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Double Chocolate Cookies :) 
(AND some mushy, gushy stuff about home. If you’re just here for the cookies, you might want to skip the first four paragraphs. :)
Winter Quarter has commenced for only two weeks now, and already I long for break. I miss the relaxing days of being able to wake up whenever my body wants to, when the only things I occupied myself with were running, reading, baking, and laughing with my brother, Alan, until I fell on the floor. As much as I love school, research, work, and simply just being on campus, living such an unstructured life is incredibly refreshing every once in a while. 
Before Winter Break, I hadn’t visited Portland for over six months—the longest duration I’ve spent away from “home”. I was on campus doing research over the summer, visited my sister in Salt Lake City for the last three weeks of summer, and spent Thanksgiving Break in Ohio. It had hardly crossed my mind how much I might’ve miss Portland; As the loads of work get more and more massive, and the amount of sleep I get becomes infinitesimal, I feel like I get too busy to remember to miss home. When I landed in Portland in mid-December, everything felt remarkably foreign. But the moment Alan greeted me at the MAX stop downtown, it all felt like home again (oh, the hallucinating homeless man who started yelling nonsense at us two blocks down the street, and the pack of over 50 Santas marching around town chanting “HO! HO! HO! HO!” certainly helped, too ;).
The reason why I put “home” in quotations the first time around was because, just last year, I was torn over where I considered “home” to be. I felt like this was an essential thing to know, and it was a pertinent piece of information I couldn’t provide for myself. I felt like I was being torn in a million directions: Is my home in Portland, where most of my family is? Or is it in Salt Lake City, where my sister hosts me for an extended period of time every year? Or is it on campus, where I spend 3/4 of time? Last year, I finally grew comfortable with calling Stanford my home—just like any other Stanford student would. But even then, I was still torn, because flying from one place to another and living out of a suit case really gets you thinking about this kind of thing. And not too long ago, I finally found an answer: I have multiple homes. I have multiple places I can travel to, unravel, feel comfortable, and be surrounded by familiar things and familiar people. I used to think I was underprivileged, because I felt like a nomad who didn’t have a single place where I owned a bed and a closet (that I didn’t have to evacuate every year). But that’s not what makes a home. And I’m far from underprivileged—I feel like the luckiest person in the world! Having so many places I can go to and feel “at home” is easily one of the best feelings in the world. :)
Winter Break was made wonderful by my big brother and best friend (let’s just say we’re BROS, yo), Alan, who devoured all the cookies and pancakes I made with a smile on his face, while tolerating my borderline terrifying obsession with Entourage; my oldest brother, Adam, who I got to celebrate and greet the new year with (by far, the most AWESOME new years celebration I’ve ever had); my older sister, Linh, who joined us in Portland/Seattle for a few days before Christmas; and my mom and grandma, who I swear never change (yes, they’re consistently crazy), and never fail to feed me the best food and funniest stories. I love my family, and wherever they are are places I’ll always consider home. :)
Okay, enough cheese. On to the suga’!
I made these cookies for Alan as a parting gift, and a big huge thanks for his hospitality over Winter Break. :)
I used my go-to recipe for chocolate cookie dough, and used chunks of semi-sweet chocolate I got from Trader Joe’s. The chocolate chunks were a lot more bitter than I had anticipated, so the next time I make these cookies, I think I’ll opt for some Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chunks. The texture of the dough is my favorite: crispy on the outside, slightly fluffy, but still chewy. 
My sister made and gifted chocolate truffles that were “sweet & spicy”—they were dark chocolate truffles, spiced with cayenne pepper, with dried cherries hiding in the center. Amazed and inspired by this flavor combination, I decided to experiment with half the dough, and turn my sister’s truffles into cookies. I just mixed in a few teaspoons of cayenne pepper and dried cherries, and presented these cookies at a cookie exchange with a few friends on campus. These cookies could definitely use some work. The spice didn’t quite come on as strong as I had hoped, and I think they ended up being a bit dry by the time they reached California. I’ll have to try at this another time, with more cayenne, different chocolate chunks, and maybe making bigger cookies to retain more moisture over time (mine were about 1.5 inches in diameter). 
And with that, I conclude my longest blog post ever. :)
Happy mid-January!

Double Chocolate Cookies :) 

(AND some mushy, gushy stuff about home. If you’re just here for the cookies, you might want to skip the first four paragraphs. :)

Winter Quarter has commenced for only two weeks now, and already I long for break. I miss the relaxing days of being able to wake up whenever my body wants to, when the only things I occupied myself with were running, reading, baking, and laughing with my brother, Alan, until I fell on the floor. As much as I love school, research, work, and simply just being on campus, living such an unstructured life is incredibly refreshing every once in a while. 

Before Winter Break, I hadn’t visited Portland for over six months—the longest duration I’ve spent away from “home”. I was on campus doing research over the summer, visited my sister in Salt Lake City for the last three weeks of summer, and spent Thanksgiving Break in Ohio. It had hardly crossed my mind how much I might’ve miss Portland; As the loads of work get more and more massive, and the amount of sleep I get becomes infinitesimal, I feel like I get too busy to remember to miss home. When I landed in Portland in mid-December, everything felt remarkably foreign. But the moment Alan greeted me at the MAX stop downtown, it all felt like home again (oh, the hallucinating homeless man who started yelling nonsense at us two blocks down the street, and the pack of over 50 Santas marching around town chanting “HO! HO! HO! HO!” certainly helped, too ;).

The reason why I put “home” in quotations the first time around was because, just last year, I was torn over where I considered “home” to be. I felt like this was an essential thing to know, and it was a pertinent piece of information I couldn’t provide for myself. I felt like I was being torn in a million directions: Is my home in Portland, where most of my family is? Or is it in Salt Lake City, where my sister hosts me for an extended period of time every year? Or is it on campus, where I spend 3/4 of time? Last year, I finally grew comfortable with calling Stanford my home—just like any other Stanford student would. But even then, I was still torn, because flying from one place to another and living out of a suit case really gets you thinking about this kind of thing. And not too long ago, I finally found an answer: I have multiple homes. I have multiple places I can travel to, unravel, feel comfortable, and be surrounded by familiar things and familiar people. I used to think I was underprivileged, because I felt like a nomad who didn’t have a single place where I owned a bed and a closet (that I didn’t have to evacuate every year). But that’s not what makes a home. And I’m far from underprivileged—I feel like the luckiest person in the world! Having so many places I can go to and feel “at home” is easily one of the best feelings in the world. :)

Winter Break was made wonderful by my big brother and best friend (let’s just say we’re BROS, yo), Alan, who devoured all the cookies and pancakes I made with a smile on his face, while tolerating my borderline terrifying obsession with Entourage; my oldest brother, Adam, who I got to celebrate and greet the new year with (by far, the most AWESOME new years celebration I’ve ever had); my older sister, Linh, who joined us in Portland/Seattle for a few days before Christmas; and my mom and grandma, who I swear never change (yes, they’re consistently crazy), and never fail to feed me the best food and funniest stories. I love my family, and wherever they are are places I’ll always consider home. :)

Okay, enough cheese. On to the suga’!

I made these cookies for Alan as a parting gift, and a big huge thanks for his hospitality over Winter Break. :)

I used my go-to recipe for chocolate cookie dough, and used chunks of semi-sweet chocolate I got from Trader Joe’s. The chocolate chunks were a lot more bitter than I had anticipated, so the next time I make these cookies, I think I’ll opt for some Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chunks. The texture of the dough is my favorite: crispy on the outside, slightly fluffy, but still chewy. 

My sister made and gifted chocolate truffles that were “sweet & spicy”—they were dark chocolate truffles, spiced with cayenne pepper, with dried cherries hiding in the center. Amazed and inspired by this flavor combination, I decided to experiment with half the dough, and turn my sister’s truffles into cookies. I just mixed in a few teaspoons of cayenne pepper and dried cherries, and presented these cookies at a cookie exchange with a few friends on campus. These cookies could definitely use some work. The spice didn’t quite come on as strong as I had hoped, and I think they ended up being a bit dry by the time they reached California. I’ll have to try at this another time, with more cayenne, different chocolate chunks, and maybe making bigger cookies to retain more moisture over time (mine were about 1.5 inches in diameter). 

And with that, I conclude my longest blog post ever. :)

Happy mid-January!

Grandma Mommsen’s Molasses Cookies & Catching Up :)

Wow. I can’t believe I haven’t posted since summer.. What big food-related events have happened since then? 

• I visited my sister in SLC at the end of summer and learned how to make pesto (basil walnut, mmm..), raspberry-kissed chocolate truffles, and molasses cookies.  Oh, and I fell in love with grilled corn, grilled zucchini, and beet salad.  Delicious!

• A few of us who stayed on campus for part (or all) of Thanksgiving Break whipped together a pre-Thanksgiving feast.  The feast consisted of pumpkin scones, a winter bruschetta, spicy lentil & butternut squash salad, stuffing, sweet potato gratin, and tiramisu for dessert. Thanks to everybody for coming and contributing to our pre-Thanksgiving dinner! :)

• I started a 9-day marathon of making pancakes for my brother (leading up to his 23rd birthday). I learned that I’m really bad at making pancakes — really bad. Let’s just say his birthday pancakes are probably going to be a courtesy of Aunt Jemima..

The recipe for the molasses cookies belongs to my sister’s (future) Grandmother-in-law: Grandma Mommsen (whose 90th birthday is just around the corner!).  I baked about 250 of these for my sister’s engagement party when I visited her at the end of the summer (catering for ~70 people is not a trivial task), and just baked about 3 dozen the other day to mail out and share for the holidays. Before these cookies stepped into my life, I despised molasses; to me, molasses smells just like soy sauce — something I would never want in my rice, let alone my cookies. This recipe yields a perfectly spicy, chewy cookie, with just the right amount of crisp on the outside. Using the cloves definitely makes a difference (so don’t skimp on that!), and taking the cookies out just before they’re fully cooked allows for a chewy texture (leave them in too long and they become a little too puffy and cracker-like). This recipe has made it onto my “must keep forever” list, and this cookie will forever be upheld as one of my favorites. :)

Grandma Mommsen’s Molasses Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
Extra sugar for rolling

Instructions:

• Pre-heat oven to 350°F
• Mix dry ingredients (flour, spices, salt, baking soda)
• In a separate bowl, cream sugar, shortening, molasses, and ginger. Add egg.
• Mix in dry ingredients
• Roll in tiny balls and dip each in sugar
• Bake until “half-baked” (~8 minutes)

Note: These cookies keep really well in the freezer, so if what you bake ends up escaping your raging appetite, store them in a zip-lock bag and toss them in the freezer! When you’re ready to eat them, just let them sit out at room temperature to thaw for about an hour. They’re even delicious cold. :)

Happy Winter Solstice, everybody! Eat cookies. Be happy. :)

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting :)
I made this same cake around the same time last year.  This time, I had a real purpose: my friend’s 21st birthday.  :)
What else went differently this time? 
1. Smaller cake + cupcakesI didn’t want to overwhelm anybody with a huge, overbearing cake, so I decided to make a small 2-layer, (about) 2”-radius cake for my friend, and used the rest of the batter for cupcakes.  The cupcakes served as a great little mid-day/post-lunch treat for my roommates.  :)  
2. Thicker, better frostingI’m finally getting a hang of this whole “frosting” thing.  I’m pretty sure I completely messed up the frosting last time (i.e. I didn’t have maple syrup sitting around, so I just tried to make frosting with cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter only..).  I usually don’t have pure maple syrup just sitting around, so I substituted honey for the syrup.  Result?  A smooth, not-too-sweet frosting.  This frosting isn’t overwhelmingly sweet (like most store-bought frostings are); it allows the cream cheese to stand out and speak for itself, which makes the frosting so much more refreshing.  Also, this light frosting complements the carrot cake, rather than overpowering it in the realm of your taste buds.
What would I do differently next time?
More stuff.I’m really hesitant to ever add nuts/dried fruits to baked things, because I’m always afraid someone might be allergic to nuts, or might just hate that certain dried fruit that I added to the recipe.  However, I think that carrot cake is made even more delicious when it includes hints of walnuts and raisins.  Next time, I’ll overcome my fears of displeasing people and toss in a cup or two of both raisins and walnuts.  Yum. :)
Here's the recipe for the carrot cake and maple cream cheese icing.  Don't lose it.  This recipe is so delicious that I'm confidently making it my go-to carrot cake recipe for the rest of my life (yes, it's that good).  :)

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting :)

I made this same cake around the same time last year.  This time, I had a real purpose: my friend’s 21st birthday.  :)

What else went differently this time? 

1. Smaller cake + cupcakes
I didn’t want to overwhelm anybody with a huge, overbearing cake, so I decided to make a small 2-layer, (about) 2”-radius cake for my friend, and used the rest of the batter for cupcakes.  The cupcakes served as a great little mid-day/post-lunch treat for my roommates.  :)  

2. Thicker, better frosting
I’m finally getting a hang of this whole “frosting” thing.  I’m pretty sure I completely messed up the frosting last time (i.e. I didn’t have maple syrup sitting around, so I just tried to make frosting with cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter only..).  I usually don’t have pure maple syrup just sitting around, so I substituted honey for the syrup.  Result?  A smooth, not-too-sweet frosting.  This frosting isn’t overwhelmingly sweet (like most store-bought frostings are); it allows the cream cheese to stand out and speak for itself, which makes the frosting so much more refreshing.  Also, this light frosting complements the carrot cake, rather than overpowering it in the realm of your taste buds.

What would I do differently next time?

More stuff.
I’m really hesitant to ever add nuts/dried fruits to baked things, because I’m always afraid someone might be allergic to nuts, or might just hate that certain dried fruit that I added to the recipe.  However, I think that carrot cake is made even more delicious when it includes hints of walnuts and raisins.  Next time, I’ll overcome my fears of displeasing people and toss in a cup or two of both raisins and walnuts.  Yum. :)

Here's the recipe for the carrot cake and maple cream cheese icing.  Don't lose it.  This recipe is so delicious that I'm confidently making it my go-to carrot cake recipe for the rest of my life (yes, it's that good).  :)

Cream Cheese Wontons :)
Quite possibly the easiest type of wonton you can make.
Ingredients: cream cheese, red bell pepper, green onion, celery, red onion, salt.  All wrapped up in a wonton wrapper.  Yeah, it’s that easy!  
I used sweet chili as dipping sauce, which goes really well with the wontons.  My mom makes a sauce that complements the wontons much better than sweet chili — and if I ever remember it, I’ll be sure to share.  :)

Cream Cheese Wontons :)

Quite possibly the easiest type of wonton you can make.

Ingredients: cream cheese, red bell pepper, green onion, celery, red onion, salt.  All wrapped up in a wonton wrapper.  Yeah, it’s that easy!  

I used sweet chili as dipping sauce, which goes really well with the wontons.  My mom makes a sauce that complements the wontons much better than sweet chili — and if I ever remember it, I’ll be sure to share.  :)

S’mores-Stuffed Brownies :)

My friend’s automatic reaction when he heard this name: “Wait… How do you get s’mores inside the brownies??” 

Hahah.  Well, I found this mouth-watering concoction on Picky Palate (a food blog I recently discovered — and have recently fallen in love with).  This recipe is absolutely genius!  

The brownie has 5 layers (from bottom up):
(1) brownie
(2) graham cracker
(3) Hershey’s milk chocolate
(4) marshmallows
(5) brownie.  

Yep, s’mores are literally sandwiched between two brownie layers!  

Result?  Utter deliciousness. :)

This recipe resulted in a really moist, dense, super-sweet brownie.  The only problem I had was the top brownie layer not cooking all the way through in the center of the pan.  I discovered this when I started slicing the center brownies, and batter started flooding toward everywhere.  If I had baked it any longer to accommodate the top brownie layer, the bottom brownie layer would’ve been over-baked and dry.  So, next time, instead of dividing the batter evenly between the top and bottom brownie layers, I’d definitely go for about 3/4 of the batter on the bottom and 1/4 on top. 

These brownies are really fun and easy to make — and did I mention how absolutely delicious they are??  You can either make the brownie layers from scratch, or you can use brownie mix (no shame; brownie mix is awesome). 

So, if you have the ingredients to make these (s’mores stuff + brownie mix), I recommend you make them immediately.  If you don’t have the ingredients, well, you might want to rush to the nearest grocery store and get them. :)

Chocolate Chocolate Chip “Muffins” :)
Why, these look a bit familiar… They look strikingly similar to the chocolate cupcakes I filled with dulce de leche a while back.  Hmm.. How could that be?
Oh.  Because “chocolate muffins” don’t exist.  They’re just cupcakes that we eat for breakfast!  Oh, we’re so silly.  Oh well.  Whatever lets us get away with eating chocolate for breakfast, right?  :)
I got this recipe from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook that a lovely friend got for me a while back.  Warning: This book will make you salivate. 
For some reason, every one of the recipes I’ve tried from this book have ended in at least partial disaster… I must be doing something wrong.  Maybe I should stop being so frugal and start using Ghirardelli chocolate?   Hm.  Well, whatever it is, I hope I figure it out soon.  I love this book, and all of the recipes sound like they’d be amazing.  Then I mess up.  Darn.
Anyway.  Back to the cupca— I mean, “muffins.” 
My soul reason for making these muffins was to emulate the muffins that my former house-mates and I miss so much.  Our dining hall made some pretty decent food, but their chocolate chocolate chunk muffins were beyond delicious.  They were perfectly chocolatey, perfectly dark, perfectly moist, with perfectly crisp tops… I’m drooling just thinking about them.  The moment I get my fingers on that recipe, oh, there will be nonstop muffin-making and nonstop muffin-consumption in this apartment!  (Just kidding… maybe.)
These muffins were decent.  Honestly, they were just too dry and not quite chocolatey enough.  To be honest, I think I may have baked them a few minutes too long (instructions called for 20, I should’ve gone 17 for a more moist muffin).  I also must admit that I kind of strayed away from the recipe a bit … (don’t ask).  I should actually try the recipe some day just as is, too… Don’t know what came over me! 
I won’t give up on this muffin experiment until I succeed — even if it takes all summer!
P.S. If you missed the note in my last post, be sure to check out this summer food blog my friends and I are all contributing to this summer.  We’re all living on campus without meal plans, and, oh boy, we’re all stoked for the awesome food adventures to come!  We just had our first potluck on Sunday, so be sure to check out the blog! :)

Chocolate Chocolate Chip “Muffins” :)

Why, these look a bit familiar… They look strikingly similar to the chocolate cupcakes I filled with dulce de leche a while back.  Hmm.. How could that be?

Oh.  Because “chocolate muffins” don’t exist.  They’re just cupcakes that we eat for breakfast!  Oh, we’re so silly.  Oh well.  Whatever lets us get away with eating chocolate for breakfast, right?  :)

I got this recipe from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook that a lovely friend got for me a while back.  Warning: This book will make you salivate. 

For some reason, every one of the recipes I’ve tried from this book have ended in at least partial disaster… I must be doing something wrong.  Maybe I should stop being so frugal and start using Ghirardelli chocolate?   Hm.  Well, whatever it is, I hope I figure it out soon.  I love this book, and all of the recipes sound like they’d be amazing.  Then I mess up.  Darn.

Anyway.  Back to the cupca— I mean, “muffins.” 

My soul reason for making these muffins was to emulate the muffins that my former house-mates and I miss so much.  Our dining hall made some pretty decent food, but their chocolate chocolate chunk muffins were beyond delicious.  They were perfectly chocolatey, perfectly dark, perfectly moist, with perfectly crisp tops… I’m drooling just thinking about them.  The moment I get my fingers on that recipe, oh, there will be nonstop muffin-making and nonstop muffin-consumption in this apartment!  (Just kidding… maybe.)

These muffins were decent.  Honestly, they were just too dry and not quite chocolatey enough.  To be honest, I think I may have baked them a few minutes too long (instructions called for 20, I should’ve gone 17 for a more moist muffin).  I also must admit that I kind of strayed away from the recipe a bit … (don’t ask).  I should actually try the recipe some day just as is, too… Don’t know what came over me! 

