delicious chili recipe on hand that is hearty and “heart healthy”.. 

Did you know that pumpkin is a  “power food” with a ton of health benefits?

Why not double the recipe and freeze half?

Enjoy!

Denise

Tip:  Be sure to stock pile Pumpkin Puree this time of year (when it is readily available and on sale).

Pumpkin Turkey Chili (Calabaza Chili)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 medium Onion, chopped

2 cloves of Garlic, minced

20 oz. Ground Turkey

7 oz. Smoked Turkey Sausage

2 (15 oz.) cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed

2 (11 oz.) cans Mexicorn

15 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes

15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree

32 oz. Chicken Stock

2 cups Water  (I fill the emptied can of crushed tomatoes)

1.25 oz packet of Reduced Sodium Chili Seasoning

1 tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 tablespoon ground Cumin

1 tablespoon dried Oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped

Salt & Pepper

  • Quarter the smoked turkey sausage lengthwise and thinly slice.  Set aside.
  • Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a stock pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sautee until vegetables are tender (about 3-4 minutes).
  • Add ground turkey and sliced smoked turkey sausage to onion/garlic mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Sautee until ground turkey is cooked through.
  • Add the black beans, mexicorn, crushed tomatoes, pumpkin puree, chicken stock and water to the stock pot.   Stir to combine the ingredients.
  • Add the chili seasoning, unsweetened cocoa powder, cumin, oregano, cloves, cayenne pepper and bay leaves.
  • Stir to combine the ingredients.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring to a boil.  Then simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Stir in the fresh cilantro.  Discard the bay leaves and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Serve with your choice of “fixings”.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Espresso Spiced Frosting {Semi-Homemade}

It happened again… I had a last-minute “make & take” opportunity….

What to make? Hmmm.

Recently on Pinterest, people have been sharing recipes for  2 ingredient cupcakes using store-bought cake-mix and canned pumpkin puree.   It reminded me of a posts that I did last year for Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Gingerbread Bon Bons  where I made cake balls with Gingerbread cake-mix and pumpkin puree.   

So, I decided to make Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Espresso Spiced Frosting.  For this recipe, I opted for a semi-homemade approach and spiced up store-bought frosting.  (If you want a homemade recipe for a sweet spiced buttercream frosting, check out my post for Spicy Mocha Cupcakes).

This recipe is not only easy….most likely you already have the ingredients in your pantry.

Enjoy!

Denise

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes Espresso Spiced Frosting

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Espresso Spiced Frosting

Yield:  16 Cupcakes

1 Box Butter Fudge Cake Mix    ( I used Duncan Hines “Moist Deluxe”)

1 15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 teaspoon Cardamom (optional but recommended)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line cupcake pan with baking cups and set aside.
  • Add the cake mix, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and the cardamom to a large bowl.
  • Mix on low for 30 seconds.  Adjust the setting to medium and beat for an additional 4 minutes.
  • Pour batter into the baking cups (2/3 full).
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into center of cupcake.
  • Cool for 15 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Frost with Espresso Spiced Frosting (recipe below).
Espresso Spiced Frosting

12 oz container of Whipped Fluffy White Frosting

1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 teaspoon Espresso Powder

1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

  • Add all ingredients to a medium bowl.  Mix well.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Espresso Spiced Frosting

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

Coo Coo for Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

A few weeks ago, I was browsing the grocery store at lunch time.     A chocolate display caught my eye….in particular.. ground cocoa beans.   I’ve been reading recently about the health benefits of cocoa beans. 

They are very tasty…not as bitter as I expected them to be….and the flavor seemed to linger.   Pure chocolate flavor at its best without added sugar…. 

Hmmm…Creative Cooking Opportunity…

The Versatile Vanilla series was so much fun.  Chocolate is next !

Below is my recipe that is inspired by Caribbean flavors…chocolate, bananas, coconut, rum and spices.

Enjoy!

