Ice Cream Cupcakes

I wanted to make something a little special for my sisters, besides cheesecake (typically their request). So while I was getting ice cream and a malt shake at Graeter’s I saw these lovely pre-made ice cream shaped cupcakes. I got 2 flavors of ice cream, mint chocolate chip/Jessica’s favorite, and java/Ruya and I’s favorite. Got home, and went straight to the kitchen. I went for layers: cake, ice cream, ganache, garnish.

You can use whatever flavor ice cream you like. The recipe below is for a mint chip chocolate cupcake, we topped with mini oreos, but you could use thin mint cookies or Ande’s mint chips! We also made 1/2 the cupcakes with java ice cream, peanut butter chocolate ganache, and crushed mini oreos. Use whatever flavor combo you like for your ice cream and garnish!

Mint Chip Ice Cream Cupcakes – 24 cupcakes
1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 gallon mint chip ice cream
Mini oreos, crushed, reserved for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth. Add milk, cream, butter and vanilla, and mix until combined. In a separate bowl sift dry ingredients together, and add to wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth, then fold in chocolate chips. Line a muffin tin with liners and spoon 1-1/2 teaspoons of batter into each cup. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely. Remove ice cream from freezer to soften.

Using a spatula, quickly but somewhat neatly spread ice cream on top of the cooled cupcakes and into a little mound. Freeze for at least 2 hours. Follow recipe below for Chocolate Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache – topping for 24 cupcakes
3/4 cup heavy cream
8.5 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat, just until bubbles form on the sides. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate, continuously stirring until ganache is smooth and comes together. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before spooning on cupcakes.

Remove the cupcakes from the freezer and spoon ganache over top of each quickly, immediately topping with a sprinkle of mini oreos. Freeze for another 30 minutes then serve!

*These can be stored in a well sealed freezer bag, for up to 2 weeks, remove from freezer, let sit for 5-10 minutes and serve.

For the java pb variation: I used 12 cupcakes, topped with java ice cream, pb ganache (add 1/2 cup pb to chocolate gnache when you stir in the chocolate) , and top with crushed oreos.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!

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Grilled Eggplant with Bulgur, Feta and Toasted Almonds

For this recipe I recommend purchasing baby eggplant, they are about 2-3 inches long. They are tender, and when the flesh is cooked right, they have a sweet nutty flavor. I recommend serving these at room temperature on a platter with grilled pita bread, olives, and other snacks.

You can find bulgur (cracked wheat) in the Mediterranean section of your grocery store.

Grilled Eggplant with Bulgur, Feta and Toasted Almonds – 20 servings
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoons ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup bulgur
1/2 cup tomato, diced
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
10 baby Mediterranean-style eggplant, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Prepare a grill to medium heat.

In a large sauté pan, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, 6 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander and cinnamon and sauté until fragrant. Add the broth and bulgur and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the broth has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bulgur to a bowl and stir in the tomato, almonds and feta. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Use a paring knife to score the cut side of the eggplant with deep crosshatching. Brush the eggplant all over with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant, cut side down and with the grill covered, until it is tender when a fork is inserted in the flesh, about 7 minutes per side.

Garnish platter with mint sprigs, and place eggplant on platter. Divide bulgur mixture evenly onto the eggplant centers.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a crisp glass of white wine.

Happy Cooking!