Category Archives: Cakes & Cupcakes

Cookie Butter Swirl Cinnamon Pound Cake

There are two types of vacationers in this world:

There are the people who ship themselves off to sunny tropical islands like Hawaii or the Caribbean and return as refreshed as a spring pixie…

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And then there’s me.

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My Air Walk sneakers dragged their dirty, sorry-faced soles across American soil once again at around 9 PM last night, when our plane finally landed after a grueling 11-hour stint from Asia.  If you happen to live in my part of the hemisphere and felt the  earth tremble beneath your slippers 18 hours ago, that was probably just my knees giving way beneath me as I staggered off board, luggage clunking mercilessly into the passengers behind me. Somehow, during my last 48 hours in Taiwan, I had devolved into that zombie girl everyone fears is lurking on their flight home–with a sore throat, throbbing head, and a fever to boot, I was a walking contagion apocalypse waiting to bite someone’s head off and hurl it at the next passing aircraft. Yum.

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Though I managed to catch a full 10 hours of much-needed sleep on the plane ride, I was groggily awake by 3 AM today and even more grudgingly out of bed by 7 AM, when my body finally conceded defeat to The Dreaded Jetlag, and my head stopped swimming long enough for me to see straight. Ironically, as I’m sitting at my kitchen table wearing 3 pairs of thick woolly sweatpants and writing about some of the creamiest, most wonderful pound cake I remember tasting, I’ve lost a few pounds as a result of my cold. Like a man-eating shark whose captors have served it a platter of boiled tofu, I’m both extremely hungry and without the least crumb of appetite when food really does mosey my way. Blergh.

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Fortunately, my tummy has had its fill of amazing street food and other sweet treats these past two weeks, which I spent visiting Hong Kong and Taiwan. There, we ate our bellies’ fill of wonderful delicacies such as Peking duck, stinky tofu, green onion pancake wraps, sesame buns, peanut ice cream, marinated tofu, dan dan noodles, and so much more! If there’s one place where it’s worth sacrificing sanitation for awesome grub (and let’s face it–there’s no health rating at these stalls for a reason), I’m putting my vote out for Asia. We also spent our vacation hitting up great scenic points like Ah Li Shan (pics to come!) and the Big Buddha at Lantau Island.

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But let me back up for a second and put that word vacation in big scare quotes: what I really mean is, “VACATION.” Remember how I said in my last post that I was going to spend the next few weeks unplugged? Away from civilization, digital interaction, and all its woe-inspiring burdens?

I will be the first to confess it: I suck at being unplugged. Heck, I knew I was cheating on my plans to disconnect the moment I snuck a great big academic book in my suitcase ‘just in case’ I ran out of things to do at the hotel. Who runs out of things to do in a great big foreign metropolis? I ended up spending most nights frantically sending out school-related emails and researching various faculty/students who might be helpful in shuffling me along in my prospectus writing, and every other night besides fretting about how much future planning I would have to do the moment I was back in the Land of Comfy Sweatpants, a.k.a. home. We spent so much time on our “vacation” running around trying to tally up our sightseeing points (not my preferred way of travel) that between that and catching a cold, it’s no wonder I felt even more wound up after my trip than before it.

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There are two types of vacationers in this world. I am the second kind of vacationer. The moment I get home is the moment I can feel grateful for the peace & quiet of my home again, and really start to relax.

That’s why despite the time difference, and despite my droopy eyelids and aching limbs, I am happy to be sitting at my computer once more simply writing this post. As I’ve mentioned so often, writing and blogging serve me much better than sitting on (what I imagine to be) the creaky, burst-seamed couch at the therapist’s office. In between my increasingly hysterical school emails and summer applications, I’ve allowed myself to dabble in writing a few short stories as well, just to keep my mind focused. And of course, the sweet scents of homemade goods like this creamy, cookie buttery pound cake never hurt anyone. Even on a miserable cold afternoon filled with congestion and fatigue, I can hear the faint crackling of glaze as someone slices into a fresh loaf of this slightly sweet, perfectly cinnamony warming pound cake. I hope that next someone is you, in the quaint quiet of your home :)

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It’s good to be back! Happy baking,

Ala

Cookie Butter Swirl Cinnamon Pound Cake

Creamy and subtly rich, just as pound cake should be. The hint of cinnamon and surprise swirl of cookie butter that spirals down the middle of this delectable loaf (which is based off the same recipe as my lemon pound cake) makes a great gift or morning wake-up call!

Yield: Two 9×5-inch loaves, OR One 10-inch tube pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese (reduced fat or regular), softened
  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cup Cookie Butter or Speculoos, warmed in the microwave

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. (Note: You may also use one 10-inch tube pan, but you will need to carefully increase your baking time in Step 7.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until very smooth.
  3. Beat in sugar until very fluffy and pale–I beat it vigorously for a good five minutes by hand to get that great creamy pound cake crumb!
  4. Mix in eggs and vanilla.
  5. Carefully mix in flour and cinnamon until just incorporated.
  6. Pour one-fourth of your batter into one of the prepared 9×5-inch loaf pans. Pour 2/3 cup warmed cookie butter in an even layer over this batter, then top the cookie butter with another one-fourth of your pound cake batter. Repeat with second loaf pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, possibly with little crumbs sticking to it. Small crumbs (not raw batter!) are great! They indicate that your cake is baked through but not overbaked. Always err on the side of a little underbakedness. At this point, remove your cake from the oven and allow it to cool on the stovetop for at least 30 minutes before removing it from the pan to cool completely.
  8. When your pound cake has cooled completely, top with cookie butter glaze (recipe below).

Cookie Butter Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cookie butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (or more as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons milk or soy milk, as needed

Directions:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Pour over cooled pound cake and allow to harden completely before cutting and serving. Enjoy!
© Wallflour Girl. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use without prior permission. If you would like to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

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Buttery Moist Lemony Glazed Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake

These past few months, I have spent a lot (I mean, a lot–like, I-am-sorry-but-I-feel-preternaturally-compelled-to-word-vomit-to-you-guys a lot) of time talking about my upcoming examsSo today, let’s talk friends and the best pound cake you’ve never met instead.

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To begin with my friends: As the weeks wear on and THE date creeps closer, I have noticed an exponential amount of tiptoeing from my friends and family. In my book, there have only ever been four reasons you would have to tiptoe around someone: 

1. The Guilt: You are not supposed to be wherever you are at the moment you are tiptoeing–in which case, #shamingsession.

2. The Terror: You are afraid whomever it is around whom you are tiptoeing is going to explode at the any second. KABLOOIE!

3. The Sympathy: You are at someone’s bedside.

4. The Impending Stardom: You are practicing for your lead role in an upcoming show of “Swan Lake.” Ballerina feet, ladies!

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Now, I know it is not due to the fact that they are  practicing to become world-famous ballerinas, because a) they can’t ALL be leads in Swan Lake, and b) I have not seen so much as a frill of a tutu on any of their persons. Nor can the tiptoeing be attributed to a sympathy-induced bedside manner, because last I checked (granted, this was a few hours ago) I still have a pulse. And finally, I am almost certain that they cannot all be tiptoeing out of guilt, because I have not been lurking around any shady street corners or drug stores lately. Or at least none I’m going to fess up to here.

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So this leaves us with the inevitable truth: I am a ticking time bomb and my friends are afraid of the Big Kablooie. Right?

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Wrong! 

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^ It’s because of that.

My friend and I recently had the following conversation (and yes, I do actually converse like this when I’m really really really tired–and yes, you should all encourage my friend to become the next A.A. Milne):

Ala: I’ll be in and out
but I just thought I’d say hello :)
fellow human being whom I happen to like <3
Friend: i think they’ve actually invented a word for that
they’re called friends :)
That same day, a friend texted me about a spontaneous Disneyland trip that didn’t pan out but made us feel so spontaneous anyway; a second friend told me just how excited he was to get ‘us time’ in again after my exam; and a third friend paid me a surprise visit in the middle of the night with hot, fresh garlic bread to make sure I had some ‘real food,’ and we proceeded to caterwaul the rest of the night away to the Frozen soundtrack. <3

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I thought this post and these quotes would be the perfect place to publicly declare that my friends are Piglets to my Pooh. They are the strawberry to my lemon pound cake and, to be completely honest, you would probably be reading a lot more crazy stuff (Crazy? I love crazy!<–kinda like that) if they weren’t around to keep me grounded. So if you guys are reading this (and I know you are!), stop being sneaky this one time and leave a comment below before you go back to your tiptoeing so I can APPRECIATE YOU RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW <3

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It has taken eight months, a whole series of events, and unexpected happiness from various little corners of my life for the truth to hit me with the full force of the giant meteor that killed the dinosaurs. Bigger. Valentine’s Day comes once a year–an exam like this might come once in a lifetime–but friends really, honestly, and truly are forever. And even as I make out the faint rustle of the tiptoers all around me, taking care lest they disturb me from the latest writing frenzy that has possessed my flying hand, I can hear their silent cheers of ‘Rah! Rah!’ rising up in proud defiance of a world whose limits seem at every moment to close in on me, and find they cannot.

And this finally, finally brings me back to this pound cake I promised I would tell you about.

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I made loaves upon loaves of this pound cake to share with my friends and to show them how much I appreciate everything they do, from tiptoeing to caterwauling to cheering to reading my blog. They hands down loved it. This cheery lemon pound cake is everything the title/photos say and more: possibly the creamiest, butteriest, moistest pound cake I have ever made. Everything from the melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese in the batter to the fluffiness of the eggs and sugar, as well as the brightness of the lemon and the tanginess of the strawberry jam, make this the ultimate sweet treat to show someone you love them, whether it’s for Valentine’s Day or Friends Day (which is every day in my book!).

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Don’t forget to take a moment this week to appreciate your friends and all the people you love in your life!

Ala

Buttery, Moist Lemony Glazed Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake

Yield: Two 9×5-inch loaves, OR One 10-inch tube pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese (reduced fat or regular), softened
  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (optional but highly recommended)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cup strawberry (or raspberry) jam, warmed in the microwave

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. (Note: You may also use one 10-inch tube pan, but you will need to carefully increase your baking time in Step 7.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until very smooth.
  3. Beat in sugar until very fluffy and pale–I beat it vigorously for a good five minutes by hand to get that great creamy pound cake crumb!
  4. Mix in eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
  5. Carefully mix in flour until just incorporated.
  6. Pour one-fourth of your batter into one of the prepared 9×5-inch loaf pans. Pour 2/3 cup warmed strawberry preserves in an even layer over this batter, then top the preserves with another one-fourth of your pound cake batter. Repeat with second loaf pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, possibly with little crumbs sticking to it. Small crumbs (not raw batter!) are great! They indicate that your cake is baked through but not overbaked. Always err on the side of a little underbakedness. At this point, remove your cake from the oven and allow it to cool on the stovetop for at least 30 minutes before removing it from the pan to cool completely.
  8. When your pound cake has cooled completely, top with lemon vanilla glaze (recipe below).

Lemon Vanilla Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla soy milk or regular milk or vanilla/plain substitute milks of any kind
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional

Directions:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Pour over cooled pound cake and allow to harden completely before cutting and serving. Enjoy!
© Wallflour Girl. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use without prior permission. If you would like to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

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The Best Bananas Foster Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake

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One of the things I love most about blogging is licking the bowl afterwards having the chance to sit down and tell a story. Food blogging in particular trains us to write good content: it gives you brain fuel (i.e. cake), patience (actually waiting for your cake to cool completely before frosting it), creativity (transforming your 5th over-crumbly cake into gorgeous cake balls), and really good storytelling skills (explaining to your parents the philosophical implications of writing your baking blog when you really should be reading Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter).

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As I slipped into the final books for my Part I Exam children’s literature list, I’ve been thinking more and more about the relationship between text and pictures. A few of my most recent conference proposals deal with the tension nonsense illustrations evoke when read against nonsense language, as well as the stories that text and pictures tell–collaboratively or competitively–when viewed in conjunction. After all, who could forget the full-page spreads of the gigantic yellow-eyed horned monsters we meet alongside Max in Where the Wild Things Are, or that now-famous red-and-white striped hat when the Cat sallies into the rainy-day room?

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In a lovely recent comment that made my heart giggle and feet flutter, a reader wrote that my use of text on photographs was the best she had ever seen (!). I was obviously elated–not only because of the tiny ego boost this prompted, but because I truly believe that the interplay between text and images is a crucial one for storytelling–and I’m glad that it has caught somebody’s eye, both figuratively and literally. Sometimes it can be difficult to hear their murmurs over the incessant buzz of daily life and the roaring internet. In a new year and with new updates around every corner, I hope you continue to find the whispered tales these photo-stories tell worth listening to.

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Like the crosswords where food and writing meet, this bananas foster cake has carried me through a-many difficult days of studying and writing as the exam deadline rushes in like a vortex (exactly one month to go–when did this happen?!). In case you’re wondering how I managed to photograph a whole, intact cake with another slice on the side, I was actually requested to make this cake twice, back-to-back–it was that delicious! Even if you hate bananas as a rule (like I do), you’ll find this cake a refreshing delight: filled with bananas drowned in rum or Kahlua, crunchy toffee pieces, subtle smoky coffee frosting, and plenty of moist banana layers, this cake is a whole story in itself.

So I decided to write one for it. And I hope you’ll love it.

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Until the next story,

Ala

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The Best Bananas Foster Toffee Coffee Crunch CakeYield: 1 awesome 9-inch, 3-layer cakeFor the banana cake: (Slightly adapted from this recipe)
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed (I used 3 large bananas or 4 medium bananas)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups and 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk*

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease 3 round 9-inch springform pans (I only have one so I baked the cake layers three separate times in the same pan) and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together bananas and lemon juice. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter and white sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes of vigorous hand mixing.
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla extract.
  6. In three alternating batches, stir in buttermilk mixture and dry ingredients mix until just combined.
  7. Add and stir in banana mixture.
  8. Spoon 1/3 of your banana cake mixture into each of the prepared springform pans.Coffee
  9. Bake in preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes (cooking times will vary according to your oven temperature). Your cake will be done when it is lightly brown around the edges and golden on top; a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
  10. Allow your cake to cool completely before removing from springform pans and assembling.

Coffee Kahlua Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz.) block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Kahlua (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon instant ground coffee granules

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Gently mix in powdered sugar until incorporated.
  3. Add vanilla extract (use extra if you are omitting Kahlua).
  4. Pour Kahlua (if using) into a small bowl. Dissolve coffee granules in Kahlua. (If you are omitting Kahlua, you can dissolve the granules in vanilla extract). Stir Kahlua-coffee mixture into the frosting.

Bananas Foster: (adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons rum or Kahlua
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 bananas, sliced into 1/3″ pieces

Directions:

  1. In a large pot over the stove, melt butter.
  2. Add brown sugar, rum or Kahlua, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil. When it begins to bubble, add in bananas and stir until thoroughly soaked.
  4. Allow bananas to steep in boiling mixture for 30 seconds, then turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. You may want to reheat the syrup immediately before serving with cake.

Assembly:

Ingredients:

  • 3 9-inch round layers of banana cake (recipe above)
  • 1 serving coffee Kahlua frosting (recipe above)
  • 1 serving bananas foster (recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup chopped saltine toffee cookies (I used homemade ones)or any  toffee pieces of your choice

Directions:

  1. Place a cooled 9-inch cake layer on a round cake tray. If the top of your cake is not even, use a serrated knife to gently cut across the top (parallel with the base) to create a smooth surface.
  2. Frost with a thin layer of coffee frosting.
  3. Top with second cake layer and frost.
  4. Top with third cake layer.
  5. Frost completely with remaining coffee frosting. You may reserve 1/2 cup frosting for piping if you wish.
  6. Top cake with banana pieces from the bananas foster recipe. Reserve the rest for serving with the cake.
  7. Sprinkle edges with toffee pieces.
  8. Cut into slices and serve!

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Italian Cream Layer Cake {and some THOUGHTS)

There are several reasons for the delay in this post–and I promise, I have been dying to share some of my latest recipe creations with you folks, because they are A+ crowd-approved. But this is going to be a fairly serious post. If you want to skip straight to the photos and recipe at the end because you’re not prepared for a Debbie Downer kind of post, I won’t be offended. Promise. (Plus, I have no way of actually knowing, so take your virtual anonymity and run with it.) And despite the lack of attention it’s going to get here, this Italian Creme cake is actually really, really amazing. Again, more about it in the recipe box below.
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We had two major losses in our lives last week–one member of our family, and one dear, dear friend passed away. So we have been understandably busy attending the memorials and services, not to mention grieving. They will be missed dearly.
As with any major loss–especially a first loss–I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking. About life, but also about a lot of things you wouldn’t think you’d think about when everything’s so crazy you just don’t have time to stop and…think.
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When I started this blog one year ago, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to accomplish. To a certain extent, this is still a question that hangs over my head every once in a while. I love creating great content, I love writing, I love making and sharing my food adventures, and I sure as heck love every single ounce of support I get from all of my friends, family, and–of course–you, readers. But this is also in many ways a self–and therefore selfish–blog, and it offers an outlet for my thoughts in a way that I don’t always get in the “real world,” talking to “real people” for whom I feel held accountable to explain myself. So with that rambling premise, I proceed on my (even more rambling) ramble. About thinking, mostly.
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This has been a very crazy year: I have been through so many changes in my personal life, my living situation, my relationships with others, and my priorities. Most recently, I have been studying for a crazy exam that I have thankfully pushed back to January (hopefully) and that I am still feeling guilty about not studying for at this very moment. I can’t tell you how INSANE it feels when every little moment of your life is filled with this constant, insatiable guilt about not working harder than you already are. Even if you are already doing the inhuman and trying to finish a bajillion and one books and remember them all and you are CONVINCED you are the ONE legitimate person in your program who suffers from Imposter Syndrome. Because there is no way anybody could be less prepared than I am to pass this test. And despite the super supportive “You’ll do great!”‘s and “Dude, you’re going to blow this exam out of the water”‘s (all of which I appreciate, don’t get me wrong), I still don’t believe it. I’m not even trying to be cautiously optimistic. I just can’t believe it at this point. This is my current thought process about my qualifying exams, in a nutshell. And I’m okay with that…sort of.
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So this brings me to thinking. Or not thinking. With the whirlwind that has taken my life by storm recently, I have left zero time to think. Not even close to zero. I mean, zero. This blog post might be the first time I’ve actually stopped to think about anything that has happened since last school year, and every damn time I try to stop and think, I feel as guilty as John Wilkes Booth. I don’t think it’s apathy. I think it’s numbness. Self-willed numbness. When I received news of both passings, I was shocked. I felt floored. Then I wondered whether I would be able to meet my self-imposed deadlines for reading that night, or whether I would be too busy being “distracted” with thinking to get anything done like a real non-failure would do. No, I didn’t think–nor do I currently think–this is reasonable. But it’s just how I feel. And believe it or not, I was able to pick up my book. Sure, I cried. I broke down and cried quite a bit, actually. But I read. And I still find myself counting down those days to the next deadline with a dread and anxiety that feels more real than the grief, which feels almost…unreal. Disembodied. Like somebody else is really feeling those emotions, but that it’s not going to hit me until all of this is over and done with. As I said, there has been no time for thinking, before right now. And there probably will not be much thinking after right now, because I can already feel the end of the night creeping in with pages still unread, knowledge still “unlearned.”
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To my awesome, amazing, dedicated friends who tell me to “take it easy” or “give yourself some you time”: I totally and completely appreciate this. I would not be still relatively sane without all of your support. But I think I’ve gotten to the point where what I really need is just this: “Yes, you’re in a study strait. We know you realize that this isn’t everything, and we know that you realize this will pass and come what may. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. So go do it. We’re behind you.” I keep trying to tell myself that every single day, and every single day I come away a little less whole, a little less sure of myself, and a little more scared.
Still, I do make time, and I’m trying my darndest to take it in stride as I work my way through what seems to be superhuman swaths of work. It may seem self-punishing and it may seem unreasonable, but I don’t need to know that it will be OK–I just need now to happen, and I need to know that I have done it with all my heart. I will probably walk away from this post feeling like I just took away half an hour of valuable reading time, and that’s just a fact of things right now. It’s just something I need the people around me to know.
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My on consolation is that I can say the next statement sincerely: My most heartfelt love to the two amazing people in my life who are not lost, but simply a better part of everyone whom their lives touched. My deepest sympathies to the rest of their family and friends who, like us, are grieving. No matter what I am going through right now, and no matter what I say about not having time to stop and think–know that you are always, always in my thoughts. (Thanks for reading.)

Ala

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The Weekend re-Treat #38 FEATURES

Italian Cream Layer Cake
I haven’t gotten a chance to properly vouch for this cake in my post. MAKE. THIS. I am decidedly NOT a cake person–and neither are many of my friends, but I made this for a friend’s dinner and the family went over the moon about it. I left the other half of the cake at home–and it was gone before I knew it! A wonderfully nutty taste of coconut and almonds thrown into one of the richest, most indulgent cakes that you have never tried. Try this to wow your next dinner party guests!
 
Yield: 1 3-layer 9-inch cake
Slightly adapted from Bake at 350 
For the cake:
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 5 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (you can make your own using 1 cup minus 1 tbsp of milk, and then adding 1 tbsp vinegar and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Voila–instant buttermilk!)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease three 9-inch springform baking pans if you have them. (I had only ONE springform pan and this worked out just fine–you will simply need to bake and cool in 3 different batches. If you do not have a springform pan, you may also use a regular 9-inch round baking pan, line it with parchment paper, and lightly grease the paper for easy removal of layers.)
  2. Cream together sugar, butter, and oil until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in egg YOLKS one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Stir salt into 2 cups of flour.
  4. In three separate additions, alternate adding flour and buttermilk mixture to batter (make sure to begin and end with the flour).
  5. Fold in coconut flakes and vanilla extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat egg WHITES until they form stiff peaks. Note: The best way to beat egg whites is to use a completely dry copper or steel bowl; start your hand mixer on a low speed. After a minute or two, once your whites begin to foam, increase mixer speed to “beat” setting and continue beating until your whites pass the droopy peaks phase (the 2nd stage) and start to hold their shape in stiff peaks (the 3rd stage). Depending on the power of your mixer, this process can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes–be patient, and be sure to KEEP GOING so you can get those voluminous peaks!
  7. In three additions, fold egg whites gently into cake batter.
  8. Pour 1/3 of cake batter into each of the three prepared pans.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes (or until lightly golden) in preheated oven. Allow to cool in pan for at least 15 minutes before attempting to remove. Allow to cool completely before assembling.

For the cream cheese almond frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped almonds (you may also use pecans for a more traditional feel)
  • 1 (8 oz.) tub marscapone cheese (you may substitute cream cheese for a sweeter frosting), room temperature
  • 1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes.

