Sunday, September 29, 2013

I've been doing a miserable job of keeping up with my blog the past few weeks, which has really been bumming me out because we're in the heart of the my favorite season of the year. I've been busy baking up apple and pumpkin treats left and right, but I haven't had much time to sit down and blog lately for three big reasons and about a thousand smaller reasons (literally). For those of you who may not know, at the end of last month I discovered three unwanted visitors in my apartment.

My roommate had found abandoned kittens under our back porch and had brought them in to care for them until she could find a no-kill shelter in Boston that would take them together. I think she tried hiding them in her room as long as possible since my boyfriend and I are absolutely not "cat people," but they are quite the curious kittens so it was short matter of time before the half-pound wonders wandered out into the apartment - thoroughly shocking me.

Since I am the only one in the apartment who doesn't keep normal work hours, I found myself in the position of taking care of them way more than I would have imagined/liked. After discovering them and accepting their existence (seriously not a fan of cats) I decided the appropriate next step would be to get them to the vet. Not looking to spend my life savings on three full veterinary appointments, I did some internet searching and was able to find a free animal clinic in Allston.

That's when I found out the kittens had fleas. I suppose for most people that would seem to be expected, but I had no experience with cats and none of my pets have had fleas before. So at this point in the story I have kittens I don't want and an army of fleas I want even less. To prepare you for the nightmare that you all know is coming next, here's a collection of photos showing the kittens in their first days in the apartment...ALL OVER THE APARTMENT.

Shortly after the vet visit I was able to pawn off one of the kittens on my friend, so then I only had to deal with two. "How hard could it possibly be to rid these two tiny demons of their fleas?" I asked a month ago. And today I can answer, "I'll let you know as soon as they're gone." These kittens are still too young for real flea medicine, so every week we've scrubbed them vigorously with Dawn dish soap. Every day, twice a day, I flea comb them and kill the 10's of fleas I find each time. Three weeks ago I spent my day off scouring the apartment, doing all the laundry, and then flea bombing. I thought for sure that would do it. Enter the second generation of fleas that had been immune to the dish soap and fumigation in their pupa stage. 

Today we tried again. We bagged up everything in the apartment. Then we swept and mopped the floors. Combed the kittens. Bathed the kittens. Combed the kittens again. Then vacuumed the rugs, mattresses, chairs, pillows and couch, emptied the vacuum, and took the trash out of the apartment. Then we sprayed the rugs, mattresses, couch, chairs, and pillows with flea spray. Packed up all our food and covered our counters. Then we closed our doors to fumigate while we went to the laundromat and completed 11 loads of laundry. After we bagged up the clean laundry, we sprayed inside the bags with flea spray and sealed them back up. Then we re-entered the apartment and re-vacuumed the rugs, mattresses, chairs, pillows, and couch. Then we mopped the floors again. Then we found a living flea. Did you read that? THEN WE FOUND A LIVING FLEA. 

I don't know what else to do. I've been told that setting fire to the apartment isn't an option anyone can afford at the moment, so I guess I'll just weep into my pillow tonight until I come up with another plan.

There were two other crucial developments in the great cat saga of September:
1) I've become completely enamored with these stupid kittens. I can't get enough. I've named them Steve and Jeeves. I'm attached. There's no turning back. I never wanted this to happen and I still struggle with admitting it, both to myself and to all my friends who have spent years failing to convert me to the dark side, so we're just going to gloss over this part and move on.

2) As if the flea infestation wasn't eventful enough for the month, two weeks ago one of the stupid kittens got his stupid head stuck in a hole in the side of a desk I was in the process of constructing. No one knows exactly when it happened, as the kittens have been quarantined to a room with limited fabrics and furniture to which they can transfer fleas. Judging by the amount of swelling around his head and neck when I found him, I'm going to assume he was stuck struggling all night. When I walked into their room to do my morning flea combing I found him like this:

I took to Facebook frantically seeking advice from my friends. I tried everything. I wetted him down to make him less fluffy. I buttered him. I oiled him. I pushed and pulled. Most of my friends said, "Well he got his head in there, he can get it out." But I determined that wasn't going to be the case pretty early on. He was absolutely not budging. I took to the internet again, this time seeking professional assistance. I read about the Animal Rescue League of Boston, who has a team dedicated entirely to animal rescues. They sent someone out right away and after about an hour of sawing he was free. 





