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Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Happy Valentine's Day! When I realized I'd be publishing a new recipe on Valentine's Day, I knew instantly it had to be perfect, easy, red velvet cupcakes. Is there anything better? For me, a great red velvet cupcake has to be moist (I know, sorry) and buttery, with a perfect balance of cocoa and vanilla flavors. Naturally, it must also be topped with cream cheese frosting. Is it even red velvet without cream cheese frosting? If that sounds perfect to you too, then let's get baking!

Recently on Instagram I shared that one of my goals for the year is to publish more "classic" recipes. Tried-and-true traditional recipes that everyone knows and loves. And I feel like red velvet cupcakes totally fall into that category!

This is an incredibly easy recipe, and super quick to whip up for any occasion. Top with your favorite fresh fruit, chocolates, or fresh flowers.

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 cups butter, melted (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients: 

1 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350, and prepare a cupcake tin with paper liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through cocoa. In a large mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients, butter through vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, using a spatula to stir until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each liner about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: In the bowl or your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time, followed by the vanilla. Beat on high for about 3 minutes, and frost cooled cupcakes.

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Kirsten Bell
Bourbon Chocolate Truffles

Bourbon Chocolate Truffles

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and to me Valentine's Day goes hand-in-hand with chocolate! My husband is not a huge sweets fan (I know, just his luck to end up married to a dessert obsessed food blogger). But I do know he loves bourbon! So these truffles are for him. Just a hint of sweet in the dark chocolate paired with delicious bourbon flavor. Perfect!

Homemade chocolate truffles are actually really easy to make, and I love that they're done in multiple steps, and the majority of time the truffles are setting in the fridge. That means no extended time in the kitchen! I also love that these truffles don't have preservatives that most store-bought truffles do, so I can rationalize having a second one, right? This recipe makes about 25 truffles, so enjoy them all yourselves or package some up for friends!


1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup Brown Sugar Bourbon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (for the coating)
1 Tbs butter (for the coating)


Add the semi-sweet chocolate chips and heavy cream to a large heat proof mixing bowl, and microwave on high for one minute. Stir well, until the mixture is smooth. You can microwave in additional 15 second increments as needed.

Once chocolate is completely melted, stir in the salt, Brown Sugar Bourbon and vanilla extract.

Put the chocolate mixture in the fridge and let set for 1.5-2 hours. Spread a piece of wax or parchment paper on a baking sheet. I like to store my baking sheet in the fridge ahead of time, so it's cold for the next step. Take the chocolate mixture out of the fridge, and roll balls (approximately 2 tsp per ball) with your hands.

If you notice that your chocolate is melting and hard to form, you can always put the mixture back into the fridge and let it re-set.

Place each truffle ball on the lined backing sheet. When you've formed all of the truffles (I usually get around 25), place them back in the fridge on the baking sheet.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate and butter together, in the microwave (using increments again so the chocolate doesn't burn). Stir until chocolate and butter mixture is blended and smooth.

Dip each truffle ball into the bittersweet chocolate mixture. You can use a fork for this, and they also sell special chocolate dipping tools.

Put the truffles back in the fridge again until the chocolate sets - about 30 minutes. These can be served cold or room temperature, but should be stored in the fridge and eaten within a week. 

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Kirsten Bell
Cheddar Stuffed Pretzels with Bourbon Honey Mustard Sauce

Cheddar Stuffed Pretzels with Bourbon Honey Mustard Sauce

These easy, chewy and cheesy soft pretzels are about to become your new best friend. The perfect entertaining recipe - these are great for sports parties, movie nights, you name it! Taking the traditional soft pretzel up a notch, these are filled with white cheddar cheese and a bit of garlic powder. Slightly crispy on the outside, and gooey cheesy deliciousness on the inside. It doesn't get much better than that!

This homemade soft pretzel recipe is actually incredibly easy, and only requires a handful of ingredients, most of which I bet you already have on hand.

If you're serving these at a party, I recommend doing most of the prep work the night before. Follow the steps until just before boiling them. Form the pretzels and keep them on a parchment lined baking sheet, covered in plastic wrap in the fridge. Then when you're ready, boil them and stick them in the oven so they're served hot to your guests! Soooo yummy and so easy!

And the bourbon honey mustard sauce? Literally combine the ingredients and serve! The easiest recipe on this blog haha! I'm totally obsessed with Brown Sugar Bourbon, and really recommend you grab a bottle for this mustard! (And for sipping!) The pretzels are good on their own, but I'm telling you - don't skip the bourbon mustard sauce! You can also check out all my Brown Sugar Bourbon recipes here for more inspiration.

Making soft pretzels is so easy, but it seems intimidating the first time. I've included the below photos of the step-by-step filling and folding process to hopefully make the process a bit more clear. The wonderful thing about pretzels is that they're incredibly forgiving, and even if they don't all look perfect they WILL taste amazing! That much I can guarantee!

Fill each pretzel with the cheese and garlic powder, and then fold the pretzel around the cheese. I start folding one side of the dough, and shown above, and then bring the other side of the dough on top of the other. You can see that below, where I snapped a quick photo just before I had the whole pretzel closed.

Once the pretzel is well sealed, roll it between your hands to lengthen it to about 18 inches long. It does not have to be exact. Then we're ready to fold! First make a U shape with the dough, as shown above.

Then cross the left "arm" of the dough under the right, leaving some excess dough at the top. Then take both arms, and fold them down over the bottom circle. Seal the pretzel by gently pressing the arms into the bottom of the pretzel. And done!

Pretzel Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 packet)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup grated white cheddar cheese (I used Beecher's Flagship!)
Garlic powder for sprinkling
1/2 cup baking soda (for boiling)
9-10 cups water (for boiling)
1 tablespoon butter, melted (for brushing)
Pretzel Salt or sea salt

Bourbon Honey Mustard Sauce: 

3 tablespoons Brown Sugar Bourbon
2/3 cup stone ground mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon worcestershire

Pretzel Directions:

Add the water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer, stirring until combined.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until mixture is foamy.

Add the butter, salt and flour to the yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on low until all combined. Increase the speed to medium, and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and is pulling away from the sides of the bowl - about 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, and knead with your hands into a ball. Grease the inside of the stand mixer bowl with some olive oil, and return the dough to the ball. Cover with a clean dish cloth, and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled. I preheat my oven to 170, turn it off, and then put my dough in there to rise.

Divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Roll each ball into a rectangle, about 3 inches by 12 inches. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of grated cheese along the length of the dough, and sprinkle with about 1/8 tsp of garlic powder. Roll the dough around the cheese, pinching the seams to keep it together, and then shape the pretzel by creating a U, crossing the left side of the dough under the right, and then folding them down. See the above pictures for reference!

Preheat the oven to 425, and line a large baking sheet (or two baking sheets) with parchment paper. Bring the water and the baking soda to a rolling boil. Drop each pretzel into the water one at a time, for 30 seconds each. Remove the pretzels to the prepared baking sheet.

Brush each pretzel with a the melted butter, and sprinkle them with pretzel salt (or sea salt). Bake for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy warm with the Bourbon Honey Mustard Sauce!

Bourbon Honey Mustard Sauce Directions: 

Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and serve!

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Kirsten Bell
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart

The Valentine's Day dessert of chocolate lover's dreams! This dark chocolate raspberry tart is smooth, creamy and rich - with a hint of fresh raspberry for a pop of bright flavor. So good, so easy, and almost a no-bake dessert (we bake the crust for 7 minutes). Whether you're planning a Galentine's Day party, romantic dinner for two, or fun dinner with the kiddos, everyone will love this delicious Valentine's Day dessert!

Often for Valentine's Day I try and come up with a special and delicious meal that I wouldn't normally take the time to make. Since I'm spending my time making the main course, I don't really want to also worry about the dessert. That's why I looooove this dark chocolate raspberry tart! You can make it the day ahead, and just pull it out of the fridge when it's time to enjoy. Perfect!

Chocolate Crust Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups finely crushed chocolate graham crackers
1/2 cup butter, melted

Raspberry Coulis Ingredients:

12 oz fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspooons lemon juice

Chocolate Filling:

1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 lb bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


For The Crust: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Crush the graham crackers in a food processor until it's fine and resembles coarse sand. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl, and then stir in the crushed graham crackers, mixing until combined and no dry spots remain. Press the crust into a tart pan (no need to grease), and bake for 7-9 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you assemble the chocolate filling and raspberry coulis.

For The Raspberry Coulis: Combine the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Gently crush the raspberries with a spoon as you bring the mixture to a low boil, about 5 minutes. Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat. Blend with an immersion blender, or carefully transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth, and only seeds remain. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove sieve, and set aside.

For The Chocolate Filling: Heat the heavy cream and chocolate chips together in a mixing bowl in the microwave at 15 second increments, or until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt.

Assembly: Pour 1 cup of the raspberry coulis into the bottom of the crust, making sure it coats the crust evenly. Spoon the chocolate filling evenly on top of the raspberry layer. Transfer to the fridge, and allow to chill for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight. Top with fresh raspberries just before serving, and serve with extra raspberry coulis drizzled on top.

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Kirsten Bell
Easy Red Wine Brownies

Easy Red Wine Brownies

Easy, delicious and fudgy red wine brownies. The perfect Valentine's Day dessert idea, girl's night treat, or mid-week pick me up! You are going to love how seriously quick and simple this recipe is. Serve with ice cream and my red wine chocolate sauce for the ultimate wine-lovers dessert!

Whenever I do a poll on Instagram asking what recipes you'd like to see, recipes with red wine always make the list! And especially red wine and chocolate. So here we are! Deep, rich, delicious chocolate? Check! Full, deep and fruity wine flavor? Check!

I definitely wanted this red wine brownie recipe to have a noticeable red wine flavor. I mean otherwise, what's the point? So I have two great options for you:

1) Use port! Port is a naturally sweet, red fortified wine. If you love red wine, I'm going to guess that you'll also love port. Because it has a stronger flavor, more of that deliciousness comes through in the brownies. You can find port at your local grocery store in the wine section, and it is usually not expensive. I used this port from Maryhill Winery, since it's my current favorite!

2) Make a red wine reduction! If you'd rather use your favorite red wine, you can easily reduce it on the stove. This will help concentrate the flavors so that you really taste them in your brownies. It's super simple to do, and you can read about how I reduced red wine in this recipe for Merlot Chocolate Truffles. I'd recommend using any wine that usually pairs well with dark chocolate, such as Merlot, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Brownie Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cups cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup port (or red wine reduction - see note above)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Brownie Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 baking dish, and line with parchment paper. I like to create an overhang of parchment paper for super easy removal.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, port, vanilla and eggs. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, stirring with a spatula until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and bake 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.

Serve with ice cream and chocolate wine sauce! 

Chocolate Wine Sauce Ingredients: 

2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup port (or red wine reduction)

Chocolate Wine Sauce Directions: 

Combine the heavy cream and chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish, and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until melted and smooth. Stir in port, and serve immediately.

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Kirsten Bell