Tag Archives: baked goods

Chocolate Layer Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

This chocolate layer cake with peanut butter frosting is THE perfect birthday cake. Made with my favorite moist, rich chocolate cake and a fluffy peanut butter frosting, this cake is the perfect way to celebrate the chocolate-PB lover in your life!

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“Oh my god, it’s like I’m eating a PEANUT BUTTER DREAM!!!”

These were the words that exploded from one of my best friends’ mouths the moment she took a bite of this chocolate cake last week. Ten of us were crammed into my small apartment, forks at the ready and bodies half-sprawled all across my bed, couch, and carpet. We had gathered for a surprise birthday/farewell party for the screaming friend, who celebrated her 24th birthday on July 5th and would be leaving us for good the Monday preceding that milestone. Needless to say, she was more than pleased at our unexpected last-minute bonanza!

(This is a picture of her eating cake with chopsticks below. Meet Mops, everyone!)

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E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web (1952), once wrote of an unlikely fictional friendship: “Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” I think of this quote often–and not only because I happened to dedicate an entire chapter of my dissertation to this writer.

Over the past two years, I have been so lucky to cultivate the friendship of someone who is not only a true friend and an amazing writer (if you could only read this gal’s crazy stories!), but one of the most trusting, genuine, enthusiastic, and supportive people I know. She inspires me every single day to become a better version of myself, and we are going to miss her dearly now that she’s off to bigger and better adventures in India, England, and all around the world!… Read more

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Deep-Fried Cheesecake Bites

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

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Boy, what a week! End-of-year dinners, graduations, and hangouts have been happening non-stop since last Monday, though it hardly feels like six years have flown by since I first stepped foot into grad school. (More about that in next week’s post!) I also made the journey down to Anaheim to cover some live events at VidCon–and finally made my 90s kid self’s dreams come true by getting slimed at the Nickelodeon booth! In the midst of all the hubbub, though, I’m happy to report that my family has found the time to visit and soak up some real SoCal sunshine with me. You can tell that summer is in full swing here: we can barely stand outside for five minutes without finding ourselves completely drenched in sweat!

From the beach pier where we walked last week, we could smell the aroma of freshly fried foods wafting across the boardwalk, and I was momentarily transported back to our family’s summer travel days. County fairs have always held a special place in my heart–every time we visited a new state on some road trip or another, we would visit the local fairs and try out all of the unique fried foods tantalizing us at each booth. Any fellow funnel cake fans out there? ;)

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In the spirit of summer, this week I decided to try my hand at deep-frying something right from the comfort of our own kitchen. Of course, deep-frying can make even the most unpalatable foods taste amazing (have you TRIED deep-fried pickles?), but what happens when you make great life choices and deep-fry something as inherently delicious as cheesecake?

Pure bliss, folks. Utter and edible heavenly bliss!

These Deep-Fried Cheesecake Bites are, without exaggeration, possibly one of my favorite in-kitchen creations to date.… Read more

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XL Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

These bakery-style chocolate chip cookies are perfectly chewy in the middle, crispy around the edges, and filled with delicious semi-sweet chocolate morsels. Extra-large and certainly as good as–if not better than–the cookies you’d find in your neighborhood bakery!

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Like any good baker, I have been on a perennial quest to discover the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe out there.

I’ve shared these perfect pudding chocolate chip cookies and my self-proclaimed favorite thick, chewy chocolate chip cookies, but I have yet to meet a cookie that fits the “bakery-style” bill quite as well as these do. Crispy edges, perfectly chewy centers, and chock-full of chocolate morsels: these cookies are bound to leave your friends stunned and begging for more! My swim coach’s wife apparently devoured seven before my coach even managed to snag a bite, and I’ve been delivering the rest to the entire department as thank-you gifts for putting up with me throughout these past few years.

Oh, and even my mom ate them. She actually ate several of them in one sitting without a single comment, which is basically the highest seal of approval that you can receive from an Asian parent.

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Between intermittent spurts of baking and work, I’ve been celebrating post-graduation life with–wait for it–one round of strep throat and another hearty bout of bronchitis/costochondritis! Hooray! I’d planned to post more frequently the moment I walked across the graduation stage (more on that exciting news next week), but I’m currently on my second round of antibiotics and hoping that this time they’ll actually do the trick. My right ribcage feels like it’s about to explode with all of the coughing and vomiting that have become my besotted bedside fellows over the past three weeks!

Sending all my love and a healthy dozen of these perfect, extra-large bakery-style chocolate chip cookies your way this week!… Read more

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English Sticky Toffee Pudding

GUYS, I HAVE EXCITING NEWS!!!!! Can you guess what it is?

- Hint: there’s an important clue hidden in the post title! – 

No? Still no takers?

Then scroll scroll scrollllllll…

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IT’S OFFICIAL: I’m going to Europe again!!!

I’ve been bursting to share this news for months now, but since I didn’t buy my plane tickets until a few weeks ago I didn’t want to tempt the Fates and jinx anything. Now that all of us are officially squared away, though, I’m super stoked to tell that for about five weeks after graduation, I’m going to Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, and some place TBA (but equally exciting)!

You might remember that I spent three weeks last August traveling around Europe, staying with friends and visiting local sites in the UK, Ireland, and Italy. We hit a few snags along the way, but mostly I had an amazing time and couldn’t stop raving about it for months afterward (no more than I could stop making travel-inspired recipes!). This time, at the top of my bucket list will be the Harry Potter Leavesdon Studios, the Writers Corner at Westminster Abbey (where Chaucer, Kipling, Irving, Hardy, and others are buried), Stonehenge, a trip around the Scottish Highlands, and “les chauteaux en Espagne” that they commemorate in this song from one of my favorite French films, Les Choristes.

(Of course, the list will keep growing as we finalize our plans, but I must have missed something so please send recommendations our way!)

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In the meantime, I have been controlling myself just barely by making celebratory treats from some of the places I’m going to visit! First up is this English Sticky Toffee Pudding, a class British dessert featuring a warm, treacle-infused cake with a decadent toffee sauce poured all over it. I had only ever tried this dessert at Universal Studio’s Harry Potter land when we visited last year, but we immediately fell in love and I just knew that I had to recreate it at home.… Read more

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Slice-and-Bake Heart Sugar Cookies: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day (on a Budget You’ll Love!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Doingthe99 #99YourValentinesDay #CollectiveBias

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Love is in the air–and so is the aroma of these adorable slice-and-bake heart sugar cookies!

Last weekend, about 20 of us squished into my tiny apartment to eat dinner and bake Valentine’s Day cookies together. Since we needed a lot of dough (but had very little to spare from our wallets), I nipped over to 99 Cents Only to pick up flour, sugar, and all that jazz that I needed that night for our baking/dinner party! They have my favorite name brands at student-friendly prices, so shopping there really is a one-stop shop kind of deal for lucky me ;)

While I was there, though, I also found these super cute V-day cards (for under a dollar! Whoo!) and just couldn’t resist snatching up a few for my friends. Guess you never know what you’ll find when you shop at the 99, eh? I’ll be writing them next week, so if you’re lucky one might just be headed your way soon!

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The best part of this whole experience–shopping at the 99, making messy heart shapes out of red cookie dough and wrapping them in even more sugar cookie dough, and eating merrily at my place–was just spending time with some of my favorite people in the world. Best of all, since these dough logs needed to be chilled overnight before baking, we had an impromptu picnic the following Wednesday to enjoy the fruits (or hearts) of our labor!

So as you can see, this V-Day I have tons to celebrate: friends, cookies, and just about everything I need at unbeatable prices for a day filled with love. Wishing all of you the very same! (Hint: making these adorable cookies for loved ones are a great start–learn how to make your own in the recipe below!)

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 With love,

Ala

Slice-and-Bake Heart Sugar Cookies: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day (on a Budget You’ll Love!)

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These adorable slice-and-bake heart sugar cookies are the perfect gift for someone special on Valentine's Day!

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Creamy Caramel Flan

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Happy new year! Can I interest you in this creamy caramel flan?

