Sprinkles Vanilla Cupcakes

I remember the first time I heard of the California based cupcake bakery, Sprinkles. I was watching acclaimed reality show “The Girls Next Door”, the fairytale saga of Hugh Hefner and his collection of girlfriends. Bridget, his number 2 GF, was throwing a birthday party and brought in Sprinkles cupcakes for the occasion. “Doesn’t everyone order cake for a birthday? What’s the big deal?”, you ask confusedly. Well when you have your own kitchen staff like the Playboy mansion, you don’t have ANYTHING brought in unless it’s really spectacular.

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Several years later when I was interning at “E! News” in LA, I finally laid my paws on one during an event at the office. Little did I know that by then, a Sprinkles had opened in my home state of New York. It was everything I dreamed of: moist and delicate, with dense, creamy frosting. So when I found a recipe online, of course I wanted to try it. The recipe I found is for their peppermint cupcakes, so I adjusted it slightly to be plain vanilla, and to make 24 cupcakes rather than 12. I also used this fondant recipe to make the heart garnishes. Yes, I know they make the cupcakes look vaguely boob-like, for better or worse.

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Servings: Makes 24 cupakes

INGREDIENTS:

For the cupcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flour , sifted

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. coarse salt

1 cup whole milk , room temperature

4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature*

4 large egg whites, room temperature*

*If your eggs are warming too slowly, gently place them in a cup, then fill the cup with lukewarm (not hot) water until they reach room temperature

For the frosting:

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter , firm but not cold

1/4 tsp. salt

7 cups confectioners’ sugar , sifted

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. milk


DIRECTIONS:

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°. Make sure the racks are in the lower two thirds of the oven. Line 2 cupcake tins with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together milk and extracts; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among prepared cupcake liners. Gently shake the tins so that any raised batter flattens. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes– I know this is a super scary way to test them as opposed to the toothpick method, but they’ll keep cooking in the pan so take them out as soon as you can touch the top without getting any residue on your finger. Rotate tins once while baking. Transfer tins to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

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For the frosting:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the extracts and milk and beat until smooth and creamy. Do not overmix or the frosting will incorporate too much air; it should be creamy and dense, like ice cream. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, if frosting does not have a spreadable consistency.

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To assemble:

While gingerly holding a completely cooled cupcake, scoop a large amount (thing about a half a tennis ball) onto the top of the cupcake using a spatula. Then, swipe the sides of the cupcake in a circular motion until the top looks flat and the sides are smooth, almost like a volcano. Place any decorations on top, then eat!

These can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.

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Classic Chocolate Cake

During my elementary school years, I could always count on coming home to a snack and a glass of milk in the afternoon. We had a snack drawer, which evolved into a healthier snack drawer over time, then eventually ceased to exist as we got older and more in tune with nutrition. But back in the snack drawer’s glory days, we also kept one Entenmann’s treat on the counter at all times. At the dawn of our family snack habit it was the yellow cake with chocolate frosting, or the full blown chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. That gradually morphed into chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting because we wanted to *shake things up*.

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Beautiful, silky frosting

The other day I had a craving for chocolate on chocolate cake with a cold glass of milk. Truth be told, I’ve just been craving milk in general and I think making a cake seemed like the perfect excuse to drink more of it without causing any suspicion. Conveniently, a few days before my mom’s birthday, she asked me to make her cake. “What kind”, I responded, silently hoping that she would tell me to pick. Which she did. Chocolate on chocolate it was.

I found this recipe on a blog called Add a Pinch. I adjusted it slightly; I used instant coffee powder instead of espresso powder, so I diminished the amount in the frosting. If you like your chocolate frosting to err on the side of mocha, feel free to add a touch more.

INGREDIENTS:

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

1 cup whole milk

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

For the frosting:

1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

5 cups confectioner’s sugar

½ cup whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon instant coffee powder

DIRECTIONS:

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray.

Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and instant coffee powder to a large bowl. Whisk through to combine.

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Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Slice off any uneven tops if you wish. Normally I do, but with this cake the domed top can give it a nice homemade charm.

For the frosting:

Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.

Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.

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Cute baby sticks of butta.

Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.

Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.

If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

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I love how the rainbow sprinkles pop against the milk chocolate!

Assembly:

Frost the cake. Throw some sprinkles on there. Stand back, admire. Eat. Maybe one more slice.

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There’s nothing like decade-old birthday candles

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Imagine that with a cold glass of milk… yes, please.

