Friday, October 31, 2008
Daring Bakers: Dessert Pizza

Finally, another opportunity to participate in the Daring Bakers' Challenge. Homemade pizza dough always seemed like such a labour-intensive and time-consuming task and because of the numerous daunting paragraphs of instruction that detail the making of it, I have always put it off. Once again the DB Challenge offered me that much needed push of encouragement to overcome my hesitancy and with so many others also taking the plunge, the Daring Bakers' seems to serve as a support group and it's easier to go head on into a task with the knowledge that you're not alone.

I was happy to find that only the "time" factor was indeed true about the making of pizza dough. Laborious it was not, although I did have to put in some extra work kneading and working the dough by hand and cleaning the constantly floured counter top due to my lack of stand mixer (I won't fret though, Christmas will arrive soon enough), but the overall experience was fun and fulfilling. Today I used a fraction of the dough to make a small dessert pizza: cream cheese, apricot spread, apples, topped with an almond streusel. Tomorrow I plan on making a savory chicken alfredo pizza, more on that in a following post.

The sweet pizza overall was delightful, the smooth tangy cream cheese, the sweet mix of the apricot and apple, and the added texture of the streusel. The dough came out perfectly, even though I wasn't apple to enjoy the crust due to the sensitivity caused by my braces. Thank you once again to the Daring Bakers for another chance to add something new to my repertoire!

Apricot-Apple Pizza with Cream Cheese and Almond Streusel

Basic Pizza Dough

Adapted from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 4-6 pizza crusts

For the dough:
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) ice cold water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugarSemolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl or stand mixer. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (spoon or paddle attachment) to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If it is too wet, add a little flour and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. Cut the dough into 4-6 equal pieces. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Take 1 piece and lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

Make only one pizza at a time. During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.You can also resort to using a rolling pin.

When the dough has the shape you want, place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes. [My pizza baked at 375 for 15 minutes.]

For the topping:

adapted from

1/3 cup cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 large apple, peeled, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped

Halloween Sugar Cookies

This sudden onset of rain that appeared yesterday may discourage many trick-or-treaters, but that just means more candy for me. I'm never much of a candy person, during the other 365 days of the year I'm quite immune to popular allure of candy bars, they're just not my indulgence of choice. Well, they're not much of an indulgence at all. Typically I figure that if I'm going to put something of questionable nutritional value it might as well be decadent. However, there's something about Halloween that removes the "stigma" I normally attach to mass produced chocolates. In fact, I'll admit that I just opened up the bag of Halloween candy I purchased at Costco today and grabbed an Almond Joy on my way to my laptop to write this post.

Halloween this year has also given me a new appreciation for sugar cookies, which I normally ignore due traumatic experiences with cheap grocery store cookies and frosting. My mother asked me last week to make a batch of sugar cookies and use up the left over sprinkles from my little sister's school project. The cookies are supposed to be for my little cousins when they stop by tonight for trick-or-treating, but my mom's boyfriend has already eaten about two of them. And my mother and I, admittedly, ate up a cookie as well, quickly passing it back and forth bite after bite, in awe of how simply delicious it was, until it was gone.

Sugar Cookies

(makes roughly 60 cookies, I made only 1/4 of this recipe)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring

In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners' sugar and butter until smooth. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired.

Monday, October 27, 2008
Ciao Bella alla Casa

Why do let me stay here?
All by myself
Why don't you come and play here?
I'm just sitting on the shelf
- "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" by She & Him

Last week Mr. Simple happened to mention that his sister bought a new kind of ice cream. I begged him to elaborate.

Mr. S: I dunno. They're in these kinda small cups.

Me: What kind of small cups?

Mr. S:What do you mean?

Me: Are they paper, plastic?

Mr. S: Paper, why do you want to know?

Me: How small are they?

Mr. S: I don't know, small. Why do you keep asking.

Me: Can you save an empty cup for me and bring it next time?

Mr. S: Why?

Me: I just want to see it.

Mr. S: Why?

Me: I just like cute stuff like that.

Mr. S: What are you going to do with it?

Me: I don't know, I'll see if it's right.

Mr. S: Right for what?

Me: ... *embarassed*

Mr. S: You want to see if it's right for what?

Me: ...Right for baking something in...

Mr. S: ...grr.

He finally brought me one of those little ice cream cups, with the ice cream still in it. As soon as he handed it to me something about the little cup caught my attention.

