Dealing with life is a piece of cake.

Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

The little things, and bigger cookies.

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Food for thought before food for eating:

Have you ever thought about the possibility that today could be the best day of your life, and that you’ll have no idea until it’s passed?

As a society, I feel like we are all waiting for the “next step.” What happened to being present, living in the moment? It’s quite a humbling concept when you really stop to think about it.

I recently moved to Northern California (those of you who are more familiar with California geography, you might argue that I’m residing in central California – you’re right, smarty-pants). The distance from my origin, Orange County, is as follows:

45 minute plane ride
7 hour drive
146 hour walk
I was just curious, so thanks for the info, Google Maps. But how did they get that number? People walk at varying speeds, strides, etc. What about someone with a limp? Do they factor in sleep? What about eating? Did they hire someone to actually do this so they could provide this ridiculous information? Probably not. Anyway…

Unless I decide to hate myself for a few days, I’m just a hop, skip, and a very short flight away from what used to be my home. But let me tell you, my friends, it’s a whole new world up here. (Go ahead, sing it.)

I won’t go into specifics this time, but the change in environment has helped me open my eyes, and as cheesy as it may sound, my soul.

…hoookay Kate…

No, really!

I’m paying attention to details, subtle nuances, moments. And as a result of my awareness, I am appreciating the little things: How beautiful the trees are in the morning, the smell of crisp Northern California air after it rains, the simplicity of a smile from a stranger. These are the moments I breathe in. These are the moments that matter.

It’s easy to say, “Friday was a good day.” Why? What specifically made Friday good? Perhaps it was because you laughed until your face hurt over coffee with a good friend. Maybe it was because you found a blissful moment of solitude while reading on a rainy day. Or possibly because you spent your Friday night playing card games and drinking whiskey with your boyfriend on your living room floor, and you suddenly felt so much love in your heart that you thought it might burst. (My life is awesome.)

Thinking about thinking made me think, do we miss these beautiful moments because we’re dwelling too much on the past? I believe so.

So as I sit here, venturing back into the blogosphere after an extended hiatus, I have decided to let the past go. No frills, no fluff, no explanation or justification. I’m just going to let it go. (Go ahead, sing that too.) This doesn’t mean that I’m forgetting the past, because I certainly wouldn’t be who I am without those experiences. What it means is that I’m going to accept the moments in the past that are…unfavorable, and continue to appreciate the subtle moments that I’ve under-appreciated for far too long. Let ’em shine!

Okay, sounds good! But what does this have to do with baking?

Excellent question, lovely reader!

Appreciating the subtleties in life can be difficult, you really have to be patient and pay attention.

Appreciating the subtleties in cookies, however, well…yeah it’s kind of hard too.

I received a request from a dashing gentleman I am lucky enough to call my main squeeze. He asked me to bake something with protein powder. WTF why? Because he, much like Fergie, is always up in the gym just workin’ on his fitness…I’m his witness. (Sorry I couldn’t help myself.) Not only that, but he just so happens to work for a protein supplement company. Protein powders aplenty up in this biznatch.

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The texture of protein powder always deterred me from testing new brands, flavors, and recipes. Turns out, Isopure is the tits, and the texture-phobia I experienced for so long dissolved into a faded memory. Bye, Felicia.

After deciding on cookies (thought I’d start small), I jotted down basic cookie ingredients, cutting out a lot of the fat and sugar that usually makes sweets so dang-darn tasty.

**WARNING** NO BUTTER WAS HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THESE COOKIES
I’m not kidding. No butter. The fat comes from the one egg.

Wait…so you’re telling me these aren’t absolutely terrible for me?

That’s right! I mean I wouldn’t eat these all day every day, but they’re better for you than others.

Whipped ’em up, threw them in the oven, and voila…protein cookies! My only beef with these is they’re not really aesthetically appealing — kind of bland looking, actually. But I’m just going to chalk that up to the flavor of powder I used (banana cream). And really, this recipe would work with any flavor if banana isn’t your thing. The world is your little swole, protein-stuffed oyster.

I haven’t abandoned my traditional baking practices that keep sweatpants companies in business, don’t you worry. But you can expect a sprinkle of proteinified sweets, and I really do encourage you to give them a try. Who knows, you might appreciate the subtlety.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Protein Cookies

1 large egg
1/2 cup of Isopure Banana Cream Protein Powder
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp vegetable oil
a scant 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine egg, protein powder, flour, baking soda, vegetable oil and milk in a medium bowl
3. Once thoroughly combined, add chocolate chips
4. Grease a cookie sheet and scoop dough into 1-1 1/2″ balls.
*These cookies rise and expand like nobody’s business! Make sure to keep them spread out.*

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5. Bake 12-15 minutes, keeping an eye on them while they bake. Cookies should be barely golden on the bottom.
6. Let cool for about 2 minutes on the sheet, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Boom. Protein Cookies.