 

Joy the Baker’s Confetti Cookies

Every once in a while, I stop by Joy the Baker’s site to see what she’s been up to. And by “once in a while”, I mean at least once a week. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Joy, she is the epitome of what it means to be an enjoyable food blogger: witty, knowledgeable, and direct. When I found myself on her site this week, two recipes gave me pause. Strawberry rhubarb pie, and these vanilla bean confetti cookies. I’ve ogled both before but had yet to make either.

Initially I chose to make the strawberry rhubarb pie, but it’s still so cold outside that I wasn’t sure that my Fairway would have rhubarb yet. It’s also so cold outside that I did not, in fact, want to go outside. I had all the ingredients for the confetti cookies, so confetti cookies it was. And I am VERY content with my choice. They’re playfully colorful and so soft that eating them is probably the closest one could come to safely consuming a tube of raw cookie dough. I said safely. They also have a depth of flavor that other sugar/butter cookies don’t have, due to the vanilla bean and their chilling time.

The one warning I must give before you embark on your confetti cookie journey is that the dough needs to be refrigerated prior to baking. SO. If there isn’t a lot of time before you want these cookies to meet your face, I would pick a different recipe. Or at the very least find something to distract yourself for two hours while they chill.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cream of tartar.. all of mine is from the 80’s and has expired.. shh.. don’t tell

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Seeds from 1 vanilla bean

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sprinkles, more if you want to throw them in the air joyfully while you bake

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DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla bean seeds, then the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined.

With the mixer on low add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in a few doses. The dough will become quite thick– don’t worry, this is correct. Fold in 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup sprinkles in a bowl. Scoop up 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball– I was using about 1/4 of dough at first, so I quickly ran out of dough. Gently roll the ball in the bowl of sprinkles to cover lightly. Put the balls on a plate. Repeat with the remaining sprinkles and dough. Chill the soon-to-be cookies for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

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Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Transfer the chilled dough balls to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space in between each ball.

Bake until the cookies have spread very slightly and are just beginning to brown around the edges, but are mostly pale and pillowy, 8 to 10 minutes.* Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely, then transfer to your  mouth ASAP.

*I took mine out a bit before they browned on the edges, since I like my cookies to be very soft and chewy. If you want more of a crisp exterior and a soft interior, stick with Joy’s directives.

 

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Et voila!

Spaghetti with Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce

One of my biggest pet peeves is having leftover ingredients from a recipe and not knowing what to do with them. I made roasted leek and garlic toasts with minced anchovy filets as part of Christmas dinner; they were delicious, but left me with a jar full of anchovies in the refrigerator. I came across this recipe in Bon Appetit and noticed that it called for a couple of my fishy friends. I was concerned that their taste would be too strong since a lot of people don’t like their very distinct flavor (they’re reminiscent of low tide), but the little guys really just round out the 8 cloves of garlic and robust tomato flavors in the dish.

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The roasted garlic and leek toasts from Christmas!

Even though it’s a hearty, comforting meal, its bright scent reminds me of summer and picking tomatoes in my aunt’s garden.

INGREDIENTS:

1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

8 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, minced

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more for serving

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 oz. bucatini or spaghetti (I’ve also used papardelle… anything that can hold up to the jammy sauce is fine) 

Finely grated Parmesan or Romano (for serving)

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Post-roast

DIRECTIONS:

Put on an apron– this recipe will splatter!

No really, put on an apron.

Preheat oven to 425°. Combine tomatoes (crushing them with your hands), garlic, anchovies, butter, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes in a 13×9” baking dish; season with salt and black pepper. Roast, tossing halfway through, until garlic is very soft and mixture is jammy, 35–40 minutes. Using a fork, mash to break up garlic and tomatoes.

 

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

 

Return pasta to pot and add tomato sauce and pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan and more red pepper flakes (and salt, if you have a salt problem like I do).
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The finished product. I wish you could smell this picture.

Nom nom nom, dig in!

Balsamic and Basil Strawberries

I’ve loved balsamic vinegar since I was a kid. When I was four, I used to dunk raw heads of broccoli into a small glass bowl filled with the stuff. My mom said I was the only kid she ever heard of who liked vinegar that much. Even now, it’s one of my favorite condiments; it’s tangy but there’s enough sweetness to balance the strong acidity.

