slutty cupcakes: a story

Picture it if you can:

Wednesday night of 10th week. Classes are done for the year, finals are still far enough that the panic hasn’t set in, and the ladies of PBT are rocking out to Taylor Swift in a dorm basement kitchen.

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Note how excited Emma and Estelle are. As they should be.

Their mission for the night has been long awaited, but what better way to welcome reading period than with stress baking? Yes, the night was simply perfect for slutty cupcakes.

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You’ve never heard of slutty cupcakes? Victoria is skeptical.

Now don’t ask me why they’re slutty. I can’t answer that question in any remotely satisfactory fashion. What I can tell you is that they’re so rich, so deeply indulgent, and so damn easy to make that they should be illegal(Except not actually, because then what would we do without them?!) These classic but slightly terrifying muffin-cupcake-brownies–because one name is not enough to capture what they are–consist of a soft cookie dough base, one full Reese’s Cup, and one full Oreo layered over it, all topped with a healthy serving of gooey, moist brownie batter.

Warning: more than one of these may kill you.

So we assembled the trays. Readymade cookie dough, Reese’s Cups, Double Stuf Oreos, and Betty Crocker brownie mix. They looked like those adorable chocolate-covered marshmallow and graham cracker cookies, whose name completely evades me.

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So cute already!

The baking time was an educated guess, so I set the timer for 20 minutes, and we went off to find a way to amuse ourselves.

Victoria remained skeptical.

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I was domestic.

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Emma vandalized Sheena’s whiteboard.

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And we took incredibly cheesy photos in our matching dresses.

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Somewhere in between all of this, Victoria ended up with a busted ankle. No worries–she’s fine now–but the valiant sacrifice of her body will not be forgotten.

Finally, out came the slutty brownies, hot and baked to perfection, crisp with melting insides. We probably should’ve let them cool longer, but we couldn’t help it. We dug in.

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Estelle is super excited…

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…and super cute when caught off-guard. Sorrynotsorry, girl.

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Nina’s allergies deprive her of slutty cupcakes and make her sad. (It’s okay; she got real cupcakes after this.)

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Emma shows off those beautiful layers.

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And Sheena is simply pleased.

Satisfied, we split up the remaining cupcakes and called it a night. Almost zero effort for a small treat that goes a long way–and makes a great gift for physics TAs, as we found out.

Seriously, make these. You won’t regret it in the slightest.

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On to baking logistics things! One package of brownie mix and one roll of ready to bake cookie dough yielded 24 cupcakes, with leftover brownie batter. Our cupcakes stuck to the paper liners pretty badly, especially once they’d cooled. If you don’t want to deal with that, I’d suggest forgoing the liners and simply spraying the pan. That should solve the problem.

20 minutes at 350F was enough to bake these really thoroughly. As you can see in the photo above, the brownie batter formed a light, flaky skin over the Oreo just as it normally would, and the surrounding edges were crisp like the edges of a pan of brownies. I would actually start checking the cupcakes around 16 minutes to make sure they don’t overcook. The cookie dough will definitely be cooked–you’ll just want to test the brownies, which you can do with a toothpick as normal, cooking until a toothpick inserted into the batter (away from the Oreo!!) comes out clean/with a few moist crumbs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

I’m back! In case that wasn’t obvious. After a week at home to settle in, I’m getting back into the baking swing of things, and updates will become regular again (every weekend!). Unfortunately, being back home means the UChicago cupcake orders have been put on hold for the summer. That being said, if enough people around here want custom cupcakes, I’ll consider making this a second location. Just drop me a comment/message! 🙂

And speaking of UChicago–shameless self-promotion! HUGE thanks to Hannah at Spoon, a UChicago food magazine/blog for writing about tlc baking this month! Spoon is growing quickly, and is definitely worth keeping an eye on even if you don’t go to UChicago. Check out their site here, and read the article about tlc here!

Aaaaand that’s it for my very, very long post. Sorry, guys! Making up for lost time here. 😉

See y’all next weekend!

mom’s old world raspberry bars [neighborfood blog]

Throughout my childhood, a good friend’s mom used to make one specific dessert for parties: jam tarts. They were her specialty, and truly, nobody could make a jam tart like her. (Still can’t!) Jam tarts–or just jam bars or raspberry bars, as I eventually realized most people refer to them–are one of the most comforting desserts I’ve come across. In fact, they probably top chocolate chip cookies in my mental list of perfect childhood-reminiscent baked goods.

Oh yeah. I went there.

In a wave of midterm sadness and Relay excitement, the thought of jam bars came popped into my head–and then refused to leave. So I scoured the interwebz and decided that this recipe for raspberry bars from Neighborfood Blog had the perfect proportions and the most convenient ingredients for my purposes.

Plus, the recipe describes them as “happy, homey, springtime comfort food”. Too perfect to pass up!

With limited time and no desire to overspend on ingredients, though, I had some tweaking to do.

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Thanks to my mom (who is frequently horrified by the dining hall food I eat daily), I had a stash of walnuts and almonds on hand, so I used those instead of the pecans.

Don’t do what I did. Don’t try to finely chop almonds by hand. (Unless, of course, you’re good at it, which I clearly am not.) If you want something quick and easy, stick to softer nuts like walnuts and pecans, or pulse the nuts in a food processor a couple times.

I did eventually get the almonds down to a reasonable size, though, thankfully, and tossed them into the bowl of a stand mixer. I halved the recipe–there’s a scary amount of butter in here, guys, 2 sticks even when it’s halved, but so worth it–and replaced half of the white sugar with more brown sugar. Because why not have more wonderful molasses flavor in your life? I also left out the oats and coconut and instead added half a cup of crushed graham crackers.

I coincidentally didn’t have anything but a muffin pan handy, so I decided to make individual jam tarts. The halved dough and a 10-oz jar of raspberry jam made 15 full-sized tarts.

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The raspberry jam slathered over the nutty dough and peeking through the crumbled top made me so happy. ^_^

Into the oven for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees, and out came fifteen bubbling, golden, flaky and crunchy raspberry jam tarts!

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I usually prefer a lower crust-to-jam ratio so that the raspberry flavor really comes out, but I could honestly eat this dough on its own–especially fresh out the oven.

If I were to make them again, though, I would definitely add the oats, and a dash of cinnamon. Taste testing by my friends showed that yes, these tarts were just begging for a hint of cinnamon in the dough.

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These tarts are also definitely best fresh out of the oven. They’ll store in an airtight container, but they won’t have quite the same flavor the next day.

UofC friends: I know you’ve got finals coming up. I know you want some cupcakes. I am somehow magically free for a lot of finals week, which means you should all order cupcakes! I’ll happily deliver them to make your finals week a little bit brighter. 🙂 Get that last order in before the quarter is up!

Hope everyone’s enjoying their Saturday night! Happy June 🙂

an apology & an update

First off, I’m horribly, horribly sorry that I went completely MIA and missed the past two updates. D: I’m learning how crazy life gets towards the end of a school year, and how difficult it is to manage all the things I have to do. So for the sake of my work and my sanity, posts will be sporadic between now and the end of finals. I have a few things I want to share with you all before going home, but realistically, they won’t go up on a regular schedule.

That being said, you can still order cupcakes from me! They just won’t be delivered before June 6th or after June 13th. Any UChicago deliveries between those dates will absolutely be fulfilled!
I still ask that you give me at least a week’s notice, but please, feel free to place an order now for finals week. You know you’ll be happy when you have a half dozen cupcakes to get you through those last few hours of paper writing! 😉

In the meantime, I’ll be wrapped up in my own end-of-the-year work.

Hope the long weekend has treated everyone well!

last chance to support Relay for Life!

UChicago Relay for Life happens tonight, which means I’ll be submitting donations in mere hours.

Hours!

That’s also all the time you have left to place a cupcake order and have it count for Relay! So if you’ve been thinking about ordering but have been putting it off, place an order right now. Seriously, this minute. I’ll count all the orders I get before 4 pm today toward fundraising.

