Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sparkling Champagne Cupcakes

Many people credit their love of baking to their 4-H experiences growing up. While I learned many valuable life lessons and skills during my 10 years as a member, baking, sadly, was not one of them.

In fact, I’ll never forget my very first demonstration, making “Michelle’s Mixin’ Muffins” in front of a room full of strangers. Despite the catchy name, there was little “mixin’” involved, as I had accidentally left out a rather important ingredient and created a chunky mess. I do recall gamely pressing on, and informing the judges, “It’s not supposed to look like this!” as my mom frantically waved her arms in the back of the room, mouthing “You forgot the butter!”

Needless to say, my first foray into baking was a little traumatizing.

Still, over the years, I’ve slowly learned to appreciate the art of baking. It’s a tough skill for someone like me to develop – I’m the impatient sort who starts a recipe without reading it and finds out halfway through that it requires a 12-hour rest period – but when I put my mind to it, I find it rewarding and yes, even relaxing.

Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a cupcake kick, and fell in love with these sparkling champagne cupcakes. Though a bit time consuming, they are wickedly decadent with a champagne crème filling and champagne frosting and worth the extra steps if you’ve got the time to spare. If you’re pressed for time or desire a lighter cupcake, a classic buttercream frosting is delicious as well.

For those like me who are prone to not following directions, here are a few tips and tricks that might make the baking process a bit more enjoyable.

First, pay attention when it says to soften the butter or cream cheese. Yes, in a pinch, microwaving the butter in short spurts at a low temperature can do the trick, or you can speed up the process by grating the butter, beating it with a mixer or cutting it into smaller chunks. But ideally, letting the butter sit out for at least one hour (and up to several) at room temperature is the best way to get it properly softened and pliable. This is important for both creaming the butter for the batter and creating a smooth buttercream or cream cheese frosting. In baking, patience and planning is key.

I have also found that spring-action stainless steel scoops are ideal for getting a uniform amount of batter into the cupcake liners. I’ve also used cupcake pens, ice cream scoops, measuring cups and regular old spoons, and in my opinion the spring-action scoops are by far the easiest to use. Fill each liner with a level ¼ cup of batter.

To achieve that fresh-from-the-bakery appearance, I suggest using extra-large decorating tips (my favorites are round, open star and closed star tips). If your frosting hasn’t quite achieved that stiff consistency necessary for piping, add more powdered sugar or try placing the frosting in the fridge for 15 minutes until it reaches the correct consistency. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional milk one teaspoon at a time.

For these sparkling champagne cupcakes, it’s recommended to use a sweeter champagne or sparkling wine – and by all means, break out the cheap stuff. If a basic buttercream frosting is desired, try making my standby recipe. Simply beat 6 ounces salted butter until softened, then sift in 12 ounces powdered sugar and add 2 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla and food paste gel for coloring. Mix for five minutes or until light and fluffy.

Happy baking!

Sparkling Champagne Cupcakes

½ c. butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ c. flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. sour cream
½ c. champagne, Prosecco or your choice of sparkling wine, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt); set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together ½ c. room temperature champagne and ½ c. sour cream. Add flour and champagne mixtures alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Batter will be thick.

Fill cupcake liners with ¼ c. level measures of batter. Bake for 16-22 minutes. Set aside.
Yield: 17 cupcakes

Champagne Pastry Crème Filling

½ c. heavy cream, divided
½ c. champagne or Prosecco
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium bowl, whisk cornstarch in ¼ c. of heavy cream. Combine the remaining heavy cream, sugar and ½ c. champagne in a saucepan; bring to a boil, then remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg and two egg yolks into the cornstarch/heavy cream mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling champagne mixture into the egg mixture, whisking quickly and constantly so the eggs do not cook. Bring the remaining champagne/heavy cream mixture to a boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, whisking constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and beat in butter and vanilla.

Cut a divot in the top of each cupcake and fill with pastry cream using a spoon. Trim the cut-out cake pieces flat to make a “lid” and place on top of the filled divot.

