Recipes

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

aka Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Almond Ganache Filling and Coconut Buttercream

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I can’t even with these cupcakes! Just look at their adorableness! Now I haven’t discussed it much on the blog, but I am not a decorator. I love to bake and I love to cook, which is mostly because I really, really (did I say really?) love to eat. But I do not like trying to make my food look pretty. If it ends up looking nice in the end that’s just an added bonus. I do not have the patience for it, although one day I would like to learn how to decorate and style my baked goods and dishes better.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

In the meantime, I’m just a regular home baker trying to make the best tasting things I can dream up. Where I’m going with all this is that if I can make these cupcakes look this ridiculously adorable that means you can, too. As long as you’re armed with the right ingredients and the right tools then you will be good to go.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now, I’ve been so busy talking about the cute tree decorations that I haven’t even gotten to how amazing the cupcake tastes. I am obsessed with my Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes and my Chocolate Ganache so adding almonds and a coconut buttercream seemed like a fitting and delicious enhancement. The texture of the coconut buttercream is light and fluffy, while still being rich enough to stand up to the chocolate cupcake. You can adjust the intensity of the coconut flavoring based on your personal preference. That chocolate almond ganache is its usual swoon-worthy self amped up with chopped almonds to be the perfect molten surprise. Now have a bit of everything all together and yippee! Damn that’s good!

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

My favorite part about these cupcakes though are the reason I was inspired to make them: they remind me of my Babu. Everyone in my family has ceramic Christmas trees that my grandma painted. I know everyone in my family thinks about Babu everyday, but especially when they turn on their ceramic tree. They are decorated with little colored light “ornaments” and when they light up they remind me of everything that is wonderful and simple about Christmas. They make me think of family and tradition. I’m instantly transported to sitting with Babu at my parent’s house and putting in all the little lights while the smell of her cookies comes from the kitchen. Then suddenly we’re eating the cookies, making Christmas paper chains, putting ornaments on the tree, then snuggled in her bed reading our favorite Christmas stories. She even let me sing her Christmas carols and anyone who knows how, um, interesting, my singing voice is will know what a saint she was for that.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although I loved, and very much miss, our crazy Christmas mornings with all my aunts, uncles and cousins, one of my favorite Christmas mornings with Babu was when I was older. We were at my parents’ house for Christmas morning and since it was just my brother and me, who were both in high school, everyone was sleeping in before present-opening. Babu and I are early risers so the two of us sat by the tree in the still, quiet house and opened a couple of our presents for each other having our very own private mini Christmas morning. It is a memory I will cherish forever. So happy holidays and merry Christmas to all my friends, family and fellow food lovers! Take a moment, or two, throughout all the craziness to enjoy the little things that will mean so much to you for years to come.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Christmas Tree Cupcakes
 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
for the chocolate almond ganache
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1- 12 ounce bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped almonds, more or less depending on preference
for the coconut buttercream
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, more or less depending on preference
  • Additional sweetened shredded coconut for decoration
for the tree decorations
  • 24 pretzel sticks
  • ½ bag green candy melts
  • Nonpareils
Directions
for the cupcakes
  1. Make the Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes according to the instructions then let cool.
for the chocolate almond ganache
  1. Heat the cream over medium heat until steaming, stirring constantly.
  2. Once steaming, remove the cream from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir then let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the butter to the chocolate mixture then stir until smooth. You might have to return to the lowest heat possible while stirring to get it completely smooth.
  4. Add the chopped almonds and stir to combine. Let cool until only slightly warm (I'm not sure if the cooling is completely necessary, but I thought the hot ganache would seep into the cupcake).
for the coconut buttercream
  1. Beat the butter for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and fluffy, with an electric mixer.
  2. On low speed carefully add the sugar, milk and coconut extract and mix. If the frosting looks too thin slowly add some more powdered sugar, but I didn't need to for this recipe. Add the shredded coconut and stir well to combine.
  3. Spread or pipe a thin layer onto the top of the cupcake. You might find piping easier because of the open hole with the ganache. Top with some shredded coconut for a "snow" effect.
for the tree decorations
  1. Line two baking sheets with wax paper. Use a baking sheet with edges so the nonpareils don't go flying all over your kitchen. Place the pretzel sticks a few inches apart.
  2. Prep a pastry bag with a skinny round tip (I think I used a Wilton round tip #2). Heat the candy melts in a double boiler over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. Be sure not to overheat so the chocolate doesn't seize up. Carefully transfer to the pastry bag.
  3. Pipe the chocolate over each pretzel stick in the shape of the a tree. I made single zig-zag lines then went over them two more times. Start up a bit from the base of the pretzel stick so there's room to press the decoration into the cupcake. Do a couple then top with nonpareils or have a sprinkle elf help and sprinkle after you pipe (thanks, Matt!). Let sit at room temperature until firm then carefully pop off the wax paper. To place in the cupcakes I found it easiest to hold and press from the little bit of pretzel at the top - the chocolate is fragile and will break if you press it.
Notes
You can typically find candy melts (sometimes called chocolate or candy wafers) at your local craft store, such as Michaels or A.C. Moore.
This recipe makes enough ganache and buttercream for about 35 cupcakes so you will have leftover unless you make a double batch of cupcakes or reduce the ganache and buttercream recipes.