Unbeknownst to me, the woman who came to saw him out of the desk was live tweeting the event with photos. By that afternoon, there was an article written on Boston Magazine's website about it. The next night people told me they had seen it on the local news. Then the Rescue League posted it on their Facebook page, and I've had people messaging me about it left and right. We changed the cat's name from Fleabag to Steve after the reporter who wrote the article about him.

So that's been my quiet, relaxing September in a nutshell. I apologize for my absence, and I PROMISE to write posts for some autumnal treats very soon. While I didn't take photos of the baking process for all of my recent baking endeavors, feel free to contact me if you're interested in a recipe for:
- pumpkin spice cake with maple frosting
- cinnamon apple scones with caramel drizzle
- vanilla chai muffins

Tune in next time for my favorite and - until now - closely guarded apple pie recipe!





11:54 PM Jacqueline M
I've been doing a miserable job of keeping up with my blog the past few weeks, which has really been bumming me out because we're in the heart of the my favorite season of the year. I've been busy baking up apple and pumpkin treats left and right, but I haven't had much time to sit down and blog lately for three big reasons and about a thousand smaller reasons (literally). For those of you who may not know, at the end of last month I discovered three unwanted visitors in my apartment.

My roommate had found abandoned kittens under our back porch and had brought them in to care for them until she could find a no-kill shelter in Boston that would take them together. I think she tried hiding them in her room as long as possible since my boyfriend and I are absolutely not "cat people," but they are quite the curious kittens so it was short matter of time before the half-pound wonders wandered out into the apartment - thoroughly shocking me.

Since I am the only one in the apartment who doesn't keep normal work hours, I found myself in the position of taking care of them way more than I would have imagined/liked. After discovering them and accepting their existence (seriously not a fan of cats) I decided the appropriate next step would be to get them to the vet. Not looking to spend my life savings on three full veterinary appointments, I did some internet searching and was able to find a free animal clinic in Allston.

That's when I found out the kittens had fleas. I suppose for most people that would seem to be expected, but I had no experience with cats and none of my pets have had fleas before. So at this point in the story I have kittens I don't want and an army of fleas I want even less. To prepare you for the nightmare that you all know is coming next, here's a collection of photos showing the kittens in their first days in the apartment...ALL OVER THE APARTMENT.

Shortly after the vet visit I was able to pawn off one of the kittens on my friend, so then I only had to deal with two. "How hard could it possibly be to rid these two tiny demons of their fleas?" I asked a month ago. And today I can answer, "I'll let you know as soon as they're gone." These kittens are still too young for real flea medicine, so every week we've scrubbed them vigorously with Dawn dish soap. Every day, twice a day, I flea comb them and kill the 10's of fleas I find each time. Three weeks ago I spent my day off scouring the apartment, doing all the laundry, and then flea bombing. I thought for sure that would do it. Enter the second generation of fleas that had been immune to the dish soap and fumigation in their pupa stage. 

Today we tried again. We bagged up everything in the apartment. Then we swept and mopped the floors. Combed the kittens. Bathed the kittens. Combed the kittens again. Then vacuumed the rugs, mattresses, chairs, pillows and couch, emptied the vacuum, and took the trash out of the apartment. Then we sprayed the rugs, mattresses, couch, chairs, and pillows with flea spray. Packed up all our food and covered our counters. Then we closed our doors to fumigate while we went to the laundromat and completed 11 loads of laundry. After we bagged up the clean laundry, we sprayed inside the bags with flea spray and sealed them back up. Then we re-entered the apartment and re-vacuumed the rugs, mattresses, chairs, pillows, and couch. Then we mopped the floors again. Then we found a living flea. Did you read that? THEN WE FOUND A LIVING FLEA. 

I don't know what else to do. I've been told that setting fire to the apartment isn't an option anyone can afford at the moment, so I guess I'll just weep into my pillow tonight until I come up with another plan.

There were two other crucial developments in the great cat saga of September:
1) I've become completely enamored with these stupid kittens. I can't get enough. I've named them Steve and Jeeves. I'm attached. There's no turning back. I never wanted this to happen and I still struggle with admitting it, both to myself and to all my friends who have spent years failing to convert me to the dark side, so we're just going to gloss over this part and move on.