For my mom’s birthday tea, I made Kahlua-whipped cream filled strawberries with turbinado sugar sprinkled on top. I enjoy Kahlua, but it invokes more of a cozy, wintertime feeling than I would want to experience right now (current temp in NYC: 84 degrees, F… humidity: the papers in my desk feel moist to the touch, as do the multigrain crackers residing in my cabinet). Thus, I opted against making Kahlua strawberries this go around, and decided instead to make more savory and refreshing balsamic-whipped cream filled strawberries with a basil garnish to fulfill the savory flavor profile of the balsamic cream.

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The first time I tried whipping the cream in my hot, sticky apartment, it collapsed a few whips away from being finished, partially because of the heat, and partially because I added too much vinegar too close to the end; I think the acidity cut the fat. Expletives were yelled. Fists were brandished. I put my sweat-tainted shirt back on (yes, I was working in a sports bra with a fan aimed directly at my sweltering, cream whipping bod), and trekked back to the store. This time, I bought not one, but two pints of heavy cream, in case the same thing happened again.

I got back to my apartment and with newfound determination and beads of sweat running down my forearms, whipped the cream successfully. When I went to put the cream in my piping bag, I discovered that something atrocious had happened to it, which I shan’t get into. Anyhow, I opted to use a spoon to insert the cream into the hulled strawberries rather than spend my afternoon searching West Harlem for a new pastry tool.

If you don’t mess up the cream like I initially did, these strawberries are very easy to make, and are great for a savory dessert or appetizer on a hot summer day. With that said, they’re best served cool, or the cream will become watery. I know this firsthand because I tried to bring some downtown to my friend Melissa, and they melted on the subway. She still ate them, which I love her for.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 pound strawberries, washed and hulled

1/2 packet gelatin, dissolved in a few tbsp of boiling water, at room temp (whisk with a fork as soon as you add the water so it doesn’t become lumpy)

3 basil leaves, cut into ribbons

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (the sweeter the better)

1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar

1/2 pint heavy cream

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DIRECTIONS:

Chill a mixing bowl and a whisk in the freezer for at least an hour.

Pour the cooled gelatin-water mixture into the mixing bowl. Add the confectioner’s sugar, balsamic, and cream. Whisk until soft peaks form. Using a metal teaspoon, dollop about a tablespoon into the core of each strawberry. Top the cream with a basil ribbon. Serve immediately.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Valentine’s Day Red Velvet Cake

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, and not for the reasons you might think. Yes, if you have a significant other, it’s about celebrating your “relationship” (i.e. it’s actually about overdone Hallmark cards, overpriced roses, and last minute restaurant reservations made by frantic boyfriends and husbands… I know, because I take said reservations). For me, Valentine’s Day has always been about celebrating all forms of love in my life. Every year, my mom has given me and my sister a few small goodies on the morning of Valentine’s Day. Last V-Day I was living in California, and she sent me an awesome package: Dove chocolate, cherry/vanilla tootsie rolls, the movie “It’s Complicated”, themed socks, and decorations.

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^The package from my mom.^

Growing up, we also had an annual Valentine’s Day tea party for friends. We stopped doing it at some point, but, inspired by Leslie Knope’s Galentine’s Day festivities, I decided to revive it. Instead of doing a tea party, though, we’re going to be having dinner, cocktails, and cake. And thanks to my friend Lauren, buff chick and heart shaped mozzarella stick appetizers. HEYOOO. Buff chick for the win.

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At the afore mentioned Valentine’s Day tea parties, my mom always made a heart shaped cake. Usually vanilla, and usually with those little red heart gummies that you find at CVS perched on top. As an homage to that cake, I made a red velvet heart shaped cake with cream cheese frosting. I generally think that red velvet cake is slightly overrated, as compared to say, peanut butter and chocolate cake, but it was the most festive option. If you have a heart shaped tin (mine is from Wilton), you can use the following cake recipe and it will fit perfectly. I used Alton Brown’s cream cheese frosting recipe, but feel free to use your favorite. Whatever recipe you choose, I recommend sifting the powdered sugar before adding it to your wet ingredients, or you’ll have lumpy frosting.

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Original Cake Recipe: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016329-red-velvet-cake

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

pink/red food coloring

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 ½ flour, sifted

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

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DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare heart shaped cake pan by greasing heavily with butter or crisco, then coat with a thin layer of flour or cocoa powder, tapping out excess.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time and beat vigorously until each is incorporated. Mix in vanilla.

Add food coloring and cocoa powder. If you’re using pink food dye, add more than you think you need in order to make a deeper red color.

