Categories
Cakes Desserts with Fruit Fancy Pantsy Grown Up People Desserts Stuff Your Parents Would Like

I Made A Lemon Layer Cake…There. Can I Hide Now?

A very happy happy much-needed Happy Sunday. Yes. We colored Easter eggs. Jealous?

Methinks it might be time to take another hiatus from the blog. I’m in serious need of a break from, well, everything. If I had it my way that break from everything would entail me burrowing into a hole made of downy blankets (a blanket fort, perhaps?) and only emerging upon hearing the words “you’re rich, you’re awesome, it’s a sunny 75 degrees outside and we’re going to a Glen Hansard show…with Glen Hansard.” I’m not even just saying any of this for dramatic effect. I’d very much like to go into hibernation mode for, oh, a couple of seasons or so. In fact, when my best friend asked me what I wanted to do after I told her about my dilemma, my answer was “hide.” When she asked me what else I wanted to do, I responded with “um…hide for a long time?” I believe that was the incorrect answer.

I’ve been under some serious stress lately. As I described to my best friend (poor girl basically got slammed with Shibow drama), I feel like I’m both totally stuck and going a mile a minute and the same exact time. Quarter life crisis returns! It must be an April thing.

Maybe you, dear readers, can help me. Allow me to post a series of questions that I hope at least one of you will be able to assist me in answering:

1. What am I meant to do with my life?

2. Where should I hide in case I no one comes up with the answer to #1?

3. Who the hell is Gotye?

4. Does anyone know anyone who’s really good at cutting curly hair? And I don’t mean kind of good or “here’s what Google says.” I mean, do you have curly hair and did you go to an awesome hairdresser and do you now look like a ringlet-covered goddess?

5. Seriously, can someone help me figure out what to DO with my life?

As I’ve said before, it’s not as if something big and bad has happened recently. I’m just Sad Shibow, and I’m not having fun. Oh, one more question:

6. WHAT IS FUN????

Yeah, so, I just need to snap out of it, I guess. And anyway, just because I’m sad doesn’t mean Easter doesn’t exist and doesn’t require some baked goods. For an Easter Sunday party at my cousin’s new [beautiful!] digs, I decided to whip up a lemon layer cake with lemon curd and blueberries. Now, as you can probably see if you’ve clicked on the link, this is a Martha Stewart recipe. I need to be honest: I’m not a huge fan of this lady. It’s not a Stamos-level hatred or anything. It’s more of a fear. A suspicion. And to be honest, after you see how this cake turned out, I think you’ll agree that my feelings toward her are justified.

Lemon Layer Cake That Does Not Have As Many Layers As You’d Expect It To

For the cake

1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup plus two tablespoons of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of skim milk

1/3 cup of canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Zest of one lemon, plus one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

4 egg whites

1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar, optional

For the lemon curd

4 egg yolks, lightly beaten

Zest of half a lemon, plus half a cup of fresh lemon juice (the juice of about two and a half lemons…boy do I hope you have a juicer. I do not.)

1 1/3 cups of granulated sugar

1/3 cup of cornstarch

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries

Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and grease two 8″ round cake pans. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of your sugar, milk, oil, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Now, in a bowl large enough to fit your egg whites, whip the whites with a hand or stand mixer until foamy, then slowly start to add the rest of your sugar until stiff peaks appear.

Add half of your dry mixture to the milk mixture and stir in until smooth. Add in half of the egg white mixture, then keep alternating between adding the dry mixture and the egg whites until everything’s incorporated. Divide the batter between your pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let the cakes cool in their pans for about 10 minutes, then invert them onto a clean surface to cool completely.

Pre-baked. Spoiler alert: these barely rose at all. 😦

In the meantime, make your lemon curd. Place egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add in the lemon juice plus 1 1/2 cups of water, stir until sugar has dissolved, and crank the heat on your stove up to medium-high. Bring to a boil, and keep whisking. Cook for about two minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Slowly pour about one-third of your lemon mixture into the bowl of egg yolks. Basically, you’re tempering your yolks so that you don’t end up with scrambled egg lemon curd. If that’s your thing though, go for it. Also, if that’s your thing…gross. Add this mixture back into your saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring all the while, for about 3 more minutes. Remove the mixture from heat, stir in your vanilla, and place in a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely, for at least an hour and for as long as a day. When cooled, stir in your blueberries.

Just so you know, I am so damn happy I know how to make lemon curd now. It's delicious. I'm putting it on everything.

Now, to assemble this beast.  I’m getting a little bit of anxiety just typing this right now. In fact, I’ve been avoiding it for a while because my creation– at first– turned out to be a disappointment. First, the cakes were not nearly as thick as they should have been. They were pretty flat, and there was no way that I could think of to slice them in half to be even thinner. I pouted for a while before enlisting the help of my boyfriend who, bless him, pretty much has surgeon’s hands and likely would have been able to perfectly halve this thing in a sandstorm.

Oh, but dear readers, guess what else I discovered? Not only is the man good with cutting up the cake. It turns out he’s a master decorator as well.

Yes, I did leave this to him.

And, at the risk of embarrassing him, let me tell you that he got pretty into this. I could not stop repeatedly thanking him and saying “you made it pretty. It was ugly…and then you made it pretty.” Dude’s got talent.

Anyway, I should probably tell you how to do this and quit the fawning. Fawning’s lame. So, cut each cake horizontally in half, or, you know, find someone who can do this and still keep your cake intact. Spread a thick coating of curd over the bottom layer, then stack until you’re at the top. Smooth out any messy bits, and top with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, or spread a bit more lemon curd on top and add a few blueberries. (This was the man’s brilliant idea.)

I don’t have a better picture of this cake than this, mostly because I walked away as it was being decorated because I was bummed at how flat it turned out. Everyone seemed to really love it at Easter, and we even took a piece home that very, very quickly disappeared. So even though it wasn’t as plump or easy to work with as I would have liked, and even though I’m convinced Ms. Stewart sabotaged me somehow, we ended up with a pretty lovely dessert. Seems like you got got, MS.

Categories
Cupcakes Grown Up People Desserts Strange and Yummy

Got a Toothache? Me Too! Screw That, Let’s Eat Cupcakes.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to experience a constant, throbbing pain in my jaw. I quickly realized that this was due to a wisdom tooth which has, over the years, been commented on by several dentists and oral surgeons, including one who told me I should undergo a cosmetic procedure to correct my “oddly-shaped head.” Perhaps you can see, now, why I’ve gone so long with these extra teeth in my pie hole.

The above is a photo I took of the x-ray of my mouth (I was bored, jittery and in pain, and I decided to get creative) taken by the loudest, most distracted doctor I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. So here I am guys, letting ya’ll in, inviting you to see right through me. Do you feel that connection? Do you…FEEL it?

Now, I won’t go into all the gory details of what the hell the problem was, but let’s just say I walked out of that office feeling awesome, and leave it at that. Also, my spirits have lifted just a tiny bit since my last crazy-emo post, mostly due to the fact that this very blog got a tiny little mention in Serious Eats, a site that I absolutely love. Hooray for Sad Shibow!

That little tip o’ the hat encouraged me to get to work on a new creation. Armed with a new electronic icing decorator, an amazing-sounding recipe and way more basil than two people really need in one apartment, I started on my Basil-Olive Oil Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing. Just a little tidbit to get all of you grown-ups excited: there’s wine in this recipe! WINE! Don’t believe me? Well, ADULTS, let me show you the exact brand that I used (if you haven’t already, you might want to avert the eyes of any children whom you are trying to shield from the cruel, profane world I inhabit):

Gifted to us at our housewarming by Sylvapotamus, who probably lived up to the name of this wine after checking out the new crib!

Basil Olive Oil Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing (makes 12 cupcakes)

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 ounces of fresh basil leaves

3 eggs

Juice and zest of one lemon

1 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of sweet white wine (And a few little sips for you, my dear 21+ readers)

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

big pinch of salt

In a large bowl, combine olive oil and basil, and let sit for at least an hour. Then strain out as much of the oil as you can– you should be left with about 2/3 cup– through a sieve. Discard the basil leaves (or save them and make basil-infused olive oil!) and combine olive oil with sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Then beat in eggs, one at a time, and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add 1/3 of this dry mixture to the oil mixture, mixing until fully incorporated. Then add half of the wine, continue mixing, and continue alternating between adding dry mixture and adding wine until all of the ingredients are in one big happy bowl. Scoop mixture into prepared muffin tins, and bake at 350º F for about 25 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden and spring back when touched. Let cool, then make your icing.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (enough to gently frost a dozen cupcakes)

4 ounces of cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese

1 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

With a hand mixer on medium speed, combine all ingredients until fluffy and fully mixed. Using a rubber spatula, piping bag or super-fantastic electronic icing decorator given to you by Sylvapotamus for Christmas, pipe frosting out onto each cupcake.

I'm being really real with you guys. Observe the well-frosted cake surrounded by some pretty shabby-looking friends.

