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Skillet Brownies, Pesto Pasta, & Walnut Banana Bread

30 Mar

Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Skillet Brownies

Recipe from theKitchn here.

My last post was about Nutella Oreo brownies, and now this post also includes dark chocolate hazelnut brownies… You may start to be seeing a theme with what I’ve been baking lately. I’ve got to say that I’m enjoying making all these cookies/bars/brownie recipes though because back home if I made any of these I wouldn’t have people to eat them! The recipes always produce 24+ pieces and there was no way my friends and teachers could eat all of them. Some are dessert fans, others are watching their sugar intake, and still others are just watching their weight. But with starving college kids, no one is really that picky. :)

Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Skillet Brownies

Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Skillet Brownies 2

Pesto Sauce: perfect for pastas!

Recipe from Allrecipes.com. 

But you’ll also notice that this title includes pesto pasta, which is a savory dish. I’m also trying to cook more and utilize the kitchen I have in my apartment.

I haven’t always liked pesto sauce but just within the past year or so I’ve grown to like it, especially on pasta and pizza. It’s green color isn’t a bright green. It’s more muted. Yet it’s made of olive oil, nuts (pine nuts or walnuts), basil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the final product (pesto penne pasta)…but (to my amazement) people finished the entire container at the potluck!

Pesto sauce ingredients

Pesto sauce ingredients

In the blender

Pesto sauce ingredients in a blender. (I wish I had a food processor.)

Walnut Banana Bread

Recipe adapted from Tartine bakery cookbook.
I found this recipe in a cookbook so there’s no website. However, if you want the recipe, please email me at nell.notebook@yahoo.com I would be happy to share with you.

Because my mom requests banana bread so often, I’ve posted several times about it already. I’ve even found my favorite recipe too. The recipe comes from Tartine, a San Franciscan bakery in the Mission District. It’s a small, homey bakery with friendly people. I’d go there more often if I didn’t live on the opposite side of town. Alas!

Walnut Banana Bread

Remember to toast the walnuts before adding them to the batter. This makes them so much more flavorful!

Mummy Cupcakes, Anyone?

5 Nov
Blue-eyed Mummy Cupcake

Blue-eyed Mummy Cupcake

It seems like I have been a lot of baking lately with the huge batch of cookies last week and then with my latest adventure: mummy cupcakes.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to bake. But baking on a schedule with classes right after and homework and studying that needs to be done, enjoying the process of baking is hard (especially the cleaning up part -of ugh).

So these mummy cupcakes are probably going to be the last of my baking until Thanksgiving. That’s when the baking-cooking marathon really starts. And this year’s menu is changing too. There’s going to be more Filipino food and vegetables. I am personally going to make sure we have eggplant Provencals like the ones I had in the Dining Commons here in Davis.

I don’t want to give away the whole menu quite yet so instead I’ll tell you about the mummy cupcakes.

I made these for Cooking Club because the theme was Halloween (duh!). I saw these on the Joy of Baking website (my favorite resource for baking recipes!). I didn’t have my piping bag with me so I couldn’t make the cupcakes quite as nice of Joy of Baking but they turned out cute I think. And, I put in the extra effort to design their faces. (Yes, I put the chocolate sprinkles one by one.)

Mummy Cupcakes Recipe found here from Joy of Baking.

The family of mummy cupcakes. Every family has to have its personalities right? :P

Happy Fourth of July!

2 Jul

I’ve been so busy between volunteering as a Teacher’s Assistant for a week at my old school, then starting my Nutrition class at Skyline College, and interning at the Chinese Hospital to publish their annual newsletter.

Whew.

I know my friends may think I’m crazy for doing all this during summer, but to be honest, I love to keep myself occupied. I enjoy lounging at home but it’s nice to have stuff to do, things to do, and people to see.

Because I’ve been so busy  I haven’t had time to update the blog. I’ve been meaning to update it with fabulous pictures of the restaurants I’ve been to so I finally did that in the first post of today. Haha. I go about a month with not a peep and suddenly two posts in a day. Look out!

Red, White, and Blue Berry Yogurt Cake

Inspired by Nicole Weston (Baking Bites).

With my new Android phone I’ve been able to receive tweets directly on my phone. I use my Twitter account basically to follow other bakers, bloggers, and food-related people/organizations like SF Food Carts (@sfcarts). One of those bakers is Nicole Weston (twitter alias: @bakingbites).

She tweeted “The perfect cake for 4th of July. Or any day in July, really. http://fb.me/E50y6aCr” on June 24th.

Nicole Weston's (aka Baking Bites) original Red, White, and Blue Berry Yogurt Cake. All credits to her. Delicious looking, ain't it?

Always wanting to bake for a holiday, I clicked on the link. When I saw her picture of the cake (shown above) and read the directions, I knew that the cake was within my ability.

“I can do that!” I remember thinking my mood suddenly lifting.

Adding the berries in

And that’s just what I did today. I baked that cake and made the frosting. I’m going to cut a slice for my dad so he can try it as well as cut more slices to share with Eric (my friend, buddy, and family friend). Of course, if I remember any other people who would like to have some, I would share with them too! That’s the best part of baking: sharing with others.

Please see Nicole’s site “Baking Bites” for the recipe.

Red, White, and Blue Berry Yogurt Cake

My version of Baking Bite's Red, White, and Blue Berry Yogurt Cake

Slice of Berry Cake 2

Slice of Berry Cake

Moist Banana Walnut Bread

Tartine's Banana Walnut Bread

Adding the toasted walnuts and sprinkle of (improvised) oatmeal

I can’t remember how many times I’ve posted a recipe for banana bread here. My go-to recipe for this has been from this random blog I found about two years ago, but I’ve found another favorite.

This recipe for banana bread is from San Francisco’s beloved bakery Tartine. I went here last year for my birthday and loved the experience. Luckily my mom anticipated my attachment to Tartine and gave me the cookbook right then there too.

I don’t think I’ve made anything from the cookbook until now because I was looking for another banana bread recipe for my mom’s coworker on his birthday.

This banana bread is rich with a tender crumb. It uses three bananas  – most recipes I’ve come across only use two – and real butter – not oil like most recipes. Oh, but this makes all the difference.

If you would like this recipe, please email me at: nell.notebook@yahoo.com

I would be happy to share this wonderful recipe with a fellow baker. :)

Tartine's Banana Walunut Bread

Finally, Happy 4th of July to you all!

Summertime Calls for a Feast

7 Jun

One Red Bell Pepper

With no more school (until September – yay!), I’ve had a lot of time on my hands.

I’m not complaining though. I get to wake up late, lounge around the house, finally get dressed after 2 hours, go outside and walk around my neighborhood, and annoy my cat to no end. Of

Three zucchinis course there are other days when I actually see friends but having all this me-time is wonderful. I can feel my batteries recharging. I suppose that

makes me a introvert, right?

Anyway, today started off as the same except that I knew that I was going to do some baking Two Carrotsand cooking. Yesterday my mom was craving a “brownie-like chocolate cake without frosting” but because of my doctor’s appointment, I didn’t have time. And just last Friday I was craving chili because of the chilly weather, which then got my mom excited for chili too.

She told me that I had the optiOne and a half cups of beanson of making

either today but I decided that I had the whole day why not make both? So that’s exactly what I did. I even made fresh corn bread!

 

 

The Dinner Table Components

Bowl of Chili sprinkled with Chopped Chives and Cheddar Cheese

Bowl of chili sprinkled with chopped chives and cheddar cheese - turned out a little sweet due to the canned diced tomatoes but with the ground Cayenne pepper it still had a kick!

Buttermilk Cornbread

Buttermilk cornbread - reminded me of the potluck at UC Davis

Oranges and Blueberries

Oranges and blueberries - to clean the pallet of course!

Chocolate Almond Torte

Chocolate almond torte - delicious, delicious delicious! A thin little slice of this dense (yet flaky) chocolate torte is all you need to satisfy any chocolate craving. Recipe from Joyofbaking.com

Mom and I also had an mixed green salad with chopped apples, mushrooms, and candied walnuts but I forgot to take a picture of it – whoops! Next time.

If you want any recipes, comment or email and I will be happy to share them with you.

Until next time, I hope summer is treating you well!

Whipped egg whitesChopped toasted almonds and chocolate butter mixture (Chocolate Almond Torte)Glazing the chocolate almond torte

Summer Tip: Check out your local Farmer’s Markets because summer fruits (melons, blueberries!, peaches!, etc.) and veggies are in season. This means great-tasting produce for good prices and a big “thank you” from Mother Earth. :)

Crazy for Cupcakes

20 May

I graduate tomorrow.

Since I’m leaving, I knew I would have to bake something special for all my teachers and special faculty.

Without any real finals (I took a lot of AP classes), I had time last weekend to brainstorm my game plan. I knew I had to bake for a lot of teachers and faculty and I had recently been inspired by the current cupcake frenzy, so I decided to bake my own cupcakes from scratch.

Naked Cupcakes

The (mix) red velets are at the top. The toasted bananas are the brown ones. The lemons are the ones in the red cupcake pan.

My original plan included four cupcakes for each recipient in a cute plastic container made specifically for cupcakes given out by Kara’s Cupcakes or Cako. I did get the four varieties done, but the cute plastic container was out. Instead, I found a round 8-inch foil container with a plastic lid – not too far off from the original idea. Still, transporting them was a pain. Thanks to my friends Amy Ruth and Michelle all worked out well.

I don’t have too much time to write about the whole story and process so I’ll just show some photos instead.

Recipes can be found below their corresponding pictures.

The Pretender

This cupcake wishes it were homemade, but it’s not. I had to make these from a mix to present a newspaper party on short notice.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (all mix)

I love the paper liners, don't you?

1. Toasted Almond Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Butter Frosting

If this title doesn’t get you drooling, then maybe this photo will.

Cupcake Recipe from Simple Daily Recipes: here
*I use this banana cake recipe for banana bread too
Brown butter frosting from My Kitchen Addiction: here

Toasted Almond Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Butter Frosting

Yep, those are bits of toasted almonds on top as a garnish. S'mancy, yes?

Cinnamon Brown Butter Frosting

First time making brown butter at home. I wasn't sure if I was cooking it right at all, but it turned out brown and unburned!

2. Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting

I didn’t used to be a fan of lemon baked goods until I tried a piece of lemon pound cake from the corner store near my school. Now I can appreciate such lemony goodness. For those who’ve never tried lemon baked goods, they’re usually not too sour. Rather, they’re tart but sweet at the same time. The lemon cuts the sugar like a hot knife in butter!

Cupcake recipe adapted from Joyofbaking: here
*I did not add the lemon curd or use the whipped cream topping

Buttercream Frosting adapted from Joyofbaking: here
*I only added 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and added 1 tsp of lemon extract

Lemon Cupcakes

This reminds me of something I'd see at a baby shower or Easter party because of the pastel colors.

3. (Fightin’ Irish) Mint Cupcakes with Mint Chip Frosting

I have mint chips at home so I thought, “Well, I’ll just make some kind of mint cupcake – easy!” Ah hah hah – No.

Instead all the recipes I found called for peppermint extract, which I didn’t have so what do I do? Improvise using a red velvet cupcake as the base; substitute in melted mint chips; and cross my fingers that the ooey gooey mud colored batter I just created actually turns out edible let alone delicious.

Red velvet recipe and frosting adapted from Joyofbaking: here
*I melted about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of mint chips shown below and added this to the batter. For the frosting, I added a little less than 1/4 of melted chips.

Melting Mint Chips

I just microwaved them so they're glistening. Right after this picture, I smushed them with a fork. By the way, like my fat cat bowl?

Mixing the Mint Cupcake Batter

It was so pretty before I mixed it! You can actually see green mint butter-egg mixture underneath the flour-cocoa powder mixture. After I mixed it, it turned a hideous forest green color.

Mint Chip Cupcake

Even after it baked, you can see the gross green color underneath but at least the frosting turned out good and more importantly, the whole cupcake was delicious!I had to taste test this one because if it tasted bad there was no way I was going to give this to my teachers or friends.

Mint Chip Cupcake

Ta-dah!

 4. Cookies-n-Cream Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

These were my inspiration for doing cupcakes. When I found this recipe, I knew I had to do it especially since it seemed easy enough.

The cool part of this cupcake besides the obvious garnish was the cookie bottom. I split the Oreo and took the side with the cream and placed it frosting-side up in the bottom of each cupcake liner. I believe it was Beantown Baker who came it with this ingenious idea.

Original Recipe from Beantown Baker: here.

Oreos on bottom of cupcake liners

Beantown Baker's ingenious idea

Oreo bottom of cupcakes

Oreo bottom of Cookies-n-Cream Cupcakes

Oreo bottom of cupcake (sideview)

Sideview of Oreo bottom

Cookies-n-Cream Cupcake

Isn't it beautiful? I'm so happy it turned out the way it did.

The Packaging & Finished Products

All the tins of cupcakes

All the tins of cupcakes. There were 15 total.

The finished cupcakes

The finished cupcakes. Cute, right?

Easter is Coming!

20 Apr

This might be the first time I’m posting a holiday-themed recipe before the actual holiday. You could say that I’m pleased with myself.

Since Easter is this weekend, I decided to bake carrot hazelnut cupcakes for a visiting friend of mine and a family friend a couple of days ago. I’ve been getting good results from my new baking book, “The Golden Book of Baking” so when I found this recipe I decided to go with it.

From what my family friend  said, the cupcakes don’t taste very much like carrots. It’s moist but the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger dominate the cupcakes (but in a good way!). Having tried the cupcakes later I have to agree that he’s right.

The coarsely grated hazelnuts were a great addition. I wouldn’t have expected it, but hazelnuts are delicious. It’s probably why I enjoyed these round chocolate balls before; they were coated with hazelnuts but I never knew what they were. But I should have known that hazelnuts are delicious. Take Nutella for example. This spread is absolutely heavenly. I can spread it on anything!

Lastly, the cream cheese frosting was literally the icing on the cake too. The cupcakes come out denser than I would have liked, but baking is a learning process.

I’m not sure if you really want to know the recipe, but if you’re curious you can comment below or email me at: nell.notebook@yahoo.com. I would be happy to share with a fellow baker. :)

Carrot Cupcake Recipe

Adapted from “The Golden Book of Baking”

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • Healthy version: ½ vegetable oil, ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 ¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups firmly packed coarsely grated carrots
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Homemade Frosting:

  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbl butter, softened
  • 1 tbl orange extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ (icing) sugar

Easy Frosting

  • store-bought cream cheese frosting

 

Procedure

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Mix flour, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder,baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In another large bowl, beat the oil, brown sugar, and eggs with an electric mixer at a high speed until thick and creamy. If using applesauce, beat in this after mixture is creamy.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, beat in carrots and hazelnuts. Add in mixed dry ingredients.
  5. Spoon 2 – 2 ½ tbl of batter into each muffin cup.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean from center of cupcake. Check oven frequently since each oven bakes differently.
  7. Cool cupcakes in pan for 10 minutes before taking cupcakes out. Cool completely before frosting.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Beat the cream cheese, butter, and orange extract in a medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in confectioners’ sugar.
  2. Using a simple butter knife, spread a small dollop of frosting onto each cupcake. Or if you have a piping bag, pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

The Chocoholic Supreme

10 Mar The Chocoholic Supreme 2

Warning: the following images may prompt immediate cravings for chocolate, desserts, and sweets and anything that is supposed to be “after dinner”.  For women who are pregnant, these cravings may even be stronger and possibly stranger, like chocolate covered vegetables. Depending on the individual, these cravings might last long and call for immediate gratification while for others the cravings will be short-lived.

The Chocoholic Supreme without frosting

I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like chocolate. But this may be because I’ve caught the “chocolate bug” or jumped onto the “chocolate bandwagon”.

I used to doubt the power of chocolate. Cover up anything with chocolate and people will love it? Nah, no way.”

Oh, but I change my mind. Chocolate indeed has this way with people. It’s not a in-your-face kind of power. It’s more of a subtle, sneaky power. It just charms its way into your heart – stomach-first.

Because this family friend means a lot to me, I decided to bake him a special chocolate dessert for his birthday. Just weeks before I had been thumbing around a new cookbook The Golden Book of Baking for recipes I wanted to try. With a reason now to put on my apron and become the mad baker that I am, I quickly flipped through the pages with the yellow post-it notes to a page titled, “The Tricolored Cake”.

It looked interesting enough. It was a sponge cake split into three layers (brown, red, and yellow) with a light vanilla glaze. But somehow I didn’t feel like this was the cake for him so I flipped around the section.

Two pages back, I stumbled upon a page titled, “The Chocoholic Supreme”. Featured on the page opposite the recipe was a beautifully frosted chocolate cake. My first thought was, “This chocolate cake looks like any other chocolate cake. Big deal.” And after reading the recipe, I didn’t notice anything special about it.

The first clue should have been its name though. I mean, who names a cake “The Chocoholic Supreme” if it’s not going to be the chocolatest, chocolate cake ever baked up?

I did notice that when combining the ingredients the batter was not as fluid as most cake batter. Then when I baked it for 40 minutes and peaked in the oven and saw that it hadn’t risen very much (like a tart) I knew that either I messed up or the cake was unusual. Looking back at the picture and the short frosted cake that appeared on the page, I realized the cake was just different.

When my family friend came over Monday night, I finally got to taste the difference I had noticed.

The Chocoholic Supreme (slices)

As I cut the cake (I decided to keep it single-layered), the cake crumbled a bit but the inside was moist and dense. When I actually tasted the cake, the dark chocolate with orange zest jumped out. The cake was rich in a way because it was dense underneath its crumbling exterior yet the orange zest countered the intense dark chocolate. It was amazing.

So if you ever need to entertain for chocolate fans, then I recommend introducing them to the Chocoholic Supreme. Once you meet this cake, you and your guests will never want to say goodbye to it. People will fight for the left-overs.

The Chocoholic Supreme 2

The Chocoholic Supreme

Taken from “The Golden Book of Baking”

Ingredients

Cake

  • 8 oz (250 g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup (100g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (30g) almonds, finely ground (I recommend toasting the almonds before grinding up)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/ cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tbl orange liquer (or 1 -2 tbl fresh orange zest)

Chocolate Frosting

  • 8 oz (250g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (60g) orange marmalade
  • 2 tbl orange liqueur (or 1 tbl fresh orange zest)

Procedure

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double broiler over barely simmering water. Set aside to cool.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and creamy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the melted chocolate, then dry ingredients and orange liqueur.
  6. With mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites in a separate large bowl until stiff peaks form. Use a large rubber spatula to fold them into the chocolate mixture in the first large bowl.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until springy to touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a rack and let cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double broiler over barely simmering water. Set aside to cool enough to spread, but make sure it doesn’t set.
  2. Warm the marmelade and liqueur in a small saucepan over low heat.
  3. Split the cake horizontally. Place one layer on a serving plate. Spread with marmelade and a quarter of the frosting. Top with the remaining layer and spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Note: I didn’t add orange marmalade or orange liqueur to my frosting so I just melted the chocolate and butter. I did add 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon to give it a little “kick”.

Mini slice of Chocoholic Supreme