Denise

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

Yield:  12 Muffins

Ingredients

1 cup All-Purpose Flour

3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Cardamom

1/2 teaspoon Salt

2 Bananas (very ripe)

1/2 cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut

3/4 cup Sugar

1/3 cup Vegetable Oil

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon Rum extract

1/2 teaspoon Coconut extract

1/3 cup Ground Cocoa Beans

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a muffin tin and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a large bowl, add oil, eggs, bananas, coconut, sugar, rum extract and coconut extract.  Use a mixer to blend ingredients.

Preparing Caribbean Cocoa Beans Muffins

  • Add dry ingredients to banana mixture.  Mix well.

Preparing Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

  • Stir in the ground cocoa beans.

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins Preparation

  • Divide batter between the 12 muffin cups.

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins Prep

  • Bake for 18-20 minutes (until cake test comes out clean).
  • Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake (aka Torta Imposible)

Chocolate Flan Cake (Torta Imposible or “impossible cake”) is a decadent, layered dessert with Chocolate Cake on the bottom and Flan on the top.

You are probably wondering why they describe it as “impossible”….

Well, when the cake pan goes into the oven, the flan ingredients are on the top and the cake batter is on the bottom.

Then two hours later, when the dessert comes out of the oven, the cake is on the top and the flan is on the bottom.

My favorite step is to invert the cake pan onto a platter.  It is definitely a “TADA” moment.  The caramel runs all over both the Chocolate Cake and Flan layers.   It is very hard not to slice it right there and then.  But do let it refrigerate and the flavors will marry even more because as Chocolate Flan Cake refrigerates, the chocolate cake absorbs the caramel like a sponge.

I like to think that nothing is impossible  and had to master this recipe after reading about it several years ago.   It has since become a family favorite. 

Below is the recipe…  

Enjoy!

Denise

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake

12 Servings

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 1 (18 oz.) box Butter Fudge Cake Mix
  •  3/4 cup Water
  •  3 eggs
  •  1 stick Butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  •  1/2 teaspoon Cardamom

Flan Ingredients

  •  8-12 oz Caramel Sauce (depending on how gooey you like it)
  •  1(14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  •  1(12 oz.) can Evaporated Milk
  •  1/2 cup fresh Milk
  •  8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  •  3 eggs
  •  1 Vanilla Bean
  •  1/2 teaspoon Cardamom

Instructions

  • Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a large bundt pan with nonstick spray.  Pour caramel sauce into prepare pan.  Set aside.

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

  • Prepare cake mix according to package directions (adding cinnamon and cardamom).

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  • Pour cake batter into cake pan (over the caramel).  Tip:  I typically only fill my cake pan a little more than 1/2 way.  Then make cupcakes with the rest of the batter (or leave more batter for the kids to have fun with. 🙂 )

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation...

  • Pour condensed, evaporated and fresh milks into a blender.  Split and scrape the vanilla bean.  Add the tiny vanilla beans to the blender along with the cream cheese and the cardamom.  Mix well.

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Pour flan mixture very slowly (with a ladle) over the cake batter.

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

  • Spray aluminum foil with non-stick spray.  Cover bundt pan very tightly with the aluminum foil.  Set the bundt pan into a large pan and set on the oven rack.  Carefully pour hot water into the larger pan to a depth of 2 inches.
  • Bake for 2 hours.  Note: Do Not Take the Aluminum Cover Off During Baking Process.
  • Cool for 15 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil.  Invert cake onto a large platter.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving. 

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

Source:  Recipezaar

Perfect Paprika Party

My grandmother, who loved to cook, would tell everyone that came to visit that she had made something “especially for you”.  As more people arrived, you realized that she loved cooking for everyone…each person was special to her…which made her extra-special…

One of the things that I enjoy most is cooking for others. It decompresses me after a busy day or a crazy week. I enjoy planning an enticing menu, preparing the food and seeing the satisfied faces as they enjoy the meal “made especially for them”.