2) As if the flea infestation wasn't eventful enough for the month, two weeks ago one of the stupid kittens got his stupid head stuck in a hole in the side of a desk I was in the process of constructing. No one knows exactly when it happened, as the kittens have been quarantined to a room with limited fabrics and furniture to which they can transfer fleas. Judging by the amount of swelling around his head and neck when I found him, I'm going to assume he was stuck struggling all night. When I walked into their room to do my morning flea combing I found him like this:

I took to Facebook frantically seeking advice from my friends. I tried everything. I wetted him down to make him less fluffy. I buttered him. I oiled him. I pushed and pulled. Most of my friends said, "Well he got his head in there, he can get it out." But I determined that wasn't going to be the case pretty early on. He was absolutely not budging. I took to the internet again, this time seeking professional assistance. I read about the Animal Rescue League of Boston, who has a team dedicated entirely to animal rescues. They sent someone out right away and after about an hour of sawing he was free. 





Unbeknownst to me, the woman who came to saw him out of the desk was live tweeting the event with photos. By that afternoon, there was an article written on Boston Magazine's website about it. The next night people told me they had seen it on the local news. Then the Rescue League posted it on their Facebook page, and I've had people messaging me about it left and right. We changed the cat's name from Fleabag to Steve after the reporter who wrote the article about him.

So that's been my quiet, relaxing September in a nutshell. I apologize for my absence, and I PROMISE to write posts for some autumnal treats very soon. While I didn't take photos of the baking process for all of my recent baking endeavors, feel free to contact me if you're interested in a recipe for:
- pumpkin spice cake with maple frosting
- cinnamon apple scones with caramel drizzle
- vanilla chai muffins

Tune in next time for my favorite and - until now - closely guarded apple pie recipe!





Sunday, September 1, 2013

Holy Cannoli! How does time work? I didn't even realize I was late to post, let alone by 3 weeks. Guess I have to make up for it with something extra sweet for y'all. I came across this recipe for Cherry Kuchen Bars on BHG.com last year when I was looking for recipes to make a quick dessert for Thanksgiving dinner. In my typical insanely ambitious fashion, I sidelined this simple recipe in favor of something far more elaborate and way beyond my skill level. (We didn't end up having dessert at Thanksgiving last year.) This recipe stayed buried in my sea of "likes" on Pinterest until last month when we had our very brief cherry season in New England, which reminded me how much I love love love sweet cherries. And then the season was over and I hadn't done anything with them, because that's how cherry season works here. It comes and by the time you realize it's here it's the end of the 3 weeks of the "season." It's like cherry moment, really. Anyway, it was the middle of August and I was still craving cherries, so I dug out this recipe and gave it a go. 

Cherry Kuchen Bars 
Yield: 32 bars
Bake time: 42 mins

INGREDIENTS
For the bars
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 21oz can cherry pie filling
A handful of fresh cherries, halved and pitted (optional)

For the icing
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 teaspoons milk (or more for desired consistency)

DIRECTIONS
For the bars
Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening together on high for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Beat in vanilla and eggs one at a time until combined. 

Gradually add flour as much flour as possible to the mixture until it becomes to thick for the electric mixer and then you'll likely have to stir in some of the flour by hand.

Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the dough and spread the remainder into an ungreased baking sheet. I used a 15x10. Then bake the dough for about 12 minutes. It should start to expand and look like the photo on the right with the exception of the big dent where I accidentally put my thumb through it :)



Spread the cherry pie filling on top of the dough. I decided I wanted more cherries once I spread on the pie filling, so I added a handful of fresh cherries. 

Spoon the remaining dough that was set aside on top of the cherry pie filling and bake again for 30 min or until the top starts to brown. Set the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. 

For the icing
Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until desired consistency is achieved and drizzle with a spoon or fork over the cooled cherry bars. This recipe makes a lot of icing, and I feared I had over-iced, but my boyfriend assures me that's not a thing one can do. 

These simple bars are perfect for those off season cherry cravings, like the ones I'm having as I write this....

I hope you enjoy them and happy baking! 



10:59 AM Jacqueline M
Holy Cannoli! How does time work? I didn't even realize I was late to post, let alone by 3 weeks. Guess I have to make up for it with something extra sweet for y'all. I came across this recipe for Cherry Kuchen Bars on BHG.com last year when I was looking for recipes to make a quick dessert for Thanksgiving dinner. In my typical insanely ambitious fashion, I sidelined this simple recipe in favor of something far more elaborate and way beyond my skill level. (We didn't end up having dessert at Thanksgiving last year.) This recipe stayed buried in my sea of "likes" on Pinterest until last month when we had our very brief cherry season in New England, which reminded me how much I love love love sweet cherries. And then the season was over and I hadn't done anything with them, because that's how cherry season works here. It comes and by the time you realize it's here it's the end of the 3 weeks of the "season." It's like cherry moment, really. Anyway, it was the middle of August and I was still craving cherries, so I dug out this recipe and gave it a go. 