While others are making big resolutions for 2017, I’ve been happily whiling away my hours in my fuzziest pair of snowflake pajamas and scarfing down the last of the shortbread cookies that I bought from Scotland. And making flan, apparently. I guess my resolution is to undo all of my hard fitness work from last year completely (for various reasons, I also haven’t been to the gym in a month). Hooray!

Just kidding. While I’m not a big fan of making lists based on Earth’s revolution around the sun, I do love the idea of new beginnings. So my five biggest goals this year are: to graduate with my PhD (!!!), travel like a crazy boss after I do, get a spanking awesome job that makes me happy (but hopefully also pays the bill), publish something, and give this blog an awesome facelift. Oh, and do something completely outside of my comfort zone that I have never, ever ever imagined doing before. So I guess that makes six!

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Since every set of New Year’s resolutions deserves to be commemorated with amazing food–you know, to keep you fueled and focused!–I’m sharing my favorite caramel flan recipe of all time with you. It’s dense, creamy, and rich: think a cross between traditional flan and a really bomb cheesecake. Plus that glossy caramel coating on top is to die for (and super easy to make)!

All you’ll need for this recipe are six ingredients: sugar, cream cheese, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Beat them together (except the sugar, which you’ll be melting to create that caramel), and you’re just a few hours away from your resolution of ETERNAL FLAN-INSPIRED HAPPINESS! Muahahaha.

Because if that’s not on your to-do list this year, we really need to talk about your priorities.… Read more

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Top 10 Recipes of 2016

A few weeks ago, I posted some of my very favorite photos from this year. Now that it’s the last Thursday of 2016, I’m throwing back to some of this year’s most popular and viewed recipes!

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10. Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

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If you secretly make trips to Red Lobster just so you can stuff your with their famous, melt-in-your-mouth buttery Cheddar Bay Biscuits, here’s some good news for the new year: now you can make (and enjoy) them in your own home! (Recipe here.)

9. Slutty Cheesecake Bars

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A thick layer of chocolate chip blondie, rich cheesecake on top, and whole Oreos crammed all throughout give these infamous bars their name. One of the very first recipes that I posted on Wallflour Girl (note the tacky rainbow wrapping paper backdrop) and still one of the most popular after five years! (Recipe here.)

8. Extra-Fudgy Kahlua Brownies with Kahlua Icing

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I’m not a booze kind of girl…usually. But put a plate of these extremely fudgy Kahlua brownies (and maybe a White Russian!) in front of me and they’ll be gone before you can say “boozy.” (Recipe here.)

7. The Very BEST Tiramisu (from America’s Test Kitchen)

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 My shortlist for best recipe sources is, well, short–but I would trust America’s Test Kitchen with my first-born baby. This simple but authentic tiramisu recipe is the best that I’ve ever made and constantly requested at family functions! (Recipe here.)

6. Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Bars

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Here’s an idiot-proof recipe that you can hand off to even the most baking-illiterate of your friends! These one-bowl, dump-and-stir chocolate chip oat bars are healthy, too, making them perfect for kicking off a brand new year. (Recipe here.)

5. Hawaiian Chantilly Layer Cheesecake Cake

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This recipe holds a special place in my heart: inspired by one late-night, post-movie dinner conversation at Lenny’s Deli, my ex shared his fond memories of a dessert known as Chantilly cake.… Read more

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Chocolate Souffle Custard Cake, a.k.a. Chocolate Magic Cake

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So remember how last week I wouldn’t shut up about this Vanilla Souffle Custard Cake (a.k.a. “Magic Cake”) that I made, and then some of you tried making it right away and it was a total hit?

This week I made the chocolate version (AGAIN–yes, this is a repeat recipe, it’s that friggin’ good) and nobody else who tried it will shut up about it, either. So really, I’m just the messenger here, and all chocolate lovers in your life will thank you for it. Cue the Chocolate Souffle Custard Cake choirs!

For those of you who are wondering why this recipe is called “Chocolate Magic Cake,” let me sum it up for you: one simple batter -> pan -> magic happens in oven -> three-layered dessert. Cake on the bottom, creamy chocolate custard in the middle, and a pillowy chocolate souffle on top! If that isn’t science magic, I really don’t know what is.