So, verdict? Delicious. Really, really good, especially when warm. Also, these were not too sweet, which I appreciated. The only real downside was that I wasn’t able to detect very much basil. I would still, and probably WILL still, make these again, perhaps infusing a different fruit next time around. Though I guess I should probably take a break from the sweets for a while, given my recent tooth ailment…

…yeah. Fat chance of that.

Categories
Chocolate Cheer Easy Baking Grown Up People Desserts No-Bake Recipes Sort of Healthy Strange and Yummy

Bloody Delicious Red Velvet Hot Chocolate. I Like To Call It Angrysauce.

ROAR! I AM MAD SHIBOW!

That was pretty threatening, no? No? Oh. Ok, well, maybe I should just talk about my feelings. That’s supposed to be helpful. So late last Monday I was feeling achy and then randomly starting shivering really badly. Like, teeth-chattering, can’t-type-real-words badly. I left work, went to bed, woke up 13 hours later, and could barely move. I didn’t have a cold, I thankfully don’t have the flu, but I was pretty much crippled by some crazy demon disease that still perplexes me. I was in a world of pain that left me at home alone for two full, horribly boring and mostly TV-less (The light burned my eyes. Maybe I’m a vampire now?) days…and then it was gone. Seriously. Whatever hit disappeared as quickly as it had attacked, which left me a little freaked. On a possibly related note, any recent Stamos sightings in the area?

Being alone makes you sad. Don’t get me wrong, though, I fortunately had some lovely friends and family checking up on me periodically, but still. I spent a good deal of time laying in bed, getting to know the cracks in my ceiling better, and that really sucked. Being alone makes you sad. It also makes you want to paint your ceiling a different color.

I was more than happy to return to work on Thursday, and then MORE than more than happy when my cousin George surprised me Friday morning at the office with a peanut butter and jelly doughnut from Doughnut Plant. Oh. My. Promised. Land.

This isn't even the top of the doughnut. My brain was too focused on which corner to rip into first to turn this thing over.

So nice, right? George didn’t even know about my mystery illness when he brought me this square-shaped (Btw, the shape makes the distribution of jelly throughout the doughnut more even. Genius.) gift of amazing. It would have made my day anyway, but this was exactly what I needed to turn a bad week right around. Cousin, you RULE.

Things started to pick up soon after that. I succeeded in spending exactly five bucks on my Halloween costume yet again, and partied it up with the Sylvapotamus Saturday night, despite the fact that there was snow on the ground AND IT’S OCTOBER. Ridic. My camera punked out, but I was able to get a few snaps of our respective costumes in anyway:

Sylv was a pink slip!
Yes, I did go for the flapper outfit.

I’m still pretty winded from whatever it was that attacked me last week, and I’m also seeing red from all of the frustration that illness provoked. In honor of that, and this especially spooky holiday, I give you Red Velvet Hot Chocolate with a Cream Cheese Icing Swirl.

Ok, so this is something that I pulled out of the sky. I mean, I am sure it exists out there, and a quick Google search would confirm as much, but I’ll leave that up to you. This, I am going to base on my favorite hot chocolate recipe, with tweaks by yours truly.

Before we begin, I should tell you that this is not your typical hot chocolate, and not just because it’s red. This is a thicker hot chocolate with an almost pudding-like consistency. It’s also quite dark and rich, so if you like your hot cocoa Nestle-style, maybe this is a no for you. It should really be a yes, though. Just sayin’.

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate (makes 1 serving)

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of skim milk

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder

1/3 tablespoon of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of red food coloring

Combine all ingredients except the food coloring in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture starts to bubble and boil, add the food coloring and stir until blood red. Muahahahaha.

Bloody delicious...

In the meantime, let’s work on our single-serving icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

2 tablespoons of cream cheese

2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar

Mix in a small bowl with a hand mixer until fully whipped. Spoon into an icing decorator if you’re a dork and own one (I’m a dork and own one) or just scoop it into your cup with a regular ol’ spoon.

Pour the contents of your bloody saucepan into an appropriate mug–I’d go for an espresso cup if you’ve got one since these are small but potent servings– and top off with your icing.

So even I was a little shocked at how well this turned out. I was really impressed with how much a simple cup of hot chocolate could be enhanced by a little dollop of icing, but, damn, it could. And it was. I know you can’t really see much, but that’s because I own monstrously large cups for some reason, which makes no sense since I am so small I can barely reach the top shelves on any of my cabinets. Maybe I’m compensating. In any case, have a Happy Halloween, and stay out of trouble, kids.

Categories
Desserts with Fruit Fancy Pantsy Frozen Desserts Grown Up People Desserts No-Bake Recipes Strange and Yummy

May Contain Whiskey. Can I See Some ID?

There’s whiskey in this post, not in me. Okay, there’s whiskey in me too, but to be fair, I’m Indian. Johnnie Walker runs through my veins. It’s science. Doctors are mystified.

My friend and compadre, Mr. J. Walker.

So if we were to put today’s post to a soundtrack, this would probably be the first song on the playlist. I am, and have been for quite some time, enamored with this immensely talented bluegrass band. And even though the lead singer of the Punch Brothers thwacked me in the knee with his bleedin’ mandolin case, I am inviting you all to blast this fun tune whilst making and enjoying the following frozen concoction.

Yes, yes, I am continuing the frozen treat theme. I did warn you all ahead of time in my last post. Since that entry, though, New York City has endured a record-breaking heat wave that would make these popsicles seem, to me, to be a necessity. The whole world is a giant pizza oven right now, it is too sticky to enjoy a proper happy hour, and I need peaches in my life. Enter Peaches and Cream Whiskey Poptails. Exit problem.

So, obviously I needed company for these popsicles. After all, who eats poptails alone (I do!)? Share the wealth, I say. I crashed the twins’ bachelor pad and we went to work. Now, I know the original recipe calls for bourbon, but bourbon’s quite pricey, and since we would only be using a small amount of the liquor (alcohol doesn’t freeze well in large amounts), Jeff and I made the executive decision to purchase a travel-size bottle of scotch whiskey. Actually, we purchased three and now each of the boys has a special souvenir from our adventure.

Here’s what we used:

Peaches and Cream Whiskey Poptails

1 cup of canned crushed peaches (in syrup), drained

2 cups of nonfat plain yogurt

1 tablespoon of honey

1/4 cup of whiskey (just about the contents of one 50 ml bottle, so if you’re taking a trip soon be extra nice to your flight attendant and perhaps you’ll score a free one for this project)

You’re also going to need some mini paper cups and popsicle sticks for this. We purchased Dixie Dinosaur cups because…well, why not? They’re DINOSAURS! Really, though, you won’t want to make these in traditional popsicle molds because they’ll be huge and extra potent. The miniature portion provided by the tiny cup molds will be more than enough to keep you happy without turning you into a sloppy, inebriated mess. Trust.

To start, mash the peaches in a medium-sized bowl until fully crushed. Mix in the yogurt, honey and whiskey. Divide the mixture evenly among the cups. You should end up with about ten. Throw these into the freezer for about an hour, then take them out, stick a popsicle stick in each one, and send them right back in to freeze completely, about 3 to 4 hours. When they’re done, peel off the paper cups and enjoy!

(For my homies who couldn't be here)

Now, there’s an added bonus to making these pops: the cost. Altogether, we spent about 6 bucks to make ten pops. That includes the Dixie cups and cookie sticks (We couldn’t find popsicle sticks. But why are cookie sticks easier to find than popsicle sticks? And what are cookie sticks?).  That’s 60 cents a pop! $2.00 a person! And that’s me showing off my math skills, by the way. Anyway, these were powerful little suckers (haha…suckers…because they’re popsicles…haha), and also pretty refreshing. I highly recommend them for a lazy day of [responsible] imbibing.

Before I leave you all to bask in the glory of a super cheap, very delicious homemade happy hour, I have good news to share: I’ll be officiating two weddings this Saturday, July 30th as part of the Pop Up Chapel! The Pop Up Chapel is celebrating marriage equality by marrying 24 same-sex couples at Merchant’s Gate in Central Park for free. Fantastic, right? I’m excited and honored to be participating in it, and hope some of you can join the festivities to watch and cheer on the lovely couples.

So, why’d I decide to do it? Well, my first answer to that question, no matter what it’s in reference to, is always “why not?” The general answer is, “Dude, we all pay the same taxes. Come on, now. It’s a no-brainer.” The more specific answer is that my very best friend is gay and it used to confound me that she didn’t have the same rights that I did. I’m fortunate enough to have a best friend whom I’ve known for most of my life and who’s seen Super Duper Sad Shibow more times than I’d care to admit. She’s stuck by me anyway. (She’s also seen Very Adventurous Shibow, since we have an annual Risk/Death Wish Day that I’ll get into in a future post). If anyone deserves even the option of this institution, it is her. I won’t go into that much more detail about this, and I’m not even sure she knows that that’s why I’m doing this, but yeah…there it is. Well, this entry got heavy pretty quickly, huh? Maybe the soundtrack to this part of the post should be the tiniest violin in the world.