Friday, December 25, 2015

Cupcakes and Cocktails - Epicurean Hotel

Christmas was always another holiday that wasn't consistently celebrated when I lived in Orlando. Of course, when I was younger we celebrated every year, giving gifts and having lots of family over. When I was in high school though it seemed that the level of celebration started dwindling every year. Once my brother and I were in university, it became more of a vacation for our family to get together rather than actually celebrating Christmas. Unlike Thanksgiving, I do love all the wonderful Christmas flavors. Eggnog, hot cocoa, gingerbread, and all the other wonderful Christmas and holiday flavors were always my favorite part (you know, besides the gifts). I couldn't wait to see what Chef Beth had in store for the December Cupcakes and Cocktails class.

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
Hot Chocolate Cupcakes:
hot chocolate cake, peppermint bark, peppermint buttercream

The most exciting part of the December class had to be the hands on component. We got to make our very own peppermint bark! 

Peppermint Bark station

Melting the semi-sweet chocolate
Melting the white chocolate

The final product!
The making of the peppermint bark was so much easier than I expected. I had tried making my own a few times and it was quite the ordeal. I never perfected the double boiler technique, but with the tips from Chef Beth, I think I can do it at home now! After the hands on portion, we sat back at our seats to watch Chef Beth demonstrate the hot cocoa cupcakes with peppermint frosting.

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes with Peppermint Frosting 

 Even though the cupcakes didn't have alcohol in them, they were amazing. Peppermint is by far one of my favorite holiday treats and being able to not only make my own but to make a cupcake version was a delight. The cocktails during the class were a delight too. They had white chocolate martinis and spicy milagro hot chocolate. It was a wonderful night to kick off the holiday season, even if the weather here in Tampa makes it feel like summer!

This was by far one of my favorite classes, with the hands on component and the addition of white chocolate and peppermint bark...there was no way I wouldn't love this class! I look forward to celebrating my birthday month with Chef Beth, I can't wait to see what she has in store for us in the new year!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cupcakes and Cocktails - Epicurean Hotel

I'm not a huge Thanksgiving person, I never have been...maybe that's why it took me so long to write this post (okay, it's more likely because I got caught up with work and vacation time). Thinking back on when I was growing up, I can't really remember too many traditional Thanksgiving dinners. It wasn't because of the stereotypical "reaping of the earth/killing of the natives" defense that many Americans use, I think it was more so the fact that as Indian Americans, we never really incorporated Thanksgiving as one of our traditions. Of course, we loved having multiple days off for a long weekend and spending time together after my brother and I left for university was always nice, but ultimately the "Thanksgiving dinner" part never was a traditional part of holiday for us.

So when I heard Chef Beth was doing a Thanksgiving themed Cupcakes and Cocktails class, I was a little nervous and a little excited. I was nervous because for me, Thanksgiving seems very meat heavy and some of the flavors aren't necessarily flavors I'd chose as my first pick for cupcakes (i.e. turkey, green beans, stuffing). I was excited though, because I knew Chef Beth would put a wicked twist on any or all of these flavors, making it fun and cupcake friendly...and I wasn't wrong!

When I saw the menu I got even more excited, because not only was there no turkey in the cupcakes, but the flavors Chef Beth used were flavors I generally enjoy! I always forget about the desserts on Thanksgiving, I won't lie.

My Little Sweet Potato cupcake
Mom's Pecan Pie cupcake
Chocolate Malt cupcake

During the class, I enjoyed Chef Beth's reminiscing about her family and her dedication of each cupcake to one of her family members. It was really great to get to know a little more about Chef Beth.

Banana Banshee paired with the Chocolate Malt Cupcake

Buffalo Trace toasted pecan whiskey sour paired with Mom's Pecan Pie
The class was one of the best yet. The cupcakes were delicious and inventive and the cocktails were delicious. My favorite cocktail of the night was the Banana Banshee which was paired with the Chocolate Malt cupcake. It tasted like a spiked banana chocolate shake, it was delicious. The chocolate malt cupcake also had to be my favorite cupcake. I had never had a chocolate malt let alone a chocolate malt cake and let me tell you, it's something to try! The cake was moist and delicious and the malt added a delicious chocolate flavor reminiscent of a delicious childhood.

This was probably my favorite class not only because the cupcakes and cocktails were delicious, but I felt like it made me a little more interested in Thanksgiving, it got me thinking of all the things I'm thankful for in my life, my friends, family, and coworkers.

I think this is the start of a new tradition, Thanksgiving cupcakes annually? Sounds good to me!

The best Christmas tree outside Epicurean Hotel