Archive for October, 2011

Halloween Cupcakes

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

I will be honest – Halloween is not my favorite. Actually, I think the last time I dressed up was back in 2003!

I was a sophomore in college, and had just landed the PERFECT college job at nearby Queen Anne Starbucks. It was a great location – the customer base was an interesting mix of urban Seattle people, neighborhood regulars, and college kids from my school.

However, I was a naive, somewhat self-absorbed college student, and this being one of my first jobs I didn’t quite understand the grave importance of writing down my schedule correctly. That Halloween night, I had just plopped my tray of cafeteria food down with a friend when I got a call from the store – I was supposed to be working and I was late!

I threw on a long, blonde wig I had borrowed from a friend, and miserably made my appearance. I felt so bad and embarrassed, and it is hard to pull off ridiculously long blonde hair when you’re feeling miserable!

I also got cleaner in my eye towards the end of the night. I remember that at the end of the shift, my co-workers on the closing team asked if I wanted to grab something to eat with them. I said no, and then I felt bad for saying no, as I appreciated that they were willing to hang out with a blonde, blood-shot/mascara stained hot mess! But I all I wanted to do was go back to the dorms, dive under the covers, listen to Coldplay on my Discman and recover.

As it turns out…life is not always so dramatic and tragical as it is in my head – and bad nights like that are rarely as monumental as they seem. I went on to spend five years at Starbucks and become great friends with those co-workers and so many other people in that company. I still haven’t ever felt an inclination to dress up for Halloween though!

I recently saw a recipe forĀ  a Halloween themed Chocolate Buttercream Cake on an episode of Barefoot Contessa. I decided to convert it to cupcakes. The cake turned out fine, but sadly, I can’t recommend the frosting (it was way too buttery, and lacked flavor).

If you do decide to try either the cake or the frosting, Ina’s instructions should be followed carefully and exactly. Because of that, I’m simply linking to her recipe as I didn’t want to reword it or change anything – you can find it here. The only change I made in order to convert these to cupcakes was to reduce the baking time (about 18-20 minutes). This recipe produced about 30 cupcakes. I also used a combination of red and yellow food coloring, as I couldn’t find orange at the store.

I hope you all have a fun Halloween whatever you do! :)

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Chocolate Cream Cheese Ravioli

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

I truly enjoy every step of the baking process. Finding a recipe somewhere, shopping for ingredients, seeing all the disparate elements come together into something delicious, and watching the joy others have when tasting it (aka, staring them down as they try their first bite and interrogating them as to whether they like it and why they’re lying when they say they do…but I’m working on that…)

I actually even enjoy the process when things go a bit awry – I guess the risk of that happening is what keeps it all adventurous. Making this Chocolate Ravioli (with cream cheese/white chocolate filling and raspberry sauce) was just such an experience.


To begin with, this time around my little brother came along as I shopped for ingredients at Target. This is what he looks like:

I like having him around, especially when it means I can force him to listen to Taylor Swift in the car, but he can be a bit dangerous…this time, as I was asking the Target employee to point me to the baking aisle, he came up behind me and said “Flirt with himmm!!” in a stage whisper that reverberated off the aisles. I get a bit blushy whenever I’m talking to people I don’t know regardless, so let’s just say he got a talking to on the way home!

I think I must have first heard of Chocolate Ravioli on Iron Chef America, or somewhere similar. I pulled the different components of this dessert from a variety of sources. However, I decided not to share a recipe because, to be honest, this dish was not quite up to par.

Actually, if my life were a reality show, I would probably be blinking away tears during my exit interview after having just been told to pack my knives and go.

It definitely wasn’t terrible – it was liked enough to disappear by the end of the day. However, I only want to post recipes that I truly believe are worth sharing, and ideally easy to make (this one was not). The pasta just wasn’t the right texture (I am definitely going to use a pasta roller next time). Also, the cocoa flavor in the ravioli is so mild, I think if I make this again I will use chocolate sauce instead of raspberry to accentuate the chocolate flavor.

