Learning to bake fearlessly <3

Posts tagged ‘holiday’

Strawberries stuffed with maple whipped cream, and a story!

I’m back home and mostly recovered! That trip was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was so worth it. I met amazing friends, both old and new (and my big sister!), and saw so much of the country! I’ve officially touched both coasts now.

I hit eleven tour stops all told, including the Vegas stop that was added after they made this map. The schedule was tough–every morning we’d have to get up around six, to be ready to go around seven AM. Then we’d have an eight to ten hour drive, and get to the theater two hours before the show to set up. We got so good at setting up merch displays.

During the show, we’d do whatever was needed–mostly selling merch and corralling fans, with occasional tasks like picking up dinner or making character card packs. The meet and greets at the end would usually get over anywhere from midnight to 2 AM, leaving us only a few hours to get back to the hotel room or friend’s house we were staying at and pass out, to get ready to do it again the next day! Tough schedule, but you do what you gotta do, right? Totally worth it. I worked with some wonderful people that I hope will be friends for a long time, and the energy at the stops was just amazing. Everyone was having a good time, excited and happy, and glad to be there. I tried to say at least a few words to every person that came through my line.

(Myself, Kimmie, and Shi being silly at the merch table while Kessie looks on judging us.)

And I even managed to get in some baking! Kessie’s mom’s birthday was a few days after we left, so I made her some cupcakes, plus some for us on the road. Hers were turtle cupcakes (devil’s food cupcakes with pecans baked on top, with caramel and chocolate ganache), and ours were simply devil’s food with chocolate ganache. We gave some to the tour team, and we were told they were inhaled. No pics since I was exhausted by the time they were finished, after the first show.

But that’s a few days gone already, and my baking fingers got itchy, so I whipped something up last night! I made this maple whipped cream with my sister ages ago, but this time I added more syrup and thought it was sooooo much better. But then, I’m a maple fiend. And maple+strawberries? Delicious! Who’d’a thunk?

Maple Whipped Cream
Adapted from JustJenn Recipes

4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tbsp powdered sugar
6 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Pour the cream into a cold stand-mixer bowl and whip it on medium-high til it starts to thicken. Then add the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla, and whip on high til you have a nice whipped cream. Don’t overwhip or it’ll get grainy–I overdid it just a bit, but not too badly. Eh, learning experience! And it still tastes lovely.

Then take your strawberries and wash them, cut off the stems, and core them. Sit them on their flat sides and cut halfway down the strawberry in an X shape. Then put your whipped cream in a piping bag and fill from the bottom so that the cream comes through the slits. Best enjoyed on the same day as made. I topped them with disco dust and a sugar heart.


Decadent dark chocolate brownie pudding

My friends (Kessie and Shi) and I are planning something daring and lovely and shiveringly terrifying. The thought came to us the other night and still sounded good in the morning (how all good plans are hatched)–we’re going to groupie the Devil’s Carnival road tour from Kansas aaaaall the way to Sacramento, and then go see another dear friend in LA! I’m so nervous I’m trembling a little, but at the same time I’m excited as hell, no pun intended. This is very possibly the coolest thing I’m going to do in my 20’s, and I can’t wait!

By the way, that carnival? Have you checked it out yet? Please tell me you have, because I have a feeling this is gonna be a Thing for me, and you’ll be hearing about it a lot in this blog. And you won’t want to miss this tour! The creators are taking it around the country and showing the movie and schmoozing with the fans. There’ll be shows and cosplaying and special guests from the film, the guys are absolute dolls, and the people who’ve seen it so far have given rave reviews. I haven’t seen it myself yet (ohmygosh 13 more days!), but the soundtrack is delicious, true earcandy and so lovely. I die over Trust Me and Beautiful Stranger every time.

How does this relate to baking, you ask? Easy. This dark chocolate brownie pudding is sinfully good. As one friend put it, “I feel like I’m going to hell for eating this.” And as TDC shows us, Hell is the place to be right now, so eat up, drink a cup of scorn with me, and fa la la, it’s off to decadent chocolate hell we go!

Dark chocolate brownie pudding

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup dark (dutch process) cocoa powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325 F and spray a 2-quart baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, or whatever method you like best. Melt your butter and set it aside to cool. Things I learned when making this: if your butter is overflowing your cup in the microwave, it will not, in fact, melt smoothly into said cup; it will make a nervous-making mess that I did not need to deal with when baking on a time constraint. So learn from my mistake and make sure your butter fits nicely into your melting receptacle.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream your eggs and sugar together on medium-high into a smooth, pale yellow liquid. Whisk your cocoa and flour together in a separate bowl; add those to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just combined. While the mixer’s still going, add your vanilla and butter, and mix further until just combined.

Pour the batter into your 2-quart pan, and then sit that pan in a larger pan. We’re going to need a water bath. Fill the larger pan up with hot tap water, about halfway up the side of the smaller pan. Bake for 60 minutes. The center will still be completely molten; that’s what we want. It’s somewhere between a large chocolate lava cake and a pan of brownie batter, and it’s soooooo good.

Note: I realized after the fact that, being flustered, I ended up putting in a full cup of cocoa instead of the 3/4 cup called for in the original recipe. I ended up loving how chocolatey it was and wouldn’t change it next time.

Sparkly Sweet Cake Pancakes

Recently, I got a query on my Facebook wall. A friend wanted to know if it was possible to make pancakes or crepes out of cake mix! I swear, I heard an angel chorus. I’m always in favor of making familiar dishes better, and doctoring cake mixes into something more is always lovely. So of course I had to try this!

I looked up different pancake recipes, and most of them called for 2 eggs instead of the 3 the box mix called for, so I adjusted that. I also added a bit of flour to thicken it up; if you want more crepelike pancakes, you might try leaving that out.

And the verdict? Delicious! They kept the fluffiness of pancakes while still tasting like vanilla cake. I bet they’d work out just as well with any kind of mix you’d like to try–chocolate, funfetti, red velvet anyone? And remember how I told you to save some sugar shapes from the last recipe I posted?

They look absolutely adorable baked into the middle of pancakes. I bet anyone would love to see these on their plate on Easter morning, or any special occasion. Enjoy!

1 box cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Sugar candies, about 12 for medium-sized pancakes or about 24 for small pancakes

Mix up the cake mix, eggs, oil, water, and flour in a mixing bowl. Warm a pan on the stove at medium to medium-low heat and melt a small amount of butter; you don’t want it to brown. Put down a sugar candy, flat side down, and immediately cover with pancake batter. When the top side is studded with large bubbles, flip the pancake carefully, so you don’t mess up the hot sugar. When cooked completely and golden brown, transfer to a large plate. Try not to stack pancakes on top of each other until cool, to preserve the candy. Serve with milk and lots of 100% pure maple syrup.

I’d also love to try these with maple candy, or with the batter dyed different fun colors!