Champagne Frosting

1 c. plus 1 Tbsp. champagne or sparkling wine
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 ½ c. confectioners’ sugar
Gel food coloring of your choice, if desired

Place 1 cup of champagne in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 Tbsp. Transfer to a small bowl or condiment cup and cool.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, pour in the reduced 2 Tbsp. champagne plus 1 Tbsp. champagne from the bottle and mix well. Add food coloring drops or gel until desired coloring reached. Frost the cream-filled cupcakes using your favorite piping tip.

Recipe modified slightly from www.sprinklebakes.com

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Steak Fajitas

It’s that season again, where gorgeous, homegrown bell peppers are popping up in farmers markets and gardens around the country and home cooks everywhere are looking for ways to use them.
The answer? Fajitas. More specifically, steak fajitas, as there’s nothing better than hot, sizzling beef served with all the fixings (and as cattle ranchers, we’re clearly not biased).

I must be honest, however, and admit upfront that I had little to do with these steak fajitas besides eating them, licking my fingers and begging for more. Farmer Dan (as my nephews so sweetly call him) took a break from haying this month to whip up a flavorful marinade one morning, and later grilled the steaks to medium-rare perfection. So naturally, I made him spill all of his secrets so I could share them all with you.

We’ve eaten these steak fajitas using both sirloin and flank steak, but traditionally, fajitas are made using skirt steak. Skirt steak is an inexpensive, flat cut of beef that is taken from the diaphragm muscle and is flavorful but can be tough if cooked improperly. Flank steak is similar to skirt steak, but sirloin offers big flavor and is more forgiving on the grill, which is why we often use it.

Whichever cut you choose, it’s important to remember to marinate the meat for at least four hours, and then grill at a high temperature (over 500 degrees Fahrenheit) just until medium rare. To achieve those beautiful crosshatch grill marks, cook for approximately one minute then rotate the steak 90 degrees. Let it cook for another 90 seconds (depending on the thickness of the steak), then flip and repeat. The steak is medium rare when it has moderate give when pushing on it, or when it is between 120-145 degrees before resting (the USDA recommends 145 degrees). Once off the grill, let the meat rest for ten minutes and then slice it against the grain to avoid a chewy steak.

And if you’re anything like me, letting the meat rest is the hardest part after it comes off a sizzling hot grill.
“But isn’t now the time to dive in? Won’t the meat get cold just sitting here? Don’t I need to pick it and devour it now with my bare hands?”

Let it rest, my friends. Dive into that steak too soon and all of those delicious juices will be swimming all over your cutting board and will not be evenly distributed throughout the meat. The steak won’t get cold- trust me. Sit on your hands if you need to, but don’t cut into that piece of meat too early.

Going back to the vegetables – the second most important part of the meal – it’s important to choose bell peppers that are smooth, firm, unblemished, and bright and evenly colored. If picking from the garden or purchasing at a farmer’s market, store them unwashed and whole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.

The steak and vegetables offer huge flavor with this marinade, but don’t forget to include all of the sides and fixings – sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, refried beans, Spanish rice and freshly-grated cheese (don’t even bother with the packaged stuff- grating your own cheese is so easy and worth it!) To make a quick pico de gallo, just combine four chopped Roma tomatoes, a diced red onion, a big handful of chopped cilantro, a finely-diced jalapeno and juice from half a lime and salt to taste.  Adjust as needed. For my favorite homemade guacamole, mash together four diced Haas avocados, 1 seeded and diced Roma tomato, ½ of one large diced red onion, five minced garlic cloves, juice from 1 ½ limes and generous sprinkle of sea salt, to taste.

Devour and repeat, again and again.

Steak Fajitas
2 steaks (sirloin, flank or skirt)
½ c. olive oil
5 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1/3c. lime juice, freshly squeezed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ c. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 medium onions, halved and sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
Oil, for frying
Flour tortillas, warmed
Freshly-grated cheese
Pico de gallo
Sour cream

In a bowl, combine olive oil, Worcestershire, lime juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, soy sauce and sugar until combined. Pour half of marinade into a separate container. In one dish, place steak, turning to coat. In the second dish, add vegetables, turning to coat. Cover both dishes and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.

