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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Spiced Hibiscus Granita {Spiked}

On the weekends, my husband and I like to take time to watch a movie together. This past weekend I made a dessert  cocktail for our “movie time”.

Granita is easy to make and the variations are only limited by your imagination.   Be sure to check out some suggested flavor combinations at the end of the recipe.

Enjoy!

Denise

Spiced Hibiscus Granita - Spiked

Spiced Hibiscus Granita {Spiked}

Vodka, Tea Bags, Cinnamon Stick

1-1/2 cups Water
1 two-inch Cinnamon Stick
3 Red Zinger Tea Bags
pinch of Salt
1/8 teaspoon ground Cardamom
1 cup Vodka
3-4 tablespoons Lemon Juice
3-4 tablespoons Vanilla Agave Syrup or Honey

  • Add water and cinnamon stick to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  • Remove pot from heat and add tea bags, cardamom and tiny pinch of salt to the boiling water.
  • Cover and let steep for five minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add the vodka, agave syrup and lemon juice to a bowl. Stir to combine.
  • When tea is done steeping, remove tea bags and cinnamon stick.
  • Add tea to the bowl. Stir to combine.

Spiced Hibiscus Granita - Ready to Freeze

  • Transfer tea mixture to a 8×8 baking pan.

Spiced Hibiscus Granita - Ready to Freeze in Baking Pan

  • Place in the freezer for 4-6 hours. Scrape with a fork every hour to break up the ice crystals.

Spiced Hibiscus Tea Granita - Ready to Serve

  • Serve straight up (or add ice cream/fresh fruit).

Spiced Hibiscus Tea Granita - Ready to Eat

Variations

  • Coffee & Kahlua & Cardamom
  • Lemon Zinger Tea & Vodka & Basil
  • Diet Coke & Captain Morgan & Cinnamon (Note:  Just use 2 cans of soda … do not warm the soda!)

Click the Image to Print “Just The Recipe”!

Printer Friendly Recipe

Gypsy Spiced Apple Crisp

20120220-065956.jpgThe spice Grains of Paradise are tiny, unique pyramid-shaped seeds whose flavor profile can be described as sharp and peppery with a fruity backdrop.

They look ashy when you crush them with a spice grinder or mortar & pestle.

Substitute Grains of Paradise for black peppercorns. Try seasoning your steak with crushed grains of paradise, salt and hungarian paprika. The flavor combination really works.

Look for them at your local spice shop.

My family has been requesting an apple dessert. Below is an apple dessert recipe that features Grains of Paradise.

Enjoy!

Denise

Gypsy Spiced Apple Crisp

Gypsy Spiced Apple Crisp

2 cans (20 oz) Apple Pie Filling
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 cup Evaporated Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Grains of Paradise
15.25 oz box of Butter Pecan Cake Mix
1 cup Butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
  • Crush the grains of paradise with a mortar and pestle; set aside.

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  • In a large bowl, mix together the apple pie filling, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, evaporated milk, vanilla and ground grains of paradise.

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  • Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan.

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  • Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the apple mixture. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the dry cake mix layer.
  • Bake for one hour or until golden brown.

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  • Serve warm or cold.

Note: I turned the baking dish after 30 minutes. If you want, top with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with caramel.

Printer Friendly Recipe

Nutella Frosted Saffron Cupcakes

I decided to make Saffron Cupcakes for my Saffron dessert post.

Hmmm. What kind of frosting?

Well, of course I had to pair these yummy cupcakes with Nutella frosting!

The result was better than expected and the flavor combination was perfect….

I took some cupcakes in for my coworkers to sample. They loved them!

You will find both recipes below….

Enjoy! Denise

P.S. if you want, swap out the frosting with Saffron Buttercream instead….

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Saffron Cupcakes

1 box Pound Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker)
2/3 cup Milk
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Saffron
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
6 Ferrero Rocher Chocolates, chopped
Powder Sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini-bundt cake pan with cooking spray or line your cupcake tins. Set aside.
  • Place saffron in the mortar and pestil. Press to crumble the threads.

