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Mar 24, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

Recipe: Strawberry-Filled Hostess Cupcakes

Monday, February 12th, 2018




Hostess CupCakes are a source of nostalgia for many, and I’m sure purists won’t appreciate my messing with a classic. Still, I’ve always wondered what I could do with different flavors of filling, so I infused the sugary marshmallow with pulverized Trader Joe’s freeze-dried strawberries. These are extremely potent – the flavor is just as strong as fresh strawberries. I also added a tiny drop of lavender extract to give the filling a rounded floral note, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have lavender at hand.

These moist, super soft cupcakes contain a gooey, sticky filling that smells and tastes like fresh strawberries, all topped with a thick, fudgy chocolate ganache. It’s a pleasant twist on a classic, minus all the preservatives and transfats. Happy Valentine’s Day – and happy baking!


Strawberry-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from recipes from Cook’s Illustrated and My Baking Addiction
24 cupcakes

1½ cup hot coffee
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
⅔ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup canola or vegetable oil
4 eggs
4 tsp. distilled white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups bread flour
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. plus a pinch of kosher salt, divided
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp. water
¼ tsp. lavender extract (optional)
1 1.2-ounce bag Trader Joe’s freeze-dried strawberries, pulverized to a powder
½ cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.
• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coffee, bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder until the chocolate melts completely. Refrigerate or let rest until it comes to room temperature.
• Whisk in the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla, then use a spatula to fold in the flour, 1½ cups sugar, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt.
• Evenly divide the batter between the cupcake liners. Bake about 17 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely.
• Use a knife or a cupcake corer to make ½-inch wide-wells in the top of each cupcake, being careful not to go through the bottom. Reserve the removed pieces of cake. Set aside.
• In a saucepan over medium heat, bring a few inches of water to a simmer. Place the remaining ½ cup sugar, corn syrup, egg whites, water, the remaining pinch of salt and lavender, if using, in a small stainless-steel bowl, then place the bowl over the saucepan to create a double boiler. Use a spatula to mix the ingredients constantly until it reaches 175 degrees, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
• Use an electric beater on high speed to whip the mixture until it becomes soft and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the strawberry powder and beat again until combined.
• Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marshmallow filling to decorate the cupcakes. Use a spoon to fill the holes in each cupcake with around 1 tablespoon filling, but don’t fill completely. Cover each hole with the reserved pieces of cake. The marshmallow should be completely encased inside the cupcake. Set aside.
• In a small saucepan over medium to low heat, warm the cream until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the semisweet chocolate and the butter until just submerged. Let rest 2 minutes, then whisk gently until the chocolate melts. Let cool until it’s warm to the touch.
• Use a spoon to spread about 2 tablespoons on top of each cupcake. Let rest 30 minutes to cool and firm up.
• Place the remaining 2 tablespoons marshmallow filling in a small zip-top bag. Snip 1 corner and use to pipe loops or other designs on the cupcakes.

Photo by Amrita Song 

Amrita Song is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine who blogs at A Song in Motion

Related Content
• 4 must-try beer and chocolate pairings

• Recipe: Chocolate Cherry Pistachio Loaf

• 10 great recipes for Valentine’s Day

4 must-try beer and chocolate pairings

Friday, February 9th, 2018



I’m not one for hallmark holidays, but I am one for beer with chocolate. Table for two? No, thanks. I’ll take my couch for two (three, if you count the dog), Netflix and a properly coursed beer and chocolate pairing.
1. With intense roasted malt notes driving lovely aromatics and flavors of baker’s chocolate, coffee and licorice, The Civil Life Export Stout is one of the dreamiest beers to come out of its brewhouse. Try Kakao Chocolate milk chocolate-covered sea salt caramels to enhance the sweetness the 7-percent ABV promotes. Though this treat is rich, it perfectly cuts through the assertive malt bill.
Growler fills only, The Civil Life Brewing Co., thecivillife.com

2. VB Chocolate’s Bean-to-Bar Special Release – with 75-percent Madagascar dark chocolate and Coma Coffee beans from Nyeri, Kenya – is decadent. Pair it with something super acidic and bright, like Bruery Terreux Goses Are Red. Brewed with salt and coriander, this effervescent, 5.3-percent wheat beer sits on grapes for an added layer of fruity undertones that complement blueberry notes in the chocolate and coffee.
750-milliliter bottle: $8. Fields Foods, fieldsfoods.com

