Baking

Mug Cake in a Microwave

The thing about living by myself is that I find it hard to control portions when baking for one. When I freeze batter, I forget about it. When I make a full recipe, I never finish it despite gifting some to friends. When I halve recipes, it’s still too much for me. So I absolutely love microwave recipes! This mug cake recipe is one of my all-time favorites because all the ingredients are pantry staples and the recipe is so versatile– add your favorite fruits/chocolates/nuts to the batter and top with any frostings.

Ingredients (adapted from Averie Cooks):
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix until just combined. Pour batter into a greased mug about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way (depending on the size of your mug).
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Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds. Keep a close eye while the mug cake is in the microwave to make sure it fully cooks and doesn’t overflow.
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I topped my mug cake with a simple Nutella cream cheese frosting. So delicious and satisfied my craving in one go, no leftovers to worry about!
Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetHappy baking!
Annie

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Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

Peanut butter & jelly is always a winning combo, even in cookies! These are my go-to cookies to make because they’re basically foolproof. If you’re not a fan of jelly, the batter is still a nice peanut butter-y base for any other add-ins– chocolate, nuts, marshmallows, etc!

Ingredients (adapted from SORTED):
7 tablespoons softened or melted butter
1 cup coconut sugar
1 3/4 cup flour (I used 3/4 parts white whole wheat flour and 1/4 part all purpose flour)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
~3 tablespoons peanut butter (to your liking, basically)
Your favorite jelly

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. First, cream the butter and sugar together. Once combined, add one egg. Mix evenly and add the other egg. Mix again!
Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset(Note: I halved the recipe for myself, so the batter looks like a small amount in these photos)

Next, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients in increments to the batter. Once the dry ingredients and batter are just combined, stir in the peanut butter. The batter may start to get really sticky and hard to mix but don’t be afraid to use your hands at this point 🙂
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Then cover the batter and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes MINIMUM (if left up to overnight, let the batter sit for ~15 minutes to warm up before assembling and baking). This makes it easier to handle the batter and prevents the cookies from expanding too much while in the oven.

After 30 minutes, form ~1 inch scoops of batter and place on parchment-lined baking pan. Make an indent in the center of the cookie with your finger, and scoop jelly into the well. Bake cookies for 12 minutes.
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I love how soft and chewy these cookies come out, with just the perfect golden crunchy crust!

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Nutella Greek Yogurt Muffins

Thursday was National Nutella Day! A perfect reason for me to slather anything and everything I ate with Nutella… yum. Using greek yogurt also gave these muffins the perfect moist cakey texture. What more can you ask for in a muffin?!

Ingredients (adapted from Julia’s Album):
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup avocado oil
1 egg
1 flax egg
2/3 cup greek yogurt
Nutella
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Topping:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400F. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, coconut sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, mix together avocado oil, egg, flax egg, and greek yogurt. In another separate bowl for the topping, mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter into a crumble (set this bowl aside for later).
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Then add the flour mixture to the greek yogurt mixture. Mix until just combined. (Tip: if it gets too sticky/dense, add water/milk to thin out the batter to the consistency of your liking. I added ~1/3 cup water to thin out my batter and the muffins turned out way better)
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Grab your muffin tin and use liners or lightly spray with oil. First fill the muffin cups 1/3 full with batter. Add a scoop (or more) of Nutella, and top with more batter to cover the Nutella or until the muffin cup is 3/4 full with batter. Lastly, sprinkle the muffin with brown sugar-cinnamon topping. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
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These muffins were so good! I ate four within 10 minutes of these coming out of the oven. And then I froze the rest to keep myself from gorging. (These also keep well in the freezer!)

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Happy baking!
Annie

Corn Muffins/Cornbread

It’s been a really cold week in New England, so what better time to make some corn bread and chili! Cornbread can be made in mini muffin tins for smaller portions. That’s what I did here, and as a result, each piece is an edge piece, which is honestly what makes cornbread so good.

You’ll need:

1 cup fine ground corn meal

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp baking powder

1/3 cup of butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup milk

Honey (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF

In a little pot or pan, melt the butter and heat until the milk solids have turned brown and the butter is smelling nutty on med-low heat. Remove from the heat immediately.

Grease a dish to bake the cornbread/corn muffins in.

While the butter is cooling, mix all the dry ingredients.

Mix the wet ingredients (egg, butter, flour) and add this mixture into the dry ingredients.

Mix gently until combined. Pour into a mini muffin tin, cake pan, etc…

If you are baking it in a mini muffin tin, the muffins will take about 10 minutes to cook. If you are cooking it as cornbread, it will take approximately 20-25 minutes.

When cooked, drizzle honey onto the cornbread/corn muffins and let the honey soak in.

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Serve warm.

As long as you keep an eye on them, they should come out moist and delicious! These are wonderful plain, with a dab of butter, or with soup.

They are definitely worth the 20 minute investment!

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

My housemate really enjoys red velvet cheesecake. I was trying to figure out a way to capture the essence without actually having to make an actual cheesecake, since I didn’t have a pan. I thought maybe red velvet cheesecake in brownie form would do just that. The recipe is adapted from a couple of sources, but any recipe should be fine.

Ingredients

Red Velvet Portion

1 1/2 cups of flour

4 large eggs

2 tsp of lemon juice

Red food coloring (gel form) [you can substitute with concentrated beet juice also]

3/8 cup cocoa

2 sticks room temperature butter

2 cups of sugar

1 pinch of salt

1 tbsp of vanilla

Cheesecake Portion

2 8-oz (16 oz) of cream cheese (can substitute with Neufchatel but might be mildly grainy)

1 1/2 cup sugar (can make sweeter/less sweet if preferred)

1 tbsp vanilla

2 large eggs

Instructions

Phase 1

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 * 13 baking dish, and line with parchment paper (for easy cleanup).

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Cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffly. Once fluffy, add two eggs at a time. I attempted to use a whisk for the creaming thinking that I would save time on cleanup, but please use a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment on a standmixer.

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Once the eggs are incorporated, add the cocoa and salt. Follow up with the red food coloring and lemon juice.

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The batter will be slightly red; you can make the batter redder if you would like it to be more red. Once done incorporating the color, fold in the flour. At this point, overmixing can hurt your batter. When you cannot see any white, take out 1/4 of the batter and save for later. Pour the batter into the baking dish. When this is done, move onto the next phase – cheesecake portion.

Phase 2

Mix the cream cheese with the sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs. My mixture was kind of chunky, but it turned out alright in the final product.

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When done, spread cream cheese layer over the red velvet layer. When even, dollop reserved red velvet all over the cream cheese layer. Take a knife or toothpick and curve through the red velvet and cream cheese to create swirls.

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My swirls were horrible, so it might be better if you do very deliberate motions. When you feel happy with your swirls, place into the middle rack of your oven and bake for 45 minutes (might take a little longer or shorter depending on your oven).

The final product turned out pretty well, and the parchment allows for quick removal and cleanup. I hope your enjoy them! They were definitely not as finnicky as an actual cheesecake.

Final product with a chunk taken out.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

One day this week, randomly at 9pm after coming home from work, I decided to bake muffins (apologizing for the poor lighting in my photos ahead of time)… but didn’t realize until halfway that I didn’t have all of the ingredients (typical). So the theme of these muffins is basically “how many ingredients can I substitute and still make the end result palatable” (keep reading to find out how they turned out haha).

Recipe is adapted from Ambitious Kitchen (one of my fave blogs!):
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 scoop vanilla protein powder* (aw yes)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 bananas
1/4 cup agave nectar*
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp avocado oil*
1 flax seed egg* (1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp warm water)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce*
1 tbsp soymilk*
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
(asterisk indicates substituted ingredient from original recipe)

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Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t even have EGGS! So disappointed in myself. But actually the flax seed egg turned out to actually have the gooey consistency of an egg. So impressed!

Anyway, preheat the over to 350 degrees. Mix flour, protein powder (if desired), baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. In a blender, mix bananas, agave nectar, oil, flax egg (top-ish right corner of the blender, if you can see it!), soymilk, and applesauce. Blend well until smooth.

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Then add wet ingredients to the dry…

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…and mix until just combined… (and can’t forget the chooooocolaaaaate)

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Pour batter into a well-greased muffin tin. I’m lazy and didn’t want to wash more dishes so I used liners tehe.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

And they were surprisingly yummy! So delicious while warm from the oven. Even my mom ate a couple hehe.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetEr, they actually browned after a couple of days (not sure if that’s due to the bananas?). But they make the perfect study snack!

