Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream


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So tomorrow is St Valentine’s. A day of love and chocolate and, ironically enough, a world wide bone of contention. If you don’t celebrate it, you might be called a ruthless, heartless, meagre excuse for a human being. If you do, you’ll certainly be labelled a consumerism-worshipping heretic on a good day. Personally I think it’s wonderful to watch people tearing each other apart over it, while I sit by and eat all the chocolate.

No, seriously, when did this become such a big deal? I mean, go out and be jolly; eat drink and be merry; stay home and be taciturn and anti-social; or celebrate the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, for all I care. It’s on the same day. It’s fun. It involves an inordinate amount of R-rated activities. It’s fun.

It’s all the same to me. I’ll be eating chocolate if you need me.

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So, on a different note, and smack on time for St. V’s, I took part in a production of Dido and Aeneas, and let me tell you, those guys can’t even handle it right now. I mean, seriously, Dido is the drama queen from hell, and Aeneas, poor chump, is the most emasculated hero in the entire history of Greek tragedy, which is saying quite a lot. There is this scene where he’s all “Behold, I’ve killed this here monster, come look at me flex my muscles”, and she’s like, “Whatever, it’s raining, let’s get outta here, I just did my hair”. And then freaking Jupiter tells the man to get himself away from that chick and rebuild freaking Troy, and all the man can say is “but the chick”, and I’m like, man, you survived the Troyan Wars and now you’re scared of a chick in a toga? Get a grip, cupcake.

That’s love for you, folks.

Now I’ve got that off my chest, let’s get the show on the road.

These cupcakes,

This buttercream.

It’s like – sublime. I actually ate the buttercream straight.

Yes, I did. I’m not one to resist temptation.

Go ahead, try it, see if you can.

One year ago on May the Cheese Be With You: Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream 10-checker

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream

Servings: 12 cupcakes

Perp time: about 1 hour

You will need:

For the cupcakes:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons red food coloring
  • ½ cup buttermilk, or the same amount of milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons white vinegar

For the buttercream:

  • 4oz butter, softened
  • 4oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar

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Let’s start with the cupcakes. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg. In a small bowl, quickly whisk the cocoa powder with the red food coloring until it forms a paste.

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Add to the batter and mix thoroughly, making sure the color is distributed evenly. Then add half the buttermilk, half the flour, and mix. Repeat, then add the baking soda and vinegar.

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Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake in a medium oven for about 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre of one comes out clean.

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Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and set aside to cool completely before topping with buttercream.

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For the buttercream, quickly whip the butter and the cream cheese until well combined, then slowly add in the powdered sugar. Keep whipping until nice and fluffy.

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Finally, top the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream (go on, lay it on thick, it’s worth it!).

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Serve right away, or store in the fridge to keep the buttercream fresh.

Eat up, and enjoy!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

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Winter is coming.

Oh please tell me winter is coming. I’ve been ranting about fall for the past month, and yet here I am, walking around in short sleeves, because the Barcelona weather has gone and spilt its marbles all over the floor. It rained the entire month of August, and now it’s the end of October and we’re still hitting 25ºC (around 75 to 80ºF).

I want to wear bear furs and chain mail and lean heavily on my broadswoard, declaring to the winds that winter is coming. Or at least fall. Or just, you know, a slight chill.

Please?

I mean, it’s almost Halloween, for crying out loud. The time when the veil between the worlds drops, and bridge to the spirit world gapes open. The time when restless souls of un-dead creatures return to walk among us. The time when ancient wisdom foretold the coming of bitter winter nights, and brave men closed their shutters before a sinking sun.

We can’t have none of that sipping a margarita in a sundress. Duh.

I’m planning a calorie overload the likes of which have never been consumed in the history of civilization (Roman bacchanals, medieval feasts and Versaille’s fêtes exubérantes included). It needs to be freakin’ freezing outside in order for me to pull that off.

Dear weather man, you have until Monday. If I don’t feel the need to unpack my winter boots, or, say, a light cardigan, by then, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will pelt you with bat-shaped oreo cookies, mini-pumpkin pies and candied apples.

