Best Cocoa Cupcakes ever!!!

Mary Ellen’s Cocoa Crème Fraiche Cupcakes

Makes 18 cupcakes.

1 cup plus 3 T all-purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp baking soda

1 stick plus 6 T unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs (at room temp)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¾ cup crème fraiche, at room temperature and stirred until runny, plus more for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with foil baking cups and do same with remaining 6 cups in either another 12 cup muffin pan or a 6 cup muffin pan (if you have one).
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy with a hand mixer or a stand mixer. At medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla. At low speed, alternately beat in some the dry ingredients and then some of the ¾ cup of crème fraiche until all ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Batter will be extremely thick! Using a large spoon with a small spatula or frosting spreader, as carefully as you can, put the batter into the foil cups, filling each one until two-thirds full. I sometimes use my finger with the help of a small spatula to even out the batter in the foil cups.
  4. Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until springy when gently pressed and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, then remove from the pan.
  5. To serve, place a dollop of crème fraiche (or fresh whipped cream, if you prefer) on each cupcake and serve with fresh raspberries or fresh strawberries.

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Mary Ellen’s Chicken Soup

Chicken soup

1 (3 lb) whole chicken with gizzards
1 really large or two medium onions, quartered and sliced into medium thick slices
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 large stalks celery with greens. Cut stalks into 1 inch pieces and chop greens.
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 32 oz container of chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes (I use Herb Ox – it contains no MSG)
2 T Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
2 C cooked white rice
In large soup or stock pot, put chicken and gizzards with stock and add more water so that it barely covers the chicken. Add bouillon, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, bay leaves, about 2 tsp salt and a few shakes of black pepper. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 1/2 hour, then add the potatoes. This will keep the potatoes from getting mushy and disintegrating. Continue to simmer at a low boil for another hour, occasionally turning chicken over. When legs are falling away from the chicken, soup is done. Remove chicken, place in a large bowl and cut up with poultry shears to allow chicken to cool enough so you can comfortably remove the meat from the bones. Remove bay leaves and skim off any “scum” from the top of the soup. Remove all meat from carcass, tearing into edible chunks. Put chicken pieces back in pot, add cooked rice and stir. Sometimes, I leave the rice on the side and put some in each bowl before ladling the soup on top. Add extra salt and pepper to individual taste. Serve with warm bread. I recommend a nice fresh French bread or Big Y’s Snowflake rolls!