Archive for November, 2012

Favorite Shots: Depth of Film


I discovered the film grain filter in CS4. Maybe I should just buy a film camera. What’s the best one?


Pipe Dream #154: To Laud Notoriety – Oreo Brownie Earthquake Cupcakes

My sister is somewhat of a legend in our family. She is breathtakingly beautiful, ultra-smart and brilliant at playing cello. I am not even a little exaggerating on any of those points, but these are not why she is notorious.

Wades can eat an entire Oreo Brownie Earthquake from DQ. By herself. All at once. And she could do it at age 7. And she was real teeny when she was 7. She claimed she was full, but I guess her “dessert stomach” was still empty for a massive, brownie-fortified sundae with whipped cream, Oreos, hot fudge and marshmallow sauce. I mean, let’s be real, if you wanted to, you could eat an entire OBE, but probably not at such a tender age, after eating a whole meal.

These cupcakes are inspired by and dedicated to Wades. They are over the top. They are far too much. And they are probably everything you ever wished for this Wednesday.

I used the stand by one bowl chocolate cupcake recipe for these. No need for frivolity. Plenty of that to come later. Please do not be like me and forget to add the sugar, lick your finger, realize you didn’t add the sugar, and then stir it in to the individual cupcake liners. It is totally unnecessary to do that. I figured since it was a one bowl recipe, I could get away with this method. Heh.

This is a mixture of cream cheese, marshmallow fluff and Oreo crumbles otherwise known as “all you’ve ever loved.” I used it to fill the cupcakes using the cone method. Scoop out, scoop in, frost. It was good, but I thought that the cream cheese was a bit tangy. There is no tanginess in a true OBE, so I might nix it next time in favor of butter and powdered sugar. Girl isn’t afraid of going oversweet.

For the frosting, I used a 7-Minute frosting recipe, which I am still trying to get right. Each time I’ve tried it, my bowl hasn’t been clean enough, which I well knew, but I have high hopes for its eventual awesomeness. Will someone please have a birthday soon, so I can make you some marshmallow frosting?

To serve, top each cupcakes with Oreo crumbles and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Hot fudge if you’re an OBE purist and Hershey’s if you’re me. Since I was little, my family always has had a bottle of Hershey’s syrup on hand. I have no idea why. Kind of like I have no idea how my sister is capable of ingesting OBEs.

Still puzzling,


Oreo Brownie Earthquake Cupcakes

You can find the recipe for the cupcakes here.

You can find the recipe for the marshmallow frosting here.

Other ingredients needed:

Oreo cookies, maybe 12, crumbled

1 ounce cream cheese, softened

4 ounces marshmallow cream

Chocolate syrup or sauce

To assemble:

Combine cream cheese, marshmallow cream and 3/4 of the Oreo cookie crumbles. Mix well. If the mixture is too soft for your taste, you can add some powdered sugar to thicken it up.

Cut a hole in the top of each cupcake. Use a spoon to fill each divet with marshmallow/Oreo mixture.

Frost cupcakes with marshmallow frosting. It’s ok if it looks a little messy, what with a cupcake based on a sundae. Sprinkle frosted cupcakes with Oreo crumbles, then drizzle chocolate syrup over the top. Serve.

Pipe Dream #153: To De-Frag – Creamy Peanut Butter Desert Fudge

I had a few concerns about posting this recipe. Ok, I had just one concern.

I felt that the visuals were below par. You may note the extremely fragged top of these fudge squares. FraggED due to my impatience and disinterest in being perfect.

But here’s the thing. I got over my concern pretty quickly, given the fact that this recipe is  a must-make for your next holiday gathering. Must. 1) It is super simple and no-fail. 2) It is highly, highly addictive, which means that you have to make it for an occasion or you will be eating all of it alone. I took mine to work, and people kept shooting me nasty emails like, “Lauren, why did you bring this in??? I’m on my third piece. I’m dying.” Or something like that.

Besides, I figured posting it would be good for my humility.

These are a few of my favorite things. White on white on white, which I hear is “fresh” these days.

And of course, my most favorite things. Combined. I am smiling just looking at those two together. Everyone knows they are such a great couple. Made for each other, probably.


Now, all you have to do in order to make vast improvements on my fail of this recipe is to wait until the fudge is all the way set before you cut it. Just wait! Unless you are somewhat attracted to the arty cracks. You could, like, build a food landscape or something. Ooh! You could also dress up this fudge a little bit, sprinkling the tops with pralines or chocolate or drizzling with peanut butter before it is set. Wild.

Humbled ever and anon,


Creamy Peanut Butter Fudge

Adapted from Shugary Sweets

3 cups white sugar
¾ cups unsalted butter
1 pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups white chocolate chips
7 ounces marshmallow cream
¾ cups creamy peanut butter

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang of foil/paper on two sides of the pan to use as a handle later. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the sugar, butter, salt and heavy cream until combined. Bring to a rolling boil and stir continuously for 4 minutes.

While that mixture is heating, mix the white chocolate, marshmallow cream and peanut butter until well-blended.

After four minutes, immediately remove boiling mixture from heat.  Whisk in white chocolate/marshmallow cream/peanut butter mixture. Pour fudge into prepared pan and refrigerate for 3 hours. Do not be like me and become impatient, or you will have desert fudge on your hands.

Remove fudge from pan using the paper handles. Cut into pieces and store in an airtight container between wax paper layers.

