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Red Velvet Cupcakes

I was not kidding, when I said February was chocolate month. I’m working on a very important order for a client and I have been working on red velvet cupcakes for some time now. The first time I attempted to make red velvet cupcakes, well a red velvet cake actually, it turned pink and was horribly dry. I was so devastated guys. I attempted it again for the second time and for whatever reason I just could not get the color right. I might have added the entire bottle of food coloring and still that perfect burgundy color was not there.

I almost gave up trying to get that classic color, til one day I finally figured it out. I decided to mix the food coloring and chocolate before adding it to the batter and just like that I had achieved the burgundy color I was looking for. I was so ecstatic and now I’m sharing this with you all. I am pretty much obsessed with King Arthur brand and I love using their cake flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content so it helps in creating a softer and lighter cake. I also use unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe because it gives it a nice hint of chocolate without being too over powering. This recipe calls for buttermilk, you can make your own buttermilk with your milk of choice by simply adding vinegar or lemon to the milk. I wrote instructions in the recipe notes portion. Using buttermilk will give the cupcakes a nice tangy flavor to them that will be just perfect.

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I got creative with my piping on the cupcakes, I have been practicing using different piping tips. All of these designs were made with Wilton’s 1M piping tip, it is so versatile and you can do so much. I hope you guys have fun making these cupcakes, comment below to let me know how they turned out. You can also tag me on instagram @sweetemms or use the hashtag #sweetemms so I can see your creations! Happy Baking!

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

prep time: 30 minscook time: 16 minstotal time: 46 mins

The most moist and delectable red velvet cupcakes with a hint of chocolate and a tangy cream cheese frosting

ingredients:

Cupcakes
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour 
  • 1 1/3 granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
Frosting
  • 8 oz cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp of milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract.

instructions:

Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pan with cupcake liners
  2. Mix oil and sugar together until well mixed, next add in eggs one at a time making sure that the eggs are mixed in well after adding each egg. 
  3. In a small bowl, add cocoa powder and food coloring together and mix together, add to the egg mixture and whisk until you get the perfect color. You can add a little more food coloring if you wish. Add in buttermilk and vanilla and mix together until well incorporated. 
  4. In another bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add vinegar and mix all together, be sure not to over mix the batter.
  5. Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full and bake in the oven for about 15-17 minutes. Once baked cool on a wire rack. 
Frosting
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese together until mixture is smooth, add a tablespoon of milk and vanilla. 
  2. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time until you achieve you desired sweetness. If frosting is too thick, add some more milk. If its too thin add more powdered sugar. Pipe frosting unto cooled cupcakes. 

NOTES:

You can make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to your choice of milk and letting it sit for 10 minutes.
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Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake is one of those things that are a hit or miss. I remember, I was not really a fan of chocolate cake growing up and even in recent years I was never really impressed. That is until one day I had a slice of chocolate cake my coworker brought from a bakery near her house and guys it was everything! I was determined to make a similar one myself. Because everyone loves chocolate, it is usually a crowd pleaser. The cake is the perfect chocolate cake because it is moist, flavorful and the buttercream icing is the cherry on top. The first cake I made was just dry and no one likes a dry cake. I did some research, I had used sour-cream in a cake before and thought maybe adding a little sour-cream would do the trick, but finally I decided to try oil and it did just the trick. When I tell you this cake is so moist and has good crumble it is really unbelievable.

One thing I learned while testing out recipes was that coffee is really essential. Now it isn’t a must, but it definitely enhances the flavor of the chocolate. Also if you are worried that the cake will taste like coffee, I promise you that it definitely will not. if you do not use coffee you can use hot water instead and don’t worry the cake still tastes absolutely delicious. I also used dark cocoa powder, I found that the dark chocolate gives it a richer and more intense flavor.

For the buttercream I used regular cocoa powder and for the melted chocolate I used Baker’s semisweet baking chocolate, you can use dark chocolate if you’d like a richer chocolate taste. It is totally up to you which you prefer. You will never have a better tasting chocolate cake. I’m not just saying that because it is my recipe but in all honesty this cake is amazing and its so moist and delectable. I have already made this cake 3 times in the last week. I hope you guys enjoy making this! Please comment below and share with your friends. Tag #sweetemms so I can see your creations and as always, bon appétit mes amies!

