Double The Desserts. Double The Apologies. Double The Pain! Wait...No

I totally woke up yesterday feeling all sorts of blog-related guilt. Guys... what's my dealio? I abandon this thing that I love, that I've come to enjoy doing because... because I've been lazy? What gives? Well,  I supposed I've been writing-lazy and life-preoccupied. Does that make sense? I hope it does. What I'm trying to say is I'm sorry I've let this blog lay dormant for so long.  I feel like I'm making it sound as if I'm apologizing to myself in a public forum, which seems like a twisted, self-serving public flogging. Aren't you glad you're joining me for this?

Props to my boyfriend for this.

Anyway, I am mad at myself for not writing nearly as much as I have in the past, which is why I've decided to throw myself a mini-challenge: For the next two months, I'm going to publish a new post every week, by, at the very latest, that Wednesday. I hope you'll all either a. keep me accountable by scolding me heavily if I fail to make good on this promise or b. at least not, like, tell me I suck and should never write anything again if I do come through (oh and I do plan to come through, good sirs and madams).

Hell, this might even be the time to have all of you hear my to-do list for the first half of this year. Maybe ya'll can keep me from lazing out on those too:

1. Go to at least one Prince concert in my life, and preferably in my life this summer

2. Go to Montreal at least once in my life, and preferably in my life this summer

3. OMG OMG OMG you guys Prince is playing a jazz festival. In Montreal. This summer. This maybe shouldn't be numbered, but is, because...

4. Take more risks in my writing (e.g., numbering things that shouldn't necessarily be numbered. SCANDALOUS!)

5. Spend less time around bright, flashy screens and more time with other things that haven't almost completely ruined my eyes, like books and chocolate

6. Cut out sugar

7. Check to see if anyone was paying attention to #6 and hope you are all laughing with me over how ludicrous a resolution that is

8. RETIRE MY SNOW BOOTS FOR A LONG, LONG TIME

Yeah. That last one has hit me, and a lot of us I imagine, pretty hard. I've finally accepted that I have a mean case of seasonal affective disorder that nothing short of sunshine, 80-degree weather and giant bowls of ice cream (shut it, that one's totally necessary) can cure. I think maybe that's part of what's been keeping me from updating this blog, or doing anything productive, really. I...hate things right now. Yup, that sounds articulate and sensible. Let's move on to our DOUBLE DOSE OF DESSERT, shall we?

Indeed I did decide to share two sweet treats in one post, mostly because of the aforementioned guilt over my lack of posting. Let's get to it, friends!

So dessert #1 was supposed to be one of those ooh-la-la Valentine's day desserts that would accompany a fancy-schmancy homemade dinner, but V-day's kinda dumb and also was on a Friday night after a long, lame week, and both of us were dead tired. So instead of presenting it as a romantic dessert, I'm presenting it as portion-controlled chocolate cakes (that you can have two of if you aren't down with sharing).

Chocolate Lava Cake For Two (makes...uh, two)

adapted from Eva Bakes

1/4 cup of semi-sweet dark chocolate chips

2 tablespoons of softened butter

1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten

3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Strawberry ice cream, or NOTHING (or another flavor of ice cream, or berries, or whipped cream. But probably strawberry ice cream)

Preheat your oven to 400ºF and butter two 6-ounce ramekins. In a medium heat-safe bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring until chocolate is completely melted (you can also do this in a microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each session).

Stir in confectioner's sugar, then beat in eggs and flour, whisking until the batter is smooth.

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Stir in vanilla, then divide batter between your ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet, and send into the oven for 9 to 11 minutes. Make sure to watch these, as they're done before you think they're done-- the center will still look gooey and jiggly, two very important, official baking terms. Let cool in ramekins for five minutes, then invert onto plates for serving.

Top with strawberry ice cream. I make room for no other option because there should be no other option. Strawberry. Ice. Cream.

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So, if I'm being honest, I didn't love the way these cakes looked, which is completely on me, for using ramekins that were way too wide, making these look like overdone veggie burgers. However, once we cut into these and liquid chocolate came oozing out, I was SOLD. I didn't even have time to get a picture of the inside because of how completely freaking sold I was.

Now, for our second dessert of the post (how lucky are YOU), we're working on something easy, fun and oven-free. Hooray!

So, apparently for people who are not Indian people, popcorn balls are a classic sweet treat. This is what my boyfriend, who is not Indian people, tells me, at least. Can anyone chime in on this? Is it like me saying that halwah and papadam should be staples in every American household?

Anyway, I decided to surprise him by trying my hand at this "classic treat" because I am generous and also can never turn down the opportunity to combine three most excellent ingredients: butter, sugar, and popcorn. Let's get "classic!"

Popcorn Balls (makes 6 baseball-sized balls)

adapted from CHOW

9 cups of plain popped popcorn, seeds removed, unless you hate having teeth

1 cup of turbinado sugar (you can use regular white sugar, but I love the deep flavor this imparts)

1/3 cup of light corn syrup

1/3 cup of water

1 teaspoon of white vinegar

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of salted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Grease a large glass bowl, and place popcorn in it. Set aside.

Large glass bowl. Popcorn. Creative captioning.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, water and vinegar; stir to combine. Place pan over high heat, and cook-- stirring constantly-- until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until it registers at 260ºF on a candy thermometer (if you don't have one, don't fret, just cook the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes). Remove from heat, then stir in butter and vanilla. 

Quickly pour hot sugar mixture over popcorn, using a rubber spatula to spread the mixture evenly over the popcorn. Stir until the mixture is just cool enough to handle with bare hands, about three minutes. Seriously, these are good, but not burn-your-palms good. I don't know what would be burn-your-palms good. I have some ideas, though. None are suitable for this blog.

With oiled hands, grab a chunk of popcorn and mash together, compressing popcorn into a ball. Let balls cool completely on parchment paper. *Giggle*

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Ok...these were good. If they really are a classic treat, I can totally understand why. They're buttery, salty/sweet, and somehow miraculously melt almost as soon as a bite hits your tongue. This dessert's been a repeat offender in our home, half because my boyfriend is sentimental and half because we're sugar fiends. I actually think it's probably 78% because we're sugar fiends, but it's six popcorn balls in one hand and a half-dozen in the other. Or something. See you next week!