Make yours count! 🙂

chewy coconut-lime sugar cookies [tracey’s culinary adventures]

The temperature is steadily increasing, and all I can think about as the days go by is summer, cold coconut water, and sunny days spent lying in the grass.

Alas, physics labs still exist, and I’ve spent the warmest parts of the past couple weeks stuck indoors.

So I bring the summertime here in other ways! This week, it’s through these wonderful coconut lime sugar cookies–another pull from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures (which, by the way, was the first food blog I regularly followed).

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I like how subtle the flavors are in these. The lime definitely comes through–it’s hard not to notice fresh lime juice in just about anything–but the coconut is just about unnoticeable, both enveloped in a deliciously chewy sugar cookie.

Granted, I used unsweetened coconut flakes, which might have made a difference. I think next time, I would add more coconut, and perhaps see if I could incorporate some coconut water into it, too, just to amplify the taste. As it is, there’s enough coconut and lime to know that you’re not eating just a sugar cookie, but it’s subtle enough that it doesn’t kick you in the mouth or anything.

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I’m kind of also just in love with flat, chewy, sugar-coated cookies like this. :3

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A side note: the batter is really sticky, and will probably seem too gooey. Just roll balls of it in the sugar and do as the recipe says. They’ll turn out delicious.

These cookies speak for themselves pretty well, especially if how quickly they’re disappearing on this overcast Friday afternoon is any indication.

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Also, other news!

+ Only one week left to place cupcake orders and have them count towards Relay for LifeMake your order count!

+ In response to the requests I’ve been getting, I added a couple new options to the order form! I had to adjust some of the cupcake prices too, but remember, that still means more money for Relay, so it goes to a great place in the end.

+ If you’re in central Jersey, look for my updates over the summer! I’ll be taking orders from home instead of school, so if you can’t order now but would really like to try some tlc cupcakes between June and September, drop me a line in Jersey, and we’ll see if we can’t figure it out. 🙂

That’s it for today. Happy Friday, friends~

dark chocolate + butterscotch chip cookies [tracey’s culinary adventures]

Who doesn’t love a warm, chewy chocolate chip cookie with a tall glass of cold milk? There’s something so simple, so childlike and comforting about milk and cookies. And sometimes–most of the time–dining hall cookies just don’t cut it.

So I took matters into my own hands last week and turned to my absolute favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.

Honestly, I was going to go for just plain chocolate chips, but I had none left. But this ended up working in my favor because butterscotch and dark chocolate how could you go wrong

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I’ve been using this recipe for a while now. It’s my favorite for two reasons: 1) brown butter. ‘Nuff said. 2) Everything is whisked by hand, so there’s no need for a stand mixer or a handheld blender or really anything more than a stovetop, a heatproof bowl, and a whisk. It’s extremely conducive to dorm baking.

You might think the instructions are strange at first–whisk, wait, whisk, wait, etc.–but don’t skip any steps, because it will make a difference in the final product. It’s not a difficult recipe; it’s just precise. And it’s definitely worth being a little patient. 🙂

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The only change I made was replacing the 1 1/4 cups of semisweet chocolate chips with 1/2 cup dark morsels and 1/2 cup butterscotch chips. The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate, the nutty toffee hints from the browned butter, and the creamy sweetness of butterscotch all combined in a chewy, buttery explosion of flavor. The only reason I still have a couple left? They’re too good to finish.

Seriously, I can’t rave about this recipe enough. (In case you couldn’t tell.)

Way more than the butterscotch or dark chocolate, it’s the brown butter in the base that makes these cookies so delicious–and so different from most other chocolate chip cookies. I’m sure you could throw just about anything into this dough, and it would taste fantastic.

A last note on the baking: err on the side of taking the cookies out too early if you really want them to be chewy. They won’t get hard even after about 13 minutes, but they won’t be quite as soft as they could be. And if you want them thicker than the ones I made, after you portion the dough into balls, freeze it for a couple hours before baking. It works wonders.

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That’s it for today! I think I’m gonna go find myself some milk and eat what’s left of these. 😉

Have a great week!