sarahgrand

Month: August, 2012

Double Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

Macaroni and Cheese…Peanut Butter and Jelly…Pancakes and Syrup…these are all beloved food combinations. But perhaps the best food combination (ever) is dark chocolate and raspberry. It’s amazing, for real.

I had been wanting to make a dessert that combined the flavors of dark chocolate and raspberry for a while now, so when my friend suggested we bake something together before I go back to school, I had the perfect thing in mind: Double Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookies.

When I made my Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies, I added a bit of mint extract to the cookie dough (plus some green food coloring), and they came out great. So for these cookies, I figured we could make regular double dark chocolate cookie dough but add a secret ingredient (raspberry extract) to get the desired effect. We used this recipe for the cookie dough, which happens to be a copycat recipe from Levain Bakery, which is a coincidence because I have eaten a cookie from Levain bakery before and, that said, these actually do taste similar to the originals. We added one teaspoon of raspberry extract to the recipe, and though there was a nice hint of raspberry flavor in the cookies, next time I am either 1) adding a bit more raspberry extract, 2) adding bits of real raspberries (as per my dad’s suggestion), or 3) both of the above. Who am I kidding…I’ll definitely end up doing option 3.

All in all, these cookies are amazing (with or without the raspberry extract) and I definitely recommend them to anyone who loves all things chocolatey. They’re moist and rich and almost a little bit cake-like (but in the best way possible). I like my regular chocolate chip cookies chewy, but these are the perfect texture for the double dark chocolate cookies. Enjoy the pics!

Making the cookie dough 

Dark cocoa powder

Stealing a chocolate chip 

Secret Ingredient!

Ready for the oven

Finished Products:

Carrot Cake

Here are the results of my last day of cake decorating class. This is a carrot cake with vanilla icing, but next time I’m going to try using cream cheese icing instead! Perfect for fall.

Here’s what the cake looked like when it came out of the oven:

And here’s what it looked like after I leveled off the top. After I leveled the top, I added the filling and then began icing the outside. Look at the little bits of carrot!

Finished product:

Have a good day!

Pretty Cake

I made this really pretty cake for my friend’s birthday. It came out exactly how I wanted it to! I usually make my cupcakes very colorful and over-the-top, but there’s something to be said about a simple, clean cake. This one is three layers of butter golden with vanilla icing in-between.

Hostess Inspired Cupcakes

I made chocolate cupcakes that look like the Hostess ones yesterday!

I even filled them with vanilla frosting, just like the real ones:

I iced the cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Then I did the white squiggles with Wilton tip 3 and the same vanilla frosting I used for the filling. I just wikipedia’d “Hostess Cupcakes” and found out that the real cupcakes have 8 squiggles on top, but I didn’t know that when I was making mine, so some of mine have 8 and some have more. Oh well–you can still tell what they’re supposed to look like! Here’s me in the process of squiggling:

Finished product:

CUPCAKES!

Have a good rest of the day!

Rice Krispie Treat Hearts

This is a perfect (and easy-to-make) homemade dessert for the special person in your life. My roommates and I made these for Valentine’s Day freshman year of college. To create your own, use this recipe, however, instead of pressing the mixture into a pan, shape into hearts. Leave the treats out until they harden and maintain their shape, then decorate as desired. Rice Krispie Treats sort of became my go-to dessert when I lived in the dorms–they’re quick to make, require few ingredients, and, most importantly, they’re no bake (we had a stove, but not an oven). Looking forward to making more in the future.

xo Sarah

Pie Pops

I have always liked mini desserts–they’re so cute and everyone can get their own little portion. These pie pops are some of my favorite mini desserts yet! They’re an even smaller alternative to the mini apple pies I made a while back.

I didn’t make the pie crust or the filling from scratch; instead, I used Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix (just add water!) and a can of apple pie filling (I forget the brand I used, but they’re all the same in the end, right?). I added the right amount of water to the pie crust mix, but the dough was super sticky when it was done, so I ended up having to add a lot more flour to it before I rolled it out. After rolling it out, I referred to this recipe to construct the pops. They ended up coming out pretty good, but if I had to make them again, I would:

  1. Put the lollipop stick up farther, and embed it in the dough more–some of my pie pops had trouble staying on the stick
  2. Try to come up with a way to incorporate more filling without making the pie too heavy for the stick–in my opinion, these had a little too much crust and not enough filling, but I guess that’s unavoidable with the pops.
  3. Serve them warm–I had to make these for a party, so I didn’t really have the option to serve them warm, but I always think pie tastes better straight from the oven!

Enjoy!

(Why does my brother always sneak up in my pictures?)

(Cute packaging–a nice finishing touch)

A Colorful Patch

I like to take walks around my town, and almost every day I pass this garden center that has a really pretty patch of flowers right by the sidewalk. I admire it all the time, and the other day I forced my sister to come take pictures of it with me. We probably looked a bit strange, standing on the sidewalk of a busy road taking a bunch of pictures, but I’m glad I got these photos before the summer is over. It was really bright out, so the pictures aren’t the best, but I think they kind of look cool. I need to learn more about my camera so this doesn’t keep happening every time it’s really sunny out!

There’s a moth hiding somewhere in the next picture!

Speaking of flowers, here’s some really pretty ones from my backyard:

Bye for now!!

Strawberry Layer Cake

The results of week two of cake decorating class. I like the simplicity of the cake–it’s really cute and girly! There’s vanilla frosting filling, but next time I might try to add fresh fruit to the filling too.

Snow Cone Cupcakes

These are exactly what they sound like–cupcakes that look like snow cones! Mine are red, white, and blue–perfect timing for the Olympics closing ceremony (go America!)

I saw these on stumbleupon–didn’t come up with the idea myself. I got the sprinkles and white cups at Michaels (Wilton brand) and I ordered the little wooden spoons on Amazon (search wooden craft spoons or tasting spoons). The little white cups weren’t oven-safe so I baked the cupcakes separately and then just popped them right in the cups before I started decorating.

(Sprinkles)

(Before decorating–aren’t these the cutest?)

(Finished products)

Enjoy the rest of the day!

 

 

 

DIY Business Cards

I’ve been wanting to make my own business cards for a while now, and I finally got around to it last night. I’m really happy with how they turned out!

First, I made labels that stated my “business name” (I don’t really have a business, but I guess I’m aspiring to have one?? not really sure), my website, and my email address. For my business name I used the font “Cupcake” by Miss Tinaa, and for the other information I used the font “Wulan” (also by Miss Tinaa). Check out all her fonts here. They’re adorable and, best of all, many of them are free!

(Labels)

For the body of the card, I used scrapbook paper from DCWV’s Sweet Stack. Loved every page!

(Here’s some pages from the Sweet Stack. Nice 3D on some of these)

I bought some glitter tape to adorn the cards, but soon realized that the tape would be too bling for this project. I’ll definitely save it for another time though.

(“Bling on a Roll”)

To construct the cards, I used an eraser shield to trace out rectangles with rounded corners on the back of the paper. Eraser shields are only ~$0.50 and they are the best! I got mine for a drafting class and I still use it all the time. I use it as a stencil, a straight edge, an actual eraser shield, etc. Best $0.50 I ever spent.

Then I cut the paper. Always save the scraps–trust me, you’ll eventually find a purpose for them.

Here’s a finished card minus the label:

Put the label on and you’re done!

(The cards)

(My sister says the ones in the next picture remind her of chocolate strawberry cake)

(Mike and Ike?)

A big thanks to my sister Liz for helping me construct these yesterday! Enjoy the weekend!

Pompoms

I distinctly remember the moment when I saw this picture in Teen Vogue way back in early 2010. My eyes immediately went to the pompom keychain, and I decided that I would soon have my own, one way or another.

A few weeks later, I saw this bag at the mall, and even though I liked the keychain, I hated that the bag had the word “Juicy” plastered across the front. I realized that I would probably be best off making my own pompom keychain, so I went to the craft store and made it happen!

Here’s some of my pompom keychains on a couple of bags– DIY & more pictures below!

To make your own pompom keychain, you will need:

  • Pompoms (available at any craft store–I bought a bag that had a variety of colors and sizes, but if you’re going for a more uniform look, they should have bags with single colors and sizes too)
  • Craft string (aka the string you make friendship bracelets out of)
  • A sewing needle (with a hole big enough to fit your craft string)

That’s it– that’s literally all you need! So not only is this craft super quick and easy, it’s also really inexpensive (which is great because I’m sure the Marc Jacobs bag shown in Teen Vogue and the Juicy bag are pretty pricey. No need to spend lots of money when you can make something equally good yourself.)

To construct the keychain, first thread your needle with a piece of craft string. The length of the string really depends on how long you want your keychain to be. I wanted multiple keychains of varying lengths, so the lengths of my strings reflected that. You’ll barely see the string in the finished product, so it’s doesn’t really matter what color you choose. I chose red for some and green for others.

Tie a knot at the end of the threaded string, and start running your pompoms through to the knot. Keep adding pompoms until there are only a few inches left of the string. Then cut the string so it’s not attached to the needle anymore. Tie a knot right against the last pompom. The reason you should leave a few inches of extra string at the end of the keychain is so that you can 1) tie it directly to your bag or 2)tie it to a key ring to attach to your bag. I just tied all my keychains directly to my bags and they look clean and nice. If you have excess string at either end, you can always cut it off. I think it’s always better to overestimate the amount of string you need because you can always cut off the excess when you’re done. But if you use too little string, there’s no turning back!

I told you–this craft is super easy!! And the end result is very cute. To complement your keychain, you could also add a colorful rabbit’s foot to your bag like I did with my brown bag. Btw, my school is right near St. Marks Place in NYC, and they sell these HUGE rabbit’s feet there. I think they’re pretty interesting, but I don’t think I’m cool enough to pull them off!

The green rabbit’s foot is hiding somewhere in this picture:

Hope you like the keychain(s)! Gotta love pompoms.

NYC Subway Line Cookies

Yesterday I made these NYC Subway Cookies!

For those of you who haven’t been to NYC, here are all the subway lines. So far, I’ve been on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, A, C, E, L, N, Q, R, and S, but I would like to conquer all the lines before I finish college!

So here’s the story about how these cookies came about. A few weeks ago, I signed up for a cake decorating class at the Michael’s Craft Store near my house. This past Monday was the first day of class, and we had to bring plain, flat cookies with us. I decided to bake my own cookies and I used this recipe from the blog “Glorious Treats” (which is really cool btw). I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, except I wasn’t too worried about my cookies being perfectly level so I didn’t use the paint stir sticks or perfection sticks.  And even though I bought parchment paper, I didn’t end up using it because my dough wasn’t sticky at all.

Even though the cookies came out really good and I would make them again, I wouldn’t suggest keeping the cookie dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours before you roll it out like the recipe suggests. Maybe my refrigerator is abnormally cold or something, but my dough was literally rock hard by the time I took it out of the fridge! I attempted to roll it out, but it just crumbled. I had to wait a while for it to warm up, and even then, I couldn’t roll out one huge sheet of cookie dough—I had to cut my cookies one by one. Nevertheless, they ended up coming out pretty good. I made 2 different sizes—4.25 in. diameter cookies and 3.25 in. diameter cookies. I got my cookie cutters at Michaels. Here are the cookies pre-decoration:

I brought the cookies to class on Monday night, but there wasn’t much time to decorate them, so I ended up keeping most of them plain. But I knew I still wanted to decorate them at home, especially because I wanted to use the new piping bags, tips, and other tools that we got in the kit for the class.  The only problem was…I couldn’t think of a cute way to decorate them! I have no problem coming up with ideas about how to decorate cupcakes, but for some reason, I was drawing a blank with these cookies. An idea finally came to me when I was riding the subway yesterday. I looked up and I saw a white A in the blue circle, and I immediately knew that I had to make subway cookies!

There is a special place in my heart for the N, Q, and R lines (well, mostly the N and the R). I commuted to school last year, and I took the N or the R to 8th Street every single weekday. I developed a sort of love-hate relationship with the subway and commuting in general. I hated commuting because it wasted so much time and was frustrating a lot of the time, but I also loved it because I got to see my family, sleep in my own bed, and eat home-cooked meals every night. This year I’m living in the city and it’s bittersweet. I’m excited about having more free time and more of a social life, but there are definitely things I will miss about living at home. Luckily, home isn’t too far away in NJ and my brother is going to NYU (which is really close to my school—I go to Cooper Union), so we’ll practically be neighbors!

(My brother, posing with the cookies)

For my summer job, I usually take the A, C, or E. Here are my 6 favorite lines together!

More pictures:

This was my first attempt at using a real piping bag, and I was able to decorate these cookies without too much frustration, so I think it’s a good place to start if you’re a beginner like me! All I did was color white icing with Wilton’s icing colors—the colors I used were Golden Yellow, Royal Blue, “No Taste” Red, Kelly Green, and Black (for the lettering of the N, Q, and R). Then I iced the cookies with a spatula. Beforehand, I looked up the subway line symbols online, copied and pasted them into Word, stretched them out so that they matched the size of my cookies, and printed them. Then I cut out the letters and used them as stencils. After I iced the cookies, I let them dry for a little bit, then I put a makeshift letter stencil down on top, traced the letter out with a toothpick, and then used the piping bag with Wilton tip 104 to fill in the outline with either the white or black icing. They’re not perfect, but I kind of like them that way—it adds character. I like when you can tell that something is homemade and not mass produced. Hope you enjoyed these cookies!

I ❤ NY!

DIY Magazine Vase, Trivet, & Coasters

What do you do with your old magazines? Here’s an easy, fun, and resourceful magazine craft. All you need is a glue stick, hot glue sticks with a hot glue gun, scissors (optional), and old magazines.

(Magazine Vase)

(Trivet)

(Coaster)

DIY Steps:

1. Rip out a page of a magazine and cut (or bend and rip) it into 4 vertical strips as shown:

2. Using a glue stick, put glue on one side of each strip (I like to put the glue on the less colorful side of the strip). Fold the strip in half. Repeat the process so the new strips are one quarter the width of the original strips.

(New strips)

3. Start rolling the new strips. Make sure you roll tight! Every few turns, put a little bit of hot glue down on the flat part of the strip that’s about to be rolled. This will secure the spiral.

4. The diameter of the spirals is completely up to you! For the base of the vase, I just made one huge spiral. When I finished rolling one strip, I would put a little bit of hot glue down on the finished spiral and add another strip and keep rolling. Just keep attaching new strips and rolling until you reach your desired diameter.

(The huge spiral–base of the vase)

5. Once you’re done making a bunch of spirals, you can hot glue them together to make whatever you want! I made a vase, a trivet, and coasters but those are just a few ideas. The possibilities are endless! Here is the vase in progress.

(Constructing the vase–in the middle of gluing smaller spirals to the base)

Some finished products:

(Flower-inspired coasters)

(More coasters)

(Coasters in use)

(Trivet in use)

Try it for yourself!

Mac & Cheese Pizza

Do you like mac & cheese? Do you like pizza? Then you’ve got to try….Mac & Cheese Pizza!!!

It’s sort of become a tradition for my friends and I to make pizzas together. One of my friends was talking about how they serve mac & cheese pizza at her college’s dining hall, so we decided to make our own. Here’s what you need:

  • Pizza Dough (we used store-bought dough, but I’m sure there’s lots of recipes online if you’d like to make your own)
  • Olive Oil
  • Macaroni
  • Cheese(s) of your choice (We used a combination of sharp cheddar and mozzarella)
  • Salt & Pepper

First, roll out your pizza dough onto a baking sheet. We didn’t want our pizza to be dry, so we lightly coated the top and bottom of the dough with olive oil. While you’re getting the dough ready, you can boil the macaroni. (Note: Some store-bought doughs should be pre-heated before you add the toppings. That wasn’t the case with the dough we used, but I think Pillsbury pizza dough instructions say to do that.)

Once the macaroni is done cooking, you can begin to add the toppings! First, put a layer on cheese on top of the dough, followed by a layer of macaroni, followed by another layer of cheese. Then add a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper to the top for seasoning. Put it in the oven, and take it out when the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

(Peace Sign plus elbow macaroni)

(The dough and the cheese)

(The construction)

(Ready for the oven)

(The finished product)

We had some leftover macaroni and some leftover cheese, so I made this mini plate of mac & cheese & pepperoni. I just added the toppings and put it in the microwave for maybe like…30 seconds? It was actually so good (I think I liked it even more than the pizza…shh).

(Pre-Microwave)

(Post-Microwave)

Next time you have friends over, think about making pizzas! It’s actually really fun and everyone can customize their own. Bye!!

Brownie Cupcakes

The other day I showed you the Christmas Wreath Brownie Cupcake, and today I’m going to show you a whole batch of brownie cupcakes. I guess I was in a creative mood the day I made these, because I think they turned out even crazier than my Crazy, Colorful Cupcakes. If you like these, you should definitely check out that post!

I described the premise of the brownie cupcake in the Christmas Wreath post, but just to remind you: all you have to do is pour brownie mix into cupcake liners in a muffin tin. Because brownie cupcakes take less time to bake than brownies in a pan, be sure to keep checking on them while they are in the oven. When they are done baking, they won’t have a dome top like regular cupcakes–they will be relatively flat. These particular brownie cupcakes (shown below) were some of the best I’ve ever made because they were moist and fudgy on the inside, but chewy around the edges. Sometimes even I am guilty of over-doing them, but not this time.

Also, if you’re one of those people who always tries to snag the corner brownie, you’ll definitely love brownie cupcakes; the whole surface area of the brownie has the chewiness and flakiness of that corner piece. (No more need to buy one of these)

Here they are! (inspiration: Tokyo)

(Whenever I see the next one, I think of Big Bird)

Because these brownie cupcakes are so colorful and so crazy, I think this is the perfect place to talk about form vs. function when it comes to desserts. I absolutely love decorating desserts, even more so than baking them. So when I do have the opportunity to decorate desserts, I make each serving (in this case, each brownie cupcake) unique, because it’s more fun for me and more special for whoever is doing the eating. I usually have a general theme (here it was Tokyo), but other than that, I just decorate as I go, with no plan in mind; I just do what comes to me!

The issue is… even though I make all these crazy-looking desserts for other people, if I had to choose one of my creations to eat, I would choose the simplest one there was. To me, the perfect cupcake just has frosting on it–no chocolate chips, no sprinkles, no other random candy I have lying around the house. So sometimes I feel like a hypocrite–because I decorate with the mindset of form over function, when it really should be the other way around (and I think this goes for all types of food). I think that my desire to create these arguably over-decorated desserts stems from my love of crafts and design in general (and also my wanting totake “pretty&cute” pictures). Perhaps I should rethink things and keep my design interests out of the kitchen, though. Let me know what you think.