Fudge Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

If you know me at all, you know I love Christmas.  If you don’t know me, you will learn quickly that I love Christmas.  I love decorating for Christmas; I love Christmas smells; I love baking for Christmas; I love Christmas music; I love the general feeling of joy and warmth I have all season long.  I love Christmas.  For me, Christmas is the happiest time of the year.  End of story.  Read more…

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

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Last Tuesday, Christian texts me at around 2pm and says, “Can you bake something tonight for my class tomorrow?  I told my professor I would bring in baked goods for this thing we are having.”  Now, I felt a little like a mom being solicited by her five-year-old son for goodies to bring to class for show-n-tell, but, being the wonderful girlfriend I am – and eager baker – I agreed.  *Sigh*.  I immediately set off on my next task of choosing a recipe.  After coming up with several chocolaty delicious options, I asked Christian which he would prefer.  He responded by asking if I could make something a little more seasonal. 

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Bakeology: On Browned Butter

Sorry for the delay in posting!  Between Thanksgiving travels and work travels, I’ve been very preoccupied for the past week!  But enough excuses.  Without further ado, my next lesson…

Today’s lesson is in browning butter.  Many recipes call for browned butter, but, what does that mean, and, more importantly, why should I take the extra time to brown my butter?

The browning of butter gives it an extra layer of richness and a deep nutty flavor you simply cannot achieve without browning.  It is also called beurre noisette, meaning hazelnut butter, which is exactly what it tastes like.   It is a step most recipes can do without, but, once you try it, why would you want to?  Let’s start with the basics: What is butter?

Butter is a combination of butterfat, milk proteins, and water.  It is an oil-in-water emulsion* of water and fat with milk protein solids suspended inside.

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Nutella-Stuffed Browned-Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Happy Thanksgiving!  In honor of Turkey-Day, I am posting a recipe I made recently…that has absolutely nothing to do with Thanksgiving.  Yaaay!!!  Now, I am making my Pumpkin Pie with Vodka Pie Crust and Apple Strudel Rolls this morning to take to Christian’s family’s Thanksgiving festivities this afternoon, but I have already posted about those*, so I decided to go with something new; something delicious, (mostly) classic, and as All-American as Thanksgiving itself:  Chocolate chip cookies…with a twist. Continue reading

Bakeology: On Pie Crusts and Gluten Formation

Pie Crusts and Gluten Formation

Welcome to the first post in the Bakeology series!

Since pie season is upon us, and the holidays are right around the corner, I figured my first Bakeology post, very fittingly, would focus on the star of my holiday meals:  Pie!  More specifically, pie crust.  And gluten.  And what is all that about?  I just recently tried a pie crust recipe with vodka in it, and had great success.  The crust was buttery, flakey, and delicious.  But why?  What does the vodka do that makes this recipe better than one with 100% water?  Let’s explore…

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First, what is gluten? 

Gluten is a strong, sticky, stretchy protein found in foods made from wheat and similar grains that helps give dough its elasticity.  When you add water to flour, the two wheat proteins, glutenin and gliadin, combine and form gluten.

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Bakeology: The Science of Sweets

Good day to you all!

It is a good day today because I have decided to start a new blog series, which I am calling “Bakeology:  The Science of Sweets”.  I will probably commonly refer to it just as Bakeology.  For those who don’t know me, I majored in Chemical Engineering in college, which makes me a B.S.-certified nerd.  In true nerd-form, I want to know all of the facts – down to the molecule – about baking and the science behind it.  Also, I like structure, and need structure to effectively work and learn.  Therefore, this blog series will FORCE me to learn at least one new thing a week!  Hopefully, I will learn much more than that and I will not have nearly enough weeks to post about my wealth of knowledge on the science of baking.  Why recipes call for room temperature eggs, how gluten forms, why use this fat over this one, and what really is the difference between cake flour and all-purpose flour?  All these questions, and more, will be answered in this blog series.

If you have any baking science question or mystery you would like me to investigate, please comment on any post in the series as we  move along and I will definitely try to answer it in a future post!  Stay tuned later this week for my first Baking Science post!

Chocolate Layer Cake with Pumpkin Pastry Cream and Maple Bourbon Buttercream

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To finish off my 4-week long fondant cake decorating class, we were tasked with making a cake to cover in fondant and bring the uniced cake into class.  Seeing as Halloween was later that week, my class decided pumpkin cakes would be fitting to make as our final cake project.  Continue reading

My Journey to Fondant Enlightenment…Wilton Course 3: Gum Paste and Fondant

For four weeks straight, I feverishly and relentlessly toiled away with gum paste and fondant to construct beautiful, vibrant, and – with any luck, and a lot more practice – life-like flowers in my Wilton Course 3: Gum Paste and Fondant cake decorating class.  Yes, this four-week long class taught me to make roses, mums, calla lilies, daisies, and many other flowers.  It taught me how to mold, manipulate, and roll fondant and gum paste, and I learned how to work quickly with it before it started to dry. (I also learned tricks to help prevent it from drying when I am working a little slower.)  It all culminated last Tuesday in the grand finale – covering a cake in fondant!  I will briefly chronicle the 4-week long journey to fondant enlightenment, in “picture-book” fashion…Let us begin…

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