Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Sometimes I make recipes into bundts.
This time, I made something from a bundt.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
I took my favorite cinnamon chocolate bundt and make them into cupcakes... topped with ganache. Easy peasy and delicious.

For this batch (above and below photo), the ganache was allowed to set for about an hour before use.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
This recipe is really simple to make. Boil the ingredients, pour it over a flour mixture, stir in some buttermilk, eggs and other things you already have available in your kitchen, and in a few minutes you have a cupcake.

I think the best compliments are the ones overheard. My co-worker said she heard two colleagues talking about how much they enjoyed the cupcakes I bought to a meeting that day...while they were in the ladies room!

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
You don't need to drag out KitchenAid mixer and just a couple bowls will do you fine. The resulting cupcake is very moist because it uses both butter and oil.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes - Hairdryer Touch Up the Ganache
So, I made this recipe twice in two days (I had two meetings to attend). The first day, I made the ganache in the morning and let it sit for about an hour before using an offset spatula to apply it to the cupcake. As you can see in the photos labeled "one hour ganache", the ganache was still pretty soft. After I glazed those cupcakes, I put plastic wrap around the remaining ganache and placed it in the refrig. That night, I came home, pulled out the ganache to put it on the counter, walked the dog, and then made the cupcakes again and let them cool. The ganache was set up more than the previous day so these cupcakes had more of a "frosting" look. I placed the frosted cupcake in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, the ganache looked dull on the cupcake - see the left photo above. I remember a hint from a cookbook (was it Dorie Greenspan?) to lightly blow dry the ganache for a few seconds with a hair dryer and the gloss would come back! I did that...and it totally worked. Don't go crazy with don't want to completely melt it...just a few seconds do the job. Imagine that - your cupcake gets a blow out.

1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/4 c plus 1 T (or 5 T) cocoa (I have used both Dutch processed and natural cocoa with fine results). I used 30 grams of Hershey's Cocoa.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 c buttermilk
1 t baking soda

2 eggs
1 t vanilla

1. In a large bowl, combine together with a whisk: flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon

2. Bring to a boil in a pot: Water, oil, butter and cocoa. Once it reaches a boil, remove from heat.

3. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour and whisk by hand until combined.

4. Add the buttermilk and baking soda and mix.

5. In a small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla. Add to the batter and combine.

6. Pour batter into 24 cupcakes cups lined with paper liners (or sprayed with Pam with Flour).

7. Bake at 365 degrees for 16-20 minutes (depending on your oven), until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. While it is baking, make the chocolate ganache and let it set up before use. Frost with chocolate ganache.

1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Ganache is a combination of heavy cream and chocolate. So easy and so delicious. You can use semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (or a mixture of both). The ratio is heavy cream (in fluid ounces) : chocolate (in weight)

Therefore, I used 8 fluid ounces (1 cup) of heavy cream to 8 ounces (weight) of semi-sweet chocolate.

Place the chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream to a light simmer. Turn off heat and slowly pour the cream over the chocolate.

Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. Then slowly whisk the liquid and chocolate together. Mix don't want to incorporate extra air into the mixture. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

You can use ganache in different stages of "set". When it is warm, you can pour it over a cake or cupcake. When it firms up a bit more, you can spoon it on the treats. A bit more settling and you can frost with it. You can also whip it up for a lighter frosting. Oh, the possibilities of ganache. It rocks. (It also freezes really well so you should always have some on hand for chocolate emergencies!)
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Mitsuwa Japanese Gourmet Food Fair 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mitsuwa Food Fair 2013

It's time for the Mitsuwa Market's Japanese Gourmet Food Fair! Mitsuwa is a Japanese grocery store with outlets in California (Santa Monica, San Jose, San Gabriel, San Diego, Torrance, Costa Mesa and Irvine) as well as Chicago and New Jersey. Mitsuwa has regional food fairs throughout the year (such as the Hokkaido or Okinawa fair), but this has to be the biggest one.

From now til Sunday (6/13 to 6/16), Mitsuwa presents the Japanese Gourmet Food Fair at the Torrance, Costa Mesa and San Diego stores. They fly in chefs and special products from Japan for this four day delicious affair.

I went last year - see post here. I missed the special ramen last year, but this year I got in line when it opened its doors!

Luckily, this year I was met by Yumi-san from the Mitsuwa marketing department who talked to me about the fair. I don't speak Japanese so she was an interpreter and since she planned much of the fair, I appreciated her insight. Thanks Yumi!

Mitsuwa Gourmet Food Fair
First up, the special Sweet Pumpkin treat. You may think these are regular imagawayaki, but they are made with a very special batter. The batter incorporates tapioca flour and sweet potato flour for a more chewy texture! In addition, the fillings included traditional red bean (azuki) and unique flavors caramel and custard. I love chewy textures and these treats were delicious. ($2 each)

Mitsuwa Japanese Gourmet Food Fair
The chef pictured above is from Japan and came for the festival. After this festival in California, they will travel to Chicago and New Jersey for food festivals (6/20-6/23/2013). Did you know that the New Jersey store is mega big? It's the largest Mitsuwa store - complete with a free shuttle from New York! Has anyone gone to the NJ store?

Mitsuwa Japanese Gourmet Food Fair
These are popular Maki Dora or Rolled Dorayaki from the Anchin-do Shop in Japan. Oh my goodness. Besides being so pretty, these are so delicious! The pancake is very light and the filling is heavenly.

Mitsuwa Japanese Gourmet Food Fair 2013
Anything that has the label "This taste warms the cockles of the heart" is a winner in my book.

Mitsuwa Japanese Gourmet Food Fair - Maki Dora
You can get them filled with red beans, custard cream, green tea, or black sesame. The green tea is intense (these were my overall favorite treat), and the black sesame is rich. Handmade in front of you all day. These are only at the Torrance store this year. ($2 each)

Mitsuwa Gourmet Food Fair - Savories
The Japanese food company Amochinmi brings fried fish cakes (they are fried up on-site at Mitsuwa all day) ($1.75 each). You can find fish cakes and 12 different croquettes filled with all sorts of ingredients such as crab, pumpkin (kabocha), mushroom, corn, potatoes ($1.50-$2.30 each). I picked up the pumpkin one, as well as a pumpkin steamed Oyaki (yes, kabocha is one of my favorite flavors!)

Mitsuwa Torrance Food Festival
Last year, the Torrance store had the Fugetsu-Do filled waffles. The photo above is from last year. They are back this year - but only at the Costa Mesa store ($2-$2.50 each). If you are in Orange County, I would definitely visit. These treats were my favorite last year! In addition, the Costa Mesa store has Takoyaki (octopus balls) ($6.90 pack)

Mitsuwa Gourmet Food Fair
All the ingredients except for rice and some meats are flown in from Japan for the festival. Different types of gourmet sushi are prepared by Japanese chefs. Mackerel Sushi ($11.90), Seafood Sushi Bento Box (being prepared by the chef above, $15.90), Crab Gokai Roll Sushi ($9.90).

Mitsuwa Gourmet Food Fair
There are a lot of gourmet sushi sets. Last year, I bought the crab inari sushi ($11.90), and I will probably pick up the crab chirashi tomorrow for lunch ($11.90). All made on-site all day.
Mitsuwa Market Japanese Gourmet Fair 2013
They have Japanese packaged items for sale as well. They have a lot of special noodles...and most of them have someone's face on them, and that cracked me up. Premium udons ($4.90 each) and Sanuki udon ($3.59-$6.90 each).

Mitsuwa sets up these special food areas in the middle of the store - while totally awesome, it can get super crowded. :) Products do sell out since they are brought in from Japan in limited if you see something, buy it. Yumi said that they are getting more and more non-Japanese foodies and interested parties coming to the fairs. The staff is bilingual (except for those who came from Japan for the fair) so feel free to ask questions.

Mitsuwa Market Japanese Gourmet Fair 2013
Mitsuwa Ramen - Special Event
Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance has a large food court area. You can always find something delicious to eat (Torrance's plaza has the very popular and well reviewed Santouka Ramen). During the food fairs, a special ramen is served (I learned that Mitsuwa owns the Katsuhana ramen stall and they have the chef take over the space during the festival).

This year, Chef Kenji Chiba of the famed Kamome-Shokudo in Yokohama is serving “Kesennuma Ramen Ushio Aji (Salt)” for this event. The broth is made from seafood and chicken bones. Topped with chashu pork, bamboo shoots, nori, green onions and a half boiled egg (definitely get it with the egg - that is a perfect topper!) ($10.90 with egg, $9.90 without). They flew in three Japanese staff to assist Chef Chiba.

They are also serving a small salmon bowl with sesame soy sauce (I didn't get that...too much to eat!) ($3.80)

Mitsuwa Japanese Gourmet Food Fair 2013
Anyone who has been to Japan knows Blue Seal ice cream. They are selling vanilla soft serve for $2.50...but I couldn't find space in my tummy for this after eating sooo much...

Mitsuwa Marketplace
The fair is held from June 13-16, 2013 in Torrance, Costa Mesa and San Diego. It'll be in Chicago and New Jersey from June 20-23, 2013. Note: Not everything shown is available in all stores. More information about the Mitsuwa Gourmet Food Fair:

If you don't have a Mitsuwa near you...I honestly feel bad for you. But I learned today at Mitsuwa has an online store that ships Japanese products to your door. Too bad they can't send you those Maki Dora treats though.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. My meeting with the marketing department was informational. I purchased my own food and ramen at Mitsuwa. It was yummy! Go!
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Torrance Farmer's Market - Thao's Produce - Eggplants

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thao's Farmers Market stand - Eggplants
Thao's Farm - Torrance Farmer's Market

I frequently shop at the Torrance Farmer's Market. It's the third largest Farmer's Market in Los Angeles, and I could post thousands of photos of the produce, flowers, prepared food (pupusas, kettle corn, crepes, bacon wrapped hot dogs, filled malasadas, BBQ, corn on a cob...) and all the items I carry to my car every week. My instagram account @foodlibrarian is filled with them!

Maybe later this summer I'll do a longer post talking about my favorite vendors. Today, I want to highlight just one vegetable: eggplant.

At Thao's stand, you get your choice. Serious.

I love this Fresno farm. It grows a bunch of Asian favorites: bok choy, Chinese string beans, lemon grass, bitter melon, and so many greens that I don't know what they are! You can pick up cooking tips from customers and vendors alike while shopping there. They grow the English Peas I used to make my Peas & Rice, and they grow leeks, peanuts, jujubes, potatoes, cucumbers (at least three types) and onions.

Look how many eggplant varieties they offer! It reflects the great diversity of California. I'm so lucky to live here. :)

Thao's Farmers Market stand - Eggplants
Chinese Eggplant

Thao's Farmers Market stand - Eggplants
Italian Eggplant

Thao's Farmers Market stand - Eggplants
Filipino Eggplant

Thao's Farmers Market stand - Eggplants
Indian Eggplant

Thao's Farmers Market stand - Eggplants
Japanese Eggplant

Thao's Farmers Market stand - Eggplants
American Eggplant

How do you cook your eggplant? I'll take the longer (Japanese, Chinese) eggplant and slice them lengthwise. I'll cook them with a little olive oil in my cast iron pan. Then, when they are almost done, I'll spread the cut tops with a miso paste that has been diluted with a bit of water. Easy and delicious. Sometimes, I'll serve with a bit of soy sauce, but the miso paste is usually salty enough.

You might be interested in this brochure produced by the Torrance Farmer's Market - Your guide to Asian Produce.

Torrance Farmers Market
I couldn't resist sharing some of the photos from this past Saturday. The tomatoes are from Thao's Farm and the rest are other vendors. Oh, the glory of summer fruits and vegetables!

Torrance Farmer's Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday, Rain or Shine, All-Year
Wilson Park, 2200 Crenshaw Blvd. (between Carson & Sepulveda)

Hint: I park in the Korean Church parking lot across the street from Wilson Park on Saturdays (they are cool with it) as parking in Wilson Park's lot can get very congested.
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King's Hawaiian Project Mahalo

Sunday, June 9, 2013

King's Hawaiian Project Mahalo Day
King's Hawaiian Project Mahalo Charity Check Presentation

Last month, I was honored to attend a special event at the King's Hawaiian Headquarters. King's Hawaiian, maker of delicious bread and rolls, announced the winner of Project Mahalo. Consumers voted to select a charitable organization that best embodies the Hawaiian spirit of sharing, generosity and giving back.

Before becoming a librarian, I worked in non-profit organizations including Los Angeles-based food service provider Project Angel Food. I know firsthand the importance of corporate donations to keep the doors open and to continue valuable services. It was rewarding to see family-owned King's Hawaiian shared their profits with worthy organizations.

The four charities in Project Mahalo were: Big Brothers Big Sisters of AmericaFamily Caregiver AllianceMeals On Wheels and One Warm Coat  Representatives from each charity spoke about the valuable work they do to help feed, clothe, mentor and care for others. The winner of the $25,000 donation was Meals on Wheels, and the other organizations received $10,000. I know they'll use the funds to continue their important work.

King's Hawaiian Project Mahalo Day
After the check presentation, we were treated to a delicious lunch and factory tour. I've been on the tour before, but jumped at the chance to go on it again. You can see the famous King's Hawaiian rolls in the oven! Did you know little rolls are placed in the oven-safe paper box, proofed and baked in the box? I saw it all happening.

King's Hawaiian Project Mahalo
Since we were going onto the factory floor, we had to wear awesome hairnets. Here are some of the charity representatives on tour with Dino (yellow hat - he's in charge of safety).

King's Hawaiian Project Mahalo
A buffet isn't complete without, of course, King's Hawaiian rolls! We enjoyed a delicious spread of Poke, Hawaiian Orange Chicken, Kahlua Pork, Potato Mac Salad, Ramen Salad and so much more.

King's Hawaiian Project Mahalo Day
King's went all out on the dessert section of the buffet too. They have a tasty King's Hawaiian Restaurant and Bakery in Torrance - have you been? The restaurant is very family friendly, and the bakery is awesome.

King's Hawaiian Project Mahalo Day
Be sure to check out the four charities and see how you can help them help others in your community:
Meals On Wheels 
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Family Caregiver Alliance
One Warm Coat

Thank you very much King's Hawaiian for a fun day and a chance to learn about the great work by the four charities.

- mary

P.S. If you are grilling for Father's Day this weekend, get some King's Hot Dog buns and Hamburger buns. These are sooooo good!

Disclosure: I received lunch and a gift bag from King's Hawaiian. Opinions are my own. Photo credits: Food related photos are mine, photos of tour and non-profits are by King's photographer.
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