Happy baking!
Annie

A Taste of Summer: Chocolate Covered Eclairs with Berry Pastry Cream

I can’t quite admit to myself that I’m already halfway into the Fall semester. Hockey season is also upon us. What better way to bring back summer than enjoy some lovely berries. I also had a lot of eggs, and I think two things – custard and choux pastry. I thought the richness of the choux and the chocolate would provide a nice contrast to the tartness of the berries; the flavors are reminiscent of another classic dessert, chocolate covered strawberries. Although seemingly daunting, these little pastries are very easy to make and provide a lovely foundation for many desserts. The elegance in its simplicity is what makes it so wonderful.

There are multiple parts, and I recommend you change the flavors depending on what you like and if you want to make it savory or sweet.

Materials:

Whisk

Spatula

Plastic Bag/Pastry Bag

Saucepan

Choux Pastry (adapted from Joy of Baking)

1 cup of all purpose flour

1 tsp of white sugar

½ tsp of salt

½ cup of butter

1 cup of milk

4 eggs

Berry Pastry Cream

½ cup of mashed berries

2 egg yolks

1 cups of milk

1/3 cup of sugar

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp cornstarch

Chocolate

1 lb white chocolate

4 oz dark chocolate

Step 1:

You are going to cook the pastry before baking it, thus making it one of the baked pastries that actually require you to cook beforehand. First, you’ll need to heat up the milk and the butter in a saucepan on medium (do not let the milk burn). When that is happening, combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

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Step 2:

Once the butter/milk mixture looks all warmed up, add all of the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula (a whisk would get too messy). You want it to form a dough.

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Continue mixing until the dough clumps together and forms a thin layer of dough on the bottom of the saucepan when mixed. This will take around 5-10 minutes. You’re drying out some of the water, so you get a nice and crisp pastry.

Step 3:

Take saucepan off the flame. Mix an egg in a ramekin or a small bowl and place into the saucepan. Mix and continue mixing until it is all incorporated. There will be a point where it looks like your dough broke -continue mixing and it will work out. After you incorporate one egg, incorporate the other eggs one by one.

Just continue mixing!

Just continue mixing!

Step 4:

You know you’re done when your dough looks like this:20141007_195154

Step 5:

Pipe using a pastry bag/gallon bag onto parchment in circles (if you want to make cream puffs/profiteroles) or long tubes if you want eclairs. Once done, use a wet finger and smooth out any edges. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, and turn the oven down to 350 F and cook until the pastry is brown and dried. Open the oven door to let steam out once in awhile. This step takes around 30 to 45 minutes. Be vigilant. While this is baking, move onto making the pastry cream.

Once done, they will look something like this:

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They should be hollow on the inside and crisp on the outside. A good way to tell is give it a little knock using a fork and you’ll hear the crispness/hollowness. Proceed to step 6.

Step 5A (Adjust according to your recipe):

Whisk the egg yolks and dry ingredients in a saucepan. Once all incorporated, add in the milk and berries. Whisk until all combined. Place onto a burner on medium and continue whisking until thick. Once done, place into a container with plastic wrap touching the surface. Cool.

Step 6 (Adjust according to your recipe):

Melt white chocolate on a Bain-marie/double-boiler or in a microwave. Dip or spread white chocolate over your pastries. Melt the dark chocolate and using a spoon, lightly drizzle the tops of the pastries.

Step 7:

Cut in half or using a piping bag, take the chilled pastry cream and fill the pastries. The final product could look something like this. If you don’t like chocolate, you could always use caramel. If you don’t like berries, you could leave it plain or flavor it using something that matches the topping.You could even stop at making the dough and fry them for a nice treat. You could always go the savory route, make a salmon mousse and fill the puffs with that, and it would make a great hors d’oeuvre.

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Step 8: Eat!

Overall, not a bad effort. These were quickly consumed, but you could freeze them and eat at a later time. I think the berry flavor was too subtle, so I might double the berry amount. You can adjust the milk to match the liquid, but you can always wait a little longer and the pectin should aid in setting the cream.

I hope you enjoy this different take on the classic chocolate covered strawberries! Enjoy the fall weather and the hockey season.

David