Me: Why didn't you tell me it was "Ciao

Mr. S: I didn't that was that

Me: [tears of lid and savors a spoonfull of creamy gelato]
...Not in the least. ^ ^

Saturday, October 25, 2008
Creamy Chocolate Fudge

Per request I attempted my very first batch of fudge yesterday. Needless to say I was very on edge over the daunting concept of candy making because an edible product is contingent upon no mistakes, a very unforgiving process. The fact that this was also something my mom's boyfriend has been craving for the past week and waited anxiously until the weekend for me to come home and try it did not make the task any less difficult. I panicked midway too when I poured the chocolate into the mixture and each stir seemed to turn the smooth texture into a grainy nightmare. I reluctantly poured it into a mold anyway, spread it as best I could, hid it away in the refrigerator and tried to forgot about it for the next few hours. Part of me hoped that my family would forget about it too and my failure would sit behind the leftovers undiscovered until I could sneak back sometime and throw away the evidence after it was long gone from everyone's mind.

Unfortunately, I really did forget about it and went out that night to a bible study and the thought only returned to me when I got a call from my mom telling me how much he loved it. That was a little hard for me to believe and I couldn't stop myself from being overly apologetic about its every flaw, must especially its texture. She assured me though that the texture was anything but and I came home to happily discover that this was indeed the truth. The fudge was smooth and creamy and melted deliciously once it hit the tongue.

Initial fears dispersed, I can't wait to try other variations. Maybe peppermint for the holidays!

Creamy Chocolate Fudge (

48 servings [this is the original recipe, I halved the recipe however]

1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line an 8x8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and pour in semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or until firm.

Friday, October 24, 2008
Dulce de Leche Apple Cake

This morning began with a request for a fresh batch of homemade pancakes and soon after the requests began to pile up. My first mission was a coupon treasure hunt at Costco and more miscellaneous grocery shopping at Lucky. Then a request for chocolate fudge sometime this weekend...and a suggestion for sweet potato fudge (still doing some research on that one). Then a bread pudding for my mother's best friend, another batch of pancake batter for my mom to use after I leave on Sunday, maybe some brownies because my mom's boyfriend ran out of box mixes. Not that I had the heart to turn any of these requests down, any excuse to do some baking is enough to catch my attention. But first I had to do what I wanted.

I have been waiting to try this recipe all week. Now they were originally meant to be "Dulce de Leche Apple Bars", but I picked up an adorable circular paper baking mold yesterday at Sur la Table and thought that it would make the perfect size little apple cake. Unfortunately, I must've been into what I was baking that I didn't consider that the batter might overflow. I realized this too late and when I peeked into the oven to see for myself, my susupicious were confirmed. Overflow it had. But I thought it added a certain imperfect charm and it was delicious nonetheless.

My mother and I both agreed that it would do just fine sans the browned butter icing and we would do just fine without all that extra sugar. And being the fruit lovers that we are, we also agreed that next time adding more fruit than the recipe called for wouldn't hurt.

Dulce de leche Apple Cake with Browned Butter Icing

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled apples
1/2 cup dulce de leche

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x9-inch square baking pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy.

Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture, just until combined. Carefully stir in apples.

Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop dulce de leche by heaping Tablespoons over batter. Drag a butter knife through dulce de leche to swirl through the batter. Drop remaining batter over dulce de leche.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until browned and firm to touch. Let cool completely.

Browned Butter Icing

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons half and half cream

Prepare icing: In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium until it begins to brown. Remove from heat. Add to a bowl with powdered sugar, vanilla and half/half. Beat on high speed with electric mixer until creamy. Drizzle and spread over bars, and chill until icing is set.

Thursday, October 23, 2008
Peachy-Keen Cobbler

Today I came home to discover a darling pile of peaches displayed on the dining table. Now I know the peaches probably taste great au natural, but being the sugar fiend that I am, I opted for smothering them in sugar and cinnamon and sprinkling them with a crumb topping. In other words, I could have sweet fresh peaches, but I'd really rather have a warm, delicious peach cobbler.

In keeping with my "mini" or "individual" baking style in order to minimize: 1) waste, 2) my sugar intake, 3) my waistline, I used only two of the tiny white peaches to make myself a single serving cobbler. I will however post the full serving recipe here.

