Churro Popcorn

| by | Desserts, Recipes, Snacks


Churro Popcorn | Sempre Dolce

Where has the time gone? One day I’m blogging in March and the next, April (which is creeping flying closer to May – like, two days close). March kept me crazy busy with kitchen renovations and visiting family. April has been keeping me busy with a new (and very exciting, I might add) project that I can’t wait to reveal soon. *jumps up and down*

Churro Popcorn | Sempre Dolce

Churro Popcorn | Sempre Dolce

Churro Popcorn | Sempre Dolce

We finally renovated our kitchen (actually, it’s still a work in progress) and what a process/experience that has been! When it’s all said and done I hope to share some before, during, and after photos with a little on how we did it, but for now let me just say that sometimes there is a reason you pay professionals to do things for you… It’s not all Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, people. It’s real life everything is out of order and I’m tired of eating fast food and can’t wait to cook an actual meal again. In the end it’s all good but wow, what a process!

Churro Popcorn | Sempre Dolce

I need some popcorn. Popcorn covered in butter. And cinnamon sugar. And maybe some chocolate too. Yes, this my friends, is what I am calling Churro Popcorn. I’m sure it’s been done before, but I refuse to check on this fact so that in my mind of blissful ignorance, mine is the brain behind this recipe. ;^) To me, it seems kind of silly to call this churro popcorn, as popcorn is nothing close to churros. But it was a better name than just calling it cinnamon sugar coated popcorn ⇐ see what I mean? 

Churro Popcorn | Sempre Dolce

Churro Popcorn | Sempre Dolce

Churro Popcorn | Sempre Dolce This popcorn is so easy peasy (and um, addicting!), I really shouldn’t be posting it in recipe format, but here you go!

The lowdown: Popcorn that is coated in butter and then finished with a cinnamon sugar mixture (and…maybe some chocolate too) is sure to please all. Easy as pie to put together and super addicting, this sweet snack would be perfect for parties and gatherings. 

Churro Popcorn
Serves 8
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  1. 8 C. popcorn, popped
  2. 1/2 C. granulated sugar
  3. 1/2-1 tbsp. (it depends on your level of affection for cinnamon) cinnamon
  4. 6 tbsp. butter
  1. In microwave safe bowl or in a small saucepan on the stove, melt butter; set aside.
  2. If you have not already done so, pop your corn (you will need 8 C. popped).
  3. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Place popcorn in a large mixing bowl (I like to use our giant mixing bowl - makes it easier for tossing :). Pour butter over popcorn in increments, tossing and stirring to coat between increments.
  5. Shake cinnamon sugar mixture over popcorn, again doing this in increments and tossing/stirring to combine between increments.
  6. Mix (I used my hands) until popcorn has been well coated in cinnamon sugar.
  7. If desired, drizzle melted chocolate over popcorn.
  8. Serve and enjoy!
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Grapefruit Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream

| by | Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts, Recipes

March, we have arrived.

Grapefruit Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream| Sempre DolceFor some that means a glimmer of spring shines near off in the distance. For me (and other Texans), well, March arrived back in January. The trees are in bloom and even yesterday my mom and I saw some bluebonnets in full bloom, and bluebonnets never bloom until late March/April… Bleck, bleck, BLECK! (not bleck to the flowers, just the weather!) 

I hate warm winters.

Oh, I know; if I lived somewhere where it snowed day after day and had to deal with winter depression I might not mind these warm winters so much, but all I’m asking for is a little balance. A small burst of cold for a few days, then maybe some sunshine and warmer (I don’t mean 60’s or 70’s, either) temperatures and then maybe a little cold again – balance, you know? To put it in the words of Pepi from Shop Around The Corner (best Christmas movie ever): Am I asking too much??

Grapefruit Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream| Sempre Dolce

Ah, well – c’est la vie!

Since we’re on the subject of all things bright and sunshiny… where do we stand on Grapefruit? 

