Green Tea White Chocolate Sugar Cookies

green tea white chocolate cookiesIt’s December! I can’t believe that it’s already more than a week into December and Christmas is fast approaching. No, I haven’t done my holiday shopping yet but I can already envision the empty bank account as I think about the things I have to buy. But the Christmas tree is up and I’m glad I got that done at least.
green tea cookiesWhen December rolls around, cookies seem to be extra popular to bake. I’ve never done cookie exchanges or made cookie platters but I think it’s always fun to see people enjoy the things you make in the kitchen. These green tea white chocolate sugar cookies are extra tender and soft. The white chocolate in the batter softens the taste of green tea, which can come across as bitter to some people. But the green tea flavor is still bold and you might not even notice the white chocolate.
green tea white chocolate sugar cookiesI put a dollop of royal icing on mine, because I made a whole batch to decorate the same cookies that were cut into Christmas tree shapes. But I didn’t realize that the royal icing wouldn’t stick onto the cookies because of the coating of green tea sugar. I had to force it onto the domed cookies by squeezing it straight onto the cookie and hoping it would stay. So, if you are planning on decorating these, you can skip the green tea sugar coating (ah, but that sugar is so delicious though!!).
matcha white chocolate sugar cookies

Here are a couple of past posts for more holiday baking:
Christmas Wreath Macarons
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows and Coconut White Hot Chocolate
Snowball Cookies

Green Tea White Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
¾ c. sugar, divided
½ tsp. plus 2 tbsp. matcha
2 c. flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. brown sugar, packed
1 ½ tbsp. honey
1 large egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. lemon zest
3 oz. white chocolate, melted

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk ½ c. sugar and ½ tsp. matcha together.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt and 2 tbsp. matcha.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, brown sugar, honey and ¼ c. sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg, egg yolk, and lemon zest and mix until pale.
  5. On low speed, add flour mixture and white chocolate.
  6. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350˚F and scoop tablespoon sized dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. (I used a domed baking pan like the one here. I sprayed the pan with nonstick spray before putting the dough into the pan.)
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the bottom and the edges are barely golden and the tops no longer look wet.
  9. Immediately, toss cookies into reserved green tea sugar gently and let cool before eating.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

The Pink Cupcake (#10000cupcakes)

DSC_0318October is breast cancer awareness month! When I found out that KitchenAid is donating $1 to Susan G. Komen for every original picture of a cupcake baked and shared, I had to jump on board.

DSC_0336Since pink is the color for breast cancer awareness, I decided to make the pinkest cupcake I can possibly make. With a pink velvet cake base and strawberry frosting, the cupcake is already pink. But once topped with tiny sparkling pink macarons sandwiched with chocolate ganache (macarons are my favorite!), pink and white colored edible pearls, edible silver stars, gumpaste flowers and specks of pink shimmer, it is filled to the brim with all things pink and white.
DSC_0329DSC_0344Of course, you don’t have to decorate the cupcakes like I did. The pink velvet cake, strawberry frosting, ganache and macarons are all delicious individually and together. And I encourage you to try your own combination of flavors and components to make your own unique creation.
DSC_0327So here’s to all to those who are fighting, supporting, hurting, recovering, helping, treating and healing from breast cancer or with a loved one with breast cancer. You are stronger than you think.

The Pink Cupcake

1 batch of pink velvet cupcakes (recipe below)
1 batch of strawberry frosting (recipe below)
1 batch of pink mini macarons (recipe below)
1 batch of chocolate ganache (recipe below)
edible pink pearls (optional)
edible white pearls (optional)
edible silver stars (optional)
edible pink shimmer dust (optional)
white gumpaste flowers (optional)

Instructions

  1. On a pink velvet cupcake, with a 1M Wilton frosting tip, frosting a swirl of strawberry frosting.
  2. Sprinkle with edible pink and white pearls and sprinkle silver stars and pink shimmer dust.
  3. Top with two pink mini macarons and two gumpaste flowers.
  4. Enjoy.