The top of the cobbler did unexpectedly caramelize and ended up looking deceivingly similar to a creme brulee, but for the most part the topping remained soft and crumbly. The little white peach slices soaked up the cinnamon and sugar perfectly and every bite was warm with a subtle hint of spice.

Peach Cobbler

8 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water

3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.

Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

Champage French Bakery Cafe

Today I got my weekend off to an even earlier start. Morning classes were closed today due to the VoteSmart event that came to my university. Unfortunately, the event was so crowded that by the time my friends and I got there no more seats were left except at the live viewing held at the adjacent lecture hall. Disappointed though I was, I didn't lose that opportunity to call my mom up and get picked up early. Well, she had a doctor's appointment so lucky little me got dropped off to frolic in The Village at Corte Madera.

I walked into Sur La Table as soon as they opened their doors and bought myself an adorable little cake stand, the perfect size for all the 6" cakes I make. For the past few weeks every single cake I've made has been in miniature and my regular glass cake stand just overpowers them. Now with the perfect little cake stand to match, there's nothing to steal the spotlight from my darling little creations. My cute new purchase will make its debut on my blog soon enough.

If that wasn't indulgent enough, I couldn't help looking into the Champagne French Bakery Cafe and buying myself a little Carrot Cream Cheese Snack Cake with Vanilla Glaze (for a little over $1 I could hardly help myself) and of course, I couldn't resist trying one of the free samples of the many other treats they offer, an atypical strawberry cheesecake. What a way to kick off my weekend...all before noon!

To get me even more inspired I spent over an hour waiting to get picked up at Barnes & Noble flipping unstoppably through cookbooks and magazines. By the time I finally got back into the car I was more than ready to hit the grocery store and never leave the kitchen until it was Sunday night and time to go back to school.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Yay for National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!

During a brief moment of unproductive boredom in between classes I was searching online through the countless random food holidays that take place on every single day of the year unbeknownst to most people. That's when I learned that today was National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, who would've guessed? And lucky for me, I just had a delicious mini pumpkin cheesecake from Viva Cocolat in Petaluma on Sunday and was actually waiting until I had some free time to make a quick post about it. Well, I think today would be the perfect day to do so.

I was also bored enough to write down almost every food celebrated (at least the ones that interested me) on every day for the rest of the year. Just in case I needed any inspiration, or excuse, to bake something. October is actually National Caramel Month.

Well there you go, some eye candy to help you celebrate National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day. I can't wait until next year's National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! Haha. No, not at all, there are definitely plenty of food holidays to keep me occupied for the next 365 days of the year.

Saturday, October 18, 2008
Chocolate Layer Cake

I'm just not a big fan of chocolate cake...there I said it. It's not that I won't eat it, I like it and I'll have it every now and then, but only as a "last resort" when I'm craving something sweet. I'm more easily tempted by other flavors, like vanilla, or something unique, or something fruity. I can't resist a fresh, warm, ooey-gooey brownie however, but chocolate cake just always seemed to me rather...ordinary.

My prejudice has prevented me from ever really considering the challenge of taking on a chocolate cake. It was only after my friend made a request for two little chocolate cakes that I actually looked into the possibility. The idea was exciting, the prospect of making a cake other than carrot (I made eight last weekend and another one by my mother's request this weekend) was too irresistible.

While I was in the process of making my friend's cakes, my mother's boyfriend walked by the kitchen and was disappointed to find that what I was preparing was not meant for the family. By his request I whipped up another quick chocolate cake, which is the one shown in the picture with a chocolate fudge frosting and coating of chocolate ganache. The two for my friend were frosted with a chocolate buttercream icing and unfortunately, I was in such a rush to get them to her on friday night that I forgot to snap a picture of them.

I can't say that this cake completely changed my perspective on chocolate cake, but I did have more than one slice and it was delicious with a refreshing glass of milk. The downfall of a chocolate cake for me is its temperature. I'll go gaga for a warm brownie or a molten chocolate cake or gooey chocolate souffle, but since I can't throw a slice of chocolate layer cake in the microwave without ending up with soupy chocolate frosting it just doesn't make it on my top list. But I would never turn down a chance to make it again for a friend, any excuse to bake. Although now I can't wait for something new!

Chocolate Cake

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water (plus 1 tsp of instant coffee)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 teasp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk or half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

In a heavy medium saucepan combine the sugar,cocoa and salt. Mix everything together.