Cherry Kuchen Bars 
Yield: 32 bars
Bake time: 42 mins

INGREDIENTS
For the bars
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 21oz can cherry pie filling
A handful of fresh cherries, halved and pitted (optional)

For the icing
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 teaspoons milk (or more for desired consistency)

DIRECTIONS
For the bars
Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening together on high for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Beat in vanilla and eggs one at a time until combined. 

Gradually add flour as much flour as possible to the mixture until it becomes to thick for the electric mixer and then you'll likely have to stir in some of the flour by hand.

Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the dough and spread the remainder into an ungreased baking sheet. I used a 15x10. Then bake the dough for about 12 minutes. It should start to expand and look like the photo on the right with the exception of the big dent where I accidentally put my thumb through it :)



Spread the cherry pie filling on top of the dough. I decided I wanted more cherries once I spread on the pie filling, so I added a handful of fresh cherries. 

Spoon the remaining dough that was set aside on top of the cherry pie filling and bake again for 30 min or until the top starts to brown. Set the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. 

For the icing
Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until desired consistency is achieved and drizzle with a spoon or fork over the cooled cherry bars. This recipe makes a lot of icing, and I feared I had over-iced, but my boyfriend assures me that's not a thing one can do. 

These simple bars are perfect for those off season cherry cravings, like the ones I'm having as I write this....

I hope you enjoy them and happy baking! 



Friday, August 9, 2013

Welp, I had hoped to write earlier in the week to try to keep up with a regular posting schedule, but I've had a busy couple of weeks. Last Thursday I went to an incredible Red Sox game with my boyfriend and his wonderful (diehard Red Sox fans) family. 


Then on Saturday and Sunday I was lucky enough to get to see two wonderful friends I haven't seen since high school. 

This Wednesday I helped another friend from high school, who is relocating to Boston, move in to her new apartment. 
























(There's no photo filter that would make sweating
 profusely and carrying heavy boxes look cute, 
so just imagine two maidens fair...and copious back sweat)

And on top of all that, next week another friend is moving to Boston for a year of national service with City Year. 

So clearly it's an exciting time in Boston. What better way to celebrate the greatness of this city than with Boston cream pie...cupcakes. 




Friends have been asking me to make Boston cream pie cupcakes for a while now, so I started brainstorming the recipe a few months ago. Over that time I found many takes on this Boston classic. My recipe was pulled together from a few of my favorite sources. The cupcakes themselves come from Martha Stewart's recipe for Boston cream pie cupcakes, the pastry cream is from SprinkleBakes dessert recipe book, and the ganache is made á la Joy of Baking's Boston cream pie cupcakes. 

The recipe seems lengthy compared to my previous easy-peasy shortbread cookies, but they're not hard to make and they're wicked awesome <-- Yikes. I'm too tired to be funny tonight. I tried.


Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
Yield: 18 cupcakes
Bake time: 15 min

INGREDIENTS
For the cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pastry cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk 
1 egg
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the chocolate ganache
1/2 cup bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup


DIRECTIONS
For the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350º and grease the cupcake tin(s). We're not using papers for this recipe, so make sure the cupcake tins are generously greased and lightly dusted with flour. In a saucepan warm the milk and butter. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes or until thick and pale. Then beat in the dry ingredients. (Confession: I completely spaced taking photos for many of the steps in this recipe, but the Martha Stewart link above includes a step by step video if you want to know what it's supposed to look like.)

Bring the milk and butter in the saucepan to a boil. While still hot, add the butter and milk mixture to the batter, beating on low speed until blended. Then add the vanilla. It looks like this (I apparently decided to start taking photos at the "add vanilla" point): 


Divide the batter into the cupcake tins and fill about halfway. Baked for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Admire your delicious domes of cake. 


Pause to lounge on couch and eat one while still warm. 

Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely. 


For the pastry cream
While the cupcakes were cooling I prepared the pastry cream, but the pastry cream also needs to cool, so you could make this first or even the day before. It just requires some mixing if it sits in the refrigerator overnight.

In a small bowl dissolve the cornstarch into 1/4 cup of the milk. 
To the cornstarch mixture, beat in the full egg followed by the two egg yolks. (Confession: manually separating out yolks is one of my favorite feelings.) 



In a saucepan, combine the rest of the milk with the sugar and bring to a boil. Whisk constantly.


These next few steps sounded a little dicey to me, so I had to take a cheese break while I read and re-read the instructions and let my milk reach its boil. It looked like this:


Slowly pour about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture while whisking the egg mixture. This serves to heat up the eggs, ideally without cooking them. This process is called tempering the eggs. Next, return the rest of the milk to the stove on medium heat. Return to whisking the milk mixture and slowly pour the hot egg mixture into the milk mixture. 

Continue whisking until the mixture begins to boil, then remove from heat, add butter and vanilla, and whisk until it starts to thicken. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl, cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to cool.

For the chocolate ganache
Note: You'll want to make the ganache after the cupcakes are already filled with pastry cream and assembled so the ganache is still warm enough to pour over the cupcakes. Making the ganache is the last step. 

In a microwave safe bowl or cup, melt the chocolate chips with the butter. Then stir in the corn syrup. Voilé. Ganache. 

ASSEMBLY
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, cut them in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Spoon about a tablespoon of the pastry cream onto the bottom half of the cupcake. 


Place the tops back on to the cupcakes, make the ganache, and drizzle the ganache onto the top of the cupcakes. Let cool for an hour to let the chocolate set. 

My ganache was a little thicker than it should have been for decorating purposes, but it did make for a thick fudgy top once cooled. Delish :)

To my friends both in and out of town, I hope you enjoy this taste of Boston. As always, happy baking!





11:26 PM Jacqueline M
Welp, I had hoped to write earlier in the week to try to keep up with a regular posting schedule, but I've had a busy couple of weeks. Last Thursday I went to an incredible Red Sox game with my boyfriend and his wonderful (diehard Red Sox fans) family. 


Then on Saturday and Sunday I was lucky enough to get to see two wonderful friends I haven't seen since high school. 

This Wednesday I helped another friend from high school, who is relocating to Boston, move in to her new apartment. 
























(There's no photo filter that would make sweating
 profusely and carrying heavy boxes look cute, 
so just imagine two maidens fair...and copious back sweat)

And on top of all that, next week another friend is moving to Boston for a year of national service with City Year. 

So clearly it's an exciting time in Boston. What better way to celebrate the greatness of this city than with Boston cream pie...cupcakes. 




Friends have been asking me to make Boston cream pie cupcakes for a while now, so I started brainstorming the recipe a few months ago. Over that time I found many takes on this Boston classic. My recipe was pulled together from a few of my favorite sources. The cupcakes themselves come from Martha Stewart's recipe for Boston cream pie cupcakes, the pastry cream is from SprinkleBakes dessert recipe book, and the ganache is made á la Joy of Baking's Boston cream pie cupcakes. 

The recipe seems lengthy compared to my previous easy-peasy shortbread cookies, but they're not hard to make and they're wicked awesome <-- Yikes. I'm too tired to be funny tonight. I tried.


Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
Yield: 18 cupcakes
Bake time: 15 min

INGREDIENTS
For the cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pastry cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk 
1 egg
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the chocolate ganache
1/2 cup bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup


DIRECTIONS
For the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350º and grease the cupcake tin(s). We're not using papers for this recipe, so make sure the cupcake tins are generously greased and lightly dusted with flour. In a saucepan warm the milk and butter. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes or until thick and pale. Then beat in the dry ingredients. (Confession: I completely spaced taking photos for many of the steps in this recipe, but the Martha Stewart link above includes a step by step video if you want to know what it's supposed to look like.)

Bring the milk and butter in the saucepan to a boil. While still hot, add the butter and milk mixture to the batter, beating on low speed until blended. Then add the vanilla. It looks like this (I apparently decided to start taking photos at the "add vanilla" point): 


Divide the batter into the cupcake tins and fill about halfway. Baked for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Admire your delicious domes of cake. 


Pause to lounge on couch and eat one while still warm. 

Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely. 


For the pastry cream
While the cupcakes were cooling I prepared the pastry cream, but the pastry cream also needs to cool, so you could make this first or even the day before. It just requires some mixing if it sits in the refrigerator overnight.

In a small bowl dissolve the cornstarch into 1/4 cup of the milk. 
To the cornstarch mixture, beat in the full egg followed by the two egg yolks. (Confession: manually separating out yolks is one of my favorite feelings.) 



In a saucepan, combine the rest of the milk with the sugar and bring to a boil. Whisk constantly.


These next few steps sounded a little dicey to me, so I had to take a cheese break while I read and re-read the instructions and let my milk reach its boil. It looked like this:


Slowly pour about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture while whisking the egg mixture. This serves to heat up the eggs, ideally without cooking them. This process is called tempering the eggs. Next, return the rest of the milk to the stove on medium heat. Return to whisking the milk mixture and slowly pour the hot egg mixture into the milk mixture. 

Continue whisking until the mixture begins to boil, then remove from heat, add butter and vanilla, and whisk until it starts to thicken. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl, cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to cool.

For the chocolate ganache
Note: You'll want to make the ganache after the cupcakes are already filled with pastry cream and assembled so the ganache is still warm enough to pour over the cupcakes. Making the ganache is the last step. 

In a microwave safe bowl or cup, melt the chocolate chips with the butter. Then stir in the corn syrup. Voilé. Ganache. 

ASSEMBLY
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, cut them in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Spoon about a tablespoon of the pastry cream onto the bottom half of the cupcake. 


Place the tops back on to the cupcakes, make the ganache, and drizzle the ganache onto the top of the cupcakes. Let cool for an hour to let the chocolate set. 

My ganache was a little thicker than it should have been for decorating purposes, but it did make for a thick fudgy top once cooled. Delish :)

To my friends both in and out of town, I hope you enjoy this taste of Boston. As always, happy baking!





Monday, July 29, 2013

Last week I was writing to you all from the molten depths of the Earth's core, but the heat finally broke in Boston. In fact, it broke with torrential rain in the middle of my most recent baking project, threatening to make this a post for rainwater cookies when the window fan started spraying the pouring rain all over the kitchen. :)


This week I decided to bake matcha green tea shortbread cookies.

Your feelings about these cookies will likely correlate directly with your feelings about unsweetened green tea. This is not your average sweet treat, as matcha powder packs a bittersweet, earthy flavor, which I find delicious. My friend Liz and I gobbled these up during a long sit in Boston traffic, while my boyfriend described them as "absolutely vile" and refused to eat more than one. -__- Per his request, I'm providing this disclaimer: these cookies are not for the faint of heart. To me, this means that if you don't like them it's not a flaw in my recipe, but in your weak heart. Kidding. Sort of.

Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on size)
Bake time: appx~16 minutes

INGREDIENTS
2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

I love a recipe that only has seven ingredients, one of which is optional. The use of nesting doll measuring cups is also optional, but they are definitely adorable and a good source of whimsy, in case you operate a baking blog that happens to be called Whisk 'n Whimsy.

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, powdered sugar, salt, and matcha powder. Whisk until well combined.

Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients and mix until a vibrantly green, crumbly, and m**** (<--that awful word for not dry) dough is formed.



This recipe makes a lot of dough, so I divided it into two balls to avoid a kitchen table sized dough sheet once rolled out. I then placed the dough balls on a cutting board.There is some debate in what I'm going to refer to as the "shortbread community" about the order of the next two steps, but you'll need to A) roll and B) chill the dough in whichever order you find easier. I chose to chill first and roll second, because I found it less sticky/crumbly when it was cold, so I'll advise that.


Once the swamp things/dough balls are chilled, preheat the oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Roll the dough out to be about a 1/4-1/3" thick on a lightly floured surface. Or heavily floured if you knock the bag of flour over onto the dough and cutting board. Oops. The next photo is an example of what your cookie dough scenario probably should NOT look like, but I'm no Martha Stewart, so bear with me.

The next step will be a lot easier if you have cookie cutters, but I stubbornly wanted little heart-shaped cookies, so I cut them by hand with a tiny knife. After doing two dozen that way, the knife started inching toward my wrists, so I opted to make the rest of the cookies with a round cookie cutter. (Kidding about the slitting my wrists joke, but holy tedious, Batman. USE COOKIE CUTTERS.)

Place cookies onto lined baking sheet and bake for about 16 minutes or until the edges just start to turn light golden brown.

Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool for 15 min or so. If you choose to dip the cookies in chocolate, you can save the parchment that you baked the cookies on and reuse it to put the chocolate dipped cookies on. Yay recycling! 


Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. I usually melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and continue to heat in 10-20 second intervals until the chocolate chips appear a little more than half melted. At that point it's usually warm enough to stir until smooth.

Once the cookies are cooled and the chocolate is melted, dip on with your bad self.

Once the cookies are complete and the chocolate has firmed, you can binge eat them while stuck in traffic (or store them in an air tight container for up to a few weeks).

I hope you'll check back soon for more (mis)adventures in the kitchen. Happy baking!


4:49 PM Jacqueline M
Last week I was writing to you all from the molten depths of the Earth's core, but the heat finally broke in Boston. In fact, it broke with torrential rain in the middle of my most recent baking project, threatening to make this a post for rainwater cookies when the window fan started spraying the pouring rain all over the kitchen. :)


This week I decided to bake matcha green tea shortbread cookies.

