I’m not normally a stress eater as much as a sweets nibbler during stressful times. Actually, when I am stressed, I have a tendency not to eat or I forget to eat. When my stomach reminds me that it hasn’t been fed, I have to resist not reaching for sugary sweets during those worrisome times … especially chocolate treats.
Sometimes I have great will power …. and sometimes I don’t!
Chocolate makes it better …
During those times of feeling blue or overwhelmed, chocolate becomes my bestie and go to pick me up. Probably not the healthiest thing to do, but it’s so much more pleasurable on my palette than a bunch of broccoli. And chocolate seems to make all the problems of the world melt away … at least melting in my mouth.
Hmm, come to think about it, chocolate is my go to when I’m feeling happy and festive. Okay, let’s face it, chocolate is great anytime and makes everything better.
It doesn’t help my waistline that I enjoy baking and find the process of baking somewhat stress relieving. Thank goodness I have neighbors and friends that are willing to help rid me of the abundance of baked goods concocted in my tiny RV kitchen. After all, I only have so much storage room.
My latest fixation consists of the most decadent and yummy chocolate cake ever. Add a drizzle of Chocolate Hazelnut Liqueur, (a liqueur that I purchased in Sedona) then top it off with a dollop of whipped cream … and oh … my … gosh … let the pleasurable moaning commence as the taste buds are delightfully awakened.
Chocolate and Hazelnuts … a match made in heaven
I’ve always loved the taste of chocolate with hazelnuts, not a combination that was easily found in the United States forty years ago. Lucky for me, every Christmas my little family of five would receive a large package from relatives in Germany. The package contained gifts and food items … packaged foods my German immigrant parents dearly missed.
My dad and I would immediately zero in on the chocolate hazelnut bars. Yum! I’m sorry, but American chocolate doesn’t begin to compare to European chocolate. German, Belgium, and Swiss chocolates are heavenly …. smooth and creamy and melt in your mouth decadence.
My obsession with the hazelnut – chocolate combination hasn’t waned over the years. It still remains my favorite, and will power to resist, goes out the window.
You, my dear readers, made me do it!
When I told Al I was going to write a post about our favorite cupcakes, he recommended I make a batch … just to make sure I write-up the recipe correctly. So, because of you guys, I just had to make a batch and verify everything.
And then, of course, we had to taste test. Sheer perfection (she says while moaning in epicurean delight)! Now I can confidently share this tasty, make your day, recipe with you ….
8 ounces of semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
2 sticks butter, unsalted and softened
1 cup granulated sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup Frangelico liquor
Optional: add 1/3 cup finally chopped hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put paper-liners in a cupcake tin.
In a double boiler over low heat, add the semisweet chocolate and butter. Stir continuously until all the butter and chocolate are melted and fully incorporated. Remove from heat and set aside.
Have all your ingredients measured out and ready. In the measuring cup, add the flour and salt to the cocoa powder. Add the vanilla extract to the Frangelico. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and eggs and beat with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Continue to mix and slowly alternate adding the dry and wet mixtures. Once all ingredients are incorporated, add the melted chocolate and continue to blend until everything is fully combined. If adding nuts, fold in with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into muffin tins filling each cup at least 3/4 full.
With the impending wedding less than two weeks away, final preparations are in full swing. Oh, what wedding you ask? Did I not mention, my son is getting married in mid August? Yes, exciting times for us around Arizona!
Although, Al and I had several reasons for not traveling outside of the state of Arizona this summer, the number one reason to stay somewhat close to Phoenix was the wedding. Being only an hours drive away from Phoenix has worked out perfectly, and I’ve been able to be included in any and all wedding festivities and preparations.
Even though the children live in Phoenix, the actual wedding venue is on a ranch in Skull Valley, just west of our RV Park in Prescott, Arizona. Thus, the location of the wedding is rather convenient for Al and me, but then again, we did plan accordingly 😀
I haven’t really had much involvement in the whole process. The bride seems to have everything under control, but I’ve been around to attend dress fittings, doing a tour of the venue, and a few other events. The one thing the bride did ask me to do was bake my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding.
Instead of a wedding cake …
You see, the bride and groom don’t intend to have a big wedding cake. Probably just a little one for them to cut for traditional purposes. Instead of serving guests a slice of wedding cake, they’ve chosen to have a dessert bar for their guests so guests can enjoy a variety of desserts. For this, the bride has enlisted the help of several people.
With that said, I’ve been asked to make my famous cheesecake cupcakes for the wedding. My son loves cheesecake. It’s his favorite dessert.
I used to make him a yummy New York style cheesecake, but it was always a great deal of work and a tad more challenging to make in my little RV kitchen.
Then I discovered an easy recipe for cheesecake cupcakes, which my son enjoys equally as much. These are so much easier to make than a big cheesecake, especially in the RV.
I didn’t think twice about saying yes to the bride when she asked me if I would make my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding … until … until … until she told me around 90 cupcakes should be about the right amount 😲 Say what?
Okay, I’ve adapted to working in my little RV kitchen and can put out some amazing meals and baked goods. Quite frankly, with a little organization, anything that can be made in a sticks and bricks dwelling, can be made in a RV, but now we’re talking about production … large quantities. No, the RV wouldn’t work. Sure, I could actually make them all in the RV, that’s not the problem. Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated, and therein lies the problem. You know how big my refrigerator is? Six (6) cubic feet! Yeah, that’s small. Let’s compare … how big is yours?