Add the butter and place over a medium heat stirring to melt the butterand mix everything together into a smooth brown sauce.Add the milk,stir well and bring to a lively boil stirring often.Adjust the heat to maintain an active but gentle boil and cook for five minutes stirring often.

When the frosting begins to thicken remove it from the heat, stir in the vanilla and set it aside to cool for twenty minutes.Beat the frosting until it thickens and looks shiny then spread it over the cake or the layers you want to ice.

Friday, October 17, 2008
Another Cupcake Excursion

I took my sister out today to Berkeley to photograph a couple of pieces from her clothing line whoabot:vestures you can click here to check out her Etsy store. My photographic services today were free and I promised to follow her anywhere no matter how far or strange as long as she sustained me. So all our food today was on her...for once.

Before Berekeley we couldn't help but stop at Emeryville's Teacake Bakeshop and were set on getting the Coconut Cupcakes and Chocolate with Dulce de Leche Buttercream that we had yet to try when our plans were ruined by a sign announcing the arrival of the new seasonal autumn flavors: Pumpkin and Apple Crumb. Well, we couldn't really justify getting the pumpkin cupcake, seeing as I just made pumpkin bread the day before. So I got the apple crumb and my sister got...a pumpkin cookie. I guess I couldn't really stop her if she wanted pumpkin that bad, but at least it was in a different form than was offered at home.

Both were delicious, of course. My cupcake was flecked with juicy little bits of cinnamony-apple and I adored the crumb topping, crumb toppings are one of my favorite parts of certain desserts. The coconut and chocolate ducle de leche cupcakes can wait, for a second day in a row I have chosen to honor the coming of autumn.

Thursday, October 16, 2008
Maine Pumpkin Bread

I finally gave into my craving for the taste of autumn. Putting summer behind me and embracing the spicy warmth of fall flavors. It wasn't until the breads were in the oven for a good while and started to perfume the house with a deep spicy aroma that I realized that I love cold season cuisine the best. Albeit, I am a winter baby, but for some reason the hearty dishes that characterize the season seem to resound within me more than the light crisp flavors of spring and summer. Now don't get me wrong, I love lemonade and berry-based desserts as much as the next. However, lately my head is filled with anticipation for the taste of spiced apple cider, pumpkin and applie pies, egg nog-all very spice dominated foods. There's something about the deep complexity of fall foods that strikes me more than the innocent simplicity of spring and summer. Plus, I've been waiting all year to enjoy a much needed hot chocolate again. I can't wait to recreate the rich Spanish hot chocolate and churros that I ate almost every day on my trip to Spain last winter (my last dinner in Spain consisted of just hot chocolate and churros, hehe).

So as fall and winter step in I can't help but get excited at the prospect of all the yummy things that will be filling my house (and my tummy) over the next few months. Uh oh...I reckon that also ushers in the entrance of those inevitable holiday season pounds.

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread (from

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Sunday, October 5, 2008
Hi, I'll have a tall...Red Velvet Cupcake??

Can you guess what my favorite order is? Caramel Macchiato? Cafe Au Lait? Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino Blended Coffee? Actually I never drink coffee, if I ever go to Starbucks I'll normally pick up an Iced Green Tea or a Chai Tea. Although I am excited to try the new signature hot chocolates, Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, Hazelnut Hot Chocolate, and their Signature Hot Chocolate. A childhood favorite refined! However, none of these drinks was inside the tall Starbucks logo cup that my mom brought me home today.
Inside was actually a tiny red velvet cupcake!! I don't know which location she found it at but it was the nicest little surprise. The frosting on top wasn't the cream cheese frosting common to most red velvet cupcakes, but it was nice (if not as wonderful) nonetheless. There was even a little surprise inside of my surprise...a rich chocolate ganache center, a wonderful discovery I made after two or three bites.

I also baked another carrot cake this weekend, an adorable miniature 6 inch double layer cake. I increased the ratio of the carrots, used half brown sugar and half white, and added a touch of cinnamon to cream cheese frosting. My family definitely appreciated the slight changes and unfortunately, so much so, that I was unable to take even one photograph before my tiny creation was cut into and almost half devoured. However, one blessing that did arise from this was my mother's suggestion that I sell, what she has dubbed, my "perfected" carrot cake as well as my other delicious quick breads to the women at the church to help raise funds for my college, seeing as I've been unable to acquire an on-campus job as of yet. I told her I'd look into the possibility and the notion has got me very excited for such a legitimate excuse to bake every weekend. More updates as that on going project progresses.