Prepare fixings. To warm tortillas, wrap a stack of five or fewer in aluminum foil and warm at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Multiple stacks can be warmed at once.

On the grill: Using a cast iron skillet, add vegetables and cook over medium-high heat for several minutes until al dente. Remove to a plate and keep warm. On the grill, add steak and cook over high for 2 minutes per side until medium rare. Remove and allow to rest on a cutting board for five minutes.

On the stove:  Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in oil. Add vegetables and cook for a few minutes, until al dente. Remove to a plate and keep warm. Heat the same skillet or a grill pan over high heat and add oil. Cook the meat for two minutes per side until medium rare. Remove and allow to rest on a cutting board for five minutes.

Slice the meat right before serving and serve with fresh pico de gallo, sour cream, cilantro and guacamole. Enjoy!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Grilled Peaches with Salted Caramel Sauce

There's nothing better than fruit, unless it's grilled fruit. And there's nothing better than grilled fruit, unless it's grilled fruit with ice cream on top.

Grilled fruit with ice cream on top drizzled in salted caramel and homemade cookie crumbs? You've. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

We ordered 25 pounds of Georgia peaches from the local fruit club, so I've been enjoying the bounty of super juicy peaches for the last week or so. One night, I had Dan plop a few on the grill and we made these wonderful grilled peach splits from Smitten Kitchen's site (if you haven't seen it and don't have her cookbook, you are missing out!)

I didn't make the whipped cream (mainly, because I forgot) but that might have been too decadent, even for me. These are rich enough with the cookie crumbs and ice cream and salted caramel. I used honey instead of maple syrup on the peaches, and used that delicious (but insanely expensive) Madagascar bourbon vanilla for the salted caramel, and it was absolutely sinful.

The caramel comes together beautifully for a silky-smooth salted caramel, but while you're making it, be prepared to think it's going to fail. It gets chunky before it becomes smooth, and the entire time you will be thinking it is one of those Pinterest fails. Be calm and carry on. It turns out beautifully. Trust.

I was too busy digging in to these fabulous peach splits to whip out my actual camera, so an iPhone photo for now must suffice. Enjoy!

Grilled Peach Splits
1/2 c. raw pecans
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. coarse sugar, like turbinado or Sugar in the Raw (granulated if you have neither)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract or bourbon

2/3 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. heavy or whipping cream
1 Tbsp. bourbon or whiskey or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Heaped 1/4 tsp. flaky salt or level 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Whipped cream
1/2 c. heavy or whipping cream
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. crème fraîche or sour cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Butter, for grill
4 large firm-ripe peaches, halved and pitted
2-3 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey
1 tsp. cinnamon sugar

To serve
1 pint vanilla ice cream

Make crumbs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Spread nuts out in one layer and bake, stirring occasionally, until well-browned (10-13 minutes), tossing once or twice. Cool the nuts. Leave oven on and tray lined with parchment.

Place cooled pecans, flour, sugars, salt and baking powder in a food processor and blend until the nuts are as powdery as possible without turning to paste. Add melted butter and vanilla and pulse machine until large and small crumbs form. Spread out on baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes, then move crumbs around for even browning, and bake for another 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely on rack, then transfer to a jar. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week.

Make caramel: Place sugar in the bottom of a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Set over medium heat. In a few minutes, the sugar will begin to melt. Use a spoon or spatula to stir it as it melts, breaking up any chunks as needed. Stir continuously until the melted sugar takes on an amber color, which usually happens at about the same time the last sugar chunk melts. Remove from heat and carefully stir in cream, just a little drizzle at first (it will hiss and splatter) and then the rest. If it re-solidifies, return saucepan to stove over medium-low and stir until sugar melts again. Let caramel sauce cool slightly before adding bourbon or vanilla and salt. Store caramel sauce in a glass container for up to 1 week in the fridge. Rewarm to loosen the caramel into a sauce consistency, as needed. If using within a couple of hours, it can be left out.

