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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sweet Treats Saturday: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

I recently went through a chocolate chip phase (started thanks to Martha Stewart, but more on that in a bit), and ended up making quite a baked goodies featuring the faithful chocolate chip.  It all started when I was given a copy of the July issue of Martha Stewart Living.  She had a whole feature on chocolate chip cookies and the many concoctions you could whip up with a chocolate chip cookie base.

So this week and next, I am posting two recipes that can go hand in hand, all because of one main ingredient... the chocolate chip cookie.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes
Recipe from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk
2 1/4 cups chocolate chip cookie base (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with baking cups.
2. Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt.
3. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Reduce speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk but beginning and ending with flour.
4. Press 1 tbsp of the cookie base into the bottom of each baking cup.  I used a small cookie dough scoop or you can use the tip of a spoon.  Then top the dough with two tbsp of batter.  It should just cover the dough.

Spooning the batter on top of the cookie dough
5. Bake about 18 to 20 minutes when a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Let cool.

Baked cupcakes. You can see the cookie dough peeks through on some of them

Chocolate Chip Cookie Base
From Martha Stewart

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla
12 oz. chocolate chips

1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
2. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Reduce speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture in 3 additions.  Add vanilla.  Mix in chocolate chips.

If baking into cookies, preheat the oven at 350 degrees.  For this recipe, you use the raw dough (which cooks with the cupcake batter in the oven).  You can make miniature cookies to top the cupcakes.  Or you can do what I did, which was use the dough to make the cupcakes, then use the extra for the mini cookies to be the cupcake toppers and to make extra crispy cookies which will be used in next week's recipe.

Vanilla Frosting
Own recipe. The recipe from the magazine called for a lot of butter (4 and a half sticks!) and I prefer my own vanilla recipe.  This is the same recipe from the Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes:

1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup sugar at a time until completely mixed.  Add the milk 1 tsp at a time followed by the vanilla to achieve desired thickness.

Finished cupcakes with a mini-cookie on top


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Friday, July 29, 2011

Traveling and Downloading

Whew! Back from a crazy, intense week at dance camp, a whirlwind trip to Southern California, and then getting back into the swing of things at work.  It's been a busy couple of weeks but I'm finally starting to settle down into regular routines.  I haven't even had a chance to look at my craft area since I've been back, but I fully intend to spend some time in there this weekend.

Aside from my quilt that I've been (kinda) working on, I am ready for a fresh start on some new sewing projects.  I haven't had any pressing challenges to work on so I may actually be able to delve into stash patterns and fabrics that I haven't looked at in far too long.

Some highlights of my trip included:

- Spending a week with amazing dancers, their families, and incredibly talented musicians
Some of the dancers learning a routine for the finale performance

- Said week was also spent in gorgeous Vancouver Island. I may have indulged in a couple of Nanaimo bars, straight from the source.
The harbour at Nanaimo
- A quick trip to Disneyland. Always fun, especially when in good company.
I'm on the right. I swear my friend cheats.
- A taping of Conan O'Brien which led to then meeting my second husband, I mean, talk-show host.  Meeting really means getting his autograph and a photo, but I like to think that our relationship is deeper than that.

So. Happy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sweet Treats Saturday: Chocolate Macarons

Ever since I made the peanut butter macarons a few months ago, I've had macarons on the mind.  I ordered the book Macarons by Berengere Abraham.  The instructions made macaron making look so simple, but unfortunately, my first attempt failed.

I made the chocolate macarons with chocolate ganache filling, and the instructions specified to add the cocoa powder to the egg white mixture 'until evenly dispersed.'  I flipped back and forth through the book hoping for further instructions. It seemed like adding the cocoa powder to the egg whites would be too much. Yup, that was the case.  As soon as I added the cocoa powder, the whole thing deflated.  Frustrated, I returned back to my search in the friendly blogoverse. I referred back to my old macaron recipe and back to my original inspiration, David Lebovitz.

I kept with the original ganache recipe (from the book) as I had already made it.

Chocolate Ganache
By Berengere Abraham

6 oz dark chocolate
1 1/4 cups whipping cream

In a double boiler (or a bowl over simmering water), melt the chocolate.  Pour in the cream and mix until well blended.  Remove from heat and refrigerate until needed.

Just made ganache.

Ganache refrigerated while the macarons were made, during the rest, and the baking (approx. 3 hours)

French Chocolate Macarons
By David Lebovitz, slight modifications by me

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup powdered almonds (50g sliced almonds)
3 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tbsps granulated sugar

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

Grind together the powdered sugar, almonds and cocoa powder until a fine grind.  There should be no lumps.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are foamy and double in size.  They should be starting to hold their shape.  While whipping, gradually beat in the granulated sugar until stiff peaks are formed (about two more minutes).

Love it

Carefully fold in the dry ingredients in two batches into the egg white mixture.  When the mixture is smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and pour into a prepped pastry bag.

Beginning to fold the powdered mixture into the egg whites

Pipe the batter onto the lined baking sheets into small circles (about 1 tbsp of batter per circle).

Just piped

David Lebovitz's recipe states to rap the sheet on the counter and place into the oven.  Based on my experiences with my previous macarons and some extra time on my hands, I decided to let them sit at room temperature for a little over an hour.

Sat on the counter for about an hour and a half

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Bake the macarons for 10-12 minutes.  Watch them carefully so that the tops don't crack.


Let cool completely before removing from the baking sheet.

A thing of beauty

To assemble the macarons:

Once they are fully cooled, pipe or spread the chocolate ganache onto half of the macaron shells.  Match up with the other half of the macarons.  Store in an airtight container.

Gently pipe the ganache onto one half
Pieces with the filling. Just add the tops!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sweet Treats Saturday: Nanaimo Bars

In honor of my upcoming week away at dance camp (yes, you read that right) in Nanaimo, I decided to make Nanaimo Bars.  I had never heard of this dessert up until a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled upon a blog that featured them. I thought their name seemed like quite a coincidence... could there really be a bar named after where I was headed? So I did a little research.

It's true: Nanaimo has it's own dessert 'mascot.'  The bar has its origins from the area of the same name in Vancouver Island, Canada.  Even better? It's a no-bake recipe.

I made some minor modifications to the recipe that I used, but I'll call them out.

Nanaimo Bars
Recipe from Cajun Sugar Pie

1st layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup toasted coconut

2nd layer:
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp instant vanilla pudding mix
3 tbsp milk

3rd layer: (I doubled the original recipe as it was a lot easier to spread to cover the entire batch)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter

1. Grease a 9 inch square pan
2. Combine 1/2 cup butter, sugar, and cocoa in a medium saucepan.  Stir over low heat until mixture begins to thicken.
3. This is where my recipe differs from the original.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg.  Pour in a tbsp of the melted mixture.  Mix quickly and add a little more of the mixture.  I wanted to temper the egg so that it didn't curdle within the hot mixture.  Once about half of the hot mixture is well incorporate with the egg, pour all back into the original saucepan.  Heat on low until thick, then add the vanilla.  Remove from heat.
4. Add coconut and graham cracker crumbs, mixing until well blended.
5. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan and refrigerate for one hour.

Layer 1
6. After one hour, prepare the middle layer.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the 1/4 cup butter, powdered sugar and pudding mix.
7.  Add milk slowly while stirring.  Mix until smooth.
8.  Spread evenly over bottom layer.  Refrigerate for one hour.

Layer 2
9.  After one hour, melt the chocolate chips and remaining butter.  I did this in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave in 30 second increments (it only took 2 for me).  Quickly spread over the middle layer.
10.  Refrigerate at least an hour or until hardened.

