A Decadent Demonic Dessert

My Devil's Food Cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for Halloween(or any time of year, really). They're a decadent demonic dessert if I do say so.

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s so festive and fun, and it’s essentially the start of the holiday season. There’s so much fun to look forward to from now on.

My Devil’s Food Cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for Halloween(or any time of year, really). They’re a decadent demonic dessert if I do say so.

Devil’s Food Cake is an alternative to a basic chocolate cake that is absolutely delicious. Get kids involved by encouraging them to add cute toppers like gummy worms or tombstones made with cookies. Halloween cupcake wrappers make them extra fun for kids of all ages.

A few years ago, Design Sponge used the recipe for a full-blown Halloween shin dig, and it turned out so cute.

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Find this recipe and other fabulous party ideas in my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY.

Devils Food Cup Cakes
Makes 36 cupcakes

You will need:

For the cupcakes:
– ½ cup water
– 1 cup high quality cocoa powder
– 3 sticks butter softened (1 ½ cups)
– 2 cups sugar
– 4 eggs beaten
– 1 tablespoon vanilla
– ¼ cup canola oil
– 1 cup sour cream
– 3 cups all purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For the Chocolate Frosting:
– 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 7 tablespoons high quality cocoa
– 1 stick of butter softened
– 6 tablespoons evaporated milk

Cake Preparation:

In the microwave, place water, then place cocoa powder in hot water, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle blade place butter and sugar combine until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, add vanilla and oil and sour cream add cocoa mixture, beat on medium speed until combined.

In a bowl mix flour and baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture on slow speed until combined, and add chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin tins, lined with cupcake liners fill liner until ¾ full. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until a pick is inserted and comes out clean. Cool and then frost.

Frosting Preparation:

Sift sugar and cocoa together in a bowl set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter, add sugar cocoa mixture slowly to the butter alternately with the evaporated milk, until fluffy.

xx, Annette

Photos via Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn & Design Sponge

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Pumpkin cake, new 2018 workshops, & more: it’s the top 4

4 for September Now that we’ve officially dipped into October, I’m reflecting back on September. As you now, September marked my last month in Italy. I am here for a few weeks before heading back in early November for our first olive-centric workshop which is going to be incredible if I do say so myself.

In September, I shared sagra festivals, exciting new workshops, scrumptious fall recipes, and more. Fall is a wonderful season, and we saw glimpses of it in Italy. Now, it’s here in Atlanta, and we’re enjoying every bit of it.

Here’s a look at my top 4 for September. Take a look at my favorite posts of the month (including that pumpkin cake). Let me know if you give it a try.

September is Sagra Season

Italy Renovation Update

Great Pumpkin Layer Cake

Announcing Summer 2018 Workshops

xx Annette

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My Life in Photos, September

It’s hard to believe that earlier this week, I wrapped-up an incredible summer in Italy. My first at La Fortezza, it was unforgettable in so many ways.

September was nearly as busy as the rest of the summer, but I found a little more time for relaxing with friends and visitors while exploring the region on my own or with Frank. I arrived back in the States on Monday and have been recovering from jet lag which is a very very real thing.

In the spirit of reminiscing, I wanted to look back at my photos throughout September. For those of you who follow along, this will be a trip through September’s memory lane. For those of you who don’t, enjoy these photos from my last summer month in Italy.

We’ve got some exciting things up our sleeves for October…including opening next summer’s workshops. Join my mailing list to get first dibs. In the meantime, a few inspirational photos to get you in the mood to come along.

Just another magic Monday.

Just another magic Monday.

Gorgeous birthday bouquet thanks to my rose garden and Forrest Spears for the sunflowers.

Gorgeous birthday bouquet thanks to my rose garden and Forrest Spears for the sunflowers.

Today was a good day! This is the first harvest since we've owned the house. I'm so excited!

Today was a good day! This is the first harvest since we’ve owned the house. I’m so excited!

Next to last weekend here. Fall is definitely making an appearance, too. What an incredible indescribable summer it has been!

Next to last weekend here. Fall is definitely making an appearance, too. What an incredible indescribable summer it has been!

Did I mention that I'm having a love affair with bistecca? Full disclosure: we always have it for our farewell dinner for our workshops...well because I love it, and it's Tuscany after all...and of course it goes great with our red wine!

Did I mention that I’m having a love affair with bistecca? Full disclosure: we always have it for our farewell dinner for our workshops…well because I love it, and it’s Tuscany after all…and of course it goes great with our red wine!

Parma is pretty! I've spent so much time in Parma this year! It's my new city in our new location. As I count down to summer's end, I will be reminiscing about the summer here...

Parma is pretty! I’ve spent so much time in Parma this year! It’s my new city in our new location. As I count down to summer’s end, I will be reminiscing about the summer here…

Afternoon light...I'm really going to miss this place.

Afternoon light…I’m really going to miss this place.

 

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Announcing Summer 2018 Workshop Roster

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As many of you know, this year was the first year of workshops here at La Fortezza. What can I say? It was incredible. We had so many amazing dinners on the terrace, drank lots of chilled white wine from our vineyard, enjoyed signature cocktails like Aperol Spritz and Paper Airplanes. We shared, created and mainly made a bunch of amazing new friends.

All of our guests enjoyed time at my dear freinds’ B&B La Concia, and bonded, laughed and gained a new set of styling and photography skills along the way. I was so grateful to those who attended our first workshops here. They were all so terrific about the scaffolding and the unfinished walkway and the construction crew. It was fun to see some of my past attendees make the trip, too.

Thank you to our instructors and photographers that helped out and to the fantastic chefs that will be back with us next season. Thanks to our amazing concierge and all around Italian spirit animal, Forrest, a fixer like no other. I could not have done it without my new troupe of gals that helped with finding foodie destinations and taught me about the unique products and culture here in the Lunigiana. I feel blessed to have these special friends and helpers.

Okay, NOW for the summer 2018 workshop line up:

1 one on one with me – you will spend time with me honing your skills, learning about the business of styling and production. So if you want to hang with me in Italy, this one’s for you!

1 wedding events and photography workshop – we will delve into the creative and business side of wedding photography and event planning. This will include florals and decor so what can I say it’s going to be AMAZING

1 figurative photography workshop – with an amazing figurative fine art photographer, we will be shooting all over the grounds and inside La Fortezza with stunning models from all over the world. If nude photography interests you, then this is the one for you.

Last but not least, we will be repeating the strictly styling workshop. It was wildly popular, and we think it is something worth repeating. 9 spots this time so we can fit more folks in, so if you were on the waiting list this year, most likely we will have a spot for you.

We will be finishing our renovation this winter, so our demo kitchen will be ready for all sorts of cooking classes and styling demonstrations. We will also have all of our guest rooms appointed, so you will be staying here on the La Fortezza compound with us. We will have some incredible excursions planned, and of course you will be eating local and delicious fare as always.

Email me with any questions annette@annettejosephstyle.com and head to the workshop website and sign up for the mailing list to receive early notification, so you’re first in line.

See you next summer xx

Look for Fall 2018 workshop announcements, too. They’re coming early November.

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Italy Summer Style + Photo Workshops Recap

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dinner on the terrace was incredible

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signature cocktails were a must at aperitivo time

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this was our wine and cheese party…

Well it’s fall. Summer went by so quickly. Our first ever summer Style + Photo Workshops here at La Fortezza were a big success and lots of fun. We met so many wonderful people, and we cooked, we ate, we drank wine, we created beauty, we talked style and photography, and of course, we prop shopped until we dropped.

I want to thank the great instructors who joined us, Christina Wedge, Sarah Dorio, and Sif Orellana; they did an amazing job, and our attendees enjoyed every minute.

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la fortezza worked well as a location

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the studio worked as well as I imagined and more…

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a one on one styling lesson with moi…

My intention with these workshops is to mentor and share my vast professional experience and expertise in styling and producing photo-shoots and bring the very best of the best experts to teach with me.

This summer was a learning experience, not only for our attendees but for me, too. Working at this new location, I wanted to make sure that everyone experienced the very best. My mantra here at the La Fortezza workshops is that everyone should be inspired, challenged, pampered and gently nudged to a new creative heights. We will all nurture the goals every student has set out to accomplish in a beautiful setting.

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we made and photographed handmade ravioli, and then ate them…

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prop shopping at my favorite flea market was a great day excursion with these ladies

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getting to know equipment is essential…

This summer my experience with our attendees and instructors had me thinking about every detail. We tried chefs, and we tried menus. We worked with new equipment on site. We honed our team and added new team members. With everything new, there are growing pains, and I so appreciated the insights and suggestions from everyone involved. Know that I have dissected every moment of each workshop to better improve it for our attendees.The studio space worked amazingly well, as well as I had imagined; it is truly a magical space to work in.

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Always smiling and so kind…Elena did an amazing job at our first workshop, and we will have her back next summer.

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Leo, our badass chef and part time hand model knocked, it out of the park with his new twist on Italian cuisine and handmade pasta!

What I came away with is a greater knowledge of expectations not only of our attendees but of myself. Thank you to all who participated and who helped me gain an understanding of what it means to operate such a life changing business model.  All of you were so gracious and thoughtful and patient with us. Our chefs and our support team now have a better understanding of the importance of creating a safe and welcoming environment. But mostly in the end, it’s the great people that I get to spend time with that make these workshops most worthwhile. This first time with all our attendees was so incredible. I loved teaching you and spending time with you and getting to know you. Please come back anytime.

I can’t wait until next year. I have created a roster of incredible workshops. We will have the most amazing creatives joining us next year. We will work with an internationally known wedding design and photography team, a figurative fine-art photographer, an abstract painter, and an Italian fine art photographer. Perhaps the most exciting addition is that I will be offering 2 one on one styling workshops with me! One in spring and one in the fall. Stay tuned for more Workshop updates soon.

Thank you again to all who attended our first ever La Fortezza Workshops, and to our fantastic team of pros.

Love you guys!

xx

Photos: the summer team

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