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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Recipe Sunday: Lemon Coconut Cake.

So I was feeling really guilty that I haven’t posted any recipes in a while. So I decided earlier this week that I would post one today, but I hadn’t decided what and had no real direction. I did however, have this bag of Meyer Lemons which I had picked up because my cousin seemed to like them, and I trust her judgement. They were also cute and smaller than a regular lemon. I’ve used my cat for a size comparison:

note: this lemon was NOT used in the production of this cake.

Anyway, I decided I would put these little fellas to good use and make a lemon cake. As I started crafting the recipe, I thought that it would taste even better as a lemon coconut cake. So, that’s what I went with. Lemon cake, with lemon buttercream, covered in fresh coconut. And topped with a cherry. It makes a lovely light cake, perfect for a summer gathering on the veranda.

refreshingly sweet.

Lemon Coconut Cake.

What you’ll need:

6 oz eggs

2 1/4 oz half and half

2 1/2 oz high-ratio liquid shortening

1/4 oz lemon juice

5 oz sugar

4 oz cake flour

1/4 oz baking powder

1/4 oz salt

Zest of one small lemon (or half of a large one)

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, liquid shortening and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the dry ingredients on top of the wet, add the lemon zest,  and mix for 5 minutes on medium speed, with the paddle attachment. Scrape the bowl to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated, and mix on medium speed for 5 more minutes. Makes one 8” or 9″ round. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Lemon Buttercream.

What you’ll need:

8 oz butter (room temperature)

4 oz shortening

1 lb confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp bottled lemon juice

1 oz fresh lemon juice

Zest of one small lemon (or half of a large lemon)

What you’ll do:

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy, using the paddle attachment. Add the lemon juice and zest, mix until shiny. If you want a thinner consistency, just add more juice.

Assembling the cake:

Slice the 8″ or 9″ round into two layers.

and one becomes two.

Cover the top of one of the layers with buttercream, and sprinkle with fresh coconut.

halfway there.

Place the second layer on top, ice the rest of the cake, and cover the entire thing with coconut. Top with a cherry in the center.

oh cherry!

The Heat is On.

I am a summer girl. I’ve always loved summer and defended it and all its glory to anyone who dared to say otherwise. That was before I became a baker and runner.

Over the past two years, I’ve been steadily increasing my skills in both. But during the last fall/winter/spring, I really put the pedal to the metal – graduating pastry school last December

my pastry school “final”

…and running a half marathon in April.

13.1, baby.

So when this summer started, I was rolling steadily along, baking and running almost every day. Well, as the temperatures crept up (and boy, did they creep), I realized that the summer was having a negative effect on these very things that had become such an integral part of my existence.

Sure, I can work out inside, and yes, my kitchen is air-conditioned. But even so, unless the AC is pointing directly at my butt or buttercream, things start melting. So, as much as it pains me to write these words, Summer, it’s over. It’s not you, it’s me. Seasons change, people change – and you no longer fulfill my needs. I’ll always love you, and I’ll always think you’re hot.  And there will always be a part of me that misses you throughout the rest of the long, cold year. But alas, I’ve gotta do what’s best for me. I hope we can be friends.

thanks for the memories.

I know you’re upset, but you didn’t have to go and melt the ice cream I left in the kitchen just now. Jerk.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned this Summer.

Ok, that’s not entirely true. It’s more like All I Really Need to Know in order to be Happy I Learned this Summer. Now obviously even this statement is not 100% accurate. Let’s just suffice it to say that over the course of this past summer, I have learned a great many things: about life, love, friendship, happiness, baking, and myself. As the summer comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on all of these things, and in the tradition of the “What I Did Over My Summer Vacation” essay, I’ve compiled them into a written opus, which I would now like to read in front of the class. I hope you find it interesting, and maybe even a little inspiring. 🙂

What I Learned this Summer, in no particular order:

– That all things do pass.

George was on to something.

– That the love between friends knows no bounds.

– That in order to have people support you, you have to first allow them to.

– That not everyone will like you, nor do you need them to.

when in doubt, think of Stuart.

– That s single woman can efficiently, effectively AND happily maintain and inhabit her own home.

– That laughing with friends is a million times more fun than drinking with friends.

– How to make Tiramisu.

it will change your life.

– That whenever you feel the need to make an excuse for yourself, you’ve done something wrong.

– That truly “letting go” also means “forgiving.”

– That there really is a God.

– That help will always come if you ask for it, though often in ways you did not expect or imagine.

– That a heart must be broken in order to get inside to the good stuff.

some are even filled with chocolates.

– How to make homemade tomato sauce.

– That the body is capable of amazing things, if you just push yourself a little.

– That yoga is not only a great physcial workout, but benefits the mind and nourishes the soul as well.

i'm not quite there yet...but i will be.

– That there is such a thing as being “too connected.”

– That it’s ok if some people aren’t in your life anymore.

– That one of the greatest “healers” is the unconditional love of a pet.

best. cat. ever.

That the chance to tell the truth will always be given to you, if you seek it.

– That respecting both yourself and others means taking full responsibilty for your actions.

– That no one’s life is perfect, so don’t spend your time wishing for someone else’s, but rather focus your time and energy enjoying your own.

– That being blissfully ignorant is no way to go through life.

exactly.

– That it’s ok to get really angry. 

– That your soul mate may not be the person you’re meant to spend your life with – they are meant to rekindle your inner spirit and remind you of how great it is to be alive.

– That a beautiful outside does not necessarily make a beautiful inside.

– That you can’t always get what you want, and you should be damn thankful for that.

but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

– That the only thing you can control is how you react.

So folks, there you have it. As we say goodbye to summer, I leave you with these sentiments, spoken by a truly wise and happy man:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Ferris Bueller, you're my hero.