Crackberry

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Blackberries were on sale.

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Can you tell?  No? Here, here, and now, here?

Summer berries are arriving.  And I fully intend to eat my weight take advantage of them.

{In regards to the title of this post, although I’ve always been partial to my bevy of iPhones and have never indulged in a crackberry, my friend’s dad has it both ways with a Blackberry keyboard that attaches to his iPhone!  How cool is that?
It’s for people who really love the keys on the Bberry (that satisfying clicking…) but who realize the superiority of the iPhone OS.
Genius.}

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I can’t wait until I go back to Ithaca and am able to raid the farmer’s market.
I miss the smell, the bustle, the lake, the people.

I’m in a list-y mood, so:

Fresh, early-summer/late-spring produce that I’m craving (that you should be looking for now! now! now!):
fresh, astringent rhubarb
tart, plump raspberries and blackberries (holla!)
crisp, tender spring greens
thin, delicate stalks of asparagus
young, sugary sweet corn
early, juicy strawberries

Ways I’ll be using all this freshness:
rhubarb, maple, nutmeg compote to be served over cold, creamy greek yogurt with butter toasted oats and pecans
cardamom poached rhubarb and vanilla bean mascarpone tart
giant chopped salads full of grilled corn, balsamic roasted asparagus, hard boiled eggs, avocados, slivered almonds, and chickpeas
lemon and strawberry and black pepper ricotta tart

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If you find yourself with an abundance of blackberries, as I did, make these cupcakes.  I beg of you.

Blackberries are nestled into a ridiculously simple, 1 bowl no-mixer yellow cupcake batter, spiked with melted butter and plenty of kosher salt.
On top, a honey malted buttercream is drizzled with honey and finished with a single juicy blackberry.

The cupcake itself is like the softest, tenderest, and most fine-crumbed and cakelike blueberry muffin you’ve ever had (only with blackberries instead).

The frosting is not too sweet, and plenty salty.
It came about when I ran out of powdered sugar!  I decided to incorporate honey into the frosting, and then I threw some malted milk powder in for body.
It benefits by the punch of honey flavor from the drizzle, so don’t skip it.

This recipe only makes 12 little cupcakes, so don’t worry about a huge yield!

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Malted Honey and Blackberry Cupcakes
cupcake portion adapted from Sally
makes 12 cupcakes

ingredients:
for the cupcakes:
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
heaping 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
splash vanilla extract
1 heaping cup smallish blackberries

for the frosting:
1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
big pinch salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup malted milk powder

to assemble:
12 large blackberries
1/2 cup honey, for drizzling

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a cupcake tin with 12 liners.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
Beat melted butter with sugars until combined, then beat in egg.
Whisk milk and vanilla in, then quickly whisk in the dry ingredients.
Gently stir blackberries into batter, then portion out with a 1/3 cup scoop into liners.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: beat butter with salt until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add in the powdered sugar, honey, and milk powder and, starting slowly, beat until totally combined, about 4 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and taste– if it’s not sweet or thick enough, add more powdered sugar.

To assemble the cupcakes, pipe frosting as desired and top with a blackberry.
Drizzle about a teaspoon and a half of honey on top of each cupcake.

To the Core

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“Our biggest disagreement was about chunks.
Ben came up with the flavors and I did the manufacturing, and he wanted bigger chunks and I wanted small ones with greater distribution.
He said people didn’t care if you got a chunk in every bite as long as you knew that fairly soon you’d get a chunk.”

Jerry Greenfield

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I think we can apply Ben Cohen’s theory about ice cream chunks to life happiness.

How important, and too often forgotten, is the idea that not every bite will or needs to contain a chunk?
We’re so trained for instant gratification that anything less feels like deprivation.
We forget that not every day needs to be perfect or leave you fulfilled.
You don’t need to be cheery and happy every minute to feel satisfied in the big picture.

We think about our lives in terms of monumental moments; we measure the passing of time with the passing of tragedies and victories.
What about all the days where nothing “of importance” happens?

