Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes with Meringue Frosting

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DSC_0704 Today, I’m heading to a co-worker’s party and since her daughter loves cupcakes and caramel, I thought I’d make something that combines both. And let’s be honest, chocolate and caramel is one of the best combinations in my book because I am a chocoholic. They say the first step is acceptance right? I don’t think I can go one day without chocolate, so it makes sense that almost everything I make involves chocolate. Perhaps I should give up cooking on my blog and just make all things chocolate. DSC_0703 Anyway, back to this cupcake: I found a recipe for 7 minute meringue for the frosting and chocolate cupcake from bon appetit and since their recipes have yet to fail me, I decided to give it a try! The caramel, I made a few days ago and fell in love it. I also made too much because I have yet to buy a smaller sauce pot. With just a large pot, I thought it would be a waste to make the small batch and quadrupled the recipe. Don’t worry, it’s really easy to double or halve or triple or etc. Not to mention, making caramel isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. You just have to keep an eye on it because once the sugar burns it’s no good. DSC_0681 But caramel will be another post! The cupcakes were really good! Since I had reduced the sugar, they weren’t overly sweet and perfectly chocolate-y. I definitely think that adding melted chocolate into the batter along with cocoa powder is what really made it that way. The 7-minute meringue frosting tasted like marshmallows and it it all went so well! I really liked that the meringue held up in the NYC heat. I know it’s a little alarming because it’s raw egg whites, but since you cook them a little over a double-boiler I think it’s fine. Everyone loved them and I’m pretty sure that this frosting will be one of my go-to frosting recipes now that I’ve tried it and realized how surprisingly simple it is top make (although next time I will invest in a electric mixer). I made the frosting by hand this time and the 7-minute frosting took roughly 20 minutes by hand. So yes, definitely use a electric mixer of sorts. Enough chitchat, let’s get started!

Ingredients: 

-1 stick unsalted butter, softened
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
-1 cup AP flour
-3 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
-3/4 tsp baking powder
-1/8 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
Frosting: 
-1 cup sugar
-1/3 cup water
-2 large egg whites
-1/4 tsp cream of tartar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 pinch salt
-caramel

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a standard 12-cup cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. Melt the semisweet chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (30-45 second bursts, you don’t want it to burn!). Let the chocolate cool.
  3. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Once the eggs and vanilla are well incorporated, add in the chocolate and mix to combine.
  6. Add in one third of the flour mixture and mix to incorporate. Add the half the milk and mix until combined. Keep adding the flour and milk until everything is incorporated.
  7. Fill the liners until they’re about two-thirds full and gently tap the pan to settle the batter.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove and cool on a wire rack until completely cool.
  9. While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting by whisking the egg whites, water, cream of tartar, sugar and salt in a metal bowl. Set the bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and whisk* until soft peaks form.  Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk until the frosting is cool to the touch and form stiff peaks. Beat the vanilla into the frosting**.
  10. Before piping on the frosting, hollow out the center of the cupcake (not all the way through, just about two-thirds of the way down) and fill with caramel. Pipe the frosting onto the tops of the cupcakes.

*Please use a electric hand mixer or a mixer if you have one. If you, like me, do not  have one, now is the perfect time to invest in one. Or if you’re like me and decide you can hand whisk it, be prepared for a good whisking workout (and please don’t kill me afterwards) **You want to add the vanilla after the frosting has cooled since heat will alter the taste of the vanilla. And you’re done! DSC_0706 Hugs and puppies! Mimi

Update

Hi all!

 

I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting much! I’ve been pretty busy this past weekend, since my mom was in the city and I finally have a full-tim job as a paralegal! 

 

I’m hoping to bake/make more yummy things this weekend, so stay tuned!!

Hugs and puppies!

 

Mimi

Green Tea Icebox Cake

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DSC_0653Icebox cake. It’s a two-ingredient, no-fuss dessert. What makes it even better? There’s no need for an oven, so your already overheated kitchen won’t get any hotter. Now icebox cake shouldn’t be confused with ice cream cake. Icebox cake is literally cookies and whipped cream layered together and left to meld to create the perfect combination of cookies and cream. It’s ridiculously easy to personalize too. Whether you want flavored whipped cream or plain, store-bought wafer cookies or homemade ones, a big cake or little individual stacks, it’s all up to you! So this summer, cool off with some icebox cakes with all your friends! You’ll be glad you did!

In this version, I made green tea whipped cream and used these thin sesame cookies that a coworker brought in.  Some similar ones are the Japanese Harvest cookies, which you can probably find in your nearest Japanese grocery store (like Mitsuwa).  I also decided to make individual stacks instead of a entire cake, so I didn’t need as many wafer cookies.

Ingredients: 

-10-15 thin wafer cookies
-1 pint heavy cream
-3 tbsp matcha powder
 

Directions:

  1. Prepare your wafer cookies, whether you’re making them from scratch or simply taking them out of the box.
  2. Add the matcha powder to the heavy cream.
  3. Whip your heavy cream with a electric mixer (or by hand) into soft peaks.
  4. On a thin wafer, drop a dollop of whipped cream and gently top with another cookie. Pressing down gently so the whipped cream spreads.
  5. Repeat dolloping cream and topping with another cookie until you have about 5 or 6 layers. Any taller and it might fall (though if you want to make a lo cake, then simply keep stacking until it nearly topples before placing the stack on it’s side and adding more cookies).
  6. Place in the freezer and allow to firm up, about 3 hours or overnight.

You can also use a 9 inch spring form pan to make a giant cake if you want. I made a chocolate mocha ice box cake, which you can check out here!

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Hugs and puppies,

Mimi

 

4th of July Cupcakes

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Happy 4th of July! 

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I hope that everyone’s having a good 4th of July so far! I decorated some cupcakes to celebrate! I know I made cookies earlier, but I thought this was also a fun way to show your patriotic side! 

So let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-12 cupcakes (I made a red velvet and yellow cupcake swirl)
Cream Cheese Frosting
-3/4 cup powdered sugar
-8 oz cream cheese 
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-blue food coloring
Decorations
-red vines
-white sprinkles or nonpareils 
 

Directions:

  1. Bake your cupcakes and let them cool.
  2. While your cupcakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting by creaming together cold cream cheese with the powdered sugar and the vanilla.
  3. Take about 1/4 cup of the cream cheese frosting and mix it with a drop or two of blue food coloring.
  4. Cut your red vines so that they span the top of your cupcake (about 3 inches). If you want thicker stripes, simple cut the 3 inch pieces in half lengthwise. If you want thinner stripes (I thought they looked better), cut the 3 inch pieces into quarters (lengthwise).
  5. Frost the tops of the cupcakes with the white cream cheese frosting.
  6. Place two strips across the cupcake, one across the middle of the cupcake and one underneath it.
  7. Dollop a glob of blue frosting on the upper left half of the frosting. Cut a red vine piece in half and place it along side the blue frosting.
  8. Once you’ve frosted all the cupcakes, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle the white nonpareils over the blue frosting.

And you’re done!

Everyone at the office liked these cupcakes and I had a lot of fun decorating them! I hope you get to try making these for your own family and friends today! If you’re having trouble, comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out :)

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Hugs, puppies and fireworks!!

Mimi

American Flag Cookies

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The 4th of July is coming up this week and what better way to celebrate with some patriotic treats? These flag cookies are actually super easy to make and fun too! The dough is simple, I’ve actually used it for my kumamushi-san cookies. This is definitely a go-to recipe for shaped cookies, I found that they hold their form better than any sugar cookie recipe I’ve tried.  Along with the dough you’ll need is red and blue food coloring. And maybe some white sprinkles, I had rainbow nonpareils and though I tried picking out just the white ones, it’s probably easier and much faster to buy white nonpareils. The hardest thing about these cookies is assembling, but even that was pretty easy. I used about 1 and 1/3 batches of dough for this, but it might actually be better if you used 2 and 1/2 batches. 1 batch each for the red and white and 1/2 a batch for the blue. I might test this out and let you know how it goes!

Anyway let’s get started!

Ingredients:

 -1 and 1/4 cup AP flour
-1/3 cup powdered sugar*
-1 stick softened butter
-2-3 drops blue food coloring
-2-3 drops red food coloring
Optional
-white nonpareils
 
*If you don’t have powdered sugar, just grind 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 tsp of cornstarch in a spice grinder or coffee grinder! Trust me, it really works :)

Directions:

  1. Mix together the butter and the powdered sugar. Add in the flour and mix until just combined.
  2. Add in the food coloring until you get the desired shade. I found that for half a batch, about 3 drops of red food coloring did the trick.
  3. Once all the colors are made, divide the red and white doughs into three equal sized portions and two slightly smaller portions. In this sense, you should have 5 portions each of the red and white doughs and one portion of the blue dough.
  4. For the assembly it’s best to use two separate sheets of plastic wrap. Roll out one of the red portions into a long rectangle about 2 inches wide and 6 1/2 inches long. Place this red dough on one of the sheets of plastic wrap.
  5. On the other sheet of plastic wrap, roll out a portion of white dough into the same sized rectangle. Gently transfer the white dough so it’s on top of the red dough.
  6. Repeat this with all three portions of red and white dough.
  7. Take the blue dough and roll it into a cylinder about 6 1/2 inches long and about 2/3 an inch wide. Shape the cylinder into a square and place it on the right on top of the layered red and white dough.
  8. Use the remaining red and white dough and shape them into rectangles about 1 inch wide and 6 1/2 inches long. Layer them next to the blue square. You should now have a log 
  9. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and neaten the edges by gently tapping the dough on a straight surface. Place in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.DSC_0640
  11.  Slice the log, place the slices on the parchment line baking sheet (if you’re using nonpareils, sprinkle them over the blue part of the flag) and bake for 10 minutes.DSC_0641

And that’s it! Let me know if you’re having trouble with the steps, I’ll try and take reference photos :) I had a lot of fun making these cookies and now I’m tempted to try and make more flag cookies. I’m trying to come up with an excuse to make Japanese flag cookies, but alas since we’re out of the FIFA World Cup, I may have to resort to just making other flags. Speaking of, you could probably make these cookies for watching soccer games too, I mean the USA is still in the FIFA World Cup! I’m also going to be making more 4th of July treats, so stay tuned!

 

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Kumamushi-san Cookies!

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Kumamushi-san or tardigrade is a water bear. Okay, so she’s not really a bear, she’s a water-dwelling segmented microorganism with eight legs.  She’s possibly the cutest thing in the entire world and she’s also the office mascot at the immigration law firm I intern at.  So I decided to make kumamushi-san cookies and they came out pretty cute! I took a normal slice and bake cookie recipe, added cocoa powder, colored a small portion of the dough black and shaped them into kumamushi-san’s shape! Everyone at the office loved them, so I will for sure be making them more often!

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Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-1 stick softened butter (1/2 cup)
-1 cup flour
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-2 tsp instant espresso
-1 drop black food coloring

Directions:

  1. Cream together the butter and the sugar. Add in the cocoa powder and the flour and mix to combine.
  2. Roll into a oval log and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 F.
  3. Cut off the ends of the log and mix the dough with the espresso powder and the black food coloring.
  4. Slice the rest of the log in 1/4 inch thick slices. You may have to reshape the ovals.
  5. Using your fingers or a chopstick, shape kumamushi-san’s little legs. I found it easy to do by pinching the bottom into little leg shapes.
  6. Once the kumamushi san is shaped, place on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Carefully pinch off a small portion of the black colored dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten it against the kumamushi-san shaped cookie to make the eye.
  8. Repeat until no more dough is left.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes.
Kumamushi-san with her cookies :)

Kumamushi-san with her cookies :)

I had a lot of fun doing these kumamushi-san cookies and I’m thinking maybe I’ll try some more fun themed baked goods! Let me know if you have a character-themed baked good that you would like me to do!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

DIY Cheese its

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So here’s a little confession, I’m obsessed with cheese and I casually have a love affair with cheez-its. Now these crackers are pretty delicious, but I tried making my own and they were so much better. Not to mention they got a lot of love from my friends. I found the recipe online, but of course, I tweaked it! They were so delicious, I honestly have nothing more to say except that if you love cheese than you’re going to love these! They’re thicker than actual cheez-its, so they’re pretty hearty and they have just the right amount of cheesiness. Some of my friends liked them better than the actual thing!

So let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-8 oz cheddar cheese
-4 tbsp unsalted butter
-1/2 cup and 2 tbsp flour
-2 tbsp cornstarch
-a few pinches of salt, pepper and paprika
 

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter.
  2. Add in the cheese and seasonings and mix to combine.
  3. Add in the flour and cornstarch and knead until it forms a nice uniform dough.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 F
  6. On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Take a ruler and a pizza cutter (you can use a knife, but I found a pizza cutter is much easier) and cut uniform squares.
  8. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 18 minutes.

