Archive for April, 2014

Pipe Dream #266: To Spring Clean – Butterscotch Shortbread Cups with Salted Caramel

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Is end of April too late for spring cleaning? I’ve got most things taken care of. Except this post, which I’ve put off posting for months and months and ages because I don’t particularly like the photos or the recipe. And now I’m off-loading because if I sit on it any longer, I will go insane. #dramatic

So be prepared for the best recipe/writing you ever did see.

There, I feel better.

I was initially attracted to this shortbread because




SELF-RISING FLOUR (of which I have an abundance)

But I really should have left it in its natural form, that is, in biscuits, because trying to make it into little cups to hold a typically nearly-burnt caramel sauce was a fail. They just puffed right up, and I was forced to dig out and eat each of the underbaked middles in order to fill them. The tragedies.

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Tragically yours,


Brown Sugar Shortbread Cups with Salted Caramel

Shortbread adapted from Staying Mom

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups self-raising flour

salted caramel sauce (I used this recipe.)

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then stir in the flour until blended. Gather dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray. Remove the dough from the fridge and form into tablespoon-sized balls. Press each ball into a muffin tin, lining the bottom and sides. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven.

At this point, you may want to dig out a little hole for the caramel sauce to go in. The whole cup idea didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. You can eat the middles that you scoop out. Why not. Once cool, fill each cookie with salted caramel sauce. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 20 cookies.

Pipe Dream #265: To Cake-cess – French-Toasted Angel Food Cake

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I never liked angel food cake as a kid. Why go for a bitter, dry cake served with fruit, when I could have a dense, buttery cake with a creamy frosting?

But in the wisdom of my years (and the experience that taught me that all too often, grocery store bakes are subpar), I decided to give it a go myself. I was somewhat inspired by my recent attempts at chiffon cake, which follow something of the same technique, but use whole eggs rather than just whites.



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Also, I’m better at baking now. Angel food cake is something of a technical challenge, requiring much whipping and folding of egg whites. The key is to fold very, very gently so you don’t deflate your cake. Because the egg whites are so voluminous, there is actually very little flour used in the recipe. Maybe some of the bitter flavor I experienced as a child was from the lemon used to flavor the cake and stabilize the whites?

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angel food cake a

The result is a fluffy but moist cake that is light enough to serve with all kinds of toppings. Whipped cream and fruit would be traditional American, but since I was so pleased with my cake-cess, I decided to celebrate and French-toast the slices. This was not a bad decision, and while I don’t insist that you imitate me, I highly recommend it. Not for the sake of my ego, but for the sake of your well-being and life experience.

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angel food cake d

Because I just want to take care of you,


Angel Food Cake

Adapted from David Lebovitz

1 cup (130 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
1 cup (200 grams), plus 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups egg whites (from about 12 large eggs), at room temperature
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Have a 9-inch (23 cm) tube pan or Bundt pan ready. (Do not use a non-stick tube pan or grease the pan.)

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, begin to whip the egg whites on medium speed. When they become foamy, add the lemon juice.

Increase the speed to high and continue to whip the egg whites until they just begin to hold their shape in soft peaks. Gradually whip the remaining 1 cup of sugar into the whites, a tablespoons at a time. Do not overwhip; the egg whites should not be overly dry or stiff, but soft and cloud-like. Beat in the vanilla.

With a rubber spatula, fold the flour and sugar mixture into the whites gradually, a small amount at a time.

Spoon the batter in the tube pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately invert the tube pan over a cooling rack. If the pan doesn’t have “feet”, set it over the neck of a heavy bottle or overturned metal funnel, using the center hole of the pan to hold the cake until cool.

If desired, french toast your slices as you would bread and serve with sauce and whipped cream.

The LAst Time We’ll All Be Together

santa monica sunset 2 low res

My dad keeps saying things like, “Welp, since this is the last time we’ll all be together as a family…”

It’s like we’re all going to go our separate ways and/or die after this.

Get real,


two trees low res

vw low res

pier sign low res

pacific park low res

ferris wheel low res

lyndon street low res

marina low res

flags low res

Pipe Dream #264: To Remember By – Jackie’s Flapjacks

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One of the sweetest times of my life was when I visited Jackie’s house and she fed me a self-saucing lemon pudding and flapjacks. I was so exhausted from living abroad that sitting in a beautiful home with lovely people and eating dessert was the best thing that had ever happened to me, and I will never forget it. I asked her for the recipes to remember her by, and now I’m sharing one with you.

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These are so simple, and addictive. If you don’t have orange marmalade, you can try topping these with honey or another preserve, but I think the bitterness of the marmalade really provides a nice contrast.

Haha “nice.” That is a very British way to describe things. But sometimes it just works the best.

jackie flapjacks 3



Jackie’s Flapjacks

A recipe by my English auntie Jackie

250 grams/9 ounces unsalted butter, chopped

250 grams/9 ounces golden caster sugar (I used light brown sugar)

175 grams/6 ounces golden syrup (or corn syrup/maple syrup/honey)

425 grams/15 ounces porridge oats (I think this is old fashioned oats)

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

3 tablespoons orange marmalade

50 grams/2 ounces chopped walnuts (if omitting walnuts, add on additional ounce of oats)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F/160 degrees C. Grease a 9 x 13 (or slightly smaller, depending on how thick you’d like the bars) pan. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the oats, nuts and zest. Tip into the baking tin and smooth it down.

Bake 30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown but the center is soft. Mark, cutting halfway down into 12 pieces, and let cool. Heat the marmalade with 1 tablespoon of water until syrupy and glaze the bars.

I Got It Right: Sturdy Chocolate Cupcakes with Malted Buttercream

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These cupcakes are like fireworks, and they made my brain explode with wonder. All the best for my bstud frans.

First of all, the cake part is above and beyond exceptional (I expound on this below.).

Second of all, the malted swiss meringue buttercream is the love of my life (Extreme, but I’ve pined for it ever since i saw this magnificence.).

Third of all, they are the prettiest thing I’ve even tried to do in ages (Amidst all the weeknight bars and things, these really were a creative effort.).

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malt cupcakes 3

In case you happen to be turned off by the word ‘sturdy’ in relation to cake, let me be the first to tell you that ‘sturdy’ does not mean ‘dry,’ ‘hard,’ or otherwise ‘inedible.’ These cupcakes, as dreamed up by America’s Test Kitchen are not one-bowl or foolproof, but what you pay for in time and technique is rewarded by a standout cupcake. Somehow, it manages to come cleanly out of it’s liner and hold up while remaining moist and very chocolate-y. The one-bowl cupcakes from Martha that I usually use are flavorful, but very fragile, and I’ve always been annoyed by it.


Fragile Oppression would be a great band name. You can have that for free.

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Good night and good luck,


Sturdy Chocolate Cupcakes

From America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

For the ganache filling:

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

For the cupcakes

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed or regular cocoa

3/4 cup hot coffee

3/4 cup (4 1/2 ounces) bread flour

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) white sugar

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the filling: Place all three ingredients in a glass bowl and microwave until the mixture is warm to the touch, 20-30 seconds. Whisk until smooth, then refrigerate until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Place the chocolate and cocoa into a medium bowl. Pour the cover over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until cool, about 20 minutes. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. Whisk together the wet ingredients into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Divide the batter between the muffin tins. Place a slightly rounded teaspoonful of the filling mixture in each cupcake. Bake until the cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the tin on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then carefully lift each out and let cool on a wire rack before frosting.

Malted Buttercream

Adapted from Food & Wine

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-3 tablespoons malt powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons of hot water

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are just warm to the touch. Return the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and beat the egg whites at high speed until firm and glossy, about 5 minutes. With the machine on, whisk in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. If the mixture begins to look curdled, continue to beat until smooth before adding more butter. Beat the dissolved malt powder.

Favorite Shots: KKD

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Your daily dose of simple carbs via VSCOcam.


Pipe Dream #263: To List It – Nutmeg Logs

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No, it’s not Christmastime. Yes, these cookies include nutmeg. No, I don’t really care that these are not seasonally appropriate. Because yes, they are one of the most amazing cookies you will ever eat.

Like, they are in my top five favorite cookies. If that was a real list, because I haven’t even thought about it except to include these. And these, maybe.

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They are my aunt’s recipe, and they always remind me of her. At least, they will always remind me of her, when I make these every year from this point on in my life. It’s not like she’s dead or anything. I suppose that would increase the nostalgia. This recipe will only get more warm and fuzzy for me, I can feel it.

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Apply gold dust. I used freshly grated nutmeg for a change, and I was really pleased.

Please remember these for your to-do list next November. You will not be disappointed.


Nutmeg Logs

Adapted slightly from my auntie’s recipe

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter, softened

3/4 cup white sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons imitation rum extract (or rum???)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (or not fresh)

For the frosting:

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon imitation rum extract

2 cups powdered sugar

nutmeg for sprinkling

Cream together the butter and white sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla and rum flavoring. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour and ground nutmeg, mixing until fully incorporated.

Shape the dough into long rolls about 1/2″ in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and slice the logs into 2″ slices and flatten slightly, so they look like logs. I had troubles with this because I am silly, so I shaped my cookies into tiny disks. You can really make them whatever shape you like.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are set and you think you might possibly see a shade of brown at the edges. Let cool on a rack. Beat together the frosting ingredients and spread a little on each cookie, sprinkling each with nutmeg.

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