Thursday, April 30, 2009

Scharffen Berger.

I love chocolate.

I'm sorry.....have I said that already??

This chocolate "incident" occurred when my sister Kathy and I went on a shopping trip into the North End of Boston or "Little Italy". It is a day that we usually plan out only a couple of weeks in advance, but it is a trip that is immensely anticipated. We talk, we laugh, we shop.
On our last visit there, we spent several hours visiting our favorite shops to buy anise oil, balsamic vinegar (the real stuff), wine, cheeses, pastas, etc. After leisurely enjoying a cappuchino at Caffe Sporto on Hanover Street, we loaded up the car and headed into the South End of Boston (not to be confused with "Southie") . My sister had heard about a new bakery-style restaurant and since they had cupcakes on the menu, she thought we should spy on them investigate.
The name of the establishment is Flour...such a great name for a bakery, right? Well, it gets better. Since parking spaces in the South End are as scarce as hens teeth, Kathy waited in the car while I sprinted inside to grab a few items for lunch. I ordered a couple of sandwiches and a couple of vegan cupcakes (they were sold out of the regular ones) That's it. No. Wait. Good lord, what are those big, fat chocolate cookies next to the muffins??? No, the other way.....they're smiling at between those fabulous looking, gigantic sticky buns (sweet Moses) and that mouth-watering lemon cake (sweet Maria).....yes, those. What's that?? Scharffen Berger Double Chocolate Cookies?? Never heard of him. Okay, I'll take, two. Um...just make it three.

I returned to the car and Kathy and I started on the 30 minute ride home. At a lull in the conversation, I casually mentioned that I had purchased a couple of Double Chocolate Cookies along with the sandwiches. Scharffen Berger Double Chocolate Cookies. The car swerved violently. Struggling to compose herself and appear nonchalant, she quietly cleared her throat and said "Have you ever tasted Scharffen Berger chocolate?" I gave her a sidelong glance as I gingerly reached into the bag to retrieve a morsel. I broke off a small piece and put it into my mouth. I remember instantly seeing a brilliant light and hearing a choir of angels singing" Oh sweet mystery of life at last I've found you".........Thankfully I was already seated, because I surely would have fallen to my knees. If I had been the one driving the car, this posting would have ended up being an obituary. I can see the headline now...."Sisters plummet for Scharffen Berger". Okay, I'm joking but yes..... it was that good. It was truly the richest and most decadent chocolate cookie that I had ever tasted. IN MY LIFE.

Now I'm ruined for chocolate because once you've tasted Scharffen Berger Chocolate, you can never go back. Ever. Don't get me wrong about Nestles and Hersheys. I will always love both of those bad boys, but there's a new kid in town, "he" is the baddest kid around and "his" name is NOT Leroy's Scharffen Berger. (sorry....couldn't resist that one) Decadence doesn't come cheap, but just one taste and you'll know the reason why.

Here's the "evil and deviant" recipe. The actual Scharffen Berger recipe is decadent, but I love the Martha Stewart version as well. So this recipe is a combination of both. This is the one that ruined me. Be careful when you make these.......because they're gonna ruin you too.
Consider yourself warned.

8 ounces Scharffen Berger 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature (one stick)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Roughly chop the chocolate.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt about 6 ounces of the chocolate and the stick of butter in the top of a double boiler or in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water. Be sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.

When the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat and let cool a bit.

Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder and set aside.

Using a standard mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the chocolate mixture, on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Scrape the sides the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla, and then add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated. Stop the mixer and fold in the remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate by hand. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. I usually use a medium-sized scooper and put 12 scoops to one cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies until they are just barely firm on top when lightly touched but are still very soft underneath, about 12 minutes. They will get firmer as they cool.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. I get about 2 1/2 dozen cookies from this recipe. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Yeah, right.

That last sentence is an absolute joke. "Several days?" You will be very lucky if these cookies last several hours.

So, if these fabulous cookies will only survive a few hours.....I wonder how they would hold up to shipping?

I wonder if I packed them tightly in parchment paper them sealed them in an airtight container..... would they hold up?

Or better still WHERE would they end up??

I guess we'll never know......

or will we??

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

O.K. Everyone....the Voting Starts Now

The Iron Cupcake Challenge has started!!! (sound the horns!)

(I'm such a dork sometimes)

But seriously, the Challenge has officially started. The contest runs from today until 12 noon on Monday, May 4th, 2009. You can place your vote by clicking on the Iron Cupcake widget to the right -----------------> or by just clicking here.

May the best cupcake win!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cupcakes For The Cure

On Saturday May 2, 2009, the staff of David Paul Salons in Sudbury, MA will be participating in the Ovations for the Cure Fashion Show at the Liberty Hotel in Boston, MA.

Carmen Marc Valvo, designer to such celebrities as Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey and Kate Winslet, will be showcasing his 2009 designs and our entire salon team will be backstage working our magic with his runway models. It is sure to be a fabulous event and we are very excited and privileged to be a part it. Founded to benefit ovarian cancer research, awareness events and programs, Ovations for the Cure is a non-profit based organization located in Natick, MA.

Our salon has been fund raising for Ovations since the beginning of April and our clients have been very generous with their contributions. But I couldn't sit still for this one...I wanted to personally contribute something else to the cause.

On Sunday, May 31, 2009, my San Diego cousins Jen and her husband Charlie, as well as my other cousin Marg from South Carolina are running the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Now, I would love to fly out to California to run with them because I really hate cancer, BUT......... there are only two reasons that I would run for anything. The first reason would be if someone were chasing me and the second would be if someone were driving in a car in front of me holding out a big fat piece of chocolate on a stick. That's it. I realize that the reason for these marathon runs are to raise funds for a very worthy cause BUT, I am woman who knows and respects her limitations. Plus, my hair would be a mess after running that distance. (hee hee)

So I've decided to make cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes. Chocolate Espresso and fresh Tahitian Coconut Cupcakes. In fact, if you're looking for me this week, it's a good chance I'll be baking. I'm calling this Cupcakes for the Cure . These lovely little decorated cakes will be sold at David Paul Salon in Sudbury, MA on Friday, April 24th and Saturday, April 25th for $5.00 each and all proceeds will go to Ovations for the Cure. Patricia Franchi Flaherty, the Ovations founder, once said that the butterfly is the spirit of a loved one who is no longer with us. I thought it was an appropriate and symbolic gesture to include them on the cupcakes.

Because quite frankly, cancer sucks. Knowing someone who is battling cancer sucks and losing someone to cancer sucks even more. Even worse, it makes you mad. Crazy, even.

I lost my mother to breast cancer in 1986. Yes, my sister and I have acknowledged it.........but we'll never get over it. Ever. As far as I'm concerned, we were robbed. It was twenty three years ago and I'm still mad about it. Cancer doesn't respect anyone. It has invaded and disrupted the lives of cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and many acquaintances too. Enough already. It has to be stopped.

So how many cupcakes do you think I'd have to bake to raise enough money to cure cancer?? A million?? Two million? Ten million??

I'll make a deal with you....

.....if you'll buy them, I'll bake them.

Because we're trying to cure cancer..... cupcake at a time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Iron Cupcake Challenge

The Iron Cupcake Earth Challenge is ON!

You can cast your vote (for me, of course), by clicking on the Iron Cupcake widget on the right. It will take you directly to the voting website...No One Puts Cupcake In a Corner. Voting begins at 8 p.m. on Weds, April 29th and ends Monday, May 4th at 12 noon. Winners will be posted on May 4th at 11:59 p.m. Click on the Iron Cupcake widget to get to the website to vote for me ------------------->

I'll put another reminder up at the end of the week.

The April challenge was to create a cupcake using Soda Pop. Everytime I came up with what I thought was an original idea, it turned up somewhere on the internet. People are just so creative! Eventually, I stopped beating my head against a wall and stopped trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I chose to just have fun with the challenge.

And as you can see.......I did.

In was "a blast"!

I called my cupcake creation the Chocolate Cola Cherry Bomb (I have to remember this for the Fourth of July). I used Diet Pepsi Cherry Cola because everyone always uses Coca-Cola. The chocolate cake recipe is inherited from one of my mother's favorite cookbooks.......I just reworked it a bit to include the soda pop. The result is a surprisingly moist, delicately flavored chocolate cake with a hint of cherry. Outstanding, in fact. The "bomb" on top of the cupcake is actually a Chocolate Tuille cookie (so easy to make), and the center of the cupcake is filled with a slightly tart cherry filling. Then, sweet cherry buttercream covers the top of the cupcake and extends up all the way up inside the "bomb" . The tartness of the cherry filling combined with the sweet cherry buttercream make an explosively delicious flavor combination!

You will need to make the Chocolate Tuille Cookies first
(trust me.... so fast and easy!)

You will need:
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cocoa powder

I made a "template" for the cookie batter by using a piece of poster board and cutting out six circles measuring 4 1/2 inches in diameter. I put this template on top of the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. I could have just eyeballed the batter to make the circles, but since I needed the finished cookies to be a specific size, I used the template for accuracy and to keep the cookie size consistent.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine the softened butter with the confectioners sugar. Add the egg whites one by one. Beat in the vanilla extract and blend the cake flour and cocoa powder. Do not overmix! When the last ingredients have been incorporated....stop mixing. Chill the batter for 1 hour. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper and your template.

Using a spatula, spread a small amount of batter evenly and thinly in the openings of the template. The thinner you spread them, the crispier they will be. They will have a cake-like consistency and will not roll as well if you are heavy-handed.

Lift the template off and bake tuilles for about 10 minutes then remove from the oven. They smell so rich and chocolate-y...........just heavenly!!

While the tuilles are still warm, shape them until they are set. I wrapped them around a small rolling pin to achieve the "bomb" shape. When they are cooled, gently slide them off of the rolling pin. Store them in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.

You will need the following ingredients for the cupcakes:

1 1/2 ozs. coarsely chopped unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
2/3 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
2 3/4 cake flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups granular sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 ground cinnamon
2/3 cup Pepsi Cherry Cola
1 can cherry pie filling (unsweet)*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place liners in the cupcake pans. Combine the chocolate and buttermilk in a double boiler or metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring often until the chocolate melts (about 5 - 7 minutes). DO NOT let the buttermilk come to a boil or it will curdle. (and be gross!) Remove from the heat and whisk until it is smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs lightly.

Beat in the oil and vanilla. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well blended. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Set these dry ingredients aside. In 2 or 3 alternating additions, add the dry ingredients and soda to the chocolate mixture, beating between the additions. Pour into cupcake liners and fill about halfway.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted inthe center of each cupcake comes out clean. Makes three dozen regular sized cupcakes. I noticed that the cupcakes really "popped" up out of the liners......could it be the result of all that soda carbonation?? Hmmmmm..

While the cupcakes were baking, I made the Cherry Buttercream. You will need the following ingredients:

8 cups confectioners sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter
5 heaping tablespoons cherry filling (cut the cherries up)
3 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
dab of red food coloring (optional)

Using an electric mixer, combine the butter and confectioners sugar, then slowly add the cherry filling and vanilla, and gradually add the 3/4 cup milk. Beat on high speed about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. When the cupcakes are completely cool, I used a small round biscuit cutter to hollow out the center of the cupcake then filled the center of each cupcake with about two tablespoon of cherry filling*. (I saved the cupcake centers to make cakeballs later) I used a 12-inch decorator bag fitted with a large decorator tip to pipe buttercream swirls over the top of each cupcake. Then I took a Chocolate Tuille Cookie and placed it upright in the cherry-filled hole in the center of the cupcake. (You may have to gently push the cookie down into the buttercream to make sure it is stabilized). I finished by piping the buttercream down inside the cookie "bomb", filling it up and letting the buttercream spill out a bit. Topping it all off with a maraschino cherry and chocolate shavings..... this cupcake is the bomb!!!

After tasting one of "the bombs", it was not exactly what I expected. The cherry filling is a little on the tart side all by itself, but when mixed with the cherry buttercream, it is fabulous......just the right blend. I didn't think that it would be a taste that kids would like, but my 13 year old nephew promptly devoured one and proclaimed it to be "awesome". So there you have it.

But is it good enough to win?? It's going to be a tough decision.........there are so many fantastic entries! It's up to the voters (YOU!) to decide. All you have to do is click on the Iron Cupcake widget at the top right-hand side of this post and it will bring you to the website to vote for me. These are some of the fabulous sponsors who are providing prizes to the lucky winner:

A creation by FRUITFLYPIE,

A pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES at

A sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Cupcakery,


IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice - sweet!

Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers:

-HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson at,


-TASTE OF HOME books at;

-A fabulous T-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM at

Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers,

So before you dash out to buy the ingredients to make your cupcake "bomb"............don't forget to wake the kids and phone the neighbors! Tell all of them to click on the Iron Cupcake widget at the top of this blog post and vote.............for ME!

Okay, now you can eat.

Ready? Set?...............Vote!!!!