Category Archives: Baked Goods and Desserts

Fried Ice Cream Cake

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SoHoppinGood #TopYourSummer #CollectiveBias

Who’s ready for summer? I am SO ready for summer.

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As you’ve probably surmised from the dearth of recent blog posts, life lately has been busier lately than the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s in the middle of birthday season. These past two weeks, I’ve flown home for a 24-hour stint, seen Young the Giant perform live, hosted my wonderful friend and her sister at my place for several glorious days, won the Family Cup with my global sibs group, gone to see a soccer match between my two “home” teams, attended our school’s annual musical showcase, and busted my butt to scrap/rewrite a starting draft of my next dissertation chapter section. That last one in particular still has me reeling on me feet, but thankfully no hellfire or brimstone spewed forth when I brought it in to my advisor meeting yesterday.

Phew!

With only two weeks left in the school year, though, my mind is already wayyy into summer mode–if you haven’t already guessed by this AMAZING summer-inspired fried ice cream cake that I’ve busted out for y’all. I’ve also been making this summer’s epic to-do list, which looks a little something like…

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1. Take a spontaneous journey somewhere unexpected.

2. Spend an entire lazy day at the beach.

3. Travel outside of California.

4. Go camping, with real tents and campfire s’mores and stuff.

5. Eat lots of ice cream.

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6. Go to a concert.

7. Stargaze. Dance under the stars.

8. Host a movie marathon night.

9. Read a book…for fun!

10. Eat oodles of ice cream.

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11. Send care packages to my friends.

12. Try 5 new restaurants.

13. Plan a surprise for someone.

14. Watch the sunrise and sunset on the same day.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes, Frozen Desserts

Caramel Coffee Toffee Sticky Pudding Brownies

Happy Teachers’ Appreciation Week, everyone!

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It’s crazy how much you take for granted until you’re the one standing in front of the classroom–that, and the amount of baking that you end up doing for your students in any given school term because you genuinely love them and want them to be happy human beings, even if they sometimes ask you questions whose answers are on the syllabus and expect responses when they email you 5 hours before a paper is due. I guess it’s good practice for the 40-kid family I plan on having someday.

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Facetiousness aside, though, I owe a lot to the teachers in my life who pulled me through my brighter years and supported me through my tougher ones. Two in particular stand out to me: the first is my high school English Lit AP teacher, who was a total tough cookie and set us a timed essay on our first day of class after having us write multiple essays throughout the summer on 1984, My Name is Asher Lev, Typical American, and (I think) something broadly Shakespearean. He had a reputation in the school for being something of a hardass, but I never received anything but fair judgment and respectable guidance from him. Granted, I was a pretty strong writer already in senior year and didn’t struggle nearly as much as my peers did in that class, but I also knew it was because I worked my butt off that year to put out my very best work for this teacher. And in a way, that year was the year when I first learned what it’s like to fall deeply, irrevocably in love with literature.

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The second is a very special lady whom I admire to the stars and back. Katharine taught my children’s lit seminar at university during my junior year, and I was lucky enough to spend that quarter with her exploring New York City in Stuart Little, strolling through the rolling cityscapes and hills of the Rootabaga Stories, laughing and crying over the images in American-Born Chinese and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates

Mini Churro Donut Muffins

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If you love churros, donuts, and the excuse to justifiably eat them both for breakfast–trust me, these sugary babies are for you.

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Mini Churro Donut Muffins are, as their name implies–ahem–the perfect balanced breakfast food. Okay, so they’re rolled in glorious cinnamon sugar post-baking, and maaaaybe they’re more like a donut/cake than a muffin–but they’re baked instead of fried, which has got to count for something…right?

And that makes them okay to consume for breakfast.

And lunch.

And dinner.

And maybe dessert, if your stretchy pants are feeling particularly stretchy.

