Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes + Nambé Winner!

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes

Is it just me or is time FLYING by?!

I feel like I was just wondering what my Halloween costume was going to be and within a blink of an eye, Thanksgiving has come and gone and now we’re barreling towards the Winter Holidays. YIKES!

But with the Winter Holidays comes all the flavors that I adore —- and gingerbread probably tops the lot.

These gingerbread cuppies are wonderfully spiced, deeply flavored with molasses & fresh ginger and are quite moist. I added in some pears for an additional level of flavor and texture and think they paired well with the spiced frosting. However, if you feel like cutting out some sweetness, simply serve the cupcakes inverted as the pears will act as a wonderful “topping”. Either way, your guests will adore you for them.

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes

And now for the winner of our Nambe platter! Drum Roll please………….

CONGRATS Ryan M. who said he would use this platter to feature local cheeses and jams he has made this year. MMMmmm!! Ryan, please check your email for instructions.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated! And a big THANKS to our friends at Nambe!!!!

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Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes approximately 24-28 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Batter
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ cup molasses
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 cup chopped pears

Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon molasses
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5-6 cups confectioner sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin with paper cups.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and dried spices. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the boiling water, baking soda, sugar and molasses until combined. Stir in the vegetable oil. Allow the liquids to cool slightly. Mix in the dried ingredients and then the eggs, vanilla extract and fresh ginger. Once the batter has been combined, carefully fold in the pears.

Fill the paper cups three-quarters full and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans on a wire rack 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Whip in molasses, cinnamon, and cloves. Gradually whip in the confectioner sugar, ½ cup at a time. Continue adding sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Spicy Mussels with Andouille Sausage + Nambé GIVEAWAY

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Man, oh man……

This is a doozy.

You might as well just jump through the screen and hug me now.

Not only do I have a DELISH recipe to share with you but we have a FABULOUS GIVEAWAY!!!!! Oh yes, it’s another Win-Nguyen Situation!

Our generous friends at Nambé have offered to give one of our readers a STUNNING Cradle Pasta Bowl. I’m not kidding friends. When I took mine out of the box, I literally gasped! Forget about calling it a “pasta bowl”, it’s a work of art!

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I had so many different dishes I wanted to display in this beauty but finally settled upon a flavorful and easy summer meal– Spicy Mussels with Andouille Sausage. I often steam mussels in white wine with tons of citrus and herbs but wanted to kick up the flavors a bit this time around. The spice and richness from the Andouille were perfect! The broth is extremely satisfying as it melds the earthiness of the sausage with the briny goodness from the mussels and clam juice. I think it’s best enjoyed with a hunk of crunchy bread and a glass of crisp vino but it would also go well with some linguine. Exquisite!

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But as delectable as these mussels are, I’m sure you want to know how to win the lovely Cradle Pasta Bowl, right? Well the good news is that you have FIVE (5) separate chances to win! To enter:

  1. Leave a comment and tell us what the first thing you’ll serve in the Cradle Pasta Bowl;
  2. Subscribe to The Culinary Chronicles & get automatic emails when new posts are published (If you already subscribe, leave a comment indicating so);
  3. Like the Nambé Facebook Fan Page and leave us a comment here indicating so (If you already “Like” Nambé, leave a comment and let us know); or
  4. Like our Facebook Fan Page (If you already “Like” us, leave a comment indicating so); or
  5. Follow @CulinaryChron on Twitter (If you already Follow us, leave a comment indicating so).

The deadline to enter is Monday, April 23rd at 12pm (PST) and the winner will be announced the next day.

Best of luck friends and THANKS so much Nambé!

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Spicy Mussels with Andouille Sausage
Serves 6

½ pound Andouille Sausage, casings removed
½ cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1½ cups dry white wine
1 cup clam juice
1 32-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup chopped Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
5-6 lemon slices
4 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
vegetable oil
kosher salt
black pepper

Heat a heavy bottom pot with 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add in the sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat while it’s browning. Once cooked, remove the sausage to a plate.

Lower the heat to medium and cook the shallots for 2-3 minutes until tender but not browned. Add in the garlic, chili flakes and cook for an additional minute. Turn the heat back up to high and add in the white wine. Deglaze the pan with the wine and use the wooden spoon to scrape up the brown pits. Reduce the liquids by half. Add in the clam juice and tomatoes (with its juices). Once the liquids come to a slow boil, carefully add in the mussels, thyme, parsley, and lemon slices. Stir in the cooked sausage and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the mussels have opened. Remove the mussels to a serving dish. Check the broth for seasonings and adjust as needed with the kosher salt and pepper. Ladle the broth over the mussels and garnish with additional parsley and lemon wedges. Serve immediately with warm bread (baguettes or ciabatta).