Pink Velvet Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ c. butter, at room temperature
1 ½ c. granulated white sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. pink gel food coloring
1 cup buttermilk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix both flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  4. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated and beat in food coloring.
  6. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to egg mixture on low speed.
  7. Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full.  Bake 15-17 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

Strawberry Puree

Ingredients:
3 cups of strawberries, smashed
1 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries and lemon juice on medium heat until mixture thickens and reduces 1/3-1/2 of the original volume, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:
2 c. whole milk
½ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients:
1 batch of strawberry puree
⅔ batch of vanilla frosting

Instructions:

  1. Mix vanilla frosting with ½ of strawberry puree until the mixture turns strawberry pink and fluffy.
  2. Give mix a taste and if not flavored enough, add puree ¼ at a time until desired flavor is reached.

Pink Mini Macarons

Ingredients:

212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
pink gel food color
pink sparkling sugar (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Line four baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In the bowl of your food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear. Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks. Add two drops of the pink gel food color and mix until batter turns a light shade of pink.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty. From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ¼ in. plain tip, pipe mini macarons by squeezing the pastry bag with slight pressure.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter have dried*, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Optional: If using pink sparkling sugar, sprinkle it on top of macaron batter after the batter is piped.
  12. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F. If your oven tends to run hot, go for 275˚ if not then 325˚.
  13. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth. The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  14. Let cool and fill with chocolate ganache filling.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
¾ c. heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. In a heatproof bowl, pour heavy cream on top of chocolate and microwave for one minute.
  2. Let stand 3 minutes and stir until combined.
  3. Let mixture cool in the fridge and stir every 4-5 minutes until the ganache is firm enough to be spread onto macaron shells.

The Ultimate Oreo Ice Cream Cake with Homemade Crunchies

how to make an ice cream cake

I would say that whenever the topic of ice cream cakes come up, about 75% of the people I talk to gush about how much they love crunchies. You know, the crunchy chocolate crumbs that are usually sandwiched between the vanilla and chocolate ice cream layers in a standard store bought ice cream cake. So when D requested a cookies and cream ice cream cake, with an extra thick layer of crunchies, I set out to make the ultimate cookies and cream ice cream cake.
cookies n' cream ice cream cakeOn another note, I’m not sure if it is cookies n’ cream, cookies n’ creme, cookies and creme, cookies and cream or Oreo. Does anyone know what the “right” way to say it is? The grammar Nazi in my brain says “cookies and cream” but the media uses all of them.  So instead of driving myself crazy, I’m going to use them all interchangeably.
cookies and cream ice cream cakeTo be honest, I was a little disappointed when he requested such a standard flavor. My mind was whizzing with all sorts of crazy flavor combinations (something along the lines of toasted marshmallows, drizzly caramel, crushed salted nuts…) and went to a complete stop when he said cookies and cream. But it’s okay because I took cookies and cream to the next level with this cake. (Kind of like that episode in Friends where Phoebe takes cups and ice to the next level.)
oreo browniesIt starts with an Oreo brownie base, layered with homemade crunchies (just two ingredients, and so easy), with a very generous layer of cookies and cream ice cream (two quarts!), layered again with crunchies and brownie base.
oreo barkIt is then covered in whipped topping, topped with a decadent chocolate ganache (Omg. It was my favorite part of the cake), and decorated with scoops of whipped topping that look like scoops of ice cream (plain and Oreo flavored), and topped with shards of Oreo bark, cookie crumbs and whole mini Oreos. Every single component screams cookies and cream and every bite is as amazing as it sounds.
cookies and cream ice cream cake
The Ultimate Oreo Ice Cream Cake with Homemade Crunchies

Ingredients
2 – 8” round Oreo brownie layers (recipe below)
1 batch homemade crunchies (recipe below)
2 quarts of cookies and cream ice cream, softened*
20 oz. cool whip
chocolate ganache (recipe below)
mini Oreos
¼ c. white chocolate or white candy melts

Instructions:

  1. Line two 8-inch cake pans with plastic wrap. In each pan, put in one Oreo brownie layer.
  2. Split the batch of homemade crunchies in half and spread each half on top of each Oreo brownie layer.
  3. Layer a quart of cookies and cream ice cream in each cake pan, smoothing the top.
  4. Top with plastic wrap and freeze until completely frozen, either over night or 8 hours.
  5. Unmold each cake pan carefully and sandwich the two layers, the ice cream layer meeting in the center and brownie layer facing outwards. Refreeze in freezer for 10 minutes.
  6. Frost the outside of the cake with cool whip. Refreeze in freezer until cool whip is firm.
  7. Crush some mini Oreos and mix Oreo crumbs in half of the remaining cool whip. Leaving the other half plain.
  8. Once cool whip has set, smooth ganache over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle some cookie crumbs on top of ganache before it sets. Place cake in freezer until ganache is completely set.
  9. Using a cookie scoop, layer alternating scoops of Oreo and plain cool whip, sprinkling with cookie crumbs as you go. Freeze to set.
  10. While ice cream is freezing, melt white chocolate/candy melts in a microwave safe bowl being careful not to burn the chocolate.
  11. Line a small sheet pan with wax paper and smooth the melted chocolate evenly using an offset spatula. Top with crushed mini Oreos, and whole mini Oreos. Put in freezer to set.
  12. Break chocolate into shards and reserve for cake.
  13. Once the ice cream cake is set, remove cake from freezer, and decorate the top with the white chocolate shards and top with extra mini Oreos for a grand effect.

Oreo Brownies

Ingredients:
1 box brownie mix, plus ingredients needed to make brownies according to mix**
16 Oreos

Instructions:

  1. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by spraying with nonstick spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat oven to temperature on the package.
  3. Mix brownie batter according to package and divide evenly between two cake pans.
  4. Place 7 Oreos in a circular formation in each pan, and Oreo in the center.
  5. Bake half of the time said on the package.
  6. Let cool and reserve for cake.

Homemade Crunchies

Ingredients:
30 Oreo cookies
1 – 7.25 oz. bottle of Magic Shell ice cream topping

Instructions:

  1. Using a food processor, Crush Oreos into even crumbs.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs and ice cream topping until each crumb is well coated.
  3. Reserve for cake.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
¾ c. heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. In a heatproof bowl, pour heavy cream on top of chocolate and microwave for one minute.
  2. Let stand 3 minutes and stir until combined.

*I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you want to use the premium stuff for ice cream cakes. Because the higher quality ice cream has less air content, it will melt slower. I used Trader Joe’s Joe-Joe’s n’ Cream.
**Yes, I shun cake mixes, but brownie mixes are pretty good in my book. I’m in love with the Ghirardelli brand mixes. Plus, when making a cake with this many components, simplifying any part is worth it.
***Homemade crunchies recipe from Our Best Bites.

Perfect Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

chocolate chunk cookiesAren’t chocolate chip cookies the most basic of all cookies? I feel like almost everyone starts off their baking journey with chocolate chip cookies. But as with most things that are simple, mastering the perfect cookie is more difficult than you think. Everyone has their preference to a perfect chocolate chip cookie. If I had to describe mine, it would be crisp on the edges yet chewy in the middle with puddles of just melted chocolate and a healthy dose of salt to balance it out.
chocolate chunksFor as long as I’ve been baking, I’ve tried endless recipes of chocolate chip cookies. Starting from the cornerstone of all chocolate chip cookies, the original Nestle Toll House cookie (which always makes me think of that episode in Friends where Monica tries to figure out Phoebe’s grandmother’s cookie recipe) to the complicated Jacque Torres’s secret recipe (also known as the New York Times’ chocolate chip cookie) that uses two kinds of flour, two kinds of sugar and has a resting time of 24 hours. They were all good (because let’s face it, how can you go wrong with sugar, flour, butter and chocolate?), but not what I was looking for. They were too puffy, too chewy, too sweet, too flat, too crispy or too time consuming. I felt a lot like Goldilocks.
chocolate chip cookie recipeSo I did what any picky person would do and came up with my own browned butter chocolate chip cookie recipe, which is the base of my chocolate chip marshmallow cookie cake and it has been my staple for a solid 5 years. It was complex, chewy, quick and delicious.
perfect chocolate chip cookiesBut when I saw Deb of Smitten Kitchen’s post for chocolate chunk cookies, I broke down and had to try it. There was nothing that was stopping me from making those cookies. I didn’t care that it used THREE kinds of sugar, and that I had to chop up a huge bar of chocolate (which btw, is one of the things I hate doing and yes, you have to chop it up, chocolate chips are not the same thing). I just knew I had to make it.
salted chocolate chunk cookieWell, I found it. The MOST PERFECT chocolate chip cookie EVER. I’m done. I’ve reached cookie Nirvana. Crisp on the outside? Check. Chewy in the middle? Check. Puddles of chocolate? Check. One bowl? Check. Not too sweet? Check. Salted? Check. Your search for the perfect chocolate chunk cookie is over. You’re welcome.
perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients:
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. turbinado sugar (aka sugar in the raw)
¾ c. plus 2 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. fine sea salt, heaped
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
½ lb. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Maldon sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 360˚F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, granulated, turbinado and light brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg and vanilla extract until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Fold in baking soda, sea salt, flour, and chocolate chunks.
  5. Using either a cookie scoop or spoons, dollop 1 ½ tbsp. of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets.
  6. Sprinkle maldon salt over the mounds of cookie dough.
  7. Bake 9-11 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
  8. Cool 10 minutes before eating.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Tiramisu Crunch Ice Cream Cake

Tiramisu Crunch Ice Cream Cake 1I made this cake for my sister’s birthday last week. As far as sisters go, my sister and I are as different as night and day. We don’t look alike, with the exception that we both share freckles. Growing up, I would be pale from staying in and reading books while she would be as tan as can be from playing outside. She loves the color black while I love white. She is loud and I am quiet. She prefers vegetables, while I prefer steak. She likes things simple and casual while I cannot get enough frills and bows. She favors pants in comparison to my preference to dresses. She is also not partial to desserts whereas I cannot live without them (as evidenced by this blog). I always tell people that whatever she is good at, I lack it and whatever I am good at, she lacks it.
Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake 3I love creating cakes and I look forward to baking one for all of my family members on their special day. But my sister does not like cake. HOW?! As someone whose life (or a good part of their life) revolves around frosting, and sugar and flour, it is hard to understand someone who does not like cake. So every year on her birthday, I resort to an ice cream cake. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t like ice cream?
Tiramisu Crunch Ice Cream Cake 2Tiramisu was one of my least favorite desserts because I used to rarely drink coffee. If anything, I loved it for the mascarpone cream. (Ah, mascarpone cream… everything you touch becomes a magical milky confection.) But ever since I gave up diet coke, I’ve been leaning towards coffee for my caffeine fix and I’ve managed to fall in love with the bitter brew. My sister’s preferred choice of drink has always been coffee, so tiramisu was a no-brainer when it came to a flavor choice.
layoutI have to say, this cake ranks as one of the best cakes to come out of my kitchen. It features layers of coffee ice cream sandwiched between coffee syrup soaked sponge cake, chocolate almond crispies (!!!), and is covered by a blanket of mascarpone whipped cream and adorned with dark chocolate accents and cocoa powder. I know. It sounds like it is too much work and it is true that there are many components to the cake. However, each part is simple to make!
mascarpone cream I always use high quality ice cream when it comes to ice cream cakes. It is important to have the lower air content so that the ice cream stays firmer, longer. I used Haagen-Dazs in mine. The sponge cake is a standard sponge cake that is divided in half. The coffee syrup is nothing more than a mix of sugar and dark brewed coffee. The chocolate almond crispies provide a crunch and a textural contrast to the smooth ice cream and cake. To make it, you simply stir chocolate almond spread with Rice Krispies cereal until it is evenly coated. The mascarpone whipped cream is a mix of vanilla extract, powdered sugar, mascarpone, and cool whip. I am not a fan of cool whip, but when it comes to ice cream cakes, I think it is superior in terms of spreadability and stability. To make the chocolate accents, simply melt some chocolate and using a small offset spatula, drag a dollop of chocolate over parchment paper and repeat until you have as many pieces as you need. They will not all look uniform, but I think that’s what makes it look slightly “rustic”.
Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake 4I understand if you are a little overwhelmed by it. But trust me, it is worth every minute you spend making it. 😉

