August 10, 2009

Cocoa Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I had some milk chocolate chips sitting in fridge for quite some time. I thought these would be a great way to use them up. White, peanut butter and even butterscotch chips would be yummy in these as well.

Buttermilk Cocoa Chip Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softenend
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp good vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin pan by adding paper liners.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the mixing bowl, starting and ending with flour. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Pour the mixed batter into the prepared cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then romove from the muffin pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1 tsp good vanilla extract

In medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in confectioners sugar. Store in refrigerator after use.


Veggie-Mango Summer Rolls

Here's a perfect light and refreshing summer treat. Great to bring along on picnics, and perfect as a light appetizer for summer entertaining. The secret to this dish is to cut up your veggies ahead of time or as the French would say (mise en place or put in place) or as defined by the Culinary Institute of America, (everything in place). You'll find that the filling and rolling is the easy part. The dipping sauce is a spicy sweet compliment to the mango, veggies and herbs, but you could serve the rolls with your favorite asian peanut sauce, which I also enjoy very much.

Wine Pairing suggestion: Try Robert Mondavi (2005) Fume Blanc. This rich and zesty wine is 85% Sauvignon blanc and 15% Semillon, and is very mouthfilling yet light on the palate.

Mango-Veggie Summer Rolls
Adapted from The Ladies Have Left the Building Alfresco Fare

2 ounces bean thread or glass noodles
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 mango, peeled and julienned
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
1 medium cucumber, peeled and julienned
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, julienned
1 cup tightly packed mixed herbs such as mint, cilantro and Thai basil
8 Boston lettuce leaves, ribs removed
1/4 cup finely chopped, roasted, unsalted peanuts or cashews
16 8-inch rice paper wraps

Dipping Sauce
6 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sugar
Juice of two limes
1 1/2 tbsp garlic chili paste


Cut the noodles into 3-inch pieces and soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain and plunge into hot water for 1 minute. Drain again and rinse with cold water. Place in a small bowl and toss with sesame oil.

Set all ingredients except for rice paper wraps out separately in assembly-line fashion. In a small bowl, mix together the dipping sauce ingredients and set aside. Have a large shallow bowl of lukewarm water close by. Place a clean dish towel in front of you.

Dip one rice paper wrap in the water for about 30 seconds, remove and place on the dish towel, line bottom third of wrap with a small amount of lettuce, then noodles, then mango, followed by a small amount of each of the vegetables and the herbs. Top with a light sprinkle of peanuts and a small drizzle of the dipping sauce. Tightly fold in the sides then roll from the bottom up. Continue with remaining wraps and ingredients.

Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and store covered in a single layer inside an airtight container. Can be made up to 4 hours in advance. To serve, cut on the bias and serve with sauce.