Make whipped cream: Using a clean bowl and whisk (electric or a regular large one), whip cream and sugar, if using, until it holds soft peaks. Whisk in crème fraîche or sour cream, and vanilla. Keep chilled until needed.

Grill peaches: Heat your grill to medium/medium-low and butter it generously. Brush peach halves with maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or just cinnamon. Place cut side down on grill and grill gently and slowly, between 10-20 minutes, until they take on nice grill marks and are mostly tender to the touch. Brush a little extra maple syrup on top when done, if desired. If you'd like to grill these in advance, they can be warmed before serving in a low-temperature oven.

Assemble splits: Place a peach half, face up, in a shallow bowl. Top with ice cream, caramel, whipped cream and a handful of cookie crumbs.

Source: Modified slightly from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2014/07/grilled-peach-splits-news/

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cast-Iron Skillet S'mores

Lately, I’ve been engrossed in Mildred Kalish’s memoir, “Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm during the GreatDepression.”

It’s a fascinating book that details a pioneering way of life that is long gone for most of us. The recounted pleasure of “running barefoot through the fields, as free and wild as they dared” sounds a bit magical and rather enticing to a town kid-turned-farmwife.

But when I stop and think about it, running barefoot through the fields sounds downright painful and not at all enjoyable, darn it all!

I’d love to imagine myself as a tough pioneer woman, cast iron skillet in hand, cooking over the fire, living the rustic, unrefined life. But let’s be honest: In the last two years, the closest I’ve gotten to the wilderness are the times I encountered a mountain lion and a rabid skunk on our farm, and that was purely accidental.

(They are good stories, however. The former, I was helping my husband fence when a mountain lion was scared out of an abandoned building nearby. My town kid response was to run in circles – literally –, sprint toward the trees, then finally redirect myself to safety in the tractor. I’ve since been informed that this is not the proper response. The latter, I was chased by a rabid skunk and fell headfirst in the snow as I tried to escape. I cannot make these things up.)

So, in the spirit of pioneering but considering the reality of my upbringing, I have learned to content myself with cooking great food in my cast iron skillet, but staying in the comfort (and safety) of my own home.

Now, cast iron skillets are wonderful tools, whether you are made for the great outdoors or not. They are inexpensive, heavy-duty and get better over time as they become seasoned (seasoning refers to the oil baked on that creates the easy release of food, not the spices you use). You can use cast iron skillets on induction, ceramic, electric and gas cooktops, in the oven, on the grill, and over the campfire, making them super versatile.

Caring for a cast iron skillet seems to be a common question among new owners. To clean, simply wash with hot water, dry immediately and rub with a light coat of cooking oil to restore the sheen, protect it from moisture and keep it seasoned. While not using soap can be concerning to some, the instructions by Lodge – a well-known cast iron manufacturer – note that its cookware hits 400 degrees in four minutes on medium heat, and becomes sterile at 212 degrees, making soap unnecessary. If it is still a concern, the company recommends washing with mild soapy water and drying and oiling immediately.

While I really don’t foresee myself cooking over a campfire in the wilderness any time soon, I do relish the idea of making homemade s’mores, so when a favorite former teacher of mine shared this recipe for s’mores dip on Facebook, I had to try it out. It takes only a few minutes, yet looks impressive. I used a mix of leftover dark and milk chocolate chips for the base, and cut up jumbo marshmallows for the top. Stick it in the oven for a few minutes at 400 degrees to get the chocolate melting, then broil the top to get that beautiful roasted golden brown look (careful, you don’t want it to burn). Serve with graham crackers, and if you’re like me, pretend you’re in the wilderness. I like to think of it as a taste of frontier living from the comfort of your porch. Enjoy!