For a week. Because that’s how much food I’m making.

Rant over.

Let’s eat.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

Servings: 12 to 16 muffins, depending on size

Prep time: 45 minutes

You will need:

For the chocolate muffins:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 60 gr (roughly 4 tablespoons) dark chocolate, melted (I place mine in the microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after every interval, until smooth)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

For the peanut butter filling:

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • milk to thin out if necessary

Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

Preheat your oven to medium high.

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Cream the butter and sugar until well combined.

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Add the cocoa powder, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing after every addition.

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Stir in the melted chocolate.

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Combine flour and baking soda. Add half the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, then mix in 1/2 cup sour cream. Repeat the procedure with the remaining flour and sour cream. Beat well.

Stir in the boiling water. The batter will be very runny.

Divide into greased and floured, or lined, muffin cups, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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Allow to cool completely.

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Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the filling in a medium bowl until nice and smooth.

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Once the muffins have cooled, insert a slightly tilted knife into the top of the muffin, but off to one side. Cut in a circle, so that you end up with a wee muffin cone that you can pull out like a lid. Cut off the lower cone, so you end up with a flat disk. If necessary, carefully scratch out some more crumbs from inside your muffin, the make room for more filling.

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Spoon some filling into the hollow, just enough to be able to cover it with your muffin-disk-lid without being able to see the filling. Repeat with the other muffins.

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You will have some left over muffin crumbs that you can snack on all day. Or use them to throw at the weather man.

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You can also play around with other filling option, but I just love the peanut butter-chocolate-combo. Kinda like a peanut butter cup, but in a muffin version.

Now eat up! 🙂

Clara

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Cheesecake Chocolate Mousse

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It’s hot outside. And about time, too. This summer has put quite a few autumns to shame. I was counting on a tan, darn you. Instead, I’m still glowing in the dark. That, and I’m writing this post to the melodious, incessant, ever so slightly strident meowing of five baby kittens whom I plucked from the rain a week ago.

You can now proceed to call me momma cat. Like, of the year.

Allow me to illustrate:

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Don’t look at me that way. It was raining, it was cold, they were three weeks old and were giving me some serious puppy eyes. Or kitty eyes, as it were. And the real momma cat was not doing a very good job of it.

And it was raining.

But now it’s hot.

And they know it.

And they complain.

Profusely.

Ceaselessly.

That is how this recipe happened. I have one free hand only, as the other one is occupied keeping tiny, mischievous little fur balls out of trouble. Also, sweltering heat, and thus no appetite for anything cake-y or muffin-y or suchlike.

So mousse it is.

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One-handed Cheesecake Chocolate Mousse

Servings: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 4 hours chilling time

You will need:

For the chocolate mousse layer:

  • 5oz, or 140 gr semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 2/1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup, or 125ml, whipping cream

For the cheesecake layer:

  • 200 gr cream cheese, softened
  • about 1/4 cup, or 70 ml, sweetened condensed milk

Let’s start with the chocolate mousse layer. Roughly chop up the chocolate and place it in a microwave-safe bowl.

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Simply dollop the butter and sprinkle the coffee on top. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Repeat as often as needed until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

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Once the chocolate has cooled to room temperature, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.

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Gently fold it into the chocolate.

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Spoon into your cups or glasses of choice.

If you want to achieve the fancy-schmanzy tilted effect I attempted but failed at, due to kitty interferences, incline your glasses at the desired angle before spooning in the mousse, then find a place in the fridge where they will stay that way.

Chill for about 2 hours.

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Meanwhile, prepare the cheesecake layer. Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat until fluffy. Continue beating while you add the sweetened condensed milk; or, if holding a winding kitty in the other hand, just pour it all in at once and whip until well incorporated.

Pour on top of the chocolate mousse and chill for another 2 hours.

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When in a pinch, you can also set the mousse in the freezer, although the texture will be a bit different. The mousse will have set to a firm consistency after 15 minutes, while the cheesecake layer will resist setting in a hurry and remain quite liquid, sauce-like, even. You can sell it as Chocolate Mousse with Cheesecake Sauce and call it a day. My folks bought it 😉

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Enjoy!

