Ginger Cupcake with Matcha Buttercream

Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes

Makes: 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1½ cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1½ cups whole milk
3 cups flour
¼ cup crystallized ginger, minced

For the buttercream:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon matcha tea powder

For the cupcakes:
Heat oven to 350 F and fill 2 cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, yolks and vanilla before scraping down the bowl edges. Add in baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground ginger and beat to combine. Add in the milk and flour in 3 parts, ending with the flour, until fully combined. Stir in crystallized ginger.

Scoop ¼ cup batter into each liner in the prepared pan. Bake 22–24 minutes or until tops are slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before placing each cupcake on a rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the buttercream:
Add butter and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on high until fully combined, about 5 minutes.

Scrape down the bowl and add in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, cream and matcha powder. Beat until fully combined and fluffy — about 1 minute. 

Frost completely cooled cupcakes with a pastry bag or offset spatula. 

Salted Ganache Brownies

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes
Makes: 16 brownies 

For the brownies:
1 box fudge brownie mix
15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

For the ganache:
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt

For the brownies:

Heat oven to 325 F. Butter or spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine brownie mix and black beans in a food processor. Pulse until a fine meal forms, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Replace the lid and process on high until smooth, 1–2 minutes.

Spread into the prepared pan and bake to box instructions.

Place on a rack until completely cooled.

For the ganache:

Heat heavy cream in a small pot over medium heat. Add chocolate chips to a medium-sized bowl, then pour the warmed cream on top. Wait one minute, then use a spatula to stir until smooth.

Pour on top of cooled brownies and sprinkle with salt. Place in the refrigerator to set before cutting into squares.

Baked Chicken Tikka

Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes
Impresses: 4–6

Spices are your passport in the kitchen. They take you to different regions, countries and continents, and inspire not only food, but culture. In India, spices are used liberally to make an impact on family and community tables. This twist on two traditional dishes — butter chicken and chicken tikka — brings bold flavors together with Greek-yogurt marinated chicken and creamy rice.

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1½ cups whole-milk Greek yogurt
3 cloves (1 tablespoon) garlic, grated
1 inch (1 tablespoon) ginger, grated
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter
1½ cups white basmati rice*
3½ cups chicken stock
10-ounce can tomato sauce
15-ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 cup cream or half and half
½ cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)

Combine chicken, yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper and nutmeg into a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Close the top and shake to completely coat the chicken. Set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Heat oven to 350 F.

Slice 2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and add to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle rice over the butter, then add in the stock, tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes. Stir to combine and evenly spread across the dish.

Using tongs, remove the chicken from the bag and place on top of the rice.

Cover with foil and bake on middle rack.

After 45 minutes, remove foil and chicken breasts. Stir cream into the rice mixture, then place chicken breast back on top and dot with remaining butter.

Bake an additional 10 minutes uncovered. 

Serve with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime.

*You can substitute any long-grain white rice.

Want S’more Pie

Start to finish: 1 hour
Makes: One

Filling instructions
1    cup heavy cream
8    ounces dark chocolate chips
8    ounces milk chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, heat cream until bubbles begin to simmer along the edge of the pan.

Place chocolate chips into a large, heat-proof bowl and pour hot cream on top. Let set 2 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, fold together the cream and chocolate until smooth.

Meringue instructions

3    egg whites, very cold
½    teaspoon cream of tartar
      7-ounce container marshmallow crème

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cold egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.

Add in marshmallow crème and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 more minutes.

Top pie and finish to recipe instructions.

S’more Pie assembly instructions
Prepare chocolate filling and pour into graham cracker crust.

Refrigerate 30 minutes until set.

Prepare marshmallow meringue and top pie. Using the kitchen torch, carefully toast the meringue topping. If you don’t have a torch, heat oven broiler and brown the top for 2–3 minutes.

Slice and serve.

Potato Soup


6 strips bacon
1 head broccoli
1 tablespoon butter
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 small onion
6 potatoes
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 carton (4 cups) chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
1½ cups milk
1 8-ounce container sour cream
salt and pepper 

Chop the broccoli, carrots, celery, onion and potatoes into small bite-sized pieces (taking care to separate the broccoli florets from the diced stock). Cut the bacon into small strips as well.

After the prep-work is done, fry the bacon strips in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once they’re fully cooked, remove the bacon from the pot and reserve the bacon pieces to top your soup. Remove all but approximately 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the pot and discard. Add the broccoli stocks, carrots, celery and onion to the pot and cook on medium-high for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes, broccoli florets and butter to the pot and continue to cook and stir the vegetables for 3–4 more minutes. Add the chicken broth and a dash of salt and pepper, and allow the pot to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked. 

Scoop approximately 2/3 of the soup into a bowl and purée using a submersion blender (a food processor or blender work too, so long as you’re cautious while blending — hot liquid expands, and can be a little unpredictable when mixed). This can be done all at once, or in shifts, whatever you feel most comfortable with. Add the puréed mixture back into the pot, and pour in the milk, cream and 4 ounces of the shredded cheddar. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir continuously until all the cheese is melted.

Dish the soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, remaining shredded cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of the reserved bacon.

Squash Bisque


Start to finish: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Impresses: 4–6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
2 cartons (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss together olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, squash, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Divide veggie mixture onto the prepared baking sheets and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10–15 minutes.

Once veggies have cooled slightly, transfer one-third into a blender with one-third of the chicken broth. Purée until smooth and then pulse in one-third of the heavy cream. Pour into a heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, stirring often. Repeat with the remaining veggies, broth and cream. 

Note: Depending on your blender size, this may take more than three rounds.

When ready to serve, ladle from the pot on the stove and drizzle in an extra splash of cream.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Trifle


Start to finish: 25 minutes
Impresses: 6

1 frozen pound cake, thawed
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
¼ cup sugar
½ cup chocolate-hazelnut spread
1 bar baker’s chocolate (optional)

Slice pound cake into even slices, and then into quarters so you have short sticks. Set aside.

In a chilled, stainless-steel bowl, whip together heavy cream, sugar and cocoa powder using a hand mixer until soft peaks form. 

Slightly melt chocolate-hazelnut spread until runny enough to drizzle. 

Place six parfait or high-ball glasses on cookie sheet or tray. Assemble parfaits beginning with the pound cake pieces. Drizzle with chocolate-hazelnut spread and a dollop of whipped cream. Repeat two more times for three total layers. 

Place tray in the fridge for at least an hour, or until ready to serve. Right before serving, top with shavings of baker’s chocolate.

Orange Scented Brownies


Whether you’re whipping up dinner for a crowd or dessert for someone special, preparing and enjoying meals is at the core of the holidays. And while traditional recipes vary from family to family, one thing remains true — flavor reigns. Add these brownies made with Plugra European Style Butter to your dinner table this holiday season.

Orange Scented Brownies
For the brownies:
1 cup Orange Butter (recipe below)
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, finely chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

For the ganache frosting:
9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or finely chopped baking chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted Plugra European Style Butter

For the brownies:
Heat oven to 350 F.
Butter, or cover with parchment paper, a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Melt together the butter and chocolate together in a medium-bowl over simmering water. You can also do this in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Stir together with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Add in the chocolate. Let cool.
Sprinkle in the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until just combined.
Pour into prepared dish and bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting

For the ganache frosting:
Melt together the butter, cream and chocolate together in a medium-bowl over simmering water.
Pour over the cooled brownies. Place in the fridge until set.
Once cut, brownies can be kept in the fridge or at room temperature. 

Orange Butter
8 ounces Plugra European Style Butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon orange zest
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar

Combine softened butter in a medium-sized bowl with zest, vanilla and sugar. Beat until fluffy. Scoop butter onto one end of a rectangular piece of parchment paper, leaving room on the sides. Fold the end with the butter over, tucking tightly to form a log. Roll until you’ve reached the end of the parchment. Twist the ends and secure with string or bread ties. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.