Sift together remaining dry ingredients. Alternating in 2 batches each, add dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture. In the last batch of buttermilk, mix in the vinegar before adding to the batter. Mix until blended.

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Pour batter into cake pan. Cook for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

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Let cool, invert onto wire rack, then frost as desired.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Toasty Tuna Tartlets

It’s snowing. It’s blizzarding. I’m almost out of Oreos. Consequently, I’m hungry and bored. So I decided to make these warm and toasty tuna tartlets, which is really a boujis way of saying “tuna melts”. The biggest difference between these and traditional tuna melts is the use of puff pastry as the bread component in this recipe. I didn’t have quite enough tuna to go around, so I also made a few ham and cheese tartlets, using most of the same ingredients.

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As good as these are for munching on a cold winter day in front of your computer while Netflix reloads (or after shoveling your driveway, as the case may be) they’re also great as a casual hors d’oeuvre since they’re simple but delicious. I highly recommend pairing them with a glass of lemonade or iced tea. I know that doesn’t totally make sense since it’s snowing, but it’s a great combo.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and cut into 12 squares

Gruyere cheese, grated

Few slices low salt ham cold cuts

Honey mustard

1 scallion, green part only thinly sliced

Fresh lemon juice, plus a few pinches of zest

1 can tuna

1-2 tbsp mayonaise

Black pepper

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp heavy cream

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place puff pastry squares on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

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Tuna Tartlets:

Combine tuna and mayo; mash together with a fork. Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice, being careful not to drop in any seeds. (Hold the lemon with the cut part facing upwards). Grate in some zest, and stir into tuna mixture. Spoon tuna evenly onto puff pastry squares. Keep the edges of the pastry clear so that it can rise around the filling. Grind some black pepper over the tuna. Cover with cheese. Set aside.

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Ham and Cheese Tartlets:

Spread a dollop of honey mustard on the remaining puff pastry squares. Rip up a few cold cuts, and place them on top of the mustard, leaving the edges of the pastry clear as you did with the tuna. Grind black pepper over the ham, and cover with remaining gruyere.

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Scramble the egg yolk in a small bowl, and add the heavy cream. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the mixture onto the bare edges of the pastry squares.

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Put baking sheet in oven and let bake for 14-16 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven. The puff pastry should be golden brown and risen when you take them out.

Put 2-3 scallions on each square.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Cheeseburger Cupcakes

Who doesn’t love dessert that looks like meat? Sausage shaped jello, cake that looks like honey glazed ham, cookies that open and close like clams… I’m into it all. While these cupcakes are a little more on the normal side of your dessert meats, they’re equally exciting in presentation.

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Since cheeseburgers are an American classic, these little guys are perfect for a Memorial Day BBQ or the like. But one of my friends was having a “Burgers ‘n Booze” birthday party this weekend, so OBVIOUSLY I had to make them for her. (Side note, this friend has an awesome burger blog that you should take a look at: http://projectgutenburger.tumblr.com). The girl likes burgahs!

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They’re very easy to make, but are somewhat time consuming because you have to bake two batches of cupcakes. The time went by especially slowly since I was anticipating eating the leftover cupcake bottoms while watching “Total Divas” on demand: a valiant goal that I have since accomplished. This is an adapted version of a recipe from Duncan Hines.

Original Recipe: http://www.duncanhines.com/recipes/cupcakes/cabaker77/hamburger-cupcakes/

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INGREDIENTS:

1 box Devil’s Food chocolate cake mix + called for ingredients

1 box golden cake mix + called for ingredients

2 cans vanilla frosting

Yellow OR red food dye

Green food dye

Coconut (optional)

Sesame seeds

Honey (optional)

Toothpicks

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DIRECTIONS:

Bake both boxes of cupcakes according to package instructions. Do not line cupcake tins; spray heavily with non-stick spray. If you use the same tins for both flavors of cupcakes, make sure you wash them in between.

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While the cupcakes bake, mix yellow (cheese/mustard) OR red food dye (ketchup) into one can of frosting, and green into the other. If you prefer, you can add a couple of drops of green food dye to a Ziploc bag of coconut. Shake it a few times, and you have your lettuce! Since I didn’t know if everyone liked coconut, I opted for using green frosting and a special lettuce-looking piping tip to create the same effect. Set aside.

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Once your cupcakes are finished baking and have cooled, cut the golden cupcakes in half horizontally. Cut off the cupcake tops of the chocolate cupcakes. You may discard the bottoms of the chocolate cupcakes, or eat them, as I did. (Waste not, want not).

