Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche & Caramel Corn

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I had a chocolate cake craving the other night. But I was too tired to make something, so the next day I made these. The pumpkin pure keeps these cupcakes moist. Dulce de leche is the delicious glue to the crunchy caramel corn. A really indulgent treat!

This recipe makes 10 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon of cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ¼ teaspoons of baking powder

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder

¼ teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg

¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons of buttermilk

¾ cup of pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

125gr butter, at room temperature

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup white sugar

3 eggs

For the caramel corn:

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

½ cup popcorn kernels

¾ cup of sugar

3 tablespoons of butter

¼ teaspoon of salt

1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda

¾ cup of water

Extras:

400gr of dulce de leche

 

To make the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Mix all of the dry ingredients except for the sugar. In a different bowl, mix the buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until it becomes fluffy.  Then add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the eggs, until it is all mixed through.

Place the paper cupcake liners into the cupcake pan.  Spoon the batter evenly and bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Once they are baked, allow them to cool down for 5 minutes in the cupcake pan.  Then remove them from the pan and allow them to cool down completely on a wire rack.

To make the popcorn:

Brush a large bowl and two wooden spoons or rubber spatulas with vegetable oil (you can also use cooking spray).  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the popcorn, cover and keep the pan moving until all the kernels have popped. Transfer to the greased bowl. Remove any unpopped kernel.

In a medium pan, combine the butter, sugar, salt and ¾ cup of water. Cook over medium high heat until the mixture becomes a light golden color, about 10 minutes. Stir constantly.  Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda.  Be careful because the baking soda will make the mixture bubble up.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn and working very quickly, mix it all through.

Spread the popcorn into the baking sheet and try to make chunks about the size of the cupcake tops. Allow to cool at room temperature. Make the caramel corn once you are ready to serve the cupcakes, or make it and store it in an airtight container and decorate the cupcakes once you are ready to serve them. Otherwise the caramel in the corn will get soggy.

When you are ready to serve, spread some dulce de leche on top of each cupcake, this will glue in the caramel corn. Top with a big chunk of caramel corn and enjoy!

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Chanterelle Quinoa “Risotto” Stuffed Cabbage with Butternut Squash Puree

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The chanterelles were calling my name at the market so I got some and made a quinoa risotto with them. In the spirit of fall, I stuffed savoy cabbage leaves with it and served the rolls over a butternut squash puree.

This recipe makes 8 rolls.

Ingredients:

For the quinoa risotto:

1 ½ cups of cooked quinoa

300grs of chanterelles, brushed clean and chopped

2 tablespoons of butter

1/3 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/3 teaspoon of onion powder

Salt

½ cup of white wine

200gr of crème fraiche

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

40gr of grated Parmesan

Zest of 1 lemon

For the butternut squash puree:

1 medium butternut squash

1/3 cup of cream

Salt

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Celery salt

Extras:

8 savoy cabbage leaves

2 litters of vegetable stock to boil the cabbage

 

Boil the cabbage leaves in the vegetable stock for 20 minutes. Then drain them and trim off the tough part of the outer spines of the leaves. Set aside.

To make the pure, slice the butternut squash into chunks. Take the seeds out and place the chunks in a plate. Cover the plate with plastic wrap and microwave for 9 minutes. Once the squash is cooked, be careful when you remove the plastic wrap so that the steam coming out doesn’t burn you. Spoon out the flesh of the squash and place it in medium bowl. Add the cream, a pinch of garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt and salt. Blend it until smooth using an immersion blender. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

To make the quinoa risotto, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the chanterelles, garlic powder, onion powder and a pinch of salt. Cook until the mushrooms are lightly golden, about 4 minutes.  You can set a bit of the mushrooms aside for garnishing the plate later.

Add the wine, quinoa and stir until most of the wine evaporates. Then add the crème fraiche, parmesan and parsley. Stir for about 5 minutes, until the parmesan has melted and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the lemon zest and mix it. Taste for salt and pepper. Set aside.

Warm the butternut puree in the microwave or in a pan.

Warm the cabbage leaves in the microwave only for a few seconds. Pat them dry with paper towels.

Stuff each leave with about 6 tablespoons of the quinoa. Roll it, tucking in the ends. Repeat for the remaining leaves.

To serve, spread some of the butternut squash puree on each plate. Place a cabbage roll in the middle and garnish with some sautéed chanterelles.

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Brûléed Apple Butter Pie

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Fall is finally showing its face.  While biking around town last Sunday, we found this beautiful building covered in autumn leaves. On our way back home, we went through the park to pick some leaves I wanted to use as props for this pie.

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I’ve wanted to get a kitchen torch for a while, and last weekend I finally did. This was the first thing I brûléed. This is not your traditional apple pie. I made it thinking of pumpkin pie. Just that instead of using pumpkin puree, I used apple butter.

Since the apple butter takes about 4 hours to make (not something I plan to make often), I made a big batch to have some leftover, and enjoy it on other dishes. If you only want it for this recipe, you can just make half a batch. I found this recipe for apple butter on the Food Network’s website. I just slightly adapted it and it turned out delicious. I made the apple butter the night before so it had enough time to cool down.

This recipe is for a 23Cm pie mold.

Ingredients:

For the apple butter:

3 kilos of apples, peeled and chopped (I used royal gala)

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

1 1/3 cup of brown sugar

Pinch of salt

Juice of ½ a lime

Pinch of cinnamon or more to taste

1 ½ tablespoons of vanilla extract

For the pie crust:

1 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour

¾ tablespoon of sugar

Pinch of salt

113gr of butter, cold and cut into cubes

3 tablespoons of cold water

For the filling:

400grs of the apple butter, at room temperature

3 eggs

¼ cup of sour cream

1 vanilla bean

2 tablespoons of sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup of heavy cream

Extras:

Egg wash

Sugar

 

To make the apple butter:

Preheat the oven to 120C/250F. Place the apples, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and salt in an oven proof pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let it cook for about 20 minutes, until the apples are soft. Remove from the heat. Add the lime juice, cinnamon and vanilla. Then blend the apples until smooth, I used an immersion blender.

Bake uncovered for 3 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

Once the apple butter is done, allow it to cool down completely before transfering it to an airtight container. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

To make the pie crust:

You can make the pie crust in the food processor, by hand or in the stand mixer.  I used my stand mixer fitted with the flat beater. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the cold butter pieces, mix it with a spatula. Then mix on low speed for about 2 minutes. Then add the cold water and mix on low speed for a couple of minutes until you have an even dough.

Place the dough on your floured working area. Dust it with enough flour so it doesn’t stick. Roll it big enough to cover the bottom of the pie mold. Place the dough on the bottom of the pie mold, press with your fingers so the sides stick and trim the edges. Refrigerate it for 1 hour.

To make the pie:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Place the sugar, vanilla seeds and pod in a saucepan with the cream, let it come to a simmer and then turn off the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the apple butter with the sour cream, eggs and salt. Then slowly whisk in the cream. Discard the vanilla pod.

Take the pie crust out of the fridge and brush the edges with the egg wash. Pour the filing into the pie crust. Be careful that it doesn’t overflow. You will have some extra filling left over, which you can use to make mini pies if you like.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes until the center barely giggles.

Allow the pie to cool down completely before serving. Just before serving, sprinkle some sugar on top of the pie and brûlée until the sugar has melted and turns a bit dark brown. Serve right away.

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Couscous with Roasted Carrots & Beets, Charred Endive and Apple Vinaigrette

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I did a market run today and got beautiful rainbow beets, carrots and endives which I used for this dish. I’ve been craving apple sauce lately so I incorporated it into the dressing. To me this is a hearty salad. And I love the taste of charred endives. I think all of the ingredients come together really well. The apple vinaigrette really goes well with the sweetness of the roasted veggies and the bitterness of the endive.

This recipe serves 2

Ingredients:

For the couscous:

1 cup of couscous

1 cup of vegetable stock

For the roasted vegetables:

2 small rainbow carrots, sliced

3 small rainbow beets, sliced into wedges

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

For the endive:

4 endive, sliced in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Splash of apple cider vinegar

Salt

Pepper

For the dressing:

5 tablespoons of apple sauce

¼ cup of olive oil

¼ cup of apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon of mustard

1 tablespoon of honey

Salt

Pepper

Extras:

1 pomegranate

60gr of Gouda cheese, sliced into small blocks

Garden cress for decoration

 

Line an oven tray with parchment paper. Place the beets and carrots in the tray. Drizzle with some olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and roast for 45 minutes at 180C/350F.

To make the dressing, just place all of the ingredients in a jar, close it with a lid and shake it until it emulsifies.

Once the vegetables are roasted, start cooking the couscous. Place the couscous in a saucepan with a lid, add the vegetable stock and let it sit for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes have passed, fluff it with a fork.

To cook the endive, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to pan over medium heat. Place the endive, cut side facing down. Cook for 5 minutes and then turn them. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Cook for an extra 2 minutes. Then add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Mix the couscous with the dressing, cheese, pomegranate seeds, roasted beets and carrots. Serve with the endives on the side. Add some garden cress as decoration.

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