Off the Funfetti Bandwagon (Faux Funfetti Blondies)

Bold statement warning: I HATE FUNFETTI, damn you Pillsbury for turning your sprinkles filled boxed cake mix into a phenomenon.

It seems that everything is Funfetti lately, walking through the food store you can stumble upon: pancake mix, woppie pie mix, cookie mix and of course cake mix. Don’t get me wrong, I love the colors. Trust me; I would be the last person to say that baked goods are better without rainbows, however Funfetti box mix dampers the creativity of bakers.

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Example 1, Courtney:

“I NEED A FUNFETTI BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!” she exclaims with the excitement of a three year old.

“Okay, I’ll just whip up my own Funfetti recipe and…”  I knew that wouldn’t fly. As soon as the words left my mouth regret struck. What was I thinking? Funfetti is Courtney’s birth right, that’s the cake she has always had for her birthday.

“No! I want the box!” 21 years of age, 21!!! I am scared that she is going to lie down in the isle and start throwing a temper tantrum like a 3 year old. I grab the box in hope that a meltdown is avoided. One isle later my fears again are stirred up, “LOOK, FUNFETTI PANCAKE MIX !” Okay, Im not going to lie, I make pretty boss pancakes, growing up I have never used a box mix; even in college I never used a box mix. For Courtney’s birthday I used a boxed Funfetti pancake mix.

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As a baker who is obsessed with doing things from scratch, I firmly believe that Pillsbury has everyone brainwashed. If I make a white cake and throw some sprinkles in you will have the same effect! Home Made Funfetti is way more convenient than running to the store and buying a box, and Funfetti pancake mix is just pancake mix with sprinkles thrown in I CAN DO THE SAME THING!

This past weekend was a washout, at least 3 inches of rain and nothing to do but bake all day. Can you guess what Courtney requested? Funfetti blondies. First of all, my feelings about Funfetti are stated above; second of all, I am not a Blondies fan I am a chocolate fan! Why have vanilla brownies? That’s just a waste of potential chocolate dessert in my eyes.

I imagine that typical Funfetti Blondies would taste like cake, and most recipes I looked up did indeed require the boxed mix. As you can probably guess, I did not go that route. My blondies taste more like chocolate chip cookie dough, yes dough, not the cookies. I made these suckers on Saturday night and let me tell you, they tasted wonderful Sunday morning warmed up for breakfast!

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Faux Funfetti Blondies

Ingredients

1cup butter (room temp or slightly melted)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles as desired

Directions:

  1.        Preheat oven to 350.
  2.        Cream the butter and the sugars using a stand mixer
  3.        Mix in the egg and vanilla
  4.        Add in the flour, baking soda, salt and mix till combined. The dough will be dry.
  5.        With a spoon or your hands mix in the chocolate chips and sprinkles
  6.        Spread out in  a 9X9 greased pan and cook until just golden or 18-20 minutes

 

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How to Murder a 12 Year Old’s Dreams (The Best Brownies Ever)

What was the best birthday cake you ever had? On my 12th birthday I dreamed of my cake: rich in chocolate, light, melt in your mouth, the center piece of my birthday party. I never got it.

I have always been particular about my birthday cakes, and my mother has always delivered. Growing up you could say I had an elaborate imagination. I once had a fish themed birthday party and I wanted my cake to be a fish tank. You can bet your bottom dollar that my mom made a chocolate cake decorated as one. On my 18th birthday I told my mom to get creative, actually I told her that I just wanted cannoli’s.  She made a four layer chocolate cake with chocolate mousse icing, and cannoli filling between the layers. I still remember it today; the icing was so light, and so rich in chocolate with a hint of coffee flavor, and the cake, so moist, so light, paired perfectly with the sweet creamy cannoli filling with crunches of mini chocolate chips. It almost makes up for my twelfth birthday, almost.

Brownies

The best chocolate brownie ever!

Twelve was a weird age for me, while I was playing out in the dirt and on the basketball court; all of my friends were growing up and becoming more girly. They all started to care about their hair, boys, lip gloss and being popular. I just cared if I could make ten foul shots in a row, or make the game winning goal in field hockey (some things never change). I was torn between brushing my long matted hair, or cutting it all off to a short pixy cut. Things were definitely changing.

I made a big decision for my birthday that year, I wanted a big chocolate cake with pink icing (are you finding a pattern here with the chocolate). Pink. This was a big decision for me, normally I did purple, green, white, chocolate, chocolate with candy on top, never pink. My mother was slightly thrilled, I was finally embracing my girl side, maybe next I would start brushing my hair and wearing dresses (spoiler alert that did not come until college, the dress part at least). My mother agreed with the biggest smile on her face to make this the best cake ever. You know when your mother says something and you know she is being truthful, she says it with passion and the biggest smile on her face.

