End of Spring Semester: Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

In honor of the last week of lecture in the semester, I prepared a special treat:  chocolate cupcakes.  What better way to prepare for exams than by eating a little chocolate (aka vitamin C).  Your brain primary source of energy is glucose, so that makes cupcakes brain food, right?

Chocolate cupcake recipes are a dime a dozen on the Interwebs.  It seems no cookbook or blog is complete without one.  Stefani Pollack of Cupcake Project took it upon herself to create and extensively test recipes for the best chocolate cupcake.  With the help of 50 different bakers and bloggers, Stef has synthesized a recipe for the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake.

On this same page is a link to the chocolate cream cheese frosting that I used.  I find that cream cheese frosting is more flavorful and palatable to eat compared to some of the super-saccharine frostings (I’m looking at you, American buttercream).  One drawback from cream cheese frosting is that it can lack the structure for piping.  This recipe, however, uses just enough powdered sugar and cocoa powder to make the frosting stable for decorating.

With the spring semester coming to a close, The Food Samaritan will likely take a break from posting over the summer (there just aren’t many students on campus).  There may be a periodic post or two in the coming months, but the goal right now is to pick back up in fall.  Good luck on exams!


Chocolate-Cherry Jelly Bean Cookies

Chocolate-Cherry Jelly Bean Cookies

It’s that time of year where the stores are filled with Easter candy.  My mom would always put together trails of eggs and small candies to lead me to the treasure trove Easter basket, overflowing with chocolate bunnies, Cadbury cream eggs, and Reese’s eggs amidst a nest of green paper grass.

This year, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of repurposing Easter candy.  Sure, it’s delicious on its own, but how could I make it better?  Or at the least, use up any leftover candy.  I then had the idea of putting jelly beans inside of a cookie.  I have never seen anything like that before, which either means it’s a novel idea or just a very bad idea.

I took a family chocolate chip cookie recipe (sorry, no sharing the recipe as it’s a secret, even from some other family members) and added in some cherry Jelly Belly jelly beans.  The jelly beans melted a bit in the oven, creating red pools of chewiness inside the crunchy-chewy cookies.  Not everyone cares for the texture, but I find them very interesting.

I chose this combination of flavors to be very palatable.  I figured that the cookies would be odd enough with the jelly beans that I did not want to use one of the oddly flavored beans.  Margarita, for instance, would probably not have been a wise choice.  Now that the idea is out there, though, it would be interesting to try combining chocolate with the buttered popcorn beans or maybe even licorice since the black beans are often the ones left over after the holiday is through.  Either way, I’m hoping folks find these cookies interesting enough to at least give them a taste.

Chocolate Chess Pies

In honor of Pi Day (3/14), I made the classically Southern chess pie, with a couple twists.

Chocolate Chess Pie with Ginger


Chess pie was reportedly imported from England and has been served in the U.S. for around 200 years.  The origin of the name is debated, but many speculate that “chess” comes from the word “cheese,” which often referred to fillings such as lemon curd.  The pie’s historic roots are also s apparent in the ingredients:  eggs, sugar, cornmeal, salt, and cream.  I can imagine a replica kitchen at a Colonial historical site where they would mix these base ingredients into a rudimentary pie filling.

The recipe I used comes from Saveur Magazine and adds chocolate and ginger to update this American staple.  I also miniaturized the pies using pre-made pie dough and a circular cookie cutter.  The resultant pies are sweet with a custard-like filling.  And adding chocolate always makes things better.

Fruity Pebbles Treats

Fruity Pebbles Treats


Rice Krispies Treats are a childhood favorite of mine.  For this week’s Food Samaritan offering, I added a colorful twist to an old classic.  I used the classic recipe but substituted Fruity Pebbles cereal for Rice Krispies.  The result is a vibrant and sugary improvement of an American staple.  The first batch I made was so delicious and nostalgic that we ate most of them ourselves, and I had to prepare a new batch to deliver to NCCU tomorrow.  Luckily it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare the treats and 20 more minutes for them to set.

Fruity Pebbles Treats

Fruity Pebbles Treats

3 tbsp unsalted butter
10 oz marshmallows (regular or miniature)
6 cups Fruity Pebbles cereal

  1. Coat a 13×9″ pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Add marshmallows to the pot, stirring gently as they melt.  Continue to cook after they have melted for another two minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and add the Fruity Pebbles cereal.  Stir to coat the cereal thoroughly and completely in the marshmallow mixture.  We don’t want any random marshmallow spots.
  4. Pour the molten treats into the prepared pan.  Press down firmly into the pan using a spatula covered in cooking spray.  Allow treats to cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!

Orange-Olive Oil Bundt Cakes

Social media is increasing the demand for The Food Samaritan’s treats, so I prepared a double recipe of today’s baked good:  orange-olive oil bundt cakes.

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The first batch was baked in my favorite large bundt pan to give it a swirl/spiral/rosette shape.  This cake is going to someone very special to share with their co-workers (or not).

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The second batch is going to the usual location at NCCU.  I procured a mini-bundt pan to make these tiny treats.

The cake itself has a pleasant orange perfume.  Don’t worry about the olive oil as it lends only a subtle background fruitiness and keeps the cakes moist.  A little bit of orange icing adds a touch more sweetness to round everything out.

The recipe for this cake comes from the fantastic cookbook Baked Explorations, and a copy of the recipe appears on the Food Librarian Blog.  To make the icing, mix together 2 cups of powdered sugar and 3-5 tbsp of orange juice to make the desired icing consistency.


Chocolate Cherry Fudge

Chocolate Cherry Fudge

Two images immediately come to mind when I think of Valentine’s Day: pink and chocolate.  Hence, to celebrate this year I have made a pink and chocolate confection.  The recipe for this fudge comes from the blog Shugary Sweets.  Cooking this fudge is quick and fairly easy, no candy thermometers involved.  That comes from the use of marshmallow cream, white chocolate, and cherry gelatin for flavoring.  The result is firm, rich, decadent, and sweet, which are adjectives that are definitely appropriate for Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate Cherry Fudge Slice

Buckeyes (Peanut Butter Balls)


For peanut butter cup lovers, buckeyes are a delightful homemade version.  My mom used to make them regularly.  The popular way to make them is to mix peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar together into a ball, and then refrigerate the balls until they are firm.  They are dipped into a mixture of chocolate and paraffin wax (don’t worry, it’s edible).  The end result is a simple candy that resembles a chestnut.

The recipe I used comes from the book Chocolates and Confections by Peter P. Greweling.  The book comes out of the Culinary Institute of America (the other CIA) with well-tested, fundamental techniques for making candies.  Instead of mixing paraffin into the chocolate, the book shows you how to temper the chocolate so that it sets nicely.  It takes a bit longer to prepare the chocolate this way, but you feel like an accomplished confectioner when you get the perfect tempered chocolate.