Cookie Exchange: Fresh Cranberry, White Chocolate and Sea Salt Shortbread

This is the first in a series of posts called Cookie Exchange. My family (aka my mom and I) make traditional Huisinga Christmas cookies every year. Dozens and hundreds of cookies. After participating in the classic American cookie exchange with our extended family and friends, our family usually has enough frozen cookies to last us ’til kingdom come. (That is, unless kingdom comes in March, in which case, we would still have a few honey cookies left.)

I thought it would be neat to share the cookies we make every year and maybe inspire some traditions in your house. It would also be sweet if you all would pipe up on your favorite Christmas cookies in the comments. I’d love to try something new! Sound good? Good.

Now, on to the cookies. This is actually my variation on the recipe my mom has made for years. Typically, she uses dried cranberries, but I don’t particularly like that they have added sugar in them. Plus, we had fresh cranberries in the house, and how often does that happen? In addition to the fresh cranberries, I also included a sprinkling of sea salt on the top, which I realize is a bit foodie-ish of me, but let me tell you–it was a great addition. I used unsalted butter in the shortbread, so I chucked some regular salt in the dough as well.

The white chocolate offsets the tartness of the cranberries so, so beautifully. The cranberrries weren’t even as tart as I thought they might be; I’m thinking of dialing back the sugar a bit next time, and perhaps the butter, as the moisture in the fresh cranberries made for a very soft shortbread. Girl wants a bit more crunch sometimes.

But of course, they look perfectly festive. Crunch or no crunch, I’m in a holiday mood.

Happy bakes,


Fresh Cranberry, White Chocolate and Sea Salt Shortbread

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 cups unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

6 ounces white chocolate (chips or a chopped bar)

flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the table salt and flour, a cup at a time, and mix until well blended.

Give the cranberries a rough chop, or pulse about seven times in the food processor. Add the cranberries to the dough along with the white chocolate, and mix until well blended.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with a touch of sea salt, then flatten slightlly with the bottom of a glass.

Bake for 11-14 minutes, according to your preference. Let them firm up on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. These freeze well!

Favorite Shots: Dad, Ambassador

This is a preview of my dad’s headshots for “business purposes.” I’ll put ’em up in a while. Hasn’t he aged well? I think so.


Pipe Dream #152: To Stay Lined – Pink Sprink Cakes

These are the cutsiest thing I’ve done in a while, no? They were a practice run at a new vanilla cupcake I discovered, and I liked the way Sweetapolita decorated them so much that I had to follow her example. Plus, I had masses of rando sprinkles of which to rid myself.

These cupcakes have a wonderfully rich vanilla flavor, which is only intensified when paired with an equally deep vanilla frosting. The addition of whipped cream into the batter makes a lovely moist, dense cupcake, though I thought they were a bit too moist. The cakes started to separate from their liners a bit, so I recommend baking them a few minutes longer than you think you need so they don’t do that.

Never mind the chocolate cupcakes you see pictured. Those were a fail, though the ladies I brought them to still ate them (what dolls, eh?). I used my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe, except that I used dutch process cocoa instead of regular. The cakes didn’t rise right, but don’t ask me why. :] Ask Martha, or something.

Chuck some non pareils in a bag, then, and get sprinkling! I know you have some buried in the back of your cupboard. There behind the coriander.

I want pink cupcakes on Wednesdays always,


Pink Sprinkle Cakes

Adapted from Sweetapolita

For the cupcakes:

Yield: 24-28 standard cupcakes or two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans or two 8-x-2-inch round cake pans

2-1/2 cups (275 g) sifted cake flour

1 tablespoon (15 g) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon (5 g) salt

1 cup (237 ml) whole milk, at room temperature

2 large egg whites (60 g), at room temperature

1 whole egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) almond extract

1-1/2 cups (300 g) white sugar

1 stick (115 g)(8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup (119 ml) whipping cream or heavy cream, cold

Beat the whipping cream with a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Soft peaks are best, but I accidentally had stiffer peaks, and things turned out ok. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and center the oven rack. Line two muffin pans with liners.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract in a separate bowl.

In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes.

Alternate additions of the dry and wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 dry additions, 2 wet), beating after each addition until fully incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beaters often; I found that the butter had a tendency to stick to the bottom of the bowl. Continue mixing on low speed for 2 minutes, then fold in the chilled whipped cream.

Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners–about 2/3 full, and this recipe divides up perfectly evenly, so don’t go eating all the batter–and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs, about 16 minutes. I had problems at the 16-minute mark because my cupcakes started to separate from their liners, so you may want to increase your bake time by a couple of minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool on wire racks.

Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Adapted from Sweetapolita, but using most of her words

Yield: Enough to generously frost 12-14 standard cupcakes.

3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 grams/13 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3.5 cups (400 grams/14 oz) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons (45 mL) milk

1 tablespoon (15 mL) vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

a medley of sprinkles for decorating

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (4 on a KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale and creamy.

Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.

Best used immediately (for ideal spreading consistency). To get frosting super smooth, use a silicone spatula and in an aggressive side-to-side motion, push the frosting back and forth against the sides of the bowl. You will hear a sort of paddling sound. Do this every so often while you use the frosting–it keeps it super smooth.

Pipe Dream #151: To Let Go of It

Nothing beats a sugar maple. It is dead now, ’til next time.

Raking away,


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