Mocha Cupcakes with Cappuccino Cream Cheese Frosting

Diva Entertains Mocha Cupcakes

After spending way too much time on my last cupcake venture, Cupcake Pops, I decided to pursue a more sophisticated, adult cupcake.  This time I went for a homemade mocha cupcake that I topped with, not one, but two luscious frostings: a chocolate ganache and a cappuccino cream cheese frosting.  If you want to save time and only make one frosting – go for the cappuccino; it’s amazing!

Diva Entertains Mocha Cupcakes Open

The cupcake recipe is easy and straightforward.  The sour cream, extra egg yolk and a bit of oil keep the cupcake moist.  For the chocolate flavor I used Hershey’s Extra Dark Cocoa but you can use regular – the cupcake will simply be lighter in color (and taste) than the one shown.  If you’ve never made chocolate ganache before – you are in for quite a treat.  After making it you can cool it in the fridge until it is thickens somewhat and it is spreadable (don’t let it harden, though) and use it as is or you can instead whip it into a lighter, fluffier frosting.

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    Baked Gnocchi Recipe

    Just in time for family gatherings.  This decadent gnocchi ‘pasta’ is really the gnocchi equivalent of mac ‘n cheese.  But this is so much more sophisticated (and better tasting)!

    This gnocchi sauce recipe combines Fontina, Gruyere and Parmesan cheese; it’s a delicious combination.  And the gnocchi cheese sauce quickly comes together by first creating a roux and then adding the grated cheese (fontina and Gruyere) to it.  Before the dish goes into the oven it is topped with the grated Parmesan.  In the words of my dear mother, “Yum Yum”!

    One word of advice:  if you use a heavy hand with the cheeses like I did, you may need to blot off a little liquid from the top of the gnocchi before serving (similar to cheesy pizza).  Simply blot excess with a paper towel.

    * Typically found in the Italian aisle of your supermarket.

    ** You’ll want to use a metal skillet so that you don’t ruin a nonstick finish with the whisk (unless you have a nonstick whisk).

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    Chicken Francaise – A Must Have Recipe

    Diva Entertains' Chicken Francaise

    I had been making lemon chicken breasts for years; a dish that my husband and I love and that we eat frequently.  Then I came across this recipe by David Rosengarten and it was a bit different than the one that I had been using.  His called for making a batter of egg, Romano or Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley.  Once the chicken breasts had been dipped in the batter, they are then lightly coated with flour prior to sauteing.  And, instead of adding lemon juice to the sauce that is made after the chicken pieces are cooked, he calls for boiling lemon slices in wine and chicken stock.  Now I’m not really sure why this proved to create a much more flavorful sauce than my original recipe, but I think it may have to do with the oils in the lemon rind.  Whatever caused it – the result is a luscious sauce.

    Because the sauce is easy to make, the only real key to success here is to cook the chicken enough to develop crisp, browned sides but not to overcook it.  How to accomplish that?  First, pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness (1/4″ thick).  Then, once the oil in the pan is good and hot, let the chicken cook until a white-ish border about 1/4″ thick has developed around the edges.  This will probably take 2 – 5 minutes and should allow the chicken pieces to create a golden crust and wonderful flavor.  Turn the pieces over and cook for another 2 minutes or so. (Timing depends on how thin you’ve pounded the breasts.  You know the chicken is ready to turn when the white-ish border occurs and the second side will not take as long to cook as the first.)

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    Sophisticated Chocolate Nut Cookies

    I couldn’t decide what to call these.  Where they chocolate nut cookies?  Almond paste cookies? Chocolate pistachio cookies?  Well, whatever you call them, they are sure to be a hit!  Perfect for the holidays.  They look fancy-schmancy, don’t they?  It’s all looks, tho – they are surprisingly easy to make.


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