Recipe: Chocolate and Orange Cream Cupcakes

I am so excited to have Alessandra of Almalu’s Place share her recipe for chocolate and orange cream cupcakes today! (As featured in the Peanuts themed birthday party she planned for her sister Fabiola.) My sweet tooth seriously can’t even handle the thought of these without going crazy. I need to find an excuse to bake cupcakes. Pronto.

Ingredients –
1/2 cup (50 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup (240 ml) boiling hot water
1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Fudge Frosting –
4 ounces (120 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup (150 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups (160 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Orange Cream –
7 ounces whipping cream
1 cup (250 gr) mascarpone
One orange peel
2 drops of orange food coloring

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly butter, or line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  • Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.
  • Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16-20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. You can either spread the frosting on the cupcakes with a small spatula or if piping, use a large Wilton 1M open star tip to make lovely swirls.

  • For the orange cream, whip up the whipping cream at the maximum speed for about 5 minutes. Then add the mascarpone and keep on whipping up for about 3 minutes. Then add the orange peel and the food coloring.
  • Once the cupcakes are cooled down, remove the top from them and gently dig in them. Then add the cream in the hole and top it with the removed piece.

  • To make the chocolate frosting, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  • In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2 -3 minutes)

Download a printer-friendly PDF of the recipe here.

{Photos by Almalu’s Place.}


Stunning Jewelry from Elva Fields

I love bold statement jewelry to inject a bit of personality into a wardrobe. A little black dress is instantly jazzy with the addition of something playful and bright. A casual wedding dress becomes a canvas for ultra chic wedding style with a killer necklace or the perfect earrings. I love all of the drama and unique design of the jewelry of Elva Fields. Their new Spring 2011 collection is truly stunning. Plus, a portion of every online purchase is donated to Backpack Buddies of Spencer County, a program providing school-age children in the company’s local rural community of Taylorsville, Kentucky with healthy meals and snacks each weekend of the academic year. Companies that do good for the world score big with me. Bonus points that their work is absolutely inspired. I’ll take one of each.

{Photos from Elva Fields.}


A Peanuts Birthday Party

Italian event planner Alessandra of Almalu’s Place shared the sweetest Peanuts-themed birthday party that she recently planned for her sister. Fabiola loves the Peanuts so Alessandra was inspired to create a party influenced by Fabiola’s love for Charlie Brown and the gang. (So cute!) She worked Daily Suze to create the stationery and paper goods, using a black and white palette with a few touches of color to resemble comic strips. She created a buffet with a lot of salty and sweet treats including chocolate and orange cream cupcakes, cookies, loads of colorful candies and peanut M&Ms. Lucky for us, Alessandra is sharing her recipe for the chocolate and orange cream cupcakes later today. Yum! Thanks for sharing, Alessandra!

{Photos by Almalu’s Place.}


DIY Ruffle Garland

Hi sweets! It’s Jenny from Hank + Hunt and I am really excited about this DIY today…I’ve been meaning to share it with you. As you may know, the first thing I started selling in my shop were ruffled fabric garlands. I like them because they are pretty and girly and sometimes as a mom of two boys, you really need something feminine. But what I love most is that I can touch them and they will be around as long as my memories will. Garlands made out of fabric will last through years of celebrations.

Make these for your wedding, use them for your mini munchkin’s first birthday, Sweet 16 and your 25th Anniversary. Make them in whatever length you want; today, I’m doing short chair garlands. Enjoy!

4 yards of fabric
Rotary cutter
Pinking shears
Thread and needle
Sewing machine
Twill tape or ribbon

Wash, dry and iron the fabric. Lightweight cotton (like muslin or cotton gauze) works best. Fold in half with the cut ends together, then fold in half three or four more times the same way. This shortens the length so the width can fit on the table cutting mat. Using a ruler, cut 3” strips perpendicular to the cut edge. This makes 3” by 4 yard long strips. Four yards of fabric will make at least 12 strips, depending on the width of the fabric. Now, take two strips and layer them on top of each other, right sides facing out.

Thread the needle with a 2 yard length of thread, doubling over so you have a total length of 36”. Knot the end of the thread so it won’t pull through the fabric. Starting about 2-3” from the end of the strip, start sewing a straight gathering stitch down the center of both strips. Continue until you reach the end of your thread. Gently gather, keeping ruffles evenly spaced and flat. Continue sewing the gathering stitch to the end of your thread again.

Gently gather, and repeat. For the chair garland, I gathered four times total. For a longer garland, you would continue sewing and gathering until you reach the desired length. See #10 for how to join more strips of fabric continuously.

Once you have the length of garland you need, tie off the thread in a knot to hold the gather. Trim the end of the strip, with pinking shears, about 2-3” from the end knot. Trim the beginning end of the strip, if you haven’t already.

Now, for the sewing machine part. Using the zigzag stitch setting on the machine, shorten your stitch length setting so you have a thick embroidery style stitch. Starting 2-3” in from the end, stitch a straight line down the center of the gathered strips. This strengthens your gather, stitching it in place so it won’t break or move along the gathering stitch line.

Be careful that the ends of your fabric don’t get caught under the needle; this is why we keep the ruffle flat with the edges to the side. **This step is REALLY important and without it, your garland gather can break. My first few garlands, used a plain straight stitch for securing, and their durability was very delicate. The embroidery stitch not only looks prettier, but is strong enough to endure more than one party.**
Continue sewing until you reach the end knot. Stop and trim your threads.

Cut two pieces of twill tape about a yard each. Fold in half and insert the folded end into the end of the strip, between the two layers.

Sew the embroidery stitch about ¼” from the end to the existing embroidery stitch. Stop, take out and trim threads.

Stitch the embroidery stitch across the end of the strips perpendicular to the length of the garland, as shown. Repeat on the other side to attach the other tie.


Let me introduce you to my little friend…THE RUFFLER. Ok, it really is Hank + Hunt’s best friend. This is a big trade secret for Hank + Hunt, without it I wouldn’t have sewn more than two or three garlands and with it I have sewn bolts of them. If you are planning to make garlands for your party or wedding, I’m telling you now… you need to get one for your machine. It’s called a ruffling foot and they make it for most sewing machines. For those of you that don’t sew much, you might not even know this…your machine can use different feet. All those fancy little rolled edges, attaching zippers easily, free form designs and YES, RUFFLES…it’s all in the foot. There is a lot of skill involved with sewing, but I promise you that if you can sew a straight line, you, too, can use THE RUFFLER. I know it sounds dramatic, but it really is called that for my machine. I have the box to prove it.

Let’s make a garland with The Ruffler. Take your two strips and insert them together through The Ruffler, pull through gently so you have about an inch or two at the end.

Make sure you are centered in the strip, and sew just like it was a straight line. Go ahead, smile because it’s so easy.

This little baby will evenly stitch even little gathers all day long. Stop when you have the length you need. Switch out to your regular foot and continue with steps 4 & 5. **Make sure you are sending the garland through the machine in the same direction, or it could pull the gather out.

ADDING MORE LENGTH: If you want to increase the length of your garland and have reached the end of your strip:
About 2” to the very end (make sure your ends are trimmed), insert the next two strips, right in between them in the center and continue sewing.
*This also works for hand gathering. Insert strips and continue sewing.

Directions for using garland:

1. FLUFF – Gently pull layers of fabric apart on each side.
2. HANG.

Here you have a lovely little garland, and the lovely little secret recipe to make one. Enjoy! xo


Pretty Ribbon Party Ideas

Good morning, friends! I hope everyone had a great weekend. This morning I’ve got the cutest little inspiration shoot to share with you, created by the lovely Becca of Birthday Girl and featuring sweet treats from Cakewalk Baking. Becca used ribbons in varying widths and textures to create easy, budget-friendly party decor – I love the ribbon wands and the cute cupcake and cake flags! And, of course, you can really never go wrong with delicious chocolate cupcakes.

{Photos by Birthday Girl.}