Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Things.

1. This needs to be in your life.
2. Did you actually click play... or are you just scrollin' through? Mmhm. On to you.

3. I miss Disneyland. 
Can we go? Okay.

4. What it's like to live with me, Exhibit A.
5. Confession: Friday nights are my favorite. It's the night I ignore the world, put on my favorite pajamas, silence my phone, x out of Facebook, have absolutely nothing to do with baking, and spend several hours watching some seriously classy television, particularly The Vampire Diaries, The Lying Game, The Secret Circle, Ringer, and Pretty Little Liars (Halloween episode tonight!). 
Because obviously I'm secretly 16.

Then I head over here, to's photorecap treasury. If you watch The Vampire Diaries... 
... or The Secret Circle...
 ... I think you should get on this business. It'll make you giggle.

6. Speaking of being 16, I may or may not have just made vampire fangs on my teeth out of candy corn.  

7. I'm planning the most over-the-top, ultimate dream cupcake to celebrate the day I finally, finally land a career. I'm pretty positive it needs to involve this frosting...
... but maybe a caramel or peanut butter swirl instead.

What would your dream cupcake be, if calories, pounds, and carbs stopped existing for 24 hours? Inspire me!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Scones.

It was only a matter of time.
It's October.

And October = pumpkin spice scones! 
This is another fall recipe that I wanted to make last year, but didn't because, well, let's face it, these scones are just a fancy excuse for eating giant, cakey pumpkin spice cookie-wedges covered in cinnamon-sugar glazes for breakfast.  
I'm okay with that.

Sometimes figuring out what to bake around here can be a headache. 
I don't like crispy cookies, my parents do. They like nuts in their cookies and pancakes... do not even get me started. My dad doesn't like mint or lemon, my mom doesn't like cinnamon with chocolate or anything sweet with peanut butter. My boyfriend doesn't like mini M&Ms, sweet things for breakfast, burnt marshmallow s'mores, or sugary frostings.

Frosting! Honestly, what am I getting into here? It's a good thing we're in love and all that. 
As for me? Well. We all know that pumpkin things are my weakness (right after Lofthouse cookies and frozen cupcakes), so the thought of making 18 super thick, freshly-glazed scones both terrified and excited me. Really, I should've figured out a pumpkin scones for two recipe... but sometimes I just want to bake something without all the math. <-- is bad at fractions.
Luckily everyone loved these and they disappeared fast. Like... within 48 hours. And as someone maybe slightly obsessed with the Starbucks version, I have to say these were pretty close... and maybe even slightly better. I think next time I would add a little more cinnamon to the scones and make the glazes a little bit thicker, but other than that, these were perfect. And I kind of wish there were some left.  
Make me some? 

P.S. I highly recommend putting your fresh-baked scones on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, drizzling the two glazes over the top, and then moving them to a fancy plate... all so you can scoop up that extra cinnamon-sugar glaze with a spoon. I did not do that. 

Seriously. I didn't.
Okay, fine. Totally guilty. Look at you, knowing me and all. 

Pumpkin Spice Scones

1/2 cup canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons half-and-half (I used heavy cream)
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

Sugar Glaze
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Spiced Glaze
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of cloves

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, half-and-half, and egg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Add the cubed butter on top. Cut together using a fork or pastry blender until it reaches the consistency of coarse cornmeal (pieces of butter should be no larger than a small pea).

Gradually fold the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture, using a spatula, wooden spoon, or your hands. Make sure all the dry ingredients have been moistened well.

On a well-floured surface, flatten and form the dough into a 12 inch x 4 inch x 1 inch-thick rectangle.

Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, divide the rectangle into three equal pieces, then cut each piece into four smaller triangles by making an "X" through them.

Place scones on baking sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until just light brown. Remove to cooling rack and let cool before icing.

To make the powdered sugar glaze, mix all ingredient together, then brush over the tops of cooled scones using a pastry brush.

After the glaze has set (about 10 minutes or so), make the spiced glaze by mixing all ingredients together. Drizzle onto scones (I put mine in a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off).

Let icing set (or not) and enjoy!

Source: Brown-Eyed Baker.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes for Two.

This isn't about portion control.

(Okay. It is.)
But really this is about there being too many pumpkin-spiced things in the world to eat between now and peppermint/gingerbread season and anything more than two cupcakes is totally unneccessary and stresses me out.

... even though I tripled this and made six. Two for my face, two for my parents, and two for pictures. Whatever. It happens.
Want to hear something sad? I've been craving pumpkin cupcakes since literally August.

... of last year.
I know! But I'd never had one and I figured they would taste like big cakey pumpkin spice scones topped with frosting and sprinkles and sugar, and since cupcakes and pumpkin scones are two of my biggest weaknesses, I kept putting them off. For the sake of my jeans.

Until I found this recipe that makes just two cupcakes and, well, there went that idea. 
I was so excited when I found this, I literally unplugged my laptop, carried it into the kitchen, and made them that night. I didn't have any leftover frosting to frost these with (<-- probably a good thing) and I'm not much into cream cheese frostings, so I made a tiny batch of cinnamon-vanilla buttercream instead.
Where have been I living? These are even better than the vanilla cupcakes for two! They're so soft and moist and full of fall spices.
And the cinnamon frosting? I pretty much want to put that on everything I bake for the rest of my life. I'm serious. Cakes, pies, onion rings, whatever. It's gonna happen. 
But seriously. I can't even handle thinking about making a full batch of these cupcakes because after the first batch disappeared, I kept wandering into the kitchen all night looking for the other ten. I could've eaten a whole dozen. Dangerous times. 
Thank you, tiny recipe, for letting me fit into my pants. 

1 egg white
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1/4 cup flour
1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons milk

Cinnamon-Vanilla Frosting (makes enough for 2-4 cupcakes)
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon shortening
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon (for a stronger cinnamon taste, use 1/4 teaspoon)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with two liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together egg white and sugar until thoroughly combined. Whisk in oil, vanilla, and pumpkin until fully incorporated.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cloves, and salt. Gradually stir into pumpkin mixture until just combined. Stir in milk. The batter will be very liquidy.
Divide the batter between the two cupcake liners, filling slightly more than 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool completely before frosting. (Note: My cupcakes came out a little cone-shaped in the middle, but you can smooth them down with a knife or spoon.)
To make frosting, beat together the softened butter and shortening until light and fluffy (I did this in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but since it's such a small batch, be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula in between each step!). Add the vanilla and salt and mix until incorporated. Slowly add the powdered sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the milk and mix at high speed until light and fluffy. Stir in cinnamon and frost cupcakes!    

Source: Cupcakes from A Bitchin' Kitchen, frosting inspired by same source, but adapted from this recipe

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Things.

1. Everytime I order a salted caramel mocha frappuccino (or a sltcrmlmo frap, if you will), I giggle. Because honestly, everytime, it reminds me of that scene from You've Got Mail:

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall! Decaf! Cappuccino!" 
And then I blush, because it's always the same barista who takes my order and I'm pretty sure at this point he's judging me by the amount of salted caramel I consume in a week.

And the giggling, of course.

2. Do you think my mom's trying to tell me something? 
The day the last white chocolate raspberry cheesecake cookie disappeared, these FIVE boxes of muffin mix appeared in the cupboard. "I'm just stocking up." <-- My mom.

So, you know, in case of a zombie apocalypse, cookies at my house?

3. Mohawk apples. It's a thing.
Literally! It's a type of apple.

4. Does anyone else watch Being Erica?
Get on this! This is one of my all-time favoritest shows and I feel like no one else has ever even heard of it. Also, Season 4 just started and I'm kind of flipping out because no one told me and I've been wasting my time watching Pan Am and Ringer.
I love this show because it always makes me want to get out there and live my life right. It makes me happy! It's about a thirty-something woman whose life hasn't turned out like she expected (been there). She's fired from her job, her relationships fall apart, none of her dreams came true, her family isn't perfect... until she meets Dr. Tom, a therapist who can send her back in time to fix all of her mistakes and regrets. Seriously. Watch this. I know. There's no vampires. But it's so worth it.

Unlike American Horror Story. I can't even deal.

5. This was the best cupcake of my life.
I'm not going to lie, I kind of wanted to use that frosting as moisturizer. 

6. My dad just emailed me from the living room. Real life.

7. And, most importantly, your Tuesday pep talk, sponsored by Pinterest.

Monday, October 10, 2011

White Chocolate Mocha Cookies.

Do you ever wish you could go to Starbucks and just order a cup of whipped cream and salted caramel?

No? It's okay. We can still be friends. 

One of my favorite parts of college was making late-night coffee runs with my roommate/boyfriend/whoever was awake when I desperately needed an excuse to stop studying caffeine. Because normal people order lattes at 3 AM, right?

... they do if they're studying criminal justice. It's not all CSI and petri dishes, I'll tell you that.
But the best was when we'd go at this random, magical hour between 3 and 5 AM when they would very generously give us our drinks for free. This only happened a few times, but when it did? It was like Christmas morning!

... and since we're so close here and all, I'm not ashamed only slightly ashamed to tell you that one time, after getting venti peppermint frappuccinos for free, we drove back to the dorms in a total sugar high, switched cars, put on sunglasses... and went back for free hot chocolates.

What can I say. It was finals week.

Also: I love coffee. On the real.
So I was super excited when, as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received two limited-edition fall coffees to try from Godiva: pumpkin spice and caramel pecan bark.
I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the pumpkin coffee. It was described as having a "warm pumpkin pie flavor with cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet vanilla cream notes" and it smelled amazing brewing, like the inside of a pumpkin, but didn't taste... special. If I hadn't known it was pumpkin spice, I would've guessed it was just regular coffee brewed with a pinch of cinnamon. Maybe it was because I've gotten used to having super sweet pumpkin lattes? I don't know.

But the caramel pecan bark?
The minute I ripped open the bag, I knew it had to be put it in a cookie. It was either that or eat the grounds with a spoon.
These are officially the second best cookies I have ever made (fluffernutters for life), but if baking's not your thing or you're having a day, seriously: just make this dough and put it in your face. It's legit.
These cookies taste something like a cross between the double chocolate chunk Oreo cookies (without the Oreos) and the chocolate chip espresso bars. They're thick, super chewy, with a rich, deep, dark chocolatey mocha flavor that's definitely for coffee-lovers. 
Like taking a fistful of coffee and punching a chocolate chip cookie in the face. Delicious.
P.S. They're best warm and eaten right off the spatula for dinner. I totally did not do that/yeah. It happened. 

White Chocolate Mocha Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I know... it seems like a lot. But you can't taste it with all the chocolate & coffee going on)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, instant coffee, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy, for about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the semisweet and white chocolate chips. Be careful not to over-mix.
Scoop dough into tablespoon-size balls and place 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes

Let cookies cool five minutes on baking sheet before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall To-Do List.

It's October.

What?! That's what I said.

I don't know if it's the changing leaves, the fall weather, or flipping my Vampire Diaries calendar from Jeremy to Stefan... but everything feels like a new beginning. 

After the slump I fell into this summer, a slump with no beaches, no s'mores, no camping, and no very little happiness, I'm determined to do fall right, especially when it comes to Halloween. I'm only 24... I'm way too young to be looking back on life thinking "I should've done this..." or "I should definitely have eaten that..." Whatever! This is life. Let's do some living.
So in no particular order, here's everything I want to do/am totally doing this fall... 

1. Go to a pumpkin patch.

2. Hike to a waterfall. 

3. Go to the drive-in with blankets & hot chocolate.

4. Carve pumpkins.

5. Watch Halloweentown. <3 this.

6. Go to the apple farm. Done! We went Sunday. 
7. Make some warm, savory dishes, like chicken tortilla soup or mini lasagnas. 

8. Bake something that requires yeast and patience. And cinnamon!

9. Split a fancy caramel apple with someone.
10. Make Halloween bark. (I've wanted to make this for the last two years.)

11. Wear a Halloween costume. 

12. Have a scary movie-a-thon.

13. Hand out candy!

14. Bake a pie with homemade crust.
15. Throw a big pile of leaves in the air, just because.

16. Go to the Big Game (annual football game between our two high schools... I haven't been since I was actually in high school and in the half-time show.)

17. Take pictures in a photo booth. Because I've still never done this.  

18. Reread Breaking Dawn & go to the midnight release. 

What's on your fall to-do list?