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Christmas Baking

Chocolate Mint Frango Cupcakes

Celebrate this holiday season with these Chocolate Mint Frango Cupcakes made with the famous Frango mint chocolates!

Mint Chocolate Frango Cupcakes by JavaCupcake

During the holiday season, my parents would take me and my brother and sister to Frederick and Nelson to get our picture taken with Santa.  While we were there, Mom and Dad would pick up a couple boxes of Frango chocolates, the mint ones.  If we were good with Santa,  we’d get to have a few of these super yummy chocolates on the drive home.  Of course, we were always good and always got to get a chocolate treat!

Now, Frederick and Nelson has long closed and when I’m in Seattle, I take my kids to Nordstrom to see Santa.  BUT… the chocolates can be found at Macy’s! My dad surprised me with two boxes of chocolates in a care package yesterday! I was so excited to see them!

Mint Chocolate Frango Cupcakes by JavaCupcake

These chocolates are bite size… perfect for popping one in your mouth when you want a hit of smooth, creamy mint chocolate goodness.  Seriously, they are one of my favorites.  I wondered though, could I melt down these chocolates and put them in a cupcake?

So this morning, I did just that!  I took one of my most favorite recipes for chocolate cake and adapted it to include the Frango Mint Chocolates! YUM!  Since I’ve done a chocolate mint cupcake before that was topped with a green mint buttercream, I wanted to do something different with these and top them with a chocolate frosting that had more of the Frangos melted and added to the butter and sugar.  Soooooo good.

I’m sure if you can’t find any of these chocolates, you could just a good bar of your favorite mint chocolate.  I’m pretty certain Lindt has a 4oz bar that would be perfect!

See those pretty green liners I’m using? I was given those by Shannon Harvey, owner of Sweets & Treats Boutique to test out! Sweets & Treats makes greaseproof liners that are supposed to stand up to the discoloration that often happens when baking cupcakes, especially chocolate and other dark colored cake. Shannon sent me 4 sleeves of liners in all kinds of patterns and colors.  For these cupcakes, I chose the solid green liners to bring out the mint aspect of the cupcake.  Since I was baking chocolate cupcakes, I wasn’t too sure how much color these liners would hold… but, I was happily surprised!  They held their color really well and stuck to the cupcake nicely!  Especially with this dark cake, I was happy that I could still see a lot of green in these liners!  I would definitely use them again!  Thanks Shannon for sending them to me!

Enjoy!

Chocolate Mint “Frango” Cupcakes

Chocolate Mint “Frango” Cupcakes

Yield: 12-15 cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes

Rich chocolate mint cupcake made with Mint Chocolate Frangos!

Ingredients

Chocolate Mint "Frango" Cupcakes

  • 4oz Frango Mint Chocolates (about 14 pieces), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp mint extract
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Chocolate Mint Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/3 heaping cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp mint extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 12-15 Frango Mint Chocolates
  • chocolate jimmies
  • green sugar crystals

Instructions

Chocolate Mint "Frango" Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream, and the vanilla & mint extracts.
  4. Using a double boiler, melt together the Frango chopped chocolates and butter.
  5. Once the chocolate is smooth, whisk in the cocoa powder and brewed coffee completely incorporated.
  6. Slowly, add a few tablespoons of the hot chocolate mixture to the sour cream/egg and whisk until combined. This is going to temper the egg so it doesn't cook. Add the remaining chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  7. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the chocolate. Mix with the whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.
  8. Pour into cupcake liners 3/4 full.
  9. Bake for 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Mint Buttercream

  1. Cream together the butter and shortening.
  2. Add the cocoa powder and powdered sugar and mix until incorporated.
  3. Add the extracts & salt and mix to combine. The mixture will be clumpy at this point.
  4. Add enough cream until you reach the consistency of frosting you desire.
  5. Beat on high for 4-5 minutes or until the frosting lightens in color and becomes light and fluffy.
  6. Using a star tip, frost each cupcake. Top with chocolate jimmies, green sugar crystals and a Chocolate Mint Frango.

