Thursday, June 30, 2011

Room

My grand Spain adventure was last week, and it was, in a word, incredible. :) I'd recommend heading over to my Facebook and looking at some of the pictures from the trip for sure. While it meant a week off from my baking adventures, it also meant a week for *drumroll*...FUN READING! For the first time I can remember in a while. I started the week with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, knowing I'd breeze through the first novel of her young adult trilogy and get down to something a little more serious as soon as I'd finished. It was good--everything I look for in a young adult novel: good writing, intriguing plot, and a page turner. I was done before I knew it. I'm not quite ready to move on to books two and three, but I'll probably read them at some point.

I had a hard time narrowing down my options for a Spain book, but I finally landed on one I've been looking forward to reading for some time: Emma Donoghue's Room.


Again, definitely a page turner. I loved every minute of Jack telling me about his experiences with Ma in Room, and I was actually disappointed to reach the last page. Although I wouldn't say the book is flawless (come on! Where would the editor in me be then?) I think Donoghue's narration seemed both effortless and almost perfect as she wrote a unique novel on a horrifying topic. Reading it was a wonderful experience that I would highly recommend. Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife and whom I had the pleasure of hearing lecture this past spring, gives Room praise that I think is both eloquent and quite precise:
"Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it's over, you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days."

Special Delivery

One day (okay, every day) I realized that I really, really miss my house, and my roommates, and our traditions--mainly, cupcake Tuesdays. So I had the great idea to send my roommates (and my honorary roommate, Shayna) a cupcake each for cupcake Tuesday! I decided to try out a new recipe that I thought everyone would like, full of lots of fresh ingredients. Since the lemon cream cupcakes were such a huge hit the first time around, I thought I'd try this variation.

The batter was really yummy, full of lemon zest, and it produced kind of pound-cake texture, which I really liked, but that might be slightly heavy for some tastes.


Next, I went about making the blueberry buttercream frosting, for which I had to puree a bunch of blueberries and separate the puree from the juice, since I needed to use both. It was quite the learning experience for me, because I have never really worked with fresh fruit puree before in my baking, but I knew it would make for some really fresh frosting and would definitely be worth it.


Zesting all the lemons took a while, but was also worth it for the freshness it added to the batter and the frosting.


I also rarely use real buttermilk (generally, I just make a substitute milk and vinegar mix since we rarely have buttermilk on hand), but I decided to go all out in favor of freshness and keeping in mind how worth it my roommates are. ;)


The combination of the rich buttercream and the fresh blueberries produced some of the most beautiful, natural colored frosting I believe I've ever seen (and it didn't taste half bad either!)


Figuring out how best to package these treats was a bit of a struggle at first, but I spent some time looking around the local cake shop and finally figured out that if I put them in a plastic box inside a box with some tissue paper, they would hopefully make it to their various destinations in one piece.


I packaged them with love <3 a="a" and="and" br="br" each="each" for="for" little="little" note="note" on="on" person="person" sent="sent" their="their" them="them" way.="way.">







Dear any roommates reading this,
I miss you mucho.
Love, the Kelster (it's catching on!)

A Few Weeks in Review

I haven't posted in a while, which is strange actually because I've been baking quite a bit. I think here I'm just going to post a few pictures of the delicious chocolate cream cheese cookies, which my family and I agreed were really only worth eating right out of the oven--all gooey and delicious--so we did just that, and ate pretty much all of them right away.




I also made the strawberry Piece of Cake cupcakes again for my mom to take with her to work. Also, as you'll see, I experimented a bit with a chocolate mold, molding white chocolate flowers for the tops of the pink frosting.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Scones and Cookies


Last Friday, I woke up and we had nothing in the house for breakfast, so I made these scones...half chocolate chip and half cinnamon nutmeg. They turned out a little flat, but I actually prefer them that way, and they satisfied my desire for something sweet for breakfast. My family also much preferred the chocolate chip, which left me with plenty of cinnamon nutmeg ones through today, which is rare for our house.

This evening, I made these yummy lemon sandwich cookies from a recipe I found on Itty Bitty Kitchen.


I thought they were just alright, but my mom really liked them, and she's right, they did really smell delicious. Plus, they turned out pretty cute.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kahlua Cupcakes

These were tasty, I thought, but very liquor-y. I'm not feeling so hot--allergies are really getting to me and my eyes aren't staying open so well, so I'm just going to post the pictures and recipes and call it a day. Maybe a more wordy post tomorrow or later this week. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose four
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup Kahlua
1/3 cup skim milk
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or place liners in pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing just until blended. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture, milk, and Kahlua.; mix thoroughly. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill each cup 2/3 full and bake for 18-24 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and frost as desired. Makes 12 cupcakes.


For the frosting, I went for the trifecta of Piece of Cake Liqueurs, using the Chocolate Cake Liqueur in a really rich buttercream frosting. I used...
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 box powdered sugar
1 cup flour
3 tbsp. Chocolate Cake Piece of Cake Liqueur
2 tbsp. skim milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract