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Mini-Cakes!

Mini-Cakes!

I made mini-cakes! They are adorable and mini.
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Here’s what I did – it was pretty easy and a fun way to make personalized desserts.

I made one recipe of my fave carrot cake (https://suitsandaprons.wordpress.com/?s=carrot+cake), and baked it in a 9×13 pan. Once baked and cooled, I wrapped the cake tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for an hour or so.

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Then I used a biscuit cutter to make little cake rounds. I cut all the cake rounds into two pieces. Each cake was then made with 3 layers – 1.5 times the thickness of the cake as baked originally. It is easier to cut each round in half individually than to try and cut the whole cake in half (into two layers) at once. Trust me.

I frosted these with lots of cream cheese frosting, chilling as I went so that the outer layer would harden. I added some marmalade to the middle for yummy filling.

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I also rolled some in party sprinkles.

These were so yummy and pretty. Very easy, and very fun. I served them in cupcake wrappers, for ease of eating and mobility.

One note: While cream cheese frosting is clearly the most delicious frosting ever, it does not harden like a true buttercream, which can pose decorating challenges. For example, it is difficult to pipe designs with cream cheese frosting because the shapes begin to melt, while piped buttercream designs tend to hard and hold better. You may consider just using cream cheese frosting for the middle filling, and using buttercream for your decorations.

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Another note: You may be wondering why I made mini-cakes instead of making cupcakes. You may think cupcakes and mini-cakes are the same. You would be wrong. The frosting-to-cake ratio in a cupcake is way off, in a way that really bothers me. Also, cupcakes tend to be drier, in my experience, since they are basically all corners. By making mini-cakes, you reduce the amount of heat exposed edges, which makes for more delicious moister cakes. Finally, I think fully frosted mini-cakes are more adorable than cupcakes, plain and simple.

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Now go make some delicious and adorable mini-cakes.

Love,

Rachel

 

 

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A few recipes that you might like for thanksgiving!

A few recipes that you might like for thanksgiving!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I FREAKING love Turkey Day! Oh whatta day! A day devoted entirely to cooking, setting pretty tables, drinking wine and hanging with good friends. Good golly, Ms. Molly!

Here are three things that I have already made on the blog that you might want to consider adding to your Thanksgiving table:

Rustic Pear Tart. Make this. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. My boyfriend’s favorite dessert, and probably one of mine (choosing a favorite dessert is like choosing your favorite child – or at least what I imagine choosing a child would be like, if, you know, I had kids).

 

Pumpkin Streusel Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake.

This thing was WAY more than a pound. It was probably closer to 4 lbs of delicious cake.

 This thing is so amazingly yummy. Fairly easy to make and very impressive.

 

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Nom nom nom nom!

Rachel

Quest for Perfect Cookie Recipes Part I – Dulce de Leche

Quest for Perfect Cookie Recipes Part I – Dulce de Leche

Well, after my disappointment with NYC cookies, I decided to test out a bunch of cookie recipes until I find the best ones. This fits in well with procrastinating. So here is Part I.

Pass the cookies!

I made some oatmeal crispies. I got the recipe from a blogger that I super-respect. While these cookies were good, they were not awesome.  Until I tweak the recipe a little, I will not post it, because obviously I only want to be associated with cookies that will blow your freaking mind.

Mmmmm…. dulce de leche! That’s thick awesome caramel for those gringos who don’t speak Spanish.

Regardless, they are very pretty little cookies. Especially when made into little cookie sandwiches stuffed with homemade dulce de leche.

Nom nom nom!

I plan to tweak the oatmeal crispies recipe just a bit until I get something perfect. In the meantime, I will share my recipe (which I found on Pinterest) for homemade dulce de leche. Super easy. Yummy yummy yummy!

Oatmeal crispies with homemade dulce de leche!

(Obviously I couldn’t decide whether to use the flash or not.)

Dulce de Leche (Caramel)

Take a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Put can into slow cooker on low heat. Make sure the can is COMPLETELY submerged. Cook for 8 hours.

Then rinse under cool water and put into the fridge while still warm. The can needs to refrigerate for at least two hours to finalize the deliciousness-process (read: I don’t know what the importance of refrigerating the can is, but apparently it’s important).

Enjoy! Eat it with pretzels, with cookies, with apples… on a spoon…

With love,

Rachel

 

Well, this is embarrassing…

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Well, this is embarrassing…

I set out this summer to learn how to make yummy Austrian food. I bought an Austrian cookbook even.

First on my list to make: Linzer Torte. A sweet, nutty pastry crust, almost a shortbread, holds a layer of tangy current jam, covered by a criss-cross of more pastry, sprinkled with sliced almonds and powdered sugar. Sounds good, no?

Though I have not actually tried one, I know what sounds yummy when I hear it, so I figured that I am decent enough baker to undertake this task.

In my head, the results would look like this:Image

Being that I am subletting an apartment for the summer, I forgot about all the loops that one must jump through when learning to bake in a foreign land. Do I have the correct pots? When can I buy ground almonds? How do I say ground almonds? What is the cooking temperature in Celcius? Is the oven I am using true to temperature, or is it off a little bit? Will the fact that I am making a pastry when it’s 90 degrees in my apartment with no air conditioning affect the outcome?

I pondered these all quickly and threw caution to the wind. I mean, how hard could it be, right? It’s like a pie, and I have made about a million pies. No biggy.

Boy was I wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I couldn’t find ground almonds, so I figured I would hand chop mine until they were very fine. I got them pretty small, but never the same texture as buying ground.

I didn’t let the dough chill enough because my refrigerator here was actually pretty spotty on the day.

I swore that I had seen a 9 inch spring form pan in the apartment, but in reality, I had only seen the bottom portion of the spring form pan, but the sides were no where to be found. So I used an 11″ tart pan that had seen better days.

I converted the degrees on the Internet, but this oven is an electric convection oven that is warmer/faster than my oven at home.

I was sweating buckets (not into the dough, mind you). The dough wasn’t properly chilled. The pan was too big. The almonds were too course. This porridge is too hot! That porridge is too cold! Wait… wrong story.

Anyway, when the evening was over, this is what I had made:

NAILED IT!

At least she tasted good. I doubt she tasted how real linzer torte is supposed to taste, but still, the butter, nuts and jam, it’s hard to go wrong.

I know this picture is going to be all over Pinterest any minute now for being so lovely.

They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? Well, let this be a lesson to those 4 people who read my blog: sometimes even bloggers make mistakes. Shocking, I know. I still haven’t bought the correct pan, but when I do, I will try again. Maybe it will be better next time. Maybe I will redeem myself. And maybe not. I guess that’s part of life’s journey.

Yum, right?

Like how I turned this into some greater life lesson even though in reality it was me failing abysmally in the kitchen and throwing a small tantrum?

Mit Liebe,

Rachel

Passover Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

Passover Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

Passover desserts, with the exception of homemade macaroons and flourless chocolate cake, tend to suck. There’s no way around it. Without real flour, all the substitutes just aren’t up to snuff. They are tough and a little bland usually. Takes a lot of mastication and even more wine to make them truly palatable.

Now, these aren’t as good as the non-Passover version (the one with real oats), but gosh darn it! They come pretty darn close. And I made them up (as far as I know).

By substituting ground up matzo for oats, these cookies are kosher for Passover (dairy) and quite tasty. They make a great addition to any Seder, or just make a fun snack to eat during the celebration of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.

The Recipe:

Cover two cookie sheets with wax paper to prepare.

In food processor, pulse about 8-10 sheets of matzo until it’s about the texture of oats. You need 3 cups of matzo crumbs.

In heavy sauce pan, bring to a boil:

2 cups sugar

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 stick butter (unsalted)

Let boil for about 90 seconds. Turn off the heat.

Then stir in:

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup of peanut butter

The three cups of matzo crumbs.

Once all stirred up and slightly cooled (after two or three minutes), put heaping teaspoons of the mix onto waxed paper. Let cool until hardened.

Happy Pesach!

Rachel

Spicy Chipotle Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Spicy Chipotle Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I started this blog because I wanted a creative outlet. A place to share my cooking, painting, and decorating, all with a dash of neurosis. A place away from the competitive grind of law school and my masters program.

I started this blog because I needed a judgment-free space to be me.

And then something happened.

I started judging myself based on the number of hits on each post. I started judging myself on how many “likes” I received. I would check my site states incessantly to see if today’s post beat yesterday’s post. I worried if my new craft project was really blog-worthy.

The blog I created as a creative outlet started becoming a new source of stress.

It’s like that time when I started playing Words with Friends because Scrabble is fun. But within a few weeks I started using one of those cheating apps that tells you your best words because it was too upsetting and stressful to lose. It took me a while to realize that I was cheating at Words with Friends. It took me even longer to realize that I wasn’t enjoying playing because my competitive ego got in the way. Really, Rachel? Cheating at Words with Friends? What is WRONG with you?

I don’t want that to happen to my blog. I don’t want Suits and Aprons to be pushed to the wayside because I start competing with myself and competing with others. I mean, why do I even have to compete with other bloggers? They’re all so amazing! And inspiring! Their success does not cheapen my success in anyway.

So I took a step back. I wanted to think about what this blog is supposed to be for me. A happy space full of pretty things that I want to share. Not another forum where I am competing with my peers for the best grades. I REFUSE to let this blog become another law school!

While taking an evaluative step back, and reminding myself that no one cares how many clicks I got on my blog today (I don’t even have advertisements, so it REALLY doesn’t matter), I made my friends some delicious treats.

My friends didn’t judge the treats on whether they would be popular in the blogosphere.

Nope. My friends wolfed them down and asked for more. My friends “liked” my treats by telling me so in person – not simply by clicking something on this webpage. And that felt good. There was no self-doubt about my worth because I have fewer followers than someone else. Or because the pictures I took of these yummy treats don’t do them justice (but I’m getting better at photography with each post, I think. Yay!).

Therefore, I have decided to return to blogging with a renewed sense of purpose. My purpose is not to create content all the time. Not to get as many hits as possible because I spent 12 hours linking up to linky parties (if that’s your thing, more power to you). My purpose is to return to the time when this blog only brought joy. And if people like it, great. And if people don’t like it, well, then they don’t get to eat any Spicy Chipotle Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Oh, and one more thing: I didn’t make this recipe from scratch. I love baking and almost always make everything from scratch. But baking, like blogging, is my Happy Time. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of time in my schedule specifically reserved for Happy Time. So if I need to modify a box of Trader Joe’s truffle brownie mix because I am short on time, then I will darn well do it without any shame!

I am reclaiming my love of baking, crafting, blogging and decorating without any stress or crippling self-judgment! I will make ugly, but delicious, food and post it on the interwebs. I will paint things weird colors. Maybe I will have to paint over them, but hey, that’s part of the fun process! And this blog will no longer be a source of stress – only a place for happy time, and hopefully some love from my fellow creative bloggers.

The Recipe

One box brownie mix (I like TJ’s truffle brownie mix), mixed according to package instructions

One milk chocolate TJ’s truffle bar, cut into little pieces (could use any other chocolate bar really – or even a large handful of chocolate chips)

1-2 teaspoons dried chipotle powder (a little harder to find, but Whole Foods might have this). Cayenne will do in a pinch.

Preheat oven according to brownie box instructions. Make the brownie mix according to package instructions. Mix in the chocolate. Mix in 1 teaspoon of chipotle, and then taste the batter to make sure its not too spicy. Adjust according to your tastes.

Pour batter into cupcake tins, lined with cupcake papers about half-full (or make in pan according to package instructions). I didn’t grease mine and they turned out fine, but I used cupcake papers.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with just a few crumbs/chocolate. Do not overbake.

While baking and cooling, make the frosting.

The Frosting

4 oz cream cheese, at room temp

4 oz butter (1 stick), at room temp

2-3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-3 tablespoons milk

2-4 tablespoons cinnamon

With electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add one cup of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of milk, blending until well combined and fluffy. Add second cup of powdered sugar and enough milk to get a good consistency. You may or may not need to add the third cup of powdered sugar or third tablespoon of milk. Use taste and consistency as your guide. Then add the cinnamon, one tablespoon at a time, blend until well combined and taste after each addition. I like my frosting super cinnamon-y, but again, this is a personal preference.

Only frost the cupcakes once they are completely cooled. Serve.

Enjoy!

Spicy non-competitive blogging love,

Rachel