I won’t give up on this muffin experiment until I succeed — even if it takes all summer!

P.S. If you missed the note in my last post, be sure to check out this summer food blog my friends and I are all contributing to this summer.  We’re all living on campus without meal plans, and, oh boy, we’re all stoked for the awesome food adventures to come!  We just had our first potluck on Sunday, so be sure to check out the blog! :)

Cookies & Cream PANDA Cupcakes :)
Firstly, I’d like to wish another happy year of existence to one of my best friends from high school: Kim Tran.  So… 
HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY, MA’AM! :)
Kim was actually my inspiration for these cupcakes (which I gave to her as an early birthday gift).  Knowing how much she absolutely loves pandas, and having not baked in what seems like a decade, I knew I had to bake something panda-themed for Kim.  When I started brainstorming what to make, the idea of panda cupcakes instantly popped up in my mind.  I had seen about half a dozen different approaches to making panda cupcakes on various baking blogs and Tumblogs, so my challenge was sticking to something simple, yet cute and personalized. 
Before I chose what type of cupcake to make, I decided I wanted to craft my pandas out of Oreos.  Exactly how I wanted to craft them wasn’t determined until I actually had to start decorating (… silly me).  So, I thought, what more appropriate cupcake body to make than a cookies & cream cupcake?   
I used a cookies & cream cupcake recipe I found on Lovin’ From the Oven, and frosted the cupcakes with cream cheese icing (vanilla frosting may have been a better choice).  I used Mini Oreos halves for the eyes and ears, and frosted on the faces with standard black frosting I found at Safeway.  
The cupcakes themselves were decent.  They didn’t taste as “cookies & creamish” as I had anticipated, but I think that’s mostly due to the fact that I used cream cheese icing instead of vanilla.  The Oreo on the bottom of the cupcake is an awesome idea, and is a sweet little surprise when you bite into the cupcake, but the difference between the textures is a bit odd..  This might just be a personal problem, though. :P 
As for decorating the cupcakes…
My older brother Alan helped me out with coming up with all the different faces (I didn’t want any of them to be the same!).  Decorating them was an absolute BLAST, and I’d recommend this activity to any pair (or group) of bakers and friends looking for a good time. :) 
All in all, a super fun project. 
Now that it’s summer, I’ll be doing a lot more cooking (no dining plan = my friends and I fending for ourselves on a small budget in a small kitchen) and baking.  I’m absolutely stoked! :D
Keep your eyes peeled for more blog posts in the near future.  I’m hoping to keep this blog as lively as possible throughout the whole summer. :)
Speaking of summer, food, and blogs, check out this summer food blog my good friend Kevin started a few summers back.  A group of us, plus Kevin, will be revamping the blog with tons of kitchen experiments this summer.  It should be all sorts of awesome. :)

Cookies & Cream PANDA Cupcakes :)

Firstly, I’d like to wish another happy year of existence to one of my best friends from high school: Kim Tran.  So… 

HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY, MA’AM! :)

Kim was actually my inspiration for these cupcakes (which I gave to her as an early birthday gift).  Knowing how much she absolutely loves pandas, and having not baked in what seems like a decade, I knew I had to bake something panda-themed for Kim.  When I started brainstorming what to make, the idea of panda cupcakes instantly popped up in my mind.  I had seen about half a dozen different approaches to making panda cupcakes on various baking blogs and Tumblogs, so my challenge was sticking to something simple, yet cute and personalized. 

Before I chose what type of cupcake to make, I decided I wanted to craft my pandas out of Oreos.  Exactly how I wanted to craft them wasn’t determined until I actually had to start decorating (… silly me).  So, I thought, what more appropriate cupcake body to make than a cookies & cream cupcake?   

I used a cookies & cream cupcake recipe I found on Lovin’ From the Oven, and frosted the cupcakes with cream cheese icing (vanilla frosting may have been a better choice).  I used Mini Oreos halves for the eyes and ears, and frosted on the faces with standard black frosting I found at Safeway.  