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Yield: 12 slices

Chocolate Cake

prep time: 30 minscook time: 35 minstotal time: 65 mins

The most perfect chocolate cake with classic chocolate buttercream frosting.

ingredients:

Chocolate Cake
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs (room temp)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup dark cocoa (sifted)
  • 1 3/4 cake flour
Chocolate Buttercream
  • 1 1/4 cup butter (room temp)
  • 2 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 5-7 oz of semisweet chocolate melted
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt

instructions:

Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F; butter and dust pans with cocoa flour
  2. In a medium bowl, mix eggs, oil, vanilla an buttermilk togeter
  3. In a large bowl, sift flour and cocoa powder together. Add in sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda together. Add in the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until it is smooth. Scrape down the sides to make sure everything is well incorporated. 
  4. Add in coffee and mix well. The batter will be liquid and thin, pour batter into the dusted chocolate pans and place in oven. Bake the cakes in the middle of the oven for 30-35 mins
  5. Once baked, allow cakes to cool in pan for 10 minutes then let them cool on a wire rack before frosting. 
Chocolate Buttercream
  1. In a microwaveable bowl, melt semisweet chocolate 10 secs at a time, mixing after every 10 secs. Put chocolate to the side to cool down. 
  2. In a bowl, mix butter until fluffy and creamy about 2 mins. Add in 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar and beat until well mixed. Add in the remaining sugar and beat until it is creamy and smooth. Add in vanilla, melted chocolate  and mix until the chocolate is well incorporated. Add the heavy cream a little at a time until you get your desired consistency. If frosting is not thick enough add more confectioner's sugar and add salt and mix. 
  3. Use immediately or store buttercream in in the fridge; If placing in the fridge, be sure to bring to room temperature before using. 
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Homemade Pizza

I have never made pizza before in my life, but I love eating pizza. I remember in college when I traveled to Europe on a study tour and we had authentic Italian pizza I was in food heaven. There are so many forms of pizza, if you are from the Midwest and frequent Chicago, you will probably think that deep dish pizza is the best. If you reside in New York, you will think New York style pizza is the best. There is Californian style, the famous D.C Jumbo slice, St-Louis style, Neapolitan style, Detroit style pizza and the list goes on. At the end of the day pizza is one of those foods that everyone loves and enjoy. As I was pondering on what kind of pizza I was going to make, the most intimidating part of the process was the dough. If the dough was not right then the whole pizza would not be good. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed but after watching some YouTube videos I realized that it actually was not as difficult as I thought it would be.

The first thing I did before buying ingredients was figuring it out what kind of flour to use for the dough. I decided to use bread flour. I recommend this because not only is it cheap and easily accessible at your local grocery store, it also has a higher gluten content than all purpose flour. I prefer using King Arthur’s Bread Flour. You can use all purpose flour if you’d like but when it is time to stretch the dough it can tear easily. I know I’ve said in the past that you do not want too much gluten, however, for pizza dough, you want it to be crispy on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside. To achieve this, your dough has to have a higher gluten content. Another thing that is important is your oven heat. Set your oven to 500 degrees if it goes that high, if not, have it on the highest heat possible. I bought two pizza stones to bake my pizzas. Make sure to dust the stone with semolina flour or cornmeal if semolina is not available. This prevents the dough from sticking to the stone and helps create the crispy texture you desire. I recommend using pizza stones but you can also use a baking sheet with parchment paper.

pesto pizza with onions and sundried tomatoes (pre baking)

pesto pizza with onions and sundried tomatoes (pre baking)

Alright, lets talk sauces! I made a simple no cook tomato sauce and a pesto sauce as well. I experimented with the tomato sauce until I got the flavor that I wanted. The first sauce I made I put way too much garlic and I did not strain my tomatoes properly so it was too watery and too garlicky. So on my second attempt, I did a combination of diced tomatoes and tomato paste. I will insert the recipe below for the tomato sauce as well as the pesto sauce. For your toppings keep it simple, you can precook your toppings depending on what vegetable it is. For fresh herbs like basil or parsley add them after the pizza has cooked so you can maximize the flavor. For cheese, I used fresh mozzarella that I got from my local supermarket. You can use any kind of cheese you desire. For my vegan friends, Chao Cheese or Daiya cheese works perfectly on these pizzas, although Chao cheese melts better.

I hope you guys have as much fun making these pizzas as I did. Get creative with your toppings and be sure to inbox me and tag #sweetemms in your creations! I’d love to see them and as always, bon appétit mes amies!