Cast Iron Skillet S’mores
Chocolate chips (enough to cover the bottom of the skillet)
Jumbo marshmallows, cut in half
Graham crackers

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover bottom of skillet with chocolate chips. Using kitchen scissors, cut each marshmallow in half lengthwise, then place on top of chocolate chips smooth side up. Place entire skillet in oven for three minutes, then broil for a minute or two until tops of marshmallows are golden brown. Remove and serve immediately with graham crackers. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

I meant to post this last spring, when it was published in the Argus Leader, but being the forgetful sort, didn't get it done. But when someone asked about asparagus recipes today, I realized I had never published it- and this is too good to pass up! So, imagine this is late spring, and we are at the peak time for asparagus harvesting. Thanks for understanding, fellow foodies. :)

I was particularly excited to find this recipe for prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, as it not only involves my favorite vegetable, but it requires minimal ingredients and prep time. After all, who wants to spend hours in the kitchen when the sun has finally revealed itself again? But never fear- this hors d'oeuvre stands out despite – or perhaps because of – its simplicity. The prosciutto (a thinly-sliced, dry-cured Italian ham) adds richness and a bit of salt to the grassy taste of asparagus. The pan-seared meat develops a nice crust which complements the vibrant green of the asparagus spears. No wilted, colorless asparagus in this kitchen! Trust me- this is finger food that you wouldn’t dare pass up.

Best of all, it makes for a quick-and-easy party appetizer, and can be assembled in advance and fried just a few minutes before guests arrive. For best results, invest in high-quality prosciutto from your local deli and use fresh asparagus when it’s in season.

To pick out the best asparagus in the grocery store, look for firm stalks (not limp) with a bright green or violet-green color. The tips of the asparagus should be tightly closed. To store, refrigerate immediately and keep stalks moist by either trimming the stems and wrapping in a damp paper towel, or standing up in a jar with water. To cook, simply rinse and snap off the bottom of the spear, which may be woody or tough.

If you’re scouting for fresh asparagus, look for it in the early spring near ditches, fences or riverbeds where there is plenty of moisture nearby. Mature asparagus resembles a small tree or fern, with thin green branches. Look around the plant for thick stems of asparagus- that’s what you want to eat! Just remember your manners and ask before you pick if you are on someone’s land (a smile and a handshake go a long way!)

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

12 asparagus spears
6 prosciutto slices

Cut or snap woody ends off of washed asparagus spears. Cut prosciutto strips into two halves, going lengthways, so you end up with 12 strips.

Place a prosciutto strip on a chopping board at a 45 degree angle. Place one of the asparagus spears on top of the meat, perpendicular to it. The tip of the asparagus should be lined up with the bottom of the prosciutto strip. Wrap the bottom end of prosciutto over the asparagus and, holding the meat tight, start rolling the asparagus up.

Heat some butter in a large, flat frying pan to sizzling hot. Fry wrapped asparagus spears for 1-2 minutes on each side or until prosciutto is brown and crispy. Do it in batches if preparing more asparagus than can fit in a pan.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Soft Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Believe it or not, I've only made sugar cookies once before since I've been a kid- and that was in 2010. And it wasn't exactly a huge success.

I know, I know. Aren't basic sugar cookies something every decent cook knows how to make? Oddly enough, I've just never felt compelled to whip up a batch. But when I saw these beautiful soft sugar cookies with rosette cream cheese frosting on Pinterest, I melted. Only days before my niece's first birthday, I excitedly texted my sister and told her that I was bringing pink frosted cookies, and I wasn't going to take no for an answer. (Luckily, she acquiesced and didn't make me beg. What a gal.)

This recipe makes for soft, thick, fluffy sugar cookies, thanks to the half cup of sour cream in the dough. Any time I see sour cream in a baked goods recipe (like my favorite cupcake recipe), I get excited. Soft, uber-moist buttery sugar cookies... who can resist? I certainly can't (and didn't).