Your feelings about these cookies will likely correlate directly with your feelings about unsweetened green tea. This is not your average sweet treat, as matcha powder packs a bittersweet, earthy flavor, which I find delicious. My friend Liz and I gobbled these up during a long sit in Boston traffic, while my boyfriend described them as "absolutely vile" and refused to eat more than one. -__- Per his request, I'm providing this disclaimer: these cookies are not for the faint of heart. To me, this means that if you don't like them it's not a flaw in my recipe, but in your weak heart. Kidding. Sort of.

Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on size)
Bake time: appx~16 minutes

INGREDIENTS
2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

I love a recipe that only has seven ingredients, one of which is optional. The use of nesting doll measuring cups is also optional, but they are definitely adorable and a good source of whimsy, in case you operate a baking blog that happens to be called Whisk 'n Whimsy.

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, powdered sugar, salt, and matcha powder. Whisk until well combined.

Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients and mix until a vibrantly green, crumbly, and m**** (<--that awful word for not dry) dough is formed.



This recipe makes a lot of dough, so I divided it into two balls to avoid a kitchen table sized dough sheet once rolled out. I then placed the dough balls on a cutting board.There is some debate in what I'm going to refer to as the "shortbread community" about the order of the next two steps, but you'll need to A) roll and B) chill the dough in whichever order you find easier. I chose to chill first and roll second, because I found it less sticky/crumbly when it was cold, so I'll advise that.


Once the swamp things/dough balls are chilled, preheat the oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Roll the dough out to be about a 1/4-1/3" thick on a lightly floured surface. Or heavily floured if you knock the bag of flour over onto the dough and cutting board. Oops. The next photo is an example of what your cookie dough scenario probably should NOT look like, but I'm no Martha Stewart, so bear with me.

The next step will be a lot easier if you have cookie cutters, but I stubbornly wanted little heart-shaped cookies, so I cut them by hand with a tiny knife. After doing two dozen that way, the knife started inching toward my wrists, so I opted to make the rest of the cookies with a round cookie cutter. (Kidding about the slitting my wrists joke, but holy tedious, Batman. USE COOKIE CUTTERS.)

Place cookies onto lined baking sheet and bake for about 16 minutes or until the edges just start to turn light golden brown.

Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool for 15 min or so. If you choose to dip the cookies in chocolate, you can save the parchment that you baked the cookies on and reuse it to put the chocolate dipped cookies on. Yay recycling! 


Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. I usually melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and continue to heat in 10-20 second intervals until the chocolate chips appear a little more than half melted. At that point it's usually warm enough to stir until smooth.

Once the cookies are cooled and the chocolate is melted, dip on with your bad self.

Once the cookies are complete and the chocolate has firmed, you can binge eat them while stuck in traffic (or store them in an air tight container for up to a few weeks).

I hope you'll check back soon for more (mis)adventures in the kitchen. Happy baking!


Monday, July 22, 2013

This week has been hot as hell. The kind of hot where I was going to write this post three days ago, but instead I installed an AC unit in my bedroom window and have been sprawled out in front of it ever since. It's also the kind of hot that makes me think of the Deep South and sipping sweet tea on the porch and tree branches dripping with Spanish moss, so this week I decided to come up with a recipe for cupcakes that said "summer in the South." The result was "bourbon peach." But I didn't have any real bourbon so then it was whiskey peach...and then I realized the Jack Daniel's Honey Whiskey that I have is actually a honey liqueur. So I really wasn't off to a great start with this recipe, but stick with me because these cupcakes were delicious.


I was scouring the internet for peach cupcake recipes, when I came across a recipe from Week of Menus. I was drawn to this one, because it used freeze dried peaches, which is a great way to get more peach flavor without all the extra juices. I found the freeze dried peaches at Target, and I think I'll be buying more just to snack on.


Peach Cupcakes + Honey Whiskey Buttercream Frosting 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Bake time: 18 minutes

INGREDIENTS
For the cupcakes (adapted from Week of Menus)
1 cup butter (at room temperature)
2 cups sugar 
2 cups flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
3 eggs
1.75 ounces freeze dried peaches (pulverized in a small food processor)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh peach puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey whiskey


For the frosting
1 cup butter (at room temperature)
2 cups confectioners sugar
1.75 ounces freeze dried peaches (pulverized)
1 tablespoon Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey whiskey (or more to taste)

DIRECTIONS
To make the cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan(s) with liners

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In another bowl or large measuring cup combine buttermilk, fresh peach puree, honey whiskey, and vanilla and set aside.




