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Vanilla Cupcakes with Fluffy Frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes with Fluffy Frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes with Fluffy Frosting

Today I thought I wouldn’t be baking anything. You see, lately I’ve been going through this mad craze where all I want to do is bake. Seriously though, I don’t want to do anything else. I wake up and the first thing I think is ‘what can I bake today?’. And I can’t stop! It’s fun for me but my family is not liking it. Well, of course they like it! They are just concerned about eating ALL of the delicious things I have been making lately. They don’t want to get fat!

So today I tried to think of other things I could do. I took the dog for a nice long walk, I cleaned my room, watched a documentary on volocanoes, watched a documentary on new technologies and developments to help reduce the carbon dioxide emissions, and then I did something I shouldn’t have done. I put on the food network. And guess what? Barefoot Contessa was on and Ina Garten was making those fricking delicious coconut cupcakes of hers. How dare she! When I am trying to cut back on my baking! I then realized I had to bake something. I had to or else I would not be happy. I thought about what to make, something my dad wouldn’t complain about (“no more chocolate! all you do is make chocolate stuff! how about some vanilla for a change!”) and so I thought of the perfect thing. Vanilla cupcakes! Because truth be told, I have never made a vanilla cupcake that didn’t come from a box :$. I guess I’ve sort of veered away from that path because everytime I attempt to make a white cake (one that’s not a sponge) it never tastes right to me. And I get disappointed and discouraged and usually don’t bake for a while.

Well today I met my challenge head on, and tried a vanilla cupcake recipe that I’d looked at many times before but never even thought of attempting. And the result? Astounding! I couldn’t believe it. They weren’t dense and heavy, nothing like a poundcake (which I very much dislike) and were instead fluffy and delicious like I think a vanilla cupcake should be.  I piped some purple/pink frosting (as you can see in the picture) on them to make them cute. I was hoping I’d have some white nonpareils but I couldn’t find any. Here are the recipes:

Vanilla Cupcakes:

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I added 3…what?! I like vanilla! I also added about 1/2 tsp of coconut extract)

Zest of 1 large lemon (optional)  (I didn’t use this)

1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and lightly butter or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

For the Cupcakes: Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Fluffy Frosting (makes 3.5 cups):

1 cup of milk

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 cup of butter (or margarine)

1 cup of fine white sugar

1 tsp of pure vanilla extract

Whisk the flour into the milk in a small saucepan until smooth. Heat and stir until it boils and thickens, then cool thoroughly.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add thickened milk and beat until the mixture resembles whipped cream.

The delicious moist inside of the cupcakes

The frosting sort of started to melt a bit after I had taken it out into the sun for good lighting (but those pictures are not shown)

I was so proud that my first time making vanilla cupcakes didn’t turn out badly! Now I have more confidence in my cupcake division of baking 🙂

I obviously give this recipe 5 Pastry Mice out of 5!

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♥Taro; who is a very happy cupcake baker!

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Toffee Walnut Brownies

I recently bought some cocoa powder from Ambrosia Natural Foods and really wanted to make something that showcases chocolate so I could find out if I liked it or not. I thought, what better than brownies to find out! So I dug around all my recipe books and all my bookmarked pages of recipes to find a good brownie. Then I remembered that a blog I visit frequently had a dark chocolate brownie recipe posted a few days ago! How perfect. So I got everything out and started making them. Here is the recipe from Pumpkin and Spice:

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Makes one 9×13 pan

  • 10 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2c sugar
  • 1t vanilla
  • 3/4c flour
  • 1/2c cocoa powder
  • 1t salt
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1c semi-sweet chocolate chips (or toffe bits or walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 pan well.
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate and butter and mix well.
In a different bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add to the chocolate and egg mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the chips (or bits or nuts) and pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top.
Bake for 30min. (A skewer inserted in the center will still come out moist- the brownies will set up when they cool.)

(The recipe does call for 10 oz of dark chocolate, but I only had 5 oz of Scharffen Berger left, and it was rich milk chocolate instead of dark. I decided to go ahead and just use what I had. I also put in about 1/2 cup of toffee bits AND walnuts! Yum!)
When I opened my bag of cocoa it was a deep rich brown, I had never seen cocoa like that since what we usually buy is just really average cocoa. You know, nothing special. It smelled amazing and way better than the stuff I have sitting in my cupboard right now. I figured that with this cocoa, 5 oz less of melted chocolate wouldn’t hurt. It turned out to be the darkest brownie batter I have ever seen! And oh my god when they were in the oven I wanted to take them out half-way through and just eat the half eaten brownie batter. When the timer went off I was so happy. Excited to try the brownies! I let them cool for a bit in the pan, and then cut them up and lifted them out. Took the biggest one for myself of course, put it on a plate and grabbed a glass of milk. It looked pretty so I took a picture too, which is at the top of this post. It was heavenly! Very similar to the Barefoot Contessa ‘Outrageous Brownies’ but those make a LOT of brownies. This recipe is great for a smaller batch, and quick to make too! And while these are delicious brownies, the only downside for me is that I prefer my brownies to be more fudgey and less…crumby? Maybe they are this way because I only added 5 oz of chocolate instead of 10. I’ll have to try them again some other time and compare! So for now:

I give this recipe 4 Pastry Mice out of 5!
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♥Taro

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Sweet Potato Pie

I was watching Paula Deen on the food network a few days ago, and they were talking about sweet potato pie. I’ve never had it, and actually had never heard of it, so of course it sounded interesting to me. I wondered what it would taste like and I figured it would be something like a sweeter version of the yams* my mom makes at Christmas and Thanksgiving for my sister, but in a pie crust. I figured I had nothing to lose if I made one, someone would eat it if it didn’t go over well at my house. So I turned to one of my favourite recipe websites, allrecipes! And I found one with a lot of reviews and a 5 star rating. So I made it! The only thing I did differently was add a bit of flour because it was REALLY runny, and I put the mixture through the blender to smooth it out as it had a lot of sweet potato lumps in it.
Here is the link to the recipe! It’s really yummy 🙂

I did have a slight problem however…The first inch of the crust on the bottom of the pie pan was stuck and would not move. I have no idea how this happened. But I couldn’t even cut out a nice slice since the first part of the crust would stay on the pan, and the slice would be falling apart. I had to do something to salvage this delicious pie! And I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be nice if  I had a big 8 inch round biscuit/cookie cutter?”. And since I don’t, I thought cutting out small circles would be just a cute, if not cuter since they’re small! So I did, and I managed to get most of the pie back to an appetizing appearance. Only a small bit was un-salvageable and had to be thrown away. The end product would have been much cuter had I had some whipped cream to pipe in a fluffy mound on top and sprinkle with cinnamon. Oh well! Now I know for next time. But here is a picture of what is left of the saved pie.
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I did a messy job at cutting out the circles!

But at least it tasted good! So:

I give this recipe 4 Pastry Mice out of 5!
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Next time, BROWNIES! mmmm!!!

♥Taro

*I really don’t know the difference between yams and sweet potatoes, I looked it up on Google and just got more confused 🙂

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My Favourite Coffee Cake

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(not a good picture. I’m not a very good food photographer at night! This was just made, came out of the oven about 20 minutes ago. Superb!)

This recipe comes from a family-made cookbook on my Mom’s side, so it’s full of delicious Dutch recipes, and some other fun things.  It’s a sour cream coffee cake, with the standard brown sugar/cinnamon layer inside. I still remember the first time I made this cake. I was in grade 3 and my Oma was coming to visit us from B.C. And when my Oma comes over, that means a lot of tea will be made. (I’m somewhat of a tea granny myself, can’t get enough of the stuff.) I wanted to make something for us to have after dinner with our tea while we were playing Scrabble. I pulled out the cookbook that I had never really noticed before, and found this recipe. Even though it’s a “coffe cake”, I figured it would still be good with tea! And it was. Everyone loved it! It’s a really moist cake, not too sweet, and the perfect texture a coffee cake should be (according to me anyways!).

Sour Cream Coffee Cake:

1/4 c  margarine
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c sour cream

1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream the butter, and then add the sugar. Add the eggs in one at a time, making sure everything is fully mixed together. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Then alternately add the dry ingredients and sour cream to the butter/sugar mixture.

Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of the mixture into a greased tube pan, then add half of the batter and spread carefully and evenly. Sprinkle the rest of the mixture on that and cover with the remaining batter. (If you really wanted to, you could make a little extra topping and sprinkle it on the top, which becomes the bottom anyways.)
Bake in a 350°F oven for 40-45 minutes in the lower third of the oven until a toothpick or thin knife comes out clean. You can eat it right out of the oven or room temperature! It’s awesome either way.

My favourite thing about it is that the brown sugar sprinkled on the bottom of the pan makes a sweet and crunchy crust on the outside of the cake. I love it!

I give this recipe 5 Pastry Mice out of 5!
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Eet Smakelijk!

(that’s like “bon appétit” in Dutch!)

♥Taro

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A Polar Bear

Bear

She says she knows what she wants.
But the truth is she has no idea.

♥Taro

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What To Do, What To Do…

brides_just_desserts

So I’ve taken a year off. And now I have no idea of what I want to do with my life.  I’ve looked over hundreds of programs offered at universities and colleges, and none of them really appeal to me or make me say “OH WOW I WANT TO DO THAT!” I have no idea what to do. I do know some things though.
1. I don’t want to work for someone else (but I’m sure I will have to at least for a little bit.)
2. I want to make a liveable amount of money, doesn’t have to be extravagant though.
3. I feel limited for some reason. Are there actually things in my way or am I just holding myself back?

*sigh* maybe I just don’t know how to go about achieving what I really want. Kevo tells me I need to talk to a pastry chef who has opened up their own shop. I agree, but don’t quite sure know how to do it, or how to pick one that I really like and admire. I want to go to Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa. But I am not quite sure I want to take out a student loan from the bank to pay it off at once.($23,000 at once is a big amount!!). I guess I should just suck it up and join the rest of the crowd and end my post-secondary schooling with a huge loan.  I will just be like all the other fish in the sea who are plagued by debt and horribleness.  Hooray for me!!

Secondly…should I…should we…should we cut down our trip of 2 months long and only go for like..3 weeks or just 1 month? It would save money for sure..more money for LCB!

♥Taro

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