Goodbye Cupcakes!

No, not “goodbye, cupcakes.” That implies that I’m never going to make or eat a cupcake again, and that would be a lie.

Recently at work, we’ve had quite a few departures. It’s always sad to see your cube buddies go, but it’s also inspiring, and nice to know they’re headed for greener pastures.

Once such departure is my buddy, Sam, whose last day was Thursday. He’s headed for sunny San Diego and a shiny new nerd job. Go Sam!

So for Sam’s last day, I made lemon cupcakes with strawberry jam frosting. Unfortunately, he was so nervous about his move samand his new job, that he messed up his jaw, and couldn’t actually eat them, but reports from other coworkers were positive, despite some mishaps.

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Rawr!

Sometimes you get really tired, and you don’t mean to overmix your batter, but you overmix your batter, even when the recipe is like “yo don’t overmix your batter.”

So I overmixed the batter.

I got the recipe from Live Well, Bake Often, whom I don’t think I’ve ever used before, but I can’t really blame the recipe. I felt like it was pretty solid for the most part. I just…

Got over eager with my mixing. There’s been a lot on my mind lately, so I’m not totally surprised things didn’t end up the way I wanted.

They sunk!

sunk

Now, I’ll admit they didn’t sink half as hard as the brown sugar cupcakes I made to pair with my super exciting bourbon frosting, but they weren’t the lovely, fluffy soft cupcakes I envisioned.

I didn’t have time to redo the recipe, and I was out of lemons anyway, so I took a deep breath, sucked it up, and rolled with the punches, making the frosting to go with it.

I have gotten very good at this frosting.

1 stick unsalted butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbs milk
1/4 cup of strawberry jam

Again, I use the Smuckers Natural jam because it has less sugar in it. It’s a little pricier, but worth it. I recommend (as my friend Leeson recommended to me the first time I made this frosting) making this frosting before adding the jam. It works well!

They look pretty, and according to coworkers, taste good. So I’ll call it a semi-win. 🙂

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A belated Thanksgiving!

Seriously, I really need to be better about updating this thing. It’s kind of aggressive how much I legitimately forgot about this blog.

It isn’t that I haven’t been baking. I’ve been baking. But sometimes, you just want to bake and not worry about snapping photos and coming up with themes I guess.

But here I am, a week after Thanksgiving to tell you that the week BEFORE Thanksgiving, when my friends and I did FRIENDSgiving, I made an apple pie.

An amazing apple pie.

The best apple pie.

Okay, it’s probably not the best apple pie. I’m not so pompous. I’m a little pompous, but “best” is probably too strong a word.

It was a solid apple pie.

I have a special place in my heart for pie that stems from being a nerd. Look up “Dean Winchester pie” in Google’s image search. That should give you a pretty good idea of why.

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Not poisoned!

The pie started here, with four different kinds of apples: Granny Smith, obviously, the classic, Braeburn, Gala and Envy, which I had never heard of before. Envy apples are sweet and on the softer side, which was different.

So…

You know that thing that happens where you think you’ve got all your ducks in a row, but then something unexpected happens, and you wind up peeling apples with a knife because your peeler sucks butt?

Yup!

Our peeler, while it wins points for being purple, sucks butt.

In any case, after you get the apples peeled and chopped, you dump them in lemon juice so they don’t get brown and gross.

Lemon juice is like a Lazarus pit for produce. It just makes sure they don’t get old and weird.

I wonder if Lazarus pits are just giant swimming pools of lemon juice.

Ouch. That has to sting. And it doesn’t help with the weird part, apparently.

resurection

Bathes in lemon juice probably

 

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Also bathes in lemon juice. Is not R’as Al Ghul

In any case, there were a lot of apples involved in this, and I didn’t even use all eight. I left a braeburn and a gala out of the mix.

And I want to make it clear that I did not make my own crust.

Look, don’t look a me like that. I work really hard at my job. I don’t have time to futz with crust made from scratch. So yeah. I bought the Pillsbury double pack. If you wanna fight about it, we can fight about it, but it’s not worth it, because you will lose.

I do, however, want to talk about the spice mix I used for this pie, because it’s not the prescribed spice mix at all.