Directions:

  1. Place almonds or pecans in a thin layer on a cookie sheet. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, stirring at the 5-minute mark to prevent burnt nuts. Remove from oven and set aside when nuts are nicely toasted.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together marscapone, cream cheese, and butter until smooth. Beat in 4 cups powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla; it will be easiest to add these ingredients one cup at a time.

To assemble cake:

  1. Place a cooled layer of cake on a round cake base. Spread approximately 1/3 cup of frosting on top; sprinkle with about 1/2 cup toasted almonds; then add another 1/3 cup of frosting on top of almonds. You may need more or less frosting, depending on how thinly you spread it.
  2. Top with second cooled cake layer. Repeat frosting from Step 1. Top with third cooled cake layer.
  3. Use remaining frosting to completely cover sides and top of cake. I reserved about 1/2 cup frosting to decorate the top of the cake by piping a shell border pattern around the edges, and a shell pattern and heart in the middle of the cake.
  4. Sprinkle remaining chopped nuts and coconut flakes around edges and top of cake.

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The Very BEST Tiramisu–America’s Test Kitchen

YOU. Yes, you sitting there with your finger hovering over the mouse ready to click away at a moment’s notice and sneak cyber-stealthily away before reading the rest of this post. YOU WILL WANT TO STAY FOR THIS.
(Besides, MY TIRAMISU SEES YOU. So still those finicky fingers and sit yo bum down while I tell you about a fail-proof tiramisu recipe you just have to make. I do NOT use the appellation “very best” lightly.)
BEST Tiramisu from America's Test Kitchen 2--101913BEST Tiramisu from America's Test Kitchen 1--101913
#filter #nofilter
If you have been following my blog in recent months (or even if you haven’t–here comes the spoiler), you’ll know that I have been going slightly cray-cray lately studying for my qualifying exams. Which are coming up very, very soon. As in January soon. And if you have ever been through a period in your life when you’ve gone cray-cray crawfish style, you’ll know that you just don’t have time, the emotional capacity, or the sanity for the big heart-sinker: FAILED DESSERTS.
So of course I was uber-excited when I came across this no-bake, utterly fail-proof tiramisu recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.
And made it.
And it was AMAZEBALLS.
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I find that the deeper I trudge into the wilds of study hermitage territory, the less refined my language and blogging gets. OH WELL. #girlsjustwannahavefun
(On a sort of related note, I also find that I’m much more comfortable now with not just creating one “writing voice” when I blog, but using whatever writing comes most naturally to me when I scroll through my photos for the day. I love feeling like my photos and I have conversations before I sit down (or stand up, usually, at my bizarre makeshift stand-up desk) to type out my day’s work. Kind of like Gollum and his alter-ego. I’ll let you decide whether or not that’s worrisome. But the main takeaway here is that I hope you guys also feel that these photos and stories together tell more than just their component parts, which is something I’ve been working hard to make happen through my recent photoseries blog posts. (You can check out some of my cool photoseries posts here, here, and here.))
–Aw shucks, it’s almost like I’m getting attached to you guys or something, *sniff.* <3

BEST Tiramisu from America's Test Kitchen 7-101913BEST Tiramisu from America's Test Kitchen 8-101913

^ Seriously. What the photo said.
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But back to this tiramisu. I told you not to click away, and here is the big reason. This is not only the very best tiramisu I have ever eaten, or made, or served.
It has received the ultra-rare, more-elusive-than-Atlantis Mommy Stamp of Approval.
Which is basically like if a scientist walked up to you today and proved that dodo birds aren’t really extinct. IT’S REALLY MIND-BLOWING.
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(I love this picture. My dad walked up to me in the middle of my photoshoot–he has been so good about ignoring all of my weird baking/blogging habits–and started dangling my Stitch pillow pet in all sorts of poses over the tiramisu. I guess Stitch needs tiramisu lovin’, too <3 )
I made it for my mom’s birthday, and after taking a bite, she held onto her fork, turned around to face me, and said, “You can open a bakery now.”
This coming from the lady who is assured that all I do in the kitchen is spawn devil pups all day, Or something. I mean, what ELSE could I be doing in the kitchen that could make it “so so so messy,” right?
Just kidding. I love you, Mom!
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I have to vouch for this recipe 100% to the 50 bajillionth power. Everybody who ate it loved it–plus the recipe is make-ahead friendly, no-bake, and just so darn good. It’s slightly sweeter than most other tiramisu recipes I’ve tried, and I added a lot more Kahlua/coffee than the original recipe called for (there is no such thing as too much Kahlua here!)–I’ve noted the suggested changes in the recipe below–but otherwise this recipe is THE. VERY. BEST. If my strangely experimental cross-lit edited photos and less than witty taglines have not convinced you of this fact already. (Give a girl a break, will ya?)
BEST Tiramisu from America's Test Kitchen 22-101913
I got my forks. And I got my stretchy sweatpants on. Check, and check.
Now go do yourself a favor and go make this tiramisu. And then make sure you stop by the post office to pick up a box big enough to hold a cooler and this cake. I will even offer to pay for postage, if you get my drift. Heh.
BEST Tiramisu from America's Test Kitchen 23-101913BEST Tiramisu from America's Test Kitchen 24-101913
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Happy Stretchy Sweatpants Tiramisu Day, every day!

Ala Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!

Will Cook For Smiles

1

The Very BEST Tiramisu–America’s Test Kitchen
Yield: 9×13-inch baking dish
Original recipe below from America’s Test Kitchen. Alterations to the recipe or comments made by me are indicated in blue.
Ingredients:
  • 2-1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons instant espresso granules–I had instant coffee granules on hand and used about 4 tablespoons of that instead.
  • 9 tablespoons dark rum–I added about a tablespoon or two extra Kahlua in step 2.
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1-1/2 pounds mascarpone
  • 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
  • 14 ounces (42 to 60, depending on size) dried ladyfingers (savoiardi)–note: you will want to buy the hard variety of ladyfingers.
  • 3-1/2 Tablespoons cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
  • 1/4 cup grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional)

Directions:

1. Stir coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons rum in a wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves; set aside.

