s’more poke cake [confessions of a cookbook queen]

Last night, I was joined by the lovely Gabby Costa in my somewhat janky house kitchen, where we attempted to recreate these beautiful squares of marshmallow-and-graham-cracker-goodness.

Let me tell you: it got messy.

But I mean in the best of ways–the kind that includes fluff stuck to fingers and far more Aaron Carter than is probably acceptable anymore.

And on the topic of fluff, can we address how terrifying the stuff is? It sticks to anything and everything except what it needs to, its shelf life is alarmingly long, and somehow, it is still delicious. Seriously, there’s something wrong with this picture.

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Nothing wrong with this picture, though. All those golden, perfectly toasted marshmallows topping a fudgy chocolate cake made even more gooey with smooth chocolate pudding.

Oh yes. That’s quite the cake.

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So this particular recipe was actually chosen by Gabby. I was instantly sold when I saw that there was chocolate pudding involved. Spouts of pudding? Inside my cake? Yes, please!

Unfortunately, as you can see from my photo (especially compared to the ones on the original recipe), the pudding never quite made it into the cake. Despite borderline destroying the cake with holes, we couldn’t get much of the pudding to actually sink into the cake. This brings up two issues:
+ Make big holes for your pudding! Either use a wooden spoon with a thicker handle, or just push the handle around to make the holes bigger. Otherwise, the pudding won’t actually fill your cake.
+ 3.4 ounces of instant pudding is a lot. Like a lot. Like way more than you actually need for this cake.

And you know what else is a lot? 13 ounces of marshmallow fluff. I ended up using just over one 7.5-oz jar of fluff, and if you look, it was enough to coat the 9×13 cake with a good, thick layer of marshmallow. Save yourself the trouble of dealing with 13 ounces of the monstrously sticky stuff, and just use less.

Lucky for us, we were baking in a dorm, and we had no trouble getting rid of things like extra chocolate pudding and fluff.

Other adjustments: I dropped the sugar from the graham cracker crust–the cake is sweet enough–and increased the baking time of the actual cake from 20 minutes to ~30, because mine was still jiggling after only 20. You want it to be just baked, so that it can still sit in the oven for a little while after the pudding and marshmallows are added.

The final product was gooey, got all over our hands/faces/clothes, and went perfectly with a tall glass of milk. The only way I could cut through it so neatly was with a heated knife (which Gabby thought of; thanks, girl!). But they really did taste like s’mores fresh off a campfire, with the golden-crusted marshmallows and everything. All in all: would definitely bake again. 😉

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That’s all for today, folks! Don’t forget to keep placing those cupcake orders! Remember that Relay for Life will be getting 50% of the proceeds from orders placed between now and May 17th 🙂
And in the meantime, enjoy the beautiful spring sunshine!

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breaking news: orders!

Today, I’m very excited to announce that I’m launching the second part of my baking blog adventure: made-to-order cupcakes for the UChicago community!

If you look at the Orders tab now, you’ll see a handy little form and all the information you’ll need to get homemade cupcakes delivered to your dorm. Not to mention that 50% of the profits from any orders placed between now and May 17th will go toward Relay for Life!

The drop-down options are slim, but you can always leave me a note in your order if you want something different. I’m happy to try out different ideas!

Serious moment though, guys: this is a big step. I’d really love to share my baking on a much larger scale, but I need help to do it. So tell your friends, tell your RAs, tell anyone who lives on campus who would want to order cupcakes. And don’t forget that for the next month, you’ll be helping a great cause!

I can’t wait to see where this will take me. I hope you’ll all stick around for the ride. 🙂

soft gingersnaps with butterscotch chips [SBA]

In the vein of recipes I’m dying to make again, I have these gingersnap cookies for you all today!

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They’re another one of the many recipes I’ve bookmarked from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and they are dangerous. Bite-sized, chewy bits of sweet perfection with a zing of ginger softened by the creamy butterscotch chips that melt into the thumbprints of these cookies. You eat one…and then two…and then ten, and all of a sudden, your massive batch of cookies has been depleted and you’re left confused and very full.

Totally worth it, though. 😉

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The butterscotch is what really does it. And don’t be fooled: there’s no “snap” in these gingersnaps. They’re pillowy and practically melt in your mouth–just how I like my cookies! Perfect with a cup of tea, a glass of milk, or just to pop every time you walk by the kitchen counter.

NOTE: Be extremely careful when measuring out the flour for this recipe! 3 cups leaves a lot of room for error, and it’s super easy to pack way more flour than you need into your measuring cup. Use the spoon and level method to keep your dough from ending up sad and powdery (like mine did the first time…oops). I also over-baked mine by accident, so really stick to the recipe, and you won’t end up with cracked cookies like mine. (Delicious nonetheless!) I’ll try these again when I’m home and get some better pictures.

If you’re in the Midwest, keep your fingers crossed for sunshine soon! And if that doesn’t work, just bake a batch of these babies and let the warm ginger make up for the silly weather. 🙂

Happy Friday!

P.S. Keep your eye out for a ~special announcement~ tonight! If you live in the UofC area, you’ll definitely want to see this!

lemon cupcakes with strawberry centers [coconut & lime]

Despite the chilly rain that’s been assaulting Chicago for a week now, it is indeed spring, and my cravings are showing it. Sweet, juicy berries, tangy citrus, froyo piled high with every topping in the store–this is all I want anymore.

I’m finding myself thinking of last summer’s recipes, so today I have a throwback for you guys. One of my favorites that I made last spring and summer. Multiple times. Because they were that good.

These are lemon cupcakes with full strawberry centers, courtesy of Coconut & Lime.

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Mmmmm. Love those juicy strawberries.

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I followed the recipe exactly, going with the suggestion of cream cheese frosting with added lemon juice and zest. My favorite part about these is that nobody expects an entire strawberry inside the cupcake. It’s a pleasant, juicy surprise that contrasts nicely against the texture of this dense cake. You don’t need big strawberries, but make sure they’re nice and ripe, so you really get the full berry sweetness to complement all the lemon in these.

The photos are not quite up to my usual standards, so forgive me for that, please. They’re a bit old. But just last week I bought some of the biggest, reddest strawberries I’ve ever had, so I’m hoping that as soon as this rain clears up, there will be a lot more of those berries–and some of these cupcakes–anew in my life.

Enjoy the weekend! 🙂

oreo cupcakes [foodess]

Several technical difficulties later, I’m back with a new post! Sorry for the delay, guys.

For those who know me/are friends with me on facebook, you saw some photos of these about a week ago. My older brother was coming home for the weekend, and he had asked me to bake something for him to bring back. Of course, being my brother, he gave me no specifics other than “something sweet”, so I had far too many options on my hands. After some intense grilling–and a very helpful suggestion from his friend–I finally got him to settle on the best possible cookie to bake with: Oreos.

I have so many Oreo/cookies and cream recipes bookmarked that it’s actually alarming.

I knew instantly that I wanted a really moist chocolate cake, over a full Oreo base and with cookies and cream frosting piled high on top. I dug through my bookmarks and found this moist chocolate cake recipe from foodess and this white chocolate whipped cream one from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. Don’t get me wrong–the cream cheese frosting from foodess looks absolutely heavenly, but I wanted something lighter.

This turned into an…interesting endeavor. One of my favorite tricks for really moist cupcakes is adding 1 cup of sour cream and 3-4 ounces of instant dry pudding mix to a boxed cake mix (which I first tried with this recipe). I wanted to avoid the extra fat of sour cream, and opted instead for Greek yogurt. It was a risk, but with the yogurt and a couple of other tweaks, I ended up with light, chocolatey cupcakes that were soft and moist on the inside and still had a crispness around the edges.
The frosting…well. Let’s just say that I have yet to master homemade whipped cream. I’m still not sure why this happened, but one minute, I was mixing glorious peaks of rich white chocolate whipped cream, and the next, I had dollops of white chocolate butter surrounded by liquid. (If someone wants to explain that separation to me, I’ll be eternally grateful!) Once I figured out that I had butter on my hands, I decided to turn the whole mess into a regular buttercream with Oreo crumbs folded in, and thankfully, that worked out well. I suppose the whipped cream will have to wait. 😦

All in all, I was pretty pleased with the results.

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Man, I wish I had just one of these left.

Adjustments I made to the recipe:
+ Place one full Oreo cookie at the bottom of each baking cup
+ 1.5 cups of sugar, instead of 2
+ 1 cup of honey flavored Greek yogurt, instead of buttermilk
+ Add 2 tablespoons of instant chocolate pudding mix to the dry ingredients
+ Add 2 tablespoons of hot water in addition to the 1 cup of coffee

The resulting batter was thin, but not runny.

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I tried to fill the baking cups about 2/3 of the way, then popped the trays into the oven for 23 minutes. I let the cupcakes cool overnight (yay, late-night baking!) and frosting them the next morning with the Oreo buttercream.

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Hello, handsome.

There’s just something about the black and white contrast of cookies and cream.

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My favorite part, though, was definitely the surprise cookie at the bottom. The Oreos stayed crunchy through baking, and they held up the cupcakes perfectly.

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My brother was pretty happy, too. 😉

And that was my end-of-break baking adventure! A couple mishaps, many fingers crossed, and finally, some delicious cupcakes to share with my family.

Enjoy what’s left of the weekend! See you guys next Friday 🙂