Grapefruit is a food I’m funny about; I don’t like it plain as it’s too tart for my tastes. But, I do like it in other things – like cake, for example. (Especially cake covered in marshmallow buttercream and topped with a blood orange glaze… ;P )

Grapefruit Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream| Sempre Dolce

I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys! All three components have me thrilled to pieces:

1. We start with a buttermilk cake (once again, I love buttermilk cakes as they are usually moist and of course delicious) and give it a little edge by adding grapefruit zest as well as actual grapefruit chunks (if you don’t like the idea of the chunks, just leave them out – no big deal!).

2. To decorate the cake, I made a marshmallow buttercream frosting – which, as a side note, has to be one of the only buttercream that I could eat by the spoonful.

For the frosting, we’re making a basic buttercream and adding a whole jar(!) of marshmallow creme which turns it into pure deliciousness!

3. To finish, I made a blood orange glaze – which turns into a lovely shade pink – for some tangy sparkle. The glaze consists of two ingredients: blood orange juice and powdered sugar. It’s really fun – wait, did I just say a glaze was fun? – and pretty; it adds the right amount of tang to compliment the cake but doesn’t overshadow any of the other flavors.

Grapefruit Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream| Sempre Dolce

If you like citrus desserts and need a little sunshine, I highly recommend trying this cake. It’s pretty (I could so see this adorning a dessert table) and not hard at all to make. I’m excited about it and think you would be too!

Grapefruit Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream| Sempre Dolce

Grapefruit Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream| Sempre Dolce

If you try it, I would LOVE to know how you liked it – comment, send me a message, or SOMETHING, just let me hear from you! :D

The lowdown: A buttermilk cake enhanced with grapefruit zest and actual chunks of grapefruit flesh is covered in a marshmallow buttercream and then finished with a blood orange glaze – the perfect cake to use up some winter citrus! 

Grapefruit Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream| Sempre Dolce

Grapefruit Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream
Serves 12
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Grapefruit Cake
  1. 2 1/2 C. cake flour
  2. 1 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  4. 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. 1 grapefruit
  6. 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but not too soft!
  7. 1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
  8. 5 eggs, room temperature
  9. 1 C. buttermilk (I highly recommend using full fat buttermilk)
  10. 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Marshmallow Buttercream
  1. 3 C. powdered sugar
  2. 1 C. (2 sticks) butter, softened
  3. 1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme (you could try fluff as well)
Blood Orange Glaze
  1. juice of 1 blood orange (1/4 C.)
  2. 1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350° f.
  2. Spray three 8" round pans with baking spray (this is the kind with flour in it) or grease and line bottoms with parchment paper.
  3. Zest grapefruit and set aside. Then, cut grapefruit in half and scoop out flesh, using the same method you would as if you were going to eat it. Place grapefruit chunks in bowl and set aside.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in grapefruit zest, and using a slotted spoon to remove chunks from bowl (you will want to shake off excess juice), add grapefruit chunks. Toss to combine.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a large bowl and handheld mixer), beat butter for about 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  6. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, scraping down bowl a few times as needed.
  7. Add 1/3 flour mixture and 1/3 of the buttermilk. Beat on low speed (or by hand) until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula and mixing by hand, add vanilla and remaining flour and buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. The batter will look a little grainy, but that's okay - just be sure you've mixed all of the big flour patches.
  8. Divide batter evenly between pans.
  9. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs, or when when the tops of the cakes springs back when lightly pressed in the center.
  10. Transfer pans to a cooling rack and cool in pans for 1 hour, or until no longer warm.
  11. Once cooled, invert cakes onto racks (you may need to coax them by running a knife around the pans).
  12. While cakes continue cooling, make frosting. (Remember, that they already need to be pretty cool when you invert them, otherwise let them cool a bit longer before making the frosting)
For the frosting
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk (or paddle, see note below) attachment, cream together butter and sugar for 2 minutes.
  2. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
To assemble
  1. Place one cake, top side down, on a cake stand (or whatever you want to decorate your cake on).
  2. Evenly spread about 1/2 C. of frosting on the first layer. Place second layer on top of first, again with the top side facing down. Spread with about another 1/2 C. frosting. Place 3rd layer on top of second, using the same top side down method.
  3. Cover the sides and top of cake with a very thin coating of frosting and freeze for 15 minutes. While freezing, place frosting in fridge.
  4. Remove cake from freezer and spread remaining frosting evenly around sides and top of cake.
Make the glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together fresh blood orange juice and powdered sugar. Note: if you want a thicker glaze, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency.
  2. Pour glaze on top of cake and let drizzle down sides, using as much or little of the glaze as you would like - I didn't use quite all of it.
  3. (Once you have finished decorating, you now have permission to lick any beaters and bowls clean... ;P)
  4. Serve cake immediately, or cover and keep in fridge until ready to serve. If keeping in fridge, bring to room temperature before serving.
  1. For the frosting: I'm not sue if a regular paddle would work or not, but my brother gave me this awesome paddle attachment for our KitchenAid, (which I absolutely LOVE) and is what I used. This special paddle is super great; I now know creamed butter like I've never known it before! It has a rubber coating and a special feature that scrapes the sides of the bowl. Plus, it's dishwasher safe - big win! If you are interested in checking it out, I've included a link at the bottom of this post below the recipe. As a side note: I have not been paid or anything to tell you about this product. I just thinks it's awesome and want to let you in on it! :^)
Adapted from The Dessert Bible (cake) & Food Network (frosting)
Adapted from The Dessert Bible (cake) & Food Network (frosting)
Sempre Dolce
 SideSwipe for KitchenAid