But I did learn several lessons through this whole process – and I’m glad I tried it! If you do decide to make homemade pasta or attempt a chocolate version, here are a couple links I found to be really helpful:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/05/homemade-pasta/

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chocolate-Ravioli-in-Bittersweet-Chocolate-Sauce-231566

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Krazy Cake

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Tomorrow is my sister’s birthday, and we had her birthday party this past weekend. She asked if I would make her birthday cake and I was honored! I decided to go with the Rose Cake frosting design, originally blogged by the unbelievably skilled I Am Baker.

For the cake itself, I decided to go with Krazy Cake. Now I will tell you, I almost didn’t write this post as the lighting was poor for many of the pictures, but in the end I decided I just HAD to share Krazy Cake with you. It is amazing. In addition to crazy.

The rose design is actually fairly simple. The first step is to cover the cake with a “crumb layer” of frosting, which is a barrier to protect the outer layer of frosting from crumbs.

Creating the roses is also surprisingly easy, as long as you have piping bags and a 1M tip. Rather than explain it myself, I’ll send you to the original (stunning) post that includes a tutorial – located here. I also found this video helpful. I used I Am Baker’s buttercream recipe as well (I added purple, red and blue food coloring).

For the picture above, I practiced the first one on parchment paper to get warmed up, but the actual piping is done straight on the cake.

One of my favorite things about this is if you mess up, you can just wipe off your attempt and try again!

OK – back to Krazy Cake. The reason it has that name is because it is missing some normal cake ingredients, such as eggs. Secondly, the recipe can be literally summed up as: mix ingredients in bowl. It is so EASY! You simply throw everything together and bake it. In addition to being easy, it is de-lic-ious!! It is rich and really moist. I may never go back to regular cake.

My sister’s party was a great time – dinner, card games, and cake of course!

Here’s to my sister’s 24th year, and a new week for the rest of us!

Krazy Cake

Recipe adapted from a cookbook titled From Our House to Yours, published and printed by Cookbook Publishers, Inc.. (It’s an old one and I couldn’t find a link online).

Ingredients
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vinegar
3/4 cup oil
2 cups cold water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix ingredients thoroughly.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 x 13-inch pan (or two 9-inch round cake pans) and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

I left my cell phone at home two times last week. I never realize how addicted I am to that thing until the terrible, gut-wrenching moment when I realize it’s missing and I will have to face 11 hours without it!

I went through a couple phases during both incidents. First, I panicked and had prolonged visions of myself post car breakdown, stumbling despondently down I-5 on foot, in the rain, because I couldn’t call AAA, and nobody stopping to help me because they all assumed I had a cell phone…

However, after awhile, I began to appreciate the quiet. Instead of the noisy news and social media chatter that is the undercurrent of my typical day, there was a little more silence and simplicity, which I find myself appreciating more and more in life.

I also appreciate simplicity while I’m baking, and this was especially true this last Saturday morning. After a full week, I was in the mood for a relaxing morning and an easy recipe.

These Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins fit the bill precisely!

These muffins were so easy and fast. I wasn’t planning to make changes as the original got great reviews, but after reading some comments I decided to add vanilla, and an extra banana.

Additionally, and just because I can’t stop myself, I increased the chocolate chips from 3/4 cup to 1 cup, and sprinkled extra chocolate chips on top right before baking. I highly recommend this as it made the tops kind of irresistible.

This recipe was a total winner and I will absolutely be making it again, and soon! The only negative feedback received is that there were only 12 cupcakes – next time I make these I’ll be doubling the recipe for sure.

One note – I used three bananas and I was a little worried the muffins would be bland as a result. They ended up just right, but I wonder if this is because I used salted butter (as that’s all I had available). If you use three bananas and unsalted butter, you may want to add just a tiny pinch of extra salt.

I hope you enjoy these!!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Recipe adapted from www.epicurious.com

Serves 12

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large or 3 small/medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, as well as more for sprinkling

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper or foil liners.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, mix the mashed bananas, egg, butter, vanilla extract and milk. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined (do not overmix). Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin liners about 3/4 full (you can also choose to decrease the number of muffins if you like larger muffins). Sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top, if desired.

Bake for about 32 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center is free of crumbs. Cool on a wire rack.

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