Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Toffee Crunch Cupcakes

I know, I know, I know...these are not pumpkin..."how dare I!" but they are fall worthy in my opinion.
I find that the flavors of salted caramel and chocolate just scream fall. I might be the only one to agree but so be it lol
There are soooo many awesome recipes with pumpkin on the net today, I thought I would be different (and maybe slightly lazy, since i didn't want to go out of my way to make something pumpkin) Ya'll know i'm not the best at posting OR keeping up with the seasons or holidays. I tend to post whatever catches my fancy on any particular day. Today Toffee won!  and OH DID IT WIN!!!
My Hubby proclaimed these as his favorite cupcake! (but then again he's never complained about my cupcakes lol)

BTW: these cupcakes were photographed at night with none of the much coveted equipment (sigh* one day!) so they are a little apologies!

But on the the scrumptious details...
I was overjoyed to find that our Fresh Market carried a very important ingredient to these cupcakes.      Espresso powder. This lovely little gem of a powder, makes these already chocolaty cupcakes into a I'm-gonna-die-and-go-to-chocolate-heaven chocolaty goodness (did I put enough emphasis on the chocolaty part???). I highly recommend using espresso powder instead of instant coffee granules, the instant coffee has a far more bitter aftertaste than the espressos smooth and bold coffee flavor.
If you can't find it in a store near you you can buy it online, just simply click here or here for the links ;-)

 A must for baking with chocolate, espresso powder enhances chocolate’s flavor without adding its own coffee flavor. Specially selected coffee beans are ground, brewed, dried and ground into a powder that quickly dissolves for easy mixing. 

Anyways these cupcakes have a bold yet not too bold chocolate flavor. The batter is speckled with toffee bits (yummo right?)  then I made a ganache and piped it onto the cupcake in the shape of a circle leaving a whole in the middle. Then it was delicately dipped into chocolate covered toffee pieces. (I only found the chocolate covered ones, but i do agree that the regular toffee pieces would make the cupcake look better BUT the chocolate covered ones add flavor so you choose ;-)

Toffee Crunch Cupcakes



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 cup toffee bits


  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and butter and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the coffee, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix each addition just until incorporated.  Fold in the toffee bits with a spatula.
  2. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Add the cream to a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate; let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms.  Whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated.  Transfer the bowl to the fridge or freezer to chill the ganache to a pipe-able consistency, whisking every 5-10 minutes to ensure even cooling.  When slightly thickened, transfer to a pastry bag fitted with your tip of choice.  Pipe a ring of ganache around the top of each cupcake, leaving a hole in the center.  Add the toffee bits to a bowl and dip the ganache portion of each cupcake into the toffee bits, pressing very gently to adhere.  Let the ganache set.
  4. To make the frosting, combine the egg whites and the sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
  5. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer - don’t worry, it will come together!)  Blend in the salt, vanilla, and caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip with the frosting and pipe a frilly pile of frosting on top of each cupcake, filling the hole in the center of the ganache.  Top with additional toffee pieces, if desired.
Recipe courtesy of Annie's eats who adapted it from Bakers royal

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mama's Broccoli Salad

I remember my mom making this salad on several occasions. I LOVE it it's one of my favorite salads.
Might not be the best for my hips but nonetheless I love it!
There are so many versions of this favorite, different nuts can be used, no onions or dried cranberries instead of raisins. the variations are endless. you just adjust to make it your judgement here :-)
Thanksgiving is coming up and this salad is a MUST!
It's a definite crowd pleaser.
Make sure you cut the broccoli real small, I just really don't like big chunks of broccoli in my salad...yuck.
The sauce is a mayonnaise & vinegar mix. Slightly sweet and tart but soooo creamy.
I used good thick hickory smoked bacon cut into strips (I used scissors to cut them into much quicker)
I used sweet vidalia onions, my husband really does not like onions. but for some reason he can tolerate the sweet vidalia onions. I think they have a softer "onion" taste than most other onions.
I like walnuts in my version of the salad. although I can't complain about the salads that used almonds or roasted salted peanuts! So your choice.
If you are making this ahead of time DON'T add the bacon until just before serving. if you add it too soon the bacon looses it's crunch and you are left with limp bacon (yuck!!!)
You can combine everything else though beforehand ;-)

Hope this recipe finds it's way to your table this holiday, It's so worth it!