Chocolate Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

| by | Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts, Recipes

Have you seen The Great British Bake Off?  

Chocolate Cupcakes | Sempre Dolce

It’s a funny chain of events. I first laughed at my sister’s addiction to it, but that was before my mom and I saw it and we too, became hooked. Then, my brothers laughed at at the three of us for our addiction… until they saw an episode and needless to say we are now one GBBO addicted family! 

Chocolate Cupcakes | Sempre Dolce

I don’t know if it’s the British accents, the countryside setting, the slower pace, the sunshiny classical style music, or what – but it’s awesome! It’s also terrible, though because I’ve only been able to see the first season! (we can’t get the other seasons here in the U.S. – unless there’s something I don’t know about? *hopeful face*) Argh… 

Dear Someone in the UK,

Please send me every season of The Great British Bake Off ASAP! 

Thank you, 


While I wait for some kind soul somewhere out there to see my cry for help and send me some GBBO, let me ask you: Had any good cupcakes lately? 

Chocolate Cupcakes | Sempre Dolce

Cupcakes are actually a dessert that doesn’t show up around our house too often. I don’t know why, but that’s the case. When I do have them I like my cupcakes moist and chocolaty; not too much frosting and not too little; throw in a s’mores cupcake and you’ve got me!

How do you like your cupcakes? 

These cupcakes were originally supposed to have some Snickers involved, but that didn’t. quite. work. However, I decided that these made for pretty darn good chocolate cupcakes on their own, so here you go!

How the cupcakes work: These cupcakes are adapted from a chocolate buttermilk cake recipe and are super moist (I usually look to buttermilk, or sometimes sour cream, recipes when I want a moist cake). I added some coffee in place of half of the buttermilk, as I like the enhanced chocolate flavor (if you taste any coffee it will only be a slight hint). For the frosting, we are going with a (dark) brown sugar frosting enhanced with brown butter – totally optional – which makes for a great contrast to the chocolate.  

I had a little trouble with runniness in the frosting so here is what I did, in case you have the same problem: If you go through all of the steps and what you have is a runny mess here’s what you can do: Add some powdered sugar (a little at a time, I added 2 1/3 C. total), switch to the whisk attachment on your mixer and whip!

If still a bit runny, pop bowl in the freezer for a good 15 minutes – give a few stirs when you remove from freezer (and maybe one or two during the chilling process).

Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you!