Clara

Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone Pie

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Please believe me when I say I was not going to make this pie. Especially after the Cheesecake Bite Overload Going Straight To Hell Debacle I posted two weeks ago. If the cheesecake bites guaranteed you VIP treatment in the underworld, this here is the shortcut. Actually, this will probably guarantee you VIP treatment most anywhere you take it.

I really shouldn’t have made this.

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But I honestly couldn’t help it. I had a rebellion on my hands. All my sweet recipes so far have starred cream cheese as the leading part (see Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake BitesCream Cheese Pancakes, Carrot Cake, and of course, the infamous Bites). Annie branched out with her Cottage Cheese and Strawberry Creation, but alas, I did not.

Anger was brewing in the cheese drawer in my fridge. There was talk of mutiny. They were getting organized. I swear I heard one of them yell, “Charge!”

So you see, I could not allow my cheeses to start attacking one another. I need happy cheeses that will pliantly meld into my kitchen experiments. I need them to feel safe and content and buoyant. That, and Lady Cream Cheese was getting cocky. That kind of fame would go to anyone’s head.

So today I present to you a new player on this blog. No, not the cream cheese understudy. This is a whole new rising star on the horizon of my shopping list, which already includes a ridiculous amount of cheeses. She has an Italian temperament, yet oozes a smooth grace and a suave demeanor few other cheeses can put forth.

Without further ado, I give you: Mascarpone.

She is very pleased to meet you. Yes, indeed, she is sitting right next to me, nodding encouragingly and smiling diplomatically, in a distinctly let-them-eat-cake kind of attitude.

I really need to stop talking to my cheeses.

Let us eat cake.

Or, what’s more: Let us eat pie.

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Chocolate Raspberry Macarpone Pie

 Adapted from the lovely blog Pass the Sushi

Serves: 8 to 12, depending on the size of your sweet tooth

Prep time: about 1 hour, plus at least 3 hours refrigerating time

You will need:

  • 1 recipe for my all-purpose lazy-girl Pie Crust (check it out in the Quiche I used it for last)
  • 175gr, or 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, plus a bit more to grate
  • 500gr, or 18oz Mascarpone cheese
  • 125gr, or 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 250gr, or 1 cup whipping cream
  • 500gr, or 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 80 gr, or 1/3 cup raspberry jam
  • optional: 30ml, or 2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur

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Let’s get the show on the road.

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Preheat your oven to high. Prepare the crust and place it into a pie plate. Remember to prick the crust with a fork, or you’ll end up with a crust-balloon, which is certainly a conversation piece, but no really what we are going for here.

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Cover with a double layer of aluminium foil and bake for about 8 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 8 minutes, until Mr. Golden Brown arrives.

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Roughly chop up your chocolate and place it in a large saucepan along with the mascarpone and the powdered sugar. (Trust me when I say large. The first time around making this pie I thought, yeah, whatever, small will work to. It didn’t.) Cook over medium heat, stirring steadily, until nicely melted and smooth.

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Turn off the heat and stir in the raspberry liqueur, if you are using any. I don’t, because I never feel like buying a whole bottle of raspberry liqueur for just the 2 tablespoon-fulls. It will taste just grand either way.

Now comes the hard part. You need to allow this to cool to room temperature. You need to put that spoon away and stop “tasting” every other minute. You know it still tastes good.

Self-control is such a hard-acquired ability. I never really got the hang of it.

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Once your mascarpone-chocolate batter is nice and cool, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Carefully fold half the whipped cream into the batter, then add the remaining cream and fold in gently until completely incorporated.

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Cover the pie dish and refrigerate for at least 3 hours until set.

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Finally, place the jam in a medium saucepan over low heat until melted.

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Remove from heat, cool for a bit, then stir in the fresh raspberries so they are nicely coated.

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Cover the top of the pie with the raspberries, then top with some grated chocolate to give it the finishing touch.

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Now, enjoy!

Clara

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bites

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Let me apologize for this right away. This is not healthy. This will do nothing for your physical welfare. Your teeth will complain. You waistline will cry a bitter tear of despair.  Your skin will question your sanity. If you are on a diet, trying to stick to healthy eating, or wary of sugar altogether, then leave this page at once before temptation claws its black way into your heart.

