Apple cupcakes and cinnamon buttercream frosting

February 16, 2014

 

 

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I hope everyone had a good Valentine’s Day weekend – or, if you don’t really celebrate it, just a regular good weekend, then. Good weekends are all about sleeping in, taking time for yourself to relax and maybe get one or two things done. Weekends also about cupcakes. Or they should be, at least. Cupcakes were without a doubt my first real baking love, and I’ve never quite gotten over them, or over how much fun it is to frost and decorate them.

These particular cupcakes were made using a regular pound-cake recipe. The mini!cupcake pan is new so I was excited to test it out (anything miniature sized is bound to be amazing). I added slices of apple to the regular sized cupcakes, and then added cinnamon to my buttercream. Apple and cinnamon are the best of friends, and the frosting was extremely yummy.

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Moelleux au chocolat (lava cake)

February 13, 2014

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If you’re still looking for a Valentine’s Day recipe to please your girl/boy/person, a friend, the members of your family – or yourself: look no further! This chocolate cake with a gooey center is the perfect thing. It’s very easy to make and it’s chocolate. Pretty much a guaranteed success!

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Brownie and choc-chip roll out cookies

February 7, 2014

 

 

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What’s that age that children start being able to recognizing and see the difference between animals? Whatever it is – I bet it’s before you’ve reached 24. ‘Cause you see, this was supposed to be a post about two different kinds of kitty-shaped cookies. That’s what it was supposed to be. Up until the moment I sent my friend Jess a text with a picture of my two brand new cookie cutters and I get a reply saying. “Oh! A kitty and an owl!” I was just holding the cookie cutter in question, ready to start punching out my first cookie, when – huh, she’s right. That’s an owl. In my defense, Jess agrees that the owl does have a very cat-like head.

But I digress. This isn’t a post about my inability to tell the difference between an owl and a cat (a bird and a freaking feline, for crying out loud) this is a post celebrating the awesomeness that is Amy! Amy is a friend I met online at the beginning of last year, through a mutual friend. We soon bonded over a mutual interest in hockey (go, Blackhawks!) and then later through a whole series of unfortunate (unpleasantly soul-sucking) fandoms. The cookie cutters were part of a Christmas (slash birthday) present Amy sent all the way from the USA. (So, further in my defence, maybe the excitement of package! Christmas! Birthday! Presents! Amy! is also part of the reason why I immediately decided cookie cutter #2 was a cat just like #1)

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Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies

February 2, 2014

 

 

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I love tea. I think there’s not a single other hot drink that can come even close to giving the joy and comfort that a good cup of tea can offer. Not coffee, not hot chocolate – they don’t come close. Or for me, at least – weirdly enough I have a lot of friends that don’t feel the same way. Huh. My tea collection is ridiculously extensive, up to a point where I’m a bit worried that I’m never going to be able to make it through to the other end of it, at least not for another couple of years. Even though I love trying new brands and flavors, there’s a couple of teas – classics – that’ll always be on the top of my list. A good, simple Darjeeling with lemon is my personal favorite. I’m also very partial to Lipton’s Vanilla Green tea – there’s just something about that one. And then there’s Earl Grey. You just can’t go wrong with Earl Grey. When I saw the recipe for these Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies on the Hummingbird High blog, I knew I had to try them.

I made them for a friend’s birthday and they were a pretty big success – I personally loved them to pieces, at least. Which I count as a big success!

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Chocolates!

January 30, 2014

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It’s been way too long since I last updated! It’s been gnawing at me these last couple of days – not only the guilt over neglecting my little baking blog, but also the urge to get in the kitchen and make something – bake something. I thought it would be best to start by getting rid of that first feeling, the guilt, by finally posting these pictures that I took at the end of December (yikes, talk about procrastination!) These chocolates are made using Nigella Lawson’s recipe found in her book Nigella Express. I’d opened a can of evaporated milk and I didn’t want to let the rest go to waste, so I made these tried and tested favorites of my friends and family. They’re made with a very bitter chocolate and peanuts.

Since this is my first post of 2014 I would like to wish everybody a very belated happy new year. I hope everyone had a great end of the year, and amazing New Year’s Eve and Day. May 2014 be beautiful for you :) Next up on this blog: chocolate chip cookies. Again. (They tasted lovely though, so I hope you’re excited!)

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Merry Christmas

December 23, 2013

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Hello everyone! I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who liked my posts this past year, and a heartfelt you’re awesome, thanks so much to everyone who decided to follow my blog. I’m very excited to see that people like what I have to post – and I hope I can post lots more in 2014 :) I hope that you’re all spending Christmas with people you love, doing things that you love. I’d also like to wish you all that your heart desires for 2014! Make it a really great year.

I baked these cupcakes for my brother. He’s spending the evening with his friends, having a Christmas dinner party. I like how they turned out – so very festive! I also made them tiramisu, which ended up being so very very yummy. I drenched the finger biscuits in a coffee amaretto syrup, and the mascarpone cream was made with an Italian meringue and a pâte-à-bombe. So good :) but not the point of this post! This a post about cupcakes!

My cupcake recipe can be found here; and I found the buttercream recipe in my copy of The Great British Book of Baking! (Bring 85 grams of sugar and 4 table spoons to 110°C – poor in a thin stream onto 2 lightly whisked egg yolks while mixing with a hand mix. Keep mixing until the mixture is cold. (It’ll be thick and light.) Continue mixing and gradually add 150 grams of very soft butter. Add flavoring if you’d like – I added sweetened cocoa powder for hot cocoa (yum) to make the chocolate buttercream.)

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whole wheat apple cake

December 21, 2013

It’s been way too long again. I have a couple of sets of pictures that I took a while back. It’s just about finding the drive to edit and post them, yelp! Here’s some pictures of the Whole Wheat Honey Apple Cake I baked!

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Oostvlaamse Vlaai

December 4, 2013

 

 

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Oostvlaamse Vlaai is a local desert or snack that can kind of be compared to a bread pudding – you use a lot of (stale) cookies to make this. In this particular vlaai went a lot of gingerbread, very hard (and stale) speculaas and some macaroons. This gets seasoned with a lot of cinnamon and orange peel. You add a dark syrup and brown sugars to give the vlaai a dark brown color. This gets eaten with a cup of coffee, or people also like to spread it on bread.

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Speculaas

November 26, 2013

 

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December is almost upon us, which means that for us folks here in the low lands Sinterklaas is getting ready to visit all the good children on the night of the 5th of December. Sinterklaas was always such a joyous occasion for me when I was a kid – something we started looking forward to starting late October, early November even. It’s hard to miss all the excitement, supermarkets start stocking up on Sinterklaas treats as early as September nowadays. Typical Sinterklaas treats here include marzipan, clementines, chocolate (of course, we are in Belgium, after all) and speculaas!

Speculaas is a spiced, crispy biscuit that gets it’s flavor from the unique mix of spice (that includes cinnamon and ginger) that’s used. It’s a really yummy treat, and people here love it! There’s been a boom of speculaas inspired treats the last couple of years. The biggest and most popular producer  Lotus has released a whole range of speculaas-y goodies, like chocolate covered morsels, ice cream and a boxes of speculaas crumble. My favorite is still the speculaas spread for on a sandwhich. Heaven! Even though the mass produced stuff is pretty darn good, there’s nothing quite like making your own, am I right?

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Special apple cake

November 20, 2013

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When I was doing my internship in a local bakery I got to help make some cakes one day. Not just any cake, though, one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. This beauty was built up out of a Breton shortbread base, a pound cake body, and apples and almond flakes on top. Heaven. Apple cake is one of those things that’s beautiful either way, you can’t go wrong with a good apple cake to be honest. I had this friend who once told me (and I could tell she was rather embarrassed about it) that she could only really bake apple cake. And I remember thinking that if you can make a good apple cake you really don’t need to know much more to be able to entertain people and offer them something to snack on with their coffee or tea.

This was my first attempt at recreating this lovely cake from the bakery. While it wasn’t perfect it was really good and scored points with my family! Next time I’m going to make the Breton shortbread base a little thicker, I’m going to substitute half the flour in the pound cake recipe with almond powder, and I’m going to leave bigger chunks of apple in my chunky apple sauce.

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