Chocolate almond ganache adapted from The Curvy Carrot.
Coconut buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart.
Chocolate tree inspiration from Just a Taste.

Eggs Benedict Over Cheddar Scallion Waffles with Crispy Chorizo, Smashed Avocado and Green Chile Hollandaise

Eggs Benedict Over Cheddar Scallion Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

I cannot believe I waited so long to share this dish with you. If you thought I was excited about the waffles, oh baby, that pales in comparison to this creation. A couple months ago my brother-in-law, Nick, and our friend, Kate, came to visit and I wanted to make it a proper foodie weekend. I brainstormed for weeks to come up with the perfect breakfast that would have a variety of textures, bold flavors and most importantly, be creative and inspired. This right here is my ultimate breakfast. Eggs Benedict over Cheddar Scallion Waffles with Crispy Chorizo, Smashed Avocado and Green Chile Hollandaise. I know you were probably expecting something sweet and overflowing with chocolate, but there’s actually a candy bar hidden under that waffle! I’m kidding, that would be gross. Or would it… hmmm…

Eggs Benedict Over Cheddar Scallion Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Let’s break down this Southwestern eggs Benedict layer by layer. First, there is the all important base in the form of an outrageously cheesy cheddar and scallion waffle. I took my Perfect Buttermilk Waffle base, omitted the vanilla extract and then loaded it up with sharp cheddar cheese and chopped green onions. Next, I smashed together an avocado with some lime juice and salt to give it a little fresh punch and spread it over the waffle. I found some deli-sliced chorizo at Trader Joe’s so I threw that in a frying pan to make it crispy and crunchy before layering it on top of the smashed avocado.

Eggs Benedict Over Cheddar Scallion Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

In comes the perfectly poached egg, ready to burst open with its runny yolky goodness. I poached mine sous vide, but we will come back to that in a later post. If you are intimidated about poaching an egg you could always fry up an over easy egg instead.

Eggs Benedict Over Cheddar Scallion Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Finally, the icing on the cake, er the hot fudge on the sundae, er never mind… the sauce on the savory dish! Creamy, luscious, buttery hollandaise sauce mixed with diced green chiles for a very subtle flavor kick. Hollandaise is made using egg yolks, lemon juice and lots and lots of butter (see tutorial here), but I bought mine right from the dairy section of Trader Joe’s. Top with salsa or sour cream and get ready to make inappropriate noises while you devour this dish.

Eggs Benedict Over Cheddar Scallion Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

What Nick and Kate didn’t know is that this dish right here single-handedly kick-started my motivation to dive back into Lemon & Mocha after a longer than intended hiatus. And I am so glad to be back! So make this dish and feel inspired. Or just come over for breakfast and we can cook then devour it together.

