Category Archives: Cakes & Cupcakes

Miniature Whipping Cream Pound Cakes

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Of all the places I visited in Europe, my favorite place by far was Edinburgh, Scotland. A buzz of excitement radiated through the city, palpable from the moment our 2-hour train from York pulled into the old station. We had timed our visit to coincide with The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world’s largest art festival where thousands of artists converge every year to perform, sing, dance, make you laugh, make you cry. During our five days in the city, my sides split with laughing at the sketch troupe Daphne’s Second Show, a Cambridge trio that wove together hard-hitting humor with physical comedy, seamlessly transitioned sketches, and surprisingly impressive three-part harmonies. My heartstrings wavered and melted at I Love You Because, a loosely Pride-and-Prejudice-based modern musical about two couples who learn to love another not in spite of their flaws, but because of them. On our last night there, my heart both broke and mended at Liam Williams’ Travesty, a stunningly executed, intimate play about two people who learn to navigate the murky path through love, relationships, expectations, and commitment.

Art, like food, has always resonated with me differently at different times in my life. While I’ve shared some of the best moments from my vacation in the UK so far, not all of the trip went smoothly. I arrived in England to a welcoming household, and a partner who felt strangely distant; as the days went on, the sense of disconnect and aloofness only intensified, especially when I saw how warm and animated he could be with his family and friends from school. By the time we reached Cambridge on our fifth night together, I was crying on the bench outside a banquet afterparty while trying to book a last-minute room at the London Travelodge (we didn’t have anywhere convenient to stay the next night) and wondering what on Earth I was doing in England at all.… Read more

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Victoria Sponge Cake

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For the first time ever, I celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago in a foreign country. I was feeling a bit nervous because I was far away from home, family, and friends–I had arrived in London only two days before, and both days had been packed with touristy (and wonderful!) but tiring activities, including a day-early birthday surprise of 4 o’clock tea-and-champagne time. Thankfully, I had given up any claims to local trip planning already and was more than happy to go along with the plan for the next day, which involved a visit to nearby Leeds Castle in Kent and a very British plan to picnic on the rolling green lawns under the rare English sun. As it turns out, the California sunshine followed me to all but two days (both spent in Edinburgh) of my visit to the UK and Ireland, so I wasn’t complaining!

One of the things I loved most about my visit to Europe is the pace of life there. We spent that entire day in sun-kissed bliss, strolling around the castle and meandering around the rolling green lawns and doing nothing in particular. It was such an unexpected change from the usual hubbub of invitations and surprise parties and planned outings that I couldn’t help but feel glad that I had decided to book an early August flight to the UK, despite all of my earlier reservations about spending my birthday abroad.

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Another lovely surprise that I hadn’t anticipated was the homemade Victoria Sponge Cake that arrived on the patio table after dinner that evening! A candle was already lit on top–I made a wish and blew it out, opened a card, and felt that little wriggle of happiness in my chest that only a really pleasant and unexpected surprise can inspire. By that time, the birthday wishes from back home were also flooding my way through social media and my (thankfully unlimited) international texting, and we spent the rest of the night in the forest-lined backyard, watching shooting stars from the Perseid Meteor Shower light up the starry black night sky.… Read more

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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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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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Jack Skellington Oreo Pops

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that I cannot decorate desserts for shiz. On a scale of one to disaster, I am definitely the onset of the apocalypse.

Welcome to How Not to Decorate Your Oreo Pops for Halloween 101…

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For a non-decorator, though, I have to admit that these Oreo pops are pretty damn cute anyway. Sure, they’re not chef-d’ouevres by any stretch of the imagination–but considering that I made this batch at 4 AM within 60 minutes, that’s got to count for something, right?

I made these for an adorable Halloween party that my friends over in the education/IS department threw last week. They weren’t the only themed appearances, either: there were spooky eggs, kitty litter cake, witch’s brew, and props & costumes galore!

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Last Sunday, the BIG Halloween festivities continued when my fambam and I paid a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth–Disneyland at Halloweentime is inexplicably amazing. The Dapper Dans come out to sing their ghoulish quartet songs in minor keys; the scent of pumpkin and $4.25 churros wafts through the air; the Haunted Mansion is taken over by Jack Skellington and his crew of mischievous misfits. But I’ll let you in on the biggest secret of all that made this Halloween at Disneyland the best one ever:

We ate dinner at Club 33!!!!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this hidden gem, Club 33 is a members-only venue located in New Orleans Square, right above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the Blue Bayou restaurant. Membership is something like $10K per year, with a base fee of goodness-knows-how-much and an interminable waiting list.

We had been waiting to go in for two full years now. My brother’s friend, whose dad is a member, helped us secure a spot for my very belated birthday celebration, but renovations on the restaurant set us back a solid 24 months.… Read more

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting for #OXOGoodCookies

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It’s that time of year again. OXO Cookies is supporting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and I get to share the deets with all of you!

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If you haven’t heard about them already, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity under the laws of New Jersey. Every year, they host this amazing campaign to donate funds to researching kids’ cancer. (Read: donations are tax deductible and 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.)

So what does that have to do with these Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes I’m sharing here today? I’m so glad you asked!

