Sunday, November 17, 2013


WOW. just... wow.
I am alive! I truly have no idea where the last 2 months went. But I'm back now! And I have yet another brownie recipe :) I should rename this blog "100 versions of my favorite brownies."
I added chocolate essence and dark chocolate chips. And chocolate ice cream with whipped cream, a cherry and chocolate sauce. Hello.
Extra Chocolate Brownie Sundaes
Unsalted butter- 10 tbsp (1 stick + 2 tbsp)
Sugar- 1 1/4 c
Cocoa powder- 3/4 c + 2 tbsp
Salt- pinch
Chocolate essence- 1/2 tsp
Scrapings of one vanilla bean
Large eggs- 2, cold
Flour- 1/2 c
Dark chocolate chips- a handful
1. In a large heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt butter. Add sugar, cocoa powder and salt, and stir to combine.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in chocolate essence and vanilla bean scrapings, then add eggs one at a time. Stir until smooth.
4. Add flour and stir (40 strokes), then add the chocolate chips.
5. Prepare an 8x8" square baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil, enough that it overhangs on two sides. Spray a very light coat of cooking spray on the aluminum. Pour batter into the pan and bake at 350 degrees F for ~20 minutes. The tester should come out moist but not covered in batter. If not done after 20 minutes, pop back in the oven for 3 minute intervals (you don't want them to be overdone!).
6. Allow to cool on a rack for ~10 minutes, then stick in the fridge for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
7. Once the brownies are 100% cool (I prefer them cold), cut and serve, preferably with ice cream sundae fixins :)

I PROMISE my next post will come soon! There will be no more 2 month gaps! I felt lost without you... Enjoy these bad boys!!

PS I got my chocolate essence at La Cuisine in Alexandria, VA, and you can get it from their online shop (which is seriously amazing, and you should definitely check it out if you aren't in the DC area).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cake Batter Ice Cream Insanity

This has to be the longest I've ever gone without a post. I've finally settled into a routine, I've got my own insurance, I've taken over my car insurance and cell phone bill, and I'm about to register for a 401k! I even cleaned my bathroom last night... I'm an adult! LOL!
I've also come to the realization that there's a chance I might be gluten intolerant. Well, more than a chance. If I am, it would explain the last four years of my life. I'll go into details later. But I couldn't wait any longer before sharing this ice cream with you.
As a last hurrah, I decided to make cake batter ice cream... with Oreos... and eggless cookie dough balls.
Because really, who cares about healthy food? And being healthy... Oh wait, I'm actually starting to care. Another sign of adulthood??? Whatever. For now, let's just eat this ice cream.
Cake Batter Ice Cream with Oreos and Cookie Dough
The Ice Cream:
Heavy cream- 2 c
Whole milk- 1 c
Sugar- 1/2 c
Yellow cake mix- 3/4 c
Salt- 1/8 tsp
Vanilla extract- 2 tsp
Crushed oreos- as many as you want! I used ~1 1/2 c
1. Whisk heavy cream, milk, sugar, cake mix, salt and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours (or until well chilled). In the meantime, make the cookie dough.
2. Freeze ice cream according to your ice cream maker instructions (mine took ~20 minutes). 
3. Scoop ice cream into a large bowl and stir in the crushed oreos and cookie dough balls. Freeze for another hour or so, or until it's solid. 

Eggless Cookie Dough Balls
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c (1 stick), room temp
Light brown sugar- 1/2 c
Sugar- 1/4 c
Heavy cream- 2 tbsp
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
All-purpose flour- 3/4 c
Mini semisweet chocolate chips- 1/2 c
1. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, ~2-3 minutes. 
2. Add heavy cream, vanilla and salt, and mix for another minute. Slowly add the flour until combined. 
3. Stir in chocolate chips with a spatula.
4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, then roll into small (1 tsp or smaller) balls and place on a parchment paper-lined plate. Put in freezer for at least another 30 minutes. I chopped them in half before adding them to the ice cream.

Combine ice cream, oreos and cookie dough. Pig out. Repeat. 
Served with whipped cream and hot fudge sauce.
Note: I only used half of the cookie dough balls for the ice cream. I put dunked some of the others in melted semi-sweet chocolate and froze to turn into cookie dough truffles.

Combined/adapted/sourced: Life's Ambrosia, Brown Eyed Baker

Friday, August 16, 2013

Milk Chocolate Chip Brownies with Cake Batter Dip

Sooo, this happened.
My favorite brownies with milk chocolate chips tossed in. And cheesecake cake batter dip. I took these into my office last week, and one of my coworkers decided to spread the dip on the brownie. It was one of the best ideas ever.
My job is going well, and I'm settling into adulthood. It's been a little bumpy with the adulthood part at times, but overall things are good :)
This dip and these brownies are fantastic on their own, but together, they're unstoppable. They're like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, milk and cookies. Can you tell I love food?
Milk Chocolate Chip Brownies with Cake Batter Dip
The Brownies
Unsalted butter- 10 tbsp (1 stick + 2 tbsp)
Sugar- 1 1/4 c
Cocoa powder- 3/4 c + 2 tbsp (Dutch process or natural, just use the highest quality you can find!)
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Vanilla bean paste (or extract)- 1/2 tsp
Large eggs- 2, cold
Flour- 1/2 c
Milk chocolate (or semisweet) chips- a handful
1. Place butter in a heatproof bowl (I used my electric stand mixer bowl) and set over a pan of simmering water. Allow butter to melt.
2. Add sugar, cocoa powder and salt to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Remove from pan and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in vanilla bean paste, then add eggs one at a time. Stir until smooth.
4. Add flour and stir (40 strokes). Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Prepare an 8x8" square baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil, enough that it overhangs on two sides. Spray a very light coat of cooking spray on the aluminum, then pour the batter in, being sure to smooth it out carefully. Bake at 350 degrees F for ~20 minutes. The tester should come out moist but not with any batter attached to it.

The Dip
{Courtesy of I Wash, You Dry}
Cream cheese- 8 oz (1 package)
Sour cream- 1/2 c
White cake mix- 1/2 c
Powdered sugar- 1 c
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Sprinkles- a TON (however many you want. this is your world, baby. I did 1/3 c.)
1. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add sour cream and beat until blended.
3. Add cake mix, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until blended.
4. Stir in sprinkles.
5. Serve cold. Spread over brownies, or serve with graham crackers or fruit.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Bean Scones

My aunt Ginna gave me an in-person tutorial on making those delicious scones properly when she was here for my graduation, and I used that lesson to make them for my mom's birthday. As you may recall, my mom's thing is strawberry shortcake, just like my thing is angel food cake, and my dad's thing is german chocolate anything.
Ginna gave me some very important tips for making these bad boys:
-Everything has to be as cold as possible. Using butter right out of the freezer is fine.
-Do not take out the cold ingredients until you are about to put them in the dough.
-Measure the pastry flour AFTER you've sifted it, because it always puffs up and will throw off the measurement.
-Do NOT knead the dough. The less the dough is handled, the better it will turn out.
-When you're ready to plop the dough onto the parchment-lined baking pan, use a measuring cup and dip it in hot water in between scoops.
Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Bean Scones
Scones courtesy of my Aunt Ginna :)
Organic, unbleached pastry flour- 3 1/2 c
Baking powder- 3 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Superfine sugar- 1 tbsp, plus more to sprinkle on top of the scones before you bake them
Unsalted butter- 1 c (2 sticks), cut into quarters right out of the freezer
Eggs- 4, cold
Heavy cream- 2/3 c, cold
Sour cream- 2/3 c, cold
Vanilla bean paste- 1 tbsp
1. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into the the bowl of a huge food processor. Add butter chunks and process for no longer than 1 minute. It should feel like coarse meal.
2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, heavy cream and sour cream. Stir in vanilla bean paste. Add mixture to food processor and mix. You're not looking for a soft ball, really. The dough is more batter-y than dough-y. DO NOT OVERMIX! Stop once the ingredients have come together.
3. Scoop out dough (I used 1/4 and 1/3 measuring cups) and plop onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for ~20 minutes, until they are golden.

Mix 2-3 lbs of strawberries (washed, hulled and cut in halves and quarters) with some sugar (up to you, depending on how sweet you want them). Let them sit for an hour or two to draw out the juices.
Beat leftover heavy whipping cream and 1 tbsp powdered sugar with a whisk until stiff peaks form.
Spoon the strawberries (generously) onto the cooled scones, then dollop some whipped cream on top.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Christmas in July

I'm all moved in and settled in my new apartment! Good thing, too- my job starts one week from today!
I haven't baked in my apartment yet- shocking, I know. But I made this Christmas in July cake for my mom a couple weeks ago. Her company sells Christmas cards to non-profit organizations, and July 1st is the start of their sales year.
The cake wasn't done until 3:30 AM, so I gave up on any hopes of a decent shot
I went with my favorite chocolate cake recipe and my go-to vanilla buttercream. The cake itself isn't difficult, but I broke a few of my cardinal baking rules, which made everything infinitely harder.
Rules Broken:
1. NEVER double a batter recipe, especially if you don't know for sure that you have a container big enough to handle everything.
Broken rule outcome: Stress. And having to divide the batter just to stir it. And lots of mess.
2. NEVER start a cake late at night.
Broken rule outcome: Kelly up til 4 AM because her impaired judgment messed up the cake and her OCD wouldn't let her leave it less than perfect.
3. KNOW what you'll be storing the cake in before you start.
Broken rule outcome: I decorated the bottom edges of the cake, forgetting the dome lid was gonna need somewhere to sit.
4. USE Baker's Joy. I hardly ever use parchment paper for cakes, because they usually fail.
Broken rule outcome: The parchment paper failed. Fortunately, I had a third layer of cake available.

After realizing my mistake about the bottom border (it being around 2 AM), I panicked. I tried to wipe the border away, but it looked horrible, so I smoothed it out, which looked worse.
I resolved to make a third batch of buttercream. My parents were asleep at this point, so I went into the laundry room, sat on the floor, and mixed it up. Then, I scraped away all the bottom part (white and red) and started again.

The end result was very pretty, in my opinion. I only wish I'd listened to my own rules!
Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
The Cake
Courtesy of Sweetapolita
Yield: One 2-layer 9-inch cake.
All-purpose flour- 1 1/2 c
Sugar- 1 1/3 c
Dark cocoa powder- 1/2 c
Baking soda- 1 1/4 tsp
Baking powder- 1 1/4 tsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Buttermilk- 5 oz (140 mL, ~2/3 c)
Hot, strong coffee- 4.5 oz (130 mL)
Canola oil- 75 ml (~5 tbsp)
2 eggs, room temperature
Pure vanilla extract
1. Sift all dry ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer (paddle attachment).
2. Add buttermilk, coffee, canola oil, eggs and vanilla, and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
3. Pour batter into two 9 inch round cake pans that have been liberally sprayed with Baker's Joy. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, then rotate pans. Bake until the tester comes out with just a few crumbs, ~30 minutes total. Be careful not to overbake!
4. Cool on racks for 20 minutes, then gently turn them out of the pans onto the racks to cool completely.
Vanilla Buttercream
Yield: 1 batch (you may need to double it for the cake, depending on your decorating style)
Unsalted butter- 1 c (2 sticks), softened
Powdered sugar- 3-4 c
Pure vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)- 1 tbsp
Milk- 1 tbsp
Pinch of salt
1. Beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, ~3 minutes.
2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until well incorporated.
3. Add vanilla extract, milk and salt, and beat to combine.
4. Switch to whisk attachment and beat for ~2 minutes to fluff it up.

Enjoy! And always follow your own rules! :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Brownie Bites

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I last posted. Today, the move out of my Harrisonburg apartment finally finished! I'm settling into my new apartment- so far, so good!
I made these brownie bites a while ago, for my friend Rekik's graduation party. They're my favorite brownie recipe, cut into itty bitty pieces, with vanilla bean buttercream on top. Um, hi.

I'm hoping that once I'm all settled and things are semi-normal, I'll be able to post more regularly, get into a groove again.
This buttercream frosting is truly the best frosting in the world. I've eaten soooo much frosting in my life, and this is the most consistently delicious, perfect recipe I've ever had the pleasure of consuming.
Brownie Bites
Yield: ~2 dozen, depending on how small you cut them
Unsalted butter- 10 tbsp (1 stick + 2 tbsp)
Sugar- 1 1/4 c
Unsweetened cocoa powder- 3/4 c + 2 tbsp (Dutch process or Natural is fine)
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Large eggs- 2, cold
Flour- 1/2 c
1. Combine buttersugarcocoa and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot. 
3. Remove bowl from the skillet, and let cool for ~5 minutes until warm but not hot. Note: It will look kinda gritty at this point, don't panic!
4. Stir in vanilla with a spoon or spatula. Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. At this point it should look well-blended, shiny and thick. 
5. Stir in flour until completely blended, then stir vigorously ~40 strokes. Stir in nuts if using.
6. Prep an 8x8" square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil so it overhangs on two opposite sides. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake at 325 degrees F for ~20 minutes. The tester should come out moist but not drenched.
7. Let brownies cool slightly, then stick in the fridge for ~15 minutes. 
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Unsalted butter- 1 c (2 sticks)
Powdered sugar- 3 c
Vanilla bean paste- 1 tbsp (or the scrapings of one vanilla bean)
Milk- 1 tbsp
Pinch of salt
1. Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (paddle attached) until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. 
2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time (use the splash guard that came with the mixer, you'll thank me later). 
3. Add vanilla bean paste, milk and salt. Beat until very well blended. 
4. Switch to the whisk attachment, and beat for 1-2 minutes. 

Take the brownies out of the fridge and remove them from the pan. Spread buttercream, then stick them back in the fridge for 10 minutes. Remove, then cut them into small pieces. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

German Chocolate Mousse

I'm in the process of moving into my new studio apartment! Unfortunately that requires the going through of all the crap I've accumulated in the last two years at my apartment at JMU, which feels like it's going to take forever.
I'm still really excited to be a grown-up though! :)

I think I've mentioned before that I hate coconut. Hate. Hate. Hate.
However, when celebrating my dad, his general awesomeness, etc., I make an exception because he loves German Chocolate cake.

For example, this German Chocolate Mousse! It's super easy, when you have a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Not so much when all you have is a whisk. Ouch. My right arm hadn't been so sore since I stopped playing softball! I suppose it's a good way to tone your arms, but yowza!

German Chocolate Mousse
Yield: ~8 servings
Heavy whipping cream- 2 pints (~4 c)
Powdered sugar- 1/2 c
Cocoa powder- 1/2 c
Shredded coconut- 1/4 c
Mini chocolate chips- 1/4 c (more if desired)
Pecans- 1/4 c
1. Toast the coconut- spread evenly in a fry pan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently, as coconut burns very easily. Remove from the heat once the coconut is golden/brown.
2. Whisk heavy cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Stir in cocoa powder; make sure it's well distributed.
3. Now, you have two choices: Mix the coconut, chocolate chips and pecans in and serve, OR scoop the mousse into little bowls/cups and sprinkle the three on top. Up to you!!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Hello from the beach!
I love the beach, and I love lemonade. So... lemonade + beach = very happy Kelly.
This lemonade is fantastic! I found it on Chow, and made it for my family. I left out extra basil and strawberries for garnish, but you should buy 2 lbs of strawberries just because they're amazing.

Strawberry Basil Lemonade
Makes ~12 cups- have a BIG jug ready!
Sugar- 1 1/2 c
Water- split into 1 c + 8 c (cold)
Strawberries- 1 lb, washed, hulled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
Basil leaves- 3/4 c, tightly packed
Fresh lemon juice- 2 c, chilled (I used ~12 big lemons, but have extra just in case)
1. Place sugar and 1 c water in a medium saucepan over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.
2. Add the strawberries, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until they've softened, ~8-10 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat, add basil leaves and stir to incorporate. Cool to room temp, about 45 minutes (longer is fine, I left it sitting for over an hour and it was fantastic).
4. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and discard the solids. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Pour 8 c water, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 c of the strawberry mixture into a big bowl or pitcher.
Note: I used all of the mixture and it was fantastic. But add the rest as you please. Serve over ice!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Graduation dessert

