Bedside Confessions (Chocolate Malt Cupcakes)

What the hell is malt? Like what is it? I understand it’s some sort of powdered milk substance, I also understand its delicious! But I just do not understand, how do you make it, where does it come from, is it dairy? I DON’T GET IT.
The first time I had a chocolate malt shake I was in California with Courtney and I was honestly skeeved out at first. The first problem is we were walking into a fast food joint, I do not do fast food. Seriously it kills me supporting it, the fake and gross things that go into fast food, dkfjasod;ehfj, I’m getting chills just thinking about it. After I finally walked in and order a Chocolate Malt shake I knew this summer would be awesome.
I never had a malt shake before California. I was baffled, did they make this everywhere? Can I get it in Pennsylvania? Why have my parents never told me about this? Can I have this every day? How bad is this for me!?!?!?! The malt intensifies the chocolate making it sweet, but not too sweet. It also gives it a grainier consistence which is weirdly addictive. I LOVE IT, I AM A MALT ADDICT.

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Back in PA I find malt on my shopping list way to frequently. I hate to admit it but I keep a bottle on my nightstand, just encase of that midnight milkshake (you think I’m kidding but I’m not!). The serving size is 2 TBSP but I will not deny dumping a quarter cup in a 12 ounce shake. I have pretty much tried it in everything and anything from chocolate milk to dipping bread in it, just like hot sauce, I will put that shit on everything.
My mom asked me to make cupcakes this weekend the only parameters being chocolate. The cupcakes were for a co-worker that we have both worked with. Jon turned 25 on Monday and this food loving fiend has asked if he could move in with us so he could enjoy my mother’s cooking and my baking all the time. We said no.
Anyways it just so happens that Jons favorite summer time drink is also chocolate malt shakes, so making a chocolate cupcake with a malt frosting was just common sense. This cupcake recipe below was originally used for a 2 layer cake and makes close to 3 dozen cupcakes. Also the batter needs to be mixed longer than normal, I would say a good 3-5 minutes or else you get clumps of baking soda/ flour still visible in the cupcake. Do not let the shorting in the frosting scare you it’s really VERY good. The malt and this frosting go down smooth, and easily makes enough to frost all the cupcakes – that is if you resist the temptation to eat the entire bowl.

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So turn your shake into a cupcake, and enjoy summer through all seasons!
Chocolate Malt Cupcake
Yields about 32 cupcakes
Ingredients Cake:
2 1/3 Cup Lukewarm Water
3/4 Cup vegetable oil
3 Large eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 1/3 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
Ingredients Frosting:
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
1/2 Cup malted Milk
4 Tablespoons Unsweetened, Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
5 Cups Confectioner Sugar
Directions:
1. To make the cake combine the first 6 ingredients and mix well.
2. Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt well until combined
3. Bake on 350 degrees, for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
Frosting:
1. Whip the butter and vegetable shortening until fluffy
2. Add the malt and cocoa powder
3. Add the 5 Cups of confectioner sugar 1 cup at a time
4. Wait until the cupcakes are cool before you frost
ENJOY!

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.

 

Cheaters Coffee Cake

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The Journey of the Crumb Cake

                I was never one for cheating, but I like to win. Family monopoly games turned into battles to the death, unless I was the dealer. If I was the dealer, it was always a landslide victory in one direction. I’m not saying I cheated; I just helped out my cause a little.

                Cheating in sports is another thing, I never cheated, but cheaters always made the game more interesting. There was always that one team at the softball field that counted too many runs, or sent someone up to bat to early. This was always resolved with at least one coach being ejected from the game, parents screaming obscenities, and at least one girl crying. It’s not a game unless someone cries.

In baking I can proudly say my cheating is minimal. I prefer homemade everything, to premade anything. Cookies in the bag don’t cut it, box cakes can suck it, and store bought can remain in the store. There is an adventure involved in cooking from scratch, a sense of accomplishments, and pride.

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Don’t cheat and use a stand mixer, DONT DO IT! Do what I say not what I do.

Today, I confess, I cheated. Today I made coffee cake and used (gulp) Bisquick. I could have made homemade Bisquick, but I’ll save that for another story. This was one of the easiest recipes I could have ever followed, and at 7:00am easy is what I need. I even accomplished this recipe without my morning cup of coffee.

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                Apparently, this Bisquick coffee cake is a classic. My mother commented how her mom used to make it, and on mother’s day, tradition is the only thing that mattered. The cake part is light and fluffy, sweet and moist, comparable to a slice of cloud from the heavens. The crumbs, if you are a coffee cake fiend, like myself, I recommend doubling or tripling the crumb topping. I doubled it, and still could have used a little more. But the small balls of sugar will forever satisfy my early morning sweet tooth.

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The crumbly finished product

Without further ado, here is my slice of early morning goodness. Remember, cheaters never win, but at first they do succeed.

Cheaters Coffee Cake:

Ingredients:

Cinnamon streusel

1/3 Cup Original Bisquick mix

1/3 Cup packed brown sugar

1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons firm margarine

Coffee Cake:

2 Cups Original Bisquick mix

2/3 Cup milk

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Egg

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375*F. Grease a 9 inch round pan.
  2. In a small bowl, stir streusel ingredients until crumbly. If you like big crumbs try using your hands. For smaller finer crumbs use a whisk.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix coffee cake ingredients until blended, then spread evenly in pan.
  4. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the cake batter.
  5. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Taking on the controversies: Chocolate or Vanilla

Vanilla with choclate frostingIt is the ultimate culinary showdown, the battle of all battles, the controversies of all controversies. Which would win: chocolate or vanilla?
Oddly enough, chocolate and vanilla were introduced to the modern world at the same time. Hernán Cortés in 1520 brought the chocolate and vanilla spices back from the Aztecs to Spain, almost spontaneously the controversy started. Well, not quite.
Before discovered by Cortés, Aztecs used coco beans as a form of currency, 100 beans could buy a good sized turkey. The Aztecs even believed that coco beans had divine properties, similar to many women’s feelings about chocolate once a month. When good ‘ol Cortés first tried chocolate he described it as “a bitter drink for pigs”, but after it was mixed with cane sugar it spread like wildfire across Spain.
While chocolate blossomed and spread over Spain, vanilla remained centralized in Central America. Why you may ask? Because that was the only place it could be successfully grown. When vanilla grows it produces a flower and only if that flower is pollinated by a certain type of bee will it produce beans. It wasn’t until 1841, when a French slave girl discovered that vanilla could be hand pollinated, therefore produced globally and used in abundance. Today we have vanilla everything: vanilla cupcake, vanilla ice cream, vanilla candles, vanilla body spray, vanilla soaps.
In a way, vanilla won. Vanilla has psychological effects that can calm you down and can prevent you from getting over anxious, it is the number one ice cream flavor in the world, and it is my mom’s favorite cupcake flavor.

My half-birthday presents! Wisk, Bowl scraper and heat resistant mat. Thanks Mom!

My half-birthday presents! Wisk, Bowl scraper and heat resistant mat. Thanks Mom!

Today I decided to test out a few things. My half birthday was April 18, and my mom sent me some cool baking supplies that she found. I got a rubber coated whisk, a bowl scraper and a heat resistant mat, all in pink, my favorite color. Also on my half birthday, my homemade vanilla extract was done sitting!!! After two months of waiting what a better way to try out some vanilla cupcakes than use homemade vanilla!!!
Making homemade vanilla extract is pretty simple, and can be cost effective. Vanilla extract is two beans per every 4 ounces of vodka, that’s it, nothing fancy just beans and vodka. Vanilla beans in quantities greater than 2 can be found online at Amazon. Twenty-four beans can set you back as little as sixteen dollars, and 4 ounce jars can also be found online for as little as nine dollars for a 12 count. Cheap vodka can be used for this, the cheaper the better! McCormick vanilla extract can cost up to ten dollars for a 3 ounces bottle. When made at home each bottle comes to costing around four dollars per 4 ounce bottle.
To make your vanilla extract take two vanilla beans and split them long ways, and then cut them in half. Next submerge the four pieces of vanilla beans into vodka in a four ounce glass container. Place your vodka and bean mixture in a dark cool place for about 2 months. Once a week shake the containers for a few seconds and then put them back. That’s it, in two months you did it! You created your very own homemade vanilla.

Homemade Vanilla

Homemade Vanilla

Anyways back to the cupcakes. These cupcakes are basic beginner style cupcakes, nothing fancy, anyone can do it. I decided to pair them with a chocolate frosting so the whole chocolate vs. vanilla controversy could come to life in my cupcake.
This chocolate frosting was probably the best tasting chocolate frosting ever, but one problem, its heavy. It was extremely hard to pipe this frosting out. I would use this frosting again, but I would use it for a cupcake filling, not a frosting. If anyone has a fabulous light chocolate frosting and they are willing to share, please, I am accepting donations.

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This vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting is the reason that there is a controversy over which flavor is better. The cupcake itself is air. The vanilla flavoring comes through very well, it is sweet but not candy land gone suicidal sweet, with undertones of the cake my mom made for my eight birthday party. The frosting on the other hand, it might as well be chocolate fudge. This is a chocolate lovers dream! With just cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar and butter, the chocolate comes to life. It is sweet, rich and smooth. I was going to drizzle the cupcake with white chocolate but an incident with a plastic bag and the microwave said that milk chocolate would have to suffice.
For a beginners vanilla cupcake, or a cupcake to show off your homemade vanilla skills I highly recommend using this fool proof vanilla cupcake recipe.

Cooling Cupcakes

Cooling Cupcakes

-Cheers!

Recipie:
Fool proof Vanilla Cupcakes: Makes 12
Ingredients:
1/2 Cup softened butter
1 Cup sugar
2 Eggs
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon salt
2/3 Cup cold milk
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 *F
2. Cream together butter and sugar.
3. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
4. Mix in vanilla.
5. In a separate bowl, stir together all dry ingredients.
6. Mix wet ingredients to dry.
7. Add butter and milk, Mix until combined.
8. Bake 18-20 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden.
Chocolate Frosting: NOTE comes out heavy, see warning in paragraphs above
Ingredients:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions:
1. Sift sugar and cocoa together in larger bowl
2. In another bowl mix together 4 tablespoons heavy cream, vanilla and butter, beating till smooth.
3. Add sugar and cocoa mixture 1 cup at a time until all combined.

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Not so on-the-go, On-the-go Breakfast

Time check: thirty minutes to class. Eah, I’ll drive to the nearest convince store and get a coffee and something (probably loaded with calories) to munch on.  BETTER PLAN!!!! How about a not so on-the-go, but still kinda on-the-go breakfast? Its saves you money, you don’t have to go outside, and in a world where looks are everything, it saves you from putting on a few pounds.

Its easy to take snacks from your favorite convince store and turn them into a homemade treat made healthier  and made your way. Today I will be taking my favorite convince store, Wawa, and turning there chocolate banana cream smoothie into my breakfast on-the-go. Wawa’s chocolate banana smoothies are so good I will drive five miles out of the way, into center city, during a gang fight to get one, yeah there that good. But, MINES BETTER! I took Wawas concept, and added PEANUT BUTTER! This way my life is spared and I get what I want.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie:

what you need:

1 Blender (preferably cleaned out from your margaritas last night, but hey I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, just what to eat)

1 Cup of ice cubes

1/2 to 1 cup of Milk  of any kind (If you want a thicker smoothie only put 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk in, if you want it less thick put 1 cup of milk)

1 Banana (Frozen or fresh)

1 tablespoon of Peanut Butter (Or more, whatever makes you happy)

1 tablespoon of Chocolate syrup ( if you love chocolate add 2 or 3) 

Directions:

1. Pour the ice and the milk into the blender

2. Blend the mixture on medium until most of the ice is crushed

3. Add in the banana, peanut butter, and chocolate syrup

4. Blend on medium speed until desired thickness

5. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

WARNINGS: Due to bad personal mistakes I feel as if I need to add these

  1. Seriously, clean out your blender. Tequila may sound like a good idea at 8am, but it doesn’t taste so great with this smoothie.
  2. Keep the lid on your blender, you do not want to clean up that mess (nor does your roommate).
  3. Do not poke mixture with a knife, in the blender, while the blender is on. Actually, don’t poke anything with a knife, put the knife down and take a step back.

Chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie

After drinking your smoothie, the day is yours. Feel free to run around and boast to all your friends that you made a kick ass not so on-the-go, on-the-go breakfast.