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  • Warm milk for 45-60 seconds. Add saffron and allow to steep for ten minutes.

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  • Add cake mix, steeped milk, eggs, butter, cinnamon and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.

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  • Mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.

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  • Fill each mini-bundt halfway. Smooth tops with a spoon.
  • Bake for 20 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).

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  • Remove from baking pan and cool on a wire rack.
  • Fill the center of the mini-bundt cakes with Nutella Frosting (see recipe listed below).
  • Top with chopped with chocolates.
  • Dust with powdered sugar.

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Nutella Frosting

1-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
3-4 tablespoons Hazlenut-flavored Creamer
1/4 cup Nutella

  • Add all ingredients to a medium bowl.
  • Mix at a medium speed until you get to a creamy frosting consistency.

Note: If you prefer a traditional cupcake, fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. Frost as you like with the Nutella Frosting and place half of a Ferrero Rocher chocolate on top.

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Sunday Share: 11/27/2011 {Recipe Finds}

{Sunday Share}

What is “Sunday Share”?

The Gypsy World Spice Cafe Facebook Page, {Recipe Finds} are shared daily. I find cool recipes on twitter, blogs, Pinterest and internet searches and love to share them…

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  Now, it’s time to get ready for the December holidays!  Woo Hoo!

Below are links to {Recipe Finds} which were featured. Be sure to check out these great sites, blogs and recipes.

Next weeks “sharing” will feature holiday recipes.

If you have a recipe that you want “shared” which follows the week’s theme, please email me . I will be sure to read your post. If it fits the current week’s focus, I’ll share.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Denise

Recipe Finds – Just Because

Recipe Finds – Holiday Cooking/Baking

Holiday Tips

Sunday Share: 11/20/2011 {Recipe Finds}

{Sunday Share}

What is “Sunday Share”?

The Gypsy World Spice Cafe Facebook Page, {Recipe Finds} are shared daily. I find cool recipes on twitter, blogs, Pinterest and internet searches and love to share them…

Be sure to enjoy the time with your family and friends. Life is full of blessings — be sure to take time to “appreciate the moment“.

Below are links to {Recipe Finds} which were featured. Be sure to check out these great sites, blogs and recipes.

Next weeks “sharing” will feature holiday recipes.

If you have a recipe that you want “shared” which follows the week’s theme, please email me . I will be sure to read your post. If it fits the current week’s focus, I’ll share.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Denise

Recipe Finds – Just Because

Recipe Finds – Holiday Cooking/Baking

Holiday Tips

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

Cinnamon Spiced Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

This “not diet friendly” dessert recipe was actually inspired by one of my favorite low calorie desserts/snacks….

It is all about balance.  So, go ahead and have a treat once in a while.  Be sure to counter the calorie intake with exercise and be mindful of portions.  

Definitely worth the extra workout… 

Enjoy!

Denise

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip with Cookies

Cinnamon Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Ricotta Cheese (I used part-skim)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Espresso Powder
3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
3/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, vanilla, cinnamon, and espresso powder until creamy.

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip Preparation I

  • Gradually add the sugars and mix until well blended.

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

  • Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

  • Transfer to an airtight container.  Refrigerate overnight (or at least 4-6 hours).
  • When ready to serve, transfer to a decorative bowl.
  • Serve with chocolate graham crackers, vanilla wafer or strawberries.

Note:

  • This was a big hit! 
  • We think that Polish Chrusciki would  have been really good because they have a flavor/texture reminiscent of cannoli  shells.  Next time….
  • My “diet” version is 1/2 cup fat free ricotta, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch of cinnamon, 1 packet of Splenda.  Mix well with a spoon.  Sprinkle with 6 mini chocolate chips.  Yum! 🙂
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).

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake PreparationGypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

  • 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.

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation...Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake PreparationGypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

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