To make the frosted rosettes, I used a large Ateco open star tip, and used two different pink gel icings (separately, not together)- Wilton Dusty Rose and Wilton pink. I visited I Am Baker's blog to get some pointers on making the rosettes, and they were super easy to pull off. Just start in the middle, then slowly move your open star tip in a circle around the center point. Voila! Easy peasy.

Hope your week is off to a fabulous start!

What a cutie!
Soft Sugar Cookies
3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. lemon or vanilla extract
1/2 c. sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cream together the butter, shortening and sugar until light. Stir in the egg, extract, sour cream and dry ingredients.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll 1/4" thick. Cut using your desired shape. Place on the baking tray and cook for 10 minutes or until the edges are just lightly browning.

Source: http://www.bloglovin.com/viewer?post=2332322065&group=0&frame_type=a&blog=3786372&frame=1&click=0&user=0

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
5 Tbsp. soft butter
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted

Beat together cream cheese and butter. Sift in 3 1/2 c. powdered sugar and add two teaspoons vanilla; mix until you reach your desired consistency.

Source: Modified slightly from http://www.bloglovin.com/viewer?post=2332322065&group=0&frame_type=a&blog=3786372&frame=1&click=0&user=0

Friday, May 30, 2014

Raspberry Mousse in Chocolate Cups

As I'm sure I've told you plenty of times, I wish I had a real love for gardening. Truly! I grew up with a wonderful garden at home, chock-full of raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, squash, rhubarb, tomatoes, peppers... of course, back then, I didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Homegrown organic vegetables? No thanks. I was much more intrigued by the Hostess cupcakes my friend's mom packed in her lunch every day. Talk about jealousy.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I'm pining over fresh vegetables. I know, I know, I live on a farm now, right? Homegrown produce should be easy. But I just can't force myself to weed every night, which means every year my garden ends up one hot mess (literally). Luckily, we have a decent farmer's market nearby, and my Dad still gardens half an hour away from my house. So for now, I'm throwing in the towel on gardening and relying on good ol' Dad.

Luckily for me, I was able to treat my parents to this delightful recipe for raspberry mousse in chocolate cups for Mother's Day, so I think they will allow me to invade their garden so long as I continue to make them homemade treats. The mousse tasted amazing using store-bought raspberries, so I can't WAIT until they are straight from Dad's garden. It's incredibly fresh tasting, without being too sweet or too tart. It's super simple to pull together, and looks gorgeous in a chocolate cup (though it is equally delicious eaten with a spoon straight out of the mixing bowl. Trust me, I know.)

Now, I know you can make your own chocolate cups, but sometimes skipping a few steps is worth it. In my case, using pre-made chocolate cups allowed me to clean my bathrooms and wash my floors (and keep my sanity), so definitely worth it. I bought these adorable cups with pre-made white and dark chocolate curls at Brix in Omaha. When you're in a pinch, they work wonderfully. If you want to learn how to make the chocolate cups (and someday I will), visit Jessie's blog.

Have a wonderful weekend! Make something delicious!

Raspberry Mousse in Chocolate Cups
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/4 c. cold water
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 c. fresh raspberries

Puree the raspberries in a food processor or blender. Strain the puree and dispense with the seeds. Add the puree to a large bowl, stir in the sugar and lemon juice and set aside.

Add cold water to a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir over low heat until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir into the raspberry mixture, then chill for 1 hour or until slightly thickened.

Beat the raspberry mixture on high speed until foamy. Gradually add in the heavy cream, and beat until thickened- about two minutes.

Spoon the raspberry mixture into the chocolate cups, and chill for 1-2 hours or until set. (Note: If you have extra mousse left over, you can chill the cups for about 30 minutes and then add another tablespoon of mousse on top to create another layer. After adding, continue chilling cups until set.) Garnish with a raspberry and/or chocolate curls on top. Enjoy!

Makes 8 cups.

Source: http://jessienextdoor.com/2012/05/31/chocolate-cups-with-raspberry-mousse/, originally inspired by/adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and Taste of Home

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