 

Easy Chocolate Fudge – Two Ways!

You can’t make a plate full of Christmas cookies without including fudge! So today, I set out on a mission to find a simple yet delicious recipe for chocolate fudge. I’m not good with a candy thermometer, so I needed a recipe that didn’t call for one. Martha Stewart provided just that recipe for me this year.

Easy Fudge Two Ways by JavaCupake.com

I know… Martha Stewart hasn’t typically given me good recipes. Most I’ve tried turn out bland and I wonder what the heck their recipe testers were thinking. BUT… I figured I’d give this fudge a try. I mean really, how hard is it to mess up cream and chocolate?

Easy Fudge Two Ways by JavaCupake.com-2

I made this fudge two ways.  The first I mixed in Peanut Butter M&Ms and the second I mixed in Heath toffee pieces and pretzel chunks.  Both of these flavor combinations are sure to be a huge hit with my friends!  PB & chocolate and salty & sweet.  Can’t go wrong with those flavor combos!

Easy Fudge Two Ways by JavaCupake.com-3

Really, you could mix just about anything into this fudge… nuts, other chips (white, dark, butterscotch), any other candies, cookies, pretzels.  They sky is the limit!

Easy Fudge Two Ways by JavaCupake.com-4

What are you going to mix into your fudge?

Easy Chocolate Fudge – Two Ways!

Yield: 36 pieces of fudge per batch
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups pretzel pieces (chop them first, then measure)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Heath Bar toffee pieces
  • 2 cups Peanut Butter M&Ms
  • NOTE: If you're making both types of fudge, you'll need to have double the ingredients. This makes one batch.

Instructions

  1. Lightly spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges of the pan.
  2. Combine butter, chocolate chips, condensed milk, vanilla extract and salt in a medium heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over a simmering water.
  3. Stir occasionally until chocolate just melts and mixture is combined and warm but not hot, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in 2 cups of pretzels and 1/2 cup toffee pieces.
  4. Spread the fudge evenly into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top.
  5. Press 1/2 cup pretzels and 2 Tbsp toffee into the top of the fudge.
  6. Refrigerate several hours until firm. Cut into 36 squares.
  7. Repeat process using the M&Ms instead of the pretzels/toffee.
  8. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

 

Easy Chocolate Fudge – Two Ways!

Yield: 36 pieces of fudge per batch
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups pretzel pieces (chop them first, then measure)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Heath Bar toffee pieces
  • 2 cups Peanut Butter M&Ms
  • NOTE: If you're making both types of fudge, you'll need to have double the ingredients. This makes one batch.

Instructions

  1. Lightly spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges of the pan.
  2. Combine butter, chocolate chips, condensed milk, vanilla extract and salt in a medium heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over a simmering water.
  3. Stir occasionally until chocolate just melts and mixture is combined and warm but not hot, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in 2 cups of pretzels and 1/2 cup toffee pieces.
  4. Spread the fudge evenly into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top.
  5. Press 1/2 cup pretzels and 2 Tbsp toffee into the top of the fudge.
  6. Refrigerate several hours until firm. Cut into 36 squares.
  7. Repeat process using the M&Ms instead of the pretzels/toffee.
  8. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

My Dad’s Christmas Applesauce Bread

Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, my Mom made the Christmas breakfast casserole, my Grandma made the Chex Mix and my Dad made the applesauce bread.  It was tradition.  We just couldn’t have Christmas without those three things.

Applesauce Bread by JavaCupcake

My Grandma handed out the Chex Mix in the beginning of December so we’d have it all month to munch on, my Dad started baking bread several weeks before Christmas and my Mom made the casserole on Christmas Eve so all she had to do was pop it in the oven while we were all opening presents Christmas morning.

Applesauce Bread by JavaCupcake-3

Christmas morning as we were opening our stockings, my Dad would have sliced on a plate for us a loaf of his applesauce bread. Normally eating food in the fancy living room where the tree was, was forbidden… but this one day of the year we were allowed this special treat! YUM!