In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until well blended. About 3 minutes. Mixture should be pale, creamy, and absurdly yummy. You'll probably need to taste a finger scoop or two to make sure it's done.

To the butter/sugar mixture add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in pulverized peaches and beat until just combined. Alternating between the dry and wet ingredients, add in the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in thirds and beat until just combined.

Fill cupcakes liners 2/3 full. Bake until light golden brown or until they pass the toothpick test. :) 


To make the frosting
With an electric beater or stand mixer, beat butter and pulverized peaches until creamy. Gradually add in confectioners sugar on low speed. Add in honey whiskey and beat on medium speed until well blended.
If the frosting is thinner than you would like, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick add a tablespoon of water or more whiskey. ;) 

To decorate the cupcakes
I used a 2D Wilton decorating tip to swirl my frosting on. I garnished the cupcakes with a thin peach slice. I didn't have quite enough peach slices (read: I ate them) so I sprinkled a bit of brown sugar on the peachless ones. 

I hope y'all enjoy this summer recipe. Happy baking!

Side note: If you have two cupcake tins, you should try to bake both batches at the same time! Once baking soda is activated it's good to get them in the oven as soon as possible. I only had one of my cupcake tins with me so my batter sat while the first batch baked, resulting in a second batch that looked sadder than the kids that get picked last in gym class.



10:09 AM Jacqueline M
This week has been hot as hell. The kind of hot where I was going to write this post three days ago, but instead I installed an AC unit in my bedroom window and have been sprawled out in front of it ever since. It's also the kind of hot that makes me think of the Deep South and sipping sweet tea on the porch and tree branches dripping with Spanish moss, so this week I decided to come up with a recipe for cupcakes that said "summer in the South." The result was "bourbon peach." But I didn't have any real bourbon so then it was whiskey peach...and then I realized the Jack Daniel's Honey Whiskey that I have is actually a honey liqueur. So I really wasn't off to a great start with this recipe, but stick with me because these cupcakes were delicious.


I was scouring the internet for peach cupcake recipes, when I came across a recipe from Week of Menus. I was drawn to this one, because it used freeze dried peaches, which is a great way to get more peach flavor without all the extra juices. I found the freeze dried peaches at Target, and I think I'll be buying more just to snack on.


Peach Cupcakes + Honey Whiskey Buttercream Frosting 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Bake time: 18 minutes

INGREDIENTS
For the cupcakes (adapted from Week of Menus)
1 cup butter (at room temperature)
2 cups sugar 
2 cups flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
3 eggs
1.75 ounces freeze dried peaches (pulverized in a small food processor)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh peach puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey whiskey


For the frosting
1 cup butter (at room temperature)
2 cups confectioners sugar
1.75 ounces freeze dried peaches (pulverized)
1 tablespoon Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey whiskey (or more to taste)

DIRECTIONS
To make the cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan(s) with liners

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In another bowl or large measuring cup combine buttermilk, fresh peach puree, honey whiskey, and vanilla and set aside.




In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until well blended. About 3 minutes. Mixture should be pale, creamy, and absurdly yummy. You'll probably need to taste a finger scoop or two to make sure it's done.

To the butter/sugar mixture add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in pulverized peaches and beat until just combined. Alternating between the dry and wet ingredients, add in the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in thirds and beat until just combined.

Fill cupcakes liners 2/3 full. Bake until light golden brown or until they pass the toothpick test. :) 


To make the frosting
With an electric beater or stand mixer, beat butter and pulverized peaches until creamy. Gradually add in confectioners sugar on low speed. Add in honey whiskey and beat on medium speed until well blended.
If the frosting is thinner than you would like, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick add a tablespoon of water or more whiskey. ;) 

To decorate the cupcakes
I used a 2D Wilton decorating tip to swirl my frosting on. I garnished the cupcakes with a thin peach slice. I didn't have quite enough peach slices (read: I ate them) so I sprinkled a bit of brown sugar on the peachless ones. 

I hope y'all enjoy this summer recipe. Happy baking!

Side note: If you have two cupcake tins, you should try to bake both batches at the same time! Once baking soda is activated it's good to get them in the oven as soon as possible. I only had one of my cupcake tins with me so my batter sat while the first batch baked, resulting in a second batch that looked sadder than the kids that get picked last in gym class.