Now, your mental well-being is a horse of a different color. This is the miracle cure for all ailments of the soul. This is the metaphysical freakin’ fountain of youth. It’s a balm after long days, strength in the wee hours of the morn, a joyous celebration of summer living. You will have everyone and anyone you know knocking at your door, begging for mercy. And more cheesecake.

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If you were trying to slim down, it’s too late. You are already enthralled. Make these, and you will not regret it. Make these, and you just might become immortal. Make these, and you’ll most probably cross the river Styx on a gilded, jewel-incrusted version of the Titanic and strut into hell on a red carpet to the sound of trumpet fanfares.

And when you get there, they’ll ask for cheesecake.

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If you feel like having more cheesecake, try out these Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites we posted a while back. Death by chocolate, anyone?

Or if it’s cream cheese you crave, why not give our very own Cream Cheese Pancakes a try? They’ll give you a run for your money.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bites

Adapted from the wonderful Culinary Concoctions by Peabody.

Servings: 14 to 16 bites

Prep time: 30 minuts, plus 4 hour rest

You will need:

  • 14 to 16 whole Oreos
  • 10 to 15 coarsely chopped Oreos
  • 16 oz, or 450gr cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, or cream with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 eggs

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This recipe is really quite straightforward. Place 1 Oreo into each muffin cup. Remember to line them, since these do tend to stick. And don’t judge, I ran out of muffin liners and had to improvise.

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Next beat the sugar into the cream cheese until nice and fluffy.

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Beat in the eggs…

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…and finally add the sour cream, stirring well to combine.

Now it is time for the mighty Oreo. Behold:

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The Mighty Oreo.

If you haven’t already, chop them up roughly, so they look somewhat like this:

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Place the Oreo pieces on top of the cheesecake batter and carefully fold them in.

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Divide the batter among the muffin cups – they don’t really rise much, so you can go ahead and fill them almost to the top.

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Bake them in a medium-heat preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight, if you can wait.

Someone here couldn’t.

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Serve cool. And enjoy every sinful little bite.

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Cottage cheese, strawberries and spring

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Ara que ha arribat l’abril ja podem dir oficialment que som a la primavera. Sí, ja ho sé, tècnicament la primavera arriba al març, però sempre he pensat que quan realment tens una plena sensació de primavera, és a l’abril.

És un mes fantàstic! Hi ha Setmana Santa, que després d’un segon trimestre sense gaires festius és molt benvinguda, i també hi ha Sant Jordi, que és el dia màgic, romàntic i primaveral per excel·lència. Em direu que el maig també és primavera, sí, però quan arribes al maig ja comences a tenir més acumulació de feina, perquè llavors el curs s’està acabant i ja pots ensumar de ben a prop els exàmens que vindran amb el juny, així que podríem dir que el maig forma part d’aquella part de la primavera que et passes patint per la feinada que tens abans que s’acabin les classes. Del juny ja ni en parlem, i  llavors quan acabes els exàmens normalment ja ets a l’estiu, que això ja forma part d’una altra història. Per tant, si comptem que el març és encara un mes molt hivernal, que el maig és estressant i que el juny ens el passem tancats a casa estudiant, arribem a la conclusió que l’únic mes on realment podem gaudir de la primavera és a l’abril. O sigui ara.

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I què ens ve al cap quan pensem en primavera? Indiscutiblement: maduixes. I si la Clara ja ens feia un primer avanç del menú primaveral a finals de febrer amb la seva amanida de Brie, maduixes i ametlles, jo avui us porto les postres. Per a fer-les necessitareu bàsicament dos ingredients: maduixes, evidentment, i mató. Sembla molt senzill, però si ho voleu fer bé, heu de seguir dos passos: en primer lloc, aneu al mercat i compreu unes maduixes del Maresme. El plat es pot fer amb qualsevol maduixa o maduixot de supermercat, però el resultat només serà perfecte si les maduixes són perfectes. Després, poseu-vos les botes i aprofiteu el magnífic dia assolellat i primaveral que farà per pujar d’excursió a Montserrat a comprar un bon mató. (de fet també s’hi pot pujar amb cotxe, però el mató és infinitament més bo quan el vas a comprar a peu) (de passada, quan aneu a Montserrat compreu coca, és potser la millor coca de la història) (i sí, també és molt més bona si hi aneu caminant). Quan arribeu a casa, uns quants minuts a la cuina i us podreu menjar la primavera a cullerades!

