Wednesday, February 17

Burst - {Egg-Free Brownies}

Packed to capacity with chocolates, nuts, packets of gelatin and yeast, milk powder, almond meal, various gadgets and a small vial of homemade vanilla extract; my trusty backpack rested evenly over my shoulders as I made the 20 minute walk to my car. I found it difficult to place my toothbrush among the necessities as I packed, but I eventually spotted a forgiving spot within the front pocket. Wedged between my sanity and health, my rigid toothbrush threatened my well-being. I could feel myself slipping blissfully into insanity under the 20lb load as I trekked, but I didn't care. At least I'd have clean teeth!

An hour later, staring starry-eyed into my Grandma's kitchen, I was faced with an open range and a head full of ideas. I tossed a few around, but ultimately decided to keep things simple for a few reasons:

A) I wanted to include my cousin, K. Because I didn't want to frighten the poor kid with something complicated/improvised (as I have the tendency to do to my poor unsuspecting helpers), layer cakes and macarons were off the list!

B) My grandparents were entertaining guests. That means no messes!

So, brownies. I've been trying to perfect this recipe for over a month, so I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I'm recovering from a bit of a brownie overload! In that time, I've distributed at least four batches of these brownies to my friends, and they always go over very well. So well, in fact, that I've only just had an opportunity to take photos of them!

They always disappear before I get a chance...

Dense and Chewy Egg-Free Brownies
Super chewy, intensely chocolaty and made of all things good (minus eggs!), you're gonna love these!
Printable Recipe

1/3 c (41 g) flour
1 c (237 ml) water
1/2 c (118 g) butter
4 oz (113 g) chocolate (I've used milk chocolate Callebaut and unsweetend Dagoba - both produced great results, although the former is notable sweeter!)
2 c (284 g) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (199 g) granulated sugar
1 c (142 g) brown sugar (you can use all granulated if you like, but the brown sugar contributes to a chewier and denser texture.)
1 tsp vanilla
1 c (160 g?)chocolate chips
1/2 c (handful or so) cocoa nibs, optional

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).

Combine the 1/3 c flour and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and gummy. Set aside to cool slightly.

In the microwave or in a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate in a large bowl. Set aside to cool slightly.

Grease and line a 9x13 pan, being sure to grease over the top of the liner.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Add the sugars and vanilla to the chocolate mixture, then stir in the cooked flour mixture. Mix thoroughly, then sift in the dry ingredients. Begin folding to combine, and add the chocolate chips and cocoa nibs (if using) before completely combined to prevent over mixing.

Spread into prepared pan and sprinkle with more chocolate chips or cocoa nibs, if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean.

I know it's hard, but allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack before removing from pan and slicing.

Wednesday, February 10

Peel - {Double Chocolate Cupcakes}

Fumbling awkwardly with an orange, my hands fail me.

It's been a long day. I'm stressed, I'm a little overwhelmed and I'm doing my best to at least properly nourish myself despite my mood. Although absent of daylight and free from harsh overhead florescent bulbs, my room is far from dark. Quite the contrary; a foot of snow three stories below my window reflects every straining glimmer surrounding the parking lot. Added to the hallway lights shyly creeping around my open door, I'd consider this place pleasantly ambient.

It takes me a minute, but as I savagely scrape and pleadingly peel at the skin of the orange, I find myself calming down. I'd somehow convinced myself that a slow, careful and gentle touch was unimportant, favoring a rough technique that clearly wasn't working. To see myself so visibly frustrated was sobering, and I stopped before I let immaturity get the best of me.

Depositing the last of the bright orange peel into the trash, I sat softly on my bed. Comfortable and warm, relieved to finally be out of the wind, I decided quickly that I had no reason to be such a bum. Smiling over the events of the day and admiring the conflicting shadows playing on the floor, I saw how obviously the good things overshadowed the small annoyances that I thought made my day so bad. I was totally over being dramatic.

Sometimes all you need is time. And an orange. And a cupcake.

Or, you know, just the cupcake.

I hate to get worked up, and I really hate complaining. I'm hesitant even to post this, but I'm going ahead with it because it's helped me organize my thoughts. I have so many reasons to be happy, and I refuse to dwell on insignificant annoyances - most of which I honestly can't remember. Something which will, of course, help me calm down, but that will mostly serve as another reason not to let stupid things get to me in the first place.

Thank you so much for reading my blog. I really can't tell you how much it means to me or how happy it makes me to be able to inspire someone. You're awesome!

Take it easy, guys!

Printable Recipe
One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes via Martha Stewart
I bought the liners at Bake it Pretty. They've got everything you could ever want for cupcakes - it's great!

3/4 c (65 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 c (188 g) flour
1 1/2 c (298 g) sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 c (177 ml) warm water
3/4 c (177 ml) buttermilk
3 Tbls safflower oil (I used canola)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line 2 cupcake tins with liners and set aside.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to ensure batter is well mixed.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Simple Chocolate Ganache via Martha Stewart
I know I switch between metric and imperial a lot. I'm sorry.

6 oz (170 g) Good quality chocolate, shaved or chopped into small pieces
2/3 c (156 ml) cream
1 tsp corn syrup

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup on the stove until simmering, then pour over the chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes and stir gently to combine.


Spoon warm ganache over cooled cupcakes and top with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and royal icing roses, if desired.

Monday, February 1

Not Falling For It - {Vegan Red Velvet Cake}

Red and reflective of the upcoming holiday, the jealous green streak within me has taken a new hue. Bedecked with glitter and lined with delicate white lace, gaudy and obnoxious in its nature, the feeling has consumed me.

What am I missing out on?

The simple question haunts every slowly passing moment. The jealousy lingers.

But it's not what you're thinking; I'm not at all jealous of lovers or chocolates or flowers. What I am jealous of is the genius few who have taken advantage of this incredible marketing opportunity. The success they've achieved from peddling heart-shaped boxes filled with corn syrup and corniness is unbelievable.

Why couldn't it have been me who exploited this once-innocent tradition and turned it into some grotesque event expunged and devoid of all sincerity and originality?

Wait... Maybe I wouldn't want to do that. That sounds kind of bad. And the stress this holiday puts on men? That's just cruel.

So let's make this year simple, you and me. Go back to basics and make something - anything. Share the experience with someone and then share your creation with everyone else.

Because seriously, what store-bought gift could possibly compete with homemade cupcakes?

Vegan Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes via Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Don't be put-off by the fact that these are vegan! They're simple to make and SUPER delicious. They're incredibly moist and seriously the best red velvet cupcakes I have ever had.
Printable Recipe

1 c (237 ml) soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 c (156 g) flour
1 c (198 g) sugar
2 Tbls cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c (78 ml) canola oil
2 Tbls red food coloring (liquid)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp chocolate extract (I couldn't find this and thought they were great without it!)

Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a cupcake tin.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the soy milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle (this is to imitate buttermilk. It is an important step because the vinegar gives the baking soda something with which it can react!)

In another bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Add the oil, food coloring and extracts to the curdled soy milk and whisk well to combine. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet and fold to combine, mixing just until large lumps disappear.

Pour into liners and bake 18-20 minutes.

Makes 1 dozen.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting via Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

1/4 c (58 g) margarine, softened
1/4 c (58 g) vegan cream cheese, softened
2 c (312 g) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Cream together the margarine and cream cheese just until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar in half-cup batches, whipping thoroughly combined after each addition. Add the vanilla and whip until light and fluffy.