Eggs Benedict Over Cheddar Scallion Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Eggs Benedict Over Cheddar Scallion Waffles with Crispy Chorizo, Smashed Avocado and Green Chile Hollandaise
 
Yield: 4 servings, plus extra waffles
Ingredients
for the waffles
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled in a medium mixing bowl
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar, more or less depending on how cheesy you want the waffles
  • ½ cup sliced scallions
for everything else
  • 1 avocado
  • Lime juice, to taste
  • 8 thin slices chorizo
  • 4 poached eggs
  • 2-3 tablespoons diced green chiles
  • ¾ cup warm hollandaise, more or less as desired
  • Sliced scallions, for topping
  • Salsa and sour cream, if desired
Directions
for the waffles
  1. Turn on the waffle iron to get it hot and spray with nonstick cooking spray, depending on manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine then create a well in the center for the liquid ingredients.
  3. Add the eggs to the cooled butter mixing bowl and beat until frothy. Add the buttermilk and beat again until well-combined.
  4. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. The buttermilk and leavening will create a batter full of air bubbles. Fold in the cheddar and scallions, being sure not to over-mix.
  5. Pour the batter onto your waffle iron in batches and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. If working in batches, let waffles rest on a cooling rack after they are cooked, or place them directly on the rack of your oven or toaster oven on a low heat to stay warm.
for everything else
  1. Take four plates and place one waffle on each plate. In a small bowl, mash the avocado and sprinkle with lime juice and sea salt to taste. Spread the avocado mixture on each waffle.
  2. In a dry frying pan, heat the chorizo in a single layer over medium heat, until hot and crispy. Remove from the pan and place in between two paper towels to remove some of the grease before placing two slices on each avocado-topped waffle.
  3. Place one poached egg on top of each chorizo-topped waffle.
  4. Stir the diced green chiles into the warm hollandaise then drizzle (or pour if you’re feeling dangerous) over the poached eggs and waffles. Top with sliced green scallions, salsa and sour cream as desired.
Notes
If you cannot find deli-sliced chorizo, crisp up some crumbled chorizo in a pan instead, being sure to drain/pat out the grease.

 

Mini Broccoli, Ham & Cheddar Quiches

Mini Broccoli, Ham & Cheddar Quiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mini food gets lots of love for being cute. Mini cupcakes, mini burgers, mini quiches; it’s all, “Aw, they’re so tiny and cute!” Let’s get to the truth of the matter though. Everyone’s just excited because it means they get to eat a whole bunch of them. What they actually mean to say is, “Aw yeah! They’re so tiny I can eat a whole bushel of them! Let’s go!” Or something like that.

Mini Broccoli, Ham & Cheddar Quiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

These Mini Ham, Broccoli and Cheddar Quiches are so savory, fluffy and packed with flavor that you are definitely going to want to eat a whole bushel of them.

Mini Broccoli, Ham & Cheddar Quiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

I like to make a batch of these on Sunday so that Matt and I have them for throughout the week. One minute in the microwave and they are good to go for breakfast or a quick snack. Supplement them with a big arugula salad (or some Perfect Buttermilk Waffles!) for a satisfying meal.

Mini Broccoli, Ham & Cheddar Quiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

Not a fan of ham, broccoli or cheddar? Simply swap them out for your favorite veggies, meat or cheese. Some other combinations I love are spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese and bell peppers, sausage and provolone. I’ll even let you in on a little secret: I ran out of broccoli while making these so half of the mini quiches photographed here have spinach instead of broccoli. It’s that easy to customize these bad boys! Whip some up this weekend and enjoy!

Mini Broccoli, Ham & Cheddar Quiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mini Broccoli, Ham & Cheddar Quiches
 
Yield: 12 mini quiches
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk, whatever you have in your fridge is fine
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 10 ounces frozen broccoli, thawed, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup diced ham, or 12 slices deli ham, chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and milk. Sift in the flour and baking powder, stir to combine.
  3. Add the chopped broccoli, cheese and diced ham. Stir to combine.
  4. Evenly divide into the 12 cups of the muffin pan. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the edges have browned and a tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
Notes
You can substitute any fillings you would like, just add about 1 cup of veggies, 1 cup of cheese and 1 cup of meat, or another vegetable. If you want to try different flavor combinations in the same batch you can wait to add the fillings until after you have spooned the egg mixture into the muffin cups, then put a tablespoon or two of toppings into each cup and give them a little stir. Just be sure not to overfill!

Recipe slightly adapted from Moneywise Moms.

Perfect Buttermilk Waffles

Perfect Buttermilk Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Waffles. Just typing the word makes me want to shout with excitement. WAFFLES! There, that’s better. Great waffles are crispy on the outside with a soft, subtly sweet interior. Who doesn’t love great waffles? Pile them high with butter and maple syrup, layer them with whipped cream and fresh fruit, smother them in melted Nutella and banana slices… the combinations are endless. And you know how I feel about flavor combinations.