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Yield: 2 10in pizzas

Pizza

ingredients:

For Dough
  • 3/4 cup of lukewarm water (not hot)
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups of bread flour/all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp semolina flour or cornmeal flour 
No Cook Tomato Sauce
  • 1 14 oz can of unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz of tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp minced garlic 
  • 1/2  tsp sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil 
Pesto Sauce
  • 2 cups fresh basil 
  • 1 cup parsley 
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 2 tbsp water 
Toppings
  • 1/4 julienne onions
  • 1/2 cup mushroom
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes 
  • 1/3 cup arugula 
  • red pepper flakes 

instructions:

Dough
  1. Pour 3/4 cup of warm water into a bowl and pour packet of yeast and let it sit until yeast is dissolved. Takes about 5 minutes. 
  2. In big bowl, brush the sides of the bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix together flour, sugar and salt together. Create a well in the middle of the bowl and add in 2 tbsp of olive oil and pour in the water and yeast mixture. 
  3. Mix with hands or put in a food processor until the dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer unto a floured surface and knead dough until smooth. The dough should spring back when you poke it. If it is still sticky add 1 tbsp or flour and knead together til smooth This should take about 6-7 mins. 
  4. Place ball of dough in an container and brush the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place a kitchen towel over it and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours. You can skip the rise if you are in a hurry if not let it rise
  5. Divide the dough in two and roll the dough into 10 in round pieces. When rolling out the dough start in the middle of the ball of dough and move towards the edge. I used my hands to stretch out the dough so it is not overworked but a rolling pin can be used as well. Once rolled out transfer to pizza stone  dusted with semolina/cornmeal flour or baking sheet with parchment paper add sauce, veggies and cheese
  6. Bake for 8-10 mins or until cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. Cool and enjoy! 
Pesto Sauce
  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Puree until mixture forms a thick paste.
  2. Add to pizza dough with desired toppings. Mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes are good toppings for pesto.
Pizza Sauce
  1. In a bowl or food processor mix all the ingredients together until sauce is thick. If it is too thick, add 1 tbsp of water at a time until desired thickness is achieved. 
Created using The Recipes Generator

Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttery, flaky, warm, if you haven’t guessed by now I’m talking about biscuits! I love all things bread, but biscuits have a special place in my heart. Whenever I go to a restaurant, if they have biscuits on their menu ten times out of ten I’m getting them. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like biscuits you can do so much with them. You can put jam, jelly, butter or honey on them or eat them just as is. You can make sandwiches and of course you can’t forget biscuits and gravy. I wanted to challenge myself this month especially in making things that I love eating but had no idea how to make. I did a lot of research on what makes a biscuit flaky, soft and fluffy. The secret is cold ingredients; from the flour, baking powder, buttermilk to the butter. Butter is about 16-17 percent water, when the little pieces of butter that are in the dough bake in the oven, they release steam in those pockets and it creates the flaky layers that we love to see in biscuits and any pastry. I would recommend placing your stick of butter in the freezer for 30 mins before beginning to bake. I put the flour and baking powder in the freezer as well. I made a regular batch of buttermilk biscuits, one plain and the other batch I added chives and thyme. I also made a vegan batch of biscuits as well. Both batches were fluffy, flaky and just so darn good. I almost ate them all myself!

buttermilk and vegan biscuits

buttermilk and vegan biscuits

For the vegan biscuits, I substituted regular butter for margarine or vegan butter and I used almond milk in the place of the buttermilk. Honestly, if I didn’t say they were vegan you could not tell the difference. Another tip for making biscuits is don’t over work the dough, you will have to knead the dough but don’t knead it too much. As you work the dough, you are creating gluten and the more gluten there is, the more likely that your biscuits won’t rise as they should. If the biscuits don’t rise you will not get those flaky layers everyone loves. And trust me, no one wants that.

The last tip I found to be helpful was to use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to cut out my biscuits. This will not only help your biscuit to maintain their shape but also in the creation of well defined layers. When using a cookie/biscuit cutter, do not twist the cutter once you have placed in the dough. Doing so will prevent the biscuits to rise properly. If you don’t have a cutter, you can use a knife to create square biscuits. I baked my biscuits in a cast iron pan; if you don’t have a cast iron pan you can use a regular baking sheet, but be sure to line the sheet with some parchment paper.

