Q & A with Sr. Alicia Torres, sharing a favorite dessert recipe

Chocolate chip cookie cupcakes with chocolate goat cheese chardonnay frosting, prepared by Nikki Overfelt of Lulabelle Baking Co., Kansas City, Mo. (GSR photo / Toni Ann Ortiz)

Franciscan Sr. Alicia Torres was one of four contestants on the latest round of "Chopped," a chefs' competition on the Food Network. Torres turned out to be the winner, revealed Nov. 9, of the Thanksgiving meal challenge, garnering $10,000 for the ministry of Chicago's Mission of Our Lady of the Angels soup kitchen. Global Sisters Report reached out to her to find out if she had a favorite recipe to share.

We even tried it out, with the help of local baker Nikki Overfelt of Lulabelle Baking Co., and you can too, following the directions below.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

GSR: What is Christmas meal preparation like at Mission of Our Lady of the Angels?

Torres: Here, Christmas meal preparation always brings to mind the word gratitude. We are so blessed by so much beautiful food! We never know what amazing items our benefactors will donate to us — from the exotic (like goose!) to the traditional (like candy canes and hot chocolate) — we are certainly blessed with a variety of delicious foods to prepare and share during the Christmas season. We also are able to get a great deal of food out to our neighbors, including hams, Christmas cookies and so many other delicious foods to help make Christmas special.

Have there been any particularly memorable Christmases?

Last year we had a traditional British Christmas dinner. Someone happened to donate a goose, and when I saw it in the freezer, the first thing I thought of was Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I proceeded to research what one might have in London on Christmas day. Our feast was complete with roasted chestnuts and a flaming figgy pudding!

What do you like best about this cupcake recipe you’ve shared with us?

What is so fun about the chocolate chip cupcakes is that they follow the sentiments of St. Paul to be all things to all people. You get the crunchy, crispy outside and the soft, gooey middle. It is a win-win for everyone!

What advice would you give to other, perhaps less proficient cooks, who are making big meals this holiday season?

I would echo the advice of Padre Pio — don't worry! Christmas is a time for opening our hearts anew to the reality of Jesus and his message of love and mercy. Getting all stressed out is not what Jesus wants for us. Go with what you know, add something new, and invite others to take a part. Sharing the cooking is always a great way to build up friendships. At the end of the day, if you are the only cook, just do your best — after all, that is the best you can do!

Franciscan Sr. Alicia Torres making the cupcakes at Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago. (Provided photo)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes with Chocolate Goat Cheese Chardonnay Frosting

* Makes about 24 cookie-cakes

Ingredients
12 ounces 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
cupcake liners

Chocolate Goat Cheese Chardonnay Frosting
4 oz. goat cheese, softened
splash (about 1 tablespoon) of Chardonnay
3-6 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup of Dutch-processed dark chocolate powder

Directions for cupcakes
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside.
In large mixing bowl, beat coconut oil (no need to melt, use it as is in the jar) with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color.
Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Place cupcake liners in cupcake tins. Fill each liner 3/4 full of batter.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the frosting
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat goat cheese and splash of Chardonnay until soft/integrated.
Add dark chocolate powder and mix.
Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency for the frosting.
Wait until cupcakes are completely cool before frosting.
Store in the refrigerator.

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