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This Chocolate Magic Cake, which I also adapted from the wonderful Jo Cooks, holds a particularly dear spot in my recipe file. The first time I made it, I shared it at a friend’s farewell party before she left the States and headed home for Spain. The second time was this past weekend, when a huge group of us gathered for a Friendsgiving party filled with dance battles, a wooden table groaning under dessert dishes, and one very boozed-up Mannequin challenge. And now I’m making it for our Thanksgiving family dinner, alongside the original Magic Cake that will forevermore remain in my top 10 favorite desserts.

What makes each of these experiences so beautiful for me (besides the obvious fact that they involve a chocolate dessert!) are the incredibly mixed feelings of love that I associate with them. I miss the old days when I would bake the same recipe over and over again because it was a significant other’s or close friend’s favorite dessert everbut sharing this single cake with so many amazing people in my life recently has been a whole new kind of blessing: it has been a reminder to me that as we grow older, we continue to love in new and even bigger ways than we ever imagined possible when we were young.… Read more

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Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

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There are no “foodies” in Italy–there’s simply food. As I quickly learned during my week-long stay in Putignano, food is a way of life, not simply a packaged bar of high fructose corn syrup that you snatch while dashing out the door for work. While food has always been a central part of my Chinese family and culture–think lazy Susan’s groaning under the weight of 15 or 20 dishes, chopstick wars over the last piece of fried tofu, literal battles between relatives over who is going to pay the bill–being in Italy felt like landing on an entirely different food planet altogether: one made of family friends, 10 o’clock dinners, and lots–I mean LOTS–of cheese.

Aside from enjoying homemade meals with Alessio’s family, I was invited to taste (quite literally) a whole sampling platter of Italian dining experiences throughout the week. One of my favorite meals happened on my second night in Putignano, when we drove over to the countryside home of one of their family friends for a pizza party. No, not a pizza party of 90’s Chuck E. Cheese glory–we’re talking 2 kilos of homemade pizza dough, dozens of fresh meats and vegetables, authentic brick oven right on the patio, the whole shebang. Better yet, we went through something like six courses (a crust “test run,” individual pizzas, dessert pizza with Nutella, gelato, fruit, and cake), so that by the end of the night I thought my stomach was going to burst straight through the too-snug button on my jeans. Seated along a long table that seated all 15 or 16 of us, everyone seemed content to sit and eat and chat as the early evening faded into evening proper, then late night. The pace of Italian life during the summer offers an incredible contrast to the hustle & bustle of American day-to-day, and as someone who spends half of her solo meals typing away at the computer, it was amazing to be granted this glimpse into a truly mindful culture of eating.… Read more

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One-Pot Chocolate Guinness Cake with Chocolate & Cream Cheese Frosting

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I can’t talk about my time in Ireland without talking about Guinness. I might as well have eaten at a Michelin-star seafood restaurant and told you all about the bread basket.

According to the friend I was visiting in Cork, there are two things you cannot visit Ireland without trying: the chocolate, and the stout. Now, I was all for the chocolate (obviously), but Guinness? Beer? Stout? Hops? Imperial pints in the UK/Ireland are huge and I had never drunk so much as a can of beer before visiting Europe (the taste of beer reminds me of that nasty Chinese herbal medicine we used to drink as kids), so I felt a bit nervous about what I’d do when faced with a whole glass of that dark, intimidating liquid. All the same, I certainly hadn’t come halfway across the world to sip on sparkling water–so when Alex proposed that we go out for a couple of rounds at the local pubs, I was ready to give Guinness my best shot.

Verdict: Turns out, I am actually a fan of the well-poured Guinness! Alex explained the process to me while we waited for our bartender to finish pouring,* then we found seats outside and enjoyed the live music wafting through the town streets while we sipped on glasses that were nearly overflowing with creamy white head. We later met up with a group of his school and university friends, who were probably the friendliest folks in the northern hemisphere and made me feel absolutely welcome. Of course, the second pint of Guinness probably helped! Best of all, Alex and I got home the first night at 1 AM, poured ourselves some cereal with milk, and watched Louis Theroux documentaries into the wee hours of the morning before we were too tired to stay up any longer.… Read more

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