Friday, September 5, 2014

Cuddle up with me please! Salted Caramel Cupcakes & Warm Salted Caramel Latte

"You can not beat a sweet and salty combo and this duo does not disappoint! This vanilla cupcake is filled with a gooey caramel center that is baked in. Frosted with a caramel infused buttercream. Topped with an old-fashioned caramel candy and coarse sea salt. Wash it down with a sweet a salty kick from the Warm Salted Caramel Latte and get ready for a cozy night in!" 

Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Yields 18-24 Cupcakes
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (reserve one tablespoon) 1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 hot milk

1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
18-24 old-fashioned caramel squares 

1. preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins. Sift dry ingredients.
2. in a large bowl combine butter and sugar. Cream till light and fluffy. On medium speed add eggs one at a time, add vanilla. Add sifted dry ingredients one cup at a time beating on medium speed till smooth.
3.pour batter into cupcake liners, filling three quarters of the way up.
4. dip caramel squares in tablespoon of reserved flour
5. place one caramel square on top of batter (they will sink to the middle leaving a gooey center)
6. bake for 18-20 minutes. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean or cake bounces back when gently touched.
7. cool for 15 minutes before frosting. 

Caramel Frosting
Yields 18-24 cupcakes
1 cup softened unsalted butter 8-9 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup caramel sauce
3-6 tablespoons milk

18-24 old-fashioned caramel squares (garnish) 1/4 cup caramel sauce (garnish)
1/4 cup coarse sea salt (garnish) 

1. cream butter and caramel till smooth, about a minute.
2. add sugar one cup at a time. Add milk till desired thickness is achieved.
3. beat for 15 minutes on Medium speed for a light and fluffy frosting.
4. pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Garnish with caramel squares and drizzle with chocolate sauce. Top with sea salt. 

Pink himalayan sea salt or any favorite flavored salt can be substituted for a festive touch. 

Warm Salted Caramel Latte
Single serving. Double as needed.
1/4 cup caramel sauce (rim)
1/2 tablespoons cup coarse sea salt in small plate (rim) 1/2 Tablespoon raw sugar in small plate (rim)
1/2 cup warm milk
2oz. marshmallow vodka
1oz. Irish cream liqueur 

1. dip rim of glass in caramel sauce.
2. mix sea salt and sugar on plate and dip rim of glass in mixture. 3. drizzle carmel on bottom of glass (reserve a little for garnish). 4. combine all liquid ingredients mix well, pour into glass.
5. top with whip cream, drizzle remaining caramel on top.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cheers to National Grand Marnier Day!

"Happy Grand Marnier Day" drips off my lips!

"Rolling Stone" Magazine December 2009 - January 2010
Sweet syrupy orange liqueur is perfect enjoyed on the rocks, floated on margaritas and to finish a Cosmopolitan, but for cooking?!  YES! Soak cakes, macerate berries and give a little extra kick to a glaze, icing or filling with this divine elixir.

Give Grand Marnier a try by folding it into this delicious Orange Meringue Pie...

Photo: Emily Ellyn Productions
Orange Meringue Pie
Recipe modified from Emily Ellyn's collection

Prep Time:  25-30 minutes
Cook Time:  15 minutes
Bake Time:  15 – 30 minutes
Yield:  1; 10-inch pie


For shell:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chilled butter
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup ice water
raw beans for weighting shell (2012) showcased this vintage ad
For filling

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
3 cups fresh orange juice (about 9 navel oranges)
½ cup Grand Marnier
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 large eggs, lightly beaten

For meringue
4 large egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


Make shell:
In a large bowl with a pastry blender or in a food processor blend or pulse together flour and butter until mixture resembles meal. In a small bowl stir together egg yolk, vinegar, and ice water. 

Gradually add yolk mixture to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until mixture forms a dough. Form dough into a flattened disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 10-inch (1 1/2-quart) glass pie plate, crimping edge decoratively. Prick shell in several places with a fork and chill 30 minutes.

Line shell with foil and fill with beans. Bake shell in middle of oven 15 minutes. Remove foil and rice carefully and bake shell 12 to 15 minutes more, or until pale golden. Cool shell in pie plate on a rack.

Make filling:
Into a 4-quart saucepan sift together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in zest, 1 1/2 cups orange juice, Grand Marnier, and lemon juice. Cook mixture over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add butter, whisking constantly until melted. Add remaining 2 cups orange juice and eggs and simmer, stirring constantly, 2 minutes, or until smooth and thickened.
Strain filling through a sieve into a bowl and pour into shell. Cool pie completely.