And since it's the "thankful month" here are some things I'm thankful for:
  • My Awesome God and Heavenly Father, He has given me sooo much (see all bottom notes).
  • My Loving, caring and did I mention handsomely hot husband who has been such a blessing to me, wouldn't want to go through life with anyone else! Thank you God for bringing him into my life!
  • My two tornado toddlers who make my life complete. there is never a dull moment in our house with these to cuties! God has given them such precious characters I can definitely see God's hand print on them!
  • Our beautiful house that God very generously provided for us! What a blessing to call this house our home! 
  • A backyard, I know this might seem funny but it is soooo crucial to me. It's been such a blessing and relief to see my kids playing safely outside in their own yard! Can't beat that!
Well those are my thankful for the first 5 days in November! I'll update as I post.

I encourage you to make a list of "thankful's" you will be surprised and blessed by the outcome of the many blessings you have right in front of you! and yes pumpkin spice creamer is a thankful in my book lol

Mama's Broccoli Salad



  • 4 cups (1 large bunch) broccoli with stems chopped
  • 1/2 cup Chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup nuts chopped (walnuts, pecans, peanuts, almonds...your choice)
  • 1/4 cup Raisins (or craisins) 
  • 1/2 lb Bacon cooked and crumbled
  • 3/4 cup Mayonnaise
  •  1/4 cup White Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Vinegar

  1. Mix together the broccoli, onion, nuts & raisins mix well.
  2. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar. Mix until well incorporated, and the sugar is somewhat dissolved.
  3. Pour sauce over salad and mix well to coat salad.
  4. When ready to serve, top salad with crumbled bacon an mix slightly. 
  5. Enjoy!!!
PS: Try mixing half broccoli and half cauliflower :-)

Recipe courtesy of my mom

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ham & Swiss Sliders- A Football Party Must!

So fall has come, and the leaves have begun to bare their gorgeous colors, In a last display of glory before they fall to the ground. My favorite tree is the little apple-like tree in our front yard. It has all the fall colors combined ranging from Green to Yellow to Deep Red...LOVE IT!
But I'm not going to bore you with poems about fall colors ;-)
Fall holds another big past time that most southerners wait the whole year for in eager anticipation...FOOTBALL season.
I am absolutely no football fan, I grew up in Europe and Soccer was the main sports there. But I must admit that I love the idea of getting together and just watching and enjoying (well I guess that depends on if your team is winning or how much you care lol) a good ol' football game.
as of now football is still going on (as far as I know lol) and people are still gathering together to yell at a TV.
I love the team spirit people have. And I've learned a lot about the south and their football!!! don't come between them!!!
Football usually means tailgates and football parties, and these wonderful events usually require easy to prepare yet delicious treats, easy to grab or add to an ever growing plate of food as you dash back to the game. Heaven forbid you miss that ONE second of the game! HellOooooo!!!
These are just that, the ideal football food...sliders...yum! They are easy to make and eat and are simply addictive!!!

Ham & Swiss Sliders
Makes 24 sliders


  • 1 lb. deli ham (I used Black forest ham but honey ham is great too)
  • 1 lb. Swiss cheese
  • 24 Slider buns or King’s Hawaiian Rolls (2 packages)
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBSP mustard
  • 1 TBSP poppy seeds

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray. Slice the buns in half and place on baking sheet. (I was able to squeeze all 24 on one baking sheet) Place one piece of ham and 1 slice of cheese  on each bun.
  2. In microwave or on the stove-top  melt butter. Add brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce,  mustard and poppy seeds. Spoon mixture over the top of each bun, coating with mixture. Allow to sit for 30-60 minutes – do not cover!
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
You can prepare the buns a day in advance, just don't cover them with the poppy seed sauce until just before your party.

Recipe slightly adapted from Haute apple pie