Tiramisu Crunch Ice Cream Cake

Ingredients:

56 oz. premium coffee ice cream, softened
sponge cake, halved horizontally (recipe below)
coffee simple syrup (recipe below)
chocolate almond crispies (recipe below)
whipped mascarpone cream (recipe below)
dark chocolate, melted (for garnish)
cocoa powder (for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Line two 8-inch cake pans that are 3 inches deep with a double layer of plastic wrap that overhangs over the cake pan.
  2. In one of the cake pans, place one half of the sponge cake and brush liberally with coffee syrup. (You do not want to soak the cake, but put enough of it that it is moist.)
  3. Layer 28 oz. of coffee ice cream over the cake base, smooth so that the coffee base is as smooth as you can get it.
  4. Place pan in freezer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the chocolate almond crispies.
  6. Get half of the chocolate almond crispies and layer it over the ice cream, flattening it with an offset spatula to make it as flat, even and smooth as possible.
  7. Wrap the overhanging plastic wrap over the cake pan and place in freezer until completely frozen, preferably overnight.
  8. In the second lined cake pan, smooth 28 oz. of coffee ice cream with offset spatula evenly.
  9. Chill in freezer for 10 minutes.
  10. Layer the remaining chocolate almond crispies over the coffee ice cream.
  11. Place the second half of the sponge cake and brush liberally with coffee simple syrup.
  12. Wrap the overhanging plastic wrap over the cake pan and place in freezer until completely frozen, preferably overnight.
  13. On a cake board you are planning to serve, carefully unmold the first cake pan you put together by lifting the plastic wrap off of the pan and unwrapping it completely.
  14. Take the second cake pan and unmold it, and place on top of the first cake pan layer with the sponge cake layer facing downwards. Apply pressure to fuse the two layers together.
  15. Place in freezer to harden for about 20-30 minutes.
  16. Meanwhile, make the whipped mascarpone cream.
  17. Remove frozen cake from freezer and frost the outside of the cake with ¾ of the whipped mascarpone cream.
  18. Place cake back in the freezer and put the remaining whipped mascarpone cream in a piping bag with a plain large round tip.
  19. Remove cake from freezer and use the piping bag to place decorative dollops of cream over the top of the cake by making even vertical rows of cream.
  20. Using a mesh strainer, liberally dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder. The cocoa powder will dust the surface of the cake board too, carefully use a wet paper towel to clean the cake board off.
  21. Place cake back in the freezer.
  22. While cake is freezing, make decorative chocolate pieces.
  23. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  24. Using a small offset spatula, drag dollops of dark chocolate to create a streak. Use larger dollops for the bottom and smaller dollops for the top. Place in refrigerator to set for 5-10 minutes.
  25. When set, remove the cake from the freezer and decorate the bottom of the cake with the longer chocolate pieces and the top of the cake with the smaller chocolate pieces.
  26. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Vanilla Sponge Cake

Ingredients:

½ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. cornstarch
4 large eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. sugar, divided
pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease the inside of an 8 inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour and cornstarch.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and ½ c. sugar on high until thick and pale.
  4. Transfer mixture into a large bowl.
  5. Thoroughly wash and dry mixing bowl and whisk attachment.
  6. In a clean bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form.
  7. Slowly incorporate the remaining ¼ c. of sugar into the egg whites and mix until whites are stiff and glossy.
  8. Fold egg whites into the egg yolk mixture in three additions.
  9. Fold in flour mixture
  10. Transfer batter into the prepared cake pan.
  11. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  12. Cool cake on a wire rack until ready for use.

Coffee Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

½ c. strong, dark coffee
¼ c. sugar

Instructions:

  1. Heat coffee and sugar together until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Cool until ready for use.

Chocolate Almond Crispies

Ingredients:

3 c. Rice Krispies Cereal
1 c. chocolate almond spread (I used this one from Trader Joe’s)

Instructions:

  1. Heat chocolate almond spread until easily pourable.
  2. In a large bowl, mix chocolate almond spread and cereal until cereal is evenly coated.
  3. Cool mixture until ready for use.

Whipped Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients:

12 oz. Cool Whip (thawed)
1 lb. mascarpone cheese
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whip Cool Whip and half of mascarpone cheese until smooth with an electric hand mixer.
  2. Add the remaining half of the Cool Whip and mix until incorporated. Do not over whip.
  3. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and whip until homogeneous.

* Vanilla Sponge Cake recipe from Martha Stewart.

Easy Peanut Butter Eggs


peanut butter eggs 4One of the best things about holidays is all the holiday themed candy that comes out on display. Packaged in brightly colored bags and interesting designs, they are already hard to pass by, but what makes me really want to buy them are the words, “limited edition”. What do they mean by limited edition? Am I going to see the same product next year or is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? What if it is something absolutely delicious and I can never have it again? All of the sudden I HAVE to have whatever is in inside the shiny wrapper. I would say 9 out of 10 times I end up buying it to try it out. Am I the only person who is like this? … Possibly.peanut butter eggs 3My #1 favorite Easter candy is the Reese’s peanut butter eggs. I think the ratio of the peanut filling to chocolate is just right and it is perfectly smooth without the thick ridges that the peanut butter cups have. The lazy side of me secretly likes the fact that I don’t have to unwrap each egg I consume (except for the initial packaging of course).
peanut butter eggs 5These peanut butter eggs are super smooth and deliciously peanut-y. It’s also really simple to make! No fancy equipment needed and it is all done in one bowl.  I made mine small, because honestly to me, smaller = cuter. I went a little overboard with the way I decorated mine (which took a lot longer than I’d like to admit). I think it’s the perfect project to do with kids and they can go as sprinkle crazy as they want or not. (But most likely they will because more sprinkles = more fun.)
peanut butter eggs 2For more Easter projects, here are my previous Easter themed posts:

Bunny Cake Pops
White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs
Easter Bunny Surprise Cake

Easy Peanut Butter Eggs

Ingredients:
½ c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. butter, melted
⅛-¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
chocolate or candy melts (whichever you prefer)
optional: sprinkles and sanding sugar (for decorating)

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, mix peanut butter and sugar until combined.
  2. Add butter, vanilla extract and ⅛ tsp salt, mix and taste. If needed, add an additional ⅛ tsp. salt.
  3. Chill mixture until firm, about 1 hour in the fridge.
  4. On a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper, dose out ½ tbsp. portions of dough and use your palms to roll and form into egg shapes.
  5. Place egg shaped dough into freezer to chill and set 15-20 minutes.
  6. Melt chocolate or candy melts and dip chilled peanut butter eggs and shake off excess chocolate.
  7. Decorate as desired.

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.

Red Velvet Oreo Truffles

Red Velvet Oreo Truffles 2Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and because it is on a Saturday, I can only imagine how busy restaurants and love themed places will be. I got a box of red velvet Oreos from H earlier this week and I’ve been trying to incorporate it into something Valentine’s Day themed. If you’ve never made Oreo truffles before, you’re about to be mind blown at how easy this recipe is. You technically need only three ingredients: Oreos, cream cheese and some sort of chocolate, almond bark, or candy melts. I modified this recipe a tiny bit by adding a dash of salt (because the overwhelming sweetness of the red velvet Oreos need them) and a splash of vanilla extract (to round out the flavor). You would think that something as simple as this wouldn’t be very tasty, but I had 6 truffles sitting on the counter and they were gone within 10 minutes… all eaten by the same person… sneakily… like a robber in the night. As simple as this recipe is, what really takes time is decorating each truffle, which can be as simple or as complicated as you like. If you’re trying to think of something last minute to do for your special someone, this is the perfect recipe for you. 😉
Red Velvet Oreo Truffles 1Note: I originally wanted this to be a {Simple Sunday} post, but I just didn’t have time to do it this weekend. 

Red Velvet Oreo Truffles

You will need:
1 package red velvet Oreos
3 oz. cream cheese
⅛-¼ tsp. kosher salt (optional, but recommended)
dash of vanilla extract (optional, but recommended)
chocolate/ almond bark/ candy coating (your preference)
sprinkles, sparkling sugar, sugar pearls… basically anything you want to decorate it with

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl of a food processor, crush Oreos until crumbs form.
  2. Add cream cheese, ⅛ kosher salt, and vanilla extract and process until a smooth lump forms.
  3. Taste and add the extra ⅛ kosher salt in needed.
  4. On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, wax paper or silicone mat, dish out ½ tbsp. portion of truffle dough.
  5. Place sheet pan in freezer for 5 minutes to set.
  6. Roll each truffle dough ball in hand until a smooth ball forms.
  7. Place sheet pan in freezer for 5 minutes to set.
  8. Meanwhile, melt your desired candy melt in the microwave.
  9. Remove truffles and dip into candy melts.

Decorate as desired.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  3Is it the middle of February already?? I feel like February just started and here it is already nearing its end. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I can’t help but feel a little more love and happiness in the air. Maybe it’s all the hearts plastered every way I turn or people posting all things related to love on social media, but I’m digging the atmosphere. Yes, I know that you should show your love and affection to your significant other/ loved ones every day of the year but what’s the harm of celebrating that love?
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  2I once had an ex-boyfriend who frequently bought me chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva. Not knowing how much they cost ($7 a piece!!), I used to eat them in one seating without much thought. I only found out how much they cost recently and boy, do I feel bad about not savoring them. But that was my first encounter with chocolate covered strawberries and it’s been one of my favorite flavor parings since.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  4This cake is my spin on a chocolate covered strawberry. A rich dark chocolate cake is filled and frosted with fresh strawberry frosting and covered in a chocolate ganache and adorned with chocolate dipped strawberries. Because fresh strawberries in February are not the tastiest, I suggest buying frozen strawberries for the frosting to ensure full strawberry flavor. I happened to have this cake pan that I bought on clearance a year or two ago, and I thought it fit the theme perfectly. If you do not have the cake pan, you can always make the same cake sans the strawberry frosting heart in the middle. Talking about clearance, am I the only person that scours the holiday section at Target after every major holiday? I cannot resist the themed sprinkles and sparkling sugar at a deep discount. Sometimes, I’ll land on a real gem… like this cake pan at 75% off. It’s a guilty pleasure and I look forward to going to Target post February 14th. 😉
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  1Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
¼ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1. tsp. kosher salt
½ c. vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. strong, hot coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and line 2 cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, both cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
  4. With the mixer speed on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Turn off the mixer. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the two mixtures.
  6. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot coffee to the batter. Once added, raise the speed to medium until completely homogenous.
  7. Divide batter equally among the two cake pans and bake about 25-30 minutes. Checking at 20 minutes for doneness with a toothpick test.*
  8. Let stand for 5-10 minutes when done, then put onto a cooling rack to fully cool.

Strawberry Puree

Ingredients:
2 lbs of strawberries, smashed
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries and lemon juice on medium heat until mixture thickens and reduces 1/3-1/2 of the original volume, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:
2 c. whole milk
½ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients:
1 batch of strawberry puree
1 batch of vanilla frosting

Instructions:

  1. Mix vanilla frosting with strawberry puree until the mixture turns strawberry pink and fluffy.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
¾ c. heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. In a heatproof bowl, pour heavy cream on top of chocolate and microwave for one minute.
  2. Let stand 3 minutes and stir until combined.

Assembly

1 batch chocolate cake
1 batch strawberry frosting
1 batch chocolate ganache
6-8 strawberries, rinsed and dried

Instructions:

  1. Fill and frost chocolate cake with strawberry frosting.
  2. Chill in freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pour ¾ of chocolate ganache and use offset spatula to push ganache over the edge.
  4. Before the ganache sets completely, dip the strawberries in the remaining ganache and garnish the cake.

* Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

Cookies and Cream Macarons

Cookies and Cream Macarons 1Another year has come and gone, and as predicted a slew of healthy dishes and diet how-tos flooded my newsfeed as soon as the new year started. I’m all for being healthy and starting with a blank slate, but what’s life without a little treat now and then? Personally, I feel like I’ve been indulging a little more than I should since January. Actually, I think I’ve been eating worse than I did during the holidays. Am I the only person who is at their heaviest from January to March? I’ll chalk it up to holiday blues… and not my obvious laziness. Talking about laziness, does anyone else still have their Christmas tree up? I keep putting that particular task off every week. I just know it’s going to stay up till February. Help.
Cookies and Cream Macarons 4You know what didn’t last though? These macarons. I made this ridiculously tall, four layered red velvet chocolate cookies and cream cake for my brother’s birthday and I happened to have a bit of the frosting leftover, and that is what sparked this macaron.  What makes this cookies and cream frosting different from the standard cookies and cream? It is made with cookies and cream cookie butter. I picked up a jar of this cookie butter from Trader Joe’s months ago but I still had more than half the jar left. Stirred into my go-to vanilla frosting and lots of Oreo cookie crumbs, it tastes just like an Oreo.
Cookies and Cream Macarons 2Do my photos look any different? Mr. L gifted me with a gorgeous Nikon D3200, and I’m hoping to get to learn how to shoot photos correctly with this thing. I’m having a tough time getting the right things to focus. Other than that, I’m ecstatic to start the new year with new equipment and fresh ideas. Here’s to a new year. 🙂
Cookies and Cream Macarons 3
Cookies and Cream Macarons

Basic French Macarons

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
6 Oreos, crushed into crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.  Take cookie crumbs and sprinkle onto tops of wet batter.
  11. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  12. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚F, if not then 325˚F.
  13. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  14. Let cool and fill.

Cookies and Cream Frosting

Ingredients:
½ c. whole milk
3 tbsp. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾  c. cookies and cream cookie butter
12 Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and cookie butter and mix until combined.
  8. Fold in Oreo cookie crumbs.

Star Wars Rebels Party

Star Wars Rebels PartyIt’s been a while. With Thanksgiving and prepping for Step 3’s, life has been hectic! I feel a mix of regret and sorrow that I missed out on all things fall for the blog. But, it has fast forwarded to December which means that the holidays are here and that translates to holiday goodies. But before we get started on all things Christmas, let’s get to the Rebels Party.

As someone who has watched the Star Wars movies exclusively, I was skeptical when the hype for Star Wars Rebels rose out of midair. But after watching one episode (which led to another and another…), I have to say that I’ve fallen in love with the characters and the story line. There is just the right mix of darkness and humor for all ages to enjoy.

So when Mr. L approached me about doing another Star Wars party, I couldn’t say no. (This is the second Star Wars themed party to be featured on the blog. The first one is linked here.)

We drew inspiration from Lothal, the planet where the rebels operate.  Lothal is apparently the name of a real city in India and one of the characters, Ezra, really reminds me of Aladdin. Coincidence?? I think not. Anyways, a bit of yellow turf, clay mountains and a modified Lego Space Needle, made a cute tablescape that was reminiscent of the real thing.

Star Wars Rebels Party LothalAs always, there was food with punny names.

Star Wars Rebels Party 2 Star Wars Rebels Party 1Inquisitortilla Chips with Dual Dip (Inquisitor Tortilla Chips with Dual Dip)
Star Wars Rebels Party 4 Star Wars Rebels Party 3Sa-Bean Burritos (Sabine Burritos)
Star Wars Rebels Party 522 Pickup-Cakes (22 Pickup Cupcakes)
Star Wars Rebels Party 8 Star Wars Rebels Party 6Chopper Salad
Star Wars Rebels Party 9“Zeb” Orrelios Oreos
Star Wars Rebels Party 11 Star Wars Rebels Party  10TIE Lettuce Wraps
Star Wars Rebels Party 13 Star Wars Rebels Party 12Kanan Lightsaber Kebabs
Star Wars Rebels Party 15 Star Wars Rebels Party 16Jogan Fruit Juice
Star Wars Rebels Party 17Hoth2O (A nod to the original series)
Star Wars Rebels Party 18The Entire Spread

It was really fun hanging out with friends, eating good food and watching the special broadcast of “Spark of Rebellion” with the extended scene. Everyone went home with a goodie bag filled with Star Wars themed candy and a figure. Of course I got the one figure I didn’t want, the imperial commander. Boo.