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Happy February--Ground Hog Day, with fun recipes

By Jane Butel  February 3, 2021

The promise of Spring always signals  more sun, fun outdoors and optimism for the change of seasons.  Yesterday was  Ground Hog day and the prediction is six more weeks of winter.  But with  Valentine's Day coming  and Heart month, it is a time to celebrate.  Even if  you don't normally bake, try your hand at  heart cookies, red velvet cake or spicy Chocolate Chile Cupcakes.  And if you would like to follow me in a zoom session next Thursday, February 11 at 7:30 PM on how to make a Spicy Chocolate Mousse, just call 505 888-9474 for a reservation  or click on http://wish.org/goto/galentine's.  

We are getting much more optimistic about  our classes, as are many of our  cooking friends.  We  are receiving reservations for Oaxaca, our week long and our day classes, which we are able to expand.   We have reservations open for Take a Tortilla and...set for February 18 as well as Taco Mania on March 4,  our March 15 -19 week long and our next April 23-25 weekend, as well as a few for Oaxaca.  I look forward to cooking with you, seeing you and being with you.

Also,  I am  presenting two more local, Corrales events.   One for the library ,February 23 at 7 PM., where I will be giving a zoom talk on the story behind three of my best selling cookbooks.   This is free, if you want to join, just call the Corrales Library and request to be added to the list.  Their number is 505-897-0733.   Also, for the Corrales  Arts Center on March 12 on the "Culinary  History of the Rio Grande".  There is a charge for this talk and  I will share the details later.

Here are the recipes for Red Velvet Cake and  Spicy Chocolate Chile Cupcakes--This recipe is in my Freezer cookbook and along with many other great recipes.  I am putting it on a weekly special until Sunday, February 7, 2021 of $15.00 autographed.


The story goes that a a woman, who was dining in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City was so impressed with the deep red cake she was eating, she asked the waiter for the recipe.  He promptly presented the recipe on a silver platter with a bill for $100.00.  Perhaps this is only folklore, but Red Velvet cake is a very attractive, great Valentine’s Day or for any other occasion when red seems right.

Temperature: 375 F

Baking time: 25 minutes

Yield:  two, 8 inch layers 

2 cups sifted flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup shortening

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

2 ounces red food coloring (2 large or 4 small bottles)

1 Tablespoon vinegar 

  1. Preheat even to 375 F. Grease and line with waxed paper two, round 8-inch layer pans.
  2. Measure dry ingredients, then sift together.
  3. Cream shortening until fluffy, then add the sugar and using medium speed of mixer, add eggs one a time and beat until fluffy after adding each.  Add vanilla and blend.
  4. Combine the liquid ingredients—buttermilk, vinegar and food coloring. Then add the dry ingredients in four additions, alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  5. Divide batter equally between the two cake pans and place the preheated oven for 25 mintutes at 375 F. Check for doneness, when a an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the batter has pulled away from the sides, it is done.  When done, cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning ouit of pans.   Frost with white frosting, using either the traditional Creamy Frosting, following or a Butter Cream Powdered frosting. 

Note:  For 7000 Feet Adjustments—

Use ¾ teaspoon baking soda

Use 1 ¼ cup sugar

Use 3 eggs 


This is the traditional Red Velvet cake frosting. 

Yield:  Enouigh to frost between and on top of  two 8 inch cake layers. 

5 Tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1 cup sweet cream unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

¼ teaapoon salt

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla

  1. Cook the flour and milk until thick, stirring constantly using medium heat.  Remove from heat.
  2. Cover pan and let stand until cool.
  3. Cream butter until fluffy using medium high speed of electric mixer. Add sugar, salt and vanilla; cream until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the cooked mixture gradually using high speed of electric mixer.  Mix until it resembles whipped cream.  Frost in between the layers, the top  and the sides of the cake.

 Note:  As an alternate, split the layers and just frost between all the layers and on top


These doubly chocolate cupcakes, heated up with some spicy red chile, are extraordinarily special. The mellowness of the milk chocolate contrasted with the richness of the semisweet chocolate is a taste treat you won’t forget. These are perfect for everything from a birthday party to an afternoon tea—a great snack when you feel the urge for chocolate, and an ideal dessert for a chili meal. Frost them with your favorite chocolate butter cream frosting.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

14 Tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter

4 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla, preferably Mexican vanilla

Pinch salt

2 Tablespoons pure, hot ground red chile

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup milk chocolate chips

½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F. Place paper liners in 12 muffin cups.
  1. Place the semisweet chocolate chips and all the butter in a medium microwave-safe mixing bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and microwave on full power for 1 minute. Stir, and repeat until the chocolate and butter are just melted—do not overheat, as it will ruin the chocolate (If you prefer, you can melt the butter and chocolate together in a heavy saucepan. Start over medium heat and then switch to low for the best result, 6 to 8 minutes total)
  1. Place the eggs in a small bowl and lightly whisk them. Then add the sugar, vanilla, salt, and chile, and mix until well blended.

     4.  Add the flour to the egg mixture and stir only until just blended. Add the chocolate-butter mixture, the chocolate chips, and the pecans, and mix only until just blended. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups, and back until just barely done, 30 to 35 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out almost clean.




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