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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chubby Hubby Cupcakes

Happy Father's Day!  In honor of this special day, I have a special cupcake recipe to share:  Chubby Hubby Cupcakes!  I first heard of these cupcakes through my favorite blog, Annie's Eats.  This cupcake flavor is actually inspired by the famous Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream flavor, Chubby Hubby.  The cupcake involves a malted vanilla cake with a chocolate pretzel filling, topped with a fluffy peanut butter frosting and garnished with a chocolate pretzel.

About 60 of these cupcakes were made for another cupcake sale at work, along with 50 of the previously posted (and very popular) Irish Cupcakes.  This sale was Father's Day themed, and since we met our previous fundraising goal for LLS, we decided to start donating our funds to another charitable cause, Dharma Rescue.

Dharma Rescue is a local nonprofit organization which focuses on finding homes for unwanted cats and dogs.  They rescue many animals from the shelters who would otherwise be euthanized, and are especially committed to rescuing seniors and special needs animals who would have little chance of survival without their help.  One of my acquaintances at work is very involved with this organization and fosters a lot of the rescued animals until they can find permanent homes.  I have always grown up with an animal in our household, so I am very supportive of any type of animal rescue groups.

If you are also an animal lover, please visit the website and read about their cause, or even consider making a small donation.  The website provides information about all of their current foster animals looking for homes, and tells their stories.  It also provides specific information of the needs of the animals, so if you do make a donation, you will know exactly what your money is being used for.  Since it's such a small, locally-based organization, even a small donation can make an incredible difference.

As for these cupcakes, I think they are the perfect flavor to celebrate Father's Day.  Not only is the name fitting, but what father doesn't like chocolate pretzels and peanut butter?  I must mention, I did make one short-cut, by purchasing packaged chocolate covered pretzels instead of drizzling chocolate on my own, but hey, you would too if you had to make 60!  Either way, they still tasted great, and maybe next time if I'm feeling up to it I'll make my own chocolate drizzled pretzels.  After pairing these with the boozy Irish Cupcakes, our sale really had something to suit everyone's tastes.  Unfortunately, my father lives many miles away so I was unable to give him a Chubby Hubby cupcake this weekend, but if could, I'm sure he would love it!

Chubby Hubby Cupcakes
Print this recipe
Yield:  about 30 cupcakes
Recipe from Annie's Eats

For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup malted milk powder
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

For the filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pretzels

For the frosting:
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp heavy cream (optional-see notes)

To garnish:
Mini pretzels drizzled or covered with chocolate

For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Gradually add in the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, mixing for 1 minute after each addition.  Blend in the malted milk powder.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl and mixing well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated (do not overbeat).

Divide the batter between the prepared liners.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

For the filling:
To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Add the cream to a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate.  Let stand 1-2 minutes, then whisk together until a smooth ganache forms.  Whisk in the butter 1 Tbsp at a time until completely incorporated.  Let stand at room temperature, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened.

To fill the cupcakes, scoop or cut out the centers of each cupcake.  Then fill each center partway with ganache.  Top off each ganache center by sprinkling with the chopped pretzel pieces.

For the frosting:
Combine the butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth.  Mix in the confectioners' sugar and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the vanilla and cream (if using) just until incorporated.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with your preferred decorating tip, and frost cupcakes as desired.  Top each cupcake with a chocolate covered pretzel.


  • Heavy cream may be omitted from the frosting recipe if concerned about refrigeration.  The purpose of the cream is to enhance the fluffy texture, but may be compensated by whipping a few minutes longer to incorporate more air into the frosting.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Almond Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Hello everyone.  After a short break, I'm back!  These last few weeks have been so busy!  Let me fill you in briefly:  my spring semester finally ended and had a celebratory night out with 15 other classmates, I saw my cousin who is in the Air Force and was in town from Germany, I took my TEAS test (nursing entrance exam), waited patiently not very patiently, checking my mail multiple times a day for the last two weeks and....I finally heard back yesterday!  I GOT IN!  So in a little over 2 years from now, I will be a Registered Nurse!  I am SO excited!!!!!!!!!!!  These last few months have been full of blessings and life changing events, and I couldn't be more thrilled with it all.  :)

 Since I'm finally back to blogging, I might as well fill you in on my grandma's 90th birthday luncheon that occurred during my visit back home. We held it at a local Chinese food restaurant that my family has been going to for years, Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant.  I used to go to this restaurant all the time growing up, and over the years, my family has grown to love not only the food, but the quality service received from Elaine.  Elaine and her husband are the owners of the restaurant and always go out of their way to make customers feel welcome.  Whenever my mom orders Chinese food from Hong Kong, Elaine always remembers to ask about "Grandma," and genuinely cares about the family's health and well-being.  For this reason, Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant was the perfect place to hold my Grandma's birthday luncheon.

Clockwise, starting from bottom:  Grandma, my Uncle Larry, Mom. myself, and my sister, Sumiko.

It was so nice to see the family gathered for this special occasion.  With many of us grown now and pursuing our own careers, it's very rare for us to have these opportunities to see each other.  My grandma was very happy to see so many family members who made the journey to celebrate her special day, and I was equally pleased to spend the time with her.  I hope it won't be long before I can visit my family and see my grandma again. 

An old photo of my grandma, when she was around my age!

I also attended a friend's wedding during my visit back home!   Weddings are always a lot of fun, and now that I have my own wedding plans underway, it was a whole new experience!  I was definitely making some mental notes for my own.

Tony and I, posing for a photo during the wedding reception

Now, I have quite a few recipes in my queue to share with you, but for today I'll leave you with this:  Almond Crusted Pork Tenderloin.  This pork tenderloin recipe really impressed me, not only with its flavor but with its beautiful, colorful presentation.  The homemade pico de gallo topping really brightens the dish and gives it a fresh look and taste.  Plus, the pork is encrusted with almonds, so it was a no-brainer for me.  I LOVE almonds, and this almond coating gave the pork a nice, crunchy outer crust.

Since it's just Tony and I in our home, we were able to enjoy the leftovers for a second night, and it tasted just as good as the first.  However, if you do have a larger family or are planning on having guests over for dinner, I highly recommend this dish.  It will really impress the guests and is great to share with good company.  It's the perfect weekend dinner.

Almond Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Print this recipe
Yield:  4 servings
Recipe originally from Taste of Home magazine, Dec/Jan 2010 issue

Vegetable oil spray
6 ounces slivered almonds (1 1/4 cups chopped)
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and pepper
2 egg whites
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin

Pico de gallo:
2 medium tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a roasting pan with foil and place a meat rack on the foil. Spray with vegetable oil spray. Coarsely grind almonds in a food processor. Mix almonds, garlic and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Set aside.

Whip egg whites to form soft peaks. Remove visible fat from the pork. Roll the pork in the egg whites and then in the almond mixture. Roll once more in the egg whites and in the almond mixture again. Place pork on the rack and press any remaining almonds onto the pork.

Roast 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer reads 160°F. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

Mix the pico de gallo ingredients together. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve with pork.