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!

Drunken Banana (Fool Proof, Drunk Proof, Easy Banana Muffins)

It starts at eight am, the phone calls, the emails, the issues, the drama. From eight am till five you are chained. Chained to a chair (which between you and me is not that comfortable), and doused with other people’s problems and lit on fire. It sucks. Day in and day out we continue this pattern. Issue after issue, crisis after crisis, and not one person likes it; not you, not the person on the other end of the phone and definitely not your boss. But we wake up each morning and do it anyway because we are crazy.

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Anyways, ranting aside, we all hate work, that’s a given. But on the occasion we all like to do nice things for our coworkers,Martini recipe like bake them chocolate chip banana muffins for breakfast, to show them how much you appreciate them not literally lighting you on fire when you complain. But also on occasion you like to drink away a hard day at work, and three key lime pie martinis in you realize those muffins are not going to bake themselves.

 

Coworkers around the world, I have done you a favor. Drunk proof muffins!! *I think I am required by law to say that if you are under the influence take my ideas lightly, while it might be fun for me to make muffins and risk burning the house down, you might want to think twice about this idea.* After a few cocktails sprawled out on the chase lounge by the pool, those damn muffins still linger in the back of your head. Well have no fear, follow this recipe somewhat and your muffins will come out wonderful!

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 Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

These muffins are super simple to make and one of my house hold favorite. When the bananas go bad and the fruit flies start buzzing be sure to reach for this recipe and not waste those sweet, beautiful bananas.

Makes roughly 24 muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup butter, softened

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup packed brown sugar

2 Eggs

1 – 1/2 Cups mashed ripe bananas (bout 3)

3 Teaspoons Vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 Teaspoons baking soda

1 bag of chocolate chips (or less, to taste really)

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer cream butter and sugars
  2. Beat in eggs, bananas and vanilla.
  3. Combine mixture until combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips
  5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups half way
  6. Bake at 350* for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Wait 5 minutes before removing from pan.

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Which came first: Tequila vs. Revolution (Vanilla Lime Cupcakes)

One tequila, two tequila, three tequilas more, four tequila, five tequila, six tequila, floor.

Happy Cinco De Mayo, we Americans will spend it sipping margaritas, taking shots of tequila followed by sour faces, and the hugging of the porcelain express. Leave it up to Americans to take a holiday from another country and turn it upside down, IT IS NOT A MEXICAN DRINKING HOLIDAY.

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WARNING HISTORY LESSON AHEAD: In 1861 Mexico was going through an economic crisis, debt was not being paid, other countries were involved, it was not a good time. Good ol’ Napoleon III decided that France should take over Mexico because of the prime real estate next to the US. So the French army went over to Mexico and started a French vs. Mexican war. On May 5th, 1862 they Mexican army was surprised by the French in Puebla but somehow, although the Mexican army was out numbered, they defeated the French for the battle of Puebla!

Mexico City was still taken over by the French, until they decided that they did not want it anymore in 1866 then handed it back over to the Mexican government. Cinco de Mayo in Mexico serves as a day of Mexican pride where they hold parades and mock battles, but tequila is not a requirement.  END HISTORY LESSON.

America has a great way of taking something and blowing it out of the water. Alcohol companies did a great job taking a celebration of pride and turning it into a day of drunken stumbling in the US, but hey who can resist a good shot of patron?!?

Unfortunately tequila and cupcakes don’t match, just like tequila and anything creamy doesn’t match, trust me I tried. However what is a must have with tequila? Limes of course and despite the lime shortage this year I was able to snag a handful and make wonderful Vanilla lime cupcakes. So take a shot, and chase it with these vanilla lime cupcakes! Happy Drinking Everyone!

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Vanilla Lime Cupcakes

Since tequila and cupcakes lead to a sour blend, these cupcakes signify what comes after the shot, and I am not talking about a sour face! This vanilla cupcake is super light and goes down easy, while the buttercream Lime frosting is not too sweet, but chases the cupcake like a champ!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

Cake

1 2/3 Cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 Teaspoon baking powder

1/4 Teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon of salt

1 Cup granulated Sugar

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted

2 Egg whites

1/4 Cup vanilla yogurt

3/4 Cup Milk

2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract

Frosting

1 Cup Unsalted butter at room temp.

6 Cups Powdered sugar

Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed

Zest of 1 lime

Few drops of green food coloring

Small lime slices for garnish, if desired.

 

Directions:

Cupcakes –

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside
  3. Melt the butter.
  4. In a stand mixer (or a large bowl for a hand mixer) mix the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg whites, yogurt, milk and vanilla until combined.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until incorporated with no lumps.
  6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 the way with batter, bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Frosting –

  1. With a stand mixer beat butter until lite and fluffy.
  2. Add powder sugar, salt, lime juice, and zest and mix until creamy
  3. Mix in a few drops of green food coloring
  4. Transfer into a piping bag and frost the cupcakes when cool

 

Confessions of a Lazy Baker (Oatmeal M&M Cookies)

4 million dollar, 4 million, that’s how big my mistake was at work this week. Needless to say I am stressed, and when I’m stressed I eat. On Monday I found myself pacing back and forth outside of a conference room because I wanted left over cookies from their lunch meeting. There were no leftovers.  I raced up and down the aisles at work to get a small bite of chocolate, no one had any. When I was stressed and needed it the most my work let me down.

Cookie dough... Reminder: do not eat all of it.

Cookie dough… Reminder: do not eat all of it.

I decided I was going to make a sweet treat for me, I mean everyone at work. I also lost a bet to one of the departments and promised them cupcakes. But the thing is, on Tuesday when I came home from the gym, I realized I did not have enough butter for a butter cream frosting. I also did not have any cream cheese for a cream cheese frosting. And on top of all of that it was 8:30 pm, I was not going out to get anything. So I settled with cookies.

What I really wanted to make was double chocolate chunk espresso cookies. Well, let me tell you, I did not have anything to make that. No espresso, no Dutch processed coco, and not enough butter. This whole baking thing was starting to stress me out almost as much as my 4 million dollar mistake.

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TO THE INTERNET! I don’t often borrow recipes from the internet but when I do I make sure the recipe is legit. I borrowed Chewy Oatmeal M&M cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction, AND MAN DID THEY COME OUT WONDERFUL! I made two batches, one for my work fellows and one for the house. For the first batch I followed the recipe to a T. I was pleased how they came out however the cinnamon was throwing me off, something with the cinnamon and the chocolate was not working for me. However it did take me 3 cookies to decide this. For my second batch I dropped the cinnamon and added another teaspoon of vanilla. These came out much better for my liking. Chewy, soft, hearty with the oatmeal, and still sweet with M&M’s thrown in. A perfect distressing snack.

Chewy Oatmeal M&M cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

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 M&M added to taste (small or large does not matter, I used large because again, I did not have small)

 

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 M&Ms/

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

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These were a hit at work!

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)

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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