After all the presents were open, we headed to the dining room where my Mom served us Christmas Casserole, sliced peaches,warm cinnamon rolls, orange juice and coffee.  After our bellies were full we’d retreat to the TV room and relax by the fireplace, play with all our new toys and nap.  By about 3pm our tummies started rumbling again and it was time to snack on more bread and Chex Mix!

And now, I’m in Germany with my own family making this bread for them and my friends.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without it!

What meal time/baking traditions does your family have?

Enjoy!

Applesauce Bread by JavaCupcake-26

My Dad’s Christmas Applesauce Bread

Yield: 2 loaves of bread

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt cocoa and cinnamon.
  5. In three parts, add the flour. Between each addition, add half the applesauce. Mix only until no more flour is visible.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips and the raisins.
  7. Separate batter into the prepared pans.
  8. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  9. Cool in the pans 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until you're ready to eat it or store it in a ziploc bag or air tight container for up to a week.

Lemon Blackberry Shortbread Cookies

Every holiday season I’m always on the lookout for a great new cookie to add to my recipe box.  Last week, more than 500 cookie recipes were posted in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap including my recipe for Candy Cane Crinkle Blossoms.

Lemon Blackberry Shortbread Cookies by JavaCupcake

While browsing through all the fantastic cookies, I came across these beautiful raspberry almond thumbprint cookies by Saving Room for Dessert.  Tricia’s recipe is so simple that I couldn’t resist trying them myself!

In my cabinet I have this beautiful jar of handmade Blackberry jam made by a local German couple.  I have tried 5-6 different flavors of their jams and they are THE BEST I’ve ever tasted.  I am definitely spoiled being able to have access to such quality, homemade foods here in Germany!  So, I decided to use this jam for these cookies and flavor the dough with lemon instead of almond.  Lemon and blackberry make an amazing combination, so I’m sure these cookies will be a hit!

PS…. If I were to make these again, I’d make them more like thumbprint cookies and make the hole for the jam bigger… more jam the merrier!

Enjoy!

 

Lemon Blackberry Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 29 minutes

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • Blackberry jam

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp lemon extract

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. I used a hand mixer, but you can use your stand mixer if that's easier for you.
  2. Add the lemon extract and mix until combined.
  3. With the mixer on low, blend in the flour. The dough will be clumpy.
  4. In the bowl, knead the dough 8-10 times or until it's come together to form a ball.
  5. Wrap dough ball in plastic and chill for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Shape 1 inch balls of dough and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
  8. Using the tip of a wooden spoon, press a hole into the center of each cookie at least 1/2 way down.
  9. Fill each hole with blackberry jam. (I used a piping bag with the jam in it to squeeze into each hole.)
  10. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until golden brown. Let cookies stand for 1 minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Once cool, mix the powdered sugar, cream and lemon extract. Drizzle over each cookie. (Again, I filled a piping bag filled with the glaze to drizzle over each cookie.)

Gingerbread Biscotti

Since the success of my first batch of biscotti (white chocolate dipped cranberry biscotti)… I have come to the conclusion that it is one of the simplest cookies to make.

Although my friends at Jen’s Just Desserts don’t agree with me.    She thinks they are too time consuming.  Which… I could possibly agree with if I were making enough for a cafe or restaurant… because you have to bake them twice.  But let’s be honest here.  The dough, it’s not that difficult to make.  And baking twice?  Ok… big deal.  I’m a home baker.  It’s not that big of an issue for me.

And if we’re really being honest here.  These biscotti that I have made are really so impressive looking that I don’t mind the extra step of baking twice!

Of the two I’ve made so far… these gingerbread are my favorite to dip in my morning cup of coffee.  Crisp and full of flavor… the gingerbread and my coffee mixed together is so perfect, I think I may be making biscotti every week to have as my mid morning snack with my coffee! YUM!