Final layer after refrigeration

Slice into bars and serve! Refrigerate for storage.  I served these at a Scottish pipe band parade event that we danced in. I thought there might be some Canadians in the group (it seems like there always are amongst the Scottish community) so they might recognize this treat.  When I announced that I had brought Nanaimo Bars, there was definitely recognition and I'm pleased to say that the platter was left with just a few crumbs within minutes.

Back to dance camp.   I'll be spending a week working on my Irish dancing and some other Celtic activities including the bodhran and tin whistle.  I can't wait!  I'll give you a recap when I'm back, and crafting updates of anything that I'm able to work on when I'm there.  I'm only allowed 25lbs of luggage on the sea plane I'll be taking, so whatever I bring will have to be small and light!  See you when I get back!

This post will be participating in the following Linky parties:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ginger Skirt

While cruising through my local fabric store the other day, I found some khaki colored, cotton bottomweight fabric for sale.  I realized that I didn't have any good, 'basic' skirts that I could wear into the office.  That's where Ginger came in handy.  

I quickly looked up the yardage (I had the pattern already waiting to be used at home) and bought my fabric.  I hadn't even opened the pattern yet, so when I arrived home I was so excited to find that it was only four pieces.  Woohoo!

Gertie skirt and my Pendrall blouse from a few months back.

Fabric: Cotton Bottomweight. Used just less than two yards.
Pattern: Colette Ginger Version 2
Notions: Invisible zipper, boning.

I whipped this skirt up in about three hours, from cutting out patterns, to hemming the last seam.  I did include boning as I remembered Gertie had posted a tutorial as part of the first Ginger sewalong.  The boning really helps the skirt waistband to keep it's shape.  I'm definitely keeping this technique in my pocket for future projects. Also in that pocket? This skirt pattern! So easy and with great results!  I can't wait to find more fabric to use for this pattern.

Monday, July 11, 2011

MTL: Lemonade at Lunch Dress

The online sewing community, Sew Weekly, has recently added a new feature called 'Make This Look.'  Every day during the week they post a store-bought garment and how you can replicate the look yourself.  A few in particular were drool-worthy to me, one being the Lemonade at Lunch dress from Modcloth.

I didn't end up following the recommendations exactly.  If possible, I wanted to use an existing pattern I owned (just to keep the dress on the inexpensive side - it would already be cheaper but I wanted to see how many pennies I could save).  I did purchase their recommended top print from Fabric.com.  I think I snatched up the last yard of it from the site.  I picked up the cotton broadcloth from my local fabric store.

To be thorough, I'm going to try doing a format similar to the Sew Weekly to keep my details together and easy to find.

Fabric: Bryant Park Blooms (Fabric.com). Used about 1 yard.
Navy Blue Cotton Broadcloth. Used about 2.5 yards
Red Cotton Broadcloth. Used about half a yard.
Pattern: Butterick 4443. I previously made my yellow eyelet dress with this pattern.
Notions: Invisible zipper.

Major differences between my version and the recommendation from Sew Weekly are the neckline shape and the gathering at the waist.  I went with the v-neck instead of the tank top, but that was mainly because I was using an existing pattern.  Also, my skirt doesn't have the gathering at the waist.  I like the way it turned out, but I wouldn't be opposed to having a version that was more full/gathered at the waistband.  Maybe one day I'll switch it out just to mix things up, but I really like the way it turned out.

Here's the original inspiration board from Sew Weekly:

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Sweet Treats Saturday: Chocolate Jelly Roll Cake

I had some leftover chocolate ganache from the chocolate macaron recipe.Using the ganache made a very decadent jelly roll. Something a chocolate lover would drool over!  But if you want something a little lighter, stick with the original recipe for the whipped cream filling.

I have copied the recipe for the Jelly Roll Cake below. I highly recommend you check out their site directly as they have excellent tips and step by step instructions to prevent the cake from breaking when rolled.

Chocolate Jelly Roll Cake
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Cake layer:
6 ounces semisweet bittersweet chocolate, chopped or 1 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons water or strong coffee
6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided

Filling (Optional... or you can use the ganache filling listed below):
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (use more if you prefer a sweeter filling)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 to 2 tablespoons liqueur of your choice, such as Grand Marnier

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or oil a 10-by-15-inch shallow baking or jellyroll pan. Line the bottom lengthwise with a piece of waxed or parchment paper that extends up the short sides one inch.

Melt chocolate with water or coffee in a small saucepan over very low heat until it is 75 percent melted. Remove from heat and stir until the remaining chocolate is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Beat egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to beat until yolks are pale and ribbony. Gently stir the chocolate into the yolk mixture.

In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites with salt until they hold stiff peaks. Stir 1/4 of egg white mixture into the chocolate-yolk mixture to lighten it. Fold the remaining whites into the cake batter in three additions. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until cake layer feels dry (but very soft) to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It will still seem a little underbaked.

Transfer to a cooling rack and cover the top with a light damp towel or two layers of damp paper towels for 10 minutes. Gently remove towels; don’t fuss if they have a bit of cake stuck to them. Run a knife around the edges of the cake. Sift one tablespoon cocoa over the top of the cake and cover the cake with a thin tea or flour sack towel [Updated, see Note above] that is a little longer than the pan. Place the back of a baking sheet or a large flat tray over the towel and invert the cake and paper onto it. Gently peel back the parchment or waxed paper that lined the pan. Sift the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder over the top of the cake (that was, one minute ago, the underside). Using the towel underneath to help lift and roll the cake, roll the cake from short end to short end with the towel inside. Let cool completely, encased in its towel.

Optional filling instructions based on the whipped cream filling:
Once cool, beat heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until it holds stiff peaks. Get your serving plate ready and place it near your cake roll. Gently unroll chocolate cake and remove tea towel. [Try to get the tea towel to the hamper without touching anything, as it is saturated with smudgy cocoa and trust me, can mess up a white kitchen fast.] Spread whipped cream filling evenly over cake. Gently use waxed or parchment paper once again to reroll cake. Place on serving platter, seam side down.

Serve immediately in 1-inch thick slices or refrigerate until needed. This cake is best to serve on the first day it is made. It’s still delicious after that, but the whipped cream filling does begin to deflate a little into the cake spiral.

A refresher of the ganache recipe...

Chocolate Ganache
By Berengere Abraham

6 oz dark chocolate
1 1/4 cups whipping cream

In a double boiler (or a bowl over simmering water), melt the chocolate.  Pour in the cream and mix until well blended.  Remove from heat and refrigerate until needed.

Just made ganache.

Ganache refrigerated  (approx. 3 hours)

Friday, July 08, 2011

Coletto Sorbetto Top

Remember my trip to the Treasure Island Flea Market? Well while I was there, I picked up a little over a yard of vintage fabric.  This was my first time purchasing vintage fabric and I was looking forward to working with it.  Colette Patterns released a free pattern for the Sorbetto blouse.  Only two pattern pieces and about a yard of fabric needed - perfect!

Assembling the printed pattern

After I washed and ironed out my fabric I noticed a couple of spots with some age and wear.  I kept inventory of those spots when it came time to cut out my pattern. Alas, as I was stitching the front and back together, I found one more small hole that I hadn't noticed.  This required me to take in one of the sides about an inch, so I had to adjust the corresponding side to make sure the center pleat was still lined up.  In the end, everything worked out fine! If I made it again, I'd make it a little longer and maybe add a collar like some other bloggers have done.

Alas, it was not a good hair day. You are left with just the blouse.

Overall, it took me about an hour to whip this top up.  It was such a quick and easy sew!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Holiday Events

Hello readers! Did you have any exciting plans over the weekend?  US readers... I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July holiday.

I spent the 4th dancing and BBQing. Two things I love.  I've danced with my Highland school in this annual parade three times now and it's one of my favorite activities to participate in.

Dancing in front of the judges stand

Now, getting caught up on True Blood and getting back into the craft room!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sew Weekly UFO: Dress Challenge

This dress fulfills a few purposes:

1. A summer dress with a lightweight fabric that I've had in my stash for a while
2. A completed garment as part of the Summer Sewalong, and finally
3. A UFO off my shelf!
4. Gives me space back on my ironing board.

I started this dress over a month ago but could never get past cutting all of the pieces.  You may remember when I returned to the craft room at the beginning of June, my cat was in love with this project.  That made one of us.  I had cut all of the outer fabric pieces, but couldn't decide if I would do the lining in the same fabric or another.  The dress was so light that I didn't want to weigh it down.  So I did what I have a tendency to do... folded everything up and let it live on my ironing board.  This spot is where my projects go to die.  Or at least, a long hibernation.

When I saw Sew Weekly's UFO challenge, I knew just the project that I could use.  So I did inventory to figure out where I had left off, dusted off the rest of the fabric and started assembling the dress.  I used Simplicity 2579 in version B.

I really enjoyed this pattern, especially the upper bodice assembly.  It made finishing all of the seams on the rest of the dress really easy.  In the end, I was left with a very tidy, light, summer dress.

So readers, did any of you participate in this challenge? Or do you have something tucked away that is itching to be finished? Tell me about it!

This post will be participating in the following Linky parties:

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Sweet Treats Saturday: Coffee Ice Cream

This is my favorite homemade ice cream recipe so far.  Just make sure to use decaf coffee if you plan on having this ice cream after dinner. Or you will discover the hard way, that a bowl of this will keep you up. All. Night.

Drizzle some hot fudge on it and wait for your mouth to water.
Coffee Ice Cream
By David Lebovitz (link is to Simply Recipes blog that made it)

•    1 1/2 cups whole milk
•    3/4 cup sugar
•    1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans (decaf unless you want the caffeine in your ice cream)
•    Pinch of salt
•    1 1/2 cups heavy cream
•    5 large egg yolks
•    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
•    1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee (press grinds through a fine mesh sieve)

Heat the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan until it is quite warm and steamy, but not boiling. Once the mixture is warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Let coffee beans steep for one hour

Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set on ice over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside.

Reheat the milk and coffee mixture, on medium heat, until again hot and steamy (not boiling!). In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour the heated milk and coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm milk, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof, flat-bottomed spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 minutes.

Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible. Then discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla and finely ground coffee, and stir until cool.

The final mixture ready to cool in the fridge

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.


Makes one quart.

Wallace approves. He loves to help me in the kitchen.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Fini! A Parfait Dress

Why is it that you hold off on doing the patterns that turn out to be your favorites? I've been putting off making Colette's Parfait dress for a while.  I never felt like I had the right fabric for it, or I didn't know what I would think of the final dress.  Finally I found a cute floral print design; reminiscent of vintage feedsack prints that I'd been seeing everywhere, and I felt the need for a fun, summer dress.  I dusted off the Parfait envelope and set to work.

I was just in time with making this dress too.  The weather this week had been iffy - raining the first half and warming up in patches throughout.  But the weekend is looking promising and we had a beautiful California Friday.

I love so much about this dress.  I'm really pleased with my fabric choice as this dress feels really bright and 'summery.'  The shoulder straps came out cute... I was worried that it would look to juvenile.  And I LOVE the pockets with the little red buttons.

I love the pockets!

The dress was easy to sew and now that I'm finished, I'm thinking I might go on the hunt for some more fabric to make another one.

I hope you all have a lovely long weekend! I have a busy, long weekend ahead, but I'm looking forward to it.

EDIT: I forgot to mention... this dress is the first outfit in my Summer Sewalong with Rhinestones and Telephones.  This dress falls under the Sundress category.

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