The lowdown: Moist chocolate cupcakes topped with a dark brown sugar (and brown butter!!) frosting make for a delicious twist on your average chocolate cupcake and buttercream frosting – a must try! :) 

Chocolate Cupcakes | Sempre Dolce

Chocolate Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting
Serves 18
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For the cupcakes
  1. 1 1/2 C. cake flour
  2. 1/2 C. dutch process cocoa powder (Hershey's Dark cocoa powder works as well)
  3. 2 tsp. instant espresso powder (or instant coffee powder)
  4. 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  5. 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  6. 1/4 tsp. salt
  7. 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but not too soft!
  8. 1 1/4 C. granulated sugar
  9. 2 eggs + 1 egg white, room tempature
  10. 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  11. 1/2 C. buttermilk (I highly, highly reccomned using full fat buttermilk)
  12. 1/2 C. strong coffee *see note below*
For the frosting
  1. 2 C. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  2. 1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
  3. 1/4 C. heavy cream
  4. 1/4 tsp. salt
  5. 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  1. Cupcakes
  2. Preheat oven to 350° f.
  3. Line 2 cupcake pans (this yields 18-19 cupcakes, so it will be more like 1 1/2 cupcake pans :) with cupcake liners and set aside.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until light, about 1 minute.
  6. With the mixer on medium-high speed, gradually add sugar; mixing until fluffy and very light in color, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl a few times.
  7. Add eggs, and egg white one at a time, beating until almost completely combined after each addition.
  8. Add in vanilla and beat briefly, about 10 seconds.
  9. Stop mixer and in a liquid measuring cup (or bowl), mix together buttermilk and coffee.
  10. Turn mixer on low speed and add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture alternately with the buttermilk/coffee in 3 parts. Mix until almost completely combined - do not overmix! Be sure to scrape sides of bowl with a rubber spatula a few times during alternations.
  11. Finish mixing by stirring batter together with rubber spatula until just combined.
  12. Divide batter evenly between cupcake liners (I used about 1/4 C. batter per liner).
  13. Bake for 14-17 minutes (1 pan baked longer than the other) or until cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the center and/or toothpick/cake tester comes out with moist crumbs. Rotate pans halfway through baking.
  14. Transfer pans to wire rack to cool. Cool completely before frosting.
  15. While cupcakes are cooling, start frosting.
Dark Brown Sugar (and brown butter!) Frosting
  1. In a medium-small sized saucepan placed over medium-low heat, melt butter until butter goes from it's lemon-like yellow color to a toasty brown, swirling the pan to ensure even cooking. (if you have never browned butter before, I recommend reading the more detailed how to on The Kitchn)
  2. Once we have some delicious brown butter, maintain the medium-low heat and to the saucepan with the butter, add brown sugar, cream, and salt. Cook until mixture begins to simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  3. Add eggs to mixture, stirring to combine. Return pan to heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 2-9 minutes, or until mixture is thick and foamy.
  4. Cool completely - this took 1 1/2 hours.
  5. About 30 minutes before continuing, set remaining 1/2 C. butter out to warm to room temperature.
  6. Once brown butter mixture is cool, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer (a hand mixer can also be used). Cut room temperature butter into pieces and add to brown sugar mixture.
  7. Beat until butter is completely blended and frosting has lightened in color (the texture will also be smooth), about 1-2 minutes, occasionally scraping bottom and sides of bowl.
  8. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes and enjoy immediately or place in fridge until desired serving time!
  1. If you don't wish to add the coffee, just substitute with an additional 1/2 C. of buttermilk.
Adapted from The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball
Adapted from The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball
Sempre Dolce
Chocolate Cupcakes | Sempre Dolce



Child’s Chocolate Pie

| by | Desserts, Pies & Tarts, Recipes

There are few foods in life that make me smile.

Chocolate Child's Pie | Sempre Dolce

Food in general can make me happy, but seldom does it make me inwardly smile and present the air of cheerfulness in a way that I just can’t ignore.

There is, however, one food that does. Have you ever heard of Happy Hippo Biscuits? They are the cute little hippos sitting on top of the pie you see. Are they not darling? I don’t remember how we first heard about them, but they seriously are so fun that anytime I look at one I can’t help but feel a burst of sunshine inside. Are you not smiling as well?

