The Perfect Chocolate Cupcake Recipe (according to me)

If you follow my various social media feeds, you’d know that I’ve been on a cupcake-making binge lately. It all started when I was gifted a Babycakes maker a few months ago and tried to duplicate Boracay’s famous Real Tea & Coffee Calamansi muffins (in case you were wondering, it was successful, hrhr). Then we had an actual convection oven installed and that was when the crazy began.

Since I (still) am a baking beginner, it was all a quest for me. A quest to find the perfect recipe for this cupcake or that cupcake, starting with the basics. Every batch I baked was subjected to rigorous (lol, I actually just wanted to use that word) testing by various unbiased people, mostly family and friends forced not to be biased.


A staple chocolate cupcake was first on my list of baking “quests”. Let’s face it, chocolate is a flavor that very few people, adults and kids alike, can resist. Personally, I can’t get enough of the stuff although I have a slight allergy (asthma kicks in). I wanted to have a recipe that would yield moist, delicious, chocolate-y, and of course, simple to make chocolate cupcakes.

Numerous cupcakes were baked and consumed within the course of a couple of months. Several recipes, a lot of trial and error, and a few disasters later, I finally have the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe. And it’s all mixed in one bowl (LESS CLEANUP HOORAY). This recipe has turned out great for me every time and that’s just amazing, so I’ll be sharing the recipe with all you cute people.

Ohey, I realize that I used bowls for the other ingredients, but I meant one bowl for the batter!

What you’ll need (this batch makes 18 3oz cupcakes):

– 1 cup of cake flour
– 1 cup sugar
– 3/8 cup of cocoa powder (try to find a good wun)
– 3/4 tsp baking powder
– 3/4 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 egg
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1/4 cup canola oil
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup melted chocolate chips
– 1/2 cup boiling water

Lookit those nicely domed cuppies! <3

What to do:

– Grease your cupcake pan and line them with cute cupcake liners (the cuter the better)
– Preheat your oven to 180°C
– Using an electric mixer (or by hand if you’re hardcore), mix cake flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
– Add egg, milk, oil, vanilla, and chocolate chips to the mixture and mix until combined
– Add boiling water and mix for about a minute
– Pour the mixture into your cupcake cups, filling them only a little over half (this mixture rises. A LOT)
– Pop in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Do the toothpick test after 18 minutes and take it out of the oven as soon as it comes out clean

Clean up while waiting!

This is optional, it’s a personal preference than anything, but I like (and suggest) cleaning up the mess in the kitchen while waiting for the cupcakes to be done. You don’t waste time sitting idle watching your cupcakes to rise AND you have no more mess to worry about after the cupcakes are done (which means more time to enjoy the finished product). It’s a win-win. As soon as the chocolate cupcakes are nicely domed and done, cool your PERFECT chocolate cupcakes and frost them with whatever frosting you like (for this batch, I chose Orange Chocolate Buttercream, NOM).

Orange Chocolate Cupcake with Two-Toned Orange Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Fondue in Three Easy Steps

Last Christmas, I was gifted with a fondue set and I’ve been trying to find a good recipe to test it out with. My family’s annual (durr) New Year’s day get together seemed like the perfect occasion for it. The fondue set I have is actually for fondue au fromage, or cheese fondue, but since I’ve been on a dessert making spree (and sweets are my poison), I decided to make chocolate fondue instead.


Because of the disaster stories I’ve read and the warnings of how difficult chocolate is to work with, I was apprehensive to try it. With my limited kitchen skills, I was afraid of ruining New Year’s day dessert (oh the horror). However, I found a simple and pretty flexible recipe that I put on my brave face and set out to conquer the world *music reaches crescendo* of melting chocolate (huh?). Here’s my recipe, adapted from that one over at

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate (shaved or cut into small blocks)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • saucepan
  • stainless (or glass bowl) with a bottom wider than the mouth of the saucepan

What to do:

Step 1: Pour (about) an inch high’s worth of water in your saucepan and place it over medium heat. Using the Bain-marie method, put your dry stainless bowl on top of the saucepan and make sure that the bottom of your bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Does that sound difficult? You can do it! Check out this picture of how your setup should look like-

Bain Marie Method

Source here.

Step 2: When the water starts simmering, pour the shaved chocolate and the milk in the bowl and mix until it blends to a thick but still pourable consistency (you’re looking for a slightly thinned Nutella consistency). This step shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

Step 3 (optional, but do it anyway): Take the bowl out of the heat, and mix in the vanilla.

Apple, banana, and melon were my fruits of choice for the chocolate fondue. And marshmallows, of course.

Voila! You’ve got your melted chocolate covered. Wasn’t that way too easy? I know, I know, some recipes tell you to just pop your chocolate in the microwave for a few minutes and you’re good to go, but you get a lumpy melted chocolate that way. This method results in a smoother chocolate mixture that’s just irresistibly delicious.

Transfer the mixture into your fondue pot and light a candle under it to keep it nice and warm. Then gather fruits and marshmallows in a big bowl and serve next to your fondue pot with a few short barbecue sticks and you’ve got yourself a fancy looking dessert that everyone will love (who doesn’t like chocolate?).

Ooh, it’s nearing the Chinese New Year! It’s time to bring out the pot again (I’m thinking of tikoy dipped in melted chocolate)!


Insider Sports Bar’s Giant Offers

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this little bar and resto before the holidays. You know, so you can bring your friends and/or families for (the million) Christmas get-togethers and whatnot. But as usual, the holiday rush bludgeoned my schedule to oblivion and this post has been pushed back to today. Right now, I’m thinking of giant slabs of succulent meat (yes, I often daydream of food) and it seems like the perfect time to talk about Team Insider and their giant offers.

Team Insider is a sports bar slash restaurant located on the ground floor of the relatively new Tunes hotel in Makati. I wouldn’t have ventured out to this area had it not been for Lianne of BuhayKuneho, who knows the ins and outs of this area.

Team Insider Philippines is a hidden gem.

A pool table and a dessert fridge (my kind of fridge) welcomes you into the bar and main dining area, both laden with flat screen TVs showing various sports channels. The area actually reminded me of National Sports Grill minus the crowd (and the pretense).

The menu offered a wide variety of noms from Filipino, Asian, American to Italian, and even some Mediterranean. More than just a sports bar, it is also a wholesome family place with menu choices for kids as well. They’re also one of the few restaurants that serve foreign beers at reasonable prices (hooray for alcohol!).

Nachos Acapulco (p250) aka the best nachos ever!

As an appetizer, we ordered the Nachos Acapulco- a medley of nacho chips, lettuce, beans, ground beef, and salsa in one glorious bowl. Obviously, I was head over heels for it. It was the beans that really made a difference and kind of made it seem like chili con carne nachos more than anything else (from now on, I will judge nachos without beans).

For our entree, four of us decided to share the Giant Pork Ribs. What seemed like half a a pig’s back was served in a huge platter drizzled with barbecue sauce. We each quickly tore off a rib or two and chewed on our respective ribs like cavemen. It was goooooood (the more “o”s the better *nods*). The meat was tender and fell off the bone like good spareribs should. A small gripe is that the meat quickly became cold.

Giant Pork Spareribs (p499). Please use the spoon as the size reference.

The real star of Team Insider, however, is the Giant Pork Chops. This tried and tested dish is what you order if you’re real hungry, love pork, or are just plain gluttonous (sometimes I’m all three). This nomful giant slab of pork chops in mushroom gravy sauce is served on a platter together with a huge cupful of rice and a small side salad (you know, for health and stuff). It’s not your typical pork chop meal, it’s a reaaally big pork chop meal. Did I mention that it’s huge?

Giant Pork Chop (p240)

Team Insider is one of those restaurants that I’d visit many times over. My only (teeny tiny) complaint would be that some of the noms arrived a little less warm than I’d have liked but because the food was great (and HUGE!) and the prices are fair, the overall experience was superb.

Team Insider Sports Bar Philippines
Address: Ground Floor, Tunes Hotel, Mercado corner Calderon Sts, Poblacion, Makati City.


Dine with Superheroes at Heroes By MaxiCollector

Today I tell you the story of how I spent an evening in the company of superheroes.

One cool night, my very own geek and I found ourselves in BHS looking for a good place to nom after the disaster that was Quiznos (story some other time) when we remembered a restaurant that caught our attention a while back. And although this is the part where I want to say we were whisked off to a different dimension where superheroes existed and they invited us over for dinner, that’s not how the night went. Still, what actually happened isn’t too bad a story.

Right in the heart of Bonifacio Global City sits a relatively obscure mecca for nerds, geeks, and fanboys of the superhero genre. Amidst the rows of posh restaurants and stores of Bonifacio High Street is Heroes by Maxicollector- a two for one restaurant cum museum (of sorts) that houses at least a hundred figures, busts, collectibles, and various geek merchandise that any geek will flail over for and a menu that, although limited, looks good enough to make anyone interested.

See what I mean about the geeks liking this place?

While waiting for the noms, we took a closer look at the figures on display. Shelves were full of mostly superhero dioramas (although there was an LOTR one!) depicting various scenes from movies or comics. Some of the merchandise are actually for sale, usually those with price tags on them. And a quick survey told me that the cheapest item there is the food. The most expensive one is a bust of The Thing, which goes for a cool hundred some thousand pesos. I’ll stop there, I’ll leave the details of the stuff on display over to the fine folks of GeekOut, they know what they’re talking about.

Here, we’ll focus on the noms (of course!). Since it was technically a second dinner, we ordered a couple of small meals to tide us over for the night. I got the Pork Barbecue from the appetizers section and Bim ordered the Heroes recommended Bacon Style Tapa.

Pork Barbecue (p95) and THE Bacon Style Tapa (p245)

Yes, I jealous when I saw the Bacon Style Tapa. Compared to it, my Pork Barbecue looked like an extra next to Tony Stark in an Iron Man movie. It wasn’t bad (kind of tasted like Reyes Barbecue barbecues) but the star of the night was the Bacon Style Tapa. You get a hearty plate of tapa strips fried to a crisp a la bacon served with two fried eggs and a full cup of java rice. I love bacon, I love tapa, I love having breakfast meals at any time of the day. It was a winning combination from wherever you look at it. Too bad, it wasn’t mine.

Instead of your typical sports channels, you can watch superhero movies while nomming. We were treated to a silent version of Thor, where we found out that you can hear Anthony Hopkins’ voice in your head without having to actually hear his voice (try it!). We thoroughly enjoyed the simple but nommy fare. The menu choices at Heroes are a bit limited, but you go there more for the novelty of nomming with various superheroes looking on. If you’re gonna bring kids though, try to make sure they keep their hands off the stuff, you wouldn’t want to have to shell out fifty grand for broken pieces of a Hulk bust.

I'm happy they have an LOTR shelf.

And that is how I spent one evening in the company of superheroes. How cool does that sound? If your answer is “no” or “not really” or “not at all” or any variation of said phrases, then I’m afraid we can never be friends.

Heroes by Maxicollector
Address: Building 6, Bonifacio High Street, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Contact #: 511-7327


Random Things Bacon

Bacon is to people like Justin Bieber is to tween girls and mothers. By that, I mean that we all generally love it (ie. Bacon, not the Biebs). And because we do, creative minds find ways to make it more.. interesting, shall we say. Like this one for example, aptly called the Baconosaurus.

Baconosaurus: It is a thing of beauty.

A creative fellow looking for something to bring to a friend’s potluck party thought to make a dinosaur shaped like thing covered in bacon. You did good, kindred spirit. Source here. The love for reptile-shaped bacon doesn’t end there, however. Recently, an eBay ad was put up selling what appears to be a strip of bacon oddly shaped like a magnificent dragon- thus called the Bacon Dragon.

At least he got the category right.

eBay seller aboadon from Phoenix, Arizona found a bacon in the shape of a dragon and decided to sell it for a whopping $1000. He says this legendary and one of a kind item hasn’t been manipulated in any way and would be perfect for your collection. This is assuming for some reason that you can resist to cook and eat it. Story here.

While we’re at it, I accidentally on-purpose stumbled upon a Facebook fan page of a religious group that call themselves Church of the Bacon Dragon. Perhaps they’d like to buy aboadon‘s eBay item.

These look nice and all but they don’t beat the heart-stopping and blood-pumping mutation of a Thanksgiving Turkey called the Thanksgiving Turbaconducken, which is totally edible and looks like something I’d like to kill myself with.

And that is it in the world of bacon for today. Tune again tomorrow (or perhaps another day) for more of these unusual bacon-related news.


The Sweet Treats of Vanilla Cupcake Bakery

I’m not sure why but I feel less guilty when I eat cupcakes than when I eat cake. When you really think about it, cupcakes are probably unhealthier. For one, most cupcakes are piled high with frosting, usually at 2:1 icing to cake ratio. I love frosting more than your average sweet tooth but that’s just way too much. For another, the more flavors there are available to you, the more you want to try them all (it can’t be just me, or is it?). But despite all the cons, I do adore cupcakes.

They're easy to love.

A cupcake is a nice little treat anyone can have after a particularly trying day, or as a sweet ending to a hearty dinner. Thankfully, they’re easy to come by these days. The designer cupcakes trend started with the delicious cupcakes from Cupcakes by Sonja in BHS. There was a time when people waited long lines just to get themselves a pretty little cupcake that comes in a dainty looking individual box.

I read it as Vanilla Cupcake Cakery.

Now we have more stores to choose from. One of the newer ones is called Vanilla Cupcake Bakery in Glorietta, Makati. That spot where a very cute and girly clothing store (Kamiseta) used to be now houses a very cute and girly cupcake bakery.

Girly all the way.

From outside, the store looks like a mecca of sweet joy. The bright, happy lights naturally draw you in to take a closer look. A glass shelf of prettily decorated cupcakes in various happy pastels welcome you, again, inviting you to come inside and try one. The interior is just as alluring. The cushy mismatched couches in varying floral and striped patterns together with the contrasting chairs, the ornate drawers that adorn the floor area, and the loudly colored baking appliances scattered around the are give the place a surreal feel. I swear, it felt like there was some magic going on.

The Cupcakes

Red Velvet (p85)

The Red Velvet came in style, the cupcake was sitting prettily on a cute doily perched atop a stand. Although it’s not as red as your typical commercial red velvet cupcake (less food coloring, yay), it did not disappoint. It was dense, moist, and sweet with a hint of cocoa in it- just like a good red velvet cake should be. The cream cheese frosting was a little too sweet than I’d have liked, but it’s not bad.

Coffee Walnut Salted Caramel (p70), see what I mean by 2:1 icing-to-cake ratio?

The Salted Caramel Walnut was decorated generously with mocha buttercream and then drizzled with caramel. The cake base was a tad too sweet for my liking, and the frosting that it came with it is a disappointment. If you’re a fan of buttercream, you may like it. To me, it was too soft, too greasy, and too overpoweringly buttery that you cannot taste the mocha or the caramel.

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery’s cupcakes are a little pricier than expected, but the ambiance more than makes up for it. Have a cupcake, a cup of coffee, chitchat without needing to raise your voice, all while drinking in the cuteness of the place.

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery is located at 2/F Glorietta 4, Ayala Center, Makati.


A Sad Tale of My Frosting Woes

After a few years of randomly trying my hand in the kitchen and a few disasters later, I can now say that I am now less likely to burn the house down when working with food and also less prone to poisoning you with my kitchen “creations” (finally!), even going so far as to say that I can be somewhat useful in the kitchen.

There’s a “but” coming and you know it.

Lately, I’ve been on a cupcake making binge because of my handy-dandy BabyCakes maker. It is general knowledge to sweet-toothed people (me and everyone else) that a cupcake is not a cupcake without good frosting. While I can make cupcakes in a jiffy with my nifty little gadget, the frosting is something I have to make separately. Here begins the sad tale of my frosting woes.

Dilemma #1 – Not having an electric mixer. FIXED.

My search engine terms were “easiest frosting to make”, “make frosting without a mixer”, “quick frosting recipes” but most of the recipes require the use of the electric mixer. I was all set to give up (or buy myself a mixer) until I found a Martha Stewart recipe to make cream cheese frosting without a mixer. All I needed was some powdered sugar and cream cheese and voila, instant fantastic frosting! It took a couple of tries, but eventually, I was able to make a good enough batch.

I topped them on my red and green velvet Christmas Babycakes. Cute, y/y? Y! Nommy too.

Dilemma #2 – Buttercream ends up grainy. FIXED.

Eventually, I got an electric mixer (as a gift, thankyew!). I was excited to take my frosting prowess to the next level (lolwatevs). After scouring the net for other easy frosting recipes, I found one to make simple buttercream. Unsalted butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla essence were the essential ingredients. Whipping them up in mah brand-spankin’ new mixer, I thought I wouldn’t have any trouble with it. My first batch ended up sandy that it was kind of gross to eat. A few teaspoons of milk and a longer whipping time was all it needed, and I quickly mastered this easy frosting.

Vanilla Babycakes with vanilla buttercream frosting on top, and Lemon Babycakes with lemon buttercream frosting on the bottom pic. Both nom!

Dilemma #3 – French/Italian/Swiss Meringue seems impossible to make. NOT FIXED, GIVING UP ON LIFE.

I keed of course. While I am not giving up on life, I am just about ready to give up on making this frosting. I tried cleaning all the utensils I’d be using with lemon juice to ensure that there are no traces of grease left, which seems to be the common culprit of non-rising meringue frosting, I tried boiling the sugar to the soft-ball stage and pouring it while whipping egg whites, I tried bain-marie method of whisking the egg whites and sugar until warm and then whipping it until they’re firm. All of them ended in a disaster. My meringue frosting looks like sea foam (or soap suds, whichever is grosser) on cake after a few hours. See?

Clockwise from left: Runny first try, marshmallow-y but melted quickly into a goopy mess, gorgeous looking after decorating, and the icky-foamy consistency after a few hours of looking beautiful. UGH!

Yes, I am now (sort of) useful in the kitchen, but not when it comes to cupcake frosting. School me?


Chicken Charlie and Virlanie Foundation Welcome 2013 Together

Last Saturday, the kids of Virlanie Foundation celebrated the new year with a bang. The amazing people behind Chicken Charlie held an uplifting new year party at the foundation’s official headquarters in Makati. Thanks to the tireless efforts of organizer Lianne from BuhayKuneho, a group of bloggers were also invited to join in on the fun and spend the day with the energetic kids of the foundation.

The choir of Virlanie Foundation serenading everyone with song.

The event started in the early afternoon, with Janelle, the super energetic communications associate of the foundation, briefing the bloggers of the plight of the children that they care for, discussing Virlanie Foundation’s current “Rice Up!” campaign (talked about this in a separate post in this blog), and introducing the bloggers to Mr. Dominique Lemay, the kindly founder of Virlanie Foundation. Then it was time to have fun with the kids. 🙂

The bloggers getting briefed by Janelle, a photo op with Virlanie Foundation's president Mr. Dominique Lemay, and organizer Lianne of wishing for a platform to stand on. :P

Before the party officially started, the Virlanie Foundation choir (they’re the ones in the cute superimposed caps in the picture below) serenaded everyone with a couple of songs, including an enchanting rendition of the local melody Leron Leron Sinta which was really cute. Beeteedub, you can invite them for events and stuff.

And then we were all treated to a nomsfest of Chicken Charlie noms! Boy, was my mouth watering when I saw the golden freshly fried chicken goodness, remember when I gushed about the chicken of Chicken Charlie (I know, I know, kids first!)? All the kids (and later on, the adults also) got to enjoy a warm Chicken Charlie meal and treated to sweet cupcake treats from Sweet Mamita.

Thanks to Chicken Charlie (, their staff,) and Sweet Mamita, the Virlanie Foundation kids were treated to a fun new year bash. *caps and sunglasses added for coolness, and also to protect the identities of the kids.

The kids of Virlanie Foundation are a fun and rowdy bunch (in a good way). Listening to them joke around with each other and everyone else, you’d think them to be just like any other kid- innocent, carefree, and without a problem in the world. Knowing that they have been subjected to darker situations at young ages, there are probably days that are better than others. Seeing them enjoying life like normal kids and having an optimistic outlook is admirable, and a testament to the good work of the people of Virlanie Foundation.

Janelle modeling the Virlanie Foundation hand-painted shirts (I wanted a design like hers but they're only for volunteers). Want one for yourself? Check out their

The staff of Virlanie Foundation makes it easy for us to share what we can give, there are a number of ways that you can help and they’re all listed in their How You Can Help page. Like always, every little bit counts. Share a few minutes of your time, give whatever you can, or even train the older kids for your business. You can also buy their products– they sell hand-painted shirts, recycled bags, and a bunch of eco-friendly jewelry. They’re all very affordable and cute too! Happy new year, everyone!

PS: Virlanie Foundation Philippines founder Dominique Lemay’s blogs too! Follow him on


Just how much do you like pizza?

Don’t you just love the smell of freshly baked pizza? The delicious scent that wafts under your nose as soon as you open a warm box of pizza just gets your mouth watering, doesn’t it? Do you love the smell enough to want to wear it?

Well what if I tell you that you can smell delicious without wolfing down several slices of the stuff (or you know, rubbing a slice all over yourself)? Ya, that’s right. If you want to smell like pizza (I can’t imagine why you won’t), you can just spritz yourself all over with the newest scent (and possibly the weirdest) to come out recently – Eau de Pizza Hut.

Awesome packaging for the Pizza Hut Perfume

It is real and it exists. It comes in packaging resembling that of an actual pizza box! How cool is that? They only made 110 bottles, so the chances of finding one up for sale is probably slim to nil.

Apparently, this has already been done before. Burger King came out a few years ago with a flame-grilled beef body spray called Flame endorsed by British TV show host Piers Morgan. Burger lover and self proclaimed “burger king” Bim wouldn’t mind having this on his dresser, I bet. I personally wouldn’t mind a KFC chicken cologne. What do you guys think?

Etc., Press

Virlanie Foundation’s “Rice up!” Campaign

For many of us, eating is a leisurely activity. We nom what we want and when we want. It isn’t the case for many others. There are thousands of Filipino families who cannot afford to eat even one good meal a day. Many go hungry for days on end. In most impoverished households, parents would usually sacrifice their share and sleep with grumbling tummies to be able give their children what little food that they can get. They are the luckier ones.

The children cared for by Virlanie Foundation usually have no families to run to, for food or any kind of support. They are usually rescued from abusive families- some are neglected or abandoned by their own parents while others are exploited by various evils in this world. The people behind Virlanie seeks to provide basic care for these children and steer them towards a better life, and in turn, a better future.

“Rice up!” is one of Virlanie Foundation’s campaigns, with the goal to gather enough rice to be able to provide meals for hundreds of these disadvantaged children for the year. They aim to raise 50 sacks of rice every month or 600 sacks for the year and in order to do so, they need our help. As of last Saturday, they still need 332 sacks of rice. Together, we can help them reach their target.

Photo by blogger Ross Del Rosario of Wazzup Pilipinas, check out his post here.

How you can contribute:

1. Bank transfer to Virlanie’s account

Name: Virlanie Foundation, Inc.
Bank Name: Banco de Oro Vito Cruz Branch

US Dollar Account No.: 104580108577
Peso Account No.: 004580002426
Euro Account No.: 304580112833

*Please inform Janelle (+632 895-3460 or +639175985485) as soon as you make the bank transfer or send her a scanned deposit slip so we can record your donation accordingly.

2. Online donation

via PayPal:
via UnionBank, Western, LBC, Cebuana:

3. In kind donation

You can drop them off at the Virlanie Head Office at 4055 Yague St., Brgy Singkamas, Makati City (near Pasong Tamo, PRC) or facilitate the pick-up of donations with Virlanie staff.

Besides donations, there are a number of different ways that you can reach out to the kids of Virlanie Foundation. Please check out this link on the official Virlanie Foundation website to find out how else you can help. If you can, please also tell all your friends about this campaign. The more people who know about it, the better the chances are to reach the Rice Up! goal. Thank you, guise!