Cupcake and Champagne Sunday!

Champagne and cupcakes

Sundays are perfect for whipping up lovely sweets and enjoying the end of the weekend. Today, I decided it was cupcake and champagne Sunday!

I am very fond of springtime in Paris. Yes, I am still in love with the romantic notion of the city-I am such a sucker. I fell head over heels when I saw An American in Paris as a kid. I even had my wedding photos done in Paris 🙂 It is still my dream to spend an extended amount of time in the city painting and writing!

One of my favorite pastimes while in Paris is visiting the pâtisseries. The pastries are truly works of art. They are sometimes too beautiful to eat! Today’s cupcake recipe was inspired by the rich chocolate ganache frosting that is often used on French pastries. I love vanilla and chocolate together so I decided to make a vanilla bean cupcake recipe. And, of course, champagne goes with chocolate!Champagne and bubbles

Vanilla bean and chocolate ganache cupcakes made my Sunday decadent and we all need a little decadence before the work week starts again! So, put on some music, dig out your pretty plates and napkins, and Winedown!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

  • Servings: 12
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 28 minutes

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • Baking spray
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup room temperature butter (if salted butter then do not add additional salt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat convection oven to 350 degrees. Spray cupcake pan with baking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until combined. Scrape vanilla bean into butter mixture and mix thoroughly.

Add flour mixture to creamed batter alternately with milk. Mix well after each addition. Beat an additional minute to make sure all ingredients are combined.

Spoon into prepared cupcake pan filling each cupcake halfway. Bake approximately 24-28 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing cupcakes from pan. Place cupcakes on wire rack to allow to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the ganache topping by heating the cream over medium heat until bubbles start to form on the edges of the pan. Do not overheat! Pour heated cream over chocolate chips and stir until chips are melted and cream is combined. Let chocolate rest for 5 minutes before using.

When cupcakes are cooled, hold the cupcake upside down and dip the tops into the chocolate ganache. Place cupcakes on a plate for 10 minutes before serving to allow the ganache to set. Top cupcakes with raspberries or strawberries for a little extra elegance!

Champagne and cupcake pictures

Domaine du Closel Les Caillardieres


Chateau des Vaults

Porching in Texas, especially Austin, is practically a way of life. I live on my patio in the spring/summer time and love to enjoy a refreshing glass of wine after work. Today, I opened a bottle of wine I picked up in France: Les Caillardieres by Domaine du Closel-Chateau des Vaults. I was introduced to Les Caillardieres while visiting and working with Chateau des Vaults during my MBA program last summer. This is my last bottle of Chateau des Vaults wine so I guess I will have to go back for a visit soon!

Domaine du Closel is a family run business in Savennieres, France. Savennieres is located in the western part of France in the Anjou-Saumur region of the Loire Valley. The history of Domaine du Closel and wine production date back to 1495! Its mission is to provide high quality, rare, organic wine and provide a cultural experience for wine drinkers.

Les Caillardieres is produced in a sandy vineyard on top of the hill of the estate. Les Caillardieres is produced with Chenin Blanc grapes and the estate has unique geological influences (slate, volcanic stone, minerals) that give the wine a distinct flavor.  The flavor profile is very intense with lots of floral notes and dried fruit. The wine has a long finish and holds up well against food. I paired it with a crab, avocado, and tomato salad and the lime juice I used in the salad really brought out the citrus tones. It reminds me of warm weather and picnics on the porch! I just love it.

Les Caillardieres and crab avocado salad

I have not found Chateau des Vaults wines anywhere in Austin except at Vino, Vino for a very brief time. I hope more wine bars will do their homework and discover less known wines. The small, family run businesses often do not have the budget to promote or hire a professional in order to capture a larger market. They rely on agent promotion and word of mouth.

And so, here is my plug for Domaine du Closel wines. If you have the ability to order from Louis Dressner or your importer-do it! The wines are interesting, refreshing, satisfying, and pair well with salads, seafood, hard cheeses, and chocolate!

Pour yourself a glass, sit on the porch, and Winedown!

MBA’s, Weddings, and Wine, oh my!

Salutations! The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity between completing my MBA, getting married, and traveling to Costa Rica. And now I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving. Crazy! I’ll be updating on food and wine for the holiday season soon. Below are a few of the fun experiences from the last few months:

Domaine du Closel-Chateau des Vaults

I was fortune enough to work with Chateau des Vaults as my last project in the MBA program. I traveled to Angers, France, and toured the vineyards at Domaine du Closel. The estate has been making wine for almost 500 years! Madame de Pontbriand’s grapes are hand-picked and the wine is bottled on the estate. Great care is taken to maintain the highest quality product. Recently, I found out that a local wine bar in Austin, Vino Vino, was carrying Chateau des Vaults Chenin Blanc. My former classmates and I were very happy to stop by enjoy it! Continue reading

French Wine

I enjoyed many wines while in France. It was difficult to pick a favorite, but I definitely discovered a love for Bordeaux. I had never really explored French Bordeaux and was pleasantly surprised. It can be so intimidating talking wine with a producer whose family has been making wine for 500 years. I learned A LOT while on this trip.

My advice—drink what you like and what makes you happy. Don’t worry about anything else!