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

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

This is the year that I get completely organized, stay ahead of the game, and don’t let circumstances control the direction of my life.

*Cue Laugh Track*

Each January, like so many others, I make goals and resolutions to get my life organized. Then life sits back and just laughs and laughs. Well this year I’m doing a few things differently to plan better. For example, I’m not waiting until February 13th or 14th to start working on a post for Valentine’s Day.

The Pin for these Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies came across my Pinterest radar a few days after Christmas; Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction had posted them as a Christmas treat. While I see how their colors look holiday festive, I think the pink, red, and white is much more perfect for Valentine’s Day. That they combine one of my favorite flavor combinations (cherry almond) with one of my favorite cookies (shortbread) is a major bonus for moi.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies by Sally's Baking Addiction

The Pintesting:

There are only 8 ingredients – including the optional (therefore not shown) white chocolate.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Ingredients

Cream the butter, then add the sugar, extracts, and maraschino cherry juice.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Add the flour…

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Add Flour

…and cherries

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Add Cherries

Wrap and chill the dough – I chilled it overnight.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Wrap and Chill

Roll the dough into balls and chill again. The chilling was very stressed in order to keep the dough from spreading into cookie puddles.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Bake the cookies just until they’re done – NOT browned – then cool completely.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Baked Cookies…then drizzle with melted white chocolate “if desired” – because who doesn’t like chocolate on cookies??? I tried melting the chocolate in the microwave, but it started to seize before it got very melty. Rather than just lose the battle, I decided to try making the nearly ruined chocolate into a white chocolate ganache to drizzle. Both tasted amazing (which is why there are only a half dozen in the picture), but for looks I like the melted chocolate. It gives a nicer visual contrast.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Cookies Finished

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.55 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  These cookies were very simple to make and delicious. Mine didn’t seem to come out quite as pink as Sally’s did, but that could have something to do with either my camera, the lighting in my kitchen (which is terrible), or because today is National Inane Answering Message Day. I’m going with the first two. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  The recipe was well written with detailed step-by-step instructions. A novice baker should be able to make these as long as they follow the recipe. That said, I might not recommend this for children unless they had adult supervision. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  While the mixing of this recipe goes pretty quickly, it calls for a lot of chilling time throughout the process. I chilled the dough overnight and then stuck the first baking sheet in the freezer while rolling the dough for the second sheet. This is definitely a plan ahead recipe; not something you can whip together at a moment’s notice. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  The ingredients are very basic to most kitchens with the exception of the maraschino cherries. The jar was less than $3. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  These bite-sized cookies started vanishing before they were even drizzled with the chocolate. They were loaded with flavor, and my favorite Valentine (aka Handsome Hubby) loved them. They’re perfect for popping in your mouth. Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day, Christmas or any other holiday. Show yourself some love and make these now. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Sour Patch Grapes

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

So it’s the end of February and New Year’s seems ages ago. Are you still doing well on your resolutions? Eating healthy and/or getting fit is listed as one of the top three New Year’s resolutions, depending on your source. Everyone wants to look and feel better, myself included. Over the years, we’ve made basic changes to the way we eat. We try to use only whole grains,  incorporate more fruits and veggies in every meal, eat lean meats and more fish, and drink lots and lots of water. Some days are easier than others, but we try not to beat ourselves up too much when we have an off day.

I was looking for healthy ideas from Pinterest to Pin Test and I found about 17 new dessert recipes. Then I saw this pin for Sour Patch Grapes by Kim of A Spotted Pony, and my inner 8-year-old started jumping up and down. I mean, who doesn’t like Sour Patch candies? They’re tangy-sour, slightly sweet, and have that sugar coating that gets all over your fingers. However, we try to stay away from things that have a lot of sugar, so most candy is out – unless it’s not candy. Thank you, Kim!

Original Pin from A Spotted Pony

Kim referred to her original source, in the pin below, by Carol from the blog Pure Sugar. (Does anyone else find it funny that I’m trying to find healthy ideas, and the pin is from the blog Pure Sugar? Anybody?) I decided to go with the original recipe from Carol since I was able to find the mystery Jell-O at my grocer.

http://puresugar.net/cooking-thursday-sour-patch-grapes-glitter-grapes-recipe/

The Pintesting:

On to the Pin Test! The recipe called for 1 lb. of grapes, pulled off their stems and washed, and a box of Melon Fusion Jell-O. My bag of grapes was almost 3 lbs with the stems on, so I got two boxes of Jell-o. The Cherry Lemonade flavor sounded fun, plus it’s one of my favorite Nerds candy flavors, so I went for it.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

This is extremely difficult. Put some of the Jell-o powder onto a plate or shallow bowl. I used a shallow bowl so I wouldn’t worry about spilling. Remember, my inner 8-year-old is making this recipe.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

Add some of the washed and still slightly damp grapes…

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

And swirl around until they’re coated with the Jell-o powder.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

Put them in a bowl and refrigerate uncovered. This keeps them from getting gummy.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

That’s it! Both bloggers recommended they not be frozen because they get really gummy and messy when the grapes thaw, but they should be served cold. I did the second half with the Cherry Lemonade flavor, but think I might save that for red grapes next time.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

I brought them into work to share and get feedback. Everyone who tried them LOVED them! It was about an even split for the favorite flavor. One manager even asked for the recipe today and went on her lunch to pick up the grapes.

One note of caution, several people whose stomachs were sensitive to acidic foods said that they had some problems shortly after eating the grapes. I am not making any medical statements, just sharing the feedback of my colleagues. Now for the rating.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

 

Accuracy: The Mellon Fusion flavored grapes had the tangy-sour, lightly sweet taste that was very much like the Sour Patch candies. The Cherry Lemonade flavored grapes were a little sweeter, but not overly sweet, and they still had a bit of tang to them. Both made it almost impossible to not lick the Jell-o powder from your fingers while eating them. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: My inner 8-year-old believes that real 8-year-olds could make these with very little supervision. The hardest part is not eating them all immediately. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Time: Each batch took less than 10 minutes to make, but both blogs recommend at least 1 hour in the fridge before serving. 5 Pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: The grapes were on sale for $2.99/lb. and the Jell-o was $1.00 each. 5 Pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: These are a perfect treat and candy alternative for kids, or you could serve them at a wine and cheese party for adults, or anything in between. I like that you can get creative with different grape colors and Jell-O flavors.  5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL