Cupcake in a Muffin Costume

I had a bad day on Tuesday, so I baked. Baking is one of a handful of things that actually gets me to stop fucking thinking and focusing on a process, rather than a product. And it helped… except that I ate way too many and made a second batch the next day to give to my family and friends. Buttoning my jeans this morning was not fun.

Anyway, I found a recipe for chocolate chip muffins, and they came out SPLENDID… as the base for a cupcake. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE MUFFINS and I LOVE THE BASE OF CUPCAKES (not a frosting person, remember?). BUT. I realized that without the chocolate chips, these muffins would make a perfect base as the cupcakes I’m baking for my niece’s 4th birthday party this weekend. So prepare for a photo of those with a buttercream recipe in a few days.

Back to the muffins. Let’s start with some photos, shall we?

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Milk chocolate chips make ALL the difference in this muffin, I promise you.unnamed-3unnamed-8

I omitted the couple of extra tablespoons of sugar sprinkled on top. Honestly I just forgot the first time I made these, but after they came out looking like they did, I realized it wasn’t totally necessary to include it.unnamed-2unnamed-1 unnamed-7 unnamed

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So About That Cake I Made…

This will be a picture-heavy, word-light post. My mom and I made two frostings the other day to decorate the cake I made her and my dad for their 34th wedding anniversary. My mom wanted vanilla, and my dad wanted mocha. So here we go.

One thing about my family: we’re not big recipe-people. As you may have read before on here, I’m constantly omitting, changing, and ignoring instructions. And sometimes, I straight up improvise. So here, you’ll get to see where that came from.

Here are the measurementless ingredients:

  • lots of butter
  • lots of powdered sugar
  • at least a cup of whipping cream
  • vanilla extract
  • about a cup of milk chocolate chips
  • a couple of ounces of bittersweet chocolate

First we made a vanilla buttercream, and then we added a couple of tablespoons of ground up coffee and a mixture of melted milk and bittersweet chocolate to the vanilla frosting to create the mocha one:

unnamed-2unnamed-1unnamedunnamed-7   unnamed-6  I started by frosting the bottom layer with the mocha frosting. The other half would end up covered in vanilla frosting.unnamed-5

Then I placed the second layer of cake on top, and started by frosting the vanilla half.unnamed-4

And there you go! Two satisfied parents, and one whole cake GONE not even 3 days after cutting into it.unnamed-3unnamed-8

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Happy Birthday, America

Hey there. So remember a while ago I included a little reference to a certain DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE CAKE I made? Well tomorrow is my parents’ 34th wedding anniversary, and they requested, as a gift from me, that exact chocolate cake with one caveat: my mom wants to make the frosting. So in this post you’ll read about my process of making the cake, and maybe tomorrow I’ll do a special post documenting my mom making her mocha and vanilla buttercreams.

As always, the dries:

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This weird, sciencey looking thing is the wets. I looooove this shot:

unnamed-5MIXTURE!

unnamed-4MIXTURE INCLUDING HOT WATER!

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And the buttered/floured baking pan(s). Today this method gave me a bit of a hard time. It’s no big deal, but you’ll see that a little bit of the flour didn’t totally soak into the batter while the cakes baked, so there’s a little floury rim around the top. You’ll get it when you scroll down a little more.

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LOOK AT THE BATTER IN THE PANS!

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AND THEN THEY GOT BAKED (lol)!

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And here’s the cooled product on a plate just WAITING for the frosting extravaganza. Here’s where you’ll see the floury rim:

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To be continued…

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Dat Rough Puff Pastry

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m not into store-bought. I don’t like cake mixes, I don’t like canned frosting, and I don’t like frozen pie crusts. Scratch that, they all taste good (except maybe the frosting), but I don’t like using them. I’d much rather deliver my desserts and say “I MADE THIS WHOLE THING” without semi-homemaking it, Sandra Lee-style. No thank you.

And so, friends, here is my process of creating one of the most forgivable items to buy. Puff pastry is temperamental. Well it can be. Just a tip when you do store-buy it, look at the ingredients list. Make sure the only fat you see is butter. That’s how you know it’s a decent puff pastry dough. And if you’re feeling ambitious, do as I do and make it. I use Gordon Ramsay’s recipe. And in this post is a bonus how-to for palmieres.

This is 3/4 of the ingredients. It’s only missing water.

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Throw caution to the wind and get messy. This is a very fun dough to touch (if you’re a tactile person like I am).

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This little guy gets chilled for as long as possible:

unnamed-1And once it’s sufficiently cold, roll it out! It’s amazing how durable this stuff is. I use a pizza cutter to straighten out any edges. Clearly this was not the case yet when I took this picture:unnamed

ONWARD TO THE RECIPE FOR (mini) PALMIERES! You will chill the above-pictured dough in that shape (or folded into a rectangle) for a little while longer.

Roll the dough back out onto a surface covered in granulated sugar instead of flour! Then sprinkle the whole RECTANGULAR sheet of dough with more sugar!

Also, I’m a dummy because I totally lost a gorgeous picture I had of the rolled up dough. So here I go, using WORDS to illustrate my point (ugh). For miniature palmieres, roll the two long edges of the dough toward each other until they meet in the middle. For normal-sized ones, roll the other sides toward each other until they meet in the middle. It should look like a rolled-up Torah.

Then slice them like a log of refrigerated cookie dough, arrange them on your parchment, and sprinkle them with even more sugar!

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Bake them for about 12 minutes between 375 and 400 degrees (remember, not all ovens are created equal). And then look what you get:unnamed-5RIIIEEEEEEGHT???

unnamed-7I liked this piece of caramelized sugar. Looked like some hip moose-antler-art.unnamed-8And if you’re ALL ABOUT DAT BOOTY, just look at these guys from the back:unnamed-9I ate too many of these:

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My Dad’s Not Into Macarons

Happy Fathers’ Day! In honor of the Hallmark holiday, I baked my dad a shitload of chocolate chip cookies with walnuts- his favorite. And then I felt inspired to bake a little more. I know I posted about macarons a while ago, but I didn’t include a recipe or a walkthrough. This time, I’ve come with a fantastic recipe and the tip to end all tips: USE A FOOD SCALE. Macarons are a french dessert. They use grams over on that side of the pond. So even in LA, when baking French desserts, I do as the French do. Et FYI, je parle un peu de français. Je ne suis pas couramment, mais j’aime la langue.

Alors….. chocolate macaron shells! I used a recipe that includes a guide for making them rocky road flavored, but I skipped that and filled mine with ice cream tonight.

I like to triple sift when I make macarons.unnamed-1Doing that prevents this from getting into your shells:

unnamedOnward to the egg whites and sugar!

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At 25, it still fascinates me to see what those two ingredients can become

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This is generally thought to be the most difficult part of macaron-making. Using a rubber spatula, you have to fold the dry ingredients into the egg white/sugar combo as GENTLY and MINIMALLY as possible. This is how mine looked post-stir:unnamed-4Then I piped them onto my baking sheet:

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I let them rest for nearly two hours. If you know me or have been reading for a while, you know that was not my intention. I have zero patience and I get really excited so I was hoping for only 30 minutes. Honestly, the longer the better, though. While they rest, the discs should form their own sort of exoskeleton. You should be able to gently touch them and hardly feel them. There should be no indent from your finger on the shell.

Baked ’em up for about 16 minutes, and here ya go:

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Stoked to get Yoked

I even lift, bros. So today I made peanut butter & almond energy bars. These have no all-purpose flour, no granulated sugar, and all healthy fats (depending on the peanut butter you use). Typically, you’ll see me bake things with no consideration for the nutritional value. Little secret? I used to study dietetics, I was vegan for 2 years, and strongly considered a career in assisting people in recovery for eating disorders (both psychotherapeutically and nutritionally). So for those reasons, I love these bars.

It starts out looking pretty different than my usual experiments:

unnamed-4And sort of just stays looking like peanut butter with different consistencies for the rest of the process:


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My other photos are a little blurry, so I’m sparing you. You can sort of see what the texture turns into in this one:

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The only change I make to the linked recipe is that I up the slivered almonds game a bit and add 2 extra tablespoons for a total of 5 tablespoons layered over the top.

Baked it for exactly 22 minutes:

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I should have let it cool a touch longer before I cut it. The result is waaaay puffier and cakier than I expected.

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I really love the way these look.

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hehehehehe

This is going to be short and cavity-inducingly sweet. I made my “candied” chocolate chip cookies with walnuts today (I’m not posting the recipe because it’s one that I developed, the first recipe I ever developed actually, and I really like you and all that, but we sorta just met and I mean we’re just not at that level yet, ya know?) and decided that instead of downing the last scraps of dough, I’d get a little… naughty.

You know how after you make cookies, there’s always that last little bit of dough that doesn’t have enough chips in it to make a few cookies, but is too much to just toss? Well…

unnamed-3Yup.

Here’s what the cookies typically look like:unnamed

And now here’s all that’s left:

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Plus. Bonus twins pic:

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