Tag Archives: Vanilla extract

Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudgy Frosting

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Chocolate cupcakes are a great dessert any time of year, and I was wanting to make something chocolatey. After trying several recipes that I thought were so-so, I went to Martha Stewart’s site and decided to make her Chocolate Cupcakes and Ultimate Chocolate Frosting with a few little changes. I’m so glad I did!

I really like these cupcakes! The batter is thick, smooth, and creamy. And the cupcakes rise and bake up so nicely with rounded tops. Best of all, they have a great chocolatey taste! The frosting is rich, thick, and definitely fudgy–much, much better than using a can of frosting!

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH FUDGY FROSTING by NancyCreative, adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s brand)
  • 3/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or substitute sour cream)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl or mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and blend well. Then add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour (if using a mixer, set the mixer to low speed for this).

Spoon batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake at 350˚F for 20 to 23 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean (I baked my cupcakes for 23 minutes).

Cool cupcakes in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. After cupcakes are completely cooled, frost with the Fudgy Frosting.

FUDGY FROSTING 

Makes about 3 cups

  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half (light cream)–or you can substitute milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder together in a medium-size bowl. Add butter, Half & Half (or milk), and vanilla. Stir ingredients until smooth.

Note: This is a very thick, fudgy frosting–if you want to frost your cupcakes with a decorator tip, thin frosting out a little by adding an extra 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Half & Half or milk.

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If you’re not big on lots of frosting, these cupcakes are great with a lighter amount, too–if you like to frost lightly, you could halve the frosting recipe.

Hope you enjoy the cupcakes! Do you have a favorite chocolate cupcake recipe?

Orange Vanilla Coconut Scrub

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I love orangey-scented things, so I thought I’d try making a scrub with epsom salt. Not long ago, I did a post on Peppermint Tea Tree Bath Salts and mentioned some of the health benefits of epsom salt. I thought they would be great to use in a body scrub, too. This scrub is thick, like a paste, and is scented with orange essential oil and pure vanilla extract. It smells so good and makes your skin really nice and soft!

ORANGE VANILLA COCONUT SCRUB by NancyCreative

  • 1 cup Epsom Salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 8 to 10 drops Orange essential oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small or medium-size bowl or other clean container, combine Epsom Salts with coconut oil using a spoon or spatula (Note: If the coconut oil gets much above 76˚ it can turn into liquid form–so if yours is liquidy, refrigerate your coconut oil until it solidifies). Add orange essential oil a few drops at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the vanilla extract last and blend everything well. Store in a shallow jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. You don’t need to refrigerate this scrub unless the temperature in your home gets much higher than 76˚ (or when you notice the coconut oil turning to liquid form), because then the mixture will be more runny. You can use this scrub 1 to 2  times a week to keep extra dry or rough skin areas smooth and soft.

When using, wet your skin all over in the shower and massage the scrub into your skin. You don’t need to use a lot–just pinch up about 1/2 teaspoon at a time from your jar or container–a little goes a long way! This is great for rough skin areas like knees and elbows. Don’t use on face or other sensitive areas. Also, be careful when using, because the oil from the scrub can make your shower or tub a little slippery. If you want to use this on your feet as a foot scrub, it would probably be safest to give your feet a separate foot scrub/bath while you’re sitting down using a small plastic tub; that way, you don’t have to worry about slipping in your bathroom tub or shower.

It’s fun making your own bath and skin care products, and so much cheaper, too! I think they work just as well as any you can buy. Have you tried making any for yourself?

Egg Nog Bread

One of the things I enjoy about Christmas is the chance to have some Egg Nog. I don’t drink a lot of Egg Nog, but I do enjoy some now and then at the holidays. I thought it would be fun to try using Egg Nog in a recipe, and I found this quick bread recipe at Allrecipes.com. I decided to add an Egg Nog glaze to it, and I really liked the way it turned out! The bread has a subtle Egg Nog flavor, and the creamy glaze gives it a nice sweetness. Some of my friends who taste-tested it are not big Egg Nog fans, but they still liked the bread! I will definitely be making this again…I may even start a new tradition and make it every Christmas! This recipe makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf or 3 small mini loaves (3 x 5″). The mini loaves make great holiday gifts!

EGG NOG BREAD WITH EGG NOG GLAZE by Nancy Creative, adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup Egg Nog
  • 2 teaspoons rum flavored extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or three 3 x 5 inch mini loaf pans. In large bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together. Add in eggs, mixing well, and then the Egg Nog, rum extract, and vanilla extract; blend well.

In medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add to eggnog mixture in the large bowl and stir just enough to moisten; pour into prepared  loaf pan (or mini loaf pans). Bake bread in 9 x 5″ loaf pan for 50-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; or bake 3 x 5″ loaves for 35-40 minutes. Cool loaf or loaves for 10 minutes and remove from pan. Cool completely and then add the glaze (if you don’t want to use a glaze, you can sprinkle the loaf or loaves with powdered sugar).

While loaf is cooling, make your glaze…

CREAMY EGGNOG GLAZE

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons Egg Nog

In small bowl, add powdered sugar and Egg Nog: stir until well-blended.

When loaf (or loaves) are cooled, spoon glaze over top and let drizzle down the sides; let glaze set and then serve.

Linked to Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesday, Strut Your Stuff, Foodie Friday, Favorite Things Friday, Favorite Things Saturday.