Archive for October, 2010

Were you wondering about those very tasty cupcakes I mentioned in my earlier decorating post? Wonder no more, because this is the post where I tell you all about them! I found the recipe, as I have found so many of my recipes lately, on “Annie’s Eats”. I was looking for a chocolate cupcake that would really stand out against a lot of pretty bells and whistles and not be overlooked as the cake part of such cupcakes tend to be. Also, I was looking to use up the rest of the buttermilk I had bought from making those biscuits way back when, so I was so glad when I found this recipe. They seemed to be just the thing I was looking for.

The buttermilk is sitting out in its measuring cups because it was coming to room temperature. I find it’s much more practical to set it out that way, but if you don’t have multiple sets of measuring cups, just measure out what you need and pour it into another glass or bowl. Much better than leaving all your buttermilk out to get warm.

Ah, this reminds me of a great Wonder Baker Tip! Always have something on in the background while you’re baking, whether it’s your great new playlist or your favorite kid’s cartoon show. Dancing, smiling, and laughing all contribute to the greatness of your treats (though they might also contribute to messes).

It’s time to start sifting! Start with 2 and 1/3 cups of All-Purpose Flour

Then grab a cup of cocoa powder and toss it in your sifter

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

Plus half a teaspoon of baking soda

Finish up with half a teaspoon of salt

And start sifting into a pretty powdery mountain

In another bowl, preferably one under an electric mixer, beat 12 tablespoons of butter until it’s nice and smooth

Now it’s time to start packing brown sugar

Firmly packed brown sugar. Two cups of it!

Brown sugar everywhere! Since my other cup was holding the buttermilk, I used a 1/4 and a 3/4 cup. Also, about halfway through my 3/4 cup, I ran out of light brown sugar. So I started to substitute for dark. I don’t have anything to compare to, but I don’t think the substitution had a lot of bearing on the end result. Maybe it made for a richer flavor? I may never know.

Gradually add the brown sugar to the butter and beat it until it becomes fluffy. You might need to spoon it out of the measuring cups because it should be packed in there really tight.

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract go into your fluffy butter mixture

Along with 4 eggs!

Your batter will be tan and smooth and smell delightfully of brown sugar

Now it’s time to make that batter super rich and chocolatey

First you’re going to add a third of your dry mixture and blend it all in

And then add half of your buttermilk.

Continue in this way, adding another third of your dry stuff, then the rest of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture, mixing everything in between each addition

Your batter will turn a lovely shade of chocolate brown. Make sure you detach the whisk to mix in all that stuff collecting inside it and don’t forget to scrape down the sides.

Now you’ve got a super thick cake batter that’s ready for your cupcake liners

This particular batter was so thick and heavy, my usual cupcake filling method didn’t work great

Oh no, cupcake down, cupcake down!

Woo, cupcake salvaged. I think when it comes to filling these liners, it’s best to leave them in the pan

So just spoon a decent sized glob right into the liners

Until they’re all filled up nicely! Make sure to shake your pan a little to let the batter settle or you’ll get some lopsided cupcakes. They taste the same, but they’re a little trickier to decorate.

The baking time on these beauties is 18-20 minutes. Start at 18, of course, but I think they’ll definitely need more time as the super moist and dense cake needs the extra time to cook

And they did turn out super moist and super delicious. Nick really loved them, but he noted that when they were frosted, it took away from the flavor of the cake a little. I think a light whipped cream topping, such as the oreo one Annie uses, would compliment them much better than the store bought sugary buttercream I bought. But in my opinion, having these little cakes naked makes for some happy eating too.

Check out the full recipe over here at Annie’s Eats!

But what about a sweet and delicious cupcake decorated to look like an apple?

Those are all cupcakes! Aren’t they darling? What’s even more amazing is that I decorated them myself! I think I’m on my way to building up some serious decorating skill, I’m going to keep challenging myself even more!

Oh, did you want to know how to make these adorable goodies too? That’s good, because I really wanted to show you how.

The first thing you can do is run out to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of “What’s New, Cupcake?” which, along with its predecessor “Hello, Cupcake!“, is probably the most adorable cupcake decorating book on the planet. That’s where you’ll find the original instructions for these, but I’ll provide you with some more visuals.

First you will need some cupcakes.

When it comes to the cupcakes, the choice is completely yours. As for me, since I was sending these off with my boyfriend to hand out where he works, I really wanted the cake to be wonderful, so I ended up making a from scratch chocolate cupcake that was truly a tasty sensation (and the topic of a post to come, so stay tuned!). If you have some red cupcake liners, which would be ideal for your apple cupcakes, then a light colored cake would also be best. Again though, it’s totally up to you and the people you’re baking for. If you really want the red effect of the liners, but want to make chocolate cupcakes, double up on the liners before you bake.

Next, some frosting! Any white frosting will do, homemade or store-bought. I chose a canned buttercream. It wasn’t phenomenal, but contrary to their appearance, these cupcakes are actually very light on icing! So choose something you like knowing that it won’t be too overpowering in the end.

If you’re wondering why there’s some in a bag here, it’s for that cupcake that looks like it has a bite out of it. If that’s one you’ll want to do, make sure you set some of your white frosting aside for it.

Then we tried to color the frosting red. The book says to use a paste frosting, but I assumed that a regular red liquid food coloring would work just as well.

So we mixed

And added more.

And mixed…

And added more!

Honestly, I think we went through nearly a whole bottle and we still only ended up with this shade of dark pinky-red. It wasn’t until after this first batch that I realized that it’s really not even necessary to have a red frosting as the decorating sugar will hide it anyway! So, unless you really want a red frosting, save yourself time and spare your arm muscles by leaving your frosting uncolored.

Now you frost your cupcakes! Start by holding a cupcake and putting on a decent sized dollop of frosting on. This is going to be a relatively thin layer, so don’t go overboard.

Then, with the knife (or offset spatula) blade against the frosting, slowly rotate the cupcake under it, trying to get as near the edges as you can

Turning the cupcake is much easier than flinging the knife around and look how pretty it comes out!

Ta-dah! A nice thin coating of frosting.

Next, you’ll need a box of miniature chocolate-frosted donuts

Using as many donuts as you have cupcakes, take a small slice off the bottoms, about 1/2 of an inch. You’re just trying to remove the rounded bottom so you end up with a flat-bottomed dome donut

Take your cut donuts and place them on top of each frosted cupcake

Press each donut down firmly so it sticks into the frosting layer

And then you stick these bad boys into the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until slightly frozen

Meanwhile, you’ll need some special tools for making your stems and leaves! Any sort of green chewy candy would work for the leaves, I just grabbed these watermelon airheads. They’re a little bit light as far as the color goes, but I think they worked fine.

To make your stems, just cut your tootsie rolls in half diagonally

Tons of super simple, super tasty apple stems!

The stems are a little trickier. You can start by attempting to roll out your chewy green candy. Make it as flat as you can, but don’t lose any hair over it.

Then it’s just a matter of cutting, twisting, and shaping until you get something of a leaf shape. It’s a little tricky, but it can be done!

You might be super lucky (or talented) and have some come out like that gorgeous specimen above. Nick made all my leaves and he did an astounding job. To make the crease in the middle, just push down gently with the paring knife or a butter knife, making sure you don’t exert too much pressure and cut the leaf in half

After your ten minutes are up, take your chilly cupcakes out of the freezer because it’s time to make them fruity!

Put a glob of frosting on the side of the donut and spread using the rotating method you used before.

It’s a little trickier with the donut in play, but with some patience you can get a nice coat on there. Make sure you get frosting into the donut hole as well, as that will help your stems and leaves stick when assembling the final products.

You might need to add additional frosting on the sides to keep it from being lopsided. And don’t forget to keep the tops flattish, like apples, rather than cone shaped. Oh, and if your frosting doesn’t look perfect, just remember we’re about to roll it in some sparkly sugar.

This little box of Cake Mate red decorating sugar turned out to work perfectly! We just happened to have some lying around, but you can probably find it at Micheal’s or other such craft stores. Otherwise, you can just buy a little container of red sprinkles and pour them into a shallow bowl.

To coat, just press one side of the cupcake right into the sprinkles

Then turn to another side and press

And repeat until all the sides are covered

Plunge your cupcake upside down to get the top

And voila! As you can see, there’s a few tiny patches with no sprinkles, but to fix those, just take a pinch of decorating sugar and drizzle on to touch up. You also might find that the top got too flat when dipping the top, so just pat the the frosting into the desired shape with your fingers. If any of the sprinkles come off, just retouch with a little sprinkling where needed.

To add the stems and leaves, just plunge the pointed end of the tootsie rolls into the donut holes. Put the leaves on the opposite sides and press them into the frosting very gently.

If you want to get adventurous and make one of your apple cupcakes look like it’s missing a bite, take your knife and cut a small chunk out of the donut on one side of the fully decorated cake. Then, with the frosting bag you set aside earlier, snip the tip off and squeeze some frosting into the hole you made, spreading it gently out to the edges so it meets the red. To make the “seeds”, I took a large chocolate chip and cut it into little pieces, choosing the best chunks to lightly press into the white frosting.

I was so thrilled with how these came out. As you can see, they’re all far from perfect, but they still look so gorgeous! They were a little messy when they were being eaten, but I found that the sprinkles and the frosting weren’t too overwhelming, especially with the donut in there. As far as fancy decorated cupcakes go, I feel like these were relatively simple to make, so they’re great for anyone not super confident with their ability (like me!). Best of all, they were a huge hit with the high school kids Nick works with, everyone was taking pictures of them and getting really excited and it made for one happy baker and some very happy eating 🙂

If you know me, you’ll know that although I have a deep passion for baking, I have an equally great dislike for cooking. There’s a lot more variables with cooking, a lot of standing in front of hot pans and pots and watching, waiting, stirring, flipping, waiting. I just get so antsy and nervous while I’m cooking in a way I never do while baking. But I think I’ve found my niche and it’s casseroles!

Dictionary.com tells me that a casserole is any food cooked in a casserole type dish and, thinking about it, what’s the difference between cooking a bunch of savory goodies in the oven and cooking a pastry? Well, lots of things I suppose, but it’s still kind of baking, right? I’m going to go with yes. I just can’t resist sharing this dish with you guys. It comes highly recommended from the beautiful Kelsey and I wish I had more than two thumbs to put up for it too.

See, it’s literally a bunch of stuff tossed into a pan. A sweet potato, two or three regular potatoes, a grated apple and a big leek to be exact

And then halfway through the baking you put a cupful of gruyere cheese on it and when it’s all done, it comes out looking amazing

See? Cheesy potato-y goodness. Beautiful.

It’ll jazz up any meal for sure or you can eat it on its own! Either way you really won’t be able to get enough of it. It makes for some seriously happy eating.

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I love spinach. It’s probably the best leafy green in the whole world. And when you add cheese to the equation, there’s no way to lose! My friend Lauren shared this recipe for spinach and egg cups from The Village Cook and I just couldn’t wait to make them, but I think you’ll soon see why I might have to file this one under a baking flop. Though is it really a flop if it still turns out delicious? I don’t think so, but I’ll let you decide.

The biscuits: I used a tube of extra flakey ones. I found that the individual biscuits were too big, so I ripped off about a third of them before rolling them out, then I put the pieces together. They all sort of came together in funny ways, but they were alright. Just jam them into your muffin cups with enough on the tops to contain the egg.

The spinach: I used a bag of frozen and drained cut leaf spinach and mixed it with lots of cheeses. Mozzarella, Parmesan, Cream Cheese, and a mixed blend with some Asiago and other stuff in there too. Basically a bunch of really tasty white cheeses. I don’t think you could have too much cheese, ever.

The eggs: Well, this is where things got a little messy. When I first tried to just crack an egg right into the spinach, it just slid off everywhere. Herpy derpy me didn’t make an indentation in the spinach to hold the egg, so they were all too stuffed to keep the whole egg in there. Instead of going through and taking some spinach out, I decided to just use the yolks instead of all the egg.

I separated my eggs using the shells that somehow all cracked nicely. But if you want, you can just strain the whites out through your fingers. Messy, but it works great!

Some of them came out perfectly

And some not so much

But after a few minutes in the oven, the ugly ones were just as tasty. I really loved these, they made a great breakfast as I run out the door to school in the morning and a nice light snack around lunch. The egg was fluffy and the spinach and melted cheese was so scrumptious, just like a spinach dip at a fancy restaurant.

You can dig in with a fork or just take a big bite, but either way it’s happy eating!

Butterscotch and pumpkin? I didn’t think it could work either. But when Annie of the oh so fabulous Annie’s Eats pronounced these pumpkin cookies to be her favorites of all time, I took a leap of faith and tried them out (though honestly it was more like a tiny jump, since I love all the flavors).

Set your oven to 325F. After you grab all your ingredients, keep an eye out for sneaky kitties wandering around eying your treats

Then you mix two cups of flour

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

And a heaping teaspoon of ground cinnamon

A gentle whisking will mix everything up nicely, then you can set that bowl aside and grab another

In it you should put 1 cup of sugar

And two eggs!

Then, beat just these two ingredients until you have a smooth liquid that is very light

Just like this! Wonder Baker Tip: err on the side of using your bigger mixing bowls for wet ingredients because, more often than not, you’ll be adding your dry ingredients to the wet ones and not the other way around

Speaking of wet, it’s time to add 1 cup of pumpkin to your egg goo

Along with 1/2 a cup of vegetable oil

And a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Doesn’t the vanilla in the oil look really cool? I think so.

Blend that up until nicely combined

And then add your dry ingredient mixture. My bowl was big enough to add it all at once, but if you have a smaller bowl, add in halves or thirds

When that’s all combined, you’ll get a lovely orange dough that’s not too thick or sticky

Now, my sister is a little picky and doesn’t like butterscotch, so at this point I decided to separate out just a small amount of the cookie batter into another bowl and fold in some of my leftover mini chocolate chips from the pumpkin bread. That way she could still get some cookies and we’d have a different flavor on hand too.

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that was a little less than a third of the batter overall. And I didn’t measure out the chocolate chips, I just dumped them in there until it looked right.

And the rest of the batter got just under a full cup of butterscotch chips folded right in.

To my sister’s delight, the chocolate batch ended up yielding nine whole cookies for her. I decided to set my timer for 12 minutes, though the recipe stated 14-16, because they seemed a little smaller than the ones in the recipe and it’s always good to check early.

Meanwhile I prepared a batch of butterscotch! For scooping, I just used a tablespoon measuring cup and plopped them onto the baking sheet using another spoon to scoop out. If you’ll notice, I didn’t have any parchment paper or silicone baking sheets, so I just lined my cookie pans with wax paper. It seemed to work out just fine.

After 12 minutes precisely, the chocolate chip cookies were finished. The toothpick came out clean and they looked amazing!

Just look at those bottoms! Set up perfectly with a little bit of browning on the edge, but the entire cookie is still fluffy and wonderful inside. I was extremely impressed with my choice of cooking time, if I do say so myself 🙂

I baked all my batches for 12 minutes and they all were perfectly done. Including this bonus batch which had butterscotch and chocolate chips in it! It was fun to just toss chips around into everything.

Oh wow, look at those! Now, one thing that was strange was the butterscotch chips didn’t seem to want to stay inside the cookie dough. They rolled out to the sides and even formed little craters as the cookie baked. The ones that were sticking out on the sides tended to stick to the wax paper, making it tricky to get the cookies off. So if you’re making these cookies, try to form them before you bake so that there aren’t any butterscotch chips sticking out on the sides. You can do this by just pushing them on top with a spoon or adding a little more of the dough to the edges around. It’s not a problem at all if they stick out, but this could make your life a little easier later

Hey, it’s the pumpkin bread I made earlier and a whole bunch of wonderful little cookies! I found that the pumpkin and the butterscotch worked great together, but the ones with both kinds of chips were probably my most favorite! Compared to the bread, the cookies are much fluffier and tend to get moist on the tops when you store them, but it’s not a soggy moisture so don’t worry about that. Pumpkin cookies are one of my favorite parts of fall and I hope you enjoy them too!

Check out the full recipe here at Annie’s Eats and have a  very happy eating!

I suppose I mentioned it, but when I first found Annie’s Eats, I went through her entire blog (yes, back hundreds of posts) and bookmarked a bunch of things. When we needed an extra dish for our simple dinner tonight, I was really excited to be given the opportunity to make these biscuits!

Unfortunately, we were in a bit of a time crunch and I didn’t take pictures of my process, but I still think they deserved a mention here since I did bake them and they were incredible! Plus I’ve never made biscuits before and I love showing off my first time adventures!

I’ve never cut butter into flour before, it was tricky. It came down to me breaking a lot of the big butter chunks down with my fingers, but I think everything came out well. The biscuits were very flaky and buttery and I love chives, so those were a great bonus flavor! I had two batches and the ones that were cooked a little more were better, so make sure you leave them in until they’re a nice golden brown on top even though they’ll be a little darker on the bottoms. I was really glad they came out so nicely, especially on my first attempt.

And yes, I did use a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter to make them 🙂

Here they are all cut out nicely on the parchment paper. They were pretty easy to cut and tap out, but make sure you use plenty of flour on the work surface and your fingers, otherwise you’ll be a big sticky mess!

And here they are all done! My cell phone washes them out a little, trust me that they’re much prettier in person. When they’re baking, you might have little buttery puddles leaking around them and bubbling, but it’s nothing to be concerned about

Festive, flaky, fabulous!

Grab the recipe here at Annie’s Eats and have a happy eating!

It’s October! Well, I guess it’s been October for half a month now, but that’s beside the point. It was about time I got to some real fall baking and busted out the cans of pumpkin puree. When it came down to asking what pumpkin-y treats to make first, the choice was pretty much made for me by my insatiable family. There was no other option but a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread I had clipped out of the Betty Crocker Fall Baking Catalog (that’s the one with Bakerella on the cover, in case you didn’t know!). Sure, it’s not really a “bread” in the sense that it has no yeast, but it’s a moist and dense bread-like loaf cake and I think we should be able to call it whatever we want.

Wow, look at that big can of pumpkin! I didn’t use all of it in this bread, but that’s a story for another blog post. Also there shouldn’t be salt in that picture, but there should be eggs. My mistake.

After you set your oven to 350F, take a 9×5 loaf pan, or as close as you can get, and grease the bottom up. I didn’t have any real butter, so I had to use Pam. I don’t think anyone ever really notices though.

Toss a stick (1/2 cup) of softened butter into a bowl

And dump a whole cup of sugar on top

A cup of pumpkin goes right on top. Pumpkin is not the most pleasant smelling squash, but at least it tastes good when it’s all cooked up

After you’ve cracked in your two eggs, you’ll get this exciting and colorful mess. It’s about to get a lot messier though.

We were actually preparing two batches of pumpkin bread in two separate bowls! This one, as you can clearly see, we mixed with an electric hand beater. But we also tried mixing another one completely by hand to see if we got any different results in the texture.

But it proved to be quite difficult mixing by hand, we couldn’t get all the butter broken up

So we had to take the hand mixer to it anyway. It looks much more smooth now.

Add 2 cups of flour to your orange mush

1 teaspoon of baking soda

A heaping teaspoon of ground cinnamon

And a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Pumpkin pie spice is made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice, so you could really just toss a pinch of each in there if you don’t have any premixed. I love the contrast in the spice colors, baking is so beautiful!

The electric mixer will make all sorts of fun shapes in your bread dough

And this time we did manage to get an even blend with a plain wire whisk! They look pretty similar though, but who knows how they’ll bake.

Oh boy chocolate chips! A cup of mini-semisweets is a whole lot of chocolate chips, but I would like to think no one here has a problem with that

Look at that gorgeous dough. Halloween colors!

Dump the whole bowl into your loaf pan. Shake it out, scoop it out, whatever works! You might have to spin and bang the pan on the counter to get it even.

Pop your bread right into the oven where it will stay for 55-65 minutes! As a Wonder Baker Tip, always use the smallest of the recommended times, or even smaller if you think you have a real hot oven. Baked goods can always be put back into an oven, but once something is burned there’s not too much you can do.

Bread success! If your toothpick comes out clean, it’s done! I really love that crack in the top

And look at those fine crusty sides. If they’re a browner than the top or bottom, that’s nothing to fear.

Inside is a chocolate chip minefield! We cut both loaves open and found that the one mixed with the whisk didn’t rise quite as much as the one baked with the electric mixer, but other than that there was really no textural difference. The taste was truly fantastic with the pumpkin pie spice adding a great spicy punch that didn’t get overpowered by the chocolate. My dad’s serving recommendation is to pop the loaf in the freezer and let it sit for just a few minutes before slicing and enjoying. Though it’s great at any temperature, especially with a pumpkin spice espresso!

Oh, wondering about those cookies in the background there? Well stay tuned, for fall has only just begun and there are more fantastic pumpkin treats to come!