The cupcakes themselves were decent.  They didn’t taste as “cookies & creamish” as I had anticipated, but I think that’s mostly due to the fact that I used cream cheese icing instead of vanilla.  The Oreo on the bottom of the cupcake is an awesome idea, and is a sweet little surprise when you bite into the cupcake, but the difference between the textures is a bit odd..  This might just be a personal problem, though. :P 

As for decorating the cupcakes…

My older brother Alan helped me out with coming up with all the different faces (I didn’t want any of them to be the same!).  Decorating them was an absolute BLAST, and I’d recommend this activity to any pair (or group) of bakers and friends looking for a good time. :) 

All in all, a super fun project. 

Now that it’s summer, I’ll be doing a lot more cooking (no dining plan = my friends and I fending for ourselves on a small budget in a small kitchen) and baking.  I’m absolutely stoked! :D

Keep your eyes peeled for more blog posts in the near future.  I’m hoping to keep this blog as lively as possible throughout the whole summer. :)

Speaking of summer, food, and blogs, check out this summer food blog my good friend Kevin started a few summers back.  A group of us, plus Kevin, will be revamping the blog with tons of kitchen experiments this summer.  It should be all sorts of awesome. :)

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes 
filled with Dulce de Leche 
frosted with Chocolate Frosting :)

Before last quarter I had only read about dulce de leche in various food blog posts.  These posts ranged from critiques on dulce de leche ice cream to sharing recipes for dulce de leche cheesecake squares.  I could only guess what dulce de leche was — some type of thick, milky caramel?  Either way, I didn’t think I was missing out on too much.

One lovely evening, a friend and I were having dinner at the CoHo when a menu item caught our eye: 

"Churros with dulce de leche"

When I mentioned that I had never had dulce de leche before, my friend automatically decided that this treat was a must.  The churros were center-filled with dulce de leche and were absolutely delicious.  What attracted me most to dulce de leche was the smooth, creamy texture paired with the milky caramel taste.  I’ve always adored the taste of caramel, but never enjoyed the ooey-gooey stickiness of it.  Great texture plus the caramel taste?  Dulce de leche was basically a dream come true for me! 

I’d been hankering to make some cupcakes all quarter last quarter.  I finally came up with an idea that I thought was worthwhile, which is what I present to you today: 

Dark chocolate cupcakes filled with dulce de leche — frosted with chocolate frosting

YUM. :)
I used Beantown Baker’s Dark Chocolate Cupcake recipe and a random chocolate frosting recipe I came up with on the spot.  I bought the dulce de leche at Whole Foods.  

After baking the cupcakes and letting them cool for a bit, I cut a cone-shaped chunk out of each cupcake, filled the hollowed centers of the cupcakes with dulce de leche, replaced the top of the cupcake, and lightly frosted the top of each cupcake.

My cupcakes turned out a little more dry than I had anticipated (I actually made a huge mistake while mixing the batter, realized it half way through, and did my best to make up for it.. But the dryness was definitely a result of my mistake).  Otherwise, I would consider my cupcake baking spree for the quarter as a success. :) 

Well, it’s a new quarter now, and I’m hoping for lots of sunshine and looking forward to all of the activities that get to take place in ideal weather: running, climbing, tennis, and sand volleyball.  I’m really excited for all of my classes, and even more excited for whatever baking adventures I might embark on. 

Oh man.  I can’t wait. :)

Lessons to take away from this blog post:

1) If you haven’t tasted it before, go get some dulce de leche this instant.  If you have tasted it before, still go get some. Now. 

2) Pay attention when you’re mixing cake batter. 

3) Always take advantage of lovely weather.

Thanks for reading!  Stay happy. :)

Meet Boston, my sister’s roommate’s Boston Terrier.  :)I miss this little lady.
Definitely haven’t been able to do as much baking as I would like, but hopefully that’ll change soon.  I just realized it’s been ages since I’ve updated, though, so, if not for baking, then I thought I’d update for love. :)

Meet Boston, my sister’s roommate’s Boston Terrier.  :)
I miss this little lady.

Definitely haven’t been able to do as much baking as I would like, but hopefully that’ll change soon.  I just realized it’s been ages since I’ve updated, though, so, if not for baking, then I thought I’d update for love. :)