I am not a fan of crisco laden, stiff and hideously sweet frostings, so when I saw this recipe for a cream based chocolate frosting I knew that I had to try it. Honestly, the cupcakes weren't anything to write home about and I don't think I'd use that cake base again, but I did like the frosting. It pipes nicely and holds it's shape without being too stiff. I made these the day before leaving town and hurriedly threw the rest in the fridge and was pleased to find that 5 days later they still taste good and the frosting is still in great shape. It's not a super gooey chocolate lover type frosting, but a good, serviceable milk chocolate flavor every day frosting.
Chocolate Cream Frosting
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
In a heavy medium saucepan, heat all of the ingredients together over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the cocoa blends in to the mixture. (If your cocoa powder is particularly lumpy, you may want to sift it first.) Remove from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature, then pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours, then beat with an electric mixer until it forms medium peaks and reaches a good spreading consistency. This must be stored in the refrigerator.
Now, let's talk about some of my favorite kitchen gadgets. My kitchen is currently quite small. A "two cheek kitchen", so to speak. More than two people in there at once makes for a cozy experience. Three months from now, when this construction mess is all out of the way, I'll have myself a much more serviceable space with a lovely 7 foot island, double convection oven, 36" gas range...all sorts of goodies. In the mean time, though, I've had to be quite choosy about what gadgets make their way into my limited cabinet space. As I've said before, I don't have a stand mixer of any sort, in part because of the space issues. So the things I do have are tried and true. The first things on display are disposable decorating bags. So useful! I've had several reuseable sets that have split within the first couple of batches, causing me great frustration. Ever since I found these lovely little Wilton bags (available at most craft stores in the wedding cake section), I've not looked back. Go for the larger size - you won't regret it. Along with it, grab yourself a nice oversized star tip and you can easily pipe fancy pancy looking cupcakes like the ones above. No more crookedly slathered frosting.
This mango slicer is a newcomer, but one that my mom insisted that I need. The way I have always sliced a mango is to slice two big slabs off, as close to the pit as possible, then score the flesh down to the peel, pop it inside out and slice those lovely poking out chunks off. That always leaves behind two nice swaths of fruit on the sides of the pit. Enter this handy dandy gadget, which, with one push, neatly leaves the pit behind and maximizes the amount of fruit. This was about 12 dollars, and is OXO brand. I wouldn't rate this as a completely necessary thing in my kitchen, but it's definitely nice to have. I make lots of mango salsa.
This citrus squeezer is a real gem. Absolutely worth it's space in my drawer. My mom gave me this for Christmas, and I'm amazed at how well it juices limes and lemons. I have a couple of other juice gadgets that don't even compare.
I had all sorts of clever things in mind to add to these little tongs since they appear to be having a nice conversation, but got distracted and didn't get that far, so you'll have to use your imagination. The all metal ones on the right are my BBQ grill work horses. I have an 18" long set of true BBQ tongs that came with a grill tool set that languishes in my drawer because they're so unwieldy. These ones are perfect for pretty much everything. I also use them for salad, and I prefer them over a salad fork and spoon. The blue ones are newcomers, and I found them at Tai Pan Trading company for less than 5 bucks. They earn their keep serving salad as well as flipping meat over in my non-stick skillets.
I have some other kitchen favorites, like my Roul Pat pastry mat, Calphalon pans and nice knives, but I am unfortunately not made of money so I can't be giving any of those away :).
Here's the good news, though. Leave me a comment about which of these gadgets you'd like the most. I will close this on May 2nd at midnight and randomly draw one name. The lucky winner will get the gadget they asked for AND a dozen delicious cookies. The type will depend on how far away you are from me - some varieties ship better than others. If your profile is set to private, leave me some way to contact you if you win.