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They are to our lives as bites without chunks are to Ben and Jerry’s, as junk DNA is to genes.
From the outset, they seem less important.  Undesirable, useless.  Wasted.
But more flies under our radar, which is tuned to big spikes in emotion, than we think.
Little things.  Daily things, both annoying and delightful.

The first bite of a crisp apple.
Losing your keys, phone, wallet, mind.
A smile from a passerby.
Stubbing a toe.  Twice.
The smell of cookies baking.
Being overworked and overtired at the end of a long day, a long week, a long year.
Snuggling into your own bed.

So much that we take for granted is beautiful in its own right.

I intend to practice more gratitude and appreciation for the plain, the mediocre, the underappreciated, the kind-of-crappy happenings in my life.
I intend to take each moment as it comes, to breathe it in and live in it,
to meet it with a smile and know it fully.

Each moment of each day in our fantastic, terrible world deserves meaning.

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It is a sophisticated hope, then, that sustains true, lasting happiness.
The hope—or rather, the knowledge—that you’ll get a “chunk” fairly soon.
And the deep and conscious enjoyment and appreciation of every moment, every plain bite of ice cream, every pretzel in the Chex mix.

Food for thought.  Thought for food.

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Speaking of food… Cupcakes?!  Again?!  Who am I?!
Just last week, I made these “teatime” cupcakes.  And I loved them!
Photographing cupcakes is more pleasant than cookies, and lord knows I’ve made enough of those in recent times.
So.  Many.  Cookies.
Thus, despite my semi-loathing of cupcakes, I made more.

Part of my newly affirmed affection for cupcakes is that I’ve been frosting them with a meringue buttercream.
Seriously, I used to think that thick, American-style buttercream was a decent choice for cupcakes.
But, truthfully, there is no comparison to a cloud of rich, glossy IMBC.
Especially not a brick of confectioner’s sugar/butter ABC.

I wax on about meringue buttercreams all the time (not sorry) but that’s because they’re amazing.
Light, easy to pipe, smooth, shiny, stable, flavorful.
(I’m an adjective junkie.)

They’re only minimally more work, are less likely to break/curdle/be gross and are therefore totally worth the extra 10 minutes of prep.
Give your favorite cupcakes a makeover with some IMBC and you won’t recognize them, or ever even look back.

Maybe you don’t like cupcakes, like me.
I swear to you, cupcakes frosted with IMBC may change you.

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These cupcakes were inspired by Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!

One of their “core” UK flavors is called Peanut Butter Me Up.
It’s half peanut butter and half vanilla ice cream, surrounding a core of raspberry jammy goodness.  The vanilla is studded with peanut butter cups.
Sounds like a perfect pint to me.  Heaven is peanut butter+vanilla+fruit.
Why don’t we have it in America?  I don’t know.  But it’s killing me.

These “Peanut Butter Me Up” cupcakes are a soft, buttery, salty PB cake, filled with tart raspberry jam, topped with a big fluff pile of vanilla Italian meringue buttercream, topped with a peanut butter cup.

I used raspberry preserves made only with pomegranate juice as the sweetener, so it was extra tart and tangy!
I only made 12 cupcakes, but there was definitely enough batter/buttercream to make 16 or 18 cupcakes, so I’ve adjusted the yield in the recipe to reflect that.

Since I can’t get the ice cream here, I’ll have to stick with cupcakes.
Somehow, I’m OK with that.

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Peanut Butter Me Up Cupcakes
makes 16-18 cupcakes
cake portion adapted from Serious Eats

ingredients:
for the peanut butter cake:
4 tablespoons butter
1 packed cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

for the vanilla Italian meringue buttercream:
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
big pinch salt
6 ounces (3 sticks) butter, cut into small bits, soft but cool
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

to assemble:
raspberry jam, approximately 1/2 cup
mini peanut butter cups

directions:
Make the cupcakes: preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 18 muffin tins with papers.
Beat butter until softened, about 1 minute.
Stream in brown sugar and salt and beat for 3 full minutes.
Add in the peanut butter and beat for 3 more minutes.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 2 full minutes.
Mix the milk and vanilla extract, and, very slowly and carefully, stream into the batter while slowly, slowly mixing to prevent splashing.
Dump the flour on top of the batter and add the baking powder over the flour mound.
Slowly stir batter until homogeneous (it will be thick).
Portion out with an ice cream scoop into your tins.
Bake for 22-26 minutes, until springy to the touch, very fragrant, and a tester comes out with only a couple crumbs.
Allow to cool completely.

Make the vanilla Italian meringue buttercream: combine sugar, salt, and water in a heavy bottomed pot.
Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Begin to whip egg whites on medium speed while heating the sugar syrup over medium-high heat.
When the sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees F, your egg whites should be at very soft peaks.
By the time the syrup reaches temp at 245 degrees F, your egg whites should be at soft peaks.
Slowly and carefully pour the hot syrup into the whipping egg whites.
Whip the meringue until it reaches body temperature, then begin to whip in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Add the vanilla and continue to whip the buttercream at high speed until it becomes fluffy, glossy, and thick.

Assemble the cupcakes: place your raspberry jam in a piping bag fitted with a plain tip.
Plunge the tip into the cupcake and wiggle it around, applying gentle, even pressure to fill the cake, until the pressure forces the tip out of the cake.
Frost the cupcakes with the meringue buttercream as desired, then top with a peanut butter cup!

Keep Calm

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“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk of happy things.”

-Chaim Potok

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“Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world.”

-Tien Yiheng

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“Strange, how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.”

-Author Unknown

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“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”

-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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There is always time for tea and room for cake.
Or, in this case, both.

Chocolate cakes infused with Earl Grey tea in two manners: dry tea leaves, and hot brewed tea.
The sweet, floral undertones, which have orange and verbena notes, as well as the astringent black tea leaves, contrast well with the deep and rich chocolate cake.
The Italian meringue buttercream is made with honey and golden syrup, resulting in a salty-sweet, silky delight that tastes like the top of a good piece of toast, minus the bread, which is the worst part anyway.

I might actually like cupcakes again.
This recipe only makes 6, which is perfect (I don’t need 24 cupcakes floating around my house, people…), and is a marriage of unexpected flavors which ended up working inexplicably well.

The best recipe for health and happiness:
good books, better tea, and, of course, delicious cupcakes.

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Teatime Cupcakes
makes 6
cake portion adapted from Sweetapolita
ingredients:
for the chocolate Earl Grey cakes:
48 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) flour
75 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon cornstarch
big pinch kosher salt
15 grams (2 tablespoons) cocoa powder
1 tablespoon loose Earl Grey leaves
40 mL (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) buttermilk
1 medium egg (if using a large egg, beat it well before adding it, and remove 2 teaspoons of beaten egg)
30 mL (2 tablespoons) hot Earl Grey tea
25 mL (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) vegetable oil
splash vanilla extract

for the honey golden syrup IMBC:
111 grams (1/3 cup) honey
111 grams (1/3 cup) golden syrup
scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 egg whites
230 grams (1 cup) butter, cut into small pieces and soft but cool

directions:
For the cakes, line 6 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, cornstarch salt, tea leaves, and cocoa powder together.
Into the dry ingredients, add the buttermilk, egg, hot tea, oil, and vanilla.
Whisk very well to combine. (It will be a very thin batter.)
Fill each cupcake well with 1/4 cup of batter.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until domed and springy to the touch, and a tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the honey golden syrup IMBC:
Place the egg whites, along with a pinch of cream of tartar, in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place the honey, golden syrup, and salt in a small sauce pot over medium heat.
Begin to whisk the eggs.
When the syrup reaches 230 degrees, the eggs should almost be at soft peaks.
When the syrup reaches 240 degrees, the egg whites should have soft peaks that are almost stiff.
Pour the syrup carefully, down into the bowl while the mixer is running.
Beat the meringue until it has cooled to body temperature, then beat in the butter one tablespoon at a time.
Beat until the buttercream has become very fluffy and light.
Frost cupcakes as desired.

P.S.

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Gadzooks!

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Hello! Welcome to my first post on my “new” blog!

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I’ve spent a bunch of time designing this new website- what do y’all think?

I think it’s pretty shmancy, and I’m glad to have my own domain!

You can still access any/all of my posts (yes, even the really old embarrassing ones, though the formatting of those is a bit wonky- it didn’t transfer smoothly) and you can search for any items/ click through the tag cloud down at the bottom of the page.

Things should be quicker and less difficult, and hopefully prettier around here!

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Not much else will change- I’m still going to be posting about yummy treats like these cupcakes.

These little guys make use of something that most people are drowning in this time of year- zucchini!

Instead of baking it into a bread, I made tender little cupcakes.   Zucchini bread tends to be dense, which doesn’t translate well into cakes.

Luckily, these are soft and light, with a tight crumb and slightly crispy exterior.

I topped them with a fluffy lime cream frosting, made with mascarpone cheese.

The recipe is quite easy- it’s a two bowl, no mixer, 10 minute prep kind of cake.

In addition, it only makes 6 perfect little cakes!  Lovely when you don’t want an army of cupcakes to decorate, or you need a quick, sweet fix.

Enjoy, and, again, welcome to the new site!

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Zucchini Cupcakes with Lime Cream frosting

makes 6

for the cupcakes:

adapted from Chow

ingredients:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons AP flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3.5 ounces zucchini (about 1 small/medium squash), grated on a box grater (scant 1 cup grated)

directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 6 muffin tins with papers, or grease and flour them.

Whisk the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together.

In another bowl, whisk the oil, egg, sugars, and vanilla together.

Whisk the two mixtures together, then whisk or fold in the zucchini.

Portion the batter out into your muffin tins and bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool before frosting.

for the lime cream frosting:

ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter, softened

6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese (you can substitute cream cheese here)

zest of one lime

juice of 1/2 a lime

1/3 cup nonfat milk powder

1 2/3 cup powdered sugar

directions:

Beat the mascarpone and butter together until fluffy.

Add in the lime zest and juice and mix until combined.

Add in the milk powder and powdered sugar slowly, while beating.

Continue to beat until frosting is fluffy.

Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Copacabana

I peer out at the sun,
slowly relenting to the day’s end,
approaching the horizon and dragging its feet, dropping inch by inch,
white in its brightness from behind an evening haze.
Sand gives way to my burrowing toes,
digging for hidden treasures deep
beneath the soft carpet.
Shadows form, stretch and elongate their necks,
casting blue light, then purple, over their minute footprint kingdoms.
A lizard tongue darts out from between my lips,
savoring the sharp tang of salt.
I am reeling in the wake of a good book,
drunk on sunshine and delirious from the soft breeze,
which caresses my hair and gently dries the last drops on my skin,
leaves me as briny as the unending cerulean sea at which I squint.
These cupcakes remind me of sunny summer days.
It’s because they’re redolent with coconut and banana, with a pinch of cinnamon to round it all out.
The carrots provide a lovely texture, with just enough chew, punctuated by crunchy nuts.
 
Or maybe it’s just because as I was trying to name them, I saw this video.  
Immediately, they became cocobanana cupcakes- like copacabana.
I don’t know.  It made sense at some point or another.
These cupcakes are pretty darn healthy for cake.
They’re ideal pre-test food.
 
Coconut oil is full of MCFA (medium chain fatty acids) which are quickly metabolized by the body, unlike many other fats.
Walnuts are a brain food.  They’ve got a ton of omega-3 fatty acids (1/4 cup of walnuts provides 94% of your daily recommended value), which are crucial for proper brain function, and which almost no one gets enough of.  You find them in other nuts and seeds like flax and hemp, and they help with cognition, memory, and problem-solving.
Bananas have potassium, as does the molasses left in the raw sugar, key to maintaining proper balance in your body.
The carotenoids (namely, beta-Carotene) in the carrots and carrot juice used in the marzipan 
Cinnamon can help with regulating blood sugar, so you don’t get any nasty sugar spikes and resulting crashes.
The tumeric that I used to dye the marzipan is full of anti-oxidants.
Practically health food.
Practically.
I’ll be back on Saturday with a new post.
Or maybe not.
I have two AP math finals (Calc BC and Stats) tomorrow and Friday.
If i’m not back, check in the exam rooms.
There is a great and terrifying possibility that I will have expired right in my chair.
Chain rule, chain rule, chain rule.

Cocobanana Carrot Cupcakes
makes 24 mini cupcakes + 8 regular, or 18 regular cupcakes

for the cakes:
ingredients:
2/3 cup raw sugar (sub brown sugar)
1 banana, mashed
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted then measured (you can sub canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch each cinnamon and salt
1/2 pound carrots, shredded (on a cheese grater or using a food processor)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line your cupcake tins with liners.
Stir the sugar, banana, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a large bowl.
Dump all of the flour over top and sprinkle the baking soda, cinnamon, and salt over the flour.
Stir until just coming together, then add the carrots and walnuts and stir until thoroughly combined.
Evenly portion into cupcake liners, and bake for 11-12 minutes for minis, 15-16 for regular size.

for the frosting:
ingredients:
8 tablespoons butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch salt
Splash vanilla extract
directions:
Beat everything together, with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
Pipe or spread onto cupcakes as desired.


I topped my cupcakes with some homemade marzipan that I made out of carrot juice, almond meal, and sugar.  I tinted it with some tumeric (I actually love the spicy, mustardy flavor of tumeric in sweets, I know, it’s weird.) and a little food coloring.

Call Me Sally

So, I’m Irish.
Actually, I’m Korirish.
Korean on my mother’s side, and Irish on my father’s.
Bit of a strange mix, to be sure.
The one thing my family has figured that the two have in common is a love of cabbage.

This love has distilled into my passion for cruciferous vegetables.
Cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts (I’m eating some right now, actually, with apples and goat cheese), broccoli, bok choy, kale; pretty much a comprehensive list of my favorite vegetables.
Love me some Brassica.
Um, not that I’m here to tell you about vegetables.
That’s not really my shtick, at least not on this here blog.
 
Oh! What the Koreans and the Irish also both love is beer.
(Cabbage+beer sounds like the most terrible and smelly hangover in the world waiting to happen.)
So due to the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is on Sunday and my Korean grandmother is visiting, I made cake.  With beer.  
Beer cake.
With homemade Bailey’s cream sandwiched between each layer.
 
Yeah, it is as much of a good thing as it sounds like.
Trust me on this one. 

Now, it’s not the most traditional of Irish confections… But I’m certain it would be met with a hearty seal of approval in Ireland.
There’s browned Kerrygold butter, extra rich and nutty thanks to the higher fat content.
There’s Guinness, deep and dark, which adds a noticeable complexity to the cake.
There’s milk chocolate and coffee whipped cream, with a hefty dose of Bushmills whiskey.
There’s meringue, which actually is a well-loved Irish dessert.
Whether my ancestors are rolling in their graves, I know not.
Some fun facts about my Irish side:
“Sally,” actually, saileach, means willow in Gaelic.
There’s a barren field in Ireland called the Sally Gap- real talk, I’ve even been there.
It’s full of tumbleweeds and not much else.
Super. Exciting.
In 1908, John Sally, my great-great-grandfather, and his family immigrated to America.
Yadda yadda yadda.
Sally Gap Cake:
for the cake:
adapted from Nigella
ingredients:
1/2 cup Guinness
5 tablespoons Kerrygold butter (or other European butter)
3 tablespoons extra dark cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 egg
big honking splash vanilla extract (about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup AP flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour two 6-inch pans (I suspect 1 shallow 9- or 10- inch would work as well, but I’m not promising anything).
Brown the butter in a large saucepot.  
Once it is fragrant and nutty, stir in the Guinness.  
Allow to cook for 30 seconds, then remove from heat.  
Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder.  
Add the sour cream and vanilla and whisk well; add in the egg while whisking.  
Dump the flour and baking soda on top of the wet ingredients (flour first), then whisk them in until a smooth batter forms.  
Pour into prepared pans; bake for 35-38 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch; a toothpick should come out CLEAN (this is an extremely moist cake and if underbaked will be gooey).
for the mock Bailey’s cream filling:
ingredients:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon gelatin
1 small bar (I used regular ole Hershey’s) milk chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon espresso powder
pinch salt
2 splashes Irish whiskey
directions:
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cream and allow to sit for 1 minute.
Mix the cream with the espresso powder and salt, and whip to stiff peaks.
Add in the whiskey and milk chocolate and mix until fluffy and homogeneous. 
for the chocolate frosting:
ingredients:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2 sticks of butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
pinch salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup cream
directions:
Put everything in a food processor and pulse until homogeneous.
for the Swiss meringue:
ingredients:
1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
directions:
Put the white and sugar in a metal mixing bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.
Heat, whisking all the while, until mixture reaches 160 degrees F.
Remove from heat and whip on high until a stiff meringue forms, about 5 minutes.
Use immediately, as meringue will harden sooner than later.
Torch after decorating, if desired. 
to assemble:
Torte the two layers; fill each with 1/3 of the bailey’s cream.
Frost the outside of the cake with the chocolate frosting; to smooth, use a warmed knife.
Mound the meringue in the center and torch it.
For the cleanest cuts, chill the cake slightly before cutting.
 