And that’s it! I’m dying to try these crackers with other cheeses such as a mix of parmesan, gruyere, swiss or mozzarella. I’ll let you know how it goes :)

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

 

Homemade Granola

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Wow, I haven’t really been baking much. I apologize profusely! It may be because I’m working all day at my internship (fingers crossed that I get the job afterward), but it may also be because I have no income (yay unpaid internships!) so I need to find a way to fuel my baking splurges :p But I promise that I’ll post more often!

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Anyway, this week, I made homemade granola and it was quite by accident. I was actually trying to make granola bars, cranberry granola bars to be precise. However, I didn’t realize (and I really should’ve) that different types of oats can change the outcome of your granola bars. In other words, instead of using quick cooking oats or rolled oats, I used old-fashioned oats. This mistake results in a granola bar that crumbles to pieces, so instead I have two jars of homemade cranberry granola!

It’s actually not that hard and I can’t wait to make it again, but this time maybe with some more fun ingredients like almonds, walnuts, pecans or other dried fruits!

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-2 cups old fashioned oats
-1/4 cup honey
-1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (I use almond butter)
-1 egg white
-1 cup dried cranberries 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Mix the egg white until nice and frothy. Add in the honey and the nut butter and mix until combined.
  3. Add in the oats and the dried cranberries and mix until combined.
  4. Spray a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan with nonstick spray (I used coconut) or butter and line with parchment paper.
  5. Gently press the granola mixture into the pan.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn off the oven and let the granola sit in the oven for an hour.

Once the granola is finished, break it up and store in an airtight jar. The jar that I got was from Chocotoy NYC. I had bought a fresh pressed juice the other day and it came with it’s own cute little mason jar! I love the granola because it isn’t too sweet and it’s pretty simple to make. Let me know if you make it yourself and leave your own granola combinations in the comments!

Well that’s all for now :)

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Happy Doughnut Day!

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I know, it’s kind of late, but celebrate National Doughnut Day with this easy doughnut recipe

I may not have had time to make them today, but they’re still delicious and who knows? Maybe I’ll fry up a batch after dinner ;) I mean it’s only 9:48 PM here in New York, but I could definitely get these doughnuts done before midnight! And who doesn’t love a good doughnut?

Hugs and puppies! 

Mimi

 

 

Ina’s Raspberry Crumble Bars

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Hello!

I know I know, it’s been FOREVER since I posted, but now that I’ve got my oven working, I promise to start baking more regularly :) The other day, I decided to break my baking fast with something fun and delicious. Since I had gotten three amazing cookbooks from my sister and two from a family friend, be ready for some of my own takes on those recipes! This time, I decided, since I love Ina Garten so much, that I would make her raspberry crumble bars! They’re from her Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook!  But of course I had to tweak it a little bit! The changes are in parentheses and are bolded. I took these crumble bars to work and everyone loved them, so thanks so much Ina!

Let’s get started shall we?


Ingredients:

-1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (maybe this is why the recipe is so darn good ;])
-3/4 cup of sugar (I used 1/2 cup and they came out perfect!)
-2 1/3 cup AP flour
-1 tsp vanilla (I didn’t have vanilla, so I omitted it)
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-2/3 cup granola minus dried fruit (I used rolled oats)
-1/4 cup sliced almonds (I used walnuts)
-10 to 12 ounces good raspberry jam or your favorite jam (I used 5 ounces aka half a 10 ounce jar)
-1/2 cup chocolate chunks (because I add chocolate to everything)
-3 tbsp chocolate almond butter  
 

Directions:

  1. Line a square 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until just combined. If you have vanilla, add the vanilla.
  3. Sift the flour and salt (I never sift and they come out perfectly fine). Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until it comes together. Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the pan, making sure that it’s nice and even. Make sure that the dough also goes up 1/4 inch up the sides.
  4. Spread the chocolate almond butter, leaving a 1/4 inch border. Now spread the raspberry jam on top of the chocolate almond butter. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Of course if you don’t want chocolate, just spread your favorite jam across the top.
  5. Mix the granola (rolled oats) and chopped nuts with the remaining dough and break the dough into small crumbles with your hands. Sprinkle the crumbles on top of the jam, covering most of the surface.
  6. Bake the bars for 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

Ina has you sprinkle the tops with confectioner’s sugar once they’ve cooled down, but I thought that jam would be sweet enough, so I omitted that step as well! These were so delicious and I’m sure you can choose whatever jam you love. I’d love to try these with apricot jam or blackberry! Or maybe even fresh fruits? The possibilities are endless!
Let me know if you give this recipe a try!

See you soon! Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

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