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Put a small dollop of frosting on the top side of the bottom half of the golden cupcake. Adhere a chocolate top to it. Using a knife, spread on some yellow frosting. Use enough that it can be seen form under the bun, but not so much that you can’t see the chocolate cupcake (the hamburger meat). Once you have completed these steps on each cupcake, you can add your lettuce. Then, put the top halves of each golden cupcake onto the burgers. Lightly wet each top bun with your fingertips, then sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top. If you want to add an extra sweet element (though BELIEVE ME, ’tis not necessary), use a dab of honey rather than water. Skewer each burger with a toothpick.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Coffee Kahlua Brownie Bites

Every Christmas, I bake the same three types of cookies: chocolate chip, sugar, and oatmeal butterscotch. Though I love these cookies and the memories that come with them, I also like to try a few new recipes every year. My friend Casey is hosting a wine and fondue tasting party tomorrow night, which gave me the perfect excuse to make these mini brownies. Because they’re miniature, they’re perfect for entertaining or bringing to a friend’s house. They also make you feel like a giant that’s eating normal sized brownies, so that’s a plus. The original recipe (Better Homes and Gardens) actually calls for creme de menthe, but I have a giant bottle of Kahlua in my cabinet so… these are now coffee and Kahlua brownies.

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I kept the proportions the same as they were in the original recipe. But, if you want a strong Kahlua flavor in your frosting, add more, a half tablespoon at a time, after the first two tablespoons have already been blended. If the frosting becomes too thin, compensate by gradually adding more confectioners sugar.

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INGREDIENTS:

BROWNIES:

1/2 cup butter

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp strongly brewed coffee

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

FROSTING:

1/3 cup butter, softened

2 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 cups confectioners sugar

2 tbsp Kahlua

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DIRECTIONS:

BROWNIES:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8x2 baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Spray with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

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In a small saucepan, cook and store butter and chocolate over very low heat until melted. Let cool slightly.

Stir sugar into cooled chocolate mixture. Add eggs one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each until just combined. Stir in coffee and vanilla.

In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to chocolate mixture and stir briefly until it looks uniform. Spread this batter into the baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack and let cool completely.

Lift the foil and brownies out of the pan. Cut brownies into roughly 49 small squares. Set aside.

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FROSTING:

In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in 1 cup of confectioners sugar, then beat in Kahlua. Add the second cup of confectioners sugar.

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ASSEMBLY:

Using a spatula, spoon frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe a dollop of frosting onto each brownie bite. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Chewy Sugar Cookies

All sugar cookies should be chewy. Even if they’re crispy in texture, they should melt in your mouth. I inherited this belief from my mother, who spreads awareness of the evils of hard, store-made sugar cookies suffocated in cellophane (“they taste stale!”) to anyone eyeballing said cookies at bakeries and on grocery store check out lines. Consequently, I regard these cookies with the utmost disdain. They trick innocent people into believing that they are worthy of consumption, which they are not. Selfish cookies.

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Though hard sugar cookies are, admittedly, easier to decorate than chewy sugar cookies, they aren’t nearly as enjoyable to eat. This is why I compromise by making chewy sugar cookies rolled in granulated sugar and holiday sprinkles; they’re delicious and festive.

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Original Recipe: http://addapinch.com/cooking/chewy-sugar-cookies-recipe/

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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1½ cups granulated sugar

1 egg

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies

1/4 cup festive sprinkles

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper for an easy clean up.

Cream together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Make sure to get all of the chunks out, or some cookies will be way too buttery. Add egg and mix until well-combined.

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Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon full and roll into a ball. I usually eyeball this step, which is why I always end up with less, larger cookies than the recipe is supposed to make.

Add granulated sugar to a small bowl for rolling cookie dough in before baking. Add sprinkles to a separate small bowl. Place each ball of cookie dough into the bowl of granulated sugar and roll to coat well. Next, roll each ball in the sprinkles, pressing down slightly so that they stick. Each ball won’t be completely covered in sprinkles- that’s okay!

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Place cookie dough onto baking sheet, spacing about 1½-inches to 2 inches apart. Place cookie sheets in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes before baking so that the cookies retain their round shape.

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^The two cookies on the left were refrigerated prior to baking. The one on the right was not. I.e., refrigerate your cookies prior to baking.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until very lightly browned.

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Enjoy!

Leslie