fancy-pants peanut butter cookies

August 20, 2014 § 4 Comments

I have spent so much of my teenage life as a hermit that this recent frenzy of “let’s-meet-up-before-we-leave-for-college” outings has led my parents to believe I have entered a new stage of adolescent rebellion.

But it’s okay, because I have recently stumbled upon some useful information: A month ago, I found out that my dad’s favorite type of cookie is peanut butter.

I was horrified.

Not by his choice of cookie (it’s a fantastic choice), but horrified that I hadn’t known this earlier. Think of all the punishments I could have escaped, curfews I could have fudged, and wild and youthful activities I could have gotten away with if only I had baked a peace offering of crisp, peanut butter perfection!

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Oh yeah, that’s how the cookies fit in. Here is the strategy:

Want to extend your curfew? —-> Chocolate chip cookies will do the trick.

Neglected to pick up your little sister from daycare? —-> Brownies with rainbow sprinkles.

Forgot to turn off the stove while boiling water for your instant noodles and accidentally burned the house down? —-> There is a pie for that.

Only kidding, of course. Or mostly kidding, because I just so happened to bake those cookies the night before I had to go out again. I’d say it was 80% daughterly love, 20% strategic planning. Not terribly shameful (and it worked heh heh).

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I added in some speckles of chocolate and rolled the dough in shredded coconut before baking to add some *pizzazz*. The chocolate chips were pulsed through the food processor until they became tiiiny, just to avoid the mouthful-of-chocolate phenomenon (although that isn’t really a bad thing). The shredded coconut took a turn in the food processor too, which made it easier to roll the dough in it.

And there’s some whole wheat flour in there to appease any guilt you might have over eating these! I know…nice try.

So there you have it. Peanut butter cookies to appease all members of the family, spread love around the home, and give you the supernatural assistance you may need. Run wild, run free.

-ck

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Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate and Coconut

Adapted from Leite’s Culinaria

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup peanut butter
approx. 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
approx. 3/4 cup shredded coconut

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse chocolate chips in a food processor for around 10 seconds. Set aside. Repeat with shredded coconut.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together for around 3 minutes. Add in vanilla extract and egg, and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter and mix until smooth and creamy. Now add the dry ingredients and mix just until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate.

Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Roll in the shredded coconut until fully coated, then roll in granulated sugar for extra crunch. Place on baking sheets about 1-inch apart and use a fork to flatten down a little and create a criss-cross pattern.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cookies cool completely on a wire rack. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

 

blueberry scones

August 13, 2014 § 2 Comments

Slowly, very slowly, I am realizing that going to college is indeed a real life event. Suddenly there are only eleven days left until move-in and way too many goodbyes to be said, dorm things to buy, people to see, and parental concerns to be dismissed…”Are you going to get fat your freshman year?” (hopefully not) “Do you know how to make friends?” (debatable) “Should we buy a farm in Charlottesville and come visit you every weekend?” (please refrain).

I’m having such a hard time coming to grips with it. It’s happening!! College is happening and I am terrified and exhilarated and completely unsure of what to expect, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So that has been a brief update on the college front. There is really no appropriate transition I can think of, but…here are some scones I made. They were fabulous.

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Gauging from some people’s reactions, scones have gotten a bad rap for being too dry and crumbly for most peoples’ tastes. This recipe is nothing of the sort! The texture is more reminiscent of a buttery Popeye’s biscuit, with the perfect amount of sweet and tart from the berries. Crunchy outside, soft and steamy inside, so easy, SO GOOD. I would make them again in a heartbeat.

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Blueberry Scones

Adapted from The Flourishing Foodie

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp heavy cream (and some more for brushing on top)
1 cup fresh blueberries
raw sugar for sprinkling

——————————————————————

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Grate the butter with a cheese grater. Stir into the flour.

Stir in 1/2 cup of heavy cream. At this point the dough should be only slightly moist, while remaining still pretty dry and crumbly.

Add the blueberries and combine. Continue to add heavy cream until the dough becomes more cohesive and less crumbly.

Dump the dough onto the counter and knead into a ball. Shape into a round 7 inch circle, a little over 1 inch high. Cut the dough into 6 wedges like a pizza. Brush the scones with more heavy cream, and then sprinkle generously with raw sugar.

Places the scones onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for ten minutes. Serve warm. They can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days, but they taste best when warm so be sure to heat them up in the microwave before eating!

strawberry cherry pie and a return from the dead

August 1, 2014 § 6 Comments

OH MY LORD it has been two months since my last post…

Nobody’s really been banging on my door demanding new recipes and an explanation for my absence, but I’ll give you both anyways. First -

Where Have I Been??

  • pretending not to be an Asian tourist in Europe
  • reuniting with my Mexican family in the Yucatan peninsula
  • enduring a marathon of icebreakers at freshman orientation
  • back home, where I have spent my days attempting calligraphy, figuring out college things, and making mediocre art
The view from a boat ride in Amsterdam.

The view from a boat ride in Amsterdam.

Where you'll find me next year...

Where you’ll find me next year…

I can cross Venice off my bucket list!

I can cross Venice off my bucket list!

The view from St Mark's Campanile

Venice from St. Mark’s Campanile

Can’t believe I just summarized my trips to Europe and Mexico in two bullet points, but there is just too much to say so I’ll let the stories and photos leak out slowly in the coming weeks. This is completely cliché but I feel like I’ve been learning so much about myself, as often happens during these months away from school/constant company, and I love it.

In terms of baking, sadly I am feeling pretty rusty. But! I absorbed plenty of pastry inspiration from the patisseries in France, snagged a recipe for Black Forest cake from Germany, as well as discovered some insanely good Mexican pan recipe I have yet to track down, so I’ll be back at full speed for the rest of the summer!

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Using straws as strawberry hullers!

Using straws as strawberry hullers!

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I thought I’d warm up with a classic summer recipe, some sort of flaky pie with a sweet berry filling. I settled on a strawberry cherry pie.

This might prompt you to question my credentials as a baker, but due to an unrelenting pie-crust-phobia this has been my first-ever pie from scratch. Also, on an unrelated note, my first-ever cherry recipe! Hooray for firsts.

My sister and I stained our fingers bright red while pitting dozens of cherries by hand and it was worth it. Sweet and tart, this pie tastes like summer and feels like a warm welcome after weeks away from home. Enjoy with whipped cream, or a la mode if you’re feeling fancy.

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Strawberry Cherry Pie

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen

1 recipe pie crust (recipe found here)
3 and 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
3 cups halved and pitted cherries
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet rice flour (or tapioca flour, or cornstarch, though cornstarch will create a thinner filling)
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter cut into small pieces
heavy cream for brushing
raw sugar for sprinkling


 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine strawberries, cherries, lemon juice, both sugars, sweet rice flour, and salt. Stir together well.

On a well-floured surface, roll out one half of the pie crust into a 10-12 inch circle (keep the other half refrigerated). The crust should be about 1/4 inch thick. Using a rolling pin, transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie dish. Pour filling on top, and dot with butter pieces.

Take out the other half of the pie crust and roll out into a second 10-12 inch circle. Cut into strips for a lattice top, or keep it simple. Place top crust over the filling, seal the edges, and make some fancy decorative edges (the fork technique has never failed me). Cut out designs from the top using a small knife, or just poke holes with a fork to let the steam escape.

Brush over the entire top of the pie with heavy cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 and bake for another 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let the pie cool for several hours before cutting. You can also bake this the night before and eat the next day.

minion cupcakes

June 4, 2014 § 6 Comments

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I lived eighteen years without ever trying a Twinkie. That was, until I saw these cupcakes floating around the Internet and decided they were perfect for my friend Ashley’s birthday.

Just kidding, I didn’t even try one when I made these…I actually just went to my pantry right now and ate half a leftover Twinkie for the sake of legitimacy. Don’t think I’m a fan, but if you love them I will not judge you.

Regardless of your feelings toward Twinkies, you have to admit these cupcakes are pretty cute and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a teeeny bit proud of them.

They’re fairly easy too! You can watch this video tutorial or follow these simple steps:

  1. Make your favorite cupcakes
  2. Frost them with your favorite frosting, dyed blue with food coloring
  3. Take your Twinkies and cut them in half
  4. Use black frosting to draw goggles and a face
  5. Press on two white Smarties for eyes and use the black frosting to draw pupils
  6. Stick in a few brown or black sprinkles for hair
  7. Attach minion to the cupcake!

And here are my tips and tricks for achieving minion perfection:

  1. Use blue cupcake liners if you want to match the minion’s overalls
  2. Heap on a generous dollop of frosting so the Twinkies stay in place. Mine kind of dried out so I put a thin outline of frosting “glue” around them. In terms of aesthetics, my frosting job was regrettable but at least the minions stayed put.
  3. Develop a love of Smarties candy. I could only find a huge pack and just needed a few of the white ones for the eyes, so now I have at least 50 rolls of Smarties sitting around. If anyone from school who likes Smarties is reading this, please comment below…
  4. Listen to this song for inspiration

By the end I took a step back and realized I had raised up an army of minions…it was a powerful feeling.

Not sure if that’s weird or not, but either way I recommend making these cupcakes for the Despicable Me lover in your life!

-ck

 

rainbow ice cream cake

June 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

I usually try to keep my composure on this blog, but…..AHHH LIFE IS MOVING SO QUICKLY THESE DAYS.

No worries, not about to ramble off another sentimental spiel. But seriously, this past weekend has just been one milestone after another. In the course of 48 hours I have experienced senior prom, my last ever piano recital, and our youth group’s senior banquet – all of which I’ve been anticipating since I was a wee little girl (or maybe since last year, but still).

College shirt day with my roommate/best friend Melissa on the right and good ol' Floyd in the middle

College shirt day! That’s my roommate/best friend on the right! WAHOOWA

Good times, good company

The best prom imaginable with the coolest kid in town

I was sitting in Spanish class today when someone mentioned that we have only ten days left of high school. Somehow I just cannot wrap my mind around that. I feel like all the seniors have had this mentality of having one foot out the door since the first day of senior year, yet I still feel caught off-guard.

Anyways, some of you are probably just wondering where the food at. Don’t worry, getting there. Three of my favorite people in the world had birthdays this past week – my dad and two of my closest friends, Ashley and Ji Whae! Ji Whae requested these cupcakes and I’ll cover Ashley’s birthday in the next post, so we’ll start with my dad.

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We were missing the 5 candle so we had to improvise...

We were missing the 5 candle so we had to improvise…

So what exactly does a 50-something year-old Korean man request for his birthday dessert?

A rainbow cake, because “that is how I want our future to be.” (Had to ask him to clarify that one…I think he meant full of hope. Very cute, dad.) Not surprisingly, this is the second time he has requested a rainbow cake for his birthday. The first instance was several years back and was a mild failure. It split down the middle like the Grand Canyon and resulted in a crying Caitlin and one-fourth of a cake. Not bad, not bad.

Consequently, from that day on I have learned to always level my cake layers. I am no cake professional, but my cakes stay intact. Thank the Lord.

To achieve rainbow cake redemption, this year I resolved to go all out with my first-ever ice cream cake! The process was actually much easier than I had anticipated. I attribute this to…

(a) laziness, meaning cake layers were made Betty Crocker style (a.k.a. with a cake mix)
(b) the wonders of Cool Whip frosting, and
(c) it’s actually just a pretty simple process.

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So yes, nothing was from scratch but it tasted like a party in my mouth and my dad was ecstatic, which was all that really mattered in the end. The only thing I would do differently is to eat less of the ice cream out of the carton and save it for the ice cream layer.

Here’s a link to the video tutorial I used! Feel free to use whatever cake/ice cream combination your heart desires.

-ck

 

banana bread and serenity

May 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

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Apparently we have beautiful scenery around here.

I spent this past weekend volunteering as a counselor for a 4th and 5th grade retreat, during which I met some awesome kids and got to hang out around this view all day. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

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I’m actually kind of embarrassed to admit I probably enjoyed myself too much when I was supposed to be taking care of the kids. One afternoon, my friend Kyle and I just sat by the lake and painted for an hour or so. The sensation was odd…art used to be my thaang back when I was a young’un, but it got shoved it aside as I grew up. It felt blissfully nostalgic to sit there with a paintbrush in hand, remembering how it feels to mix the perfect shade of paint and swirl it onto the canvas. Maybe I should start this up again??

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In other news, yesterday was senior skip day, which was literally just a continuation of the laziness I’ve been feeling for the past God-knows-how-long. SOS….I’m serious….But I’d like to think I’ve been filling my days with activities I would categorize as “Life-Productive,” which basically includes anything that lacks academic or practical value, but just makes life better!

Lately I’ve been passing the hours playing lots of piano, messing around on my mom’s guitar, formulating ambitious and mildly masochistic pre-prom diet plans, pretending to be a runner, and of course, baking.

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Yesterday I was lucky enough to snag those last overripe bananas and turn them into banana bread before they disappeared. I don’t know what it is, but banana bread is just so homey and comforting, like a feather pillow but with lots more carbs. Life-Productivity at its finest.

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This particular recipe is so simple that you can have a loaf of warm, speckled goodness ready for you with barely any effort at all. I can’t tell if mine turned out dark on the outside because it was slightly burnt, or because of all the cinnamon I sprinkled on top. Either way, it has managed to vanish in the last 24 hours. You can ignore anything I said earlier about a pre-prom diet.

Enjoy!

-ck

Julia’s Banana Bread

Recipe from Bon Appetit

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
 cups all-purpose flour
 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
 cups sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
¾ cup vegetable oil

—————————————————————————-

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9x5x3” loaf pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60–70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.

Banana bread can be made 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

 

lemon poppyseed pound cake

May 11, 2014 § 4 Comments

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I am not entirely sure what kind of audience this blog attracts (I’m guessing mostly hungry high school girls and my little sister), but to any mamas reading this: happy Mother’s Day!!

I could write forever about how great moms are, but instead I’ll just tell you about how great this cake is because then you can bake this cake for your mom, thereby letting her know for herself just how great she is. Simple solutions.

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Perhaps I should start by mentioning that my AP Gov prep book and I have been engaging in a stare-down for the past three days. Try as I might, I cannot bring myself to open it. Instead, I’ve been taking part in other wild pursuits, such as searching for the perfect mother’s day cake, baking said cake, decorating the cake, and eating the cake. I think that probably accounts for three days of lost studying time.

Perhaps I should also mention that I don’t particularly enjoy baking cakes.

Sometimes baking is the ultimate stress-relief – there’s something therapeutic about tossing together ingredients, watching the mixer whir the butter and sugar into a creamy mess, and kneading dough with your bare hands.

But baking also involves lots of clean-up, a Mt. Everest of dirty dishes, greasy globs of butter flying everywhere – none of which I enjoy. (or maybe I’m just an amateur?? Is there a way around all of this?)

Somehow cakes stress me out because they always take me forever. Don’t ask me why, I’m not really sure myself. But I spent way too long in the kitchen this weekend to end up with a simple one-layer, bare-sided lemon cake.

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ALL of this is to say: THIS IS A GOOD CAKE!

I’ll admit I was slightly grumpy about how it was turning out yesterday, but it was worth it. Especially since it was for my #1 baking/life fan, mother dearest.

The recipe notes were right – the crumb is denser than a typical lemon cake. The cake is not light and fluffy, but it’s delicious, sunny and citrusy, and pairs perfectly with the poppyseed buttercream.

Also noted in the recipe: be sure not to overbake it. That happened with my second attempt, which failed miserably despite my attempts to mask its dryness with a heap of sugary frosting.

I should probably leave now to study…or listen to this song again….but head on over to Joy the Baker for the recipe for this lovely cake!

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