Sunday, June 5, 2016

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt

Man, it's finally feeling like summer around here. I've got all my windows open, the sunlight is streaming in, the birds are chirping, and the house next door is playing foot-tapping, Mexican music. I love it. Oftentimes, I am not fond of where I live, but on a day like today, I feel a sense of gratitude for what I have. It's amazing the feelings that a little light can inspire.

Through the church I attend, I found a group of people who focus on hospitality, which is kind of my jam. They were having a get together today, so I brought these cookies. They were devoured. Nothing pleases me more. Everyone finds happiness in something different. One of my ways is making people comfortable through food. A simple offering can open up a person to so much more. It's gotten a lot easier over the years, but it can be difficult for me to talk to people. I get shy and anxious and awkward. It's more natural for me to say hello behind a plate of cookies.

These cookies rule. The first time I made them, I didn't flatten out the dough before putting them in the oven, so they didn't turn out right. I thought I would try again, and it's crazy what a difference it made. Dark chocolate, chopped pistachios, and a sprinkling of smoked sea salt give these cookies an amazing depth. No worries if you can't find the smoked sea salt - you can use regular sea salt, or leave it out entirely. I just think it adds a little something special.

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt
from Joy the Baker

1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c dark chocolate chips
1 c chopped, shelled pistachios
smoked sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350. Beat butter and sugars until pale and fluffy, about four minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another minute. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Mix in chocolate and pistachios. Scoop the cookie dough (Mine were like...large tablespoons? I got 31 cookies) onto lined baking sheets. Flatten the tops with two fingers, and sprinkle with smoked salt. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Lemon Buttermilk Sherbet

Hello! I hope you celebrated your mom today. I spent time with several mothers, but not my own, unfortunately (love you, moum!). And I foster animals, so maybe I am also a mom? The point is, Happy Mother's Day. I'm sure yours is a swell lady.

Me and my mom, from when my hair was longer and I had summer freckles. 

So...last time we talked I was about to start Whole30. ...Heh. Here's the lowdown. I stopped after two weeks. I was very proud of myself for eating so responsibly. But I wasn't consuming enough calories to sustain myself. I was getting really dizzy, lethargic, and headachey. So tired all the time. So I added dairy in at first, which made things way better. And now, I'm back to normal again. I came away from it with an awareness of my poor eating habits, and I'm trying to be conscious of my sugar intake. 

My mom, on the other hand, is a total boss. She started Whole30 immediately after I told her about the concept, and stuck with it til the end. I am very proud of her. She's tough. I wish we could hang out and share this delicious and incredibly simple sherbet. It's zingy, sweet, and very refreshing. Just like my mom (congrats on being the first person I have ever described as "zingy")!

Lemon Buttermilk Sherbet
from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1/3 c water
2/3 c sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a saucepan, mix water, sugar, and lemon zest. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, then chill thoroughly in the fridge. Whisk the buttermilk into the sugar syrup, then whisk in the lemon juice. Freeze in your ice cream maker. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

White Chocolate Raspberry Almond Bars

This is not a belated April Fool's joke. I'm starting Whole30 on Tuesday, and I'm nervous as all get out. If you haven't heard of Whole30, it's...sort of like paleo? But without the cheat-y substitutes for "real" foods that I see people making. It's basically stripping away grains, legumes, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and additives like MSG or carrageenan.

I'm inherently suspicious of these kinds of fad diets. But this is just...eating real food. Lots of eggs, meat, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats from nuts, avocados, olive oil, stuff like that. And I've grown to realize that I have an addiction to sugar. I don't really enjoy foods as much if they don't contain dairy or carbs. I feel like that's a problem. So with this upcoming 30 days, I would like to physically and psychologically cleanse myself. It's going to be difficult (even if the Whole30 people tell you to suck it up) so we'll see how this shakes out.

The reason I'm starting on Tuesday and not tomorrow (Monday) is because there is a bar baking contest at work on Monday, and I want to taste my competition. My entry is these white chocolate, raspberry, and almond bars. They're from a book my grandparents gave me when I was a kid, and they are delightful. The natural tang of the raspberries balances out the sweet creaminess of the white chocolate. Wish me luck!

White Chocolate Raspberry Almond Bars

1/2 c butter
2 oz. chopped white chocolate
2 eggs
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1/2 c chopped almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 c raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and line a 8x8 pan with foil. In a medium saucepan, heat butter and and white chocolate, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and almonds. Spread in the prepared pan and sprinkle with raspberries. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pink Squirrel Cupcakes

I don't make a lot of cupcakes anymore. I'm more more of a cake lady these days. Maybe because it seems fussy to have to portion all those little cups out, I dunno. Maybe because I've been too busy this past year making Milk Bar layer cakes, which do not translate at all to cupcake form. 

I saw a recipe for Pink Squirrel cupcakes on Sprinkle Bakes back in December, and have been dreaming about them ever since. I've been fascinated by the Pink Squirrel cocktail, but it's kind of out of fashion these days, and I fear that if I ever tried to order one, bartenders would laugh/stare at me. A Pink Squirrel is Creme de Cacao, Creme de Noyaux (or Creme de Almond) and heavy cream. It is bright pink and looks kind of like Pepto Bismol. 

I got my Creme de Noyaux from a creepy liquor store attached to a gas station, but my Creme de Cacao is some Tattersall, a local distillery. I'd love to go on one of their tours because...well, I'm a food/beverage nerd I guess. I like to know how stuff works, okay? Anyway, they make awesome spirits. Naturally, my cupcakes were not as beautiful as Heather's. But they have a light texture and mild almond flavor. Very nice in my book. The "American" style buttercream is a bit sweet for my tastes, but hey, it's a Pink Squirrel, and you're supposed to go over the top. 

Pink Squirrel Cupcakes 

1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup crème de noyaux liqueur (also called crème de almond)
1/4 cup clear or white crème de cocoa liqueur
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pink gel food color, optional

Crème de noyaux frosting
2 sticks of butter softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup crème de noyaux liqueur
Pink gel food color
White nonpareils for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the cakes: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, crème noyaux, crème do cocoa and almond extract. Add flour and sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Beat in a drop of pink food color, if using. Batter will be thick.
Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter. Bake for 17-22 minutes. Set aside.

Make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Once the frosting is thick, add the crème de noyaux one tablespoon at a time while beating on medium-low speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add a drop of pink gel food color; mix well.
Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with nonpareils. Garnish the cupcakes with a glittering squirrel topper (recipe follows). You may also choose to top the cupcakes with maraschino cherries with stems, as this is the usual Pink Squirrel Cocktail garnish.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Hello, my friends. I am having a lazy Sunday. I don't normally spend my Sundays alone, but my boyfriend is out of commission with the flu (or something), and I think it's more important for him to rest than to hang out with me. So I've been kinda derping around all day, baking these cookies, chasing my foster rabbits, walking to the library. Folding potstickers while watching anime (don't judge) on my computer.

Those aren't tortellini, sometimes I just get too lazy to do all the little pleats. I've been making potstickers for a while now, but for some reason never blogged them. Maybe because I never had a set recipe. Or I was too impatient and wanted to just eat them and not have to talk about them on the internet. I took a Chinese cooking class in the winter and learned a pretty solid recipe. For some reason, I was told you have to stir the filling in only one direction. I don't know why, but they turn out well. If anyone knows why this is, please fill me in. There are a lot of different variations, but I went with a classic pork and cabbage. Be warned that this recipe makes like, 80-100 potstickers, so get enough wrappers and maybe some friends to help you with the folding.


1 finely chopped napa cabbage
1 T salt

1 lb ground pork
1/4 c very finely chopped ginger
2 t salt
2 eggs
2 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
2 T Chinese cooking wine
1 t black pepper
1 1/2 c finely chopped leeks
3 packages round potsticker wrappers (mine were 36 to a pack)

3-4 T vegetable oil

Place chopped cabbage in a colander, sprinkle with 1 T salt, and let it sit for 20-30 minutes while you make the rest of the filling. After, rinse off the salt with cold water and squeeze dry.

Mix all other ingredients together except leeks and vegetable oil, and stir in one direction until a sticky paste, lightened in color. This is gonna take like, 15 minutes. Just go with it. Gradually add in 1/2 cup of water until fully incorporated, then add leeks and cabbage and mix well.

Wet the edges of the potsticker wrapper and place ~1 T of filling in the middle. Pleat, fold, whatever you please, as long as they stay shut. Here's a good pleating tutorial.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, non stick, flat pan and add 3/4 cup of water. Place potstickers inside, cover the pan, and cook over medium heat, 10-15 minutes. When the water is cooked away, remove the top and cook another ten minutes, or until the bottoms of the potstickers are crispy.

Bonus picture of me with crazy eyes:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Lemon Cake

Things that brightened my day today:

- Realtalks™ (just kidding, no trademark)
- Sunlight streaming through the windows
- Spontaneous afternoon naps
- The delightfully inappropriate shenanigans of Deadpool
- Cake for dinner

Adults are allowed to make poor choices like that. Cause maybe I don't feel like cooking, and I had this cake I needed to eat because I spontaneously bought seven lemons at Aldi. This recipe reminds me so much of Ireland. Partially because I have a really joyful post about making lemon curd there, and partially because this cake recipe comes from The Cake Cafe Bake Book (The Cake Cafe being a hidden place in Dublin I spent a whole afternoon trying to find). Makes me feel very wistful and nostalgic. I was so free of responsibilities when I was there. But maybe living in the real world most of the time makes one appreciate those carefree times even more?

This cake is super tasty, but I overcooked mine a bit. I keep forgetting how hot my oven runs. Still good though! I covered mine in whipped cream, but I bet a cream cheese frosting would be really nice. Or a chocolate frosting, because I think lemon and chocolate are an unexpected but wonderful pairing. Also, sorry for the crap pictures. If I don't just snap something on my phone right away, I probably won't take a picture and then I won't post about it.

Lemon Cake 
from The Cake Cafe Bake Book

3 eggs, separated
300 g sugar
50 g room temperature butter
225 g plain yogurt
3 lemon zests
1 T lemon juice 
175 g self raising flour (Or make your own like I did) 
1 t baking powder

Lemon Curd (my recipe linked above is pretty reliable) 

Grease an 8" round pan and preheat the oven to 350. 
Beat butter, sugar, and egg yolks in a bowl until lightened in color and a bit fluffy. Add yogurt, lemon zest, and juice, and mix until smooth, remembering to scrape down the sides of the bowl regularly. Gently fold in flour and baking powder. Whisk egg whites to a soft peak and fold into the mixture. Pour into pan and bake for 60-75 minutes (Mine probably was done at 45, so just watch it. You know your oven). Cool completely, then slice into three disks. Spread lemon curd between two layers, and leave the top un-curded. Frost with whatever you'd like! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Molten Chocolate Cake for one!

Have any of you watched The Great British Bake Off? I had no idea there were multiple seasons of it, but the latest one is on Netflix and it's lovely. Very soothing way to unwind after a day at work. I love the cheery cut scenes of sheep and rolling countryside, the pastel KitchenAid mixers, and the normalcy of the contestants. They're not professional chefs, they don't have over the top, made for tv personalities. They seem like friends and neighbors. 

Plus, the show makes me yearn for sugar. You don't even know the depths of my cake need yesterday around 7:30 pm. Thankfully, Joy the Baker came to my rescue again with her recipe for an individual molten chocolate cakes. A real one, not a desperate and gummy microwave one. In 15 minutes or less you can have your own gooey piece of heaven. 

And though it was nowhere near as fancy as the self saucing puddings the British bakers were making, I was quite pleased with myself. 

Single Girl Melty Chocolate Cake (from Joy the Baker Cookbook, Joy Wilson, 2012)

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips1
 large egg
4 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and place cookie sheet in oven as it heats up.  Generously flour and butter an 8-oz. (1 cup) ramekin.

2. Place butter and chocolate into a microwave-safe container (I used my glass measuring cup) and heat in microwave until both are melted, maybe 40 seconds.  Set aside to cool.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and sugar.  Pour chocolate mixture into bowl and whisk until well incorporated.  Add salt and flour and mix until just combined.
4. Pour batter into prepped ramekin and place in oven on top of cookie sheet.  Bake 7-10 minutes; the less time it's in the oven, the more oozy the middle will be.  (The top should be set, though, so you can turn it out onto a plate!)
5. Remove from oven and cool for 2 minutes.  Using pot holders, invert cake onto plate and devour.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Chocolate Orange Scones

Just finished the first week of my new job. It's strange, working in an office. It's so quiet. I kind of miss the friendly cacophony of the bakery. I also have my own office, with a door and everything, so people in the cubicles would have to go out of there way to chat with me. It's just different. When I get home, I'm tired bone tired and feeling the need to drop into bed like I was before, but the last rays of the sun are disappearing and I feel sad that I didn't get to see any light. It's a give and take, I suppose.

The good news is I'm feeling the urge to bake again already. It's a good way to ingratiate myself with my new co-workers, if nothing else. I made scones today, which has become second nature after doing it for so long. It's a great experience when you can just look at and feel a dough and know if it's right, or what else it needs. I don't want to brag, but I make a pretty killer scone. You can ask around if you don't believe me. These are flavored with chocolate and orange zest, a classic combination.

I'm not going to post the recipe unless I get express permission from my former boss, but if I do, it'll be up here. I just wanted to share a little slice of life with you.