The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Claudia's Cookbook - Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I loved going to school as a kid knowing it was Valentine’s Day. We would tape our brown paper bags to our desks, walk around the room and hand out little Valentine’s cards to everyone in the class. It was such a fun ‘holiday’ growing up. Not to mention, the abundance of cinnamon hearts and heart shaped foil wrapped chocolates!

As an adult, Valentine’s Day has become just another day for the most part. This year, I was asked to incorporate “love” into a blog post and express what it means to me. After some careful thought and consideration, I figured the best way to speak to this is to create a top 10 list of the things I love in my life. Here is what I came up with (in no particular order):

  1. My beautiful friends and family. That is clearly a given if you read my blog on a regular basis.
  2. My 3 crazy cats that I share my home with. They drive me insane, but they’re amazing.
  3. Sleep. If you know me well, you know I will sleep until Noon every day if given the chance.
  4. Travelling anywhere and everywhere. I am truly obsessed.
  5. Baking on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It is more relaxing than yoga to me.
  6. The smell of hockey rinks. Playing hockey is the most natural feeling I have ever experienced, even after a 15 year hiatus. Amateur hockey rinks have this distinctive smell of frozen ice and hockey equipment. It’s not a particularly amazing smell, but it reminds me of my childhood and I just cannot get enough of it.
  7. Marathons of Dateline on TV. I clearly was a detective in a previous life.
  8. The first 3 Star Wars movies. I’ve seen them all literally over 100 times and I still watch them to this day.
  9. Sharks. Yes, you read that right. I’m fascinated with them and watched Shark Week on Discovery Channel before it become ‘cool’. My dream is to cage dive with Great Whites. I will do this – mark my words.
  10. Chocolate. I’m addicted. I can’t get enough.

Because Valentine’s Day is so synonomous with chocolate, I decided to feature The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake recipe on the blog. It is seriously delicious. It is rich with chocolate flavour and very moist. You also cannot go wrong with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting! It has the perfect amount of sweetness yet doesn’t have that artificial strawberry flavour that most icings have.

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Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Claudia's Cookbook - Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies cover

It’s amazing how fast my mind switches from preparing for Christmas to preparing for New Years Eve. I can’t believe 2014 is just around the corner and Christmas is over. It all happened so fast. I mean, I’m still eating leftovers!

We are staying in and hosting a friend for New Years Eve this year. I have already started my mad search on Pinterest for some fun and festive appetizers and treats to ring in 2014. If you haven’t already noticed – I kinda love red velvet. I also really love sandwich cookies. I mean, you really cannot go wrong with slathering cream cheese icing in between two deliciously moist cookies. These are super simple to make and took me no time at all. I thought the sprinkles were also a very cute festive touch as well. I highly recommend you give these a try for your New Years Eve!

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Cake Batter Ice Cream

Question – if you were stuck on a deserted island and only given one dessert to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be? Mine, hands down, would be ice cream.

I purchased an ice cream making attachment to my KitchenAid Stand Mixer last summer and haven’t looked back. It is pretty much the best purchase I’ve made in a long time. Making ice cream with it is easy and it tastes a million times better than store bought. My absolute favourite ice cream flavour is Cold Stone Creamery’s “Birthday Cake Remix“. It combines sweet cake batter ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, fudge sauce and a mashed up brownie in it. Seriously amazing. Therefore, I figured I would take a stab at making the cake batter ice cream for myself at home. I am so glad I did!

This ice cream is absolutely delicious. With a hint of cake flavour, this ice cream is rich, creamy and sweet. It is perfect on its own or with a few fun sprinkles on top. This recipe was adapted from one of my favourite food blogs – Annie’s Eats.

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Sugar Cookies

The holidays would not be complete without making and decorating Sugar Cookies. As you can tell from the image above, I decorate cookies like a 5 year old. Actually, a 5 year old could probably do a lot better. I still draw stick figures for people. I didn’t do very well in art class.

Claudia received this recipe from a coworker (Stacey) a few years ago. It’s very simple and makes great tasting cookies. We prefer thicker, chewier Sugar Cookies. But you can easily roll this dough out to make thinner, crispier cookies.

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