Special Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chambord Ganache

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d make a special cupcake with one of those favorite V Day treats, a dark chocolate-covered strawberry.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

makes 12 cupcakes

  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut up into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Dutch process cocoa
  • 3/4 all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Combine the butter, chocolate and cocoa in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan with barely simmering water. Stir ingredients until smooth and combined. Remove from heat and set aside until just cool enough to touch.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a whisk.

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl until mixed. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Sift about one-third of the flour mixture in and whisk until combined. Stir in sour cream. Sift remaining flour mixture in and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, divide mixture evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake about 20 minutes.

Let cool about 30 minutes before frosting.

Chambord-Spiked Chocolate Ganache Icing

  • 12 ounce bag of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 8 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup of Chambord

In a food processor, process chips until very fine.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to just a soft boil. Bubbles will just begin to form around edge of pan. Remove from heat.

Add cream through the feeding tube of processor and process for about 10 seconds, or until smooth. Pulse in the butter until combined. Add the Chambord with motor running for a few more seconds to combine.

Strain and let sit in refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap for several hours, until hard enough to frost with. Mine took about three hours for piping.

Using a piping bag and tip, pipe icing onto cooled cupcakes and top with a chocolate coverered strawberry.

To make the straweberries, I simply melted chips in the microwave until almost melted. Stir to finish the melting. Dip in a strawberry and lay on a a wire rack and let cool in refrigerator.

Cupcakes adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Ganache adapted from serveral sources.


Cupcake recipe idea…

I have a vision. Or a thought. Maybe it is a vision because I can “see” this in my mind.

So, the thing is, I think I am becoming obsessed with baking. Yes, gulp. I said it. I can’t stop thinking about cupcakes.

I have this cupcake in my head I want to invent. I say invent because I looked and can’t seem to find anyone who has made it.

I love, love, love strawberry-rhubarb crisp, all warm with vanilla ice cream oozing over the top. So good.

I thought to myself what an awesome cupcake that would be. Right?

So far I am thinking a vanilla cupcake, possibly with a granola type crunch mixed in the batter. Then for the filling, I have a strawberry-rhubarb jam, sugar-free, that is just fabulous. For the icing, I found a recipe that is a vanilla bean icing that is claimed to taste like melted vanilla ice cream. I’d top it off with the “crisp” that would go on top of the dessert and finally a strawberry slice to top it off.

I think it sounds possible. Yes? No?

Shrimp Scampi, Roman-Style

Shrimp Scampi is a quick, easy and delicious meal.  Serve it either over spaghetti or rice. Your choice.  We prefer spaghetti in our house.

  • 1 lb. extra-large (26 to 30 size) shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 lb. cooked pasta

Remove shrimp from shell and devein by cutting a slit down the back of the shrimp and pulling or rinsing out the black vein the runs down it. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter until hot.  Add garlic and red pepper to pan and cook for about 3 minutes, until garlic is golden brown. Do not burn it.  It will be ruined.

Add shrimp to pan and cook for one minute, each side. Add salt and wine. Cook for an additional five minutes, or until shrimp is pink.

Remove from heat and add squeeze lemon juice over top.  Pour over cooked spaghetti, linguine or rice.  Sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Serve piping hot and enjoy.

Garden-Fresh Tomato Salad or “Tom” Salad

I call this “Tom” Salad because my husband really does make one awesome tomato salad.  He puts a bunch of different spices in it.  Whatever he feels like.  This is what I have caught him putting in to it.

  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • one long-hot pepper, seeded, deveined and cut in to rings
  • salt – a couple of pinches
  • pepper – a couple of grindings
  • garlic powder – a couple of shakes
  • 2 Tbps. olive oil
  • 4 or 5 basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. dry parsley

Cut tomatoes into one-inch chunks.  Add sliced onion and pepper.  Season with salt, pepper, garlic salt.  Pour in olive oil.  Turn to coat.  Add parsley and basil. Turn again.  Refrigerate and serve.

Baby Back Ribs with Tennessee Dry Rub

This is, by far, the best dry rub I’ve tried.  I, well actually, my husband, found it in the Philadelphia Daily News years ago.  I’ve been making and using it ever since.  We put it on baby back ribs. Ask anyone who has eaten here when Tom barbecues, they are the best.  Of course, barbecue technique is  a big player in the end result, but the rub is a good place to start.

  • 2 Tbsp. each of brown sugar, black pepper and paprika
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. each of white pepper, crushed hot red pepper and coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix all together and it can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

This is enough for 2 to 3 pounds racks of ribs.  Rub ribs vigorously with mixture, then wrap each rack in THREE layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Heat grill.  Keep one section on high, set the middle on low and the last turned off.  This is if you have three burners. A lot of this is trial and error, but this is what works best for me.

Place racks on the side of the grill without the heat. Cook, undisturbed for one hour. The grill’s temperature should be about 350 degrees. Turn over after one hour. Cook an additional one hour on the other side.   Remove from heat and carefully remove foil and cook an additional 20-30 minutes to crisp, turning once or twice. You will want to put the ribs on the side near the heat to do this and you will want to lower the heat to medium so they do not burn.


Hot pepper burn remedy.

The other day when I made the stuffed hot peppers, I didn’t wear gloves and the oils from the peppers left a nasty burning feeling on my fingers.

A friend of mine recommended I rub my hands with salt. Did it, and it worked like a charm.

You need to dampen your hands, pour the salt on, rub and rinse. You may need to repeat the process.