June 4, 2014 § 6 Comments
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:
- Make your favorite cupcakes
- Frost them with your favorite frosting, dyed blue with food coloring
- Take your Twinkies and cut them in half
- Use black frosting to draw goggles and a face
- Press on two white Smarties for eyes and use the black frosting to draw pupils
- Stick in a few brown or black sprinkles for hair
- Attach minion to the cupcake!
And here are my tips and tricks for achieving minion perfection:
- Use blue cupcake liners if you want to match the minion’s overalls
- 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.
- 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…
- 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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
May 21, 2014 § 1 Comment
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.
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??
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.
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.
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.
Julia’s Banana Bread
Recipe from Bon Appetit
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1½ 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.
May 11, 2014 § 4 Comments
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.
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.
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.
May 4, 2014 § 4 Comments
Ah yes, the dawn of May.
I realized we were nearing graduation when everything started becoming a “last” – last tutoring session with my third-grader, last piano competition after fourteen years of playing, last time witnessing crazy prom askings at our school.
Maybe it’s just because everybody committed to their colleges this week but I can’t help feeling sentimental :'(
But enough of that for now, let’s talk food.
Blondies…the most ambiguous of baked goods.
I never know how to respond when people ask me what they are. Vanilla brownies? Square-shaped cookies? Chewy cake bars? At this point I usually just hand them a few slices and exit the conversation to avoid exposing my inexpertise.
Make them yourself to uncover their true identity!
Also, apparently it’s a rule that every other recipe on this blog has to contain coconut…sorry to all you coconut-haters. I send you my love and a reconciliatory link.
Don’t worry, the coconut flavor isn’t too overpowering in this one, and the best part imho is the subtle coffee taste that settles in afterwards. These blondies are golden and soft with slightly chewy edges, which everyone knows are the best pieces (this might explain the missing edges in the photos). Enjoy with a glass of milk while you sit at your kitchen table and feel sentimental.
Coconut Coffee Blondies
Recipe from Heather Christo
makes 2 dozen bars
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons espresso
2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and parchment.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and the espresso and mix until creamy and well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add to the batter. Add the coconut and mix until everything is well combined.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are cooked through in the middle. Let them cool completely before slicing.
March 29, 2014 § 6 Comments
So it’s finally hitting me that senior year is winding down to a close and I have no idea how to feel about it. I’ve been getting these random waves of realization all weekend that we are nearing the end of our K-12 education and moving towards the Great Beyond and honestly it’s mind-boggling/terrifying/wonderful all at once.
I’ve had these cupcake pictures on my phone since my brother’s birthday, but in the wake of all the college decision madness I couldn’t bring myself to write about them. What did I learn through this whole crazy process? Things don’t always work out the way you imagine them to, but many times it’s for the best and you just need to keep plowing on through and making the best of the opportunities provided to you. Cliché to the max but I think I’m entitled.
Anyways, here are some sunny, citrus-y cupcakes to bring back some springtime cheer. My brother has been obsessed with oranges for as long as anyone can remember, and so of course orange cupcakes were in order for his sixteenth (!) birthday.
The cake part is dense and subtle, which pairs perfectly with a light and fluffy Cool-Whip/orange buttercream swirl. Sometimes I make good decisions, and using Cool-Whip was one of them. So light! So fluffy! My family devoured the whole batch in two days. Excuse the poor frosting skills, it was an off day for frosting.
Here’s to exciting first steps.
Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes
Cake recipe from here
for the frosting:
(adapted from Dulcedo)
1 cup butter, room temperature
6-8 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh)
orange food coloring
1 package Cool-Whip frosting (thawed)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Add half of the sifted sugar, the vanilla, the orange extract, and the orange juice. Beat until combined. Gradually add the remaining sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. Add orange food coloring until you are satisfied with the color.
In a decorating bag, add alternating spoonfuls of orange frosting and thawed Cool-Whip frosting, keeping the colors on separate sides of the bag. This will produce the swirled effect when you pipe it onto your cupcakes. Wait until cupcakes are completely cool before decorating.