Dark Chocolate Beer Cupcakes with Whipped Irish Cream Frosting

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Makes 24 filled and frosted cupcakes.

Cupcake:

1.5 C. All-Purpose Flour

6 oz. Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Powder (4 Pouches of regular, 6 pouches if you use the Simply Dark variant)

1.5 Tsp. Baking Soda

3/4 C. Porter or Stout (I used Revolution Brewery’s Eugene Porter, but Guinness or Dragon’s Milk Stout work just as well!)

1/2 C. Milk

4 Eggs

1 C. Melted Dark Chocolate

3.5 oz. Chocolate Fudge (or plain ol’ Chocolate) Pudding (3 Single Serving Cups)

(Note: You can make the quick and dirty version by purchasing a box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix and just substituting the water for your choice of dark beer and following the on-box directions; I heartily suggest using either Guinness or Dragon’s Milk!)

 

Frosting/Filling:

1 Pint (16 oz.) Heavy Cream, Well Chilled

3/4 C. Powdered Sugar, Sifted

1/4 Tsp. Cream of Tartar

2 Tbsp. Irish Cream

 

Cupcake Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 350* F.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Slowly add your beer to the dry ingredients. It will foam up. Whisk together slowly to incorporate.

4. Add the rest of your wet ingredients and incorporate.

5. Add cupcake liners to your tin and lightly spray (I used olive oil spray. Cake release can also be used.) so the batter doesn’t stick heavily to your liners.

6. Pour batter into liners (approx. 3 Tbsp/cup) and bake for 15-20 minutes (check after 15 — every oven’s different!).

7. Set aside to cool.

 

Frosting/Filling Directions

If you can, chill your whisk attachment and mixing bowl prior to making the frosting. It’ll make things move more quickly.

1. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl (this one does not need to be chilled) and combine.

2. In your chilled bowl, combine wet ingredients. Start your mixer (hand-held or stand mixer) on slow and gradually increase speed until hard peaks form.

3. Once hard peaks form, lower the speed of your mixer and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until combined. The frosting will be stiff and will not run once it’s ready.

4. Using a pastry bag and a Wilton #230 tip, fill the bag with frosting. Insert the tip 2/3 of the way into the cupcake, and slowly pull out to fill. Repeat for the other cupcakes.

5. Once cupcakes are filled, take a second pastry bag with coupler and attach your choice of decorating tip (I like using a #32 tip). Decorate the top of the cupcakes.

6. Garnish with mini chocolate chips, if you’d like, and serve!

Stone Dog XII: Russian Into Fun

Hey, you! Yes, YOU!

Do you like games of chance, Darn Good Food, or the chance to earn fame and renown?

Well, you should mark your calendar for April 23rd for Stone Dog Inn XII: Russian Into Fun!

Why? Because we’re bringing a little piece of Mother Russia to the Midrealm, and it promises to be an event NOT to be missed!

(Shameless plug because I’m cooking Feast and I REALLY want y’all to come and enjoy some not-so-strange Russian food (you remember that amazing-looking chicken I made a couple months ago, right?), plus this is one of the SCA events I’m always at because it’s just plain fun.)

Here’s the deets:

When: Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 @ 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Where: St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 14700 Kildare Ave, Midlothian, IL 60445

Cost:
Site Fee: $5 for 13 years and older
$2 for ages 4-12
Ages 3 and under free
($5 nonmember surcharge will apply)
Lunch Tavern: $5 suggested donation
Feast: $10 suggested donation
And, because I’m the Head Cook, here’s a sneak peek of the tentative menu for the Feast:

On the Table

Bread

  • Chernyy khleb (Black Bread) – A dark rye bread that was a staple of Russian cuisine.
  • Drachona – A light, toasty egg-based bread often served in Russia.

Butter

  • Plain Butter
  • Honey Butter

 Cheese

  • Cream Cheese spread with herbs

 Drink

  • Kompot – Drink made by steeping dried fruit in water and sweetening slightly. Ours is made with dried apples and cranberries.
  • Water

 

Salad (1st) Course

Mixed Green Salad

  • Mixed salad with crumbled Goat’s Milk Cheese, Candied Walnuts (on table), Chopped Gala Apples, and Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette

 

Main (2nd) Course

Russian Roasted Chicken

  • Succulent chicken thighs brined in a base of Russian Lager and period herbs.

Herbed Pork Loin

Kasha

  • Traditional Russian buckwheat side dish flavored with garlic and mushrooms.

Cranberry Sauce

Fried Cabbage

 

Dessert (3rd) Course

Medianyky

  • Russian Honey Cookies

Trudonoshi

  • Mini Russian-style cheesecakes served with your choice of Berry or Spiced Cherry Sauce

Potsticker Soup

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Something I love to make during the colder months is Potsticker Soup because it’s ridiculously quick to make and it’s filling.

Ingredients:

1 32oz. carton Swanson Thai Ginger stock

1 24oz. bag Tai Pei Chicken Potstickers

1/4 C. Sugar (optional)

Parsley (optional)

Dried Orange Peel (optional)

 

Instructions:

1. In a large (I used a 5 qt) pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add sugar, parsley, and orange peel at this time, if you’re adding them.

2. Once the broth is boiling, add potstickers and bring back up to a boil.

3. Once potstickers are hot and tender, ladle into bowls and serve!

Kahlua Balls

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In an act of holiday kindness, I made “care packages” for my Dispatch team with these and the Rumchata Truffles included. Suffice to say, they went over well.

These are a variation on the recipe for Rum Balls provided by Food Network, modified specifically for my Dispatch team’s particular allergies.
Ingredients :

2 cups finely ground Gluten-Free Brownies (Prepare according to package [I used Krusteaz]  — sub out water for Kahlua, if you like!)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted, plus extra for rolling
1 cup Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 to 4 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup Kahlua
4 ounces semisweet chocolate (or chocolate almond bark base), melted, optional

Instructions:

1. In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, mix together the brownie crumbs, powdered sugar, and nuts.

2. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of honey and the Kahlua.

3. Using your hands, try to form the mixture into a ball. If the mixture won’t hold together, add a little more honey (or Kahlua).

4. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls (I used a cookie scoop), then roll them in powdered sugar or melted chocolate, and let them set up. Then, let them age or ripen 24 hours.

Rumchata Truffles

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup of Rumchata
12 oz bag of white chocolate chips
Vanilla almond bark or white chocolate chips for dipping the truffles
cinnamon

Instructions:

1. Set up a double boiler using a heavy pot and a Pyrex bowl. Fill the pot approx. 1/3 with water and heat water to just below boiling.  In the bowl, place your chips and Rumchata. Place the bowl over the pot. As the chips begin to melt down, stir the Rumchata and chips together, creating a smooth mixture.

2. Once all of the chips are melted and the Rumchata is incorporated, transfer the mixture to a container and let it set in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

3. Use an ice cream scoop (smaller size), to roll the truffles into a 1 inch size ball. You might have to use your hands to shape the ball.

4. Using the double boiler setup from earlier, melt the almond bark or chocolate chips.

5. Dip the truffles into the almond bark and sprinkle with cinnamon to decorate.

Russian Roasted Chicken

DSC_0812For Stone Dog XII, being held in 2016, I’ll be the head cook for our Russian-themed Feast. Since it’s my first go-round, I was asked to try the recipes I’ll be making (and actually document them, in some cases). Given that it’s the day before Thanksgiving, I figured I’d make the chicken dish I’m planning; it’s not turkey, but it’s pretty amazing all the same.

One batch makes ~10 lbs or 20 pieces of chicken.

Ingredients:

16.9 oz. Baltika No. 9 Russian Lager

1/4 C. Sea Salt

3/4 C. Sugar

1.5 L  Hot Water

1.5 L Ice Water

10 lb. or 20 pc. Chicken Thighs

1/4 C. (1 Stick) Unsalted Butter

1 Tbsp. Each of:

  • Whole Peppercorns
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Minced Garlic

Instructions:

1) Combine Russian Lager, Salt, Sugar, and Spices in a large bowl or kitchen tub. Stir to combine ingredients and begin dissolving salt and sugar for the brine base.

2) Heat up 1.5 L of water to just below boiling. Once heated, add into brine base and stir in, ensuring salt and sugar are dissolved.

3) Add 1.5 L of ice water to cool the brine down.

4) Add chicken, giving it a stir to distribute the spices throughout the mixture.

5) Cover chicken and brine, and refrigerate for 16-24 hours.

6) When ready to cook, pre-heat oven to 375* F, line pans with foil (helps with clean-up later), and melt butter.

7) Pat chicken pieces dry and lay them out in a single layer on the pans you’re using. Baste chicken with melted butter before placing in the oven.

8) Place chicken into oven and set the timer for 60 minutes. At the 40 minute and 20 minute marks, baste with more butter.

9) At the end of 60 minutes, check the internal temperature of the chicken with a kitchen thermometer to 165* F. Once it’s at 165* F, remove chicken from oven and allow it to rest prior to plating and serving.

10) Serve and enjoy!

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Candied Bacon

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My SCA sword brothers, House Clovenshield, love bacon… And when celebrating one of your sword brothers’ 4 years of cancer remission, why not go all out? So, I made them candied bacon.

Makes 4 lbs. of Candied Bacon. The ingredients can be quartered if you’re only making 1 lb… But why would you?

Ingredients

2 C. Light Brown Sugar

4 Tsp. Garlic Powder

4 Tsp. Smoked Paprika

4 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

2 Tsp. Black Pepper

4 lb. Thick Cut Bacon (I used bacon that was applewood smoked)

Utensils

1 Spoon

1 Large Bowl (or reclosable bag)

4 cookie Sheets

Parchment Paper

Cooling Rack

Sharp Knife

Cutting Board

 

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.

3. Open bacon packages and cut in half.

4. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5. Lay bacon in cookie sheets from edge to edge, making sure the pieces touch.

6. Liberally sprinkle approx. half of the dry rub on bacon. Rub into meat once applied.

7. Place bacon into oven for 15 minutes.

8. After 15 minutes has passed, remove bacon from oven and turn over.

9. Liberally sprinkle the other half of the dry rub on the bacon.

10. Cook bacon in the oven for another 15-18 minutes.

11. Line cooling racks with parchment paper.

12. Remove cooked bacon from cookie sheets and place on lined cooling racks.

13. Allow bacon to cool.

14. Enjoy (preferably with a cold beverage of your choosing)!

 

Tiger’s Chana Masala

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic
2 Medium Sweet Onions (I used Vidalias), Chopped Finely
2 28oz cans Crushed Tomatoes
24 oz. Canned Garbanzo Beans (Fresh can be used, too, but boil to soften before adding!)
1 Tbsp. Coriander Powder
3 Tbsp. Garam Masala
16 oz. Water
1/2 c. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Instructions:
1. Prepare chickpeas according to their packaging (If using canned, skip this step.)
2. In a medium-sized frying pan on medium heat, heat the olive oil. Once it has gotten hot, add the onions and garlic. Cook them until soft/slightly brown from frying.
3. Once the onion and garlic are where you need them to be, add the garam masala and coriander powder. Stir them together and form them into a paste-like consistency.
4. In a separate pot (I suggest using a dutch oven or slow cooker), add the crushed tomatoes and garbanzo beans, stirring them over medium heat.
5. Once the tomato and garbanzo bean mixture is heated thoroughly, add the onion-garlic-spice mixture and stir to incorporate.
6. Add the sugar and water, and stir to combine.
7. Turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and let cook. Stir occasionally. This can be left on for as little as an hour up to four hours. I suggest letting it cook for the entire four hours to let the flavors meld better.

Serve with naan or any other “classic” chili toppings. When I made this last, I used mashed potatoes, cheese, and sour cream!

Happy eats!