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We’ve been having a lot of sweets around here lately…and I mean a lot. The boy is a chronic snacker with an enviable metabolism and I’m always catching him rummaging through my kitchen for freshly baked sweets. Last week, I baked a batch of these donut muffins for my students, tucked them away in tupperware, went to the bathroom…and emerged again to the sound of a hastily closed plastic lid and smacking lips.

The upside of smothering all your baked treats in cinnamon sugar (besides the obvious): you’ll always catch the culprit. And this particular culprit agreed that the donuts were very good indeed.

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As with all great things, you’ll need to coat the donut muffins in melted butter before proceeding to roll them in a snug, cozy coat of cinnamon sugar goodness. The butter-meets-sugar combo is what gives these breakfast treats extra crunch on the outside, so don’t skip this step!

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My students, friends, and friends’ coworkers all RAVED about these Mini Churro Donut Muffins, and really–who can blame them? I recommend making a double or even a triple batch.

You know, just in case someone in the kitchen happens to eat half of them before they make it out the door.

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Who’s the biggest sweets snacker in your house?Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Breakfast & Brunch, Muffins

Chocolate Chip Toffee Walnut Cookies

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone grocery shopping at an absurd hour of the night. Say…..4 AM? No? Anybody?

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I realize that there are a lot of things that I take for granted as an unmarried, mostly unemployed, highly mobile grad student. Free pool access, on-campus groups, friends living within walking distance, and yes–spontaneous 4 AM grocery shopping trips, apparently. Which may or may not be coupled with–ahem–the 5 AM baking sprees that yielded these chewy, amazing chocolate chip toffee walnut cookies.

On Sunday night, that’s exactly what I did. My friend and I had stayed up late talking about life things, and after all of that emotional cogitation, we were starving. So–bless our fatigued minds–we decided to strap in and drive to the store at 4:05 AM and buy ourselves some groceries, along with some much-needed post-midnight snacks. It was a testament to my tired brain that I had to walk back to the cereal aisle four times–for my friend’s cereal, then peanut butter, then the oats, then…well, I dunno why we walked back that last time. But I also made sure I grabbed a bag of toffee bits because things were getting real, and cookies were on the mind…

“Nothing good happens after 2 AM”–but apparently very, very good things happen after 5 AM.

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Let me tell you about these cookies: the dough, which bakes up soft and chewy but lightly crispy-edged, is based on my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I didn’t feel like making plain old chocolate chip cookies though–go big or go home at 5 AM, I say–so I decided to throw in a generous stash of walnuts and toffee alongside the chocolate chunks before folding it all into the fluffy dough.

5 AM baking, guys. It’s totally worth the half-exasperated, half-“omg is this what it’s like to date a baker” bleary look that your significant other will give you when s/he trundles into the kitchen amidst your banging pans and mixing bowls.… Read more

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Lemon Meltaway Cookies

I’m posting and running today–after all, it IS spring break around here!

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We visited San Diego Zoo this weekend and oh my gosh, I’ve forgotten how much I miss my old zoo days–yes, I worked at a zoo for four summers in high school–surrounded by discussions of conservation and environment and animal enrichment. We also got to stay at the SD Welks Resort, and I swam at a pool for fun for the first time in years. Bliss!

I even made it back to LA in time for an impromptu dinner with friends and way, way too much good food in mah belly.

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And then there’s spring break baking. We’re talking massive, massive amounts of lazy baking and…absolutely no photos. None, zero, zip. What.

As penance (i.e. when the realization hit me that it’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post, eeps!), I decided to dig up some old photos of these amazing Lemon Meltaway Cookies I made last month and completely forgot to post. Sometimes I’m so grateful to my lazybum self–otherwise, you would have missed these gems!

They’re a complete cinch to make and perfect for the citrus lover in your life. Sweet but not-too-sweet, tart but not-too-tart, these meltaway lemon cookies, well, melt away in your mouth at first bite. Perfect for sharing!

Or you, know…not.

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I’ll be back to regular posting next week! Until then…

Who’s the lemon lover in your life? (Hint: make these for him/her!)

Ala

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

These lemon meltaway cookies are easy to whip together and perfect for the lemon lover in your life. Sweet but not-too-sweet, tangy but not-too-tangy, and bursting with sunshiney citrus flavor!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Additional powdered sugar (for dusting)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy.
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Baymax Sugar Cookies

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I rarely fall in love at first sight, but if I had to make an exception, it’d be Baymax. Or should I say Bae-max? <3

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If you’ve never seen the movie Big Hero 6, a) I have a lot of questions for you, most of which are not particularly innocuous in nature, and b) unless your house is burning down at this very minute, I want you to drop everything you’re doing and watch the movie. Wrangle in a couple of five-year olds for the cause if it’ll make you feel better.

Then you can come back and keep reading this post with what I hope will be newfound appreciation for humanity, the world, and (most importantly) these adorable cookies.

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One of the reasons why Baymax is so lovable is because he is the world’s best friend. Sure, he’s programmed to be a health care companion–but (and here’s a vague spoiler for those of you who completely ignored my advice above–I’m not even going to feel bad about sharing this!) by the end of the film, he’s so much more than that. Whether he’s giving fa-la-la-y fistbumps or the best hugs ever, Baymax gradually learns the value of everyday compassion and empathy for others, and that lesson is definitely part of the reason I love this film so much.

This weekend, I finally had a day to spare and decided to put that lesson into practice with a bit of a gratitude exercise. The mission: deliver these cookies to friends before the start of finals week!

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I didn’t glide around San Fransokyo on my own personal Baymax (boohoo) so it took a while longer than I anticipated, but in the end 20 cookie care packages were delivered between 2 and 9 PM on Sunday! I was so exhausted after the non-stop excursion that by the time 11 PM rolled around, I was basically half-asleep on the boy’s couch and no amount of wheedling or teasing would rouse me from my pillow-hugging position.… Read more

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cookies with Easter PB Eggs

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EasterSweets #CollectiveBias

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It’s funny what small things can make an ordinary week great! Aside from a smattering of rain (which caught us as we walked back from Spotlight on Saturday night–and okay, it’s pouring outside right now but I love it), the weather here has been beautiful and the days have been a real lark. There’s been quite a lot of baking going on, not to mention lazing around and generally being as sloth-like a creature as humanly possible–which, if you know my track record with stress and manic workaholicism, is nothing short of a miracle.

On Wednesday, I decided to do a bit of impulse shopping and ended up walking out of Target with a big, beautiful woven Easter basket lined with yellow and pink cloth. Even better, I got to say “no” to the cashier who asked if I needed a bag–“nope! I’ve got a basket,” I informed him–and skipped out of the store carrying a basketful of Easter goodies, all the while feeling like Little Red Riding Hood on her way to her grandmother’s house. Word to the wise: if ever you need a pick-me-up for an otherwise gloomy day, try carrying a bright cheery basket! There’s nothing equal to it (well, except some chocolate and maybe these cookies, which I’ll get to in a sec).

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As you can see, I decided to raid the candy aisle at Target quite thoroughly in preparation for assembling the most epic Easter basket to date (pictured above), which included an adorable DOVE Milk Chocolate Bunny, Starburst Sweet & Sour Jellybeans, Starburst Original Jellybeans, and a bag of M&M’s White Strawberry Shortcake for good measure, since it’s only being sold for a limited time (and exclusively!) at Target.… Read more

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Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies for Galentine’s Day

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I couldn’t imagine a better excuse to celebrate a day early than with some of the most amazing gal out there – so happy early Galentine’s Day, everyone!

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I made these red velvet chocolate chip cookies last week for a group of friends’ picnic, but I’m sharing them today as part of our Galentine’s Day festivities. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this special holiday, it’s a big round-up of all your best gal pals and celebrating each other on the big day of love! It’s one of my favorite times of the year, and I’m sure you won’t want to miss all of the amazing recipes the other girls are sharing today.

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Confession: I wasn’t actually present when my friends apparently dispatched this batch of cookies quicker than a stampeding horde of wildebeests, but the multiple texts that I received in the wake of their disappearance were enough to confirm my suspicions.

Oh, and warning: both of them mention dyed vampire-esque red teeth, so you might not want to eat these right before a big fancy shmancy date. But soft, packed with chocolate chip cookies, and perfectly fudgy–they’re SO worth it!

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 What are your plans for Valentine’s/Galentine’s Day tomorrow? (Whatever they are, hope you have a YUMMY one!)

Ala

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies for Galentine’s Day

These red velvet cookies are soft, chock filled with chocolate chips, and perfect for your Valentine's (or Galentine's!) Day celebration this year! They taste fudgy and look absolutely adorable on any cookie platter. Slightly adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk or soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tablespoons red gel food coloring
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Cream together in a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until fluffy.
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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cheesecakes, Cookies

How to Bake Hearts into Cupcakes for Your Valentine(s)!

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As someone who’s looking forward to another V-day on my own, my increasingly wedded-and-engaged friends are asking me the same thing: aren’t you sad to be spending S.A.D. (Singles’ Awareness Day), well, sad?

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There are some years where I might have answered yes, maybe an 8th grade spent on Xanga bemoaning my eternally loveless existence with angsty Maroon 5 lyrics or a college year pining after my incredibly cute, incredibly unavailable coworker.

Even so, I can’t recall ever having spent a Valentine’s Day lonely. Growing up, I recall waking up every February 14th to a lovely something sitting on my windowsill: a Pooh bear, a bouquet of flowers, a pink card with “We love you” scrawled across the front under a picture of Snoopy hugging a heart. In elementary school, I remember the tissue box card holders that we would eagerly decorate and bring to class, along with our customized cards that we would then dutifully slip into all of our classmates’ boxes, even the box of funny Chris R. who sat in the corner and made strange farting noises during math period. I recall the joy of opening up every card and reading message after message that began with “Dear Ala…”

Middle school marked the beginning of specialized attention from boys. While the mass carding stopped and most of my friends just brought bags of chocolates to share with everyone, meek presents from would-be suitors began pouring in, much to the amusement (or bemusement, perhaps bordering on mortification) of my parents. I still own the bumblebee build-a-bear, the sterling silver “A” necklace, the giant poster of a Dalmation surrounded by red roses, and enough other stuffed animals with which to open up my own Plush Museum.

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Somehow, in spite of all this attention, it never really occurred to me to consider Valentine’s Day a day of romantic love in particular.… Read more

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How to Make Skittle Sprinkles

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MakeSB50Sweeter #CollectiveBias

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There are some things in life about which it’s okay to get excited WAY early, like weeks or even months in advance. Chatting about summer vacay plays in January, playing Christmas songs in August, making a spreadsheet that counts down the 5,000 hours until your favorite TV show airs again–these are all perfectly normal reasons to be excited.

With my dad and brother, though, it’s the Super Bowl. Last September, I caught them whispering quietly about getting Super Bowl tickets, which cost as much apiece as my entire kitchen. Of course, the combined pressure of my mom and common sense eventually shut down that idea, but with the big game right around the corner, celebration day spirits at home are at an all-time high again. Luckily, I’ve found my niche in the family when these kinds of things happen–so into the kitchen I went this weekend for some Super Brainstorming!

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As you’ve probably realized by now, Skittles is an official sponsor of the NFL which means that Skittles is here to Make Super Bowl 50 Even Sweeter, and it just felt right to include my brother’s favorite candy in the celebration prep this year. After rummaging through some old recipe ideas, I finally decided that I wanted to make something fun and new to celebrate Skittles in a new way: Skittle sprinkles! The process takes a bit of time from start to finish, but it’s totally simple, plus you get to see your friends’ amazed faces when you tell them that you just transformed their childhood fav into an edible topping.

Of course, this meant that I was going to need a whole LOT of Skittles, so I hopped onto Amazon (a girl’s best friend), sifted through the Starburst and Snickers, and finally ordered some Skittles.… Read more

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