Happy Hippo Biscuit | Sempre Dolce

Not only are they cute as a button, but are also extremely tasty! (the hippos are filled with a cream and chocolate hazelnut filling, yumm…)  

Chocolate Child's Pie | Sempre Dolce

When trying to think of ideas for a recipe to post a couple of weeks ago, my mind was rather dead. Until one night in bed I came up with an idea to post something geared a little more to children and to the child inside each one of us (aka the past). Enter this Child’s Chocolate Pie.

For this pie I wanted to incorporate some of the things kids love and so of course Happy Hippos had to be involved, even if they are just for decoration.

Chocolate Child's Pie | Sempre Dolce

I first tried experimenting with my own filling, but after one trial and error I got impatient – hence as to why I could never fully develop my own recipes! – and thus took the easy way out by way of an internet search. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies | Sempre Dolce

I wasn’t horribly disappointed with my first filling so you can bet that I am going to try my hand at it again soon; it gives me an excuse to post another pie in the near future! But until then, this version will do nicely. :)

Chocolate Child's Pie | Sempre Dolce

The lowdown: This special chocolate pie embraces and incorporates ingredients that will please adults and children alike. A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb Crust is filled with a layer of marshmallow and then chocolate pudding; topped with whipped cream and Happy Hippo Biscuits, this is an easy and tasty pie you will want to add to your dessert repertoire


Child's Chocolate Pie
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Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust
  1. 24 Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies
  2. 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Marshmallow Layer *this is an optional step, see note below*
  1. 2 (heaping) C. mini marshmallows
  2. 2 tbsp. heavy cream
Pudding Layer
  1. 2/3 C. granulated sugar
  2. 1/3 C. cornstarch
  3. 1/4 tsp. salt
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 3 C. milk (I used whole milk)
  6. 1 (13 oz.) jar Chocolate HERSHEY'S Spreads
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Happy Hippo Biscuits (optional)
  2. whipped cream *see note below*
For the crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350° f.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse cookies until they reach a fine crumb. (if you have a small processor, you can do this in small batches - I recommend 4 cookies at a time)
  3. Transfer crumbs to a medium sized bowl and add melted butter.
  4. Stir to combine.
  5. Press mixture evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie plate. Note: I recommend using the bottom of a measuring cup for this step as it spreads more evenly, packs the crust better, and keeps it from falling apart
  6. Bake for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let crust cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before proceeding.
  8. After 20 minutes, place crust in freezer while preparing marshmallow layer.
For the marshmallow layer
  1. In a medium sized saucepan placed over a pan of simmering water (actually, I placed mine over a pan of boiling water...), stir together marshmallows and heavy cream until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth.
  2. Remove crust from freezer and spread marshmallow mixture evenly over bottom of crust; set aside.
For the pudding
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
  2. Whisk in eggs, then gradually stir in milk.
  3. Place over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until mixture comes to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, continue to boil and stir for 1 minute until mixture is thick and pudding consistency.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate spread and vanilla.
  6. Pour filling over marshmallow layer leaving about 1/2" (maybe a little less) from top - you will have some filling leftover, save it for pudding cups, or eating straight... ;)
  7. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly over pudding surface and place in fridge. Chill for 6-8 hours, or until set.
To garnish
  1. Before serving, top pie with whipped cream and if you can get them, some Happy Hippos - because life is just too short to not have Happy Hippos!
You can use store bought whipped cream, but if you desire homemade I used this recipe from Epicurious
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until it reaches desired consistency.
  2. Epicurious notes that: For soft peaks, the cream will be just thick enough to hold its shape in soft billows. For stiffly beaten cream, the beaters or whisk wires will leave distinct traces on the cream and stand in firm peaks when the beaters are lifted.
  3. Note: If you don't want the marshmallow layer, feel free to leave it out - more room for pudding! ;)
Adapted from (Pudding recipe) Hershey's
Adapted from (Pudding recipe) Hershey's
Sempre Dolce
Chocolate Child's Pie | Sempre Dolce  



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