Velvety and red: Eggless red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

I’ve been away for a long time – both from my oven and from my blog. Let’s see… what’s happened over the last few months. One, I have a new nephew who makes me laugh and smile and that I can’t wait enough for him to grow up so I can bake for PTA meetings, birthday parties, cupcake day at school and the like. Two, work has kicked into high gear. Yes, I do have a day job and it does not involve me whipping sweet delicacies in the kitchen. Three, I’ve been traveling… a LOT… from the sunny beaches and boogie boarding in Hawaii, to kayaking near the mavericks in Half Moon Bay, to rich and spicy food expeditions at a big fat Indian wedding and vegan Koren fare in K-Town New York. 

I recently moved apartments and to my delight, have a kitchen that’s twice as large with a brand new cooking range and oven. And, my apartment managers have been super nice to me and patient with all my maintenance requests. So, when it came down to it, I HAD to bake them some cupcakes. The question was, which one?

I remember the first time I had a red velvet cake. It was my friend’s birthday and we actually got it from Carlo’s in Hoboken, NJ – almost chocolatey, but not quite, heavy, rich…decadent. But I couldn’t have more than half a piece. This is what I don’t understand about the typical American cake – how heavy it is and how the sweetness and fat overwhelms the flavor of the ingredients. It’s why I iterate with every recipe I find on the web – to make it less sweet, to bring out the flavors and cut down on the fat.

So, here’s eggless red velvet cupcakes – iterated so that you can taste the blend of almond and chocolate melded with the delicious salty-sweetness of cream cheese frosting.

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Ingredients

Makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup milk (2% fat or more)
1 cup minus 1 tbsp sugar
11/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp liquid red food color
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond essence
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (white will also do)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Cream cheese frosting

11/2 cups or enough for 12 cupcakes
7tbsp unsalted butter, softened not melted
8 oz cream cheese (full fat or 1/3rd less fat), softened
11/4 sifted powdered sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt 

Directions

Make the cupcakes 

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  1. Mix the milk and vinegar and set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add oil, vanilla, almond essence to the milk and vinegar mix.
  4. Gently fold the liquid mix into the flour mix. Make sure you don’t beat it too much. 
  5. Add red food color and continue to mix.
  6. Pour into a lined cupcake tin and bake at 350degrees for 20 minutes or till a knife comes out clean.
  7. Set cupcakes aside to cool before frosting.


Whip the frosting

  1. Cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla with a beater until smooth.
  2. On a low setting, add the sugar till incorporated. I usually add a little at a time and do a taste check to see how sweet I like it. I often don’t end up using all of the sifted sugar.
  3. Add the salt.
  4. On a high setting, beat for a few seconds until light and fluffy.

Quick tip: If you’re in a rush, simply put the butter in warm water to soften it.


Make it work

Frost the cupcake with your deliciously whipped frosting. You can also take a knife and scoop out the center and fill it with the cream cheese filling to get more frosting in every bite.

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Eggless Coconut Raspberry Lemonade Cake – Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and Raspberry Cream Frosting

I’ve been traveling for work off late and been really too busy to bake. So, it made me immensely happy to find myself back in my kitchen yesterday cooking up a storm for a family dinner. On the menu were fresh spring salad in a home made spicy vegan honey lime vinaigrette, macaroni hot pot (its shell pasta in a yummy baked beans and tomato sauce with onions and peppers) and a coconut lemonade raspberry cake.

Now, I love chocolate and fresh fruit cakes. But I had to try something different. Last week, I ordered a few different vegan baking cook books including Sticky Fingers’ Sweets by Doron Peterson. She definitely has some interesting recipes but I wish the book had more pictures! I adapted her coconut strawberry & lemonade cake recipe to this one. If you have the book and compare it with my recipe, you’ll see that I’ve significantly altered the cake recipe, although I followed her lemon curd recipe. The raspberry frosting was the baby of another happy accident although I’m sure this cake would’ve tasted just as good, if not better than the strawberry frosting she recommends.

Raspberry

Ingredients

For the cake
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt 
11/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup 2% buttermilk (substitute with whole milk if not available)
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
13/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup sweetened dried coconut flakes 
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the lemon curd
2 cups fresh lemon juice 
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp silken tofu
2 tbsp ener-g egg replacer  
1/4 cup water
31/2 tbsp corn starch

For the raspberry frosting
1 cup whipping cream
4 tbsp powdered sugar
6-8 tbsp raspberry preserves, whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Directions

Make the cakes

  1. Grease and dust 2 9″ cake tins. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add the vinegar to the buttermilk(or whole milk) and set aside for 5 minutes. Then add in the coconut milk, extracts, sugar, oil, water and beat at high speed.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Fold in the liquid ingredients into the dry ones. 
  5. Add in the sweetened dried coconut flakes and beat lightly until all the ingredients are mixed. Don’t overbeat! It will crack the top of the cake.
  6. Split the batter into the two tins and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick through the center comes out clean. Then turn the cakes onto a cooling rack, and cool. I’d recommend wrapping it in plastic and sticking it in the freezer for 30 minutes before filling and frosting.

Make the lemon curd filling

  1. Heat the lemon juice with half a cup of sugar until it dissolves.
  2. Blend the tofu, cornstarch, ener-g egg replacer, remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, water.
  3. Add the tofu mix to the hot lemon juice and bring to a boil.
  4. Keep cooking and whisking the mix until it thickens.
  5. Pout the hot mixture into a container and let rest at room temperature until cooled. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

Make the raspberry frosting

  1. Make sure you’ve whisked the raspberry preserves so that it isn’t clumpy
  2. Beat the heavy whipping cream until the stiff peaks stage, with the extract and the powdered sugar
  3. Fold in the preserve
  4. Put in the freezer for at least 15-20 minutes before using

Assemble the cake

  1. Pipe the raspberry filling on the edges of the top of the lower layer of cake. 
  2. Fill in the lemon curd and ensure it isn’t filled more than the raspberry cream “dam”.
  3. Frost the cake with the raspberry frosting
  4. Decorate as you please! (I cheated with this cake. Used store bought Duncan Hines Vanilla whipped frosting. Also used Hershey kisses ’cause I was seriously running out of time!) 

Kid Yummy: Eggless Oreo Cookie Cupcakes!

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My pre-teen neice came to spend the weekend with me and her only request was that we bake something together. I rememebered a cake I used to make years ago with Oreos and chocolate and thought it was time to try a new version. And so it came about, a batch of Oreo cookie cupcakes AND a 6″ Oreo cookie cake. 

I experimented with my basic cupcake recipe and found that the chocolate cake was significantly more moist. I’m looking forward to adapting this to other cakes and flavors.

Ingredients
Makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes
1 + 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 c sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 c cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c canola or vegetable oil
1 c buttermilk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c water 
8 Oreo cookies, crushed

For the frosting

2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
20 – 30 Oreo cookies, finely ground
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp cold heavy whipping cream

A few mini Oreos for the garnish

Directions

Make the cupcakes!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, sift and mix the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the vinegar to the buttermilk and let stand for a few minutes. Add to it the vanila, oil and sugar. Beat thoroughly.
  4. Put the Oreo cookies in a Ziploc bag and beat or club it with a rolling pin. The cookies should not be finely crumbled. You want to be able to bite into them when you eat the cake 😉
  5. Fold the Oreo cookies in the flour mix and then fold the dry ingredients into the liquid mix. Do not overmix.
  6. Pour into a lined cupcake pan and bake for 15 minutes or until a knife through the cupcake comes out clean.

Make the cookie frosting!

  1. Finely ground the Oreo cookies. Make sure there are no cookie chunks left in (chunks will make frosting the cake a nightmare!).
  2. On a low speed, beat the softened butter.
  3. Add the sifted powdered sugar a bit at a time and increase the speed to make a fluffy frosting.
  4. Add the vanilla, heavy whipping cream and ground cookies and beat at a medium – high speed. I’d add the sugar and the cookies a bit at a time till you find the right sweetness for yourself.
  5. Chill for about 10-15 minutes before piping onto your cupcakes. Top with a mini Oreo. 

Oreocupcake2

This cake is perfect for kids. I did have a hard time with the frosting though, because I didn’t mind the size of the oreo crumbs and even a few slightly big chunks clogged up the icing tip :(. It was the hardest and messiest part of this cake but the moment I took some of those chunks out and used a bigger decorating tip, the frosting became a lot easier. 

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I made about 12 cupcakes and baked a 6″ cake with the remaining batter. For the cake, increase the baking time to about 25 minutes. I also scoured through my cake supplies and found a bag of mini Twix bars that we used to decorate the cake. We took the cake to my sister’s for dinner and I loved looking at my 2.5 year old neice first eat the cookies, then lick the frosting and dive into the Twix bars before she stuff a lot of cake in her mouth. She decided it was yummy enough for me to deserve a hug 🙂 If I ever needed a reason to bake, hugs from a super adorable 2 year old would be it!

And my preteen neice has spent a lot of time on video chat showing off the efforts of her labor, and making her friends feel perfectly jealous. So all in all, this weekend was as much fun as eating Oreos and milk!

Angry Birds Cake – Moulded with Marzipan

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I am deeply passionate about food. I believe food is an experience that is both, individual and communal. It’s communal because the best conversations take place over food and wine. It’s individual, because it engages four of your five major senses: taste, smell, touch and sight.

The way a dish looks, should create an anticipation of what is to follow. In the mind of the eater, it should create an expectation of texture, flavor, and satisfaction. And that is what makes the baker, the ultimate artist.

Up until today, most of my posts have been focused on taste, smell and touch. But this is a cake, I baked sometime last year for my cousin’s birthday. It was a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. But my cousin loves marzipan. So, I made a themed birthday cake with marzipan. And what better theme than Angry Birds!

I don’t have an instructional video on this, but I do have a few tips on working with marzipan:

1. Keep your hands greased and ensure the marzipan doesn’t touch water – that will make it sticky
2. When rolling marzipan onto a cake, it’s a good idea to dust your rolling pin with powdered sugar and to roll it out on parchment or wax paper
3. Keep a knife dipped in hot water, and wipe it dry before trimming any rolled marzipan
4. I used liquid colors when working with marzipan for this cake, and it gave a deeper, richer color

Remember that you can use other candy to help with the decoration too. Depending on what you’re using, you can stick it to the marzipan by simply first moistening it with water.

I prefer modelling with marzipan than with fondant, mainly because my personal philosophy is that everything on a cake should be delicious. And fondant, is not delicious. Marzipan does get a little expensive to work with though, and not everybody likes it. I believe modelling chocolate is a good alternative too and it’s not too expensive – so, I’m looking forward to working with it in the future!

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

It’s a curious fact that I, who love chocolates, can’t stand to have plain milk chocolate. Give me milk chocolate on a waffer, biscuit, with fruits in it and I’ll have it. But my favorite accompaniment to milk chocolate, is caramel. I love how caramel is sweet and creamy and nutty at the same time. Naturally, then I had to make a chocolate cupcake with caramel buttercream.

I didn’t grow up eating buttercream. It really is icing I’ve discovered only after moving to the US. That might explain why I’m not it’s biggest fan. Next time I’ll try this icing with whipped cream and see if my palate likes that better. But as far as buttercream goes, this recipe from 52 Kitchen Adventures is pretty awesome. 

I switched the chocolate cupcake recipe around a bit and loved the new flavor brown sugar gave it. I also had some chocolate shavings left over that I added to the recipe that added some richness to the cake.

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Ingredients

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 9

3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 tbsp sweetened cocoa
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp chocolate shavings (optional)
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 cup oil
1/8 cup + 2tbsp water

Caramel Filling

1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp salted butter, cubed
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt

Caramel Buttercream

1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick (8 tbsp) salted butter
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter
1.5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt

Directions
Make the chocolate cupcakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 9 cupcake liners.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar to the milk and let it curdle for a few minutes.
  3. Add the oil, water, light brown sugar to the liquid mix and beat.
  4. Sift the baking soda, flour, cocoas together. Mix in the chocolate shavings.
  5. Lightly whisk the dry ingredients and the liquid mix together.
  6. Pour into the liners 2/3rds of the way and bake for 25 minutes or until a knife through the cake comes out clean
  7. Take the cupcakes out of the oven and cool.

Make the Caramel Filling

  1. Evenly spread the sugar at the base of a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan. Keep it at medium heat.
  2. Stir until the sugar caramelizes and turns a deep amber color.
  3. Take the pan off the stove and add in the butter and whipping cream. It whill bubble and splutter. Be careful!
  4. Whisk until the caramel mix is nice and smooth. If you’re seeing sticky clumps for the most part, just return the pan to the stove and keep stirring until the caramel mix is smooth. Be careful not to burn it!

Whisk some Caramel Buttercream

  1. When caramel is made by first dissolving sugar in water, the most important thing to be mindful of is to not stir the mix.
  2. In a stainless steel pan, first evenly spread the sugar and pour the water over it. Mix and ensure that the sugar is evenly laid in the pan.
  3. Heat the mix on medium. DO NOT STIR. Let the mix to turn to a deep amber color.
  4. Take it off the stove and mix in the whipping cream, vanilla and salt. Let the mix cool.
  5. Beat the softened butter. Gradually add in the sifted powdered sugar and beat on high speed until the buttercream is light and fluffy. 
  6. Fold in the caramel and mix in the buttercream. If it’s too liquidy, just pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so.

Assemble the cupcakes

  1. Cut a circle in the middle of the cupcakes and fill in with a spoonful of the caramel filling. Close the cupcake back up with the piece you’d scooped out.
  2. You’ll have some caramel left over when you’re done. In a piping bag, add a couple of spoons to one side of the bag. Add the buttercream on the other side and then, pipe the buttercream on the cupcake. 
  3. Sprinkle some salt on the cream for some flair.

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me: Eggless Chocolate Raspberry Cake

The best birthday present I could give myself is a day of baking. My cousin and I were celebrating our birthdays together and I wanted to make passionfruit chocolate cake, except I actually couldn’t find any passionfruit pulp. There I was, standing in Safeway, wondering what I was going to do, when I spotted them – delicious and delectable raspberries! Earlier in the day, I’d picked up some melt-in-your-mouth truffles from Whole Foods. I knew then, I had to try a chocolate raspberry cake!

But since this was my birthday cake, I had to try something fancy – like chocolate shavings and a three layer cake – my first  and something that was definitely not easy to do! 

This is what I cut today:

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And this is what it looked like when I cut it:

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All in all, it was delicious and it looked pretty. It was a messy first attempt though and took a lot of time cleaning up – but, the end result was worth it. A sweet way to start 28! 

Following the many requests I’ve received, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

1.5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 cups milk
1+1/8 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup water

Raspberry Filling 

10.5 oz raspberries
2 oz water
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornflour + 1/4 cup water
1 tsp agar agar
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 – 5 tbsp raspberry preserve 

Chocolate ganache

9 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream 
2 tbsp sugar

Garnish

1 cup chocolate shavings for garnish
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
Raspberries
Chocolate truffles

Directions

Make the Cake 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grease and dust a 9″ baking pan
  3. Mix the vinegar with the milk and leave aside for a few minutes. Then add the vanilla, oil, water and sugar. Beat the liquid mix.
  4. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking soda. Mix in the liquid ingredients. Be careful not to overbeat.
  5. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 300 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes or until a knife through the cake comes out clean. Cool in the oven for 5 minutes and then set aside.

Make the Raspberry Filling
This can be made the day before 

  1. On medium heat, cook the raspberries, sugar and water. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  2. Once the raspberries melt into the mix,  add the agar agar. As soon as the mix boils, cook it at low heat.
  3. Mix the cornflour in water to make a smooth mix. Gradually add it to the raspberry sauce. The mixture should begin to thicken. Keep stirring at low temperature for about 5 -7 minutes. Add the lemon juice and salt. Take off the gas and cool. Your sauce should have the consistency of beaten fruit preserve.
  4. Whip the cream till soft peaks form. Then add the strawberry syrup and beat again. 
  5. Cool for at least an hour in the fridge. Best cooled overnight.

Whip up some chocolate ganache
This too can be made ahead of time 

  1. Mix the sugar in the whipping cream and bring to a simmer on the gas.
  2. Pour over the chocolate and set aside for a few minutes
  3. Mix the chocolate into the whipping cream and cool. Then refrigerate.

Put it all together

  1. Before assembling the cake, leave the ganache out till it reaches the right spreadable consistency.
  2. Cut your cake into three layers. 
  3. Beat the strawberry preserve and spread on the layers you’ll be filling with a pastry brush.
  4. Pipe the layers with some chocolate ganache along the edges. Fill in with raspberry filling.
  5. Set the layers atop of one another
  6. Spread the chocolate ganache on top and along the sides.
  7. Press the chocolate shavings along the sides and use a seive to spread cocoa over the top.
  8. Decorate with raspberries and chocolate truffles
  9. Refrigerate the cake for at least 8 hours before serving.

Note: You’ll have filling and ganache left over – these can be frozen for future use. The hardest part of putting this cake together, was sticking the chocolate shavings and then lifting the cake onto the cake plate. When assembling the cake, best to do so on a flat plate with parchment paper. Use a heavy duty and big cake lifter to transfer the cake. Another option is to cool the cake for a bit before transfering it. A simple variation of this cake would be to make a 2 layer cake instead of a 3 layer one. 

New Year Breakfast Treat: Eggless Pancakes with Caramelized Oranges

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The thing I begrudge hangovers the most, is how they leave this horrible taste at the back of your mouth that pretty much ensures you don’t want to eat anything delicious. Then again, when you decide to hit Park Chow in Richmond and see their lovely brunch menu, you begrudge your hangover the mimosa you’re too dehydrated to drink and you begrudge the menu lovely lemon ricotta pancakes you can’t eat ’cause they’re made with eggs!

Needless to say, when I woke up this morning, I had a big craving for lemon ricotta pancakes.  A peek in my fridge revealed that I was out of both, ricotta cheese and pancake mix. A little digging on the web and a little experimentation yielded beautiful and fluffy pancakes made from scratch. And since I ran out of maple syrup, I figured I could do this with caramelized oranges and boozy caramel sauce instead!

Ingredients

For the pancakes
Makes 8 – 10 

1 cup flour
 3 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 level tbsp plain yogurt
1 cup warm water
3 tsp oil
1/4 tsp butter
1/2 tsp powdered sugar  

For the caramelized oranges
Makes enough for one plate of pancakes

1/2 cup white cane sugar
1/8 cup water
1 tbsp light corn syrup (it’s okay if you don’t have this)
1 tsp butter
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cointreau/orange liquor or orange juice
dash of cinnamon (optional)
1 orange, peeled and sliced
A few thin strips of orange peel, twisted

Directions

Start by making the caramelized oranges

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1. On a low flame (3 on your electric stove), in a thick bottomed stainless steel pan, thoroughly mix the sugar, water and corn syrup until dissolved
2. Then, without stirring, let the syrup caramelize till it is a deep amber color. DO NOT STIR. If your pan is heating unevenly and you see one side of your syrup turning darker than the other, gently swirl the syrup and turn your pan until the syrup is evenly colored. Keep the gas mark low.
3. As soon as the syrup turns a deep amber, remove it from the flame. Be careful not to burn it by overheating
4. Add the butter, cointreau (or orange juice), lemon juice, salt and cinnamon. It will sputter, so be careful
5. If your caramel starts hardening, place it back on the stove and stir until it liquifies
6. Put your sliced oranges and twisted orange peel in this mix and drench with the syrup. Leave it on the stove for about two minutes and then take the pan off the stove and set aside

Now, make the pancakes

Plainpancakes

1. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder thoroughly
2. Add the water, oil, yogurt and whisk the mixture thoroughly until you see air bubbles
3. Heat a flat pan and grease it with butter/oil
4. Lower your gas flame (stove mark 3) and pour the pancake mixture a quarter cup (or less) at a time
5. Bubbles will form on the top of the poured mixture. Once dry, flip over. When golden on both sides, you can take it off.

Wipe your pan with a paper towel before making the next pancake.

Assembling the pancakes

1. Place three pancakes on top of each other
2. Place 1/4 tsp of butter on the warm pancake on top
3. Pick the oranges out of the caramel sauce and place on your pancakes
4. Spoon some of the caramel sauce (heat it if it has solidified) onto the pancakes
5. Garnish with the orange peels and sprinkle powdered sugar through a seive

You could just as easily caramelize strawberries for your pancake or serve these caramelized fruits with cream as a dessert. 

Eaten_pancakes

This was DELICIOUS. A nice rich brunch to kickstart your cooking new year with. Although, you might want to switch out the mimosa for a pomegranate bellini 🙂