Tag Archives: coffee

Gingerbread Biscoff Coffee Cupcakes

Congrats to Kathlene and Ivy for winning two AWESOME personalized care packages in last week’s giveaway! I can’t wait to create an epic assortment of goodies for you both!

I really dislike chocolate cupcakes.

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Wait, say what?

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It’s funny how we all define the good things in life so differently. Back when kids used to bring boxes of assorted cupcakes to celebrate their birthday, I loved to ogle (okay, creepy) and watch each student make the all-important decision of which type of cupcake to take–chocolate with vanilla frosting? Continue reading


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

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,



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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)

  • 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*


  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


  • 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


  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)


  • 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


  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.



  • 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


  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!


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Crunchy Cookie Butter Espresso Granola

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If life milestones were potluck dishes, moving would be a crusty dry loaf of fruitcake. I’m sure somebody out there appreciates fruitcake, and likewise I’m sure somebody loves the nonstop hubbub of moving residences. That person is not me. Especially not Studying Me, which tolerates everything at a 50% lower threshold than Normal, Socialized Me.

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In case you missed it previously, here’s the rundown: Studying Me is extremely grateful to her parents, who basically magicked her entire store of belongings into her new apartment this weekend while she guiltily (I mean, really guiltily) shuffled her feet and finished speed-reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Studying Me also LOVES the new place, which has a kitchen that takes up 40% of the apartment and contains 75% of all my belongings. But Studying Me is currently typing this blog post on an unhappy stomach full of emoteating (read: emotionally-induced eating) because apparently she doesn’t cope well with stress, separation, and studying all in one fell swoop. So it’s been 12 whole hours and I’m short half a jar of peanut butter already.

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Three hours after leaving, my mom called and asked me how I was doing, and if I was making brownies already. I was not. I was too busy emoteating, writing this post, and wishing really hard for this granola to pop out of my screen a la Willy Wonka’s Television Chocolate Room to make the damn brownies. #yeahwhatjusthappened

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Studying Me and Normal Me both love this brand new, bold King of Crunchiness cookie butter and espresso-flavored granola I invented in my pre-move procrastination. It is insanely crunchy, coffee-y, cookie-y. It is also based on–and probably rivals–the Honey Bunches of Oats Copy-Better Recipe that all of you loved and repinned like mad last year. It’s the perfect breakfast-on-the-go food in a smokier, sexier, adult-ier kind of way. Not that I know anything about what being adult-ier entails, since I am currently sitting on the floor of my next-to-bare apartment floor and lolling next to my laptop with as much motivation to do anything as a tranquilized rhinoceros might have.

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You can use your imagination to figure out what that even means. Or you could put your time to better use and print this awesome recipe, make it, and send it to

Yours truly, and slightly deranged, but surely in her right mind taste buds,


P.S. If you’ve noticed an onslaught of “Start the New Year Right” and Skinny Recipes for 2014! collections on your news feed lately: Never fear, I’m ready to ruin that for all of you with some fabulously buttered-up sweets in my next few posts. Cheerios!

Crunchy Cookie Butter Espresso Granola
  • 3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup almonds or preferred nut, chopped
  • 1/3 cup black sesame seeds (optional)
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple or pancake syrup
  • 1/4 cup cookie butter (homemade or store-bought)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or whatever large size baking pan you have available–enough to fit 3 1/2 cups of oats in an even layer no more than two inches thick). Pour oats, chopped nuts, and black sesame seeds (if you have them) into prepared pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat brown sugar and brewed coffee until it just begins to boil. Turn off heat, then stir in oil, syrup, cookie butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over oats mixture and stir until all of the oats are evenly coated. Pat oats evenly into bottom of pan so that the layer is no more than two inches thick. (This will help your granola achieve optimal crispiness!)
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes), or until toasted and a dark golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan before crumbling. Store in an airtight container.

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Will Cook For Smiles

link party


Filed under Breakfast & Brunch, Snacks

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.)
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#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

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^ 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?)
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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.
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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


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.
  • 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)


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.


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

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.

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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?


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

Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!What's Cooking Love?4

Monday Morning Mocha ‘n Chocolate Cheesecakes
Yield: 12 mini cheesecakes
  • 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


  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!


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

Kahlua Espresso Cookies and a Special (Birthday) Giveaway on Facebook!

So before I get to these amazing boozed-up birthday cookies, I have an exciting announcement to make. No, Trader Joe’s didn’t sell me the rights to their amazing cookie butter, but it’s nearly as good.

 I’m celebrating my birthday this year with the launch of my very own Facebook page AND MY FIRST GIVEAWAY! (Read on for details, mateys.)

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With my blog’s Pinterest board racking up some major repins these days (check it out!), it felt like the vine-ripened time for a Facebook page where I can keep ALL of my readers connected. You can explore the brand new page here.

More importantly: Have you seen a photo on my blog (or any other food blog!) and wanted to take a huge bite–right out of your screen?

If so, today is your lucky day! As a bonus celebration, I will be running a From My Kitchen To Yours Giveaway, where you will have the chance to win one of TWO packages of fresh baked goodies straight from my at-home bakery–just like you see here!

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Because please: tell me we’re looking at the same photos here. You know you’ll want to get in on this.


1.  Log into your Facebook account. Visit my brand new shiny Facebook page and click “Like.”

2. Leave a comment on the most recent post titled “GIVEAWAY” with your favorite type of dessert.

That’s it. You’re entered to win! 

Giveaway details: One entry per Facebook user. Must have a valid, active Facebook account with messaging-capabilities to enter. 2 winners will be selected using an online third-party random selection generator. Winner will receive one small-size flat rate USPS standard box of fresh baked goods. Participants must live within the continental U.S. and be willing to provide a valid mailing address. Giveaway ends on Sunday, August 18th at 11:59 PM. Winners have 7 days from the time they receive notice of their win to respond; otherwise, another winner will be selected. Note: Fresh baked goods that accommodate your specific dietary needs will be included in the giveaway. However, as with any perishable and homemade food product, please keep in mind that I cannot be held responsible for any unspecified food-related allergies, illnesses, and/or other consequences that may occur as a result of this giveaway. Not that we anticipate any problems :) 

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(On My Kitchen Table: The Last Man, by Mary Shelley.)

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This is my first giveaway and I’m very excited to see all of the familiar–and new–faces over on Facebook! I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that technology doesn’t get the best of me since it is my first time…but we should be fine. ;) For those of you who don’t use Facebook–sorry, this is a Facebook giveaway. However, look out for similar giveaways related to this blog soon. And of course, don’t forget to tell your friends (hey, if THEY win, you still get a share of the profits, right?)!

See you on the dark–er, Facebook side. (We do have cookies!)


Sweet and Savoury Sunday

Kahlua Espresso Cookies
Adapted from Recipegirl (Have you heard of her? She’s great!)
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon espresso powder (OR up to 2-3 tbsp instant coffee granules)
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Dissolve espresso or coffee granules in Kahlua in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and Kahlua mixture (you may sub MORE Kahlua for vanilla extract if you want a stronger Kahlua flavor). Stir in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until just set. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet for at least 10 minutes (the cookies will continue to cook during this stage). Transfer cookies to wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway on Facebook!



Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cookies

Extra-Fudgy Kahlua Brownies with Kahlua Icing

Ever have one of those years, or let’s be honest, decades days where you sit down at your computer, grab your mouse…then stare at your screen and realize you don’t have the slightest idea what you’re supposed to be doing?

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Yes. Hi. We should have cookies and milk together sometime, because I’m really not sure what I’m doing here at the moment. Aside from eating these really killer Kahlua brownies, that is (because really, what better way to get in your booze fix and still look like a respectable human being than through a forkful of chocolate?).

Sorry if this sounds completely scatterbrained. It is. I haven’t had full use of my brain cells since maybe the summer solstice, though I’m sure the two events are unrelated.

Or at least, I’m pretty sure. 85% sure.

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Anyway, the point today was that I came up to my computer (I work at a standing desk) and it took me a full 37 seconds to realize two things:

1. I’d left my SD card at work, where I was taking funny photos of our department members for our website, and

2. Not having my pictures on hand, I completely forgot what recipe I was supposed to post. Think black hole status. Szchooop. (That’s the sound of a black hole doing black holey…stuff.) Nada.


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On my kitchen table: The Italian (1797), by Ann Radcliffe. Hailed as a forerunner of the gothic novel genre! (And you can even see my awesome tropical hammock study spot, hehe.)

That being said, it took me one trip to the kitchen and lots of decadent bites into probably the best fudgy boozed-up brownie I’ve ever made to remember. And then some extra bites for good measure. Just in case I, you know, almost forget again. I’m all about preventative measures, people. (Studying for grad school is tough work–notice a trend with the Kahlua from last week’s amazing mocha cheesecake bars?)

 In other news, I’m making progress in my Productibaking for Part I’s (i.e. qualifying exams)  and admittedly unable to keep my oven on at the same pace as my reading, which I suppose is a good thing. However, if anyone would like to volunteer to edit my photos, write my blog posts for me, and spread them to all your BFFL’s and Tastespotting and Foodgawker and linky parties, I would be a very productive baker, I’m sure.

Again, 85%. And I’m also accepting Time-turners in lieu of labor hours.

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On that note, for those of you with food blogs, I’m truly sorry that I haven’t been able to keep up with most of them lately. My reading load really can’t justify more than about 5 seconds of actual procrastination every day (which usually involves blinking really long five times before getting back to work), so I’ll be kind of AWOL from blog-reading until I finish studying (hopefully) in November.

That being said…I also wanted to let you know that I also truly appreciate all of you who continue to drop by and take the time to leave your kind wishes! Studying is tough, and attempting to study while working one full-time and another part-time is taking some adjustment. But seriously, if I didn’t love every moment of what I did, I wouldn’t be enjoying this summer as much as I already am!

So leave a note if you have time, and in the meantime, take care! You might even go and give these extra fudgy, boozed-up coffee-flavored brownies a try while you have the time. I trust we’ll see each other soon enough.

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Back to the books–and hopefully, back to the oven soon. I’ll be posting a recipe for these amaayyyzing cookie butter snickerdoodles soon, so look forward to it. Cheerios!


Extra-Fudgy Kahlua Brownies
Slightly adapted from Recipegirl
Yield: 9×9-inch baking pan
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup Kahlua (or other coffee-flavored liqueur), divided
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×9-inch baking pan with lightly greased foil and set aside.
  2. Place butter and chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high at 20-second intervals, stirring between each interval until chocolate and butter are completely melted, and smooth. Set aside and allow to cool while proceeding to next step.
  3. Beat together brown sugar and eggs. Stir in 1/2 cup Kahlua. Mix in chocolate mixture until completely smooth.
  4. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt, until just incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with only a few crumbs clinging to it. Remove brownies from oven and prick all over with toothpick. Immediately brush with (up to) 1/4 cup Kahlua–because really, who doesn’t want more Kahlua?
  6. Frost with Kahlua frosting (below) if desired. And really, you shouldn’t deny that desire (when should you ever?), because it’s really, really good.

Kahlua Icing


  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened to the point of almost melting (a bit warmer than room temperature)
  • 3 tablespoons Kahlua
  • 2 1/2 cups (approximately) powdered sugar


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together butter and Kahlua. Beat in powdered sugar, adding more or less as necessary for a frosting that is thick enough to spread and hold its shape. Frost on Kahlua brownies–or anything that needs boozing up.


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates

Mocha Cookie Cheesecake Bars

Hi! Consider this an interim post. But let me explain before I get ahead of myself.

Remember my productibaking post that was meant to motivate me for my upcoming qualifying exams?

Two things:

1) Productibaking is working really, really well as a  motivational concept.

2) The actual baking, photography, and blogging–not so bueno.

Mocha Cookie Cheesecake Bars 2--070613

Here’s the update: In addition to hitting the books full-time this summer in preparation for my oral exams this fall, for which I need to know 120+ books’/works’ worth of material, I’m working a completely, honest-to-goodness full-time internship. Hallelujah to those of you crazy (and awesome!) working-world people who have decided to go back to school. Seriously, it’s a full-time gig!

As if I didn’t already possess a keen death wish (as my friends call it) in attempting to finish about a book a day for the next 4 months, I’ve somehow ended up taking on a second internship. I’m currently learning about marketing, SEO’s, and the wonderful world of corporate advertising America.

Uh. Yeah. Brilliant idea?

Let me get back to you on that one.

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On my kitchen table: Frankenstein (1818 edition, not the 1831 one!), Mary Shelley’s renowned novel about a monster and a scientist with too much ambition for his own good. Oh, and of course the creepy line, “I will be with you on your wedding-night”…

So after waking up at 6, hitting the gym, running back home to take a shower, heading to work at 9, work work working like a soldier ant until 6, finishing up work for my part-time internship, maybe eating dinner at a reasonable hour, and then trying to finish an entire book in one night until I finally keel over like a beached whale on my mattress around 1 AM–

Yeah. A little less time for baking, lately.

Fortunately, when I do bake these days, it’s an especial treat. And I’m still trying to keep up with my posting (although it might just be vaguely jumbled productibaking posts and grumbles until November). It’s also just a bit difficult trying to bake in between study sprints when your parents keep demanding why you waste time at the oven while you’re supposed to be studying and you sort of have to keep your patience with them because, you know, they’re housing and feeding you.

Okay, end ramble.

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In the meantime, though, I did manage to turn out these really quite wonderful mocha cheesecake bars (despite my mom breathing down my neck every 5 seconds or so) and would love to hear from all of you! Because, as you might have figured, I’m kind of in my little qualifying exam hiding hole for the next 5 months. With a little (or huge) stash of sugary snacks in the corner. Maybe it’s a good thing I can’t find as much time to bake, after all.

Happy readings, and happy eatings!


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

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Mocha Cookie Cheesecake Bars
Yield: 9×9-inch baking pan
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua (substitute with any coffee liqueur or strong brewed coffee as desired)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • For the cheesecake:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua (substitute with any coffee liqueur or strong brewed coffee as desired)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together melted butter and brown sugar. Add lightly beaten egg and 1 tablespoon Kahlua; beat well. Add remaining dry ingredients for cookie layer (except chocolate chips) and mix in until just incorporated. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spread cookie batter evenly into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes, until slightly firm but still underbaked. While your batter is baking, prepare cheesecake layer.
  4. Cheesecake layer: Cream softened cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in white sugar vigorously until entire cream cheese is light. Add egg and 1 tablespoon Kahlua; mix until smooth.
  5. When cookie layer is finished baking, pour cheesecake layer immediately over it and return entire pan to oven. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until cheesecake jiggles only slightly and the edges become a light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. (I placed mine in the refrigerator for about an hour after the pan cooled to room temperature.)
  6. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy!


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cheesecakes, Cookies

Cheesecake-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes w/Coffee Cinnamon Frosting

It’s still Thursday already Friday somewhere in the world! Thank God.

I may or may not have been blasting some Rebecca Black as I started a new page for this post.

One of the best parts of having an entire two-room bedroom apartment to yourself is that anything goes the moment your pinky toe crosses that blessed threshold.

Rocking out to One Direction and Carly Rae Jepsen into the weest of the wee hours? Of course.

Staying up all night at Disney movie marathon sleepovers that would make fifth-grade girls emerald with envy? Uh, yeah.

Dunking your entire hand into the bowl of cake batter instead of reaching for a mixing spoon because it’s in a drawer that’s ten whole feet away from you? Now we’re talking, my friend.

Lounging on your couch like a boss on a Thursday night in nothing but what your momma gave you and with a glass of pinot noir in your well-manicured hand?

Okay, I haven’t tried that last one. Yet. Apparently maintenance has the key to every apartment in this building, meaning they are allowed to come in without so much as a “hello resident-on-whose-territory-we-are-totally-intruding, you should really put your fig leaves over whatever you don’t want exposed to these eyes.”

Of course, by the time I’m finished with this kamikaze quarter of teaching, coursework, and having a social life the size of a pea, I may just throw in (or rather, away) the towel, grab my fig leaves, and start lounging to my heart’s content. With my pinot noir. For which I will accordingly acquire a refined taste that I currently don’t possess.

As with most things that don’t involve legal persecution or intense self-reevaluation of my worth as a human being, I grossly exaggerate here. My social life has actually been moving along quite swimmingly as of late, thank you very much.

I can’t go into any details about it, though

They might be watching reading.

By “they,” I mean the incredibly attractive young men working as incredibly successful entrepreneurs at an incredibly well-established corporation that still manages to hang onto its good ol’ homey American values.

You know, the ones currently residing in…my head.

Or Storybrook, to be more precise.

Yeah, I’ve started watching Once Upon a Time.

It kind of sucks…

…that my life has been summarily sucked up by it.


You know what else sucks?

Not these cupcakes.

We whipped up a batch of these for one of the guys in our department celebrating his birthday this week. If you like a) the idea of a steaming mug of hot chocolate dipped into your morning wake-up call with a hint of autumnal flair, or b) being awesome, you need to try these cupcakes.

(These filled cupcakes were made for Julie’s baking challenge over at Willow Bird Baking–she’s a fantastic gal, so this is something else you should definitely check out if you like, again, being awesome.)

Cheesecake-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes w/Coffee Cinnamon Frosting
Yield: 15 cupcakes
Cupcake recipe adapted from Allrecipes
Self-filled cupcake ingredients:
  • 1  cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cups and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, pour hot water over cocoa and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then add to wet ingredients alternately with cooled cocoa liquid. Mix until all ingredients are all just incorporated and smooth; your mixture will be relatively thin, and this is perfect!
  3. To make cheesecake mix: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add egg, vanilla, and cinnamon; mix until well-incorporated. Set aside.
  4. Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin and fill each liner about 1/3 of the way with batter. Carefully pour a small teaspoonful of cheesecake batter in (recipe below). Pour additional cupcake batter on top until the liner is 2/3 full; the easiest way to make sure your cheesecake batter doesn’t leak is if you pour the cupcake batter over it in one smooth sweep. (A slow pour will give the cheesecake time to ooze outwards.) Bake in preheated oven for 14-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting with coffee cinnamon frosting.

Ingredients for Cinnamon Coffee Frosting:

  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon instant ground coffee, crushed into fine powder (optional)


  1. In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon coffee, and cinnamon. Mix together, then add additional coffee as necessary to thin out your frosting and reach desired consistency. (Adding the crushed instant ground coffee adds additional coffee flavor without thinning out your frosting too much. Add more to taste if you like!)

Note: If you want to add a nice chocolate drizzle to your cupcakes, simply melt 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate with 1 tablespoon butter on the stovetop on medium-low heat. Make sure you watch your chocolate carefully and stir frequently to keep it from burning!


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes