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

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To the girl who gave me advice (baking myths tackled)

“If you wear your pajamas inside out and backwards it will snow.”

Mrs. Poinsett my second grade teacher would tell us this daily in winter, and being a snow enthusiast, I listened. Let me tell you how hard it is to zip an onesie inside out and backwards… Have you ever tried to take off a wet wetsuit? How about ever tried to hook a tiny necklace clasps with fake nails? Have you ever sneezed spraying  purple tie dye powder all over your mothers freshly cleaned kitchen; then tried to clean it  up and found out it just stains everything when you get it wet? Oh come on I can’t be the only one that has happened to!! My point is it’s close to impossible.

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How did this myth or superstition come into practice? What started this phenomenon that now has children morphing into contortionists to zip their onesies? Some myths out there are so ridiculous. If I step on a crack, I can guarantee I will not break my mother’s back.  And if I stare at the microwave while its running my eyes won’t turn green and glow at night (trust me I tested this daily as a child, don’t get your hopes up).

The topic of baking does not escape the rapidly running rumors and myths. This topic actually sparked my interest because in a class I took (Writing about Food, at Cedar Crest College); a girl had the audacity to tell me my cookies would be better and softer if I stored them with a piece of bread. A piece of bread, A PIECE OF BREAD!!! What the hell would a piece of bread do? How dare she question my supreme baking abilities, who was she to question my authority!!! I’ll attack this myth later. Before I go on another rant about how much this upset me…

Baking Myths Tackled!

Myth: Shorting instead of butter will make cookies fluffier.

Answer: Sort of. It depends how much of a butter expert you are.

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Right out of the fridge butter is a solid, while right out the microwave butter is a liquid; and at room temperature butter is an odd mixture of both. In order to get butter right for cookies it has to have a certain consistency that is somewhere in between a liquid and a solid. Shorting has the correct consistency all the time and does not need to concern itself with the troubles of room temp vs. liquid state of butter.

Another reason that shorting produces a fluffier cookie is butter contains water. Shorting contains, well you don’t want to know, just know that there is no water. By containing no water, cookies with shortening are guaranteed to always stand a little taller than those made with butter.

Myth: All the alcohol in my chocolate stout cake will bake out in the oven

Answer: Eat the whole cake and you might start to get a buzz, or diabetes.

It is believed that alcohol will bake out because it has a lower boiling point than water does, but that does not mean that all of the alcohol will bake out. There can still be up to 50% of the alcohol remaining. You would have to bake a cake for over three hours to get the cake down to 5% alcohol.

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I majored in psychology in college, but I’m about to go all science on you. Alcohol can bind with both fat and water molecules. Binding to the fat molecules gives the food the flavor of the alcohol, while binding with the water makes it almost impossible to get rid of.  When water and alcohol bind they form an azeotrope, and when you boil or bake this mixture the ratio of the alcohol will always stay the same. Unless you boil out all of the liquid, but no one like a dry cake.

Myth: Baking soda and Baking Powder can live forever with the cockroaches.

Answer: While baking soda can be passed down from generation to generation, baking soda only has a shelf life of about a year (which makes me think I should restock the one in my baking supply shelf).

While baking soda is sodium bicarbonate which means when it is introduced to liquid and an acidy ingredient it bubbles which make your cakes rise. While baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate it also contains an acidifying agent and a drying agent. When baking power is added to dough it is activated by the heat of the oven.

So how do you test if your baking powder is ready to erupt? Since it is activated by heat and liquid add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to hot water. If it bubbles, it’s still fresh, If not (like I fear mine will do),  time to run to the store.

Myth: Salted Butter doesn’t spoil when it is not refrigerated

Answer: disgustingly true.

I have an aunt who doesn’t refrigerate her butter and it always look like something I just sweated out and congealed. Needless to say unrefrigerated butter grosses me out.

The reason that salted butter does not spoil is the salt. It contains so much salt that it inhibits the growth of bacteria. However unsalted butter, which I prefer, will spoil in about a week if left out to fend for itself.

Just to be safe, please, always put the butter away.

Myth: Why something is baking in the oven, opening the oven will ruin it.

Answer: Depends on what you are baking, but no for the most part

Mom this one is for you. When making cupcakes, no opening the oven will not cause them to not rise, however if you are making a soufflé I promise I will not open the door. Delicate things such as a soufflé are harder to preserve and they could flop if the door is open.

Myth: Putting a slice of bread in a sealed container with your cookies will keep them soft.

Answer: She was right.

It kills me to say this. Yes Amber you are right. Putting a slice of bread in with your cookie will make them soft. BUT WHY, WHYYYYYYY?!?!?!

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Cookies contain sugar, more sugar than breads with yeast. The sugars in these cookies are “hygroscopic” which in English means that they draw water out of the air into the sugar structure. Bread (white, wheat or rye) are not hygroscopic and evaporates its water into the air.  When a bread and cookie meet in the same environment the cookie starts taking water from the air, and the bread starts giving water to the air. So the Cookie gets soft and the bread gets hard.

Bitch.

A Lemon Christmas (Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins)

I used to wish my Christmas tree would burn down.

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Using an old grater for my zest

I hated Christmas. I hated the fact that after Halloween (my favorite holiday), Christmas music would start. I hated the fact that it got cold. I hated slushy snow. I hated speeding hours in a kitchen with my mother. I hated spending countless hours, or multiple days, decorating an 11+ foot tall Christmas tree that we would get every year.

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Lemon and sugar mix

I guess you can call the child me a Grinch. I didn’t understand it. Why bother cutting down a perfectly good tree (as if humans aren’t doing that enough already), and spending countless hours arguing about how to decorate it, only to throw it out the week after Christmas.  Sure it looked pretty for that occasional family member that wandered over to drop something off, but what was the point?

We spent evenings that felt like eternities manipulating cookies to taste just like the ones from the store. What was the point? Couldn’t you just, I don’t know, buy them?!?! During the Christmas season everyone just complains about their diet anyways.

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Someone was interested in the Sour Cream mixture.

Looking back to how much of a Grinch I was, it makes me wonder how I got to where I am today. I cannot wait until snow hits the ground, this means Santa’s coming!!! The smell of the tree, while sitting next to the fire, looms my dreams for the rest of the 11 months. Don’t get me started about cookies; I think it is obvious what happened there (if not feel free to read my post on Chocolate Chip Cookies).

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Batter

An Odd thing about me and Christmas, for some reason I always associate Lemon with the holidays. Perhaps it is because almost every Christmas morning my mother would make Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. Or perhaps it has something to do with the lemon drop cookies that I spent hours recreating. It could just be my obsession with zesting things and the smell that lingers on my fingers afterword’s.

Anyways, last night (while dancing to Christmas music) I made mini lemon poppy seed muffins for breakfast at work. These guys love when I bring in treats for them, and it gives me an excuse to eat all day. Throughout the morning I had countless people exclaiming how I am ruining their diet, while stuffing three mini muffins in their mouth and taking two for after they swallowed.

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My mini muffins in my cookie jar, almost gone that is

Looking back at my childhood I am almost 97.2% positive that my mother never made these from scratch. I think she cheated and used a mix. Well that cheater, cheater, pumpkin pie eater; try this one next time!

Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2/3 Cup sugar

2 cups AP flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 Cup sour Cream

2 large eggs

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Stick unsalted Butter, melted

2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees, grease muffin tins (or use liners, your call)
  2. In a large bowl mix the lemon zest in with the sugar. This is easiest done with your fingers. Mix until all the sugar is wet with lemon.
  3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix this together well.
  4. In a medium size bowl whisk together sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and butter.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and mix until wet.
  6. Add Poppy seeds then stir to combine
  7. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way and bake for 10 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Optional Icing

For icing I did not have any lemon juice, or lemons lying around. I only had 1 which I used for the muffins. I used a vanilla glaze, but a lemon glaze is what I intended on doing so I’ll give you both options.

Lemon

1 Cup Confectioners’ sugar

2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice (preferably fresh)

Mix till combined, drizzle over cooled muffins.

Vanilla

1 Cup confectioners’ sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix till combined, drizzle over cooled muffins

Makes 4 dozen mini muffins, almost 1 dozen normal sized muffins (amount ranges on size of the tins)