I mean, yes, there is sugar and nutmeg and cinnamon, but there is also ginger, and a whole lot of it.

I don’t know about you and your friends, but me and mine like their food – even their desserts sometimes – to kick them in their faces. And that means that things need to get kinda spicy.

So. I don’t know how much ginger I used. I just kept adding until it tasted right.

And sometimes baking is like that. I know that a lot of what goes into baking is precision. Baking is the classical music of the kitchen. There’s not a lot of room for improvisation. You play what’s on the sheet, you play it as accurately and completely as you can possibly get it, and you come up with something wonderful.

Cooking is a little more jazz-like. You play solos. There are drum breaks where you’re just standing there watching your weird drummer make weird faces as he solos.

But sometimes you can sneak a little something into your baking.

And in this case, it was ginger.

So for my first foray into making an apple pie all on my lonesome (sans some much appreciated help from Roommate!Suz in peeling the apples), presentation-wise it turned out okay. The crust overflowed, as you can see above. The filling kinda bubbled up and stickily submerged half the pie.

But it was delicious. And when I left Friendsgiving that night, there was only a slice left, that I believe was eaten for breakfast by someone a day or so later.

Mission accomplished. 🙂

Come to the Dark Side: We Have Chocolate Ganache

So I have a nifty li’l Pintrest board for Cake for Your Face!  It’s mostly delicious things that I would like to make at some point.

And on yon Pintrest board is This recipe for cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting.

Now, I would love to tell you that I dove right in and made that recipe complete with the caramel filling, but the hard truth is that I chickened out big time.

Caramel is scary, you guys. I don’t know how to make caramel. It’s a mountain I don’t feel like I’m ready to climb yet.

So I went with William Sonoma’s Vanilla Cupcakes. I know, I know, so boring, but still delicious, and a nice, light vehicle for the ganache!

But first, let me tell you about my super cool roommates, and how they found Star Wars Cupcake Liners for me, and bought them as a surprise, because they are WONDERFUL!

Okay!

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The cupcakes happened. It wasn’t my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe ever, but it did pretty well.

So then you take 2 bars of semi-sweet baker’s chocolate:

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And you cover it with the heavy cream, corn syrup, and sugar you’ve just boiled, and it eventually melts into this:

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And then you take it out to the living room with you, and give it its own chair so you can sit around and watch Rick and Morty while you occasionally stir it for 20-30 minutes.

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Now, I got worried, and the recipe says that if it sets too much, you can put the ganache in the microwave for ten seconds and it’ll soften back up.

So I did, not know what “sets too much” looks like. And when I took it out, and shoveled it into the piping back it kind of made a big stupid mess.

But! Once the ganache firmed up, it looked like this:

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And was delicious.

Like screw the cupcakes, let’s just spoon this up.

One day I’ll tackle that whole recipe. One day, I will conquer the scary task of making caramel.

But for now, there’s ganache.

 

Poof! Old Fashioned Donuts!

Roommate Jaki had a hankering for donuts for a while before we finally buckled down and made them last week. She sent me the recipe a while ago, but we needed cake flour and corn syrup and for some reason cake flour is not easy to find, possibly because cake flour is apparently packaged like this:

And not like this:

Also, I really need to do some research into the differences between light corn syrup and dark corn syrup (corn syrup is apparently a little racist), but I went with light because it had vanilla in it and that seemed legit for baked goods and sweets, and it worked well. I’ll do some googling on it though, because personally I’m really curious now. I had no idea there were different kinds! I was corn syrup color blind, apparently!

Now for something just as awkward as the last paragraph of bad jokes:

Uh…

So I went to go and link the recipe for these old fashioned donuts, and the link (which was to a Youtube video that also had the recipe in the video description) got taken down.

Uh…

I mean, the donuts were pretty great for a first try! They were a little overdone, but the glaze helped mitigate that.

The dough was super super sticky though. I’m not sure how to handle that without adding more flour, and thus running the risk of having to fry them longer and therefore having an overdone result. More refrigeration? Less rolling out the dough?

I have to admit, while I did a lot with the dough, Jaki handled the frying, because I could see the headlines:

“31-YEAR OLD WOMAN SPRAYS SELF IN FACE WITH HOT OIL!
IS A MORON!
WINS DUMMY AWARD!”

In Any case, Jaki did a great job, and they were pretty awesome!

Achievement unlocked!

Snowed In!

So this past weekend, Baltimore was hit with a whopping 29.5 inches of snow.

I am not a tall person. That’s half my height in snow. That is half a Leigh of snow.

My friends and I were snowed in together for 3 1/2 to 4 days, and thankfully nobody was murdered, but things did manage to get a little silly.

Mary, over at Uncustomaryart held a Bubble Wrap party on Sunday, and thankfully, I decided to get snowed in at the house it was being held at, so I could join in the festivities and also bake some cupcakes for the event.

So for the cupcakes, I grabbed a White Cake recipe from I am Baker and I wound up adding some food coloring to it, which just so happened to match the cupcakes to some of the Bubble Wrap.

I almost typed poppy paper. We used to call it poppy paper as kids.

So the recipe calls for Cake Flour, but we only had all-purpose, which turned out fine! The tops were slightly more done than I usually aim for, but that could have been from the added food coloring. I’d be interested to try the recipe again with the cake flour just to see the difference.

The frosting was as follows:

1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3 Tbs plus a dribble more champagne

See? Bubble Wrap? Bubbly frosting! We can thank Maura for providing the idea and the champagne.

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It’s back to real life now. So, work, responsibility, all that.

But for one doofy weekend, we got to witness ridiculousness like this:

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Snow does weird things to people, kids. Don’t do snow, okay?

Chasing the Cookie

There is something simple and wonderful about chocolate chip cookies. They are the quintessential cookie.

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If you don’t like chocolate chip cookies, I’m not sure we can be friends. I’ll make exceptions. If you’re allergic to chocolate or some other heartbreaking circumstance. Maybe I’ll let it slide if your parents were killed by a chocolate chip cookie.

But in general, if you don’t like chocolate chip cookies…I’m just not sure about you. I mean I try not to judge people, but this is one just one of those things for me.

I am always chasing after the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and I don’t think I’ve quite nailed it yet.

I think I’ve come close a few times, But I will forever be in search of THE perfect one.

I dove into Sally’s Baking Addiction again for this one, entitled THE chocolate chip cookie, and it was good. It was very good. But I still don’t feel like it’s quite there for me.

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And maybe that’s me being a weird perfectionist…

Or maybe I’m the jackass who definitely didn’t add enough chocolate chips. That might be it too.

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*facepalm* definitely not enough chips…

I’m still a big fan of the malted chocolate chip cookie, because malted milk powder pretty much makes everything better.

I’ll make those another time.

PS: I signed up for the Wilton Cake decorating class at Michael’s which will be every Saturday in February. I’m super stoked to learn all about how to make frosting look pretty!

Lost Weekend (pt. 2)

So I made it home on Sunday morning at around 6:30, and proceeded to get a few hours of sleep, before wandering down to wish my roommates a very happy new year.

And also bake some Mandel Bread.

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Thanks to Roommate Jaki for snapping this one!

For those of you not in the know, Mandel Bread is a cookie that originated with Eastern European Jews. It’s a little like biscotti, except that it’s more crumbly than crunchy.

The great thing about it is that you can basically put whatever you want in it. Chocolate chips, cinnamon, walnuts, peanut chips, banana (caution: dough gets hella sticky!), raisins.

Seriously, it’s super versatile, and really, really good.

When my grandmother would visit us, she’d make some up and bring a box every time. Hers were amazing. I hope one day mine will be just as amazing.

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Here’s the deal.

You can’t have my grandmother’s Mandel Bread recipe. If it looks good to you, then by all means, go find a recipe for yourself, but I’m not putting it here.

2 tips:

  • If you think you’ve used enough chocolate chips, you probably haven’t.
  • Screw the spatula. Use your hands for this one. It’ll be messy, but it’ll be worth it.

The ones my grandmother brought were usually chocolate chips and raisins. I usually just do chocolate chips, but again, you can pretty much do anything with these.

I would stay away from anything acidic. I attempted to use lemon juice once and it dried out the dough so badly I had to start over.

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