Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

I’ve always felt like those who have birthdays at the end of December get gypped because they’re overshadowed by some of the biggest holidays of the year. A work friend, for example, had a December 27th birthday. I wanted to make a treat to bring in that looked celebratory yet un-holiday-ish. So when I saw this pin for Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes by Michelle of Mangia Michelle, I knew this was exactly the kind of birthday treat that I was looking for.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Pintesting:

Michelle gave a recipe for her cupcakes and also gave the option of using a cake mix. I went with her recipe to give a truer Pintesting. Since this recipe has several components I’ll break them out. This recipe is one that I had to plan for since I don’t keep Ricotta and Mascarpone in my kitchen as staple ingredients. Missing from the ingredients photo is milk.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s extremely important to read a recipe thoroughly before starting – not just the ingredients list. I might have noticed that the ricotta needed to be drained prior to making the cannoli filling. Unfortunately, Michelle didn’t give any details on how to do this. A quick Google gave both the normal (read long) and quick instructions for draining ricotta. That’s why you see the ricotta in a strainer over a bowl.

How to Drain Ricotta Cheese
Lesson learned – READ the recipe first.

The Cupcakes:

Start by creaming the butter and sugar.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the vanilla to the milk.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add the dry and wet ingredients alternating until the batter is smooth and perfect.

Fill the cupcake liners and bake them, then let them cool.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Cannoli Filling/Topping:

The cannoli cream was simple; mix together the cheeses, vanilla, and powdered sugar then stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Once combined, place in a piping bag or freezer storage bag with a large tip. This tip must be LARGE enough for the mini chips to pass through. I have some very large piping tips but none of them worked. I ended up just using the coupler and calling it good.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Insert the tip (or coupler) into each cupcake and fill with the cannoli filling, then top the cupcakes with the remaining cannoli cream.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Freeze the cupcakes for the next step. Michelle gives photos of the mess that happens if you ignore her and don’t freeze. Just do it.

The Chocolate Shell:

This is the one place where I deviated from Michelle’s recipe. She said to use chocolate melts, but I saw a recipe for 2-ingredient Homemade Magic Shell on Pinterest by Ali of Gimme Some Oven and thought this would be a perfect chance to sneak in a bonus Pintesting.

Pintesting Homemade Magic Shell

It seemed like a good idea but it didn’t quite go according to plan.  Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in the microwave. Easy, right?  No.

I put Organic coconut oil and chocolate in a nonreactive ceramic bowl that I’ve used in the microwave countless times. Almost immediately the microwave was sparking and crackling! What was happening? I checked several sites and found that this is not uncommon. According to Living Strong, coconut oil has trace amounts of iron. Apparently, my organic coconut oil had enough to cause sparking in the microwave.  Who knew a yummy dessert would bring about a science lesson?

Obviously microwaving would not be the way to go so I put the bowl over a pot of simmering water and melted them using a double boiler method. It only took a few minutes and minimal stirring to melt the coconut oil and chocolate. Set it aside to cool to room temperature.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

When the chocolate is room temperature and the cupcakes are frozen, dip each cupcake into the chocolate shell sauce to coat the cannoli cream.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Hold the cupcake over the bowl to allow any excess chocolate to drip off.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The chocolate shell will harden fairly quickly. Continue dipping until all of the cupcakes are coated.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

I had a bit of sauce left over and am saving it for ice cream.Note: keep this in the cupboard at room temperature. If you refrigerate it will get cold and hard.

Pintesting Homemade Magic Shell

The Birthday Girl LOVED them!

We had a lot of treats coming through our office from the end of November through the end of the year, but none like these.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

She did note, and I agree, that by using the chocolate shell recipe they had a slight yet discernible coconut flavor – almost like an Almond Joy candy bar. Since she likes coconut this wasn’t a problem. However, the next time I make these I’ll use the chocolate candy melts.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Pintesting Results:

Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Overall Results:  4.25 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  The Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes turned out exactly as Michelle’s blog said they would. The cupcake itself was delicious with a soft light crumb. The cannoli cream filling/topping reminded me of the cannoli I used to get when I was a kid in New York. And even though I deviated from the recipe, the chocolate coating was as pretty as in Michelle’s pictures. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe is not truly difficult; Michelle’s recipe is well written and notes anything to be aware of (such as freezing the filled cupcakes), but it does have a lot of components going on which requires a lot of steps. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  If you need to whip up a quick dessert, this might not be a good first choice. Using the quick method to drain the ricotta took 10 minutes to get it as dry as possible. (The long method takes overnight.) The cupcakes don’t take long to make and bake, but they do need to be completely cooled before filling them with the cannoli cream. Then there’s the freezing time (which I did overnight and then completed the cupcakes in the morning), and once the chocolate is melted it also needs to cool to room temperature. Even compensating for the overnight freezing, plan on 1 1/2 – 2 hours for these. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are staples in my kitchen; with the exception of the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses. These cost me about $8.00. Add the rest of the ingredients and these run about $0.50/cupcake for 2 dozen. That’s not bad for some fancy cupcakes that would cost you $3.00 each at a bakery. 4 PinsPintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: These are not your everyday cupcakes, they’re a wonderful special occasion dessert treat! I will be happy to make them again when the appropriate occasion arises. They are absolutely worth the effort, but since it does take extra effort, I’m giving these 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Bonus Pintesting Results:

2-Ingredient Magic Shell

Overall Results: 4.6 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  The two ingredients did make a chocolate sauce that hardened on contact with cold similarly to Magic Shell. But because my microwave nearly blew up (or at least acted like it was going to), and I had to go with an alternate melting method, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  This was very simple; melt 2 ingredients together and stir. Whether you microwave (at your own risk) or use a double boiler, it’s easy either way. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The total time was about 5 minutes – including switching gears, getting a pot of water, and melting the ingredients. There is the cooling time to be considered and you can’t rush it with a cold water bath, but stirring frequently helped to bring the temperature down in short order It was a lot faster than if I had to run to the store. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  I keep coconut oil, both conventional and organic, in my pantry right next to the extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil (what’s a canola?), and the rest of my oils and vinegars. So this was only a few cents more than the cost of the bag of chocolate chips. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is great over ice cream, but obviously works well for topping cupcakes and other treats. I would recommend using conventional coconut oil since it has a milder flavor. The best part is that you can use this with any kind of baking chip to switch up the flavors. I’m thinking white chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, or even chocolate mint chips would be great. You can even try stirring in sprinkles, toffee chips, crushed nuts, or coconut flakes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting the Best of Italy with Pizza

October is NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH! Did you know this? I didn’t until the month was nearly over. Pintesting Monini Mutti Pizza I’ve wanted to do a pizza recipe post for quite some time but with so many unique kinds of pizza, I wasn’t sure which would be the best one to start with. There’s the Neapolitan style Margherita, the large thin crust New York style, the deep-dish Chicago style, the thick crusted square shaped Sicilian style, grilled pizza, French bread pizza, regional tomato pies, and so many variations of crusts, sauces, and topping… it’s a bit overwhelming. But then I thought about what Italian pizza from Naples would be like. While at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show, I was introduced to Italy’s favorite tomato company, Mutti, and their sister olive oil company, Monini. After tasting them I know why they’re the best of Italy. And now they’re coming to America so that you can cook with the best Italian ingredients, too!

2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Mutti Exhibit

Below are a few of the appetizers and even a dessert that was made using the Monini and Mutti products.

2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Mutti Collage

I was given some wonderful products to try at home including a ready-made pizza sauce and a squeeze bottle of olive oil that’s not supposed to drip. Let’s see what Italy’s favorites taste like on a pizza.

The Pintesting:

In our house, we normally make our own pizza dough, but on this busy weeknight I picked up a pack of pre-made crusts and our toppings will be cheese, sausage, and pepperoni.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

I brushed the dough with the Monini olive oil in their new squeeze bottle. This is SO MUCH BETTER than having the olive oil drip onto the counter or down the side of the bottle. No Leaks! No Drips!

To really boost the flavor, I cut a garlic clove in half and then rubbed it on the oiled dough. If you love garlic but have trouble with heartburn, this is a great way to get that great taste and be gentle on your stomach.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

To get real authentic Italian pizza flavor you need a real authentic Italian pizza sauce.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

Cheese Please!

Then we added the toppings. The HH worked at a pizza place many years ago, so he does this part. The sausage is raw when put on the top of the pizza, but it will cook through while the pizza is cooking.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

Then we baked it per the crust instructions.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

This is how it looked when it came out of the oven. The sausage is perfectly cooked. The cheese is all melted. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool enough to taste it, so I’ll get one more picture while I wait.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

The Results:

So THIS is what pizza in Italy tastes like… Monini & Mutti made this pizza incredible. The no-drip squeeze bottle really worked; there was no olive oil anywhere it wasn’t supposed to be. The pizza sauce was very fresh and tasted like real tomatoes – not overprocessed or artificial. I can see why they are the favorites in Italy. The good news is that both of these products will soon be available at grocery stores across the U.S. so watch for them!

The Recipe:

Pizza

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 Pizzas (using the 2 mini crusts)

Pizza

Ingredients

  • Pizza crust of choice (I used Boboli Mini Original Pizza Crusts, but you can use home-made)
  • Monini Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic clove, cut in half
  • Mutti Pizza Sauce
  • 8-oz Mozzarella, shredded
  • Toppings of choice

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven per your crust instructions (450 degrees for the Boboli crust).
  2. Place crust(s) on a baking sheet.
  3. Brush 1-2 teaspoons of Monini Olive Oil on the crust to coat evenly.
  4. Rub the garlic clove all over the crust for great flavor.
  5. Spread the Mutti Pizza Sauce in an even layer on the crust.
  6. Top with shredded mozzarella and toppings.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Notes

Pizza is personal, so you can use whatever kind of crust and toppings you like to make it completely your own.

http://pintesting.com/pintesting-the-best-of-italy-with-pizza/

 

Tuscan Lentil Soup

There is something very comforting about soup; it seems to nourish your soul as it feeds your body. You’ve never heard of a book series called, “Chicken Casserole for the Soul.” Don’t get me wrong, I love casseroles, but there’s just something about soup. Tuscan Lentil Soup.

Most soups fall into one of two categories: the kind that takes all day to cook (usually in the crock pot), and the kind that you can whip up in short order but still tastes delicious. I had picked up a bag of lentils while shopping because they’re high in protein, high in fiber, have vitamins and mineral, and are low in calories – perfect for our healthy diet. I’ve used them in salads before (Salad Swag: 3 Cures for the Common Salad) but we were looking for something warm and hearty for supper.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup

When searching for lentil soup recipes, I found this Pin by Natalie of Life Made Simple. Our family is trying to stick to a Mediterranian diet because it’s very healthy and still tasty, so this recipe really stood out. One look at the picture and my HH gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. It helped that we also had most of the ingredients on hand, so a quick trip to the store was all that was needed to start dinner.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - ORIGINAL PIN

The Pintesting:

The ingredients include lots of veggies and aromatics, lentils, and Italian sausage. We had mild sausage, so I used that instead. I had some Progresso Tuscany chicken broth on hand and thought this would be the perfect use for it. (Take a look at those cute tomatoes that came from our garden!)

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Ingredients

Brown the sausage and onion.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Sausage

Add the garlic and seasonings.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Sausage & Seasonings

Stir in the broth, lentils, and potatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and zucchini; simmer for 15 more minutes.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Broth & Veggies

Wilt in the spinach for a couple of minutes.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Spinach

Remove the bay leaf and the soup is done.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Done

Natalie recommends serving with parmesan shavings, so I grated some onto the soup.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Served

I served this with a hot-from-the-oven, crusty baguette. My HH loved the flavors and went back for seconds. This will be a regular in this family. And now for the Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.7 Pins

5 Pins Overall - MED.

Accuracy: The soup turned out exactly like the recipe, including the estimated prep and cook times. It was hearty and had a lot of flavor for less than an hour of cook time. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty:  There is a fair amount of prep work in cutting up the vegetables. Natalie uses a mandoline for her zucchini, but I’ve nearly lost fingertips using mine, and since I already had my French Chef knife out for the other ingredients I just used my trusty tool of choice. Once the prep work was done, this recipe was very simple to make. There wasn’t any pre-soaking of the lentils (I’m not sure why I thought there would be) or other extra steps. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Time:  From start to finish this took less than an hour. The prep work took about 10 minutes and the cook time was just under 40 minutes (of which roughly half an hour was for simmering). 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are common to my kitchen and this makes a BIG pot of soup. I had already bought the lentils and just needed to pick the tomatoes from our garden and buy a couple of ingredients – and the bread to go with it. When I put the leftovers in the refrigerator, the lentils soaked up so much of the chicken broth that I had to add another 3 or 4 cups to make it into soup again. We had supper and two lunches from this pot before we froze the rest so it wouldn’t go to waste. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: This recipe is definitely going to be a regular for us. It is delicious, makes a lot, is low cost, and is healthy. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL