Our design intern, Mimi, is as adorable as her name suggests. So naturally, among her many other talents, she can also whip up adorable chocolate cupcakes. Last week, she sent me this photo of an Espresso Brava Chocolate Cupcake with Peppermint Cream Cheese frosting that she baked. I responded, “Please tell me there is one waiting for me in the kitchen.” To which, she ultimately responded, “There is not.” It took me nearly a week to forgive her but I’m finally over it. As you can imagine, she’s hard to be mad at.
She found the recipe on Lauren’s Latest, but made quite a few modifications: the most notable using an espresso-flavored sea salt rather than kosher sea salt. Her thought being that Chocolate + Peppermint = good, but Chocolate + Peppermint + Espresso = better. I second that notion!
Our Fusion® Espresso Brava flavored sea salt packs a powerful punch and is not one of our more mild varieties; however, it’s got a lot to stand up against in this cupcake: cocoa and especially peppermint. When baking with flavored salts, it’s always a good rule of thumb to use unsalted butter, this way you can use a little more flavored salt without the risk of over-salting. She also reduced the amount of powdered sugar, and she recommends using only a thin layer of icing. This recipe shows her modified measurements.
Now, let’s address what’s really eating me. Why didn’t Mimi bring the cupcakes in to share? According to Mimi: “I meant to bring them in this morning but sadly the frosting ate the candy canes and salt, so they didn’t look all that appetizing. Sorry!”
That’s just a super-adorable way of saying, the moist icing turned into a sink-hole for the garnish, devouring all who entered. Note to self: Unless you want Mimi’s melted candy canes, garnish the cupcakes right before the party so your candy canes are gobbled up by guests not monster icing.
Espresso Brava® Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Peppermint Cream Cheese Icing
- 1 cup milk + 1 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ - 1 teaspoon of Fusion® Espresso Brava sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- heavy cream
- crushed candy cane pieces and Espresso Brava sea salt for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line 12 muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whip oil and sugar together. Stir in vanilla.
- In a measuring cup, combine milk and vinegar. Set aside to curdle.
- In a different bowl, stir all dry ingredients together until evenly mixed. Slowly combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients stirring constantly until fully mixed and dry.
- Pour evenly into prepared pans and bake about 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out with little batter after being inserted.
- Cool completely before frosting!
- For the frosting, whip all ingredients together in a large bowl for 3-5 minutes or until smooth and fluffy.
- Frost cupcakes and top with crushed candy canes and Espresso Brava sea salt.
Adapted from Lauren's Latest
Grain of Salt http://www.grainofsalt.com/
I’ll never forget the first time I tried salted ice cream; I tasted it, cringed, and ordered something else. Barely two licks into my first scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip, I was regretful. It takes a few moments before the experience truly takes hold. I imagine my taste buds pleaded with my mind to accept the unfamiliar intrusion as a blissful taste evolution rather than a flavor conspiracy; my mind crumbled under the delicious pressure. But maybe that’s just me being dramatic. Regardless, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Here at SaltWorks we all salt our ice cream and everyone has a favorite.
I’ve reached out to the team for recommendations, and I’ve experimented with a number of combinations myself, and the following three are definitely great places to start. The first two, our staff recommended the most.
Fusion® Thai Ginger on Vanilla: It’s so uncannily amazing. I used to be indifferent about vanilla ice cream; eh, take it or leave it. But now, it makes plain vanilla the hippest, far-from-boring, damn-near-sexy vanilla.
Fusion® Habanero Heat on Chocolate: If you’re a sucker for salty chocolate and love spicy, do yourself a favor: put on your sweat pants, order Love Actually via your favorite streaming service, turn out the lights, and lock the doors. You’re going to feel guilty tomorrow.
Chocolate Ice Cream with Fusion® Habanero Heat sea salt.
Fusion® Espresso Brava on Caramel: I mean, duh. No further comments
Why is salted ice cream so amazing?
I don’t know. Who can really explain miracles? But, after experimenting, I found the combinations that seemed to pair best were opposite taste profiles but complimentary flavors, if that makes sense. So, bitter with sweet or spicy with sweet is a good place to start, but sweet with sweet was underwhelming. For example, I tried Fusion® Vermont Maple on Buttered Pecan and while it enhanced the ice cream flavor, it didn’t really transform the ice cream in an interesting way. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as Earth shattering as the others. Yes, I said Earth shattering.
I also wouldn’t recommend salting an ice cream flavor that you wouldn’t salt as a food. For example, in theory, I thought Fusion® Aged Balsamic would be nice on strawberry ice cream. Strawberry and balsamic: yummy. But who would salt a strawberry? Gross.
I also highly recommend smashing up the ice cream, (like at ColdStone Creamery) then sprinkle the salt inside, mix, and enjoy.
Other nice combinations: Chocolate with Fusion® Chile Verde, Chocolate with Fusion® Chipotle, Vanilla with Fusion® Espresso Brava
And despite the many Fusion® possibilities, you can’t go wrong with a good crunchy, flake sea salt either –which is still how I enjoy my Caramel ice cream.
If you have a favorite that I’ve missed, please add it in the comments. Shop all 25 of our all-naturally flavored Fusion sea salts here.
This past Sunday I decided to conduct my very first salt tasting for a group of about 15 people. It was a potluck, and my contribution was salt and snacks. I say my very first because it felt quite monumental, considering months ago, before SaltWorks was a glimmer in my eye, my salt knowledge was quite pedestrian. Basically, if SaltWorks gave away badges for salt milestones, I think I earned one. Yes, I’m a self-proclaimed, imaginary badge earner and I hereby honor myself.
Enough about me and my imaginary awards. Let’s talk about salt and how to become a … mindful salter. I made that up, but let’s go with it.
When conducting or participating in a salt tasting, consider the reasons why you like (or dislike) certain foods. It’s not just the flavor that matters. Similarly, salts have different textures, smells, and colors, in addition to their unique flavors.
I tried to choose salts that stood out in different categories: flavor, texture, aroma, and color.
To demonstrate texture, I put the Mediterranean-harvested Artisan® Cyprus Flake sea salt next to the French-harvested Artisan® Fleur de Sel sea salt. Guests loved picking up a large pyramid-shaped Cyprus flake to first examine and then pop on their tongue—like a firecracker, a wonderful salty crunch gone as quickly as it came. But the Fleur de Sel, they delicately ran the spoon through, knowing just from its soft, fluffy texture that “it must be fancy.”
And then once I started explaining how the environment and harvesting techniques contributed to their differences, forget about it; people were hooked!
To demonstrate aroma, I used our Fusion® Black Truffle sea salt and an assortment of our smoked salts: Salish®, Wildfire® & Hellfire®. One sniff of Black Truffle Sea Salt usually elicited that decadent eye roll—you know the one; imagine someone saying, “Divine!” That one. One sniff of the smoked salts evoked an astonished look that meant “Seriously? I could put this on everything.”
As a side note, Kala Namak has an incredibly powerful and unique aroma, so that’s a good option for this category as well, although I didn’t bring any for this tasting.
To demonstrate color, salts with unique mineral properties that contribute to their color are ideal, such as Himalayan Pink, Alaea, Hiwa Kai, or Kala Namak. Salts can be surprisingly colorful!
To demonstrate taste, I brought some fun Fusion salts, including the sinfully hot Habanero Heat. Most important, the salts have to be easy to taste! I brought small pieces of bread and olive oil, soft cheeses with crackers, popcorn, tomatoes, and deviled eggs. Anything that is good with salt, but not already heavily salted works well.
After all was said and done, no exaggeration, “the salt station” was the hit of the potluck. Everyone was so intrigued. I mean really, salt tastings could be more popular than Tupperware parties. (That was intended to be a compliment.) Of course, I can’t imagine our fearless leaders, Mark and Naomi, are going to want our sales reps abandoning their phones and hitting the road with trunks full of salt, but I’m just saying, it was a hit. I think my next salt tasting is going to be cocktail themed. This could get interesting.
It’s that time of year when I need bake therapy: any chocolate chip cookie recipe that can pull me out of my haze. So I scoured the Web for something new and delicious when I ran across Salted Double Chocolate Chip Chili Cookies. It had me at salted, really. At Double Chocolate I become more interested. And then Chili! SOLD, and so intrigued.
Bring these to the next holiday party or bundle them for little gifts (if you can part with them), and friends and family will surely sing your praises. They’re also a welcome change from the usual potluck desserts.
Once you mix all of the ingredients together, you’ll probably need to rest your stirring arm, as it’s incredibly thick dough. This is good time to sneak a taste.
If you’re eager to get these morsels in the oven, you can go ahead and bake them as soon as you mix the dough. If you want to prevent spread, refrigerate the dough for the night. Or, do like I did and try to cheat the system by freezing it for an hour, which I found worked nicely.
I didn’t so much adapt this recipe as much as I straight up snagged it from one of my favorite blogs, Local Milk. Any adaptations were minor and purely a matter of taste and ingredients on hand. And naturally, I used SaltWorks Pacific Blue Kosher Flake Salt.
Salted Double Chocolate Chip Chili Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp Pacific Blue® Kosher Flake Salt
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 or 2 tsp cayenne powder (I used 2. And they were h.o.t.)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 oz Theo Dark Chili Chocolate, chopped (or any another spicy, dark chocolate)
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- Heat oven to 375°.
- Whisk the first six ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
- In a mixer, cream butter until pale and fluffy. Beat in sugars until smooth.
- On low, add in vanilla and one egg at a time until fully mixed.
- Add in half the flour mixture on low and mix before adding the other half.
- Stir in the chocolate chips. It’s intensely thick dough. And this is normally a good place to sneak a taste while you’re resting your stirring arm.
- If you’re eager to get these morsels in the oven, you can go ahead and bake them now. If you want to prevent spread, refrigerate the dough for the night. Or, do like I did and try to cheat the system by freezing it for an hour, which I found worked nicely.
Adapted from eg. Local Milk
Adapted from eg. Local Milk
Grain of Salt http://www.grainofsalt.com/