This month, OXO will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post dedicated to this campaign (up to their $100,000 commitment.) You can also look out for this sticker on their baking supplies, which means that they’ll be donating on your behalf when you buy labeled baking items:

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When OXO sent me this cupcake supplies set to use, I was over the moon. Last year I made these cookies for OXO and this year I decided to stick with the peanut butter theme by creating these deliciously vegan chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. The cupcake base is vegan, but you’d never guess it–it’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe as well and involves literally throwing a bunch of ingredients all at once into a large mixing bowl! As for the frosting, you can’t really go wrong with PB&chocolate, can you?

No, I didn’t think so. Helloooo, best combo ever!

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If you’re looking for a great way to do good this holiday season, I totally recommend stopping by the store and buying one or all of these handy cupcake tools that I used to bake these cupcakes. I can vouch for the quality of these items: I’ve been working with OXO for nearly two years now and it’s one of the few brands I’ll trust to turn out amazing baked goods every single time.… Read more

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Banana Crumb Cake

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Once, I my friends and I decided (as we do) that it would be a great idea to take on our local creamery’s famous ice cream challenge.

15 minutes, one sundae. Doesn’t sound that bad, right?

Wrong. Three pounds of ice cream and a quarter-hour later found each of us sunken into a comatose stupor–something between sugary crash-and-burn and uncontrollable (but lackadaisical) giddiness. I vaguely recall laughing a lot about cherry stems, but that’s about it.

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Of the twelve of us there, I was third to finish. Weirdly, as I looked around at my struggling companions, I had the strangest craving for more ice cream than I had already inhaled–yes I am a shameless bottomless sugar pit–but then again, I was always an ice cream fanatic. In fact, the heavy, sloughing weight on my belly was coming from an altogether different source of revulsion…

It was the banana. 

Yes, folks–I almost lost an ice cream challenge to a banana. Three pounds of ice cream were no problem–even a whopping pound of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry couldn’t deter me–and while I wasn’t a huge fan of the whipped cream piled on top, or the three syrups in which the entire sundae was slathered, it wasn’t until I hit the innocuous-looking yellow fruit that I seriously considered giving up.

Of course, Mama didn’t raise no quitter, so in my final minute I sucked it up and shoveled down that banana with a mountainous scoop of strawberry ice cream, gulping it down as fast as I could to rid myself of that sickening scent of sweet rotting garbage (which is exactly what bananas taste like to me).

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I can’t remember a time when I didn’t intensely dislike bananas. There was a brief period when my grandma, meaning well, told me that I had to eat them for potassium, so I would begrudgingly swallow one down for show before running away and hiding, heaven forbid anyone followed me waving another five to be eaten.… Read more

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WHOA! or, How to Bake Letters into a Cake

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Every once in a while, I get to do something really cool and wacky and crazy that makes me feel like a legitimate food blogger (not that we were ever calling that fact into question, but I basically question its legitimacy all the time). Today I’m going to teach you how to bake letters into a cake, though–and I am SO excited to be sharing this fun creation with you guys today!

(I totally apologize in advance for the lack of process photos, by the way: this cake took me 6 hours to test and make–by the time I finished, it was already 2 AM! I’ve included a few, ahem, Snapchat photos that I downloaded at the end of this post, for reference.)

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Have you ever seen photos of cute things baked into other equally cute things? Like this heart baked into a cupcake, or oh my gosh I just Googled the phrase “baked into a cake” and this photo of three whole pies baked into a cake just came up and I kind of want to smoosh my face right into the screen!

Well, a couple of weeks ago I decided it would be a great idea to bake an entire word into a cake. I tried searching for a clear tutorial on how to do this, but ended up having to sort of cobble together my own version of how to accomplish this. One thing to note about this cake is that while it’s a bit of a pain to make, the WOW factor when I sliced in for the big reveal was massive. I’m talking mind-blowing, promotion-garnering levels of impressiveness here!

Other things to note about this cake before you start:

  • Your word will only be “presentable” on one side of the cake, i.e. the letters will appear backwards if sliced along the wrong long side.
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Checkered Red & Blue Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Happy July 4th weekend to my folks in the States! For those of you who aren’t: howdy, and I hope you’re all enjoying the sudden onslaught of all things Red, White, and Blue that’s slamming your feed this week <3 guilty as charged.

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Growing up, I was never a huge fan of July 4th. As a non-meat-eating A/C comfort kind of gal, I just couldn’t see the appeal of a holiday where a) grilled meat popped up EVERYWHERE you turned, b) any and all outdoor activities promised to end in sticky, stinky sweat-bomb baths, and c) national levels of machismo bravado exploded by about tenfold.

And then I became a food blogger, and all of that changed overnight. Suddenly the choruses of the national anthem bellowed proudly overhead as I experimented with 4th of July-themed desserts; all around me, explosions of raspberries and blueberries on white cakes conspired to convert me to the grand old holiday. And hey, I ended up making this Checkered Red & Blue Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting for my team this week, so who’s to say it didn’t work, right?

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Ever since my dormmate told me what a checkered cake was in college, I’ve wanted to make one, and this year I thought July 4th was as good an excuse as any for the occasion. While the presentation could use some work, I was blown away by just how easy the process was once I decided to actually follow some instructions. On top of that, the red & blue velvet cake recipe I use here was hands down AMAZING: moist, rich, deep, and completely balanced by the sweet cream cheese frosting I slathered all around it. Trust me, it’s NOT just a chocolate cake or buttermilk cake with food coloring in it: it is so.… Read more

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