Chocolate milk with chocolate brownies... Can you ever have too much chocolate?

Chocolate milk with chocolate brownies… Can you ever have too much chocolate?

My birthday was just like any other, I played outside all morning with my neighbor. Somewhere between racing dirt bikes and climbing the sappy evergreen trees I decided I had to come home to get ready for my party. As soon as I pulled the heavy sliding glass door open, I could tell something was not as it should be.  Have you ever watched a show on TV where the evil genius has this crazy smirk on his face, it was kind of like that. My mother quickly ushered me out of the kitchen, assuring me that everything was fine and that company would be coming soon, I should shower. She was my mom, what else should little naive me believe?

Let’s fast-forward through the party; it was great, family and friends everywhere, different pasta and potato salads sitting on paper plates with flies trying to land on them, all my uncles were drunk, you know typical children’s birthday party. Time for cake.

I sat down at the big dining room table, feeling somewhat lost in the magnitude of the chair at the head of the table.  There was no cake yet, this should have been my first warning sign. The singing began all upbeat and happy, I saw my mother bringing the cake tray from the kitchen to the dining room. Something was not right; I did not see a cake. There was no pink fluffy frosting, no cotton candy clouds of white, no rainbows bursting from the cake in magical glee, in fact there wasn’t even a cake. In front of me my mom dropped with a thud, a flat, heavy, uncooked version of a chocolate cake. No icing, no candles, no nothing.  When the birthday song was over, which now sounded to me like a gaggle of drowning frogs, I did not know what to do. There were no candles to blow out, no wish to make, and no cake! My mom blurted out, “surprise, brownies instead!” everyone started laughing. Was it me they were laughing at, my misfortune, my flat, icingless cake?

I brushed it off. I was 12, tough 12 year olds don’t cry. The cake was never cut, it was thrown out. We had cookies and ice cream instead. Apparently my mom was so busy with preparing everything else she forgot a few key ingredients in the cake.

I never forgave her. Okay that sounds horrible, don’t get me wrong, I love my mother. But after that I was always hesitant to put my trust in her baking, especially after a  few years later when she tried to make me cookies. But that’s another story.

 

Watch out, Courtney couldn't even wait till they were out of the oven!

Watch out, Courtney couldn’t even wait till they were out of the oven!

The Best Brownies Ever

While these brownies are super chocolaty and quite possibly the best brownies ever, I have to warn you – the batter is better. If you can muster up the courage to actually eat the brownies you will not be disappointed.

Ingredients:

¾ cup cocoa

½ teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup melted butter, divided

1/2 Cup boiling water

2 Cups Sugar

2 eggs

1 1/3 Cup Flour

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chip

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350

Combine cocoa and baking soda, mix in 1/3 cup of melted butter and boiling water, mix until combined.

Stir in sugar and remaining butter.

Add flour, vanilla, and salt,  and chocolate chips. Mix well.

Pour into a greased 9×13 pan, bake for 35-40 minutes.

 

Drinking at Work (Irish Car Bomb Cupcake)

Do you know how hard it is to write a post about St. Patrick’s Day when you don’t understand the holiday? I don’t own a single article of green clothing, I’ve never had green beer, I don’t like traditional Irish food, and leprechauns have to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.

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When I was in second grade I tried to “catch a leprechaun” by building an elaborate trap out of Legos, Tupperware, and shiny things. I made the mistake of not telling my mom that I made this, and needless to say I didn’t even catch a fake leprechaun, that’s when I gave up on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe in Ireland this has a special meaning, maybe Irish people in the states have a connection to this day, maybe one day I will like corn beef and cabbage, but today is not that day.

The only thing I like about St. Patrick’s day is a good Irish Car Bomb, which could be considered offensive to the Irish I suppose. A shot of equal parts Irish whisky and Baileys, dropped into a three quarter glass of Guinness stout. If not taken within thirty seconds of dropping, you can expect this mixture to curdle into an unappetizing mixture that makes you wonder what your stomach is going to do when you drink one. While I do not know the history of this shot, but can almost guarantee this was not invented by the Irish, however has become a staple on St. Patrick’s Day. May the luck of the Irish be with you if you choke down more than 3 of these mixtures, and may what happens in the glass not happen in your stomach.