Happy Eating!

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When I get bored of refreshing the same three pages in my browser, I start perusing baking blogs. After I finish being envious of how pretty they are and how many amazing recipes are up, I just start clicking my bookmark button like there’s no tomorrow. I was really especially delighted when I stumbled upon a blog called “Annie’s Eats“. I’ve definitely added this one to my daily checks and I really suggest you check Annie out! Her recipes all look incredible, to say the least. And not only are we layout twins (though hers is so much cuter!) but she seems to have a real fondness for berries! If there’s one thing I really really love, it’s raspberries. I bookmarked not one, but seven of her amazing looking raspberry recipes.

What, raspberry season is over, you say? Well excuse you, but I live in Southern California and here the year is divided into “Really Hot Summer” and “Kind of Colder Summer”. I don’t even know what seasons are! (But Lindsey, that’s not how fruit works shhhh, just come). So when I want some good looking raspberries for these Raspberry Muffins, I managed to find some.

Oh, and they were perfect. Maybe a little too ripe, but I like it when they gush all over the place!

So I gathered up my ingredients, tossed on my apron, and made some muffins!

I was totally thrilled that one of the ingredients was “packed dark brown sugar”. I just love brown sugar, so when a recipe says to pack it, I go for it

Just press it in there reeeaaalllllyyyy tight. I don’t think there was room in that 3/4 cup for a single atom more of brown sugar when I was done

Perfect and wonderful! I was almost reluctant to add more, since I didn’t want to break the little mound

But I went ahead and added 1 egg

1/2 cup of whole milk

and 6 tablespoons of melted butter that had been cooling on the counter while I played with the sugar. Bye bye sugar castle!

Give that a whirly blend at medium-low speed (if you’re using a stand mixer) until it’s combined.

Grab another bowl and dump in 1 and 1/2 cups of flour

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon (I like mine heaping!)

And your 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Annie’s recipe uses Fleur de Sel, but the only coarse sugar I had around was your average Kosher variety. Use whatever you’ve got!

Then it’s whisky whisky whiskey time

Until you make you cinnamon disappear!

Add it to your wet bowl and let it mix! When it’s all combined, you’ll have a tan, sticky batter. I always find it so interesting how muffins and cupcakes really aren’t so different, but their batters are worlds apart!

Next I washed my raspberries and tried not to just funnel them straight into my mouth

Then I plunked them into a cup. 2 heaping cups, to be exact! I found that I used just a little over one full package, so I got to enjoy lots of leftovers!

They look so pretty in the batter bowl!

I tried to fold them as gently as I could, but the berries still burst everywhere when the spatula touched them. Personally, I don’t mind that at all, but if you want your berries more on the whole side, try and pick some a box that looks under ripe.

I ended up having to use these disposable muffin tins because apparently ours is on loan. When I first dug them out of the pantry, they were pretty grimy and covered with crunchy bits, yuck. But with lots of perseverance, I managed to scrape off all the dried bits of dough from cupcakes past and get the pans nice and clean with a paper towel and dishsoap. The pretty liners distracted from any missed spots and they were now perfect for using! So if you ever find yourself in such a situation, don’t get discouraged! There’s always something you can do to make it work. And that’s my Wonder Baker Tip 🙂

I filled the cups using a dual spoon method. Just use a big soup spoon to scoop, then hold it over the liner and use a smaller spoon to scrape into the pan. It’ll fill up just about 2/3 of the cup. And don’t worry about making it nice and even or anything, it’ll all bake up great!

I put my flimsy muffin pans on a cookie sheet so they could be easily extracted from the oven. Then, just for funsies, I put a whole raspberry on top of half of the muffins. I wanted to see how they would bake with the raspberry sitting on top, but I guess part of me just wanted to cram more berry goodness in there. You can sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar, but I didn’t have any.

And there they are after about 27 minutes in the oven at 400F. The tops looked really great, but I was concerned about the bottoms being moist in places when I remembered that the fruit was juicy and bound to do that. That being said though, I think they could have probably used another 5 minutes in the oven. The ones with the raspberries on top weren’t as pretty, but they were still tasty!

Personal taste tester/resident boyfriend said that he really liked the muffin part best and would have preferred not to have the berries in there, but I loved it. It was a bit of a textural contrast, but I thought they made everything sweet and delicious. I stored mine in the fridge and found that they got a little soggy, so it’s probably better to just store them in a dry place at room temp and eat them fast. But I’m sure you won’t have a problem with that 🙂

So don’t forget to head over and check out the recipe over at Annie’s Eats and I wish you berry happy eating!

If you keep up with Bakerella’s blog, you might know that she’s out on her Cake Pops book tour right now. Sadly, she wasn’t stopping in my fair city, but she was going to be an hour away signing at a Williams-Sonoma in Costa Mesa where some of my best friends attend school. A relatively short drive, great people to hang out with, AND getting to meet Bakerella in the flesh? There was absolutely no question, I just had to go.

So I did.

My friends and I got to the mall early and had fun walking around, but when we got to the store, it was incredible how packed it was! I mean, I know Bakerella is amazing, but I won’t lie and say I wasn’t shocked that there were so many people there. It was a very confusing mess, but eventually we figured out you had to buy a book and take your receipt to a lady in the front who gave you a number and the number corresponded to your place in line for the signing. Mine was 104.

Bakerella came out and did a quick Q&A with all the fans (she was so cute and wonderful, I was already spazzing out), and then everyone went and queued up outside the store. It was about 12:20pm then and I had to leave Costa Mesa by 2:30 in order to get back home and get to work on time, but I was confident!

An hour and half and many games of “Six Degrees of Separation” later, we reached the front of the outdoor queue and were let inside, where there were still about 15 people in front of me. But I was finally there, I was so excited! When there were two people in front of me, she actually caught my eye and exclaimed how much she loved my shirt and that got me even more thrilled.

Finally, it was my turn.

I had all these things I wanted to say. I wanted to shake her hand and tell her how inspiring she was, how she had influenced my own passion for baking and I was so happy for her success and so on. But of course, nothing ever works out exactly the way we plan.

I did shake her hand. But then I giggled and fluttered and turned five different reds and couldn’t say anything beyond “I am so happy to have been able to come here and meet you” in a stammery sort of way. Let me try and capture this moment for you, verbatim:

Me: omgomgomghi

Bakerella: Hi! *pose for picture* I just love your shirt so much, where did you get it? *grabs a notepad*

Me: omgomgomgomg uh um it’s shirt woot! S-H…wait, what am I doing, you know how to spell shirt. Shirt dot woot dot com. Yeah. I have a bit of a cupcake fetish *giant smile, can’t really breathe*. And I’m just so happy I got to be here and meet you and I’m so happy for you

Bakerella: Awww, you’re so sweet! *hugs*

Me: *OH MAN IM HUGGING BAKERELLA, PROLONG THIS MOMENT FOREVER, TRY NOT TO CRY* Thank you so so much, you’re amazing!

And that was it. I tried not to trip on anything as I waved goodbye and giggled all my words. I was glowing all the way out of the mall, for it was time to run back to San Diego. I had just enough time to grab my things at my friend’s apartment and get on the road. Of course, I realized I didn’t explain to her how shirt.woot works, so I hope she finds the shirt in the reckoning and doesn’t spite me forever in her memory.

Want to see some pictures?

Look there she is! It was already so crowded when I got there, there was no room in the front to get great pictures during her Q&A, but my friend and I did our best

She was doing like bloggers do, taking lots of pictures with her fancy camera. Oh, and her shoes were adorable, I wish I had a picture of them

Here I am with my heart beating right out of my chest, telling her how much I adore her and not even worrying about coming off creepy (which I’m sure I must have a teeny bit)

But if I did, she didn’t show it. This picture came out incredibly, I’m really glad!

Ta-dah! It was an amazing adventure and a wonderful experience. Thank you so much, Bakerella, for being such a phenomenal person and a great inspiration to wonder bakers everywhere.

Ever since I started the baking blog, I’ve been baking more frequently, so I knew it wouldn’t be long before I started getting some special requests. When my dad told me what he really wanted was a good oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips instead of raisins, I was all too happy to oblige. It also worked out that I would be hanging out with a good friend of mine and fellow wonder-baker-in-training, so I had the fantastic opportunity to make something special for my dad and spend time baking with a great friend. Hooray!