Make meringue:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat egg whites on low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and increase speed, beating until whites hold soft peaks. Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla and beat on high speed until meringue holds stiff and glossy peaks.

Spread meringue on top of cooled filling, covering filling completely, and bake pie in middle of oven 15 minutes, or until meringue is golden. Chill pie 3 hours, or until set.

Moet Hennessy (2014) Collection of Vintage Advertisement
more at

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sweet and Savory Sunday - Cherry Avocado Salad

Craving something sweet and savory and deliciously sinful, without the guilt of a million calories?

Apron: Cupcake Provocateur - Model: Dinah Deville - Photo: TK Expressions
With the sweetness from cherries & watermelon combined with the savory flavors of avocado and basil, you can indulge guilt free with each bite you take! 

*This recipe was given to us by Johnny Rocco over at the Bowery Boys blogspot. If you are looking for a fresh and unique point of view on arts, music and culture then check them out!

Sweet and Savory Sunday - Cherry Avocado Salad:
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Yield: 4-6 8oz. serving dishes

Photo:  Cynthia Lagudi

1 cup watermelon diced small
20 cherries halved and pitted
15 cherry tomatoes halved
1 avocado diced
1 lime zest and juice
1/4 cup basil diced fine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
pinch of coarse sea salt
drizzle of honey (optional)

1. Prep dressing: combine lime juice, zest, balsamic vinegar, sea salt. Whisk until emulsified.
2. Place avocado and basil in glass bowl. Pour dressing over avocado and basil, set aside.
3. Add watermelon, tomatoes and cherries in medium glass bowl.
4. Add dressing and avocado, lightly toss.
5.  Drizzle with honey if more sweetness is desired.
6. Serve in 8oz glasses or custard dishes.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Savory Sunday - Mini Turkey Sausage Breakfast Baskets - Guest Post from Kasey's Kitchen

 We are proud to announce our partnership with Kasey Potts of the successful blog Kasey's Kitchen. She will be stopping by our kitchen from time to time to guest blog, with some tasty recipes, tips and good conversation. Today Kasey has whipped up some amazing mini turkey sausage breakfast baskets, that are simply devine!

"I have never been a breakfast person, unless it included a late brunch and mimosas. But, as I've been getting older, I've realized that my body needs that little something in the morning. I figured rather than take away those precious 10 minutes of beauty sleep each morning, I should come up with a way to make breakfast preparation a cinch."

I decided that prepping my breakfast ahead of time meant I just needed to reach into the fridge or freeze on my way out the door and have something that I can throw together quickly inside the office kitchenette. With this, the Breakfast Basket recipe was born!

Makes 12 Baskets

2 cups of pancake mix, prepared
1 package of Breakfast Turkey Sausage, cut into circles
2 eggs
fresh dill
shredded cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350

Spray cupcake sheet with a generous amount of cooking spray.

Pour pancake mix in each cup, only about a quarter of an inch.

Grill or pan-sear the sausage circles and place on top of the pancake mixture in the cups.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until pancake mix starts to rise.

Scramble together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, dill, and any other seasonings you might enjoy. Pour the egg mixture on top the the pancake cups, top each one with shredded cheese and place back into oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove once golden brown. Let cool and serve.

Tip: These are great to store in the freezer for breakfasts on the go! Just pop them into the microwave or toaster oven!

 Kasey is a supporter, partner and dear friend with us over at Cupcake Provocateur as well. Check out her custom line of aprons designed by Cupcake Provocateur, available exclusively in her online store.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Balsamic Red White and Blueberry Cheesecake Mason Jar Parfaits - Happy Birthday America!

A special thank you to all the Men and Woman (Veterans and Active Duty) who are serving our Country. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Model: Leila Hyams - Artist: Ruth Harriet Louise

So lets party like its 1776! Celebrating America's 238th Birthday with Balsamic Red White and Blueberry Mason Jar Parfaits! 


Our version features balsamic macerated strawberries, cinnamon blueberry compote and a cheesecake cream that is to die for! This recipe is simple and delicious and a perfectly pretty presentation to serve at your next BBQ, brunch or picnic.

Balsamic Strawberry Layer
2 cups sliced strawberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a glass bowl combine strawberries, sugar, vanilla and balsamic vinegar, tossing strawberries just till coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Blueberry Compote Layer
1 cup blueberries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place berries, cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice in a small sauce pot and cook over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, till blueberries have softened but remain whole and sauce is thickened.

Cheesecake Cream Layer
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 8 ounce package softened cream cheese*
1/ cup heavy cream**
1teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Cream sour cream, cream cheese and sugar till smooth, add in heavy cream and vanilla extract, beat for about 1-3 minutes, till light and fluffy.

Layer in parfait glasses or mason jars. About 1-3 tablespoons for each layer depending the th seize of the glass or jar. Garnish with fresh berries.

Note: Each recipe can be made as a garnish or filling on their own. Feel free to try different fruits and berries... the options are endless!

Illustration by: Rolf Armstrong


Happy 4th of July! May it be full of Reds, Whites, and Brews and...Booze!

Rad, White, and Brews Celebrations

Retro Rad Mixologist Emily Ellyn, here to give you the dish on food and drink pairings to shake up fun in your kitchens!

Catalina Island Independence Day Water Skiers

For this July Fourth, I'd like to share my tips and tricks for pairing Red, Whites and Brews, and...Booze with barbecue:


#1: Drink What You Enjoy!

I am giving you permission to drink white wine with an ice cube with your steak! To each his own, ESPECIALLY at a barbecue and, that means if you want lemonade, iced teas, sweet teas, or twisted teas you go right ahead.

Below, you will find that I am just giving you advice to take the guesswork out of pairing wine and beer and selecting drinks for your party.

#2:  BBQ Means Stress Free Dining AND Drinking.

When pairing drinks with food for outdoor dining always think simplicity. This means don’t choose a fussy stuffy wine that requires too much thought.  You are sipping on drinks and/or wine in the beautiful outdoors or the comforts of your home. The drinks should fit the food, but they should also fit the casual mood of the gathering.

I love doing a sangria or punch for a BBQ.  Tasty, cool and the ease of portability and accessibility for guests make it a win/win!

Try this refreshing beverage:

Summertime Citrus Sangria
Recipe courtesy of Emily Ellyn, more at
Yield:  Party Serving

1 (750-milliliter) bottles Sweet Champagne or Sparkling Wine, chilled
1 (1500-mililiter) pouch LiDestri White Sangria (or sub a sweet white)
¼ cup honey (or organic stevia)
3 tablespoon chopped ginger
3 large sprigs, rosemary, crushed
1  (34-oz.) bottle fresh orange juice
1 cup peach nectar
1 orange sliced thin, to garnish
1 cup fresh or frozen peaches sliced, to garnish
6 sprigs Rosemary, to garnish

Prepare Ginger Rosemary simple syrup by bringing ¼ cup White Sangria and honey to a boil in a small saucepot.  Add the ginger and rosemary and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and steep the mixture off heat for 20 minutes.

Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a container and use immediately or refrigerate for future use.

Make Citrus Sangria:  In large pitcher mix simple syrup, orange juice, peach nectar, grapefruit juice, sparkling wine, and sangria.  Serve over ice and garnish with sliced oranges, peaches and fresh basil.

#3:  Fireworks, Sparklers AND Sparkling Wines Always Make a Meal More FESTIVE!

I must confide that the right glass of bubbly will just about pair with any dish.  I personally love Iron Horse Blanc de Blanc as well as their Brut Rose!

I have always enjoyed sipping on these sparkling wines, BUT they are really spectacular with food.  The Blanc de Blanc is 100% Chardonnay and it is like a buttery piece of toast that radiates with it’s effervescence.

Sparkling wine suggestions:  Prosecco, Cava, a light-bodied California sparkling wine, or a Lambrusco are always good bubblies for a backyard barbecue.

#4: Blush if you will, Rosés are a MUST!

Rosé is ANOTHER must have when dining out on the deck!  There is no question that rosés lift flavors and spirit to casual outdoor gatherings. Served brisk and cool, these wines have a bit more acidity than white wines to combat the grilled flavors of the food.

Rosé suggestions: California Rosés made with the Sangiovese grape, Bandol from Provence, Tavel from the Rhône Valley, Lambrusco from Italy

The Brut Rosé from Iron Horse is my go-to!  This is a bold and vibrant SPARKLING rosé and I like drinking it with food!  Sweet pulled pork to a juicy steak.

#5:  What They Have Always Said Still Stands!

White wine with fish and chicken still hold true when at a barbecue.

White wines pair well with grilled fish and chicken, and some pork recipes, even those that call for blackened preparations or spice rubs.

White wine suggestions: Choose Chardonnay or a white Burgundy wine for the fattier fish (tuna, salmon, or trout). White Riojas and Chardonnays are the best pick for veggie burgers, and sometimes regular hamburgers.  Sauvignon Blanc (with higher acidity) or Sancerre (made from the same grapes as Sauvignon Blanc), Riesling, and Gewürztraminer pair with spice rubs and blackening seasonings.
Note, that changing things up is not a bad thing…Zinfandel with its smoke and fruit would be a nice pairing with barbecued chicken too (Remember Rule #1).

#6:  Weight of the Wine Pairs with Weight of Food:

Red wine suggestions: 
Pork, smoked meats, bacon, and even salmon = Lighter to medium weight reds like Pinot Noir and Tempranillo.

Hamburgers, steak, barbecued ribs, or beef tenderloin, only the big red wines will do. Bordeaux, California Cabernet, and Barolo are perfect matches. If meat is more heavily spiced try a Zinfandel or Zinfandel Blends, Australian Shiraz, Australian blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro, Argentine Malbecs OR, my favorite this year is a Rioja from Spain made from 100% Graciano grape.

#7: Bring Brews to the Barbecue!

I love BREW-B-Qing (i.e. barbecuing with beer) but I also recognize that beer pairs great with barbecue and it is cool and refreshing.  But, just like wine each protein (whether surf or turf) or vegetable has a singular flavor profile and deserves to be carefully coupled with a beer!

Beer suggestions:
Hefeweissbier/hefeweizen or Belgian-style witbier with a light citrus twist cuts through the salty, fatty cured meats, while bringing out the fresh flavors of the fixings (the lettuce and tomato on burgers and all the potato and pasta salad sides).  Also, pairs good with grilled vegetable or shellfish and with light citrusy mayo-based dishes like lobster rolls and potato salads.

Vintage Schlitz Poster 1952
Schwarzbier or black lagers with their slightly smoky finish matches well with grilled foods like burgers and steak

Farmhouse style to fruit forward ales pair nicely with grilled chicken.

Double Malts, Belgian-style dubbel, Stouts with lots of malt hold up to strong, gamy flavor of lamb and dominate the tangy vinegars and heat from some barbecues.

Imperial Porters are great with dry rubbed and/or smoked ribs.

Pilsner, unfiltered German-style lagers, and Ciders will pair with all of the sides from coleslaw to ceviche to creamy potato salad.

Belgium Saison, Indian Brown Ale, Scotch ale, India pale ale, and American brown ale pair good with sweet and acidic barbecue (mustard based sauce) and with the pies with sweet and bitter fruit (raspberry and rhubarb) and buttery crust.

#8 Bourbon and BBQ

Barbecue is a product of the American South therefore it makes sense to pair it with an American spirit that is also from the South.  But, bourbon is so much more than just a good pairing it is trendy!

Bourbons are getting a lot of attention and you will be seeing this combo on many a menus (in BBQ and paired with BBQ) in the future.  The way bourbon is made lends well to pairing perfectly with barbecue.  By law, bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that consists of at least 51 percent corn, making it taste sweeter than spirits created with a greater percentage of barley, rye, or wheat. After it is distilled, bourbon is aged in new American oak barrels whose insides have been charred, which imparts a sweet woodsy, vanilla flavor that complements meats that have been smoked or cooked. Plus, the mild sweetness of the brew pairs well with both the sweet and the spice of barbecue.

Here's my patriotic July 4th party punch that packs a punch!  

Smoking Cherry & Bour-bomb
Recipe courtesy Emily Ellyn
Yield:  6 servings

Marilyn Monroe, 1953
1 quart fresh lemonade
15 ounces bourbon (to taste preference)
6 ounces LiDestri’s Pink Limoncello
1 cup large cherries preserved in syrup (Bada Bing is a good brand)
1 Tablespoon liquid smoke


The night before add liquid smoke to cherries and the syrup in jar or sealable container.  Allow to marinate over night.

To assemble drinks, pack six rock glasses with ice. Pour 2 1/2 ounces bourbon, 1 ounce Pink Limoncello, a splash of the Smokey cherry juice (from marinated cherries) into glass.  Then, top with lemonade.  Garnish each drink with smoky cherry.