2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice. Add remaining 4 tablespoons rum and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl. Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.

3. In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.

4. Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove and transfer to 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish–I used one 9×9-inch springform baking pan (it makes for a great appearance) and one 4×6-inch casserole dish. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.–Helpful tip: What the instructions mean hear is basically that you should lightly and quickly roll your ladyfingers in the coffee mixture; don’t dunk them in for a long period of time, or they will get soggy in your tiramisu.

5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone.

6. Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dust with remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Wipe edges of dish with dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.

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Monday Morning Mocha ‘n Chocolate Cheesecakes

  I have been productive lately. That means a lot of productibaking, which means wading through a really, really big pile of reading. Check.

I also have another photo-story for all of you. Did you see my last one for the very best chewy Biscoff blondies? I don’t have too much time these days to write, but I still want to share my stories with all of you.

I don’t drink coffee or mocha, but I love coffee-flavored anything. And since caffeine and productivity are the order of the day, these mocha ‘n chocolate cheesecakes were born–perfect for your Monday morning. Or Tuesday. Or every any day of the week, really.

I hope you all enjoy, pin, share, and love these quaint coffee banners!  These creamy mini cheesecake smell like you’re sitting in the middle of your favorite hipster cafe with a cuppa fresh brew–you won’t even know the difference.

Monday Morning Mocha 'n Chocolate Cheesecake 3--092313 Monday Morning Mocha 'n Chocolate Cheesecake 6--092313 Monday Morning Mocha 'n Chocolate Cheesecake 9--092313 Monday Morning Mocha 'n Chocolate Cheesecake 12--092313 Monday Morning Mocha 'n Chocolate Cheesecake 15--092313

Which coffee saying describes you best?  (I’m definitely feeling the “productivity” one right now!)

OR What do you wake up to in the morning?

Ala

Don’t forget to pin/share/print/like! :)

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Monday Morning Mocha ‘n Chocolate Cheesecakes
Yield: 12 mini cheesecakes
Ingredients:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kahlua (or other coffee-flavored liqueur, or espresso or strong brewed coffee)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons instant coffee granules, divided and finely crushed
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese and white sugar until nice and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. In a separate small bowl, combine Kahlua and vanilla. Mix in 2 tablespoons coffee granules and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add Kahlua mixture, egg, and remaining finely-crushed coffee granules to cream cheese mixture. Beat in until completely smooth.
  5. Divide cheesecake batter equally between 12 tins.
  6. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate chips at 20-second intervals, stirring rapidly between each interval until chocolate is melted and smooth. (Be careful not to overheat your chocolate–you will want to remove the bowl from microwave and stir when the chocolate is just beginning to turn melty.) Pour a dollop of chocolate into each filled cheesecake tin and swirl using a toothpick.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until just set. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before transferring to fridge. Allow to chill in fridge for at least one hour–or you can let it sit overnight and wake up the next morning to a perfectly “brewed” Monday morn mocha cheesecake!

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Summer Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Am I the only one who not only does not want autumn to come, but would happily embrace summer (and all its fruity, sunshiney glory) the whole year round?

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If you’re following other food blogs, you’ve probably seen hints of pumpkin and warm cinnamon spices creeping slowly but steadily into recipes in recent weeks. I mean, I’m all about individual choice and stuff, but here, at least…

NO WAY. And more summer please.

Hence these prototypically summery lemon blueberry cupcakes during the last week of August. Because I’m a summer rebel and I’m trying going to convert y’all with these, too.

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I love summer berries and all of nature’s sweet fruit,and I firmly believe that they appear between the months of May and August (or even longer, if you’re lucky like me!) for a reason. Summer is the best seasons, so let’s not quibble.

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Don’t get me wrong–I love fall. But I am the kind of girl who either likes seasons and holidays when they’re supposed to come (i.e. no Christmas music in November, please), or writes a pumpkin dessert post in the middle of April because heck, nobody else is doing it. And if I want pumpkin in springy April, I’m going to make it. I’m sure I’m not the only person on the planet who has completely atemporal taste buds.

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But that whole summer-is-ending-and-hooray-for-fall-thing? Again, personal preference–but I’m not buying it.

So you get lemon. And blueberry. And REALLY GREAT MOIST CUPCAKES.

You will become a summer re-convert, I promise.

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Aside from the obvious perks, another reason why I love summer is because it allows me to do proper photoshoots in summer lighting

If you’ve seen my last few posts, you may have noticed less props and way, way less photo prep. As a result, I haven’t been able to submit a lot of my photos to Foodgawker and Tastespotter like I usually do, which makes me a little sad. This is because by the time I get home from work and finish my study quota for the day, the daylight has usually faded and the result is lots of crappy photos shot under our kind of anti-photo florescent kitchen lights.

So basically, sunlight rocksAlthough so would having a pair of literarily-inclined elves who could do my reading for me. That would also rock very much.

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After reading through nearly ten consecutive pumpkin posts on other blogs, I finally ran home from work on Friday and sat down to photograph these cupcakes. They look yummy, don’t they? Trust me, they taste even better.

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(On My Kitchen Table:  Assorted poems by Romantic authors such as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and–most recently–Lord Byron. Don Juan is longer than my mom’s rants, period. Somebody get me a cupcake and a massive paper shredder, please.)  

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So what do you think: is it time for summer, or fall?

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Love,

Ala

Will Cook For Smiles

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Summery Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemony Frosting
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (I used the zest from one HUGE lemon)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) lemon juice, depending on taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Cream together butter and sugar until light & fluffy, about 3 minutes with vigorous beating by hand.
    3. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.
    4. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt until just incorporated.
    5. Add lemon zest, milk, and lemon juice. Stir in slowly until well combined (note: make sure not to stir vigorously, though–doing so will toughen up the gluten and create a much tougher cupcake).