3. Chocolate-covered pretzels from Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate play nicely with the simple, clean, 5.5-percent Sierra Nevada Experimental Hop Pilsner (part of the experimental hop 12-pack). The beautiful floral nose has just a hint of fruitiness and cereal, and grain, honey and citrus embrace the palate. The pretzel’s salty crispness provides a highly satisfying duo.
12-pack: $21.25. Craft Beer Cellar, clayton.craftbeercellar.com

4. Raspberry on the nose gives way to bready, malty goodness in 5.7-percent Santa Fe Lustgarten. Toasted malt, chocolate undertones and soft, yeast-driven fruit notes embody this dark lager base. This beer finishes on the drier side with a lovely lingering berry note. Try it with the chocolate-covered marshmallows from Russell’s on Macklind. Better yet, head to The Monocle on Valentine’s Day for a pairing of this beer and a mallow covered with almonds and a raspberry-mint chutney.
Six-pack: $9. Friar Tuck, friartuck.com

Stock photo

Katie Herrera is a longtime Sauce contributor and account manager at Craft Republic. 

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Drink This Weekend Edition: Valentine’s cocktails at Bailey’s Chocolate Bar

Friday, February 12th, 2016



Single or spoken for, Valentine’s Day is upon us with all its saccharine romance. Baileys’ Chocolate Bar in Lafayette Square has dreamed up a threesome of cocktails perfectly suited for a weekend of amour. This romantic venue is a hotspot on Valentine’s weekend, so get in line early via the No Wait app and hang out at home, not in the cold, while you wait for a table. Whether you’re doing the wooing or just treating yo’self here’s what to order starting today, Feb. 12.

1. The Double Dipped is a peanut butter and chocolate cocktail that can be sipped over the chocolate ganache-coated rim or through the chocolate straw. Either way, it’s a layer of house-made dark chocolate liqueur and hazelnut liqueur topped with a layer of peanut-infused vodka and Bailey’s Irish cream.

2. The Chocolate Bar’s version of Chocolate, Flowers and Teddy Bears is less trite than cliche Valentine’s Day gifts. Dark chocolate liqueur, chocolate vodka, crème de violette and coconut milk are shaken, then poured into a martini glass and garnished with two teddy bears cookies holding hands. Whether that makes you coo in delight or chomp their heads off, you’ll enjoy this lightly floral chocolate sip with a creamy finish.

3. The Valentine’s Smash is a chocolate- and berry-flavored libation that features chocolate vodka, Dolin blanc, house-made limoncello and raspberry liqueur and lemon juice all shaken together and topped with bubbly Prosecco and garnished with raspberries and mint.




Extra Sauce: 5 swoon-worthy desserts for Valentine’s Day

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

For some, Valentine’s Day is a day to spend with your sweetheart. For others, it’s a day to spend sprawled on the ground in the fetal position, nursing a half-empty bottle of cheap wine and force-cuddling Tibbles, your neighbor’s cat. Either way, desserts for Feb. 14 are a must. Here, 5 delicious treats and your significant other, human or otherwise, will love:




1. According to Beyoncé, there’s nothing quite like being drunk in love – or drunk off 30 of these Pomegranate Mojito Cupcakes.




2. Inspired by those petite fancy French desserts from the bakery down the street, this giant pistachio and berry Macaron Cake proves size really does matter.




3. This 12-serving Chocolate Crepe stuffed with fruit and boozy whipped cream is the perfect indulgence for a crowd – or just you and Tibbles. No judgment.




4. What’s better than a warm chocolate chip cookie? One that you pull out of the oven Half Baked and eat straight from the pan.




5. Skip the fire hazard and bake a S’mores Pie in the comfort and warmth of your own kitchen instead.

-cupcake and crepe photos by Jonathan S. Pollack; cookie photo by Carmen Troesser


Make This: Chocolate Meringue Cups

Sunday, February 8th, 2015



Float on cloud nine this Valentine’s Day with light, airy meringues. In a blender, beat 4 egg whites with 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar and a pinch of salt on high speed 1 minute, until soft peaks form. Mix in 1 cup superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stop the mixer and sift ¼ cup natural cocoa* over the meringue, then beat on low-medium speed until combined. Add 1 teaspoon each white vinegar and vanilla extract, and beat on high speed 1 minute, until the meringue is glossy. Drop the meringue by the heaping tablespoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a spoon, make an indent in the center of each meringue. Bake 2 hours at 225 degrees. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. Blend 1 cup heavy whipping cream on high, 2 to 3 minutes, until soft peaks form. Add ½ cup mascarpone cheese, 2 tablespoons superfine sugar and ½ cup whole raspberries and mix 30 seconds on high speed. Spoon 2 tablespoons whipped cream in each meringue cup and top with diced kiwi.