My first two weeks as a college graduate have been pretty uneventful- blissfully so! I think it's going to take a while to sink in, and I keep having nightmares about an unfinished English paper... But it's good so far!
Gotta give credit where credit is due: My awesome Aunt Ginna decorated my cap :)
My mom and aunt and I are still trying to get all our photos in one place, so once we've got it sorted out I'll post pictures of me and my friends and family!
I made these graduation caps out of fondant in honor of the occasion. I got the idea from Glorious Treats, and I'd been looking forward to making them for over a year. I used my favorite chocolate cupcakes and vanilla buttercream frosting for the base, and it was a delightful combination.
Graduation caps {for a photo walkthrough, check out the original Glorious Treats post!}
Materials needed:
1 package of ready-to-use fondant (I got mine from Michael's)
Food coloring
A ruler
Small rolling pin
Corn starch 
Paper towel
Food-safe gloves, if desired
Cutting board or a clean, dry counter/surface
Little bowl/cup of water with a bit of powdered sugar stirred in
Food-safe paint brush (like from Wilton)
1. Color your fondant (see this page from Glorious Treats for a how-to).
2. Roll out the colored fondant you plan on using for the hat. You'll have to experiment with how thick you want the fondant for the hats to be. 
3. Cut fondant into strips about 3/4" wide and 3 3/4" long. Feel free to play around with the dimensions, see what looks good to you!
4. Create a ring of fondant out of a strip, with the ends overlapping slightly. Secure the ends together by dabbing a teensy amount of the water/powdered sugar mix. Set aside to dry for several hours or overnight.
5. Cut squares (for the hat tops) about 1 3/4" x 1 3/4"- play around with these dimensions too! Set aside to dry for several hours or overnight. 
6. When the pieces are dry, use a small amount of the water/powdered sugar mix to attach the top to the base. Set aside to dry.
7. Time for the tassels! Roll a little bit of fondant into a "snake," then flatten the end slightly and use a knife (or your fingernail) to make little ridges to add texture. Use a bit of the water mix to secure it to the top of the hat, bend around the side and allow to dry. 

The Cupcakes! 
{Cooks Illustrated}
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Bittersweet chocolate- 3 oz, finely chopped
Dutch-processed cocoa- 1/3 c
Hot, strong-brewed coffee- 3/4 c
Bread flour- 3/4 c
Sugar- 3/4 c
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Canola oil- 6 tbsp
Large eggs- 2
White vinegar- 2 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
1. Put chocolate and cocoa in a bowl, then pour the hot coffee over it. Whisk until smooth, then transfer to refrigerator until cool, 20-30 minutes.
2. In the meantime, whisk floursugarsalt, and baking soda together, and set aside.
3. Whisk oileggsvanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mix.
4. Add flour mixture to the mix, and whisk until batter is smooth.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes. In my oven, it worked best when I rotated the cupcake pan at 17 minutes, then let them bake an additional two {it would probably be better to do it halfway through... let me know what you find!}
Ganache Filling
Bittersweet chocolate- 2 oz, finely chopped
Heavy whipping cream- 1/4 c
Powdered sugar- 1 tbsp
1. Place chocolatecream, and powdered sugar in a microwave-proof bowl. Cook on high until mixture is warm to touch, about 30 seconds.
2. Whisk mixture, then put bowl in refrigerator. Let stand until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Favorite Vanilla Buttercream
{Courtesy of Savory Sweet Life}
Butter- 2 sticks (softened, but not melted!)
Powdered sugar- 3-4 c, sifted
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tbsp
Milk (or heavy cream)- up to 4 tbsp
1. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed.
2. Decrease speed to low, and slowwwly add powdered sugar.
3. Increase speed back to medium, and add vanilla extractsalt, and 2 tbsp of milk. Beat 2-3 minutes. If your frosting needs more milk, add up to 2 more tbsps, 1 at a time; conversely, if it needs to be thicker, add more powdered sugar slowly.
Side note, there will be some pretty big new changes to the blog and its layout soon! I'm very excited :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Status: Graduated.

I graduated from James Madison University yesterday morning with a B.A. in Media Arts and Design and a minor in Spanish.
I still can't believe four years flew by so quickly. Once my family has assembled all the photos we took on all our devices, I'll post a lot of them, along with pictures of the super cute graduation cupcakes I made.
I am now on vacation. I don't start work til the end of July, and I'm going to enjoy this time at home with my family!
My wonderful Aunt Ginna is here for a few more days and we're going to spend the next three days baking and cooking. I'll be posting a step-by-step for her perfect cream scones shortly.
I'll leave you with this, the JMU fight song, for now :)
Madison, James Madison,
We are the Dukes of JMU!
Madison, James Madison,
The Fighting Dukes of JMU!
Fight for glory, honors won,
Brighten the lights of Madison!
Madison, James Madison,
Show your colors proud and true 
(Who are we?!)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Update + Relay for Life!

It's been a very busy few weeks since my last post.
Here's a recap:
Celebrated my dad's birthday
Turned 22 (on Easter!)
Inches even closer to graduation (less than 2 weeks away!)
Got a job!!!! (I start at LivingSocial in July!!!!)

Oh, and I made this cake:
This cake is all I've thought about for weeks. It was for Shenandoah University's 2013 Relay for Life, and my friend Kelsey asked me months ago to make it. But all the preparations didn't compare to actually doing it! What an undertaking! In the end, though, totally worth it :)

But now, I can say that I have made a tiered cake, I know how to use dowel rods, I know how to deconstruct and serve wedding-style cakes, and I know (sort of) how to McGyver a cake carrier out of a cardboard box!

I'll do a more in-depth post tomorrow. A 12-page paper, photojournalism portfolio, two take-home tests and a law final separate me from graduation. Yikes. COLLEGE! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lemon & Lavender Cupcakes

Sunday would have been my dear friend Natalie's 22nd birthday. She was the sunshiniest person I've ever known, so to honor her, I made the sunshiniest cupcakes I could find- Sweetapolita's La La Lavender Lemon Cloud Cupcakes.

It's funny to think about sunshiney weather and Easter (and my birthday) being this Sunday, since I'm currently sitting in front of a fire in the fireplace at my parents' house about to play Assassins Creed 3 with my dad, because I have a snow day.

These cupcakes really are delightful. I usually use words like "awesome" and "insane" but I think delightful works very well. The cupcakes are light, the lemon curd is tangy, and the lavender buttercream is unique and the perfect complement to the other flavors.

It's funny that when I was making these pretty,
sunny cupcakes on a Snow Day :)
***NOTE: read the Lavender Buttercream directions FIRST! I always really sucked at reading the directions ahead of time, and it tends to bite me in the butt when it comes to baking.
Sidenote: Did anyone else ever have a teacher in elementary school give you an exercise with, like, 16 directions, and the very last one said "don't do any of the above directions"? I think it was in second grade for me, my teacher gave us that activity and I think the directions included getting up and writing your name on the chalkboard. I don't remember how many kids actually read the full directions, but I was NOT one of them. Oooops!

Lemon & Lavender Cupcakes
Yield: ~18 cupcakes
Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes
Buttermilk- 1 c, room temp
Eggs- 2 whole, 1 yolk, at room temp
Vanilla extract- 1/4 tsp
Cake flour- 2 c, sifted
Sugar- 1 1/4 c
Baking powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c (1 stick), room temp
Lemon zest of 2 medium-large lemons
1. In a small bowl, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 c of buttermilk, and vanilla. Set aside.
2. Sift the cake flour 3 times into the bowl of an electric mixer (paddle attachment). Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and combine on low speed for 30 seconds.
3. Add the butter and blend on low speed for 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 c of buttermilk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.
4. Scrape sides of the bowl and add egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches. Beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest.
5. Bake at 350 in lined muffin pans for ~15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Lavender Buttercream Frosting
Whipping cream or whole milk- 3 tbsp
Culinary lavender- 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter- 1 1/2 c (3 sticks), softened and cubed
Powdered sugar- 3 1/2 c, sifted
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Pinch of salt
1. THE NIGHT BEFORE you want to make the cupcakes, stir the whipping cream and lavender in a small bowl or glass. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight, or at least for several hours.
2. (The next morning/day) Strain the lavender cream into a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed until it becomes very pale and creamy.
4. Add lavender cream to the butter and beat. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and salt and beat well.
5. Swap out the paddle for the whisk attachment, and beat frosting for a minute to make it fluffy.

Lemon Curd (my favorite recipe)
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c (1 stick), cut into cubes
Granulated sugar- 1/2 c
Lemon juice- 1/2 c
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons
Egg yolks- 5

1. Add 1/4 c butter, 1/4 c of the sugarlemon zest and lemon juice to a wide saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
2. In a large, heat-safe bowl, combine the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar. Slowly add the heated mixture to egg yolks, whisking continuously.
3. When fully combined, return the mixture to the saucepan and continue to cook until the whisk leaves a trail in the curd. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 c of butter until it's melted and smooth.
4. Remove from heat and strain into a dish. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Irish Cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day! A couple days late.
I have the perfect recipe for you to use up any leftover booze you've got- cupcakes! I'm resisting calling them "Irish Car Bomb cupcakes" because that name is not considered okay in Ireland, and I love me some United Kingdom :)
So, instead, these are St. Paddy's Day cupcakes. Guinness cupcakes with Irish Cream frosting, stuffed with Guinness truffles. Yum.
The cupcakes themselves come from Red Shallot Kitchen, the truffles from Sprinkle Bakes. The truffles are great by themselves, but they're fantastic in the cupcakes!

St. Paddy's Day Cupcakes
Yield: ~24 cupcakes
Bailey's Cupcakes
Guinness Beer- 1 c
Unsalted butter- 1 c (2 sticks)
Unsweetened cocoa powder- 3/4 c
All-purpose flour- 2 c
Sugar- 2 c
Baking soda- 1 1/2 tsp
Salt- 3/4 tsp
2 large eggs
Sour cream- 2/3 c
1. Bring Guinness and butter to simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Cool slightly.
2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sour cream. Add Guinness mixture, and continue beating until just combined. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on low speed. Use spatula to fold until completely combined.
4. Divide batter among 2 cupcake tins with liners, filling them 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for ~17 minutes (rotate halfway through). Cool completely.

Irish Cream Frosting
Notes: 1) I used St. Brendan's instead of Bailey's, but either would be fine. 2) I made 1 1/2 times the recipe; the changes are reflected below in parentheses.
Unsalted butter- 2 sticks (3)
Powdered sugar- 4-5 c (5-6)
Irish cream- 6-7 tbsp (8-9, depending on desired consistency)
1. Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (paddle attached), until it's light and fluffy.
2. Slowly add the powdered sugar (1/2 cup at a time). Drizzle in the irish cream and beat until combined.
3. Switch to whisk attachment and beat for 1-2 minutes, until the volume has increased slightly and the frosting is fluffy.

Guinness Chocolate Truffles (make the night before)
Guinness- 12 oz bottle
Semisweet chocolate- 8 oz
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c, room temp (1 stick)
Pretzel rods- 1 1/2 c
1. Pulverize 3/4 c of the pretzel rods in a food processor until very fine. Crush the other 3/4 c, but not as finely as the first chunk.
2. Place 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp. Guinness in a medium saucepan. Set aside.
3. Pour remaining Guinness in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to 1 tbsp, about 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on this because once it's reduced it burns quickly.
4. Chop the chocolate into pieces and place in the medium saucepan. Set over medium heat and let stand until the chocolate starts to melt. Stir (gently) with a wire whisk to blend together.
5. When the chocolate is melted and smooth, begin to add butter 1 tbsp. at a time. Whisk gently, then add the 1 tbsp. Guinness reduction. Stir in pulverized pretzels.
6. Refrigerate mixture until firm (or overnight).
7. When the mixture is firm, line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Scoop out ganache by heaping tablespoon and quickly roll between your hands. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
(Stop at this step if only using for the cupcakes)
8. When ready to serve, roll the truffles in the crushed pretzels.

These cupcakes were a bit crumbly when I made them, so scooping out the middle was difficult- be careful! Scoop out the middle (save the tops!) and stick a truffle in. Replace with the tops, and pipe with frosting.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Richmond Tea Rooms

*Where in the world is Kelly's Konfections?* (a la Carmen San Diego)
I'm in ENGLAND! Visiting Cat :) She says hello!!
Today, we went to the Richmond Tea Rooms, which is basically EXACTLY what a tea room should be, in my opinion. Whimsical, fun, girly, and pink everywhere.
Courtesy of Richmond Tea Rooms
I'll post my pictures tomorrow, we've gotta get some sleep now. It's weird to be 5 hours ahead once again!
Courtesy of Richmond Tea Rooms
We had afternoon tea, which came with four pastries, four finger sandwiches, a scone and clotted cream (!!!) and a pot of tea. It was delightful!
If anyone knows of great tea rooms in the states (if they even exist?), please leave a comment below!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ooey Gooey Brownies

"Ooey Gooey Brownies" is the short name for these bad boys. The long version is "Ooey Gooey Peanut Caramel Chocolate Chip Brownies."
They look a little gross, but they're seriously delicious.

I apologize for the picture quality of my last few posts. Life has been... hectic. To say the least.
Chris requested this combination of flavors, and I adapted my favorite brownie recipe to accomodate his vision :) He's so talented at coming up with recipes and food combinations.