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Cupcakes for days

While I do like a good shot at the bar, drinking all day at work is not acceptable. However drinking in a cupcake is acceptable. The Irish Car Bomb Cupcake is by far my favorite cupcake that I have made in my entire life. A stout cupcake with a whisky ganache filling and a Bailey’s buttercream frosting gets me every time. This is the one cupcake I will not share the recipe, if you want it made you can find your own recipe, however mine is the best.

May the luck of the Irish be with you!

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Questions or Comments? Please email NotSoCulinaryGraduate@hotmail.com

23 wanna be (Chocolate Salted Stout Cupcakes)

How come growing up no one told me professional extreme athlete was a valid career choice? Was I not good enough, or pretty enough? Did I not grow up in a proper area? I am really to blame because my parents were worried about my safety 24/7? I want a refund.

Social media brings us all closer to strangers. Every morning I roll over in bed grab my phone and stalk Instagram. I follow a few professional athletes and I love to see where they are in the world, from surf to snow, Fiji to The Rockies, there are no limits for these athletes. I am jealous, to say the least. From Jamie Anderson to Lakey Peterson, I want their lives!

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I could definitely handle this life.

Growing up I was never able to “push the limits” of these sports. Surfing to me was an escape. My parents would drag 900 pounds of umbrellas, blankets, coolers, small tents and sunscreen to the beach; I on the other hand, would drag a board in hopes that I wouldn’t have to be embarrassed by them telling me to apply sunscreen every 15 minutes (I was also the least tanned kid on the beach). But growing up opportunities to become a professional athlete never opened for me, who wants to take the whitest kid on the beach and farm them to have potential, not to mention who wants to take a kid from Jersey where our biggest waves are only 3 feet.

Snowboarding in Jersey (or the East Coast in general) was also a joke. I learned to snowboard when I was 16 (already too old to be a professional). As a family we went up to Vermont one weekend and I took a snowboarding lesson with my cousins, while my Mom and Dad learned to ski. I tried really hard to pick it up, but you can only learn so much in a weekend. My Father did not do so well skiing, even to this day he does not find it enjoyable, so needless to say that trip to Vermont was our last. I went snowboarding at least once a year, every year, till my senior year in college, that’s when I met Courtney. My parents took me to a shop to buy a snowboard for my 22nd birthday and my little dread head walked into my life. For the past 2 years I have gone snowboarding more times than I can count, I have even gone to California (story here), but now that I am 23 I am too old to experience a professional career or even too old to enter any camps to get better!

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In Mammoth

So here is a shout out to all those brands supporting the careers of athletes… Why can’t I be a 23 year old professional athlete? Wouldn’t a 23 year old athlete who strives to be the best make a good role model for those who are younger, or even older? Why not take on a 23 year old and give them the training experience of a life time?

Let me tell you something, I am competitive, I have drive, and nothing can keep me down. I would be the best person for a professional team to farm, even if I am 23 years old. Teach me. I have so much will to learn, I am constantly telling Courtney to teach me more teach me more, she gets so tired of hearing it. So it takes a year or two, I promise I will be the best.

Progressing sixteen year olds can only be so inspiring. Who am I supposed to look up to? There are very few professional athletes who have started at the age 16, they are all winning metals and stealing the spotlight by then. As a 23 year old, I have no one to look up to, and I’m sure many women of my age feel the same. How are we to progress when 16 year olds have already done it? What do you think that does to my ego (spoiler alert, its crushed).

After going on our trip to Mammoth, my eyes have been opened. I want to live out west, I want to ride every day, I want the opportunity to learn and grow in these types of sports. But who will take me up on that offer?

Sincerely, 23 and a professional wanna be.

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Best chocolate cupcake I’ve had in a while!

Salted Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Had a bad day? What a better to eat your feelings then with stout cupcakes. These taste like a chocolate covered pretzel and make the chocolate lovers night complete.

Makes roughly 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cake

1 cup chocolate stout

3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. salt

2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Icing (Need to double if you are piping your frosting)

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

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 cups powdered/confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup milk

Sea salt for garnishing

Directions:

Cake

  1. In a small sauce pan melt butter, when its melted add stout and bring to a low simmer.
  2. While the butter beer mixture is simmering beat sugar and eggs in a stand mixer. Add flour, and salt.
  3. Mix butter milk and baking soda, and mix into the dough along with the vanilla.
  4. Take the butter and stout mixture off simmering and whisk in the cocoa, when smooth mix into dough.
  5. Mix everything until incorporated, pour into cupcake liners (3/4 the way full) and bake on 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

For Icing:

  1. WAIT TILL THE CUPCAKES ARE COOLED
  2. Pour all the ingredients into a stand mixture, whip slowly at first and then at medium speed until fluffy or around 2 minutes.
  3. Pipe or frost onto cupcakes
  4. Sprinkle sea salt on top just for flavor

 

Questions or Comments? Please email NotSoCulinaryGraduate@hotmail.com

Dirt Devil Socks of Horrors (Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I have been a princess of 3 acres, a warrior of a sand stricken dessert,   a survivor of the slimy green pond scum, all without leaving my backyard. You could say I was a wild child, you could also say I was a princess; a garden warrior princess would be the correct term if I had to crown one.

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Growing up in Jersey I ruled a total of 7 acres with an iron fist, well probably more dirty fingers than iron fist. My neighbor Trevor, who is 3 years to my senior, decided that I was the closest thing to a little brother he would get and let me tag along everywhere. Our two yards together were more than enough land to race dirt bikes, climb trees, fall out of trees, ride skateboards, build ramps and jumps in dirt mounds, catch toads, and everything else little kids like to get into. We made forts in the pussy willow trees, and ran through the tall corn stalks in the field s behind our house.

I am sure my mother was worried. I am an only child, an only daughter, and here I am coming in the house barefoot with grass stained knees, knotted hair and blood gushing from at least one cut or another. I preferred mountain bikes over Barbie cars, football over dolls, and god forbid, shorts and a t-shirt over a dress.

I went through clothes like a monster. All of my clothes; it did not matter if it was t-shirts, shorts, pants or socks. I distinctly remember on a rainy evening running around in my neighbor’s basement, I had socks on to maximize the sliding on the hardwood floor. Of course being the kid I am, my socks caught on something and a hole was ripped in them. I continued the night unfathomed, they were socks, who cares I had a bin full in my bedroom these would not go missed. When I got home and took my shoes off my mother saw the hole, I must have caught her on a bad day, or maybe I pulled the last straw. She freaked.

“Lauren, do you care about your appearance what so ever? Do you like the clothes we give you! Do you care at all?” my mother yelled. It went on for what felt like hours. The high pitch of her voice made the cat hide, made my fish jump and made me feel even more rebellious. Of course I shrugged her off, but on my way to throw my socks out my mother made a threat, a threat that no kid ever wants to hear, and a threat that still haunts me today like a never ending nightmare. “Lauren, you are going to sew that sock back together or you cannot have ice cream for a week!”

NO ICE CREAM!?! I am a chocolate fiend; I cannot live without my daily nightcap of chocolate ice cream, it  soothes me, makes me forget my problems, if I was a cat it would make me purr. I did not know how to sew; I knew where my mother kept her sewing needles and thread but never knew what to do with them.

It was a disaster. First of all this little thread, why does it have to go in this tiny eye like thing, and how is it supposed to stay when it gets there? Why is the needle so sharp and why must I poke myself in the hand on every pull. With no instruction I went at it.

I sewed them once, put the sock on and went to show my mom. By the time I walked down the hall to her bedroom it had come undone. The dread on my face must have been one of a kid without presents at Christmas. I had to do it all over again.  I redid it, this time going back and forth the length of the rip at least 4 times, but my mother did not approve. She sent me back. The third time I put a little knot at the end so it did not come undone and ended with a knot as well. With my pride shortly slipping away I put the sock on my foot, slowly with my eyes glued to the floor, I walked the death march down to my mom’s room. I sat down on the bed and raised my dirty, yet one piece of a sock in the air to show my mother, expecting to be sent back. She took the sock off my foot, kissed my check and threw it out.

I cried. What the hell! I worked so hard on that! Why the hell would she just throw it out? Apparently that was the point, the lesson learned, the outcome in my trial. My parents worked so hard to provide for me and I was a menace to everything. She taught me that for all the things I had, hard work was behind them, and I had no right to go through clothes like Godzilla in the city.

That is how my mother tried to teach me to have a better regard towards my clothes, instead I think she taught me that socks are over rated.

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White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Next to Ice Cream my day is not complete without something sweet. These white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies have become my staple oatmeal cookie recipe. The white chocolate chips can be substituted with any chip of your liking.

Makes roughly 24 cookies

Ingredients

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 Cup brown sugar

1/4 Cup granulated sugar

1 Large egg

3 Teaspoons vanilla

1 and 2/3 Old Fashioned rolled oats

1 Cup all-purpose flour

½ Teaspoon baking soda

A bag of white chocolate chips to taste

With a stand mixer cream the softened butter and the sugars, add the eggs and vanilla and mix.

Beat in the oats, flour, and baking soda until combined. Stir in the chips.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line pans with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until golden

Questions or Comments? Please email NotSoCulinaryGraduate@hotmail.com