Archive | January, 2013

Super Bowl Chocolate Beer and Pretzel Cupcakes

26 Jan


There’s something about those classic, iconic cocktail combinations – gin and tonic, Captain & Coke, vodka and cranberry juice – that never let us down. We’ve all had that moment when the bartender asks, “What’ll you have?” and we freeze. Sure, we wanted to try something new, something fun, something trendy, but instead we fall back on the old reliable stand-by. And that’s OK, because at least we know what we’re getting and we know it’ll get the job done….what ever that job may be.


Beer and pretzels are kind of like that. A plain, simple combination that never fails to satisfy. A traditional duo that goes way back. Some might try to switch it up a little, maybe trying a crafty microbrew or some fancy honey mustard nuggets, while others are happy with a Bud and a bag of standard pretzel twists. But no matter the variation, beer and pretzels are a winning team.

And so it’s no wonder that football season seems to be the traditional time for this classic combo. Sitting on the sofa, a beer in one hand, a bowl of pretzels next to the other, eyes glued to the game. By my way of thinking, this is one of the best ways to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon.


Unless, of course, like me you’re a New England Patriots fan, watching the AFC championship game, and the nasty Baltimore Ravens just dashed your dreams of making it to the Super Bowl. That’s not a fun afternoon at all. If that’s the case, you might be better off adding that beer to some batter, drizzling those pretzels with some nice, dark chocolate and consoling yourself with a rich, decadent chocolate cupcake with lots and lots of frosting. It won’t get your team to the Super Bowl, but it does make it sting just a little bit less.

This recipe is one I adapted from My Baking Addiction. The cupcake comes out nice and moist, and the flavor of the stout really comes through. You can make the frosting more or less chocolatey by adding or reducing the amount of cocoa powder to suit your taste. And wait until serving to add the pretzels. Otherwise, they tend to soften up a little.



For the Pretzels:

36 mini pretzels twists

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Line the pretzels up on a baking sheet covered with wax paper.


Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring after every 20-30 seconds or so until fully melted. Pour the melted chocolate into a plastic sandwich bag, seal it shut and snip off one tiny corner. Drizzle the chocolate back and forth over the pretzels. Let cool completely before storing in a plastic bag.


For the Cupcakes:

Makes 36 cupcakes


1 (12 ounce) bottle stout. I used Harpoon’s Chocolate Stout

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 teaspoons warm water

3 eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with liners.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the stout, milk, oil, vanilla and espresso.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined. Add in sour cream and mix until combined.

In another large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour and baking soda.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Batter will be thin.

Fill muffin tins about 1/2 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until risen and set in the middle.

Cool completely on wire racks.

For the Frosting:

1/2 cup butter

1/3 – 1/2 cup of cocoa powder

3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-4 tablespoons 1/2 & 1/2

fleur de sel or sea salt for decorating


Cream butter until soft and fluffy. Add cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla and salt, mixing first on low and increasing speed as mixture combines. Add 1/2 & 1/2, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Frost cupcakes and sprinkle very lightly with sea salt. Garnish with chocolate covered pretzel just before serving.


Enjoy, these were  favorite!

And please let me know what you think of my recipes, my stories, my blog – I’d love to get some feedback….


“Downton Abbey” Teacakes with Pimm’s Buttercream Frosting

5 Jan


As any good fan knows, the Season Three premiere of Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey airs tomorrow night. As a hard-core Anglophile and longtime Masterpiece fan, there is no way I would not know this. I know my geek is showing, but Masterpiece is, hands down, my favorite show. I’ve been watching Masterpiece Theatre almost since it’s beginning. Sunday nights during my high school years, when all my friends were watching The Six Million Dollar Man, I was glued to Upstairs Downstairs (the original series) and Lillie. And I’ve been watching ever since. And like just everybody else in America, I have become mesmerized by Downton Abbey. (Will Matthew and Mary finally say “I do”?) And so, to celebrate the season premiere, I thought it would be fun to create a little cupcake dedicated to all Anglophiles and Downton Abbey fans.


Last summer, we watched the opening ceremonies of the London Summer Olympics by having our own little Anglo-American celebration, complete with classic pub fare. The menu included Scotch Eggs, Mushy Peas and a refreshing summer cocktail called Pimm’s  – lemonade, Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur, mint, orange, strawberry and…cucumber! I know, a little odd, but absolutely delicious. I’m not absolutely certain what  Pimm’s is exactly, but they have an interesting website at that talks about the liqueur and gives recipes for some yummy cocktails. (Personally, I can’t wait to try the Pimm’s Royale- and use up some of that champagne from my last posting).  So I thought a Pimm’s cupcake would be fitting for this occasion.

A quick search soon revealed that just about all recipes were from the U.K., called for some slightly different ingredients and used British measurements. A challenge, to be sure, but a fun one and I was able to find the ingredients at our local mega-grocery store. I also found a great conversion site,, to convert the grams into cups.

The recipe is one I adapted from (What a great name for a blog – take a look, she has a lot of fun posts on there). I decided to make mini cupcakes that would look lovely as apart of a traditional afternoon tea, and these little gems turned out perfectly. Not quite a sponge cake, but not as dense as a traditional American cupcake either. I was just delighted with the results.

So pop a batch in the oven, brew a pot of Earl Grey, and take out your best Wedgewood china. Invite your BFFs over and enjoy a cuppa with Lady Violet, Cora, Mary and her sisters. Cheers!


Pimm’s Cupcakes

Makes about 24 mini-cupcakes. I’ve posted the original recipe with the conversions in parentheses.

125 g (1/2 cup) soft unsalted butter

125 g (heaping 1/2 cup) caster sugar

2 tablespoons Pimm’s No. 1

2 eggs

125 g (1 cup) self-rising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons semi-skimmed (I used 1%) milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners.

Cream together the butter, sugar and Pimm’s for approximately 7 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix for an additional 2 minutes.

Combine the flour and baking powder and add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix for 1 minute more.

Fill the mini tins with just about 1 tablespoon of batter. (I was able to get exactly 24 mini cakes).

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched and toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.


Pimm’s Buttercream Frosting

125 g (1/2 cup) softened unsalted butter

1 tablespoon Pimm’s No. 1

150 g (1 1/4 cups) icing (powdered) sugar

pink food coloring

mint leaves for garnish

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and Pimm’s. Beat for several minutes until creamy and fluffy, adding a little more sugar or Pimm’s until desired consistency is reached. Stir in food coloring, if desired. Frost and garnish with mint. Enjoy!


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