Janet's Notebook
Celebrating A Love of Chocolate

Raspberry Red Velvet Cupcakes!

It's time again for our annual Chocolate Edition! Thanks to the fun of Valentine's Day, the Test Kitchen has converted into a veritable bakery, wholly devoted to all things cocoa. We've been drizzling and glazing and downright dunking as we prepare our Valentine treats. The Kitchen is full of doilies and colorful cellophane as we prep for school bake sales and pretty pink goody bags. Lucky for us, we never seem to be without tiny helping hands, eager for a taste of batter or a lick of the spoon. Sweetness abounds.

Jumping taste-buds first into this year's list of chocolate indulgences, we find the simply marvelous Triple Chocolate Cake from Alabama's Cynthia Martinez. I've had the pleasure of preparing and tasting a lot of chocolate cake in my day, but Cynthia's recipe is a real stand-out... and it all began with a little online inspiration.

"I got this [idea] from a Pinterest board. Theirs just didn't sound right, so I tweaked it and made it my own," laughs Cynthia. "This is a very intense, thick chocolate cake."

That delicious intensity comes from ample cocoa and rich chocolate chip mix-ins. Much of the cake's wonderful texture, however, is owed to the smart addition of plain yogurt in the batter. Don't worry, you won't taste it a bit once it's baked; It simply creates an out-of-this-world, almost velvety consistency. This recipe is guaranteed to cure your chocolate cravings. Rich and super satisfying, I'm going to come clean... I could eat the butternut-infused icing by the spoonful.

On the wonderfully wacky side of our chocolate exploration are Wendy Rusch's Raspberry Red Velvet Lager Cupcakes! While a simple chocolate cake at their core, these darlings are SO much more than typical. Wendy has earned numerous Just A Pinch Blue Ribbons for her recipes through the years, and never seems to tire of both inventing and refining creative dishes.

"While working at a Sweets & Eats shop I noticed we had a raspberry beer as I was about to make some red velvet cupcakes... Well, the two things just sorta combined automatically in my mind," explains Wendy. "To those that know me, I know what you're thinking: Oh, surprise!!!"

It's that good-natured sense of humor that comes through in Wendy's cupcake recipe. The effervescence of the beer leaves the cake light and springy, while the rich flavors of chocolate and raspberry permeate every brilliant red crumb. They are a true bright spot on any dessert table!

And for those even less traditional in their desire for chocolate indulgence, let's toast to Lori Mead and her favorite drink recipe, the Mounds Martini.

"My husband and I love this recipe," says Lori. "I discovered this [idea] when I was reading a book and the characters were sipping on [them]. Hope you enjoy!"

After some tweaking of a few base recipes she found online, we think Lori has perfected this luscious libation. Mounds candy bars and I have had a long, affectionate relationship, but they may have to take a back seat to this yummy drink! A brilliantly simple blending of coconut rum and chocolate liqueur, it truly is the perfect dessert drink to sip after preparing a Blue Ribbon meal.

Without a doubt, chocolate is one of our favorite foods. The rich, almost mysterious, flavors of the cocoa bean lend themselves so well to dishes of all types. And the appeal of a homemade chocolate dessert seems positively ageless, never growing tiresome or stale - much like love itself.

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Wendy Rusch - Feb 20, 2013
I have one like that too Sarah...except with mine I dip in the ganache, then top with a fluffy choc frosting and top with candied bacon and drizzle with ganache again...YUM I'm afraid we'd be trouble together in the kitchen! lol lol
Sarah Stein - Feb 20, 2013
I LOVE chocolate! My Cowboy Cupcake is double dipped in dark chocolate ganache and sometimes, depending on how much I have left, I drizzle some on the candied bacon before cutting it up for a savory, sweet n' salty twist.

The Cowboy Cupcake
Wendy Rusch - Feb 17, 2013
Thanks Shelia...lol You're so funny! :o)
Shelia Senghas - Feb 17, 2013
Congratulations ladies, Valentine's is over and I am still indulging in chocolate. It doesn't have to be Valentine's to enjoy these delicious chocolate recipe's. Sometimes I am one of those 'midnight creeping to the kitchen chocoholics! Chocolate, tripled, and Red Lagered and Mounds Martinied, oh yeah! I call them all 'Chocolate with benefits!
Wendy Rusch - Feb 15, 2013
Thanks Nancy Dear! :o)
Nancy Judd - Feb 15, 2013
CONGRATULATIONS to you both Wendy and Cynthia. Both of your recipes are perfect for Valentines day (or any holiday) and I know my family would love them!!!
Wendy Rusch - Feb 13, 2013
Janet and Kitchen Crew!!!
I sent my cupcake over to Shock Top (the brand of beer I use) and they have it up on there Facebook Page as I type...with a link to Just a Pinch!!! It's a win win! :o)
Gisele de Paola - Feb 13, 2013
hello there!!!! it´s about 6 p.m. here,still Summer time.But as it rained A LOT for two complete hours,the air is fresh and it came to my mind to prepare a natural sandwich and a fruit-veggie juice for my husband and son who must be arriving.and i still hace a delicious APPLE PIE in tthe fridge,and...some vanilla ice cream.Last but still on time...a capuccino.come and join us!!!!!!!!
Merlene Isaacs - Feb 12, 2013
This Page is Real cool..I feel as thou i know all you ladies..have a Great Valentine..Chocolate......
Donna Bardocz - Feb 12, 2013
Yes Janet, you picked two excellent recipes to showcase with Wendy and Cynthia's! Congrats to Lori Mead on getting noticed for her yummy sounding drink recipe too! Hope everyone has a very Happy Valentine's Day!
Susan Bickta - Feb 12, 2013
Congrats Cynthia and Wendy!!!!! Such great recipes!!
Wendy Rusch - Feb 12, 2013
What a wonderful surprise to find myself here today!!! Thank You Janet and Crew!!! :o) A special treat to be right beside wonderful friends and cooks like Lori and Cynthia with her rocking cake, which I've made and find it to be wonderful!!! I wish I could say I've tried Lori's martini too, but I don't really drink, though it sounds good enough to make me want to try one!!! :o)
Congrats and Thank You Cynthia!!!
Cynthia Martinez - Feb 12, 2013
Thank you for including me today. It makes me feel special to be mentioned in any article with Wendy. She is the bomb. I just love my JAP ladies and all the fun this site has brought me.