Sugar Rush

This past quarter, I have had the wonderful opportunity to get involved with YoungLife Capernaum. I’ve fallen in love with the ministry, the leaders, and all of the new friends I’ve made. It’s one of the most joyful and loving and humbling experiences I have had in my nineteen years of life. I cannot wait to continue to grow, meet more amazing people, and take any opportunity I can through this phenomenal organization. 

I brought snack for club this past week…and definitely caused a sugar rush. The reception of my baked goods was overwhelmingly positive and served as a reminder for why I love to bake so much: its a gift of love! There was an abundance of love, smiles, and sugar in addition to the heavy plate of cookies I had. 

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“Slutty Brownies” and M&M cookies were a huge hit with this group. To make the brownies, all you have to do is press cookie dough down in a greased pan, add a layer of Oreos (I used Mega Stuf, and yes, that is a real thing), then pour on some brownie batter. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, let them cool completely, and then cut them out and try not to drool. They’re rich and delicious and you should prepare yourself for all of the mind-blown people you’ll offer them to. For the M&M cookies, I made up a batch of Junk in the Trunk cookie dough and used semi-sweet and mini chocolate chips and M&M’s as my “junk.” You could call me a chocoholic. But you could also bake these and be the one to blame for an epic sugar rush. Your choice!

 

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Gluten Free PB Brownies

So, a lot of people are gluten free now-a-days. It’s a sad life, because I love my carbs. But I don’t want my flourless friends to get left out of the baking I do so often! The solution? I’ve been tampering with gluten free baking. It’s a lot easier, and much more interesting, than I anticipated. I have gotten a lot of great recipes from Baby Cakes NYC— it’s a darling little cookbook with easy to follow recipes! 

But these brownies of which I speak are kind of a cop out. In a way. If you consider Trader Joe’s to be the easy way out. In addition to the pre-made mix, I added in lots of chocolate chips and a hefty swirl of natural peanut butter. And you know what? If I didn’t know these were gluten free, I wouldn’t think there was anything fishy going on! It’s been great sharing some wheat-free love with people who don’t often come across a good baked treat.

Parent Trap Cookies

Remember these? They’re chocolate chip cookies with an oreo inside of them…so, magic, essentially. I decided to take this a step further an incorporate another magical ingredient: peanut butter. In the Parent Trap, the twins bond over the delicious, unconventional combination of oreo cookies dipped in peanut butter. If you haven’t tried it, you’ve got to. Before baking/assembling these marvelous, caloric cookies, I pipped peanut butter onto the non-cream side of an oreo, put the two sides back together, and popped them into the freezer until they were set. It’s an extra step that is so, so worth it. 

Does this count as cinnamon bread?

Once upon a time, a friend of mine asked me to bake cinnamon bread. Okay, simple enough! So I asked him what kind of cinnamon bread he would like. This, as I now know, was not the kind of question to ask a male. “Cinnamon and bread,” he replied, not expecting that I had around 7 other ideas in mind. After the bread argument, I came home determined to find a recipe worthy of his definition. I can happily say that I have most definitely found sweet, cinnamony victory. 

This is a quick bread recipe that is super simple to throw together. A stick of butter and 3/4 of sugar blend together in your mixing bowl while you sift together 1 3/4 cups of flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Once the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, add in two eggs, one at a time, and a bit of vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and alternatively add the dry ingredients with a cup of sour cream (flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour). Mix until everything is just combined and then prepare yourself for the execution of a marvelous cinnamon swirl. 

The cinnamon sugar is easy peasy: 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and a few tablespoons of cinnamon. That’s it! I have been making little individual cinnamon breads in large muffin tins, but the same rules apply. Add some batter, then some cinnamon sugar, then some batter, then some cinnamon sugar. Once you’ve got three of four layers, take a knife and zig-zag each muffin for the swirl. Top with some more cinnamon sugar and pop them in a 350 degree oven until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, around 25 minutes. Then get rid of them before your suitemates realized you’ve baked for the third day in a row. You know what makes sense to me right now? Staying on the cinnamon kick and making cinnamon rolls 😉  

Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Sorbet

Okay, okay. I’m getting a tad involved with the ice cream machine. And, perhaps, I’m posting too much about Hedy Goldsmith and her amazing recipes. I promise that College and Cupcakes is not becoming an ice-cream-cult blog that worships one baker. I can’t promise that I’m done with Hedy and her recipes, though. Sorry! 