Bon Appétit!

In the meantime, I’ll munch on macaroons.

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A few mornings ago, I opened my eyes, accepted the sunlight coming through the window, and began my lazy morning ritual of scrolling through Facebook, double-tapping pictures of my friends’ lunches on Instagram, and pinning outfits I can’t afford on Pinterest. Suddenly, I received a text from my roommate, who I can only assume had just woken up as well.

Yes, we text each other from just a few feet away. Don’t judge.

The text went as follows:

Bri: Hey boo do you have any plans for today?
Kate: Nope, I need to work out and go to the bank but that’s it.
Bri: Just curious, I have so many things that I want to do today but the day doesn’t have enough hours, plus I love laying in bed!
Kate: What do you have to do?
Bri: Nothing I have to do, just things I want to do. 🙂 I have an eye appointment at 3:30, I’d like to get adjusted, I want to get a massage and a facial, I want to go to the street fair, I want to lay out, I want to do my laundry, I want to go see a psychic. 😉

Okay, so she’s a bit of an overachiever, but I was on board.

It was too cold for the pool or beach, the massage place was booked up until late-afternoon, and who really wants to do laundry? Answer: NO ONE.

Ultimately we decided to a.)Definitely make it to the Huntington Beach street fair. It’s every Tuesday, and I had never been, despite the fact that I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life. b.) We were totally into this psychic idea.

I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch in life, and I’m currently in search of ANY input. This is includes a psychic reading, apparently. I mean, why not, right?

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So we set out for the day. I won’t bore you with the details of how long we searched for a psychic that wasn’t going to charge each of us $100, homemade Panini for life, and the rights to our first-born children. Eventually, we ended up going to a lady located very close to our apartment.

Now I don’t know if this psychic thing is real or a bunch of applesauce, but it was pretty interesting nonetheless.

I won’t share what she said to me, but if she’s right, I have a lot of changes headed my way, in almost all aspects of life. Some sounded pretty darn exciting, others…quite scary.

Regardless, it opened my mind up to possibilities. Who knows where I’ll be a year from now, whether or not I’ll be single, what career path I’ll have chosen, or which people will still be in my life.

I can hope, though, that my roommate is one of them. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have ever thought to seek input from a complete stranger. My roomie is da bomb.

Therefore, I made her some cookies. While we were at the street fair later that day, we passed a booth that was selling cookies. Macaroons, to be exact. And she just happened to mention that she loves them.

Uhh..okay. Easiest cookie ever. Next to snickerdoodles, her other favorite. She’s easy to please.

Poor thing had a rough day, so after I cleaned out our fridge and cupboards, I whipped some up. Just for her.

For you too, of course, but shhh…don’t tell her that. 😉

While I wait to see if the psychic’s predictions are true (one thing already happened, by the way), I’ll be here, munching on these delicious macaroons.

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Easy Peasy Coconut Macaroons

14oz (1 pkg) shredded coconut
14oz sweetened condensed milk
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Combine coconut, vanilla, and condensed milk in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat egg whites and salt on high until medium-firm peaks form.

4. Fold egg whites into coconut mixture until thoroughly combined.

5. Place 1 3/4 inch balls onto a foil-lined cookie sheet.

6. Bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.

If you decide to dip them in chocolate, allow them to cool completely, melt the chocolate in the microwave for one increment of 30 seconds, stir, another increment for 45 seconds, and stir until everything is melted. Dip the macaroon in the chocolate and set on foil. Don’t touch until it’s completely set, Cookie Monster!!!

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Bon Appétit! 

Practicing patience with a payoff of pie.

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Patience.

I don’t have it. Not really, anyway.

I have the patience for things like…

um…

…yeah, no patience.

It’s become very clear to me, more than ever, that life is full of trial and error. And because of this realization, it has also become very clear to me, more than ever, that I have a hard time being patient with that.

Today, I attempted making churros. I forgot the water. I was forced to add it after I already had the sugar and oil on the heat, to the point that it was smoking. Turns out it didn’t really matter, because once I added the flour everything seemed a-ok.

But then, when attempting to push the dough through a bag/star tip, it wouldn’t budge. I wasn’t strong enough, and I seriously did not want the dough exploding out of the bag and end up all over my hands, or worse, the floor.
I wonder if there’s some baker’s workout on Pinterest?

“Okay, no problem, I’ll just roll the dough into balls,” I thought to myself. Cool. I heated up the oil and began to fry. Everything seemed fine. Rolled them in the cinnamon-sugar mix, and took a sigh of relief. They looked great!

So I took a bite…and spit it right back out.

They had not cooked through. Ugh. I’ll have to do this again, another day. Keep an eye out for that post.

Behold, an unbaked churro. I don't recommend taking a bite of this...yuck.

Behold, an unbaked churro ball. I don’t recommend taking a bite of this. *shudder*

Everything is trial and error.

Waking up in the morning is a pretty good example.
Will my alarm clock be effective? No? Hmm…maybe I’ll set three for tomorrow.

Styling my hair is trial and error.
Okay, the fancy new volumizing shampoo I bought makes me look like Mufasa. Big fat error.

Dating. Dating is definitely trial and error. No italicized examples necessary.

Cleaning the fish bowl. Another example.
I’m pretty sure my roommate didn’t MEAN for the fish to fall down the sink drain…

All of this trying and error-ing becomes overwhelming, but you have two options:

1.) Try, try again.

2.) Surrender and abandon ship.

There are times when you just want to throw your hands in the air, throw in the towel, and throw other things around because apparently that’s the theme when giving up. But don’t! Learn to adapt. As Eric from Boy Meets World once said, “Life’s tough. Get a helmet.”

Option #2 is for quitters. We’re not quitters, we’re winners, dagnabbit! And I’ll be damned if I let some churro travesty kill my baking mojo, a crazy shampoo continue to make me look like a native to the Amazon, or let a few slightly more meaningful setbacks crush my spirit. On to bigger and better things, I say!

Things like…Key Lime Pie.

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I love Key Lime Pie. It’s such a refreshing change from chocolate, and gives my texturebuds (it’s a thing) a run for their money when I’m not putting cake or cookies in my mouth.

Initially when I made this, it didn’t set. I decided to have some patience, and let it chill. Boom. Key Lime Pie.

Lesson of the day? Patience gets you pie.

I think we could all practice patience for a result such as this, dontcha think?

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Key Lime Pie

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted
—-
1/2 cup lime juice
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp lime zest
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Crust:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine sugar and graham cracker crumbs in a small mixing bowl.

3. Add melted butter, and press into mixture with a fork until thoroughly combined.

4. Press into a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Filling:

1. Beat egg yolks, lime juice, vanilla and heavy cream until combined. Add zest and combine.

2. Add sweetened condensed milk until completely combined, and then on high for 5 minutes. The filling will begin the thicken.

3. Pour filling into prepared crust.

4. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

5. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Top with whipped cream when cool. Visit the Fruit Tart Cupcakes for that recipe here.

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Bon appétit!

A slice of self-sufficiency (with a dash of Baileys).

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Generally, I’m a happy gal.

But sometimes, things upset me. I’m not a robot.

Animal cruelty. That upsets me.

Driving below the speed limit on the freeway. That upsets me. (I’m talking to you, dude from earlier today!)

Crocs. Crocs definitely upset me.

When someone implies that being independent is a bad thing. This upset me…just a few days ago.

I believe that being independent means that I know what I want, I will do what it takes to get it, and then I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that am responsible for my success.

Is that so wrong? I think not.

However, I will admit that there is a sliver of bitterness that comes with this independence. I like to think of myself as a strong person, but even the Hulk is let down occasionally. If you get hurt, you get stronger.
Kate smash!

But this toughness doesn’t go down to my core. Sometimes I can be a huge mush ball. Seriously. It’s embarrassing. Hulk-ish outside. Care Bear inside. What kind of messed-up genetic mutation is that? And here’s a secret…my Care Bear inside seeps through a lot. (Don’t tell.)

Ironically, the day before I was “accused” of being Miss Independent I had a long talk with my grandma about this very thing. Allow me to quote her:

“Of course you care about other people. But take care of yourself first, because how you feel about yourself directly affects the people you care about. And on top of that, be who you want to be. Who you are is beautiful. If someone doesn’t like it, who gives a sh*t anyway. You’re the one who has to live with yourself for the rest of your life.”

I’ve said this before, but that woman is my hero.

She’s spot on, though. I take care of myself because I want to take care of you! And I think I take care of you very well……

Enter: Baileys Cheesecake. *angels sing*

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I made this especially for you. I know that you love cheesecake as much as I do, and I took a wild guess that you, too, hold a special place in your heart for Baileys Irish Cream.

The airy cheesecake filling is sandwiched between an Oreo crust and an espresso whipped cream.

Holy boozy baking, Batman. This is good stuff.

I encourage you to be independent and make this cake on your own. When you bite into it for the first time, I guarantee you’ll get that feeling of self-satisfaction I’ve been ranting about.

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Baileys Cheesecake with Espresso Whipped Cream Topping

Crust:

2 1/2 cups crushed Oreos
7 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

3. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

4. Bake for 7-11 minutes. Set aside.

Filling:

24oz whipped cream cheese
1 2/3 cup sugar
5 eggs
1 cup Baileys Irish Cream
1 tbsp vanilla

1. Beat cream cheese on high until smooth.

2. Gradually add sugar.

3. Add eggs, one at a time.

4. Add Baileys and vanilla.

5. Once completed blended, pour mixture on top of crust.

6. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack to keep the cheesecake moist.

The cheesecake will rise, but once it starts to cool it will fall. If it cracks, no need to worry, because you’re about to cover it with whipped cream.

Espresso Whipped Cream:

1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp espresso powder

1. Beat whipping cream on high until it starts to thicken.

2. Add sugar and vanilla.

3. Once blended, add espresso powder.

4. Top the completely cooled cheesecake with the whipped cream. Drizzle with chocolate and chocolate shavings.

5. Eat the shiznit out of the cake.

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Bon Appétit!

Dark-chocolate resolutions for a bright 2013

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Welcome to the time of year where you are not only allowed, but encouraged, to pack your gut that you worked so hard to flatten for the summer, with butter, sugar, and booze. There’s a time-limit to this moment, though. It ends the moment you wake up on January 1st (for most people, anyway).

That’s right, I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions. Dun dun DUNNNN!

I took the liberty of looking up the most popular “commitments” people make at the beginning of each year.

Of course, the most faddish resolution is to “get in shape” and lose those elusive 15 pounds that seemed to creep out of nowhere and attached themselves to your innocent thighs. I’ve tried this resolution, and if I remember correctly, I ended up gaining weight because all I could think about was food that brings those pounds out of their hidden cave. Then I stuffed my face. That, and the fact that I write a baking blog. Um, duh.

Another popular resolution? Eat healthier. See above.

A third? Drink less alcohol. I think I always say this on the 1st. I blame the 31st.

One of the lists I read included “learn something new.” What? That’s ridiculous. If you’re not learning at least ONE thing every single day, you’re not awake. You’re probably dead. And I think I speak for the rest of the world when I say that we’re not quite ready for the zombie apocalypse yet. So wake up, and learn something, you scary, scary robot.

Am I talking about robots or zombies? Wait…what?

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What I’m getting at, is that these resolutions are so impersonal. I’ve made a short list of things I will commit to for 2013. Want to see? If you don’t…boo on you. Because I want to hear about yours.

1. Take more pictures. I feel like a lot of people say this. This doesn’t mean pictures of me and my friends, although I love those. I mean taking pictures of things I find beautiful around me — meaningful things that catch my attention. Trees do that for me. Call me weird, I don’t mind. This might even mean investing in a camera! Ooh, hello, idea lightbulb.

2. Get a piece of art for my apartment. My walls are bare. It’s kind of sad.

3. Take a trip with my roommate. We decided we wanted to go on a cruise. I fully support this idea, and I have every intention of executing it.

4. Drink a little less coffee. I’m not going to cut it out, but maybe ration myself to two cups a day. Or leave one shot of espresso out of my Americano. I should probably be more decisive on this.

5. Be more decisive about the coffee situation.

6. Bake more. I bake a lot, obviously, but I have a zillion ideas in my head that I need to make reality, like, NOW.

7. Tell you about these chocolate cupcakes.

Okay, the 7th item on the list is happening in 2012, but hey, nothing wrong with being ahead of the game, right?

These cupcakes would make Count Chocula blush. It’s serious business. I took my chocolate cake recipe, tweaked it a little, made my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe, tweaked that a little, and the next thing I know I have these chocolate cupcakes that are so rich, they make Donald Trump look like an orphan.

What did I do differently? More of the onyx cocoa powder, and more sugar. I intentionally made the buttercream slightly salty. It cuts the sweetness a little. Maybe next time I’ll add caramel.

Wait, did I just accidentally make a potential salted-caramel cupcake (also known as one of my all-time favorites)?!?

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Ohhhh 2013 is going to be good.

Salty-Sweet Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes:

3/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp onyx cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Sift cocoa powders, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat eggs and vanilla until slightly fluffy, about 45 seconds.

4. Add dry mix, beat for 30 seconds.

5. Add oil and beat until combined.

6. Add cream in two portions, waiting until the first addition is blended in.

7. Add warm water and beat until smooth.

8. Fill liners 1/2 full and bake for 20 minutes.

Salted Chocolate Buttercream:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp onyx cocoa powder
1 packet instant hot chocolate powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Beat butter and cocoa powders, and hot chocolate mix on high until thick.

2. Add salt and vanilla. Beat until combined, and then beat on medium for an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add powdered sugar and heavy cream alternatively in 3 additions, starting with the heavy cream, beating well between each addition.

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Bon appétit!