While brainstorming ideas on what to make with the spice Paprika, I decided to create recipes for a Paprika Party! This so-called “basic spice” (which up until now has been nothing more than a mere garnish in my kitchen) has a plethora of flavors, colors and health benefits.

I hope this article inspires you to try Paprika for more than just dusting your “deviled eggs” and to make something memorable for those people in your life that are special to you.

Enjoy!

 

What is Paprika?

Paprika is the powder form of the capsicum peppers (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). There are many varieties of Paprika peppers which are mainly grown in Hungary and Spain. The peppers are picked, dried and milled.

The Spanish were the first to create the powdered form of Paprika. When Christopher Columbus returned from his trip to the Americas, he presented the King and Queen of Spain with capsicum peppers as gifts. However, Paprika was not introduced to Hungary until the 16-17th centuries.

Nowadays, you can easily find many varieties of Paprika at your local supermarket. Like most spices, Paprika also needs to be stored in a cool and dark location away from direct sunlight. It does not have a long shelf life, so it is best to buy Paprika in small quantities.

Below is a break down on the various types of Paprika that you can choose from.

Paprika

Plain Paprika is bland which is why it is often used as a garnish for deviled eggs and potato salad.

 

Hungarian Paprika

Depending on the type of pepper used, the flavor profile for Hungarian Paprika ranges from sweet to very hot. The color ranges from mild to bright red. The brightest red is considered to be the hottest.

There are six types of Hungarian Paprika:

1. Special quality (Különleges) – Mild flavor, Vibrant Red

2. Delicate (csípősmentes csemege) – Mild flavor, Light Red

3. Noble sweet (édesnemes) – Sweet flavor, Bright Red

4. Semi-sweet (félédes) – Sweet flavor with trace of heat

5. Rose (rózsa) – Mild flavor with trace of heat, Light Red

6. Hot (erős) – Hottest of all paprikas, Light Brown-Orange

 

Spanish Paprika (Also known as Pimentón)

Depending upon the amount of seeds included when milling the peppers, the flavor profile of Smoky Spanish Paprika ranges from sweet to hot.

There are three types of Spanish Paprika:

1. Dulce (sweet) – Sweet & Smoky flavor, Dark red.

2. Agridulce (bittersweet or semi-sweet) – Bitter & Sharp flavor, Dark Red

3. Picante (hot) – Hot flavor, Deep Dark Red

*Note: Be sure to read the ingredient list on the Paprika before you purchase it. Sometimes, manufacturers add either MSG or an artificial smoky flavor.

 

Tips for Cooking with Paprika

1. Paprika has a high sugar content. If it is cooked too long, it will become bitter.

2. Both Hot Paprika and Smoked Paprika can easily overpower your recipe. Be sure to adjust the amount of Paprika you use to suit your personal taste.

3. Paprika is a great substitute for chili powder (especially for those who love the flavor of chili powder but can do without the heat). One cool tip that I read is useful when you use too much chili powder. Basically, adding the spice Paprika will balance the heat of the chili powder without disrupting the flavor profile of what you are preparing (rule of thumb is to add double the amount of chili powder).

 

Nutritional Benefits

Note: Home remedies should not be tried without consulting the physician.

  • Loaded with vitamin C.
  • Aids digestion
  • Contains anti-oxidants
  • Increases metabolism
  • Clears pulmonary and nasal congestion
  • Improves blood pressure and circulation

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Paprika Party Mix

2 cups raw Almonds

1/2 cup raw Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup Dried Cranberries

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1-1/2 tablespoons Sea Salt

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the sea salt and paprika. Set aside.
  2. Place the almonds and the sunflower seeds in a microwavable bowl.
  3. Microwave for 3-4 minutes (in 30 second increments) until golden brown.
  4. Add dried cranberries.
  5. Drizzle the nut/seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/paprika mixture.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Store in an air-tight container.

*Variation: Cumin pairs well with Paprika. Add 1/4 teaspoon on cumin seeds to the salt/paprika mixture.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Paprika Fudge

12 oz Bittersweet Chocolate chips

6 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Pinch of Kosher Salt

1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1/2 teaspoon Unsweetened Dark Cocoa

  1. Line a 8×8 square pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and kosher salt.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir vanilla extract.
  4. Spread chocolate mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle with the Paprika/Cocoa mixture.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  7. Lift fudge out of pan and peel off the aluminium foil.
  8. Cut into 36 squares.

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spicy Beer Cocktail

(my take on a Michelada…especially for my husband)

1 ice-cold Mexican Beer

2 tablespoons of Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon of Sweet or Hot Paprika

2 tablespoons of fresh Lime Juice

1-2 dashes of your favorite Hot Sauce

1 dash of Soy Sauce

1 dash of Worcestershire Sauce

Black pepper

  1. Mix together the salt and Paprika on a small plate.
  2. Rim a glass with a little lime juice and then dip in the salt and paprika mixture to cover the top of the glass.
  3. Add lime juice, hot sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of black pepper.
  4. Slowly pour in beer into your prepared glass.

*Note: Not spice enough for you, add more hot sauce or Paprika.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Nuttella Spice-tini

1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

2 oz. Vodka

1 teaspoon Nutella

3/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika, divided

1/2 teaspoon Cocoa Powder

1 packet Splenda

  1. Mix together 1/2 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika, Cocoa Powder and Splenda. Set aside.
  2. Add the Chocolate Liqueur, Vodka, Nutella and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika to a Martini shaker.
  3. Whisk rigorously to blend the Nutella.
  4. Add ice and give a good shake.
  5. Rim the glass with vodka, chocolate liqueur or water.
  6. Dip glass into the Sweet Paprika, Cocoa, Splenda mixture.
  7. Carefully pour into prepared glass.

Variation:  If you do not have Nutella, swap out the 1 oz  chocolate liqueur for 1/2 oz.  Add 1/2 oz of Frangelico.

 

Nutmeg…Naughty or Nice? (nutmeg cookie recipes)

Decisions…decisions…  There are so many spices that remind me of the holidays. 

 Somehow, I landed on Nutmeg because not only does the spice Nutmeg enhance sweet recipes, the spice Nutmeg also enhances savory dishes.  I was really surprised to learn that the spice Nutmeg needs to be used in moderation.  It also has a lot of medicinal and cosmetic benefits.

Is it Naughty or Nice?  That is definitely a matter of opinion….Read below…You Decide.  

Below, I’ve posted a few cookie recipes.  One recipe is for Chocolate Nutmeg Amaretti  (with a sugar-free variation).  The other cookie recipe is for Spice Drops.  This recipe is my take on my husbands favorite Snowball Cookie recipe.

Enjoy!

 

What is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is not a nut.   Nutmeg is the seed from a peach-like fruit that grows on an evergreen tree which is typically harvested in Indonesia.   This peach-like fruit is not considered very tasty and is typically pickled.

Nutmeg is purchased either whole or ground (freshly ground Nutmeg is definitely more flavorful).  Like most spices, it needs to be stored in a cool, dark location.

Why is Nutmeg Naughty?

Nutmeg needs to be used in moderation.  A pinch or two per serving is okay.  However, large doses can trigger vomiting and nausea.  Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid the use of nutmeg.

Culinary Uses

Nutmeg is typically used in sweet dishes like rice pudding, fruit desserts, pancakes, waffles and cakes.   It is also enhances savory dishes…especially recipes that have greens, root vegetables, cheese and eggs.   My mother always adds Nutmeg to the cheese filling for baked lasagne and baked ziti.   So, now I do the same and it really kicks it up a notch.

Of course, with the holidays in full swing, we cannot forget about Eggnog (the recipe calls for Nutmeg).   If you have leftover Eggnog and are not sure what to do with it, check out the recipe that Southern Living Magazine published in December 2009 for Eggnog Cupcakes:  http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000001940930.