strawberry-cottage cheese

Strawberry Cottage Cheese Cups

Servings: 4

Prep time: 20 min

You will need:

  • 350g cottage cheese
  • 350g strawberries
  • about 4 tsp honey
  • 4 tsp walnuts, chopped

Blend the cottage cheese and the honey in a bowl using a fork, until you have a homogeneous mixture. Now taste it before going ahead: some cottage cheeses are more acid than others, and it might not be sweet enough with only 4 tsp of honey. I’d say just add honey to taste, until the desired sweeteness.

Wash and crush the strawberries until you have a nice red purée. Some sugar or honey can be added if the strawberries are too acid. Once again, it’s a matter of taste (I personally like the combination of the sweeteness of the cheese with the acidity of the strawberries, but it’s your choice).

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With the strawberry sauce and the cheese-honey mixture all done and ready, it’s time to assemble the cup. Place some walnuts at the bottom of a cup, or, in fact, any kind of artsy glass you may happen to have. Layer the cottage cheese over the walnuts, and last but not least pour some strawberry sauce on top. If you feel springish-ly (is that even a word?) creative today, go ahead and decorate it with some beautifuly fresh strawberries or a leaf of mint. Or go crazy and do both.

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Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Pancakes, or the Ghost of Mornings Yet to Come

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This week, it’s all about mornings. To begin on a completely recipe-unrelated note, someday I’m totally going to wake up my kids to this:

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll play this:

That ought to do the trick. Because if Mufasa pacing regally across the African savanna doesn’t get the kids out of bed, Darth Vader sure will. Disney and Star Wars, those are totally gonna be my educational values.

I mean, admit it, you cried when Mufasa died. And Bambi’s mom. That was traumatic. And don’t even get me started on Dumbo. I was a mess after Dumbo. And these are supposed to be kids’ movies. Kids’ movies! Look at me! I’m scarred for life.

But I digress. This all started with mornings. Mornings mean breakfast. Breakfast means pancakes.

Duh.

With my mixed-up heritage muddling up much of my life, in this I can say I am a true American: I love pancakes. Let me rephrase that: I adore pancakes. Pancakes are the ultimate breakfast food. They are perfect in so many different ways. But they have one major drawback: They do not, traditionally, include cheese.

Of course we needed to remedy that ASAP. It turns out, you can make pancakes with just cream cheese and eggs. Yes, that’s right. Cream cheese and eggs. Which, granted, is basically cheesecake in a pancake-disguise. Zorro mask and all (are you picturing that? I am). And tell me, dear friends, what more can you ask for?

True pancake lovers beware: These are not your traditional fluffy pancakes. These are wonderfully light and delicate. These are fairy pancakes. These are pancakes you will eat by the dozen, guilt free. I believe we have found paradise.

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Cream Cheese Pancakes

Servings: 3 or 4, depending on how much you love pancakes. 1 if you are me.

Prep time: 10 minutes.

You will need:

  • 120gr, or 4oz, cream cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • optional: sweetener of choice
  • optional: vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, or whatever you might like to try
  • optional: topping of choice, e.g. powdered sugar, maple syrup, etc

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Place all ingredients except the toppings in a bowl. Beat until fully incorporated. You will note this batter is very liquid compared to other pancake batters. Remember that it will spread out quite a bit in the pan, almost like a small crêpe.

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Heat up your pan or skillet with a drizzle of vegetable oil. Pour one or two tablespoons of the batter into your pan, and cook for a couple of minutes on one side. Carefully flip them over and cook for maybe one more minute. Repeat the process with the rest of the batter.

Serve with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar, as shown. Or drown them in maple syrup, as not shown, but definitely the way I ate them.

Enjoy!

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