Strides for Sarah

Today’s will be a quick post because I have a more substantial one coming up tomorrow.
Last week, a project of a friend of mine, Rachel, came to fruition.  It was a 5K run/walk benefit to raise money for Camp Good Days, in memory of her cousin, Sarah, who recently lost a valiant battle with brain cancer. 

It took a tremendous amount of work and effort for her to put the fundraiser together, and she did an awesome job.
I ran in the race… And managed to pee my pants. Yes, you read that right.  I had to “go” so badly that in the middle of the race, well, yeah.  Now that more than fifty percent of my readers have closed the window and vowed never to read my blog again out of disgust, I will leave the rest of ye loyal followers with some delicious recipes that I whipped up to bring to the benefit’s snack table: blueberry lime coconut cupcakes, SprinkleBakes’ swirl cookies (she is amaaazzzinnnggg), and a “Hot Chocolate” cake. 


Sigh.  A flop.

Oh and also, a flop in the kitchen (lime tarts) turned on its head into a frozen treat.
Here’s to Sarah and her entire family, and here’s to Rachel, for working so hard on an inspiring event.  xx


Lime Curd
Makes 2 cups, adapted from userealbutter
Ingredients: 
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup  fresh lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest
Directions:

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Whisk in the cornstarch and sugar together, then whisk that mixture into the water.  Bring back to a boil.  It will be very thick and gooey. Add part of the hot mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper.  Then mix the egg yolk mixture back into the rest of the cornstarch-sugar goo.  Whisking constantly, bring back to a boil.  Then remove from heat, stir in butter, juice, and zest.  Cover with plastic wrap, making sure to press the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin, and chill until you need it.  

Blueberry-Lime Coconut Cupcakes
Makes around 12 regular size cupcakes (I, the genius that I am, managed to get a yield of 11 by filling a couple cakes too much)
Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Big pinch sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one lime
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
2 small eggs or 1 extra large
1/3 cup neutral oil
1/3-1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut (depends how frisky you’re feelin’)
1/2-3/4 cup blueberries (Same goes here as for the coconut)
Directions:
Line a regular muffin tin with liners. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Rub the zest of the lime with the sugar until fragrant.  Mix all the other ingredients, except the blueberries and coconut, (Dump n’ run!) together until homogeneous.  Then stir in the coconut and gently fold in the blueberries.  Fill each cupcake liner up approximately 2/3 of the way full (use an ice cream scoop for uniformity…).  Bake for 25-30 minutes, checking for doneness around 20 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when they spring back from a light touch.  

Coconut-Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Enough to frost 12-ish cupcakes
Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup lime curd
Directions: 
Beat all ingredients except the curd and sugar together until fluffy, then slowly add in sugar until incorporated.  Mix in the curd.

“Hot Chocolate” Cake

Makes 1 3×8 layer cake
For the cake: (adapted from Sweetapolita)
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
big pinch sea salt
2 eggs
1 cup hot black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup neutral oil
healthy splash vanilla extract
Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour three 8-inch pans.
Mix everything together in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Divide evenly into the pans, and bake for 30-35 minutes (check around 25!).  Cake will be springy when done.
For the frosting and filling:
Ingredients:
7.5 ounces egg whites (it’s okay to go over)
7.5 ounces sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
24 ounces butter, cut up into small pieces and at room temperature
3/4 cup Ovaltine
2 ounces melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate
Directions:
Heat egg whites, sugar, and salt in a double boiler until they reach 145 degrees F.  Remove from heat and beat until thick, glossy, and cool (bowl should be neutral to the touch).  using the paddle attachment, slowly add in the butter in pieces until all is incorporated.  Remove all but 2.5 cups of the buttercream and place in another bowl.  With the remaining buttercream, mix in the Ovaltine and melted chocolate.  Fill the layers with the Ovaltine buttercream, and frost the outside with the regular buttercream.  

Lime Meringue Pie Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients:
190 grams (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
20 grams (1/4 cup) milk powder (optional)
25 grams (2 Tbsp.) sugar
3 grams (3/4 tsp.) kosher salt
55 grams (4 Tbsp. or 1/2 stick) butter, melted, or as needed
55 grams (1/4 cup) heavy cream
The rest of the lime curd (or just use the whole batch, and don’t make the cupcakes.)

3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups Greek yogurt 

1/2 cup heavy cream
Directions:
Pulse the first 5 ingredients together in a food processor.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes.  Remove, let cool, and break into chunks.  Mix the other portion of heavy cream, the Greek yogurt, and the sugar, and let sit for a little while so the sugar can mingle with the dairy.  Then freeze in an ice cream maker, until frozen but ever so slightly soft.  Fold in the lime curd and graham crust.  When you stick it in your freezer to store, be sure to place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent ice crystals from forming.


Be prepared for some layer cakes coming up in the near future! Weeeee!  


I wish the sprinkles stuck on a bit better.

Caramel Craze and Memorial Daze

It’s starting to feel a lot like summer

 

 

This past weekend, to the dismay of the entire cast and crew of my dysfunctional household, our backyard neighbors hosted their annual Memorial day children’s

bonanza.  Replete with a gigantic bounce house (I swear they started blowing that sucker up at nine AM), approximately thirty wee little tots under the age of seven, and innumerable honking bicycle horns, Sunday was looking to be a very dismal day.  That is, until I remembered my AP Chemistry project that was due after the long weekend: the assignment was to explore the chemistry of an edible compound, and most importantly, bring in samples.  My partner and I chose caramel.  (Just kidding.  I’m way too bossy to let someone else choose.  I chose caramel.  He agreed, especially when I promised him all the leftover samples.)  It wasn’t exactly the prospect of doing a chem project that excited me (yuck!), but rather the fact that I had a concrete purpose to bake.  


So I made these suckers.


 

Oh yeah.  Uh huh.  Those would be salted caramel cupcakes with salted caramel filling, a salted caramel cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream, and a hard salted caramel topper.  Upon describing them to my classmates, I was met with whining protestations: “Why is there so much salt?!” “Is there any sugar?!”

 

Um, yeah.  There was plenty of sugar.  I made so much caramel, I swear I went through five pounds of sugar, thanks to the fact that I burned a few batches, letting them get to “monkey blood” stage AKA too dark for even that wonderful burnt caramel taste. 
I don’t care how or why this happens.  I only care about how it is getting to my mouth.
 

 I could tell you oh-so-much about caramelization and all of the wonderful chemicals produced in the poorly understood process, but to be honest, it’s a lot more boring than making or tasting caramel.  And that’s coming from a self-proclaimed chem geek.  

*Insert your favorite four-lettered word here*
By the way, try not to be as greedy as me.  Sugar burns hurt.  

Burned caramel and fingers aside, the project went off without a hitch, despite the ten decibel screaming that permeated my kitchen for twelve straight hours.  

I guess I’m glad I didn’t choose to study soufflés.
 

(Pourable) Salted Caramel
 makes 3 cups 
ingredients: 
2 cups sugar 
1 cup water 
generous 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
 2 cups heavy cream, warmed 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
Directions: 
Combine the sugar, water and salt in a heavy-bottomed pot.  In a separate pan, gently warm the heavy cream with the vanilla.  Don’t stir the sugar mixture.  Shake the pot once in a while to help the sugar and salt dissolve.  Allow to cook, shaking occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until the sugar has turned a deep amber color.  Immediately (you want to stop the cooking), but slowly, pour the cream mixture into the sugar, in a steady stream.  Be careful, as it will bubble up furiously.  Stir the caramel with a long spoon until it is smooth and homogeneous.  Pour into a heat-proof dish and allow to cool. 


Caramel Cupcakes:  

makes 24 mini cupcakes + 6 regular sized cupcakes  
ingredients:
 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel 
1 1/2 cup buttermilk or milk 
1 egg 
generous 1 tablespoon vanilla 
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
1/3 cup caramel sauce (see above) 
Directions: 
Sift flour, sugar, and baking powder into a bowl.  In a stand mixer, mix the buttermilk, salt, egg, vanilla, and vegetable oil.  Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, alternating with the caramel sauce.  Mix only until everything is incorporated.  It will be a thin batter.Bake at 350°F for 12-18 minutes, depending on what size your cupcakes are.  Check them often; when they are done, they will be springy, deeply tanned, and ever-so-slightly sticky.


Caramel Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Frosting 

adapted from Bravetart’s SMB
makes 5-ish cups
ingredients:
5 oz egg whites
5 oz sugar
pinch salt
1 pound butter, cubed and slightly softened
1/3 cup caramel sauce (see above)
5 oz cream cheese
6 oz marscapone
Directions:
Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a clean, clean, clean bowl.  Set over a pan of simmering water, or a bain marie, and cook until the temp registers 145°F.  Remove from the double boiler and whip until stiff, glossy peaks form and the outside of the bowl is neutral to the touch.  (If you are super impatient, ahem, stick the bowl in the fridge for a minute.  It will cool down, but won’t deflate.)  Now, with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, add in the butter, one cube at a time.  Once the buttercream is smooth, mix in the caramel.  It may look curdled: don’t panic! add in the cream cheese and marscapone in small batches until all is incorporated and smooth.  

Hard Caramel Topper

from Sprinkle Bakes (for that matter, these cupcakes are entirely inspired by her beautiful “Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes”!)

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
 
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel
3/4 cup water
2-4 tablespoons of large-crystal sugar, mixed with 1/4 tsp fleur de sel

Lay out a large piece of parchment on your work surface and spray with cooking oil (such as canola). Put sugar, salt and cold water in a heavy pan; do not stir, but shake until the sugar has begun to turn light amber.  Remove from heat and, after stirring briefly, dip a spoon in the caramel and let it drip onto the paper, forming abstract shapes (or beautiful rounds like Heather’s!).  After a few minutes of leaving the caramel to dry, sprinkle the sugar/salt mixture over the caramels.  Once they are dried, gently lift them from the paper and adorn the cupcakes.

Assembling the cupcakes: once they are cooled, cut a small round from the top, and fill with a small amount of caramel sauce.  Put the top back on, and frost.  Top with the hard caramel!


I also made these delicious Salted Butter Caramels from David Lebovitz, but I replaced half of the cream with fresh peach juice, to make peachy, buttery, caramels that were to die for.  

Mr. Bear needed a bath

 

I know the caramel sauce makes a lot more than you’ll need for the filling, frosting, and batter, but trust me: I have a wonderful re-purpose for them coming soon!  Here’s a hint: it’s cold, creamy, and caramel-y.