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With the help of my boyfriend we made some buttermilk brined fried chicken sandwiches with the biscuits that had the chives and thyme, made a simple slaw with red cabbage and carrots, slapped some pickles on them and enjoyed. For breakfast I had them with some strawberry jam and made a simple honey butter to accompany them. I hope you guys have fun making these, Be sure to let me know how they turn out, leave a comment below, tag me in your pictures so I can see. Bon appétit mes amis!

buttermilk biscuit chicken sandwich.

buttermilk biscuit chicken sandwich.

Yield: 8-10

Buttermilk Biscuits

prep time: 15 minscook time: 15 minstotal time: 30 mins

This recipe will give you the best biscuits. Soft, warm, flaky biscuits will all of the layers a biscuit should have. Very simple and you can enjoy in less than hour.

ingredients:

  • 2 1/12 cups  flour (spoon and leveled) 
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (frozen)  cut into cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk plus a little more for top of biscuits 
  • 1 tsp salt 
Vegan Option
  • 1/2 cup of vegan butter (frozen)
  • 1 cup almond milk

instructions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 450 °F; In a food processor, mix flour, baking powder, butter and salt and pulse until your butter is pea sized. If using a bowl, you can grate your butter into the flour mixture.
  2. Create a well in the flour mixture then pour in the cold buttermilk and mix together gently until the dough starts to come together (be sure not to over mix) Once it has come together, on a floured surface take the contents of the bowl and work it together, getting all the crumbs. Put the dough into a rectangle and fold it in thirds, turn it over and do this three more times. Remember to be gentle.              
  3. Place the dough on a floured surface and rolled the dough until it is about 1 1/2 inch thick. Gently press down the cutter and place the biscuits in the cast iron or baking sheet make sure that the biscuits are touching. Gather the scraps and re-roll them to 1 1/2 inch thickness and repeat until you have 8-10 biscuits 
  4. Once all your biscuits are all in your cast iron, brush the tops of the biscuits with some of the leftover buttermilk. Place the biscuits in the oven for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown
  5. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter if desired, or leave as is. Allow them to cool and then serve with jam, honey and enjoy! 
Vegan option
  1. Substitute the butter and buttermilk steps with vegan butter and almond milk or your choice of milk. Then continue following the steps of the recipe as is. 
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raison d'être

raison d'être translated into English simply means: reason for being. According to Merriam-Webster it means reason or justification for existence. I wanted to introduce myself a little more in depth and tell you the reason why I have created this blog. If you don’t know by now my name is Emma or actually its Emmanuelle is the name my parents named me. I actually started baking when I was in high school but it was mainly cookies and only around Christmas time. I learned how to make a cake from scratch from my mom but at the time I was more interested in playing outside than I was learning how to do anything in the kitchen. I specifically remember one day I was feeling stressed out with school, work was not going the way I needed to in that moment and so I decided that I was going to make some cupcakes. I searched through Pinterest and I landed on carrot cake cupcakes (shown below) As I was baking, I slowly started to decompress, I didn’t feel like everything was falling apart anymore, I was calmer and I felt great after I was finished. Again a couple months later, I found myself baking banana bread as a way to decompress and it just became my outlet.

Vegan Carrot cupcakes with Orange cream cheese frosting.

Vegan Carrot cupcakes with Orange cream cheese frosting.

The photography followed naturally, as I found myself styling the food and making it look aesthetically pleasing. I would go to different restaurants and before eating I would snap a few pictures of my food and sometimes the table. I was and am still extremely self conscious of my work, mainly because I had told myself that I wasn’t creative for so long that I began to believe it. Though multiple people around me enjoyed my treats and complimented me on my photographs I had a hard time believing it myself. My issue was I struggled with comparing my work with others who were more experienced in photography/baking.

I had been toying with the idea of creating a food blog all of last year. I started and stopped many times because I was scared of putting myself out there and possibly failing. Ultimately I decided to give myself a hard deadline to work diligently and launch the website before 2018 wrapped. The end result of my work is Sweet Emms. This website is me putting myself out there and saying that it is okay if I fail because at the end of the day I tried and put my best foot forward. Sweet Emms is a space for me to share what I create with others. So I hope that you continue to join me as I go on this food journey. Below are a few photos of food that I’ve shot over the last year. Bon appétit mes amis!

Chicken and Waffles @ Bouchon in Las Vegas

Chicken and Waffles @ Bouchon in Las Vegas

French toast @ Milk and Honey Cafe

French toast @ Milk and Honey Cafe

Brunch with friends.

Brunch with friends.