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The Cupcakes of Summer.

I love summer. I always have. It’s my favorite season. Knowing this, I’m not sure why I remain in the Northeast, where there’s that season-that-shall-not-be-named, full of snow, ice and misery. I believe my love of summer stems from my love of being outdoors. So for the majority of summer, I’m out there more than in here. Thus the reason I have posted anything in over a month.

biker chic.

biker chic.

I have, however been doing a lot of baking recently. so I figured the time has come to share it with the universe. Last week, I made two different kinds of cupcakes for a post-wedding celebration. The first of the two was Cookies and Cream. I made up the batter and mixed in crushed fake oreos (faux-reos).

batter up.

batter up.

Next, I baked them (obviously).

coolin'.

coolin’.

Then, I decorated them with cookies and cream frosting, and half a faux-reo on top.

topped off.

topped off.

The other type of cupcake was Chocolate with Cream Cheese Frosting.

I baked those as well (duh). They rose rather nicely.

on the rise.

on the rise.

Next, I topped them with a large dollop of cream cheese frosting.

like snow capped cupcake mountains.

like snow capped cupcake mountains.

Finally, I sprinkled them with shaved chocolate.

after shave.

after shave.

I took super close up shots of them both, because I’m obsessed with super close up shots of food.

cookies and cream super close up.

cookies and cream super close up.

and…

Chocolate and Cream Cheese super close up.

chocolate and cream cheese super close up.

It was fun making these. It made me want to make more cupcakes again. So I think I just might. But first, an oreo coffee cheesecake for National Cheesecake Day. It’s cooling RIGHT NOW!  Stay tuned for more details…. :)

 

 
 

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Red Cake, Pink Frosting.

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Over the weekend, I made a cake by request for someone – a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, covered entirely in rosettes. They needed it to feed about 40 people, so I made it two tier – one 8″ layer, and one 6″ layer.  The baked cake looked pretty rad (or should I say, “red”).

red is the new rad.

red is the new rad.

Due to that rich red color red velvet cake boasts, I decided it best to crumb coat the cake first, to keep the final iced creation free of red specs.

crumb free.

crumb free.

After the initial coating, I refrigerated it for a bit, and made the rest of the cream cheese frosting. I tinted it a very light pink, to make it more rose-like (and because pink is just flat-out pretty).

pretty in pink.

pretty in pink.

A rosette cake uses a lot of icing, thus the finished product was a little on the heavy side. So, be extra careful when picking it up and make sure you pack it in a sturdy box.

heavy petals.

heavy petals.

All in all, this cake was a success – you really can’t go wrong with the red velvet/pink cream cheese frosting combo. It’s also one I really enjoyed making. It just goes to show you – when you do what you love, you love what you do (and other people love it too). I think Dr. Seuss said that. ;)

 
 

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The Great White Chocolate Debate.

white chocolate

Over the weekend, I took part in WHYY’s 5th Annual Chocolate Tasting. I love WHYY, and have since I was a wee lass, so I’m happy to do anything that promotes them and helps raise money to keep them doing what they’re doing. It’s good stuff, and good people. 

Anyway, this year, I made over 400 Oreo and cream cheese truffles to support the event. I use the term “I made” loosely, as my boyfriend stayed up until almost 1 AM on Valentine’s Day to help me get them all dipped in chocolate and ready to go. He’s a very dedicated and hard-working assistant, not to mention a fast learner. So yeah, I had help.

There were to be two varieties: plain Oreo with milk chocolate coating, and mint Oreo with white chocolate coating. They looked like so:

a team effort.

a team effort.

 

So needless to say, before we let them leave the house, we had to taste them. Being a white-chocolate lover since I received my very first Easter basket, I went for the white, whereas my BF went straight for the milk chocolate, claiming he’s not a fan of white chocolate. That got me thinking – white chocolate really is not for everyone. You never hear someone say “Yeah, white chocolate is just ok.” It’s either “Mmmm!! I LOVE white chocolate!” or “Eww! I HATE white chocolate!” usually accompanied by “It’s not even REAL Chocolate!” Yes, that’s true – white chocolate is basically chocolate with the chocolate removed, which therefore logically speaking would make it not chocolate.

white not-chocolates?

white not-chocolates?

I have a theory though. If we were to globally wage a campaign to change the name of white chocolate to something else – removing the “chocolate” from the name in the same fashion it’s been removed from the confection itself – i think more people would accept it and enjoy it. No, it does not taste like chocolate – and by giving it a name that would lead folks to believe it does can be deceiving, and frankly, turn people off before they even give it a real chance. I think a new name would solve this problem, and give white chocolate the love it rightfully deserves. Of course, I have no idea what that name should be…White Not-chocolate? But that still has “chocolate” in the name itself and also just sounds too negative. White Candy? That’s a little generic and no one will have a clue as to what they’re about to eat. White Cocoa Butter? That’s a little better…but the “cocoa” could still cause confusion. White Sugar Butter? That actually sounds kinda gross. I don’t know….any suggestions? 

 

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Cookies and Cream (Cheese) Truffles.

oreo bites3

Yeah, I know – it’s been well over a month since I’ve posted anything…and it’s not like I haven’t been baking. If anything, I’ve been baking more than I have in a long time, what with the holidays and stuff. I just haven’t been writing about it. So, today, I just felt like writing again. So here I am.

I figured I’d ease my way back into blogging with a super easy and super delicious little treat that a friend mentioned to me in passing last month, saying that I should make it as one of my Christmas cookies this year, because it makes a lot of them and it’s easy and everybody loves them. Well, she was right about all of that.

Basically, you take a whole package of Oreos (or faux-reos, which is what I used because they taste the same and in some cases, even better), crumble them all up in a food processor, mix them with one package of cream cheese (but put a small amount of the crumbles aside for sprinkling on top later), and roll them into walnut-sized balls. Refrigerate them for a few hours. When they’re good and cold, take them out, and dip them into melted chocolate, I used unsweetened bakers chocolate. Some people may tell you to use semi-sweet – that’s your call. But truth be told, unsweetened was all I had in the house, so I had to use it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned with how this was gonna play out. Anyway, as soon you dip them, sprinkle some of the crushed cookie bits on top, and let them sit for at least another hour.

oreo truffle shuffle.

oreo truffle shuffle.

So, after I let mine sit, I figured I’d better eat one. I was pleasantly surprised – the unsweetened chocolate actually complimented the sweetness of the cookie/cream cheese ball quite well. But I was still concerned. Maybe I just don’t like things as sweet as everyone else? I had so many of them though, I couldn’t just not share them. So I started slipping them into to cookie gift boxes and trays, and you know what happened next? Not only did everyone like them, but each time I gave someone a cookie assortment, they specifically asked me what that one was, and said how fabulous it was. Go figure.

I guess it’s true – what you have really is all you need – especially when it’s unsweetened chocolate.

 

 

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Long Time, No Recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins (with cream cheese filling).

chocolate pumpkin muffins

I haven’t posted much recently. Honestly, I really just haven’t had much to say. So, I decided to wait until I did have something to say, and that something was also post-worthy. And finally, that day has come. Rejoice!

I’m probably the most happy about this, as I was getting a little worried I’d never have anything to say again. But patience is a virtue, and good things do come to those who wait (and bake). Being that Fall happened, I got the itch to make something pumpkin flavored. I was tired of the same old thing I make every year, and I started trying to come up with something new. Chocolate pumpkin! That sounded new and delicious, but of course, when I did a search, I found many recipes for this very thing. So turns out, this was only new to me. But that’s ok, I still wanted to give it a whirl. I found a recipe from Country Living for  Chocolate Pumpkin Cake/Cupcakes which sounded the most like what I had in mind. I went ahead and altered the recipe slightly, and began creating that wonderful chemical reaction known as batter. And boy, what a batter it was. I briefly considered not baking it at all. But I didn’t think I could really offer cups of chocolate pumpkin batter to anyone and they be as excited about it as I was. Plus, it really would be a giant mess to transport.

hey, batter, batter, batter...sa-wing batter!

hey, batter, batter, batter…sa-wing batter!

