Dreaming of Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes in Tulum!

Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired

I’m in Tulum right now and I can’t even begin to describe how surreal it is. Mexico, for most of my life, had been this intangible exotic thing that I celebrated subtly with a love for taco trucks and simple margaritas. Now I’m in a city where there’s a mezcal bar every ten feet and the best tacos I’ve ever had in my life are being slung on every corner for about 40 cents a pop. I’ve also learned that swimming pools, lakes and oceans do not hold a CANDLE to cenotes when it comes to a day of swimming.

I’ll do a full recap of the magic that is Tulum in an upcoming post, but I was in a MAJOR baking mood when I woke up today, so this shall be my outlet! And don’t think I didn’t pace up and down the baking aisle of the local supermercado yesterday…the struggle was real.

I made these Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes last year and never shared the recipe! So here it is!

The combo of chocolate, salt and hazelnuts needs no explanation. I added a little coffee to boost the cocoa flavor, and if you wanted to go nuts you could even add a little bourbon!

Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired
Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired
Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired
Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired
Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired
Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired
Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired
Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired
Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired
Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired

When the baking bug strikes, what do you make first? Mine is always something CHOCOLATE. Share in the comments below! And if you make these, let me know how you like them!! [Also, if you love that little butter warmer with the wooden handle, you can get it here!!]

Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes
Yields 12 cupcakes

The Cupcakes

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. instant coffee
1/4-1/2 cup vegetable oil (depending on how moist you would like your cupcakes, I recommend experimenting!)
1/4 cup Nutella
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk (you can use regular milk or a fattier non-dairy milk for moister cakes too!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

In another medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, instant coffee, vegetable oil and Nutella. Mix until smooth (with an electric mixer or wooden spoon), about 2 minutes. Add the almond milk and mix again until fully combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined. Avoid over mixing.

Grease, spray or line a 12-cavity cupcake pan and spoon batter into each mold until about 1/3 full. If you’re left with excess batter, distribute it evenly among the cavities.

Bake on the middle rack for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Let cool for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When the cupcakes have come to room temperature, place a sheet of parchment or wax paper under your cooling rack, dunk the top of each cupcake into the Dark Chocolate Nutella Sauce (recipe below), and move back to the rack.

To finish, sprinkle each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. You can serve these while the sauce is still warm, or you can allow it to set up a bit. If your kitchen is cool enough, these can be left out to set, or you can refrigerate them for 10-15 minutes before serving.

The Sauce

1 oz. good, unsweetened dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Nutella
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. sea salt (set aside for sprinkling)

In a small pot (get the Kobenstyle Butter Dish I used in this post here!) over medium heat, combine the dark chocolate, Nutella and coconut oil. You can use a double boiler for this to prevent scorching, but if you don’t, be sure to watch the mixture closely and stir constantly until it’s almost fully melted, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir to melt the rest of the chocolate.

Allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes and thicken slightly before dipping the cupcakes.

My First Trip to Miami!

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Well it’s been FOREVER since I posted and I’m really sad about it!! I’m still alive!! The short story: I’m moving to a new city (more on that soon! :O), I’m at a new workspace, I’ve been taking on new projects, it’s been a total whirlwind! Sarah shared her big announcement a few weeks ago and it’s such a bittersweet thing, but we’re both so excited to continue sharing our life adventures with new perspectives (her new blog!), new inspiration and LOTS of recipes. So I’ll just jump right in. My most recent adventure/project is what I’m sharing today…my first trip to Miami (what? why had I never?) on a SUPERFUN collab with Starwood Hotels.

Before I work with a brand on an Instagram or blog campaign, I have to make sure our missions align. If they’re interested in inspiring people to live adventurously, to experience the world, to fall in love with moments and to share those moments with others, I’m in. I don’t like collaborating for one-off promotions, I like collaborating as means to build a relationship with a brand I believe in. Starwood is one of those brands. When they invited me down to Miami to experience the city, the culture, the food, their properties and their team, I jumped on it. I made fast friends with them and I will waste no more time. Here are 6 things I learned about Miami with SPG

1. The food scene is incredible. From J&G Grill at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in North Beach to KUSH and Mandolin Aegean Bistro in Wynwood, I experienced fresh, local, wonderfully diverse dishes and unique dining environments that truly inspired me. Miami is a treasure trove for foodies.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Outside Mandolin Aegean Bistro where I had the most amazing variety of Tzatziki sauce I’d ever tasted!

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Breakfast overlooking the pool and the ocean in the dining room at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

The bar area of the Dutch in the W South Beach. I fell in love with the decor and design of this space!

 

2. I fell in love with the people. There’s a colorful joy and life about them that’s truly contagious. I explored Little Havana for an afternoon, and the string of intrigue was endless. I visited Domino Park which was a scene straight out of a Pixar movie, a cigar shop with a sweet owner serving some of the best Cuban coffee I’d ever tasted, and happened upon so many individuals that were bursting with stories to tell. I was offered a welcome that made me feel at home.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

An intense game of dominos at Domino Park in Little Havana.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Chef Dagan in the kitchen at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, about to create the famous Truffle Pizza.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

My favorite chess player at Domino Park in Little Havana! He loved the camera!

 

3. Miami has an aesthetic that is so unique among the top destination cities in the US. I learned so much about the origins of the beach and sunset-toned buildings, the fashion and the architecture on a walking tour of the Art Deco District. It was fascinating to find out about Gianni Versaci’s impactful role in developing the city’s look and feel. I loved the retro vibe of South Beach, and knowing where it all came from made the experience even richer.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Wonderfully nostalgic architecture in South Beach.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Colors of sunset in South Beach.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

At Domino Park in Little Havana, people flock to play chess and dominos at these public tables.

 

4. I had never seen anything like the Wynwood Walls before. I’ve been an admirer of graffiti art for a long time, but exploring the Wynwood neighborhood and all of its captivating installations was life changing. The buildings and streets were just covered with originals by incredible artists — and that was just a fraction of Miami’s art scene! The lobby and The Dutch at the W Hotel are beautifully curated with a collection of original Warhols and other pieces that left me enchanted.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Just a fraction of the Wynwood Art Walk.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

A gorgeous and inspiring space in the lobby area of the W South Beach.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

The walls of The Dutch at the W Hotel were covered in such an amazing variety of artwork.

 

5. I’m a beach baby. I grew up on the East Coast and spent almost all of my summers “down the shore”. The sand and the ocean are very near and dear to my heart. Needless to say, experiencing the white beaches and bright blue waters of South Beach was UNREAL and such a comfort. I LOVED it.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

A walk to the ocean outside the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Loving those blue waves!

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

View from the balcony of my room at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

 

6. SPG encourages adventuring. They want to help you see the world and authentically experience the cultures surrounding their resorts and hotels. Earning Starpoints just from taking an Uber around town is wonderful proof of that. I saw 3 of their Miami properties, and each of them were so different that I knew no matter what the circumstance, I could find a home away from home with them. At the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, I experienced utter relaxation. The staff displayed an incredibly rare excellence in their welcome and hospitality. At the W South Beach, I was inspired at every turn by the nostalgic and beautiful design of the space. At Aloft Miami, I was blown away by the homey feel of the rooms, the Keyless entry option, their delicious cocktails and last but not least, a Nate Ruess concert that I’ll be dreaming about for years to come! It was actual magic. SPG truly covers it all and they don’t just care about the hotel experience, but about the culture that each of their properties calls home.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

The stunning kitchen in my room at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

The bar at Aloft Miami.

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

The lounge area outside the W South Beach.

So yeah! I can’t wait to go back!!

What are your favorite cities to visit and what do you love about them? Dreaming up what to see next! Please share in the comments below!

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Nate Ruess!!

 

Follow more of my adventures on Instagram!!

Changes Are Happening at Offbeat!

This is a bittersweet post. It’s the post where I officially say goodbye to Offbeat + Inspired. After nearly three years of blogging on this site, learning photography along the way, sharing snapshots of life, being inspired by our readers and living creatively alongside my lifelong friend, Tiffany, I’ve decided to take a step in a different blogging direction.

Offbeat + Inspired will remain a place where you can find creative ideas, beautiful photography and mouthwatering recipes. Tiffany will be taking over as the sole blogger on this site and there’s no doubt in my mind she will continue to bring you great content.

As for me, life has changed quite a bit in the last few months. As a mom of four-month-old twins, I have new responsibilities and a daily life that’s been turned upside down. Even now as I write this, I have to pause to replace pacifiers in an (potentially futile) attempt to get the two munchkins to nap at the same time.

I love this new stage of life, but it’s a change from where Offbeat + Inspired is heading – which is why I’m stepping back from this site. I do, however, love blogging, creating recipes and practicing photography, and I definitely don’t want to let those things go completely. So now, you can find me over at my new site, The Homemade Haus. I’ll be posting all things food, thoughts on motherhood and family and other bits and pieces of my life. You’ll find much of the content to be reminiscent of Offbeat + Inspired as well as new ideas and perspectives stemming from my role as a mom.

I can’t begin to explain how important Offbeat + Inspired has been to me. I have been stretched both creatively and personally through this journey. I’m sad to be leaving, but I know this next stage will bring new challenges and new joys. Stay tuned as Tiffany brings you more incredible Offbeat + Inspired content, and I hope you’ll come visit me over at The Homemade Haus! (Oh – and if you head over there this week, there’s a giveaway happening to celebrate my new site launching!)

Thank you, readers, for your continued encouragement and inspiration for the last three years here at Offbeat. I am truly grateful.

XOXO,

Sarah

Mocha Sorbet

Mocha Sorbet-6

Warm weather is finally here! (At least it was for a few days until it promptly disappeared from the Chicago area in favor of the more familiar cold, gray days.) But regardless of the current temperature, there’s always a reason for frozen treats – especially ones that combine my two favorite ingredients: coffee and chocolate. I’m not sure there exists a better flavor pairing (but I welcome your ideas in case I’m missing something epic!). They’re a match made in recipe heaven…especially when the chocolate is dark and earthy the coffee bold and rich.

Keep reading!

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

It’s been forever since I last posted, so I’m long overdue for some life updates and serious recipes. I’ll start with a recipe because pancakes. (Life stuff soon though because soo much exciting stuff has been going on!!)

Anyhoo, if you follow me on Steller or Instagram, you may have seen these decadent little things already. If not, I hope you’re in the mood for some intense spring brunching and a recipe that takes pancakes to a WHOLE new level.

Keep reading!

A Fruit & Veggie Hashtag Takeover

A Fruit & Veggie Hashtag Takeover - offbeat + inspired

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram soaking up the visuals like a sponge. My feeds are loaded primarily with food. A few things happen when I stare at beautiful food photography for hours on end — I want to cook, I want to shoot, and I want to eat. The eating thing is usually what happens first. When all I’ve been looking at are rainbow cakes, brownies loaded with candy and every flavor of French macaron known to mankind, I’m most likely to pig out on sugar and butter. Less than ideal, I know…so instead of fighting the urges (and cavities) on will-power alone, I decided it would be wise to follow more health-focused foodie accounts. Not so surprisingly, it became MUCH easier to eat well when I was taking in all that fresh, green goodness instead of just “junk”. The link between what I was looking at and what I was eating was so obvious that when I learned about the campaign Bolthouse Farms was doing to get people hashtagging more health foods and less junk foods, I flipped. Loved it. So let me explain cause it’s SUCH a cool project.

Keep reading!

GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls - offbeat + inspired

I love making friends that share my gluten/dairy intolerances. I hate that they have intolerances because of how fun intolerances aren’t (wouldn’t wish them on anybody), but it’s just awesome to be able to feed my crazy ingredient-ly (??) acrobatic recipes to people who will appreciate them for their health benefits as well as their flavors, and say things like, “WHAT?! I don’t have to stop eating ACTUAL cinnamon rolls?!” No, dear friend. No…you don’t!

Keep reading!

Pomegranate, Lime + Ginger Mocktail

Pomegranate + Ginger Mocktail - offbeat + inspired-2

A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a baby shower for a friend. Pre-pregnancy, the guest of honor and I often enjoyed hanging out and talking over a bottle of wine, but considering it was her baby shower (and I’m also pregnant), wine had to take a backseat.

Celebrations like baby showers deserve a festive drink, so I came up with a simple mocktail recipe that can be scaled down for 1 person or made for a crowd. And with Christmas and New Year’s Eve around the corner, I don’t have to settle for sipping a boring beverage when everyone else is toasting with a glass of champagne or a cocktail. I will be celebrating with a tasty mocktail in hand!

Keep reading!

Eggnog “White Russians”

Eggnog "White Russians" - offbeat + inspired

Winter cocktails are my favorite. They’re so cozy and rich! The thought of a cold glass of milk punch or eggnog makes me want to gather all the ugly sweaters I can, make one giant super sweater and climb into it with all my friends while we watch cheesy holiday movies and get warm by the fire. Yes, I’m weird, but you have to admit that sounds pretty amazing.

I’ve never actually crafted my OWN winter cocktail though, so this year I wanted to try a twist on the White Russian. I love the “grown up chocolate milk” aspect of this drink, so I stuck with that and changed it up a little bit by using eggnog instead of cream. It’s such an easy alteration, but the results are SO good. Hangar 1 Vodka with its authentically fresh, clean flavor pulls the whole thing together and gives it a perfect kick.

Keep reading!

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies-6

Ever cook something for the first time and then wonder, “Why in the world haven’t I been making this all along!?” That’s how I feel about shortbread. For some reason, I’ve never made shortbread cookies until this year – but now, I’m completely hooked. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve quickly baked (and eaten) enough of these buttery, sweet, crumbly cookies to make up for all the years they’ve been missing from my kitchen.

Keep reading!