Cupcakes!

Our wedding is in 10 days and I have good news on the knee front. X-ray shows I’m on track and am perfectly healing. I’m cleared for physical therapy to work on improving my strength and  range of motion (ROM). I’m at 70º right now and 135º or so is normal. Now I just need to practice walking down the aisle.

The amount of television I’ve watched in the last few weeks rivals the amount I’ve watched my whole life prior to my injury. I’m exaggerating a tiny bit. Just a bit. Streaming Netflix has been a lifesaver while I’ve been stuck at home. TV Shows I’ve watched their complete available libraries include: United States of Tara, Raising Hope, The League, Better of Ted, Parks & Recreation, The Killing, Damages, Downtown Abbey, Portlandia, Cake Boss. I’m currently watching: Bones, Samantha Who, Sports Night, White Collar, How I Met Your Mother, Lie to me. See? Lots of TV.

What does all this have to do with cupcakes? Well. While watching Cake Boss, I decided I need to give this decorating thing a try. I’m what you call a rustic decorating. A sprinkle of powdered sugar does wonders. I decided to start small. Cupcake small. I ordered a couple of cupcake books from Amazon (not really able to go to bookstores now).

One of those cookbooks is Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes and these cupcakes are the first recipe in the book: Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting. Yum. As you can see, not a lot of fancy decorating here. I’m starting slow. You can find the recipe for the cupcake base HERE and for the dark chocolate frosting HERE.

Mudslide Cookies (I’m back to baking!)

Yes. I’m back to baking. :) Although in a very limited capacity and not anything too complicated or anything that requires too much standing. No baking marathons of the past where I would bake all day and through the night.

Sitting at home, In between TV shows and naps, I have plenty of time to read emails that I used to just delete unread. One type is the Martha Stewart Cookie of the Day email. Mudslide Cookies were the featured cookie on April 16.

Reviewing the ingredients and having everything on hand (very important as I can’t drive or walk anywhere) I decided to make these. I’m glad I did.

They are a chocolate lover’s dream and I knew Paul would love them. Made with 3 types of chocolate and barely any flour, they melt in your mouth. Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Like a perfectly under-baked brownie.

You can find the recipe here: Mudslide Cookies.

(by the way 23 days until our wedding.)

photo by paulrus

Some bakings

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It turns out I need surgery. On the follow-up x-ray you can see my patella fragments shifted around. The type of surgery I’m having is called open reduction internal fixation, which means my orthopedic surgeon slashes open my knee, repositions the pieces of my bone in the correct places, and then uses screws to pin everything together. The outpatient surgery lasts about an hour and a half. I’ll probably spend more time at the hospital waiting for the surgery to happen than actual time in surgery.

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I spent yesterday afternoon traversing the medical clinic for my orthopedic appointment and pre-surgery work-up–blood draw, EKG, chest x-ray. Based on my google research, I should be out of my splint in six weeks. Just in time for our wedding. :) We were joking yesterday that we may have Paul walk down the aisle instead of me.

Even though my surgery is not scheduled until 5pm I haven’t been able to eat since midnight. So what do I decide to do? Spend time writing a blog post about things I can’t eat. ;)

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1. Napoleons with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream and Dairy Milk Chocolate Ganache–I used my homemade puff pastry again, my vanilla beans I bought in Tahiti, and Paul’s supply of Dairy Milk Chocolate to make these for Paul for his return home from a week-long work trip.

2. Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares–these are crunchy chewy cookies out of Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchycookbook. They’re a bit of work , in that you have to roll the dough and cut the squaresThe recipe calls for the use of any dried fruit and any flavor combination. I used dried cranberries and lemon zest. I really enjoyed the fresh, light taste and the crunchy yet chewy texture of these. If you have this cookbook, I encourage you to bake these. I think they are a great spring cookie and different from the usual sugar cookie. If you don’t have this cookbook, I encourage you to buy it. I haven’t had a recipe fail me yet. You can find the recipe online:pebbly beach fruit squares.

3. Tarte Fine– I made this the same day as the Parisian Apple Tartlet because it uses almost the same ingredients and is another recipe to cross-off my Tuesdays with Dorie v1.0 list. I used my homemade puff pastry again (!) and vanilla bean sugar. Leslie of Lethally Delicious was the host and you can find the recipe on her site.

4. Irish Soda Bread (again)–Paul suggested slow-cooked scrambled eggs and Irish Soda Bread for his first meal home. In a highly unusual move, this marks the third time I’ve made this recipe from Baking with Julia.

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This post is 100% produced on my iPhone–pictures, links, etc. I apologize in advance if some things don’t work. My lap top is broken, Paul’s camera is out on loan to his sister, and I can’t sit at a computer these days.

a trip of cookies

What do you call a group of cookies? A gaggle, a cache, a bunch of goodness? A group of goats is called a trip. I learned that from a Snapple Fact. Another cool Snapple Fact: Snails have teeth.

Over the past several weeks I’ve baked a bunch of cookies for baptismal parties, for birthday parties, or for just plain eating.

Bittersweet Brownies–A plain, simple brownie with a wallop of amazing chocolate flavor.  Made without nuts because sometimes I don’t feel like a nut. The Tuesdays with Dorie bakers made these in November 2011. Leslie of Lethally Delicious was the host and you can find the recipe HERE.

Drunk Cherry Chip Cookies–A delicious twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie made with white and semi-sweet chocolate chips and dried cherries soaked in cherry liquor. I’ve blogged about these cookies twice before , baked them multiple times, and now I’ve renamed them again. You can find the recipe HERE.

Earl Grey Madeleines–I had some Earl Grey tea bag samples from a conference I attended and decided to bake these traditional French butter cookie. I liked the infused flavor of the tea and bought a tin of Earl Grey the next time I was at the tea shop.  Baked by the Tuesdays with Dorie group in December 2011 and hosted by Nichi of Bakeologie. You can find the recipe HERE.

Homemade Thin Mints–An easy recipe for the Girl Scout classic. Tasty, crunchy, and minty. You can find the recipe HERE.

Homemade Samoas–Another Girl Scout classic. Coconut, caramel, and chocolate on a shortbread cookie base. Taste better than the door-to-door variety. You can find the recipe HERE.

Peanuttiest Blondies–Made with both peanut butter and peanuts, they really are peanutty. The addition of chocolate chips and cinnamon make them out of this world delicious. Perfect on their own or with vanilla ice cream. Baked by the Tuesdays with Dorie group in December 2010 and hosted by Nichi of Bakeologie. (I had no idea I baked two recipes hosted by the same blogger until I started writing this post!). You can find the recipe HERE.

photos by paulrus

Dairy Milk Cupcakes

In pursuit of the perfect English chocolate cupcake, I present to you my third attempt. Although not perfect, I now know the next few tweaks that will get me closer to my goal. The frosting on this version is still the whipped ganache I used for version #2. We really like it. It’s not too sweet and it’s simple: melted chocolate and heavy cream. Unfortunately, I over-whipped this batch.  The base cupcake is Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes with Dairy Milk substitutions. My first attempt at English chocolate cupcakes also used Dorie’s recipe and that has been our favorite over this course.

In the time since baking these, I baked a 4th version using a “perfected” chocolate cupcake recipe I pulled out of Food & Wine magazine  a few years ago and relegated to my magazine stack until now. I am sparing you all not sharing that version because although tasty, it wasn’t close to perfect. Until next time…

Photos by Paulrus