Fold in fresh blueberries.

  1. Line muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners and fill each liner 3/4 way with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Meanwhile, make lemon frosting (recipe below).
  2. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before frosting; top with blueberries. Then sit back, take a bite, and enjoy your gorgeous summer!

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, as needed

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Mix in sugar (you may need more or less, as desired). Gradually add vanilla and lemon juice, stirring until you reach the desired consistency. You may not need all of the lemon juice. Frost your cupcakes and delight your summer guests!

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Fudgy Chocolate Tunnel Cake

This is not a cake for the weak.

This is a cake for the fudgiest, moistest, chocolate-iest, veganest (if you want it to be!), cake that you will ever make, or ever be requested to make again, ever.

That huge GLOB of fudge you see running throughout the base of cake there? Ah-MAY-zing.

Fudgy Chocolate Tunnel Cake 1--060813

As I mentioned in my last post about possibly the best Oreo bar cookies in the world, I’m currently following a regimen of intense “productibaking.” I searched this term on the internet  expecting to see some slang dictionary entry for it and I’m the first person to coin it!  Apparently, I’m the first person to think about baking as a positive rewarding force (as opposed to the popular procrastibaking) and actually give a name to it.

So here I am. Productibaking.

Actually, not. The photos from this absolutely fudgy and delicious cake that you must make (are we LOOKING at the same pictures here??) are from last month for a potluck I hosted. Which I guess means that I haven’t been productive enough yet.

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Oops.

Well, in the meantime, enjoy the recipe! I’m keeping this post short so I can go off and procrast–I mean, be productive now.

:)

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This may be my FAVORITE CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE TO DATE–Make this!!

Ala

Fudgy Chocolate Tunnel Cake
Slightly adapted from Erica’s Sweet Tooth
Yield: 1 12-cup bundt cake pan
for the pan: 1 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted for the cake: 1/2 cup boiling water 1/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips 2 cups all purpose flour 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2 cups confectioners’ sugar 1 tsp salt 5 large eggs, at room temperature 1 tbsp vanilla extract 1 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup light brown sugar 20 tbsp (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (use lactose-free margarine to make this vegan!) for the ganache: 1 cup white sugar 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 cup milk (substitute soy milk for vegan option!) 1/4 cup butter (use lactose-free margarine to make this vegan!) 1vanilla extract

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and melted butter, and use a brush to evenly coat the inside of a 12-cup bundt pan.
  2. Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl and pour boiling water over them; whisk together until smooth. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. In a third small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter until very light and fluffy (this will take several minutes). Add the egg mixture and beat well. Add the chocolate mixture and mix until incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the edges of the cake begin to pull away from the pan.
  4. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least an hour before inverting it onto a cake platter. Serve warm or cooled, as desired.
  5. For the glaze, combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir constantly and bring to a boil for one full minute. Turn off heat and remove pot; beat icing for an additional 3 minutes, until it begins to cool and thicken. Allow icing to continue thickening until it reaches desired consistency, then pour over your fudge tunnel cake and enjoy!
 

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Lovey Dovey Trifecta Cookies and Sweetheart Cupcakes

I’ll admit it–I’m a little vixen.

This crazy (good) cupcake-and-cookie love blast combo is brought to you by a little V-day vixen named Ala.

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Consequently, the V-day jean-size-enlargement-of-everyone-around-me scheme was also instigated by yours truly.

Because let’s face it: us bakers siphon off our baked goods onto our friends, classmates, family, significant others, grocers, landladies, and cute cafe seat neighbors for one reason, and one reason alone.

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We’re out to get your jeans.

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But in all seriousness–does anybody else out there feel the same way? Or am I just a complete aberration in occasionally feeling this way?

Anybody who knows me in “real life” can tell you that I have a terrible habit of encouraging people to indulge in every single desire they have the misfortune to express to me. I do a pretty darn great job of it too, if I say so myself. If the president was as successful at reconciling cross-party views as I am at persuading my friends to hit up every single one of the Seven Sins in the course of one party, every congressional session would just be a bunch of people clasping hands and singing hallelujah to a blown-up picture of a red & blue donk-lephant-ey.

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I’m not a moral degenerate myself. I’d actually like to think of myself as a sort of pre-transformation, goody two shoes Sandra Dee. (Did I mention that I saw Grease for the first time in a singalong theater on V-day? Fantastic! Young John Travolta doing pelvic thrusts on a car ::swoon::)

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At the same time, if I bring this entire tray of lovey dovey trifecta cookies (i.e. the best, fluffiest, chewiest PB oat choco-chip cookies you will ever have) and raspberry cheesecake-filled sweetheart cupcakes to my friends, as I did on V-day, and somebody says…

“Oh my GAWD, these are AMAZING…”

and then follows that by saying

“Take them away from me, or I’ll eat them all!”

I will say…

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You, eat them all?

“CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.”

Lovey Dovey Trifecta Cookies and Sweetheart Cupcakes 2--021413

Yes, I am that girl. The girl you love to hate, and hate to love. <3 Just say it.

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If you ever have the misfortune pleasure of meeting me in “real life,” don’t tell me about how you really want to buy an entire jumbo-sized pack of Peeps from the store while we’re shopping.

Refrain from explaining why you’d really much rather be watching the entire BBC series of Pride & Prejudice (which I STILL have to watch) online than finishing your essay on the comparison between national patriarchal benevolence and hierarchical gender dynamics in a Maria Edgeworth novel (which I STILL have to finish).

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And definitely resist telling me how much you LOVE this lovey, lovely cookie-and-cupcake combo.

Because you inevitably will be tempted, and I will subsequently make sure you never fit into your jeans again.

Singlehandedly and proudly.

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Hey, I work hard at what I do.

Fortunately, you won’t have to work hard at either of these delectable treats the next time you want to show your love to somebody random! Jeans-sabotaging aside, they’re both super straightforward recipes and totally worth whipping up in a jiffy to share.