Medicinal Benefits  

Note: Home remedies should not be tried without consulting the physician.

Nutmeg is known to have strong antibacterial properties, aid in digestion, improve appetite, and combat asthma.  I also ready that it is used to relax muscles and treat acne. Nutmeg is also listed as an aphrodisiac.  

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Nutmeg Amaretti Cookies

Yield:  About 48 cookies

2 cups Almonds (whole or slivers)
1 cup Granulated Sugar
2 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
4 tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
4 Egg Whites
good pinch of Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 tablespoon ground Nutmeg
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
sliced almonds to garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, process almonds with ½ cup of sugar until finely ground and transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. Stir in cocoa powder and confectioners sugar.  Set aside.
  4. In medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
  5. Sprinkle in remaining ½ cup sugar and beat well until glossy and stiff.  
  6. Beat in almond and vanilla extracts.
  7. Fold egg whites into almond-sugar mixture.  
  8. Spoon into piping (pastry) bag fitted with plain ½ inch nozzle.
  9. Pipe 1 ½ inches rounds about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet.
  10. Press an almond sliver into each cookie.
  11. Bake 12 minutes or until crisp.
  12. Cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

If desired, drizzle with melted chocolate or dip into melted chocolate and sprinkle with colored sugars or just leave plain..

Sugar-Free Variation:  Substitute the granulated sugar with Splenda.  Substitute the 4 tablespoons of confectioners sugar with 2 tablespoons of Spenda/Brown Sugar Blend.

Blogger’s Comments:  If you do not have a pastry bag, you can use a large ziploc bag and snip the corner.  

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spice Drops

Yield:  About 48 cookies

½ cup Granulated Sugar
¼ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Shortening
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
½ cup Butter, softened
2-1/4 cups Flour
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg  
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Cardamom
½ cup Confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add ½ cup confectioner’s sugar to a large ziploc bag and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream sugars, butter and shortening.
  4. Add egg and vanilla and beat until blended.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the remaining ingredients.
  6. Slowly add dry ingredients to the sugar-butter mixture and beat until well blended.
  7. Roll heaping teaspoons of the cookie dough into balls.
  8. Place on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart from each other.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes.
  10. Cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes.
  11. Transfer warm cookies to the ziploc back and shake to coat with confectioners sugar.  
  12. Place on wire rack to cool completely.

Variation:  Before baking, Roll the cookie dough ball into the colored sugar.  Skip the steps to roll in confectioner’s sugar.



Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Gingerbread Bon Bons

Here is a recipe that you can enjoy without the guilt! This super-moist pumpkin gingerbread is shaped into little balls and dipped in a chocolate coating.  They are amazing.  

The cake will be very moist which will make it easier to shape the cake into balls.

The calories are reduced by substituting pumpkin puree in place of eggs and butter. I also swapped out the milk with unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  This leaves room to allow for a little chocolate… It is a dessert after all…

Enjoy!

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Gingerbread Bon Bons

1 15 oz. package Hodgson Mill Gingerbread Mix (100% Whole Grain)
1 15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree
1 teaspoon Gypsy World Spice Cafe’s Sweet Spice (or substitute with Pumpkin Pie Spice)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 package Chocolate Bark Coating (12 squares)
½ teaspoon Gypsy World Spice Cafe’s Spiced Cocoa (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, pumpkin, almond milk, vanilla extract and sweet spice on low until ingredients are blended. Then increase speed to high and mix for 3 minutes.
  4. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Let cool completely.
  7. Roll 1 tablespoon portions of cake into balls.
  8. Using instructions on package of chocolate bark coating, melt the chocolate.
  9. Stir in spiced cocoa (optional).
  10. Dip cake balls into the melted chocolate and set on wax paper to harden.
  11. Decorate with candies or nuts.

