Orange chocolate chunk cupcakes with chocolate frosting

A delightful citrus combination, that can be taken to the next level with the addition of orange liqueur to the cupcake batter and/or the chocolate ganache frosting! These cupcakes (which I often make into bundt cakes or mini bundt cakes with the ganache draped over, or round cakes filled with the frosting) are one of my most frequent bakes all year round – turns out many of my friends dig the chocolate and citrus combination!

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Chocolate gingerbread cupcakes with chocolate icing

If you can’t choose between gingerbread and chocolate for your holiday dessert, these are just for you! Make them even more festive with the addition of candied ginger, citrus peel and raisins or currants plumped in warm rum. These cupcakes are rich and intense, a perfect holiday dessert in a highly portable format. The recipe can also be made into an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake, if that fits better with your menu!

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Duo of Hot Chocolate

Quick and simple recipes to make really decadent White Hot Chocolate and regular Hot Chocolate! Follow along.

The past few months have been exceedingly busy – what with bringing this li’l guy into the world and everything – I haven’t had a whole lot of time to cook, let alone shoot and write up a post! We’ve been making lots of simple meals though, mostly of the hearty, one-pot variety, and given the constant time crunch, I’m learning so much about shortcuts and cooking in small bursts (hello, nap time!), I definitely have the desire to share more in this space.

So, I have made an executive decision to override pre-baby Zezoo, and from here on out, I’ll be sharing whatever I have! I may not have the prettiest pictures, or everything decked out in each one of my 11 identical pinch bowls, or the bandwidth to write cutesy backstories (who is reading those, anyway?), but I will allow myself to share less-than-perfect but still delicious fare!

Starting with these 2 hot chocolate recipes that I make around the holidays – I particularly love the white chocolate one because it is feels more festive to me than regular old hot chocolate. But don’t sleep on this regular hot chocolate below – the addition of cocoa powder and chopped bittersweet chocolate, especially with a pinch of sea salt, makes it totally drool-worthy! Bring on the marshmallows!

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[for young chefs] Nutella Chocolate Chunk Cookies (gluten-free)

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This is going to be a rather short post, as I need to get back to eating my cookies. Also because they are ridiculously easy to make so there’s nothing much to say about the whole “recipe” aspect of it. They are a great recipe to make with kids, that is, if you can get them to stop eating the Nutella straight from the jar!

The proof is in the pudding..err, cookie, because I made these with some delightful kiddos over the holidays (virtually no less), and they loved them.

My family can best be described as Nutella fiends (among other notorious foodie descriptions) so I’m always trying to sneak Nutella into cakes, muffins and frostings; why should cookies be left behind?

Especially if the cookies in question happen to be one-bowl, gluten-free, spanning 6 ingredients, and ready to go into the oven faster than it takes for the oven to preheat.

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A guide to achieving Black Forest Cake bliss

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I feel like I owe this blog a step-by-step guide to bake and assemble a Black Forest Cake, especially since all I’ve shared so far on the subject is a bunch of excuses. I do make this cake every year, sometimes twice or thrice a year, and this time around I decided to do it right i.e. with pictures and detailed notes! Without further ado, here goes.

The 6-inch double layered Black Forest cake is a good size for small parties (like our party of 2). It makes tall, impressive slices, comes together quickly and is easy to decorate too. To make a 9-inch double layered cake, simply double the recipe.

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Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)

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Considering the fact that I have promised my husband that I’ll be making the traditional Black Forest Cake for his birthday every year, I guess I’ll get plenty of opportunities to do a long post about this in the years to come. Given the specific parameters of this week, I’m going to have to stick with the short format.

What parameters, you ask? I baked this cake in a very rushed manner, in a cluttered kitchen full of dinner prep and in-progress dish cleaning, and in highly sub-optimal lighting conditions (not one decent picture). I assembled and frosted the cake in various stages spread over several hours, in between late evening meetings and a hundred other things to cross off my “this needs to be done yesterday” list.

Before you start thinking that all I make is excuses, let’s talk about cake! Variations of the traditional German “Black Forest Cake” (or “Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte” in its native German tongue) are available in some format all over the world, really. It’s quite unlikely that you’ve never heard about it, wherever you are! It’s basically a type of German Chocolate Torte: sturdy chocolate sponge cake soaked in Kirsch (Cherry-infused Brandy) and chopped pitted cherries, stacked one over the other with Kirsch-infused whipped cream in between and all around. It is then covered in an avalanche of bittersweet chocolate shards and topped with whole, pitted cherries for garnish (and a “forest” appearance). The cake isn’t named after the German “Black Forest” mountains themselves, but after the Cherry liquor made from the dark, tart cherries found in the region, which lends itself beautifully to the cream and chocolate combination.

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