Perfect Buttermilk Waffles  |  Lemon & MochaPerfect Buttermilk Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

We can all agree that great waffles are, well, great. But what if you want more? What if you want your waffles to overachieve, to be the best of the best, to reach for the stars?! Then you need to be able to strip the waffle platter down, remove all the syrups, fruits and toppings, and be left with just a damn perfect waffle that can stand on its own. As I’m sure you’ve seen from the title, these, my friends, are Perfect Buttermilk Waffles.

Perfect Buttermilk Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

My dad shares my waffle love. Breakfast is his favorite meal so whenever we go out we do it right. Over-easy eggs, bacon, toast, sausage, hash browns, omelets, English muffins; we order it all. And yes, I did mean all those items at the same time. No matter what else we order, my dad and I always, always order a waffle to share.

Perfect Buttermilk Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

We’ve been questioned on the volume of our breakfast order, we’ve been told we will never finish everything and one surly waitress even made us shift to a larger table, huffing that our food order would never fit! We laugh at their remarks and then dive in, waitstaff eyes wide as we do serious damage on the spread in front of us. We always judge a breakfast place by its waffle and if these Perfect Buttermilk Waffles came out of the kitchen it would go right to the top of our list.

Perfect Buttermilk Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you don’t have a waffle iron, this Cuisinart is the one we currently have in the Lemon & Mocha kitchen and we use it at least every few weeks. If you aren’t looking to start up Waffle Wednesdays (it’s a thing!) in your kitchen, simply thin the batter slightly with milk to make crispy outside, fluffy inside pancakes.

Perfect Buttermilk Waffles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Perfect Buttermilk Waffles
 
Yield: 8-10 waffle squares
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled in a medium mixing bowl
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Turn on the waffle iron to get it hot and spray with nonstick cooking spray, depending on manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine then create a well in the center for the liquid ingredients.
  3. Add the eggs to the cooled butter mixing bowl and beat until frothy. Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Beat again until well-combined.
  4. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. The buttermilk and leavening will create a batter full of air bubbles.
  5. Pour the batter onto your waffle iron in batches and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. If working in batches, let waffles rest on a cooling rack after they are cooked, or place them directly on the rack of your oven or toaster oven on a low heat to stay warm.
Notes
If you don’t have buttermilk handy, you can use the following substitution. Put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Fill the measuring cup with milk (I use skim, any milk-fat percentage should work) until it equals 1½ cups. Let sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe.

Recipe from Food.com.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frozen Yogurt  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have a delicious sweet treat for you today. Chocolate covered strawberry frozen yogurt. Also known as strawberry frozen yogurt with stracciatella. This frozen dessert is bursting with strawberry flavor and since it’s on Lemon & Mocha, it is of course also chocolatefied.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frozen Yogurt  |  Lemon & Mocha

Valentine’s Day weekend is always especially meaningful for Matt and I because our anniversary is on the 15th! Tomorrow will mark 7 years since we starting dating, woo-wee! I’m going to keep it short and simple today so my Valentine’s Day present to you all sweet readers is this recipe and a bunch of drool-worthy photos. Enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frozen Yogurt  |  Lemon & MochaChocolate Covered Strawberry Frozen Yogurt  |  Lemon & MochaChocolate Covered Strawberry Frozen Yogurt  |  Lemon & MochaChocolate Covered Strawberry Frozen Yogurt  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
 
Yield: 1 quart
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • Chocolate covered strawberries, for garnish, optional
Directions
  1. Slice the strawberries then toss in a medium bowl with the sugar. Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve then cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
  2. Using a blender or food processor puree the entire contents of the strawberry bowl, the yogurt and the lemon juice. If you would like to get rid of any seeds push the mixture through a mesh strainer.
  3. Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour then pour into your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
  4. While the mixture is in the ice cream maker, melt the bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler and stir until it's smooth. Transfer the chocolate into a measuring cup with a pouring spout.
  5. During the last couple minutes of churning in the ice cream maker pour the melted chocolate into the ice cream maker in a thin stream to create the stracciatella swirl.
Notes
Although this is a frozen yogurt, to me it had more of a sorbet texture. It is still delicious, but just wanted to give a heads up so you weren't surprised by the texture.

Frozen yogurt recipe from The Perfect Scoop.