Blogger’s Comment: The cake is also very good on it’s own dusted with confectioner sugar or served with whipped cream.

Spicy Mocha Cupcakes

This week I needed to make cupcakes for a bake sale at the office to benefit a charity.  Since this bake sale was geared toward adults, I decided to go for a spicy chocolate cupcake infused with the flavor of coffee…

The below recipes reference some of my Spice Blends.  Spiced Cocoa is a blend of dark unsweetened cocoa, cayenne pepper and other spices to enhance the flavor of the cocoa and balance the cayenne pepper.  Sweet Spice is a blend of cinnamon and other unique spices.  

Enjoy!

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spicy Mocha Cupcakes

1/3 cup half & half
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons Gypsy World Spice Cafe Spiced Cocoa
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup coffee, chilled
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips with half & half in a small bowl.  
  • Microwave chocolate chips / half&half for 25-30 seconds intervals until chocolate chips are softened.  
  • Stir in Spiced Cocoa and set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy.  
  • Add sugar to butter and beat for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs (one at a time).  Beat well after each egg is added.
  • In another bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda.
  • Alternate adding flour and coffee to the butter/sugar mixture while mixing until well combined.
  • Stir in vanilla and melted chocolate.
  • Fill cupcake liner 2/3 full.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  • Transfer to wire rack to cool.
  • Frost with Sweet Spice Buttercream Frosting (see below).  
  • Decorate with chocolate covered espresso beans. (optional)

Blogger’s Comment:   If you want to try this recipe, swap out the Spiced Cocoa for 2  tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa + 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice.  It won’t have the heat…but will be very tasty.

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Sweet Spice Buttercream Frosting

3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon Gypsy World Spice Cafe Sweet Spice
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a medium bowl, combine confectioners sugar, butter, milk, sweet spice and  vanilla with a mixer.
  2. Beat for 1-2 minutes until very creamy. ( Add more milk if it consistency is too thick).


 Blogger’s Comment:   If you want to try this recipe, swap out the Sweet Spice for Cinnamon.

 

Southwestern Slow Cooked Chicken with Black Beans

Tonight was Taco Night at our house!

Here is another recipe where you take advantage of your slow cooker and just like the recipe I posted for Moroccan Inspired Chicken & Chick Pea Stew, this recipe also calls for frozen, boneless chicken breast.  

Frozen chicken breast will cook in your slow cooker perfectly (on low for 8 hours, on high for 4 hours)…  If you decide to use boneless chicken breast that is not frozen, the cooking time would be on low for 4 hours.

I love coming home after a busy day at work to have dinner already waiting for me.  The only thing that had to be done was to pull out the tortillas and fixings.  Our favorite fixings are salsa, sliced olives, cilantro, cucumbers and light sour cream.

Enjoy!
   

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Southwestern Slow Cooked Chicken with Black Beans

2 lbs frozen, boneless chicken breasts
1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 15-oz can of tomato sauce
1 15-oz can of black beans , drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons Gypsy Zesty Spice Blend
1/2 bell pepper sliced thin
1/2 onion sliced thin
salt, sumac-pepper

  1. Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Empty canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and black beans into the slow cooker.
  3. Add both Gypsy Zesty Spice Blend to the tomato/black bean mixture.
  4. Season with salt and sumac-pepper to taste.
  5. Add the frozen, boneless chicken and make sure that all sides are coated with the tomato / black bean mixture.
  6. Top with onions and peppers
  7. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5  hours.
  8. Shred with 2 forks or tongs.
  9. Stir shredded chicken into the sauce and keep warm until it is time to eat.
  10. Serve with Taco Shells, Tortillas and Fixings.

Blogger’s Comments:

Gypsy Zesty Spice Blend consists of various Southwestern spices.   You can substitute your blend of spices (or a packet of store-bought low sodium taco seasoning).  If you do not have Sumac Pepper, substitute ground black peppercorns.