I have an exam in the morning, then I'm jetting off for Spring Break. So I'll put in the full recipe later. For now, I'll just say there are a handful or two of chocolate chips and chopped up peanuts. Then I poured some pre-made caramel sauce on the brownies when they came out of the oven. I'd recommend sticking them in the fridge for a few hours to firm them up. They're gonna be ooey gooey, but fantastic.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I learned about this homemade vanilla extract from Desserts with Benefits a few months ago. I've been letting my vanilla beans soak for a month, and I can't wait to use the extract. I'm forcing myself to wait the full 9 weeks, to make sure it gets nice and saturated. I opened the bottle two weeks ago to smell it, and I'm not gonna lie, I wanted to take a bath in it.
My brain is pretty fried, please excuse the shortness of this post. I can't wait for Spring Break!!

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Courtesy of Desserts with Benefits
{I doubled the recipe so I could use up most of the Pinnacle bottle)
Vanilla beans- 18
Pinnacle Whipped Cream vodka- 2 c + 4 tbsp
*If you use the whole vodka bottle, I'd recommend adding 2 or 3 beans to the mix. You could also use a different bottle.
1. Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise, just deep enough that you pierce through one side- you want to expose the seeds but keep them attached to the bean.
2. Place the vanilla beans inside the filled-up bottle. Place the lid onto the bottle and shake up and down a bunch, at least 10 times.
3. Store the bottle inside a dark and cool cupboard/pantry and shake once a day for 4 weeks. For the following 5 weeks, shake it every 2 or 3 days.
4. After 9 weeks, use the vanilla! Shake before using.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hot Clam Dip

I've decided to branch out and include some non-dessert posts on Kelly's Konfections now. My mom's awesome appetizers are up first :)

This is Hot Clam Dip. It's incredible. At a recent gathering, I stood next to the table and ate it over and over... and over...

Yeah New Year's Resolutions! Woohoo!
I think Valentine's Day is silly, so I'm not doing any heart-shaped stuff. Show love every day, not just on February 14th! Make this clam dip any (or every) day, not just for special occasions. :)

Hot Clam Dip
*Prep time is 3 hrs 20 minutes, so plan accordingly!
Two 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
One 16-oz carton sour cream
Two 6 1/2 cans of minced clams, drained
8 scallions, finely chopped
Worcestershire sauce- 1 tbsp
1 garlic clove, minced
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce
Round loaf unsliced French or sourdough bread
1. Mix cream cheese, sour cream, clams, scallions, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and Tabasco sauce in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Cut top off loaf of bread and hollow out, being careful not to puncture crust.
3. Fill bread with clam mixture.
4. Wrap loaf in aluminum foil and bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours. Serve hot with your choice of crackers.
Courtesy of the Purple Sage cookbook

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oreo Brownies

HELLO! Today, I'm going to talk about something other than food.
{2/9/13 update: It was a sinus infection! I feel so much better! YAY!!!!}

Moving on to food...

I hadn't baked in three weeks until this weekend. Chris asked for Oreo Brownies, which is what I made- my favorite recipe + a bunch of oreos. They're delicious. Don't ask questions, just make them!

Oreo Brownies
{Adapted from Smitten Kitchen}
Yield: ~9 brownies
Unsalted butter- 10 tbsp (1 stick + 2 tbsp)
Sugar- 1 1/4 c
Unsweetened cocoa powder- 3/4 c + 2 tbsp (Dutch process or Natural is fine)
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1/2 - 1 tsp
Large eggs- 2, cold
Flour- 1/2 c
One package of Oreos (just to be on the safe side)
One tub of Cool Whip
1. Combine buttersugarcocoa and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot. 
3. Remove bowl from the skillet, and let cool for ~5 minutes until warm but not hot. Note: It will look kinda gritty at this point, don't panic!
4. Stir in vanilla with a spoon or spatula. Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. At this point it should look well-blended, shiny and thick. 
5. Stir in flour until completely blended, then stir vigorously ~40 strokes. 
6. Crush at least half of the package of Oreos. {Crumble them by hand, or put them in a ziploc bag and smack them with a meat hammer thing.} Stir as many as you want into the batter.
6. Prep an 8x8" square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil so it overhangs on two opposite sides. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake at 325 degrees F for ~20 minutes. The tester should come out moist but not drenched.
7. Let the brownies cool for about an hour. In the meantime, stir a ton of the Oreo crumbs into the cool whip. When the brownies are cool, cut them up and spread the cool whip on top. 
I've eaten one for breakfast the last three days. I must get these out of my apartment. 


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