*Only use natural, non-alkalized cocoa (such as Hershey’s, Nestle or Scharffen Berger) for the meringue. The alkali in Dutch-processed cocoa will turn the meringue to liquid.

Baked: Peppermint Red Velvet Cake Roll

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015



Red velvet is hands-down my favorite cake. As much as I love a classic, fudgy chocolate cake, there’s no denying that a tangy cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement to a velvety, lighter chocolate cake.

But as much as I love red velvet, I’m sick to death of standard layer cakes and cupcakes, so I opted to roll this one up instead. While some of the cake fell apart, any mishaps were smothered under a layer of peppermint-tinged frosting. This recipe is also a great way to use up any leftover candy canes still lingering after the holidays. Crush them up and store them in a jar for recipes like these. The result is a delicious and stunning cake with a lovely minty aftertaste that would make for a lovely Valentine’s treat.


Peppermint Red Velvet Cake Roll
Adapted from a recipe on The Kitchn
6 to 8 servings

1 cup cake flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
⅔ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp. red food coloring
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. vinegar
2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for dusting, divided
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 Tbsp. milk
Crushed peppermint candy for garnish

● Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-by-15-inch jellyroll pan or a sheet pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
● In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside. and salt in a bowl.
● In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the vegetable oil and sugar on medium speed until well blended, then beat in the egg. With machine on low speed, slowly add red food coloring and vanilla until mixed.
● Add half the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk until mixed thoroughly. Add the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk, scraping down the bowl until combined. Turn off machine.
● Place the baking soda in a small dish and stir in the vinegar. Add the mixture to the batter with the machine running on low until combined.
● Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed. The cake should bounce back when you lightly press the top.
● Spread a clean kitchen towel on the counter and dust with powdered sugar. Flip the hot pan over to turn the cake out onto the towel. Remove the parchment paper. Dust the cake with more powdered sugar, then use the towel to carefully roll the hot cake into a spiral starting from the short side. Let cool wrapped in the towel, about 1 hour.
● Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the butter, cream cheese, remaining 2 cups powdered sugar, milk and peppermint extract until combined. Set frosting aside.
● Carefully unroll the cake and spread with a ½-inch thick layer of frosting. Carefully roll the cake up again and gently move to a serving plate. Spread the remainder of the frosting all over the top of the cake, covering any cracks that may appear. Garnish with crushed peppermint candy.

Drink This Weekend Edition: An ode to a dive bar

Friday, February 14th, 2014



“Dive bar.” I didn’t even know there was such a term until my mid-20s when I lived near Dive Bar in New York City. This sleek Upper West Side haunt featured a lengthy menu, including seven salads, a growler program and more than 20 wines by the glass.

While I knew Dive Bar was a blasphemous misnomer, I didn’t actually know how to define a real dive bar  because, as it turns out, that was all I knew. Prior to my time in NYC, I had spent most of my drinking years in Kirksville, Mo. There, what I thought were just bars, most people would consider dives.

Since Kirksville – and 10 years of being legal drinking age – I’ve frequented plenty of bars, from the pinnacle of swanky to the epitome of trashy. But whether you call it nostalgia, rose-tinted glasses, or the amazing early-20s ability to never get hangovers, Kirksville bars (and, consequently, dive bars in general), will always have my heart.

Here, my catalog of why I love dive bars, compiled with the help of some seasoned friends. On this commercialized day of love, add your own odes as we celebrate what we truly adore.

The smell. Tomes could be written about that aroma, and the description still wouldn’t get it quite right, but I’ll try: a perfect blend of spilled Schlitz, vomit, fried food (even when the bar doesn’t serve food), cigarette butts, Southern Comfort and a hamster cage.

The hallowed walls. There are outlines where art or memorabilia used to hang because of cigarette smoke stains.

• Speaking of cigarettes, the laws, or lack thereof. Somehow there is smoking, even if the city or town abolished smoking two decades ago.

The hours. The bar opens before the grocery store and is populated by a crowd of regulars who bring the bartender breakfast.

The regulars. They make the bar. They also make fun of those who call themselves regulars.

The wine list. There isn’t one. There are only three wine options, none are written down, and all taste like vinegar.

The lighting. No matter the time of day, it’s dim enough so that even if there was a wine list, you couldn’t read it.

The karaoke. There is no schedule as to when it happens, but you can always count on at least one couple slow dancing when it does.

The jukebox. It’s the real-deal – none of that digital crap. Under the sticky, cloudy glass, there are also mixes available for play created by the bar’s owner and staff.

The random animals. Maybe it’s a dog, or a cat or bird on a shoulder. Or if you’re in Kirksville, it just might be a horse drinking his own pitcher of beer.

The bartender. There is no stereotype. He might be a 90-year-old gunslinger; she might be a 22-year-old hottie. Either way, they’ll probably wait until a commercial to get you a drink. Unless the TV is playing porn.

The stuff. There’s a weird collection of objects on or behind the bar, all of which have stories, most of which are bullshit.

The bathrooms. Even if they have doors, your friend can still talk to you while she’s in there and you’re at the bar.

The popcorn. Nobody knows or cares if it’s free.

The knowledge. The bartender knows who wants to keep his old ice in his next drink because it’s been marinating in Canadian whiskey all afternoon.

The taps. They haven’t been cleaned, ever. Perhaps part of the smell?

The drinks. Stiff is an understatement. There also are no actual instruments to measure a pour.

And lastly, this bar, wherever it’s located, isn’t trying to be a dive bar. And that’s why we love it the most.



Drink This Weekend Edition: Valentine wine for any situation

Friday, February 7th, 2014




Just the other day we saw an obese infant shoot an arrow at a disembodied heart; after we called the police, we realized Valentine’s Day was upon us. With that in mind, we have some Valentine wine suggestions with an eye toward rectifying disparate dispositions and choosing the right wine at the right time.

Because you drink craft beer and I drink fine wine: Gaston Chiquet Cuvèe Tradition Premier Cru
Fancy farmer fizz is the way to go here. Known as “grower Champagne” (The people who bottle the wine also grow the grapes.), the wine has typically been in production by the same family for many generations. One we like is Gaston Chiquet Cuvèe Tradition Premier Cru, which has a high concentration of the pinot meunier grape, lending it an earthy element that appeals to the beer drinker. Available at Grapevine Wines & Cheese.

Because you drink fine wine and I drink Cosmos: Chateau Pradeaux Rosé
OK, this one might be slanted towards the wine drinker, but good luck finding someone who doesn’t enjoy the pink perfection of Chateaux Pradeaux Rosé. Reserving rosé for warm weather is a thing of the past; many Provençal rosés are genuinely complex and structured, so there’s no need to abandon them after August. Nowhere is this truer than wines with the Bandol appellation. The color of this rosé makes a Cosmo drinker feel safe; the palate (spicy lavender, strawberry, nectarine, clementine, high acid and dry as a bone) could change your life. Available at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton.

Because the first bottle shouldn’t be the last bottle: Leitz Rüdesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Spätlese 2010 and Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg “Schmitt” 2012
Riesling to the rescue! In the U.S., German rieslings tend to hover around 7 to 10 percent ABV. If you are staying in and cooking, start out with a bottle of Leitz Rüdesheimer Magdalenenkreutz Spätlese 2010 (8.5 percent ABV) to quaff while you prep and chat. With dinner, pour the Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg “Schmitt” 2012 (8.5 percent ABV), a stunning wine made from a single vineyard plot in the Mosel region of Germany. Since riesling pairs well with pretty much everything, you don’t have to worry whether it will work with your meal. Available at The Wine Merchant.

Because you’re in the mood: François Pinon Silex Noir 2011
This is a sexy, guaranteed-to-please wine. This 100 percent chenin blanc from Vouvray in the French Loire Valley offers just a kiss of residual sugar. Pinon’s Silex Noir is a tingling, oh-so-silky glass of excitement with juicy white pit and berry fruit notes combined with firm, refreshing acidity. Available at Parker’s Table.




Chocolate Rendezvous

Friday, February 15th, 2013

When the Day of Love is over, you’re usually stuck with a lighter wallet and a box of half-eaten chocolates. This year, don’t bring the sweet stuff to work or bake it into measly ol’ cookies; put that cocoa gold to work on the savory side of the kitchen. Chopped, melted or luxuriously spread, here are three ways to make all that leftover chocolate the star of your next meal.

For the recipe for Chocolate Crostinis, click here.

For the recipe for Root Vegetable Chocolate Chili, click here.

For the recipe for a Bittersweet Chocolate, Pistachio And Fig Salad, click here.

— photo by Carmen Troesser

Ten Great Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Forgot to make a Valentine’s Day reservation? It’s your lucky day. Sometimes the most romantic nights are spent cooking together or for one another. We have picked out some of our favorite recipes (two appetizers, two salads, four entrees and two desserts), so that you can create the perfect menu for you and the one(s) you love.

Click here to see 10 Great Recipes for Valentine’s Day, including this recipe for Bacon Fat-Fried Cornbread courtesy of Taste’s Matthew Daughaday.

— photo by  Carmen Troesser

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