So here’s a confession: I had what felt like a large number of kitchen fails for about a two-month stretch during October and November of last year. We’re talking mis-measuring ingredients, baking too long, not baking long enough, not accounting for size very well…..things I felt were pretty basic just weren’t coming together. Kind of a bummer. Not devastating – I mean, it’s just baking – but it started to
make me cry a lot wear me down just a teeny tiny bit.
But then you get over these things. Because you need a creative outlet. And you
want some cake. Also because you’ve committed to make dessert for some dinner or another.
And honestly, with holiday baking on the horizon, I knew the best thing to would be stick with it and practice. So I stuck with tried and true recipes for the holidays (because honestly, who doesn’t love a chocolate chip cookie at the end of the day?) and started to build my confidence again.
I feel like this frosting was the culmination of me getting back into the swing of baking, especially now that I’m much more adjusted to my new kitchen layout, plus getting back to more of a fearless nature in the kitchen. We’re talking burn sugar three times, clean the burnt sugar off the saucepan like crazy and still stick with it kind of fearless.
The recipe isn’t perfected yet, but still worth sharing as I experiment. Also, it was still very good, so it might just be your thing if you like a light caramel flavor.
I also tried a new chocolate cupcake recipe. They’re the fabulous cupcake base of these super fabulous cupcakes from the marvelous Joy the Baker. Sidenote: Read her blog. It’s really really good and she takes fantastic photos. Anyway, so the cupcake recipe was new and kind of tried and true, because my friend Jackie had made them. And if it passes her chocolate cake test, then it’s a sure thing. Side-Sidenote: Read her blog too!
The real fun here was the frosting.
The follow up to last weekend’s homemade pasta extravaganza was this rich, creamy, fluffy chocolate mousse for dessert. Now admittedly, mousse isn’t necessarily something I seek out often.
The only time mousse really registered on my radar was one time when I was flipping channels and watching some Gordon Ramsay Restaurant Takeover Angry Kitchen Grumpy Judge Reality Show. One of the contestants had a major kitchen fail during a dessert challenge. But she rose above it when she changed course and pulled off a judge-approved chocolate mousse. She seriously had about 8 minutes left in the challenge. I was totally impressed.
My blog has been a tiny bit neglected and it makes me kind of sad. It turns out adjusting to a new city is much harder than I anticipated. I underestimated how exhausted I’d feel after navigating and going through a day paying a lot of attention to where I am and where I’m headed.
These days, I’m headed to an office up on the north side of SF, in a part of town called Fisherman’s Wharf. As a new freelancer at a digital marketing agency, I’m excited to meet new people and make new friends. (And, let’s be honest, I might have been a little stir-crazy working from home.) What better way to meet people around the office than sharing cupcakes?
That, and I needed to break in my new kitchen for baking. See how stuff works, how the oven cooks, how the space functions, things like that. It’s definitely going to be….wait for it….take a guess…an adjustment. Appropriate for the trend in my life these days.
A few different piping techniques. Because when it comes to piping, practice makes perfect! Or, at least makes better : )
These are the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes I shared here, made in mini-sized cupcake pans, with the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream I shared here. I decided to stick with what I knew this time around. There’s always time to get fancy later on and I have some very nice chocolate that’s waiting for me to decide on a decadent recipe – stay tuned!
Have you had to navigate a big change lately? How have you adjusted? And did cupcakes make it any easier? ; )
I fell in love with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream at Lovely, a wonderful and charming French-style bakery in Chicago’s Noble Square neighborhood. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but from the first taste, I knew it was a special icing. My then-boyfriend, now-husband purchased a birthday cake for me from Lovely and I remember savoring the leftover pieces for days.
I wasn’t able to identify it specifically as this type of icing until recently. In fact, I didn’t even expect this recipe to be so similar to the frosting from Lovely. I went into this knowing how to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream, that I had some fancy chocolate to use before my baking supplies were all shipped to San Francisco and a desire to de-stress by making something tasty. So I decided I’d make some Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream to frost those cupcakes that weren’t frosted.
These truffles taste amazing, delicious, decadent and just about divine.
The flavor seemingly bursts due to their soft texture and bittersweet chocolate. The cocoa outside – a perfect compliment to the sweet chocolate inside. Their small size makes them perfect for two or three bites of chocolate-y, happy bliss. These truffles are possibly one of the best pieces of chocolate I’ve ever tasted.
And it will be years before I make these ever again.
If you’re looking for a recipe that takes way longer than you anticipate, here you go. Looking to start a small kitchen fire perhaps? Use every mixing bowl and spatula you own? Waste ingredients and accidentally scramble eggs? Completely scorch the handle of a pot? This recipe is for you.
Granted, I’m sure it was a lack of skill on my part. But at the end of my truffle making experience, I checked off all of these things.
The catch? The recipe looked super easy. Four ingredients, only a few steps? What can go wrong?
A lot, apparently.
Few things remind me of the weekend as much as doughnuts. My grandparents visit my parent’s house every Saturday and while my siblings and I were children, they would stop at Dunkin’ Donuts before coming over to pick up a big box of doughnuts. Then we’d sit around the table drinking milk and eating doughnuts.
(Theory: The milk makes it healthy. Remains
You can probably guess from the title who always grabbed the doughnut with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. Though, fyi, I was around when Dunkin’ Donuts decided to only sprinkle half of the doughnut instead of the entire doughnut. Cheap move, DD, that my eight year old self still hasn’t forgiven you for.
But then we all grew up, realized that a weekly doughnut habit isn’t very healthy and, well, tastes become a little more refined when you’re not a kid seeking sugar all the time. I tried re-creating a homemade version of this childhood favorite this weekend.
Next time I make macarons I will not:
- Overwhip my meringue.
- Use my kitchen scale for the first time. Obviously, at this point I’ve used it once, but for the first time using a new piece of equipment, I could have picked something easier.
- Pipe the cookies in inconsistent sizes so it takes me forever to pair them up in similar sizes.
- Start making macarons at 8:45 p.m. Because I will be up until 1:30 a.m. and that’s just way past my bed time.
- Fail to age enough egg whites. So when I weigh them out, I find out I’m short and have to add a non-aged egg white to the mix, which makes it more than the recipe called for and caused a slight panic.