First preheat that oven up to a toasty 325F. Incidentally, that’s also the perfect temperature for roasting pumpkin seeds! Just a fun fall fact for you 🙂

Then it’s the gathering of the ingredients! I always really love this part, going on scavenger hunts for everything you need and making shopping lists for baking is just kind of fun. Is that weird? Oh well.

And then, like any good wonder baker should, wash up those hands! Pictures of yourself actually working is another great bonus when you’re baking with a friend.

Pop your 1 cup (that’s 16 tablespoons) of softened butter into your bowl. Yes, I did poke the butter to see if it was soft enough, but that’s okay because I washed my hands!

And then you add a cup of packed brown sugar. The recipe calls for light brown, but I prefer dark so that’s what I used. The flavor of dark brown sugar is just much more intense and molasses-y, but if that’s not your preference, go with light brown. If you ever doubted how much I love brown sugar, I hope this picture clears it up for you.

Wonder baker Ruby measured out the 1/2 cup of white sugar

And they all went in the bowl together!

Ruby’s hand mixer is sadly crippled and only has one beater. I like it though, it still gets the job done.

See, it’s the little hand mixer that could!

Look at Ruby work that buttery sugary goodness. And check out her adorable apron! It has pockets! I love it.

It’s already looking pretty great, but there’s still lots to add

Like grabbing your two eggs and mixing them in one at a time

Once they’re all mixed in, your batter will lighten up a little bit

Then you can add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Then, instead of grabbing another bowl, we mixed up our dry ingredients in the big measuring cup. First, scoop in your 1 and 1/4 cups of flour, then you can add your teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. We just stirred them all together in the cup and then added to the bowl of wet stuff. Easy peasy!

As you start blending up your dry ingredients, it’ll probably fly all over like it tends to do

So make sure you grab a spatula and scrape down the sides, folding the extra flour on top of the batter so it’ll stick and mix in easier

Then you toss in 1 cup of chocolate chips. Now, a word of caution: chocolate, especially the dark chocolate I love to use, is a little overpowering, If you’re concerned about losing the flavor of the cookie, err on the side of a little under a cup. However, if you make your cookies big enough, there will be a good balance! So maybe do a little experimentation with your cookie sizes, baking in small batches just to see how different amounts bake up until you find a size that’s got the perfect balance for you. It takes a little longer, but the results are worth it.

Then you mix in a whopping 3 cups of quick oats. The oats will completely drown your dough, so really getting them mixed in there is a task to test any wonder baker!

But you can get them all in there.

Don’t forget your cup of chopped walnuts too, if that’s something you enjoy. We only used half a cup, since we made a small batch with no nuts for my picky mother.

To start making your cookies, take any old spoon and scoop out a heaping spoonful. I thought that would make them too big, but as I mentioned before, the big cookies provide the best balance of the flavors. Plus oatmeal cookies need to be nice and thick to have that wonderful chewiness! Wonder baker Ruby was really good at efficiently scooping cookie dough.

And she used the equally effective two-spoon method for dropping them onto our cookie sheet! She was truly a wizard with cookie dough.

And here they are all ready for the oven. We probably could have fit more on the sheet, but at this point I was still experimenting with cookie sizes and baking times, so we were doing small batches.

Batch number one (the nutless). As you can see, these ones were much too small when they were rolled out, so they flatted out too much, making a thin cookie that made the chocolate a little too overpowering when you took a bite

And because they were too thin, the bottoms didn’t really set up all the way and were flimsy. I found the best way to eat these kind of cookies was to fold them in half to get a good bite

The next few batches, however, came out the perfect size! They needed longer than the suggested 12 minutes to cook all the way. The bottoms are the best way to tell if your cookies are done. Keep an eye on the edges to see if they brown up, or, if you can, lift with a spatula when you think they’re about done.

You might get some burned ones, if you put them on the bottom rack of your oven

But you might get some that are cooked beautifully! Hopefully that will be most of them, but if not, don’t worry. It’s always good to remember that there are people who like all the states of cookedness, even the burnt ones!

They were really tasty. Nick even said that if I sold them, people would buy them! That’s a great compliment for wonder bakers everywhere, in my opinion.You can pack them up in lots of ziploc bags for easy transport to all the people you want to share them with (I ended up with 6 separate batches for different people!) so you can have a wonderful time spreading cookie joy to all!

Happy Eating!

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