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Peanut, Peanut Butter… And Pumpkin! (And Complaining, Because Duh.)

12 Oct

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And no, I did *not* make my birthday cake this year. Though I have made rainbow cookies in the past, I decided to take a break from baking for myself this year. Also, my boyfriend strictly forbade me from doing so, because he’s nice, and also because I think last year I got a little scary whilst making this delicious monstrosity

How was the birthday overall? Bittersweet might be the best word. Sweet because, well, see above, bitter because well, see me. But as I’ve heard time and again, thirty is weird. When I was ten, thirty seemed like *it.* It was the age when I’d have everything down pat, when I’d be acting opposite Mark-Paul Gosselaar in a hit feature film (nope, not elaborating), when I’d be poppin’ out perfect babies and livin’ phat in the hills. Which hills, I do not know. The Beverly ones seemed interesting, because OH HAYYYYY Dylan McKay. It should be noted that  when I was ten, I had trouble separating television from reality. That may or may not still be the case. 

Instead, thirty feels like the age where an invisible hand decided to hold a mirror up to my life, and DAMN. DAMN DAMN DAMN has it been hard to look. Of course, if it’s not obvious, I  do feel lucky. Lucky that I’m still able to write and bake, lucky that I’m working, lucky that I’ve got some love in my life, lucky that I still have a few folks I can count on to whine and wine and dine with. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not taking this particular birthday as well as past ones, for various reasons. Maybe that’s necessary. Reflection is hard, but I’m hoping to come out of this funk feeling wiser, stronger and healthier.

Speaking of healthy, this dessert is anything but. BUT! It’s got pumpkin, you fall freaks! (I, too, am one of these. No shame, friends). Also, it’s no-bake, for all of my I-CANNOT-BAKE-FOR-SHIZ homies. Let’s do this!

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups (makes 12 big cups or 24 mini cups)

1 15-ounce can of pureed pumpkin*

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/2 cup of mascarpone

1 cup of natural unsweeted salted peanut butter

3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar, more if you’d like the peanut butter portion sweeter

3 cups of semisweet chocolate chips/chunks/chocolate chopped into small pieces, melted and kept warm

Set aside either a 12-cup muffin tin or 24-cup mini muffin tin, and line the tin with cupcake wrappers.

Also, before we start, and before people start yelling at me over that article we all saw claiming canned pumpkin wasn’t real pumpkin… IT ABSOLUTELY IS. Snopes for the win!

In a medium-sized bowl, using a stand mixer on high speed, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar and cinnamon. Beat in the mascarpone until fully incorporated, and set aside. 

In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine peanut butter and confectioner’s sugar, adding more sugar to taste if you like it a bit sweeter.

Now, you can either just totally go crazy and combine your pumpkin and peanut butter mixtures full-on, OR, if you favor one flavor over another, add a bit of one mixture to the other until you’re happy with the taste. Really, you cannot go wrong, and if you have extra of one or both mixtures, they’re INCREDIBLE with french toast, waffles, or just totally naked. Originally, my plan was to have this be heavily-PB with a hint of pumpkin, but every time I brought a spoonful to Jimmy, he’d ask for more pumpkin. I finally settled on the measurements above, which will give you a perfectly balanced peanut buttery and pumpkin-y cup. Set aside this mixture for now.

To assemble your cups, coat each cupcake wrapper with a thin layer of chocolate. If you’re using full-sized cups, I’ve found it’s easiest to use a small rubber spatula to coat the bottom and sides. If you’re using mini cups, the back of a teaspoon is better. You want the bottoms and sides of your liners to be completely opaque with chocolate, but not terribly thick.

Like so.

Like so.

Once you’ve coated all liners, refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Once the chocolate has hardened, place even scoops of pumpkin-peanut butter mixture into each cup.I made regular-sized cups and added a heaping tablespoon and a half to each cup. Cover each cup with more chocolate, and chill in the refrigerator again for at least fifteen more minutes, until the cups have hardened. Let them sit in room temperature for a few minutes before serving. 

Clothed...

Clothed…

In all its nude glory...

In all its nude glory…

So I figured I might as well continue the tradition of absolute junk at all possible hours of the day, so these were enjoyed at breakfast. Pumpkin’s a fruit, peanut butter has protein, I am woefully under-educated about nutrition and will do anything I can to justify my sugar intake, you get how it is.

But how were they? They. Were. Perfection. My lazy ass also loved how quickly these cups went from being a mere rumble in my belly/twinkle in my brain to being actual, delectable desserts. These were fast, easy, and SO AUTUMN, you guys. MUST MAKE!

 

 

 

The Five Year Disengagement

11 Apr

I know, I know.

But how do YOU know I wasn’t on a crime-fighting spree, or a long holiday, or in prison because I got caught during an unsanctioned crime-fighting spree? 

We’ve been watching a lot of Daredevil. And I caught the new Batman/Superman epic. So pretty much I’m now convinced I could very easily become the superhero no one really wants, but probably deserves. Sad Shibow: the clunkily-named, oft-depressed baker with astonishingly terrible reflexes, an unhealthy love of [street] justice, and a tendency to totally neglect her blog. 

But YOU try spilling your figurative innards for an online audience! It’s very exhausting, sometimes fun, extremely scary, and mostly I’m over it. That’s right! It is time to dial back the sadsies in favor of coming up with new and interesting ways to take down the corrupt, infuriating, totally useless MTA with my subpar fight methods and devastating verbal takedowns.

Whoops. That’s for a different blog entirely. Anyhoo, let’s really real talk: I completely blanked on the five year anniversary of this blog, which was a week ago. And as much as I hate to admit this, I really would not have remembered it without Facebook Memories, which I think is a function that mostly blows but proved somewhat useful in this case. It lit a fire under my brown tush, a fire it badly needed as it has been unseasonably nippy and my butt is usually the first thing to get cold. This is all relevant, I promise. Maybe not the butt stuff so much, but we can’t very well go back now, can we?

Anyway, a couple of months ago, Something Happened. It’s dumb to be vague, but I’m still working through it. One little baby thread on a very large and poorly made sweater was pulled, and the whole damned POS came undone, pretty quickly, too. I went through a period where I questioned my talents as a writer and wondered if I should just shut this blog down, because it’s exhausting to talk about money probz and why Stamos is still popular (TWO shows?! You give him TWO, cruel world?!), and I wasn’t really baking very much anyway. I also questioned what I do for a living, my hair, my life choices, the way I freaking made eggs, and even–steady yourselves– whether or not Road House was a legitimately good film (I know, you guys, I know. OF COURSE IT IS.) So, yeah, I was totally in a solid place mentally, which is essentially why I avoided writing or baking or doing anything I loved: it felt a little pointless. The big questions were “Do I want to be doing this?” And, more importantly, “Is there room for me in a world that gives John Stamos two shows?” 

Maybe. 

This blog is going to be going through a bit of an evolution, because if Daredevil has taught me anything, it’s this: adapt and get yourself a new, badass, almost indestructible superhero suit or die. So, today, to both celebrate the past FIVE wonderful, tumultuous, fun, funny, ridiculous years of this blog and hopefully toast to an equally interesting future, let me catch you up on the past few months, while hoping you’ll all join me for more nonsense in the future:

Choc-o-late Death Stars

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And Peep Cakes with ‘staches

 

uh…Snowflakes that fall on my nose and eyelashes

My special take on some yummy “Ring Dings”

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These are a few of my favorite things.

WHEN THIS DOG BITES

IT F*CKING STINGS

(But he’s pretty rad)

I’m fully aware this song’s totes amazing 

(I know that it sucks. Real bad.)

(Also, look guys! I made babka and Kouign-Amann, and both were very complicated and very buttery and involved a lot of layering and twisting which required more upper body strength than I’d ever expect for something you’re just going to gorge on in your apartment while binge Netflixing. But they’re PRETTY, no?)

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And, bakers and non-bakers, this is delightful

I Took A Break to Eat Cookies. So Sue Me. Please Don’t Sue Me. I Brought You Cookies. (Also I Have No Money)

22 Jan

Oh you guys.

It’s been, as the kids say, a minute. Or, as this overgrown baby would say, it’s been a freaking month, Sad Shibow, you swine.

Blue period. I don’t know what else to say, guys. There are entire weeks where I cannot handle bad combos of bad badness, or even meh mehness, or sometimes, just, you know, days in general. The holidays are hard as it is, and much of the past month could be described as “baby steps halfway up the mountain, then Donkey Kong comes out of nowhere and kicks my brown butt all the way back down to the sharp, rocky bottom.” That’s about as good as it’s going to get in terms of articulating this latest awesome sad segment. Maybe this time the magic mixture for my Crap Pie was 1 part holidays, 2 parts weather, 4 parts financial probz, 3 parts friend/family bull, and equal parts David Bowie isn’t here anymore and Trump is still talking. All of these things combined to create a great disturbance in the force.

Speaking of The Force… who saw The Force Awakens?? I SURE DID, the day it came out, and I’ve got the videotape to prove it! That’s right, folks, Sad Shibow was on the ol’ picture box, being a total nerd. And for those of you wondering why I look so spaced, a. I HAD JUST SEEN THE FORCE AWAKENS YOU JUDGMENTAL BUBS! and b. I’d had many many drinks of the bourbon nature the night before and was still recovering. Also, if you happened to see me commuting home that night, drunkenly air-drumming to Bollywood tunes alone on the F train and holding back tears (because hammered Shibow is SAD Shibow), I’m sorry. Also also, if you have film evidence of these happenings, I will pay handsomely to keep it under wraps. Just kidding. I’m broke, you all know this. But we can have a viewing party at my place if you’re in the market for a new friend. I know I could always use a new homie. 

So how were all of your holidays, if you celebrate such things? Mine were simple and quiet, just how I like them, and made so much happier by…

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Those of you who know me IRL know how much I love, love, love Robicelli’s Bakery, a friggin’ boss sweet shop that just recently closed its Brooklyn post. While I was at work one day, Jimmy snuck off to Bay Ridge (which is a TREK for those of us without a car, guys) to get Allison Robicelli to sign my copy of the Robicelli’s cookbook, mere days before the bakery closed. How wonderful is this? Is he?! And even though the clouds haven’t exactly lifted over the House of Shibow, every time I crack that book open and read Allison’s wonderful, profanity-laden note and think about what a pain in the ass it is to ride the local R a bajillion stops and how impatient Jimmy is with our transit system anyway, I remember: I am loved. And when you’re sad and wondering if most of the people you used to know hate you or if you’ll ever find your way in the world or if you’ll ever learn to contour your face properly like those Youtube geniuses, feeling loved matters. 

Speaking of feeling loved, how often does a stellar chocolate chip cookie make you feel cared for and happy? What, you say it’s unhealthy to eat feelings? You say it’s abnormal to feel strong emotions for a cookie? Have you never had a Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip cookie before? The self-proclaimed “Mr. Chocolate” found his way into my probably-clogged heart one day while I was on my lunch break and looking for a nearby, temporary panacea for whatever blues I was experiencing at that moment. I found such a cure at the Jacques Torres shop at Grand Central Station, and direct everyone I know who is feeling happy, sad, hungry, or anything at all to said shop’s chocolate chip cookie. Big as your face and probably just as delicious (you hottie, you), these cookies will solve all of your problems, as long as your problems are that you need cookies. And, if you unfortunately don’t live near a location, or will be trapped at home during Snowmageddon 2016, here is the recipe of your dreams, people. 

Jacques Torres’ Gigantic Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 15 cookies)

adapted from Tasting Table

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of cake flour

1 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour

1 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda 

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons of coarse salt

1 1/4 cups of unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups of light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of white sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

4 cups of bittersweet chocolate discs (I used these which are pricey but the real deal and absolutely worth it, but use any discs you’re comfortable with– each is about the size of an American quarter)

Coarse sea salt, for garnish

(Keep nearby for snacking purposes. This is vital.)

(Keep nearby for snacking purposes. This is vital.)

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together your flours, baking soda and powder, and salt. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth and pale yellow in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed, then stir in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in dry ingredients, mixing just until combined, about 10 seconds.

Carefully fold chocolate discs into dough (I use a rubber spatula and go slowly to prevent breaking the discs). Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly against the dough, and refrigerate for at least 3 and preferably 8 hours. You can also freeze the dough at this point for up to a month, but if I know there is cookie dough nearby I shamelessly use it/eat it. Yes, raw. I’M NOT A ROLE MODEL DAMMIT.

Once chilled, preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out 5 fist-sized mounds onto each sheet, about 3 inches apart (you will likely need to use one sheet twice, as we’re making 15 cookies and…math). Lightly garnish with coarse sea salt and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. The cookie’s edges should be lightly browned and the centers should still be soft. Cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat until all cookies are baked.

So… I don’t really want to talk about these.

The layers of chocolate within the cookie. Tell me you see those layers. 

The layers of chocolate within the cookie. Tell me you see those layers. 

I kind of just want to keep showing them to you.

Yes, that is one mostly-eaten cookie on top of a fresh one. Self control is not my strong suit.

Yes, that is one mostly-eaten cookie on top of a fresh one. Self control is not my strong suit.

They are, by far, my new favorite Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I have been spoiled. There is no going back from this. 

Hurricane Holiday/When I Finally Learned That Tassie Is Not A Dirty Word

16 Dec

You guys! Welcome to Hurricane Holiday, where all of your dreams have been hijacked by nightmares of strange old women assaulting you in your childhood home, pretending to be personal trainers hired by your parents.

…Or is that just a thing that is happening to me?

Well… moving right along then, let’s talk holiday cookies! And before people start accosting me for using the word “holiday,” ya’ll should really read through this blog a little bit more closely. It gets WAY more offensive, trust. Also, if you’re curious, I personally celebrate Christmas, but I know a lot of you don’t, and hey, cool man, we’re all here because we like cookies. Anyway, a couple of months ago, I came across a badass project called the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which organized a – youuuu guessed it– cookie swap between food bloggers all over the world. An opportunity to receive cookies from other bloggers? An opportunity to also bake cookies for other bloggers, fret over shipping them, then anxiously panic that they’d been destroyed in transit or suddenly went bad/were always bad but my taste buds are wack and now everyone hates me why why whyyyyyy did I agree to this? Serious anxiety, guys. It ain’t just a river in… never mind.

Ha...ha?

Ha…ha?

But yes, I was terrified to participate. I’ve got Imposter Syndrome real, real bad, and it doesn’t really help that my camera’s busted but I’m trying to work on bettering my food photography skills. Fortunately, thanks to some great pep talks, a little bit of hope, a LOT of blasting Beastie Boys tunes and some serious power-pose sessions, I was able to power through and be a part of an awesome swap that benefited research that will combat children’s cancer. Who could say no to that? I decided to send a cookie that would be different, yummy, chocolate-y and somewhat difficult, because I am a masochist/love a challenge. Enter the tassie. 

So, in the spirit of the holidays, I’ll just come right out and be honest with all of you: I had never heard of tassies until about a month ago. Neither had anyone around me. In fact, Jimmy was so confused that once I told him what I was baking, the only question he had was “that’s what showgirls wear right? Those are edible?” 

The places this boy’s mind goes. (Full disclosure: I also thought this.)

Basically, a tassie is a mini-pie that is so mini it is a cookie. Yes. That sounds about right. And because I was looking at making this ultra-chocolatey, I decided to go fudge-filled. And because I wanted to be different/make my life hard/have lots of chai, I decided to go chai-flavored fudge. Set aside a morning and afternoon, friends. Make a hot Spotify playlist. These are worth it.

For the Tassie shells, adapted from

The Cookie Bible

3 ounces of cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup of butter, softened

1 cup of all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons loose chai for rolling, optional

For the Chai Chocolate Fudge

3 1/2 cups of white sugar

1 1/3 cups of milk

1/4 cup loose chai

2 black tea bags

1/4 cup of light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne

1/4 cup of butter, cut into small chunks

1 teaspoon of vanilla

For the tassies, beat cream cheese and butter until combined. Stir in flour and sugar until dough forms. Cover and chill for at least one hour, until dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 24 one-inch balls and place each ball in the cup of a mini muffin tin. Roll in loose chai if desired.

Press dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of each cup. 

Bake for 20 minutes, until the shells are golden brown. Allow to cool completely before popping shells out of the tin (you may need to use a spoon to help them). 

Time to get fudgin’. Ready a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and a clip-on candy thermometer. Combine milk, sugar, loose chai and black tea bags in saucepan over medium-low heat. 

Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil, takes on a light-brown tone and smells like my parents’ house on Christmas morning. Oh, so my dad makes a kick-ass chai most holiday mornings, and it makes the house smell spicy-sweet. So, just cook until you start smelling the good stuff (chai. It’s chai). Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl. Clean out saucepan thoroughly (or use a new one, rich guy) and pour milky tea mixture back into pan. Add in corn syrup, salt, cocoa powder and spices. Clip thermometer to the side of the pan– making sure the tip does not touch the bottom of the pan– and place over medium heat. Stir constantly, until the syrup and cocoa powder have dissolved. 

Continue to cook fudge mixture until it reaches 234°F. Watch the mixture closely, as it will get hot very, very quickly. If you’re worried about spillage, you can place a wooden spoon over the pan to stop it from bubbling over, like so:

Once it reaches the desired temperature, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla until fully incorporated. Stir vigorously for about two minutes until you are sugar no solids remain, then pour fudge mixture into tassie shells.

Allow to set, about one hour, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt if desired. 

Swoon. 

Swoon. 

So, thoughts? They’re mini pies, people. They’re mini chai chocolate pies, people! How could that be wrong? They weren’t. They were so right that I am currently making them– as in I am waiting for the shells to bake up at this very moment. You could pretty much fill them with whatever your hearts desire– that means fudge, ganache (which I’m thinking I’ll go with tonight), various holiday candies, dried fruit (*shudder*), peanut butter– you name it. It’s the holidays, people. Time for weird dreams and decadent cookie. 

 

They See Me Rollin’ (These Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Banana Rum Rolls)

23 Nov

Do you ever feel like you’re being… watched? Holy bleepers guys, Dove be spying. 

But seriously, somebody stop me, and not in the quirky Jim Carrey way. I need to either not purchase anything for a long while or come into a large sum of money, stat. I think I’d do well with a great sum of money. I’d add the word “Von” before my last name and wear silk gloves and roll all of my R’s, like fancy people do. This is fancy, yes. Stop asking questions. Questions aren’t fancy. 

Anyway, I know I said I’d be back last week with some serious sweets, and I was totally planning on it, but then the only “sweets” I could permit myself for a while came in a bottle of gross cough syrup. Yup, of course, just as I was talking about exciting plans and busy days and fun fun fun, I was hit with a dumb friggin’ cold. Though I still did follow through on all of my plans. One of which fell on one of the rainiest days we’ve had in a while. I almost fell into a pile of garbage. Twice. It was awesome. I think it extended my cold by a few days. More on that in my next post. 

For now? GUYS! THANKSGIVING STUFF! How psyched are you? I’m crazy psyched, especially since I’ve just recently gotten my taste buds back (colds + loads of garlic + chicken broth = fresh hell on earth) and have spent the better part of the last three days recipe testing. While we get to the good, someone more time consuming stuff, why don’t we talk sweet snacks? I picked up couple of rolls of phyllo dough and want to gift you all with a quick, easy peasy treat. Let’s [chocolate peanut butter banana rum] roll.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Rum Rolls (makes one dozen) 

6 sheets of phyllo, thawed

1/4 cup of butter, melted

cinnamon sugar for sprinkling, optional*

2 large ripe bananas, sliced

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 cup of peanut butter, smooth or chunky, depending on your tastes (I used chunky)

1/4 cup of dark rum, optional but recommended if you’re feelin’ it

1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips or chunks

*for cinnamon sugar, sift together 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with 1/4 cup of white sugar until combined.

To begin, preheat your oven to 375°F and butter a large cookie sheet. In a large bowl, mix together banana slices, sugar and peanut butter. Using a hand mixer on medium speed (Jimmy got me this one, and it’s the absolute nicest gift ever, just in case you want to buy something frivolous *wink*), combine until pureed. Add in rum until fully incorporated, then fold in chocolate chunks and set aside.

Lay phyllo sheets out on a clean surface and place a clean, damp kitchen towel over the sheets to keep them from drying. Gently lay one sheet out on a clean surface and delicately brush with melted butter. Place another sheet over this one and brush again with butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired. 

Drop a heaping tablespoon of the peanut butter mixture at the top of one of the sheets, then roll carefully and tightly into a roll. Brush lightly with more butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until the top and sides are lightly browned and crisp. Let cool for 10 minutes, and serve while still warm.

So, these would totally be perfect as part of your Thanksgiving desserts, but I pretty much ripped into them as soon as they were cool enough to eat… the common cold meant that I had basically been without proper sweets for, like, three days. Do you know what that could do to a woman?!

Yup. Nuts. 

Yup. Nuts. 

If you’re cooking the entire Thanksgiving feast for your guests and are tired as all hell and kind of at a loss for the sweet portion, these should be your go-to dessert. They’re easy, quick and the yum game = strong. You could even swap out or add in some ingredients– mini marshmallows instead of bananas, pecans instead of peanut butter, etc. Get crazy, ya’ll. 

Woooooo Social anxiety is scaaaaary! It's a Halloween cupcake post.

29 Oct

HI! Have we all calmed down from that Star Wars trailer yet guys? No? I know. It’s ok. This is a safe place.

Speaking of safe places, I got some cool feedback on my last post in which I explained a little bit of the Sad in Sad Shibow. That’s heartening: I learned about things like anxiety clubs (brings me anxiety just to think about, but I learned!) and got some very sweet support from some old friends, one of whom I’m hoping to work with on an exciting project soon! Stay tuned…

Are you intrigued? Curious? Slightly spooked by my constant sads and disturbing obsession with The Force? Well, now’s the perfect time to join the fun then, because All Hallow’s Eve is creeping up on us. What are your thoughts on Halloween? Halloween’s like New Year’s Eve for some people, and I admit that in the past I have been “some people.” There is crazy dumb pressure to have a rad time, especially in the age of The Facebook: A Place For Friends/People You Meet On Buses (maybe that’s just me?) and Instagram: A Place To Make Your New Pics Look Ancient But In That Hip[stery] Way. I’m trying not to let too much of that get to me this year, mostly because my last Halloween was all kinds of lame (the heavens rained down upon my homemade “We Can Do It!” headband sign thing and smeared all of the ink and my makeup until I looked like Zombie Rosie the Riveter. I’m sure I could have made it work if I were not freezing and cranky). This year, I’m going to pay more attention to the inside of the plastic Jack-o-lantern we have filled to its brim with Halloween candy (despite the fact that we have never, ever had a trick or treater anywhere near our doorstep. JUST IN CASE, guys!!). No-pressure holidays are the best kinds of holidays. Also holidays where your head is buried in candy like an ostrich in the Sahara are the best kinds of holidays. But before you ask, yes, yes I do have a homemade Princess Leia costume at the ready in case plans do arise and I also decide to arise for these plans. No, it is not the one from the scene where she’s chained to Jabba the Hutt. #feminism

That year Jimmy and I, dressed up as, respectively, the movie The Grey and a flapper. Total couples' costume win, I know. 

That year Jimmy and I, dressed up as, respectively, the movie The Grey and a flapper. Total couples’ costume win, I know. 

I also often think about some of the heartbreaking costumes of yesteryear. The time when I was in preschool and my dad threw one of my poofy dresses at me, applied lipstick to my cheeks to mimic blush, and took me around our ‘hood to collect candy as a “princess,” (bless his heart, I still love everything about this story and will die on this hill telling it). The time I dressed up as the Pink Panther because it was the last costume at Walgreens. Or when I was the Pink Power Ranger (yeah, I recognize the pattern, I guess I was really into Pepto Bismol-colored characters from popular culture for a while there) and tripped over a Snickers bar and almost down some subway stairs as a ten year old. The Snickers bar was full-size, btw, which pains me now–what a waste! And, my favorite, the time I tried to be a Queen by using a wrap skirt as a cape because I was too cheap to buy one. Shockingly, this did not work. Someone asked if I was “dressed like a hurricane,” to which I now realize I should have simply answered, “yes, and thank you for noticing.” 

What about you guys? Best/worst costumes of all time? Talk to me folks. In return, you’ll get candy-stuffed cupcakes. No tricks here, only treats.

Halloween Skull Cupcakes (makes 10 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes

1/2 cup plus one tablespoon of butter, softened

1/2 cup of sugar

2 eggs

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons of milk

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

10 fun-sized chocolates of your choice

For the topping

1 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup of powdered sugar

Chocolate-covered raisins

Mini marshmallows

Oreos, separated

Mini peanut butter cups

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with liners. Place a fun-size chocolate in the middle of each cup. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar using a hand mixer on high. When light and creamy, beat in eggs, one at a time. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder until mixed, then add into wet mixture. Stir in milk until batter forms, then divide evenly between cups, over chocolates. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cupcakes have risen and the tops have set. 

That's a Mounds bar sticking out. Mmmmm.

That’s a Mounds bar sticking out. Mmmmm.

Let cool completely. While cooling, make your cream cheese icing. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together cream cheese and sugar using a hand mixer on high until smooth. Spread on cupcakes, then get to decorating.

As you can see, we got creative. Mine, on the left, had mini marshmallow teeth, chocolate chip nose holes (technical term), chocolate raisin eyes, and peanut butter cup hats with Oreo brims. Jimmy’s had marshmallow eyeballs, chocolate chip irises, and Oreo mouths with crooked chocolate chunk teeth.

So, thoughts? I enjoyed these, though I will warn you that the cake portion tastes more like a muffin, so it’s not terribly rich. I kind of think that’s perfect, though, given that these were stuffed with either Snickers Peanut Butter squares or Mounds bars, so very chocolatey. They’re also SUPER cute and would be perfect for any Halloween party.

But oh, back to the “pressure” part, because as adamant as I am about pressure-free Halloween, I felt sort of sorry for myself over how messy these turned out, and had a bit of a pity party [inside the plastic jack-o-lantern full of candy] before Jimmy made me pull myself together. Baking’s hard guys. Sometimes I don’t know what’s harder: sharing all of my personal nonsense with you, or sharing all of the desserts I’ve made, both pretty and pretty darned messy. But I’m trying to realize that messy = real, and I will take real. 

So, from my real– and really kooky looking– brood of cupcakes to you, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Maybe swing by for some handfuls of candy and a cupcake (or three). I’ll be here 🙂

He Who Shall Not Be Named Ruins A Day That I Don’t Feel Like Talking About (I Made Cake)

6 Oct

But not birthday cake. Apparently that would be sad. And I am not one to be sad

This isn’t sad. Neither is this. Nope.

Nope. 

Yeah, so… it’s early October, which can only mean two things: the Fall TV season has started, and my birthday is nigh (as in, today. bleh). And that first thing also apparently means another thing. Ugh:

THE HELL? Who let you back in to ruin my life? I knew it. I felt it. The air was heavy with the scent of apples and terror; there was to be some (*shudder*) Stamos in my doomed future. Just the name, the name alone is upsetting. Jimmy is now well-trained enough to change the channel as soon as he hears either “John Sta-” (changed) or “Uncle Je”-(switched). But seriously, things have been lame lately. I, like many humans, have a tendency to want to cry uncontrollably around my birthday and I sort of don’t know why. It’s not really so much because I feel old– as I drunkenly found out last Saturday night, I can still climb a chain-link fence like a boss (though I also went to bed around 9:30 that night. “Bed” being the F train, but still, I would have been out cold if I had not been roused at my actual stop by my trusted companion). It’s more because I find the passage of time and all that comes with it to be almost too much to handle. So much is different this year, so much that I always thought would be the same– people I thought I’d know forever that I had to let go of, ideas about myself that I’ve had to change, velvet scrunchies becoming popular again. These things can do irreversible damage to one’s psyche. Permission to sleep this year off and come back for the little 3-0? Granted? Yes?

While you ponder, let’s talk about cake. Or, more accurately, Things That Are Greater Than Or Equal To Cake But Are Shaped Like Cake. Guys I didn’t know what to call this monstrosity. WTF Cake seemed like it was probably taken, I’m So So Sad Cake seems too on-the-nose, and Chocolate Chip Cookie/Peanut Butter Cheesecake/Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake with Peanut Butter Ganache seemed… lengthy. So bear with the title.

Not Birthday Cake, Because Apparently Baking Your Own Is Sad

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie layer

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup of butter (I recommend browning it first: set in a saucepan over medium heat, allow to melt and then brown until you start to see little buttery bits and it smells nutty)

1 cup of brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 cup of chocolate chips or chunks

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling, optional

For the Peanut Butter Cheesecake layer

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons of half-and-half

3 to 4 mini peanut butter cups, chopped (yeaaahhhh)

For the Brownie Layer (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, also first post on this blog!)

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of white sugar

10 tablespoons of butter, softened 

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup of flour

Yeah. This is a lot. Shibow never said this would be easy, just that it would be worth it, and NOT SAD AT ALL. Let’s WORK. 

For the cookie layer, preheat oven to 350°F and generously butter an 8×8 round cake pan. Combine all ingredients except coarse salt until batter forms. Gently fold in chocolate chips until distributed evenly. Spread batter in pan, evening out the top with a rubber spatula, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is set and the sides have browned. Sprinkle sea salt on top if using, then let cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. 

GIANT. COOKIE. 

GIANT. COOKIE. 

Let’s work on our brownie layer next, since the oven is already on and we’re the kind of people who want our cake, want it now, and are slightly, disturbingly obsessive about the goals we make when the goals we make are cake-related. Preheat the oven to 325°F this time, and wash out that large bowl you used for the cookie layer, because you’re gonna need it again (fancy rich folks, sure, use another large bowl, whatever, not even bitter at all about it, kudos for making all those good life choices). Cover the bottom and sides of an 8×8 round cake pan with foil. Combine cocoa powder, butter, sugar and salt in bowl and sift together until lightly mixed. Heat in microwave for up to a couple of minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir everything together (alternatively, you can set this over a simmering pot of water as long as you’re not accident prone, which is to say, as long as you’re not me). You can stop when it’s warm but not hot and appears grainy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, with a wooden spoon, until mixture takes on a nice sheen. Stir in flour and beat vigorously until you’ve got yourself a gorgeous batter. Send into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is set and a cake tester comes out with just a few delectable crumbs on it (that you will not immediately lick, for you have manners and know the dangers of Licking Hot Things. It’s late guys. I’m well aware of how accidentally dirty this whole post is, and IDC). Let cool completely before removing from foil and pan.

If you’re not totally done with me yet, let’s work on our cheesecake middle (also what I call my torso, waka-waka?). Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on high until fluffy, then gradually add in sugar until combined. Mix in peanut butter, then slowly add in half-and-half until the mixture is creamy and totally smooth. Gently fold in chopped peanut butter cups and spread into a generously buttered, foil-lined 8×8 cake pan (yes, of course I recommend using the same pan over again thrice. Not the same foil though. We’re not animals). Freeze until completely solid, at least an hour. Remove and sandwich between your giant cookie and giant brownie. Refrigerate while making your ganache. 

Just some previews. idk. The paper towel? I knew this was going to be messy and I wanted napkins nearby, but I figured it would just make sense to have them under the cake, so I could just rip some paper towels off the actual cake to save time. I'm joking. No I'm not. I am. (I'm not)

Just some previews. idk. The paper towel? I knew this was going to be messy and I wanted napkins nearby, but I figured it would just make sense to have them under the cake, so I could just rip some paper towels off the actual cake to save time. I’m joking. No I’m not. I am. (I’m not)

Peanut Butter Ganache

2/3 cup of heavy cream

6 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter

Set chocolate aside in a heatproof bowl. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan until simmering but not boiling. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute before stirring. Continue to stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is shiny. Stir in peanut butter until melted, then immediately pour this glorious nectar over your cake, letting it spill over the sides like the beautiful disaster it is. Refrigerate until ganache has set.

Top with more peanut butter cups if you like (you like). 

Top with more peanut butter cups if you like (you like). 

IT'S SO SHINY

IT’S SO SHINY

Uhhhh…. I know. I’m crazy. This is madness. It’s pure madness. But I needed it, dammit. I needed that glorious, messy, indulgent, unbelievably unhealthy madness.

Pretty much my view for the past couple days, because I love this cake and I am a shut-in.

Pretty much my view for the past couple days, because I love this cake and I am a shut-in.

Oh and other people had this cake and were able to confirm that it was completely not sad but, instead, positively OMG. 

So? Well. Currently I am sippin’ on some serious Courvosier, eating some Not Birthday (and Not Sad) Cake, and listening to Biggie, throwing my hands in the air, because I’mz a true player. Only two of those things are true, and it’s the thing about eating cake and listening to Biggie, because BIGGIE, and also because I have often spoken about how broke I am due to circumstance, the economy and some Star Wars-related purchases I recently made. I guess there are worse ways to spend one’s… regular old Tuesday. Baby. BABAYYYYY.