Saturday, March 24, 2012

Triple Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes - almost sugar free

warm weather is just around the corner...AND

that swimsuit is about to move to the front of the closet.

beware that time is gonna come all too quickly. 
 besides...i don't know about you, but i can't eat full fat-full sugar all the time.  
i eat so much pork belly and other savory fatty goodness...

if i ate all the sweets i bake...


if i can sneak in a few of these guilt-free treats... i'm happy.
YES...i've posted about these diet soda cupcakes before, and i know i will again.  it's just that they are so darn easy, surprisingly delicious and moist for a low fat, low calorie nearly sugar free treat.
this particular recipe will definltely calm your chocolate cravings.

for these little cakes i DID try something different...
to my surprise they turned out fabulous.  i was worried the sugar free mix wouldn't have the same baking reaction with the diet soda, problem.
all my friends (lovingly referred to  as my little Guinea Pigs) had no idea they were guilt free...or sugar free for that matter.

i don't like to call these "healthy" by any means..they are made from a cake mix and we all know there are ingredients in there we can't pronounce. soda?...not so healthy.
BUT... they are fabulous AND you can eat TWO!

the nutrition #'s look like this...for the cupcake only (18 to a batch)
90 calories...3.0 fat...19.7 carbs... 0.1 sugars...1.8 protein
icing is approximate...30 cals...7.5 carbs...7.3 sugars

Triple Chocolate Mocha (diet soda) Cupcakes
sugar free without the icing

1 Pillsbury Devil's Food Cake Mix...sugar free
2 large egg whites
10 oz. Chesterfield's diet Chocolate Fudge Soda (NOT the whole can...only 10 oz.)
2 Tbsp Scharffen Berger Cocoa Nibs
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder

prepare the cake as instructed on the box...replace the requested additional ingredients with the egg whites and soda.
bake as instructed but use the toothpick test to make sure they are done in the middle.
i made 12 silicon mold cupcakes and 3 mini loaves form 1 recipe...or make 18 cupcakes if you have the silicon...
i say silicon, because they pop out easier with no additional oil or spray.  baking in paper really sticks and you loose a lot of delicious cupcake to the wrapper.  i bake in the silicon and then present them in wrappers as shown in photos

1 cup powdered sugar
1 shot brewed espresso
1/2 tsp espresso instant powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

mix the espresso powder into the brewed espresso and vanilla until dissolved.
add 1 Tbsp liquid mixture to powdered sugar stirring vigorously... add more liquid until you have the right consistency and no lumps.  too stiff?  add a little more espresso liquid.  if it gets too thin?...add more powdered sugar.
put into a small freezer baggie and cut the tip for an easy throw away piping bag.  you probably will not use all the icing (icing equals more sugar...equals more calories).  save in the fridge in the piping baggie for the next batch you will be making soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rose Shortbread Cookies with White Chocolate

Buttery, crisp, smooth and delicious..Shortbread Cookies

i call them SHORTIES

i've been testing out some (lots) of shortbread recipes lately and i will pass them on, but for now i'll start with one of my favorites...


  for this recipe i think you'll find just the right balance of rose, vanilla and, of course, butter.  i really wanted the rose flavor to shine, but not over power. i have tried cooking with rose water, but it just doesn't have enough flavor...besides you can't add water to shortbread dough.  i have tried using just rose petals...they give a good appearance, but flavor.  i finally broke down and bought some good rose extract.

well aware of the possibility of ending up with little soap bar tasting cookies i thought i'd better go with a light touch for the extract.  for this size recipe i am happy to say i was right on with 1/2 tsp.  i'm the type of person that always adds a little extra vanilla when called for, but this time i knew better.

these little gems were a huge hit amongst my foodie friends and i will definitely be putting this in the favorites pile.  they are reeeeely delicious and something unexpected from a simple unassuming shortbread.  oh...and a slight touch of white chocolate?... pushed it over the edge. 

the shortbread base recipe has been my "go-to" for quite a while.  i pulled the essentials from an Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Smitten Kitchen who i think got it from a Dorie Greenspan recipe. some shortbreads are good...i think this one is great...using powdered sugar instead of granulated.
a few of my other flavor combos have been...Haute Chocolate Shorties (spicy double chocolate) , Maple Pecan and Coconut Double Chocolate.  AND, as i mentioned i have a few more winners in my back pocket almost ready to post...stay tuned...i hope.

as you can see in the photos the cookies hold their shape very well...if handled properly.  the dough must be cold and i like to give them a quick chill on the cookie sheet just before going in the oven. 


2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
2/3 cup powdered sugar, NOT sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp rose extract
1 Tbsp crushed edible rose petals, chopped fine...use your judgment.  it's more for the visual effect.
2 cups all purpose flour
white chocolate for drizzle or a slight brush on the bottom

in a mixer with paddle adjustment add butter and powdered sugar.  mix for approx 3 minutes until smooth and lumps. add the vanilla and rose extracts along with the rose petals and blend until combined.  add flour to incorporate.  do not over mix.'s a fabulous trick i learned from Smitten Kitchen (love her for passing it on)...
transfer the dough into a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer baggie.  work the dough down into the corners so there are no air pockets.  seal the baggie, but leave an inch or so open for the last of the air to escape as you are rolling the dough.  now roll out the baggie full of dough so it is flat and the dough has completely filled the baggie.  flip the baggie a few times during rolling so as not to get all bunched up on one side.  roll it evenly and it should be about 1/4 inch thick all over.  now refrigerate on FLAT surface for at least 2 hours.  i have left mine for 2-3 days.

preheat your oven now to 325 F degrees
line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
try to work quickly and keep the dough chilled
get your Ziploc dough and cut down the sides of the baggie...unzip the top and peel back top layer from dough.
with a long knife cut 6 across and 6 down for 36 nice size cookies.
NOTE...don't use the sharpest knife in the kitchen to cut your squares.  you don't want to cut through the bottom layer of plastic.  remove squares from bottom layer of baggie with a spatula or by carefully peeling off and place on parchment.  they can be fairly close because the don't spread, but do leave a little room for expansion.
place filled cookie sheets (both sheets if they will fit) into the refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes.
NOTE...i cook one sheet at a time to insure even cooking...

bake for 18 - 20 minutes.  keep your eye on them because you can go from a pretty butter color to brown edges if you turn your back too long.  they should be just golden with a slight light brown edge.  pull them from the oven and slide the parchment from the hot cookie sheet onto a flat surface.  let cool to the touch then onto a wire cooling rack.  when completely cooled they can be stored in an airtight container for at least a few days or until you are ready to decorated with the white chocolate if you choose to do so.  don't get heavy handed with the white chocolate.  you don't want to over power the delicate rose flavor.

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