• Cupcakes and wine? Of course!

    by Richard Oh

    The Winery:

    In 1921, Joseph Manzoni left his home in Switzerland to come to the United States. A few years later he found himself in the Salinas Valley along with many other Swiss descendents. Among the many Old World traditions brought over from the homeland was the making of wine and Grappa. He introduced this to his workers, friends, and his own family. This proud tradition grew into what is now the Manzoni Estate Vineyard founded by his son Louie Manzoni, and his grandsons, Mark and Michael Manzoni.

    For almost 100 years, the Manzoni family has lived and farmed in this beautiful little part of California’s Monterey County – today known to wine lovers as the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation. The SLH – one of the New World’s prestige addresses for growing cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Syrah.

    Their home estate, in the heart of the Highlands, is only six acres in area. Here, hands-on wine growing and traditional winemaking combine to create limited production wines of elegance and balance. The business, as it is today, began in 1990 when the family converted six acres of land to vine rootstock. In 1999, with the planting of imported clones, the Manzoni Family turned their family tradition into a full-time passion.

    The Manzoni Estate Vineyard takes great pride in presenting you with wine from the finest quality grapes. They believe that their stewardship of the land, their purposefully small yields, and their detailed attention to every aspect of production results in a more flavorful, better tasting selection to grace your table.

    Since 1999, they have worked to become a wine name of discretion. They continue to grow grapes in the Santa Lucia Highlands and work diligently to evolve their practices and to increase the quality of the wines. They also source grapes from other nearby Appellations to broaden their portfolio, port being one of them.

    The Wine:

    2005 Bella Vino, the grapes come from Paso Robles, the varietals are Perelli 101, Touriga Nacional, Souzao, Tinta Cao & Tinta Roriz. What a nice blend of grapes. It has a very dark inky color. I pick up the scent of the Souzao immediately. It has aged perfectly in the bottle and is drinking great now. I love the consistency as it flows nicely on the tongue from start to finish. I get raisins, plum, with hints of dark chocolate, with earthy undertones. Ports are typically paired with desserts since they are sweeter, heavier, and have a nice richness. When pairing a dessert you want to match the sweetness of the wine. You don’t want to have a dessert too much sweeter than the wine; balance is essential. The acid and sugar levels should be balanced in both the food and wine. If the balanced is tipped one way or the other, the sweet dessert will make the wine seem more tannic, less sweet it will seem more acidic. You can also match up the flavor profiles of the wine and the dessert. This port will also pair nicely with a cigar. I like to indulge once in a while. Sometimes I dip the tip of the cigar in the port. It makes the cigar have a silky effect. (Smoking is bad for your health.) My little government warning if you will.

    The Dark Chocolate Cake (Cupcake) with Chocolate Frosting and Applewood Smoked Bacon:

    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup dark cocoa
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup milk (heavier the better)
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 cup boiling water
    • 1/2 lb smoked applewood bacon

    Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

    Cut bacon into small pieces and cook till crisp. Drain fat and let cool. After cooled take half and cut into very small pieces. Leave remaining bacon on the side.

    Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; use a mixer on medium speed for two minutes.

    Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Fold in smaller bacon pieces. Pour batter into prepared pans.

    Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

    Frost with “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings. Variations: One-Pan Cake: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost. BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost. CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

    “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting

    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
    • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternatelyadd powdered sugar and milk, and mix well. For spreading consistency add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.

    Add extra bacon to the top and sides. If you decide to add some to the center I recommend you cut it into smaller pieces. A big chunk of bacon fat isn’t always delicious. I sometimes add cut up chocolate bars to the top. Like Salted Caramel Bars…. yummy

    The Baker, Foodie:

    Michelle Balaam believes that all life originated from Mother Ocean. So naturally, this life giving energy is a beacon, providing the ideal atmosphere of healing, recreation, food, livelihood, beauty and wonder. It is the dynamic qualities of the Monterey Peninsula that attracted Michelle towards the coast and the inspiration behind OCEAN BODY WORKS (OBW). With over 20 years experience in the holistic sciences, and a deep immersion in personal growth movement, OBW provides a multifaceted approach in assisting people heal their mind, body and soul. OBW offers an array of synergistic solutions tailored to fit your needs. Melt away stress with certified massage therapy and bodywork. Let OBW staff create an individualized program designed to mend body, elevate your mood, boost vitality, and enhance your being through detoxification specialists, personal fitness instruction and lifestyle coaching.

    The Cleanse Program:

    Michelle has designed a program for busy real people. Toxins and stress create obstacles for the normal functioning and self-healing capabilities of our bodies. Modern eating habits and lifestyles pollute our bodies and don’t provide the necessary nutrients for them to function at optimum levels. By removing those obstacles and providing what is lacking, our bodies can bounce back to health, energy is restored and we can begin to look and feel our best. This is also an opportunity to explore your true relationship with food and your deepest self if you choose.

    “Change Happens when you decide it does.”

    richard 9-14

    posted to Cedar Street Times on September 14, 2012

    Topics: Oh, Have A Taste!

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