These bakery-style pumpkin cupcakes remind me of all the fresh pastries I saw on display in Parisienne bakeries when I visited France this past summer. This recipe features a moist crumb and warm spices that serve as the perfect foil for a tangy cream cheese frosting. (You can catch up on my latest Europe travel stories & recipes here and here.)
While the pumpkin cupcakes that I’m sharing today are by no means Parisienne, making them transported me back instantly to the days that I spent in the heart of France at the end of July. Freshly-baked pastries filled every patisserie window that we passed: Shelves groaned under the weight of baguettes, macarons, petit fours, eclairs, and sometimes–yes–beautiful cupcakes of more assortments than I could dream up. We spent hours roaming the city this way, munching our way through the beautiful streets of Paris and bathing ourselves in an air that seemed soaked in the smell of fresh gateau.
I say “we” because even though I’d planned to explore Paris on my own, I was lucky enough to make a new friend (are you sensing a trend here yet? haha) on the front steps of Notre Dame during my first day in the city. Felipe and I met in a cathedral line that seemed to stretch for miles: Unsure whether I was in the right place, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he spoke English. Turned out that he did–and not only that, but he was traveling solo as well! As the line moved, we started chatting and he told me how he came from Mexico originally but was currently staying in Barcelona for research; it was one of his last weekends in Europe and he decided to visit Paris just for the day before heading back.… Read more
My friends and former co-workers have all declared this Chocolate Oreo Cake one of THE best cakes of all time. Made with a fail-proof, rich chocolate cake recipe and featuring an unbelievably delicious cream cheese Oreo frosting, this gorgeous dessert will become an instant hit for any occasion!
I am SO excited to share this Chocolate Oreo Cake recipe with all of you that I can’t even pester y’all with travel planning updates today. (Gasp–respite from my travel fever blabber, you say? I KNOW!)
This one-of-a-kind recipe features all of the hard hitters that you never knew you needed in a cake: an Oreo-crumb-infused layer of cream cheese frosting sandwiched between the most gloriously moist, fluffy layers of chocolate cake ever invented by mankind! (While I’m pretty sure that mankind is the only species to have invented chocolate cake, I am so irrationally smitten by this particular recipe–which I also feature in my beloved Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting–that no hyperbolic statement seems to do it enough justice.)
The cake: I can’t praise this chocolate cake recipe high enough to the skies! It’s fluffy, rich, slightly smoky (with undertones of espresso/coffee), and pretty much failproof. It’s also my favorite chocolate cake recipe to date: I ended up making four variations on this recipe in just one week!
The frosting: Imagine your taste buds wading in a cream cheese pool of tangy, slightly sweet frosting that’s been bathed in Oreo crumbs. The result is an explosion of cookies ‘n cream-esque flavors–perfect for offsetting the rich chocolatey goodness of your cake.
The verdict: Hands-down one of the best-received cakes that I have ever made, period. I brought this decadent cake in for a surprise birthday/farewell party at the old workplace and received so many compliments on it that I was nearly hammered down through the floor with them.… Read more
These miniature bourbon cakes are a boozy dessert lover’s paradise! With a fluffy yellow cake base, these mini morsels are soaked in a bourbon sugar glaze that’s bursting with flavor. Perfect for enjoying alongside a cup of tea (or hey, more booze!).
What could be more British than a bit of boozy cake at teatime?
Okay, to be fair–I don’t really know if bourbon + afternoon tea is really a thing across the pond. It sounded like such a romantic, proper excuse for encouraging daytime alcohol consumption that I’m pairing today’s recipe with a nice English breakfast tea regardless. But feel free to enjoy these adorable mini bourbon cakes any way (and any time of day) you’d like–I won’t judge, I promise!
As Europe trip planning continues, I’m getting more mileage than ever out of this cute sky blue Cath Kidston tea towel, which I bought last year at London Heathrow airport. My list of things to do in each city is also expanding like crazy: from the British Library and Ashdown Forest to the Dublin Trinity College libraries and the Norwegian islands, I’m starting to feel like five weeks won’t be nearly enough to see everything! Still, I’m excited to be spending time with so many different friends in a round dozen countries and simply can’t wait to embark soon.
In the meantime, though, I’m dreaming of these miniature bourbon cakes! I started with a yellow cake recipe similar to the one that I used in my favorite rum cake recipe, then poked some holes in each little dessert and drenched it all in a killer bourbon-sugar glaze. The result is a slightly crystallized exterior and a perfectly fluffy, boozy interior in each bundt cake: everyone who tried it agreed that it was a home run hit! If you’re looking to add a bit of booze to your next teatime, morning snack, or posh gathering, definitely keep this recipe on the books.… Read more
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!
“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!)
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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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?
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
I know that I’ve been gone for forever, but before I apologize, I have BIG NEWS to share with all of you that I think you’ll love…
Guys, I’M DONE WITH MY PhD!!!
It’s hard to even begin describing these crazy past three months. Back in February, I still had a full chapter, an introduction, and a conclusion to write–not to mention tons of revisions to wrap up and a lot of theoretical reframing to slough through. (In other words: LOTS to do!) Days were spent hunkering down in my woman-cave, a bowl of half-eaten instant ramen on one side and a steaming pit of deep despair on the other. My friends and fam–bless their souls–were absolute troopers during these whirlwind months, bringing the party to me when I couldn’t go out on a Friday night and surprising me by stocking my pantry with essentials whenever I forgot to eat. I could go on and on here about how these amazing folks saved my sanity, but I’m dedicating an entire post to that later (so stay tuned!).
Speaking of sanity, it has been in short supply for the past six years a few months now, because a lot has been happening apart from pursuing this prodigal PhD! Since February, I have:
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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.
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 ever, but 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
This week more than ever, we all need a little magic in our lives. I’ll be the first to admit that while writing and talking with friends has helped me process last week’s election results, the tension and atmosphere on campus, coupled with the flood of frankly terrifying news this week, have led to more than one late-night baking session on my part this week.
But kindness begets good, and that’s how I ended up in my kitchen making this Vanilla Souffle Custard Cake at 2 AM one night. I first stumbled across the recipe at Jo Cooks, where the promise of cake, custard, and souffle all wrapped up in one snuggly pan reached out through the screen to me. The name magic cake comes from the fact that even though the dessert consists of three clearly defined layers, it only requires one batter: magic!
I’m making this cake again for both Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving this year–and if you’re a blogger, you know that repeating a recipe just because it’s so darn delicious is kinda a BIG deal. (I’m also making and sharing a CHOCOLATE version of this magic cake next week: stay tuned!) My favorite part of this dessert is the contrast in textures: the creamy, custard-y filling in the middle offers the perfect foil for an airy, light souffle layer that simply melts in your mouth. Just make sure when you make this not to completely fold in or whisk away the egg whites: the lightness of those whites, coupled with the denseness of the rest of the batter, is the key factor that will turn an ordinary cake into a magical three-layer cake (with minimal effort)!
Sending best wishes to my friends all across this country and the world round. May your Thanksgivings and holiday season be filled with love, laughter, and lots of magic cake!… Read more
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