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They’re Alfred J. B’lloon–frock (he’s the balloon, pictured above) approved!

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So what are you waiting for? If you want to be a little vixen like me, or if you’re just a much better human being than I am and actually want to make these with as much heart as these cupcakes and cookies express, then I’m whisking you off to your kitchen and mixing bowl!

See what I did there?

Ha! Ha! Ha…

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Oh, never mind. I’m such a dorky little Sandra Dee after all. <3

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Why do YOU love to bake/cook?

If you loved this post, these photos, or this recipe (after giving it a try!), please let me know! I love hearing from all of you, and I promise I’m really not very vixen-y at all :)

Ala

Sweet 2 Eat BakingTuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!

Lovey Dovey Trifecta Cookies
Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Adapted from Allrecipes
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oats (quick-cooking or rolled are fine)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 36 Dove Heart chocolates (I used chocolate and raspberry creme)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. Cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy and smooth. Stir in peanut butter, vanilla, and egg until well-incorporated. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; mix in until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Drop dough by small tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes in oven, until golden.
  4. Remove cookies from oven and immediately press an unwrapped chocolate into the top of each cookie. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.

Sweetheart Cupcakes (Chocolate with Raspberry Cheesecake Filling)

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

Original chocolate cake recipe from Averie Cooks

(I wasn’t sure how Averie’s moist, delectable-looking cake would translate into cupcakes. In the end, the cupcakes were still great, but a bit dense for my purposes–still love the cake, as did everyone else, but might substitute a different chocolate cupcake recipe next time! Below is the original recipe I tested.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee, warm or room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Raspberry cheesecake filling ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup raspberry preserves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, yogurt, oil, and vanilla. Stir in coffee and cocoa powder until smooth. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; mix until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Pour batter into cupcake liners until each is about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of each cupcake comes out relatively clean but with moist crumbs sticking to it. Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cool as you prepare cheesecake filling.
  4. For raspberry cheesecake filling: Whip together cream cheese and white sugar in a medium bowl. Add egg and mix in until mixture is completely smooth. Stir in preserves.
  5. Assembly: Take a completely cooled cupcake and place on a cutting board. Running a sharp knife parallel to the base of the cupcake, slice off the muffin-top part that pops out over the cupcake liner. (In other words, you’re slicing the muffin-top from the base, so that the surface of the cupcake base is now as high as the cupcake liner.) Cut out a hole from the center of the muffin and fill generously with raspberry cheesecake. Carefully cut a heart shape out from the muffin-top and then replace the muffin-top on the cheesecake-frosted cupcake base. Voila! You have a cute raspberry cheesecake filling peeking out in the shape of a heart.

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Filed under Brownies & Chocolates, Cakes & Cupcakes, Cookies

Owl Pumpkin Cupcakes with Choco-Orange Frosting

I treated myself two nights ago (i.e. Halloween, night of the dead, sugar-induced-accidents evening) to an indulging, sinful, completely guilty treat.

Sleep. Lots and lots of it.

That’s right—my haunting, harrowing, happy, hooligan-ing Halloween…ended at about 10 PM. I just turned off the lights, pulled on my PJ’s, and hopped into bed. No candy for you, children. This night is mine.

So are these owl cupcakes. Mine, mine, mine. Okay, maybe one yours. But mostly mine.

Aren’t they absolutely adorable? And I promise they won’t regurgitate their dinner in your living room.

Wallflour Power: I just watched “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” today. I’m so excited to review my (partial) namesake in my next post! In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this inspiring quote–”We accept the love we think we deserve.” <3 You deserve a lot. Embrace it!

These cupcakes have been circulating the blog-o-sphere since owls roamed the earth (give or take a few…millennia), and I couldn’t wait for a good excuse to make them. So I strolled on over to my calendar. I can always count on my calendar to have something awesome lined up. If it says “August 15,” I can just say, “Oh look–tomorrow’s the smack middle of August. Guess we’re gonna really need CUPCAKES.”

This time, my excuse was a little bit more warranted.

Excuse, meet Halloween. Halloween, Excuse. Pleasure. Let’s sidle over to the oven while we chat, shall we?

After throwing on a hastily-compiled, years-used Hogwarts student costume yesterday, I pulled out my authentic wand from Ollivander’s (you know, the really genuine one sitting in tropical Florida) and zapped up a batch of these owl-order cupcakes.

Technically speaking, conjuring food out of thin air is not allowed under the five principle exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration. But I didn’t just completely give away the caliber of geekiness at which I am operating there. And even if I did…obliviate, right?

Don’t worry. Even if you forget about your entire life, my utter geekdom, and the names of the Supreme Court Justices, you won’t be forgetting these adorable cupcakes anytime soon.

I guarantee it. And yes, Men’s Wearhouse stole that from me. Maybe.

Oh, whatever. Obliviate and let’s move on to the recipe, shall we?

These moist, sweet pumpkin cupcakes pair perfectly with a refreshing chocolate-orange frosting that will have trick-or-treaters lined up at your door next year!

Owl Pumpkin Cupcakes with Choco-Orange Frosting
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Cupcake Ingredients (adapted from Allrecipes):
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cupcake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, and applesauce. Mix in vanilla and pumpkin puree. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine all remaining (i.e. dry) ingredients, then dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir in until just incorporated.
  2. Line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Fill each liner 3/4-full with batter. Bake for 17-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted it just comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting with a scrumptious choco-orange surprise frosting!

Choco-Orange Frosting Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice (adjust to reach desired consistency)

Choco-Orange Frosting Directions:

  1. Cream butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and orange zest; mix until blended. Gradually add orange juice, stirring in after every half tablespoon to check for consistency. Add as much orange juice as needed to obtain a thick, gloopy frosting (you can also thin it out with additional orange juice as needed for a thinner frosting).

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes