Dealing with life is a piece of cake.

Posts tagged ‘chocolate’

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!

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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!

 

Ho Ho Hoooly moly it’s already Christmas?!

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Where has the year gone? Seriously. Are you hiding it? Or did I blink and it just completely disappeared into the universe?

Probably the later. If it’s the first one, you’re probably waaay too good at hide-and-seek.

The holiday season is upon us, people. It’s not just upon us, it’s straight up in our faces. And I am toootally not prepared. Well, sort of.

I mean, I still have shopping to do, I haven’t listened to my all-time favorite Christmas music (Bing Crosby, in case you were wondering), and the fact that I WANT to work on Christmas day is probably a sign that I have not embraced the holiday spirit.

BUT! There are a few things that have brought me out of this funk.

1. I’ve been spending time with a lot of excellent, grade-A, top-notch people lately. I didn’t even realize how much I was running around until my roommate pointed it out to me. Which brings me to my second point…

2. My roommate. She’s been there for me every step of the way through a rough time. If I say “I don’t want to talk about it” she’ll totally respect it, even though she’s dying inside to know what’s going on, but she knows any second I’ll open my big mouth, like I always do, and spill everything. She’s wonderful. Love you Bri.

3. I didn’t have ONE Christmas decoration up…including a tree. I ALWAYS have a tree. 😦 How sad is that? Well after opening my big mouth, like I always do, I received a small tree as a gift the very next day. If that doesn’t take you from a Scroogasaurs to freakin’ Rudolph, I don’t know what will.

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My perfect Kate-sized tree. 🙂

4. I’m spending Christmas at my grandma’s house. I love her. She’s cool. It’s a plain, obvious fact. That alone will put me in a good mood. But there’s one more thing….

5. I made Tiger Butter!

In a world of jam-packed department stores, bumper-to-bumper freeways, and the complications of trying to get the stripes on the wrapping paper to match up perfectly, (…no? Just me?) what we all need is something simple. And this my friends, is just the trick.

Tiger Butter: Three ingredients. 1 hour. Lifetime of happiness.

Kind of like that “teach a man to fish” saying…

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Tiger Butter

1 1/2 cups white chocolate

1 (heaping) cup creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate

You can do this two ways. You can either melt the chocolate in the microwave, or use a double-boiler to melt the chocolate. If you choose the double-boiler, be sure to stir the entire time so you don’t burn it. I do it the microwave method, because I’m lazy and I want to eat this before I even begin to make it.

1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate in 45-second increments until smooth, being sure to stir thoroughly between increments.

3. Repeat with milk chocolate.

4. While the milk chocolate is melting and the white chocolate is still hot, stir the peanut butter into the white chocolate until completely smooth.

5. Pour the melted milk chocolate onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread evenly.

6. Drizzle the white chocolate/peanut butter mixture on top of the milk chocolate, being sure to reach the corners and edges.

7. Run a butter knife through the chocolate to create the swirl pattern. There’s no “right” way to do this, but if you go horizontally and then vertically you’ll probably get the results you’re looking for.

8. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. Once the chocolate is set, you may cut it, or just break it into jagged pieces. It all tastes the same – delicious!

9. Eat it all and don’t tell anyone. (No? Just me again? I should really learn not to open my big mouth…)

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Bon Appétit! (and Happy Holidays!)

Busy busy as a bee? Cake scraps are your remedy!

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Change is good. But at the same time, change is bad.

Okay, maybe not bad, but difficult…no, challenging. (I’m sometimes indecisive.)

I haven’t updated my blog for awhile, if you haven’t noticed. Life has been nothing short of crazy. I had a birthday, then I got sick. Then…

…I made margarita cupcakes, which were incredible. I’d share the recipe with you, but oh wait, that’s right, I lost my recipe. It disappeared into the universe. Sad.

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I made a wedding cake. I got PAID. Someone paid little ol’ me to make their wedding cake! That was huge step in the right direction. 🙂

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I moved into a cute little two-bedroom apartment in Huntington Beach. Another huge step in the right direction.

I baked 120 cupcakes for a 100th birthday party. Again, I got paid! Surreal. Yet another step in the right direction.

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My life’s GPS is seriously on point lately.

I did mention that change is difficult, though. That wedding cake? Yeah, for three days I barely slept, had a few breakdowns, and was covered head-to-toe in flour.

The apartment: Our move-in date was changed 3 times, we had a constant battle with the leasing office, and we still don’t have a couch or internet…almost a month later.

The cupcakes. 120 really wasn’t that much, but in a kitchen that is an appropriate size for a Keebler elf, it felt like I was being buried alive in red velvet.

I needed something simple. Something that I could make with the simplest ingredients (because let’s face it…I’m broke and didn’t have any fancy ingredients.) Cake scraps. But that seems so…barbaric. So I made cookies! Cake scrap cookies.

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They aren’t pretty. They aren’t fancy. They’re simple. And you can totally get away with eating a few without feeling like a free-loading, bottom-feeding, sweet-toothed creep. It works out.

Well with all of those challenges, what is a little baketress to do?! Well, I took a shower and washed off the flour. I moved into the apartment with an awesome roommate. I settle with watching Friends on the living room floor (for now), and I’m writing this blog directly from my iPhone (thank goodness for 3G!) And then I utilized every square inch of space to make the cupcakes work. I powered through. I conquered!

Mwahaha, watch out world, I’m taking over! And it only gets better from here.

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Cake Scrap Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 sugar
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp onyx cocoa powder (serious stuff)
1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup cream cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and both cocoas in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter until pale and fluffy.

4. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time until blended.

5. Beat in cream cheese until smooth.

6. Add flour mixture in three parts, beating on medium high until just blended each time. Once the final portion is added, beat for 30 seconds.

7. Place 1-1 1/2 tbsp globs of dough on a prepared cookie sheet.

8. Bake for 11 minutes. Let the cookies set for 1-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

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Bon appetit!

P.S. As I mentioned, this is coming straight from my iPhone…so if the pictures don’t look quite right, or something else is funky, just…ignore it. Well don’t ignore it. Read it, make some cookies, and take some pictures of your own! 😉

Quality time with me, myself, and I. And some chocolate mousse cupcakes.

Do you ever feel like you need some “me” time?

I don’t mean me time, as in, time with me specifically. Although I’d be delighted to get together sometime.

I mean you time. You have you time, I have me time. Our time. But not spent together…

This is getting mildly complicated.

I do my best thinking during “me time.” And since I hardly ever get any, I value these little dates I have with myself. Don’t forget, I’m an only child, and therefore I hold this precious solitude near and dear to my heart. I do love spending time with the people most important to me. Margaritas and sarcastic banter with my boyfriend definitely top the list. And of course gossip and soul-searching with my best friend make any day better. But occasionally, I absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, need some time to myself.

I don’t really plan this time. And I usually end up doing something random that I don’t think any one else would enjoy participating in.

The activities that occur during “me time” include (but are not limited to):

– Watching dumb TV
– Reading Fifty Shades of Grey (at least that’s the case lately…)
– Writing for funzies
– Browsing cooking stores like Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma, and ultimately buying a hot pink spatula because it’s freaking adorable. (this happened last week…)
– Painting my nails
– Going for a run
– Busting out a Grammy-worthy a cappella solo of “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble’
– Playing fetch with Kitten
– Venturing on the ever-so-dangerous Amazon.com
– Driving down Pacific Coast Hwy
– Baking…duh.

These things seem a little mundane, but my “me time” isn’t about extremes. I’ll save the base jumping and fire-swallowing for another time. My inner diva wants to unwind, and if watching Friends reruns and throwing together a batch of chocolate chip cookies makes her happy, I can’t (and won’t!) contest.

I strongly urge you to pencil yourself in for some “me”..err…”you” time. Times are getting tough? Breathe. Take a moment to realize that no matter what, the sun is still coming up tomorrow.

My mom always tells me that. It’s smart.

Browse a magazine. Go for a hike. Be a trendy hipster and sit in a Starbucks and write your Nobel-Prize-winning novel while sipping a cappuccino. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it, and make sure that it is what you want to do, not necessarily what you need to do. There’s a difference.

As for myself, as the title of this blog implies, baking is my main source of “me” time. And this week, I reeeeally enjoyed myself. I made chocolate mousse filled cupcakes.

I made an angel food cake, filled it with chocolate mousse, and topped it with a white chocolate buttercream. It felt so wrong, yet so, so right.

Chocolate Mousse Filled Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Chocolate Mousse
I had never made mousse before, so I got the recipe from the Joy of Baking and made a few minor tweaks.

8 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
10 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz bittersweet chocolate

1. In a double-boiler or a saucepan with simmering water and a heatproof bowl on top, medium heat, melt the chocolate. Stir occasionally at first, then continually. Once the chocolate has completely melted, set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.

3. Gradually add 5 tbsp of sugar, beating the egg mixture until soft peaks form and it look glossy. You don’t want it to get dry.

4. In another bowl, beat the whipping cream, remaining sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form.

5. Add a few dollops of chocolate into the egg mixture to lighten, and then transfer the egg whites to the chocolate bowl. FOLD the two together. FOLD in the whipped cream.

Make sure to fold — not stir, not beat. Fold. This will keep the mousse airy.

6. When everything is completely combined, transfer the mousse to an airtight container and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Angel Food Cake Cupcakes

10 egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

1. Set oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake papers.

2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in medium bowl. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.

4. Gradually add sugar, and beat until fluffy. The mixture should look glossy.

5. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat until combined.

6. Gradually add flour mixture to the egg mixture. Beat until just combined. Do not over mix.

7. Fill cupcake wrappers 1/2 full and bake for 15-18 minutes.

White Chocolate Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
10 oz (1 bag) of white chocolate chips

1. In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan with simmering water, melt the white chocolate. Set aside to cool.

2. In a separate bowl, beat butter until pale and fluffy.

3. Gradually beat in powdered sugar to desired consistency.

4. Beat in vanilla.

5. Add melted chocolate and beat thoroughly.

Check out Kim’s blog for great ideas on how to use the Wedding Shower Party Kit!

I can’t imagine guests would be disappointed with cupcakes like these in these adorable wrappers…

Enjoy YOUR “me” time! We’ll get together soon.

Bon appétit!