So, I decided to bake them. But the muffins alone just weren’t enough. I still wanted more. So, I decided to add a new twist to it – I added a cream cheese filling.

a cup of heaven.

a cup of heaven.

I baked them, and they really turned out pretty fantastic. My only complaint – I used a little too much filling (although some may say that’s downright inconceivable).

an overflow of awesome.

an overflow of awesome.

Anyway, here’s my take on these. Experiment, Eat, and Enjoy!

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins.

what you’ll need:

2 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp flour

1 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 1/4 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar

1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 cups sugar

5 eggs

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk + vinegar, pumpkin, and vanilla. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Slowly add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients, one-third at a time, alternating between the two, until everything is mixed into one homogeneous batter.

Line muffin tins with paper liners, and drop two tablespoons of batter into each cup (you may need to spread it around so it fills the bottom of the cup up entirely). Drop in one tablespoon of cream cheese filling*, and then cover it with an additional tablespoon of batter. bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

*Cream Cheese Filling:

In a large bowl, mix together 2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese (softened), 3.5 oz of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla until smooth.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 25, 2013 in cupcakes, Indulgences, muffins, recipes

 

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Ye Olde Beer and Cake.

So, I have this thing with combining baking and alcoholic beverages. For a while, I was into making cupcakes that represented various cocktails, such as the mojito, or the piña colada. When I discovered an old prohibition-era recipe for bourbon cookies, I got into making said cookies with other hard liquors (see Honey Whiskey Balls). But now I have a brand new idea, that actually stemmed from a pretty old one. I decided that I was going to make chocolate beer cupcakes this weekend for a Memorial Day Party I was attending. I made similar cupcakes once before, but this time I used a different beer (Harpoon Chocolate Stout) and my standard chocolate cake recipe.

the not-so-secret ingredient.

the not-so-secret ingredient.

The cupcakes turned out great – just as I had envisioned. The beer toned down the sweetness, and the cream cheese glaze icing gave it that little something fabulous. Together, they made the perfect combination.

beer + cake = tlf.

beer + cake = tlf.

However, this is merely the beginning. The success of these cupcakes spawned a discussion – it would appear that beer and cake seem to go together. They’re like, MFEO. And at that moment, I realized what I needed to do: open up a tavern/bakery that features the pairing of the two. And I shall call it: Ye Olde Beer and Cake.

let them eat cake (and drink beer).

let them eat cake (and drink beer).

Now this tavern/bakery (tavernakery?) would specialize in selecting beers and cakes that are the perfect match – flavors and styles that go together like bread and butter.  It’d be like…heaven.

heaven is a cake on earth.

heaven is a cake on earth.

So anyway, there you have it. Keep an eye out for Ye Olde Beer and Cake, coming soon to a town near you. And just think, you can say you knew me when…

 
 

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Once, Twice, Three times a Lamb-y.

DSC_1113

Yep, I did it again. For the third consecutive year, I’ve upheld the tradition of making the Lamb Cake for Easter, using the trusty old cast-iron pan that my aunt gave me.

where the magic happens.

where the magic happens.

I also kept up the tradition of making it a carrot cake, with cream cheese icing. The only thing I did change were the color of his eyes.

my brown-eyed lamb.

my brown-eyed lamb.

I went with the same jelly bean nose as seen on  Lamb #2; but I liked the larger ears Lamb #1 had, so I made sure to make them a little bigger this year. 

the better to hear you with.

the better to hear you with.

I will say this – this year’s lamb appears to be a tad “shaggy-er” than the previous two. Some lambs are just shaggy-er than others, I suppose.

shag-a-delic.

shag-a-delic.

Either way, the lamb once again survived the ride to Easter dinner at my parents house, and this year, his arrival was anticipated, and my mom had set up a special table, specifically for the guest of honor

it's a lamb in a box. on a table.

it’s a lamb in a box. on a table.

We didn’t finish the entire lamb, and I  again took the head back home with me – which I will definitely be sharing with others (the lamb has a big head).

Until next year….the Lamb will be baaaaack!

 
 

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Sweet and Cheesy.

So for three years now, I’ve hosted an annual Christmas Party, affectionately known as the B.Y.O.Ch. (pronounced “bee-yoch”) which stands for “Bring Your Own Cheese.” Needless to say, there is a lot of cheese there, from mild, to spicy, to downright smelly.

a plethora of cheese.

a plethora of cheese.

The thing is, cheese is not usually all that sweet. So in addition to cheese itself, the door is open to any cheese-related dish. For me, that means desserts, of course. In the past I’ve made cheesecake, but this year I went with an assortment of cheesy cookies.

There were Cottage Cheese Cookies…

chocolate and cheese.

chocolate and cheese.

….Cream Cheese Cookies…

creamy and dreamy.

creamy and dreamy.

…and Breakfast Cookies (made with shredded cheddar cheese).

breakfast for dessert.

breakfast for dessert.

To top it off, I mixed in these little guys, made from marzipan.

marzipan mice army.

marzipan mice army.

As usual, there was so much leftover, that I have more cheese in my fridge right now than one person should in their entire life. Don’t worry though – it definitely won’t go to waste. ;)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 16, 2012 in Christmas, cookies

 

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Return of the Lamb Cake.

Right before Easter last year, my Aunt gave me a bunch of baking pans, including a stainless steel “lamb pan.” I went on to discover that the lamb-shaped cake produced by this unique piece of bakeware is actually an Easter tradition, one which my Aunt embraced many years ago. So, last year, I decided that this tradition should experience a revival. And thus, I made my very first Lamb Cake, for Easter 2011.

where the magic happens.

So, being that the definition of “tradition” is an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior, i had to make the lamb cake again this year. And make the lamb cake, I did.

Lamb Cake 2: the sequel.

Personally, I think this year’s lamb cake turned out just a tad better than last year’s. I used the same carrot cake recipe (this one, doubled and minus the cinnamon chips), and the same cream cheese icing (however I’ve tweaked that recipe over the year so it’s a little better than last year’s). I decorated the body using the same star tip, and lined the bottom with jelly beans. I used a small jelly bean for the nose this year (last year I piped it), and this year I piped the blue eyes (last year I used mini M&Ms). But the biggest difference is that this year, I gave him a tail.

a tail of two lamb cakes.

For the tail, I used this stuff called, I kid you not, Fluffy Stuff. It was similar to cotton candy. It was perfect.

Anyway, for the second year in a row, the lamb cake was the belle of the Easter ball. The tradition has now officially been revived. Thank ewe.

 

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Recipe Tuesday Afternoon (Delight): Cinnamon Chip Carrot Cake.

Full disclosure: I’m really proud of my carrot cake. It’s a recipe I created myself, and is pretty close to perfection, if I do say so myself. More than one person has gone as far as dubbing it “the best carrot cake they’ve ever had in their life.” That’s no small feat, as there are probably hundreds of different carrot cakes out there. What makes mine so special, you might ask? Well, it uses real carrots for starters. It also doesn’t have nuts in it. Instead of nuts, I use Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips. I believe these chips were a gift to us from the gods – I can’t resist eating them right out of the bag. I think I may have even eaten a whole bag once. But that’s all in the past. The chips provide the crunch factor like a nut would, without the allergies, and with the addition of melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon-y goodness. Top with cream cheese icing (recipe posted here), and add a border of more chips around the base.  This cake is guaranteed to make you the most popular kid in school (or in the office – it worked for me). By the way, this cake is small – it’s a 6 incher – the perfect Small Indulgence. :)

Cinnamon Chip Carrot Cake.

What you’ll need:

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 cups canola oil

2 oz carrots (peeled and finely chopped)

1/4 cups Cinnamon Chips (plus extra for decorating)

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Pour them into the eggs and continue mixing on low speed. Add the oil and carrots and mix well. Fold in the cinnamon chips.  Grease two 6″ rounds, and divide the batter equally between them. Bake for 22 – 25 minutes.  Cool  completely on a wire rack before frosting. Share and enjoy with friends. :)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 21, 2012 in cake, cinnamon, Indulgences, Recipe Sunday, recipes

 

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