Double Chocolate Cupcakes

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New Year Cupcakes! These are the perfect cupcakes to usher in the new year – delicious, moist and beautiful to look at. Hopefully, 2016 will be as great as these cupcakes are. These were made as a gift for some friends, and they loved it!

As you can see, the cupcakes have been decorated in different ways, and I hope that 2016 will mean the same for me as well – full of different options and trying new things. 2016 is a big year for me. I will be starting my IB year 2 (grade 12), I will be applying to college, and my Baking Volunteering project will also hopefully kickstart. I plan to do a lot of cool things next year, and these cupcakes are the beginning.

Recipe from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/07/12/death-by-chocolate-cupcakes/ (I recommend using this blog for this recipe as the directions for the procedure are highly detailed and helpful).

Ingredients:
For the chocolate cupcake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate (about 55g)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or make your own by mixing 2 teaspoons vinegar with 1/2 cup milk)

For the dark chocolate frosting:
2-3/4 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons whipping (heavy) cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure:
For the chocolate cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a cupcake pan with liners.

In a microwavable bowl, add the baking chocolate and butter. Microwave in 30s increments, stirring after each increment, until a smooth, homogenous mixture is obtained.

In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.
In a different large bowl, whisk the eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract and buttermilk together. Add half of the molten chocolate/butter mixture, beating well with an electric mixer, followed by the flour mixture. Repeat for the remaining halves of the chocolate/butter and flour mixtures, beating well after each addition.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake pan (maybe using ice-cream scoop). Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool before frosting.

For the dark chocolate frosting:
Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a medium sized bowl.

In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar/cocoa powder mixture, alternating with the cream. Beat after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract until creamy.

Add the frosting to a piping bag with an attached tip (or a ziploc bag with a corner snipped off), and decorate the cooled cupcakes. Be as creative as possible.

Enjoy!

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Nankhatai (Indian Eggless Shortbread Cookies)

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India is known for its variety of scrumptious desserts, and one of the best parts of going back to India for vacation is the food, including these flaky, buttery Nankhatai cookies. There is something about these cookies that is so addictive – perhaps the evergreen combination of salty butter and sweet sugar. One thing is sure though, its difficult to have just one. I sold these at my school’s cultural fair, and they sold out within half an hour, with most people coming back for seconds.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.ruchiskitchen.com/recipe/nan-khatai-recipe/

Ingredients:
1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup semolina (or sooji)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup butter (or ghee, if you’re going full desi), at room temperature
Chopped pistachios, to decorate

Procedure:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar, semolina, baking soda and salt, and mix. Using an electric mixer, beat in the softened butter/ghee until a soft dough forms. Chill this dough in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Pinch off about a teaspoons’ worth of chill dough and roll into a ball. Place these balls of dough on the baking sheet, and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Using a knife, draw an ‘X’ on the dough, to allow the Nankhatais to rise. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until very light golden. Allow the Nankhatais to cool before diving right into them. Enjoy!

Makes about 18 cookies, depending on size.

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