I needed to come up with another plan. That is, after trying logically to enlighten my future daughter-in-law on the wisdom of serving a chilled dessert like cheesecake at an outdoor wedding in the middle of August … I was met with a blank stare. Ah, brides!!!
Cheesecake it is, and for plan B, I enlisted the help of my daughter. I still haven’t totally figured out how we’re going to keep these little cheesecakes chilled at the outdoor wedding venue, but I have a few possible ideas swirling in my head.
So, a couple of weekends ago, I took the 90 mile drive to the Phoenix valley to spend the weekend at my daughter’s place and dive into the baking production challenge.
She and I always have so much fun spending a weekend together. However, during this visit, we were on a mission and the baking task at hand took precedence. Oh, not that we didn’t have fun … we did indeed. There was plenty of laughing and shenanigans in the kitchen all the while binge watching “Nailed It”. We had to keep motivated, and the baking show did just that!
My daughter recently discovered this Netflix original baking show and immediately thought of me. Seriously, if you have never heard of the show, I recommend you Google images of Nailed It, and you too will laugh your a*s off. She thinks I’d make the perfect contestant with my many a Pinterest fail … ah, my baking endeavors and failures 😏
Whew! Five exhausting hours later – success! We had the cupcake containers filled with the requested 90 cheesecake cupcakes. Now it was time to take them over to son’s house to be stored in his deep freezer. The decorating on top of the cheesecakes will be done the morning of the wedding. After all, I have nothing else to do the morning of the wedding other than decorate 90 80 cupcakes 😏
The cupcake container was so heavy that Ashton and I decided to weigh it. Oh my gosh, almost twelve (12) pounds of cupcakes!!!
While I lead the way carrying my pans and utensils down the outdoor apartment steps to load into the car, Ashton followed carrying the cupcakes. She had gone down maybe four steps, when I heard some very unladylike exclamations loudly uttered. I didn’t need to turn around to know what had happened, but I did need to know the extent of the damage. The cupcakes were so heavy that one of the container clips on the side gave way. (Note to self … in the future, do not carry by the handle but rather cradle in arms holding from bottom. Do not trust the clips to hold. Lesson learned!)
Although Ashton was on the verge of tears, I quickly calmed her concerns and gathered up the tossed cupcakes. We returned to her apartment to see what I could salvage.
Turns out about ten of the cheesecake cupcakes were not salvageable to serve to wedding guests. The main problem was the shape. Only two had actually touched the ground while the others remained in the container, but ended up either upside down or smashed to one side. The ones that were still slightly warm were now misshapen and not very pretty … tasty, but not pretty.
I gathered the rejects and placed them on a paper plate, and with a sharpie, I marked the paper liners of the two cupcakes that had touched the ground. This plate of rejects would return with me to the RV. The rest of the cupcakes eventually made it safely into my son’s freezer where they await the big day.
With the cupcake challenge behind us, next on our list was to go to the liquor store and purchase the wine for the wedding which Al and I, parents of the groom, had offered to do. With the wine loaded in my backseat and then dropped off at son’s place, Ashton and I returned to her apartment with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio for ourselves and a healthy take-out dinner order from Panera Bread. We were exhausted and needed an evening of fun and relaxation.
The rest of the evening was spent laughing, drinking, and eating while we watched a combination of Nailed It and comedian Ali Wong. I’d say we had a very successful and entertaining day in spite of the little mishap on the apartment steps.
Between Al and our RV Park neighbors, the reject cupcakes were devoured in short order with requests for more rejects. And to think, my daughter was going to throw them away! They may not have been pretty, but they were still very tasty as evidenced by their quick disappearance and request for more .
2 – 8 ounce packages of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter
Directions – Turn oven on to 325 degrees. Crust – In a food processor, grind graham crackers into crumbs. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with sugar. Add in melted butter. Using a spoon, combine until all crumbs are coated with butter.
Line a muffin tin with paper liners (do not use foil liners) – 18 cupcakes. With non-stick cooking spray, lightly spray paper liners then add about 1 Tablespoon (or slightly less) of graham cracker mixture to each liner. Firmly press crumbs down.
Filling – In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared graham cracker muffin tin. Fill about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until filling looks baked. Cool completely before decorating. This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes.
Top with buttercream frosting and a teaspoon of strawberry or blueberry preserves or instead of frosting, top with strawberry or blueberry preserves and whip cream.
Recipe by Ingrid at LiveLaughRV.com
Tips for making these cheesecake cupcakes
1. Organization is tip number one, especially when working in a small kitchen.
2. Use a Tablespoon to measure out the graham cracker crust into the cupcake liners to try to get an equal amount into each well.3. Use the top of a wine bottle to firmly press down the graham cracker crust. Of course, we washed the top of the bottle well before using. Perk … drink and enjoy when done using the bottle 🤣
4. Cool the cheesecakes completely before decorating or moving them to a new location. Do as I say, not as I do!
Final thoughts …
With the groom’s mother (me) doing her part for the wedding, let’s hope Mother Nature does hers and cooperates by giving us a reprieve from the daily afternoon thunderstorms that we’ve been experiencing since early July.
I don’t know why, but the bride and groom didn’t share my sense of humor when I told them my rubber muck boots and raincoat coordinate with my dress nicely and dad (Al) intended to bring his fishing waders just in case. Hey, when ya live in a RV, as Al and I do, one is always prepared for adversity … it’s part of the RV adventure!