When I first read through the recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Sorbet I was pretty skeptical. When I think of sorbet, I think of icy, fruity frozen goodness. I was definitely not expecting a wondrous/creamy/chocolatey concoction. Nope, not at all. But after making my custard, churning, and chilling this sorbet, I was a total convert. The chocolate adds a richness that is unparalleled and the bourbon kicks in at the end and burns your throat ever so slightly. It’s also awesome because it’s dairy free but insanely creamy! I would have never guessed there were no eggs or milk in this. It has the consistency of gelato, pretty much. And because it is so rich you can definitely only handle so much at a time. With that in mind, I decided to serve it in little shot glasses. Of course, we all went back for seconds, but it was still darling! So, the moral of this decadent tale– don’t judge a recipe by negative, preconceived notions. I bet it’ll end up pleasantly surprising you.

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’m quite tempted to add “supercalifragilisticexpialadocious” to the description of this cookie, since the name isn’t long enough. If the length of the description of a cookie is directly proportional to flavor caliber and drool-inducing level, then this cookie is clearly the mother of all chocolate chunk cookies. I found this recipe awhile back at Ambitious Kitchen (http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2012/09/nutella-stuffed-brown-butter-sea-salt-chocolate-chip-cookies-my-favorite-cookie-ever/) and was simply enamored. I have since made a few little changes, but the brown butter and the Nutella have not budged. And while this cookie may sound intimidating to make, it’s pretty straightforward!

Start by putting two sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat to brown. It will take awhile,  and you might get frustrated, but then all of a sudden it will brown and smell divine. Let the magic happen while you whisk together 1 1/4 cup of flour, a hefty pinch of salt, 3/4 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp cornstarch. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Just let them get to know each other before the butter comes in. Get out 1 egg and an egg yolk so they can come to room temperature, and have your vanilla out, too! Once your butter starts to foam up and there are brown flavor nuggets swirling about, it should be ready to remove from the heat. Trust me, you’ll be able to tell when it’s brown. Let it cool off a bit and then mix it with the sugars. Beat in your egg and yolk, along with two teaspoons of vanilla, for 2 minutes or so. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and start to slowly add your dry ingredients. Once everything is incorporated fold in a mix of milk and dark chocolate chunks (I really like the look of chunks you cut yourself, but chips work here as well!).

Now it’s time for the tricky part. I highly recommend keeping your hands wet for this, as well as chilling the bowl of dough for 10 minutes! That way, things will be much easier to handle. Set up an assembly line starting with your chilled bowl of dough, jar of Nutella (plus spoon), and a greased plate for your Nutella stuffed dough balls. What you’ll want to do here is form a ball of dough (minimal chunks) like you were baking standard drop cookies. Flatten that dough ball, make a little nest for the Nutella, plop it on in there, and seal it up. Then carefully insert some chocolate chunks and place it on your plate. Trust me, this tedious process is worth it! See?

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Sometimes, I like to make my Nutella nuggets before hand by placing them on a plate and refrigerating them before assembly.  After a few cookies, you’ll fall into a pattern and figure out what works best for you. Just don’ be afraid to get you hands dirty! Once you’ve formed your cookies, let them chill for at least 20 minutes before baking them off at 350 for 9-11 minutes. I highly, highly recommend under baking them slightly– anticipating the re-heating they will inevitably go through before being served atop a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.

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You should also grab some milk, too. Oh, and a napkin. These can get messy.

Apricot Cardamom Muffins

Remember how much I love muffins? This recipe comes from a cookbook my Mom found for me that’s genuinely badass. Two ingenious men decided to open a bakery in England and feature well-received American treats. In their quest to find these recipes, they discovered a good deal about how desserts are distributed among out country. It’s almost anthropological. One of the best things in their collection, I think, are these apricot cardamom muffins. Apricots in the summertime are irresistible; cardamom is a highly underused and under appreciated spice. Together in massive muffin form they are magical. I’m confident that you could substitute other fruits once apricots go out of season (peaches would probably be great!), but it would have to be something sweet to compliment the cardamom. I’ll be breaking these bad boys out for my 8AM class at some point next quarter!