A Flavor of August: Avocado Cupcakes

Avocado Cupcakes

Though we are already a third of the way through August, this month I am focused on the avocado. While looking into the avocado, I learned its pear-like shape and green skin earned it the nickname “Alligator Pear.”  Similar avocado tidbits, along with some pretty good-looking recipes, can be found at the California Avocado Commission’s website.

After making these and tomato soup cupcakes, I have come to the conclusion that a spice cake base can accommodate nearly any non-traditional fruit as an ingredient. The cupcakes felt heavy, so my initial reaction was that they turned out like avocado cake rocks. Turns out, they were just avocado cakes that rocked. The crumb was not overly heavy, and as I mentioned, the cupcakes tasted like spice cake.

Avocado Cupcakes

If pressed to identify the ingredients in this cupcake, I would not have been able to isolate the taste of the avocado. Perhaps a more highly trained or sophisticated palate would recognize its creamy taste, but I did not.

Would I make avocado cupcakes again? Upon request, yes.  Otherwise, I just don’t see the need to add avocado to what amounts to a spice cake when it could be consumed in something like guacamole. Speaking of a guacamole, an different type of avocado-based dip is up next. Until then, enjoy!

Avocado Cupcakes

Avocado Cupcakes
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 18
Ingredients
  • For the Avocado Cupcakes
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup avocado, chopped
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup raisins or dates
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, nutmeg, allspice and salts. Reserve three tablespoons of the dry mixture and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir the baking soda into the buttermilk, then add the avocado pieces. (This is the wet mixture).
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and the sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, one to two minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until each is just combined.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and alternately add the dry mixture and the wet mixture, beginning and ending with the dry mixture.
  6. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl as needed to ensure the mixture is fully incorporated.
  7. Toss the raisins or dates and the walnuts in the reserved dry ingredients mixture, then fold them into the batter.
  8. Fill each well of a paper-lined cupcake pan nearly to the top with batter.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  11. To make the frosting, place the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and ground cinnamon in mixing bowl and beat until combined.
  12. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, beating until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Notes
Warren Brown typically lists his ingredients as dry or wet. Note the baking soda is considered part of the wet ingredients in this recipe. I successfully halved the cupcake ingredients listed above to yield 11 cupcakes. The original recipe called for raisins, but I used dates and was happy with the results. The cupcakes do not rise all that much during baking, so fill free to fill the wells to just under the lip of the paper liners.
 

Frozen Coco-Coffee Bites

Coco Coffee Bites

Lately, I find myself writing happy, positive posts. But to read these happy, sunshiny, life is full of puppy dogs and glitter-type posts might cause one to sheesh me away. Easy for her to say, right?

In the spirit of taking my own advice, or rather Marilyn vos Savant’s advice, that giving up is what makes defeat permanent, allow me to share exactly how I posted the Tiramisu Bread Pudding on Tuesday.

Frozen Coco-Coffee Bites

At about 8:30 p.m., my index finger hovered over the publish button as I finished proofreading. At about 8:32 p.m., my internet completely crapped out. To make a long story short, I spent the next two and a half hours in a cycle that went something like: reset router, unplug modem, curse, and repeat.

You know the definition of insanity, that thing where you do the exact same thing over and over, yet you expect a different result? Yeah… Eventually I called the cable company, and they confirmed I was S.O.L. due to an unknown reason. Blame it on the rain, accompanied by thunderstorms and lightning?

So I drove to a nearby shopping center, picked up a free retail connection, and posted shortly at 11 p.m. This may be the new definition of insanity. Why did I do this? Because I am absolutely nuts, or because I feel such a commitment to my readers, I want to post at least once a week? I’m going with the latter, but you are free to draw your own conclusions.

Frozen Coco-Coffee Bites

48-hours later, the internet is back up and running (knock on wood), and I’m excited to share another no-bake dessert for this hot summer. Frozen Coco-Coffee Bites were a part of a Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cookie feature. The last thing I want in December is a frozen coffee, so I waited to enjoy these bites for a timelier season.

I had semi-low expectations, simply because the recipe sounded a bit odd to me, but I was pleasantly surprised. The frozen coco-coffee bites had just the right amount of sweetness to satisfy my need for an after-dinner sweet. And despite their mini-size, I really did not want to eat more than one at a time.

I used the chocolate cookie crumbs leftover from the Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Budinos rather than graham cracker crumbs. I almost wish I would have used another two tablespoons, because they really were not noticeable against the toasted coconut and coffee cream cheese filling.  Just something to keep in mind should you decide to give this recipe a try this summer or when the holidays roll around. Enjoy!

Frozen Coco-Coffee Bites

Frozen Coco-Coffee Bites
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1½ teaspoon instant espresso powder or 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 2½ tablespoons boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons graham cracker or other cookie crumbs
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Line 24 miniature muffin tins with paper baking cups, and set aside.
  2. Dissolve the espresso powder or instant coffee granules in the boiling water.
  3. Set aside while preparing the crust.
  4. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  5. When the butter is bubbling, stir in the coconut and cook just a few minutes until golden brown.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the graham cracker or other cookie crumbs.
  7. Place 1 teaspoon of the coconut crust mixture into each baking cup, pressing down firmly to pack. The remaining crust mixture will be used to top the coco-coffee bites.
  8. Place the muffin tins in the freezer while preparing the filling.
  9. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  10. Add the sugar and cinnamon and beat until well blended.
  11. Mix in the vanilla and espresso and continue to be until blended.
  12. Add a pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness, and blend one more time.
  13. Remove the muffin tins from the freezer.
  14. Evenly spoon the filling into each crust-filled muffin cup.
  15. Top with a pinch of the remaining coconut crust mixture, pressing lightly into the filling.
  16. Freeze until firm, about two hours.
 

My Silver Medal Dessert: Tiramisu Bread Pudding

Tiramisu Bread Pudding

One week later, I have a bit of a problem. Last Tuesday night, I sat blogging about my new job and what may be the strangest cupcakes I ever baked. Tonight, I have a bit of writer’s block that has lasted about a week now.

The thing is, I am now writing for a living. What started as a passion, a hobby if you will, is now how I earn the money I need to keep a roof over my head. And since I’m just getting started, I don’t have a lot left in my writing tank by the end of the day.

I have also been spending my time watching an obscene amount of the Olympic Games. I am absolutely addicted to anything and everything Olympics. This is a common occurrence every time they roll around, and I love it. A friend once described the Olympics as the world’s holiday, and I couldn’t agree more.

Tiramisu Bread Pudding

This morning I watched a news show segment about how powerful expectations are when it comes to results. For example, we all likely know by now how disappointed McKayla Maroney was with the silver medal she won for her individual vault. And if the men’s basketball team does not win the gold, their entire Olympic experience may be considered a failure. Was Woody Hayes on to something when he said, “Without Winners, there wouldn’t even be any civilization.”

Can you imagine? Being so good that winning a freaking silver medal is akin to losing? The news anchor conducting the segment asked a couple from Ireland who were in London how they would feel if an Irish athlete won a silver medal. “We’d be thrilled,” they exclaimed!

Tiramisu Bread Pudding

I love watching Olympic volleyball (both indoor and beach, men’s and women’s). In my mind, I harbor some deep delusion that I could play a point – not a set, not a match, just a point – with any of these players. As a sub-par volleyball player at best, what they are able to do is absolutely amazing. But my dark horse favorite sport to watch is diving. Fortunately, I harbor no illusions whatsoever that I could do much more than a swan dive.

Tiramisu Bread Pudding

During the games, my silver medal dessert is Tiramisu. It loses the gold medal to Key Lime Pie every time. In an effort to try an old favorite in a new way, I turned to a recipe for individual Tiramisu Bread Puddings.

If you love the taste of coffee in your dessert, this bread pudding is a must try. If not, then I leave you a thought from Marilyn vos Savant, “Being defeated is often only a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.”

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tiramisu Bread Pudding
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • For the Bread Pudding
  • 1⅓ cups milk
  • 1¼ cups whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 8 cups torn white bread slices (10-12 slices)
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • For the Cream Cheese Topper
  • ¾ cup whipping cream
  • 1 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. In large bowl stir together milk, whipping cream, and coffee crystals until the crystals are dissolved.
  2. Reserve 1 tablespoon milk mixture and set aside.
  3. Stir the eggs, sugars, and vanilla into the milk mixture.
  4. Add the bread pieces and stir until moistened.
  5. Evenly divide the mixture among eight, ungreased 6-ounce ramekins, filling nearly, but not quite, to the top.
  6. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet or in a baking pan, then bake at 375 degrees F until puffed and set, about 30 minutes. A knife inserted near center of a bread pudding comes out clean.
  7. In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar and reserved 1 tablespoon of the milk mixture.
  8. Stir until smooth and drizzle over bread pudding.
  9. Dollop with cream cheese topper.
  10. To make the cream cheese topper, beat whipping cream, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium until soft peaks form.