Enjoy!

Gingerbread Biscotti

Yield: 12-15 biscotti
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

Biscotti

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 Tbsp heavy cream

Instructions

Biscotti

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. One at a time, add the eggs until combined.
  4. Add the molasses and mix until smooth.
  5. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and spices.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Dough will be sticky.
  7. Form the dough into a long rectangle, approximately 10 inches long and about 4 inches wide. I used an offset spatula to help spread and shape the dough. (Really, shape it as wide and as long as you like. I wanted long cookies, so I made mine wider.)
  8. Bake about 25 minutes or until top and bottom are golden brown. Remove, transfer to wire rack and allow to cool about 15 minutes. (If the bottom isn't too brown, you could leave it on the cookie sheet to cool. Remove it if it's already brown.)
  9. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into 1/2" slices. Lay each slice on it's side and place back on the cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 10 more minutes or until golden.
  11. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Glaze

  1. Whisk together the powdered sugar, cinnamon and heavy cream until smooth. Add enough cream until you have a consistency you can drizzle over the biscotti.
  2. Once the biscotti has cooled, drizzle the glaze over the top. Allow glaze to set up before serving.

White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Biscotti

There are two things you don’t know about me.  1) I’ve never had biscotti.  2) I’ve never made biscotti.

I know.  I’m weird.  I mean, for a girl who drinks so much coffee you’d think that I’d have biscotti all the time.  Nope.  I guess it’s probably because the only biscotti I’ve ever really seen is full of nuts.  And well, I’m allergic to nuts.

This season though, I’ve been seeing all kinds of recipes pops up for biscotti that didn’t include nuts.  Cinnamon sugar, gingerbread (in the picture above), chocolate peppermint and this one… White chocolate dipped cranberry biscotti.

The recipe I’m using is inspired by a recipe I found on What Gaby’s Cooking.  She uses dried cranberries, but since I only had fresh berries, I used those.

Dipped in the white chocolate, this biscotti is a perfect treat to go with my coffee!

I also made Gingerbread Biscotti and have two more delicious flavors planned to make in the coming days!

Enjoy!

White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Biscotti

Ingredients

Cranberries

  • 250g fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Biscotti

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup cranberry mixture
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Sugar in the Raw
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted for dipping

Instructions

Cranberries

  1. In a medium pot over med-high heat, combine the cranberries, sugar and juice.
  2. Heat until simmering. The berries will begin to pop and split. Stir occasionally.
  3. Reduce to med-low heat and continue to cook until the berries have just begun to reduce. You want the berries to reduce by about a 1/3 with most of the berries still whole.
  4. Remove from heat, strain out as much juice as you can and allow to cool.

Biscotti

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, press the lemon zest into the sugar... releasing the oils of the lemon into the sugar. Press the zest until the sugar becomes fluffy and fragrant.
  4. Add the butter and cream together for about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until just combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until all the flour has been absorbed. Do not over mix.
  7. Fold in the strained cranberries and additional 1/4 cup flour. Mixture will be VERY sticky... the additional 1/4 cup of flour should help with this.
  8. Form the dough into a long rectangle, approximately 10 inches long and about 4 inches wide. I used an offset spatula to help spread and shape the dough. (Really, shape it as wide and as long as you like. I wanted long cookies, so I made mine wider.)
  9. Sprinkle Sugar in the Raw over the top of the dough.
  10. Bake about 35-40 minutes or until top and bottom are golden brown. Remove, transfer to wire rack and allow to cool about 15 minutes. (If the bottom isn't too brown, you could leave it on the cookie sheet to cool. Remove it if it's already brown.)
  11. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into 1/2" slices. Lay each slice on it's side and place back on the cookie sheet.
  12. Bake for 15-20 more minutes or until golden.
  13. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
  14. Melt the white chocolate and spread it on the bottom of each cookie using an offset spatula or knife. Set on wax paper to until hard.
  15. Serve with coffee to your friends or give as gifts!
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