Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Salted Caramel & Black Magic Cake, a match made in heaven.

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. I mean how could I not when the author basically named them 'the best cupcakes she's ever tasted'? Good thing I did, cause I feel exactly the same. I was inspired by the flavor combination but used my own favorite chocolate cake and a traditional swiss meringue buttercream as the one in the recipe seemed like it was a lot more complicated then need be.

Black Magic Cake has officially become my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. Do you know why I love black magic cake? For one, the ingredients are easy. The recipe requires no butter and no melting of chocolate. And if you don't have buttermilk? No problem, just use the substitution. Secondly, I am always delighted with the result. Perfectly domed cupcakes that are moist with a tender crumb.

My go to frosting? Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Don't be afraid folks, it's not as hard as they say! It's really quite simple and the results have never failed to please me either, as well as anyone whose tried it! I usually despise, hate, am appalled by most frostings. I actually used to NOT like cupcakes?!?! Can you believe that? Most of the time they are way too sweet but swiss meringue buttercream came to my rescue. It's easy and customizable beyond belief, as seen here, here and here. It's the perfect amount of sweetness that doesn't make your teeth ache after you eat it, plus it pipes like a dream with its utterly perfect consistency. And this caramel version? My absolute FAVORITE. Using salted butter cut down the sweetness even more, but paired with caramel?!?!??! Oh geez, too good to be true.

This recipe is a bit time consuming as there are lots of steps, but it really was worth it, I think this could be one of my favorite cupcakes I've made so far! But if needed, I'm sure you could easily replace the Black Magic Cake with a box mix and instead of making the caramel, use canned dulce de leche or caramel sundae topping. But please, please, please whatever you do, don't skimp on the frosting. It-is-WORTH-it. I promise.

The caramel shards were for pure decoration but they are definitely edible. I tried attempting Tartelette's "Bubble" Caramel but failed. Caramel? Yes. Bubbles? No. I don't know what I did wrong but the shards were still pretty despite being bubble-less. Oh well, next time.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Yields: 12 - 14 cupcakes
Inspired by this recipe but I made significant changes.
Original "bubble" caramel recipe can be found here.

1 halved recipe of Black Magic Cake

For the caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsn. water
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of sea salt

For the buttercream:
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 sticks of salted butter (12 tbsn.), cut into 12 pieces
Caramel, to your taste

For the "bubble" caramel (for decoration/ optional):
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsn. water
1 tbsn. corn syrup
rubbing alcohol (in a spray bottle)

Bake cupcakes according to directions, let cool completely. To make the caramel, add the sugar to a saucepan and pour the water over it. With the heat on low, stir sugar until it is nearly dissolved. DO NOT let it boil, if it get too hot, remove it from the heat for a few seconds. Once mostly dissolved, raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil, cover immediately and boil for 2 minutes. Uncover and continue swirling mixture until it becomes dark amber BUT not burnt! Take off heat and IMMEDIATELY, but slowly pour in cream, stirring with a whisk (I waited a few minutes and it completely hardened and I had to start over). Whisk until combined, set aside.

To make the buttercream, put the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water making sure the bottom does not actually touch the water. Stir the egg whites until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and place into the mixer stand. Beat until it becomes white and doubles in size. Add the vanilla on low speed, then add the butter, one piece at a time, making sure it is well mixed after each addition. Do not worry if it looks curdled, it will take some time for it to come together. Continue beating for 5 - 10 minutes until everything comes together. Add the caramel until the taste suits you. Frost your cupcakes, sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy!

To make the caramel shards, combine all of the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring them to a boil. Bring the mixture to 300 F. While the caramel is reaching the desired temperature, take a sheet of parchment paper and crinkle it lightly with your hands, then flatten it out a bit (this will help form the bubbles). Spray rubbing alcohol on the parchment paper right before the caramel reaches is temperature, don't do it ahead of time or else the alcohol will dry. When caramel is ready, pour over the parchment paper and watch the bubble form. Spread if necessary by lifting the sheet but watch out, because mixture is hot. Let cool completely before breaking into shards. This is more for decoration than eating, but you can eat it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tailored Tuesdays

I love florals. And statement jewelry. And cropped blazers. And Louboutins, oh my!

1. Steven Alan "Cropped wool blazer"
2. Steven Alan "Soma silk dress"
3. Tom Binns "Dumont diamante necklace"
4. Stella Mccartney "Deco style clutch"
5. Christian Louboutin "New decolitissimo 100 pointed pumps"

all images can be found at

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pies

When I was a kid I loved Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pies. They were sickly sweet and sticky goodness. Oh, and I'm sorry, but I lied before... I STILL love them, die for them, would do gross, unnecessary things to get my hands on them. So it seems natural that I would try to bake them right? No! Why would I want to mess with its perfection all individually wrapped in a cute little film wrapper?!?! But I easily caved in after I heard numerous raves of a certain copy-cat recipe.

After attempting to make this cookie, it's quite clear that the Little Debbie gods have it in for me. First, I somehow stupidly measured powdered sugar rather than flour and they disintegrated into flat liquid things when I baked them (don't ask me how I made that mistake, I'm not quite sure myself)! Pissed, I started over certain I would be successful. Well the cookies came out all right (as pictured above) and they were definitely delicious but something irked me... the cookies were so soft that they would just fall apart with a single touch! Basically, I think I'll stick to the box (I'm ashamed, don't judge me...).

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Yields: about 2 dozen

Original recipe can be found here.

For the cookies:

1 cup margarine

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsn. molasses

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 cups quick oats

For the cream:

2 tsp. hot water

1/4 tsp. salt

1 jar marshmallow cream

1/2 cup shortening

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, cream the margarine, sugars, molasses, vanilla and eggs together. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon and add to the creamed mixture. Mix in the oats. Drop the dough by the tablespoon onto un-greased baking sheets. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until edges start to brown, do NOT overcook! They will look moist when you take them out. In a small bowl dissolve the salt into the hot water and allow this to cool. Combine the marshmallow, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl, mix until light and fluffy. Add the cooled salt mixture in and mix well. Spread the filling on the flat side of one cookie, top with the flat side of another cookie. Enjoy!


"You aren't going to be her first, her last, or her only. She’s loved before, she will again, but if she loves you now what else matters? She's not perfect. You aren't either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if she can make you laugh at least once, cause you to think twice, and admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can. She's not going to be thinking about you every moment, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you could break. Don’t hurt her, don’t change her, and don’t expect more than she can give you. Don’t analyze. Smile when she makes you happy, yell when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there. Love hard when there’s love to be had."
- Bob Marley

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nikki's Healthy Cookies

I've told you about my favorite cookies before right? Well you can find them here. Well these? These are my second favorite cookies! Actually they are pretty much on par with my favorite cookies but perhaps even better because they are healthy to boot! Generally I don't really care if something is healthy or not. If it tastes good, I most definitely will eat it. You can see me eating a quinoa and tempeh salad one day, then an entire bag of hot cheetos the next day. But if I can cut back on unnecessary sugars and fats without having to sacrifice taste, then I say why not?

I had been wanting to try this recipe for a while now and finally got down to doing it... and boy I am so, so, so glad I did. These cookies are amazing. Pure amazingness in a tiny little package. Would you puuulease look at that ingredient list? It is so hard to believe that there is no butter, no eggs, no flour and no added sugar! These are slightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. They don't have the typical "cookie" texture but they are sure to satisfy your craving for something sweet! I promise!!!

Nikki's Healthy Cookies Recipe
Yields: 3 dozen bite sized cookies
Original recipe from 101 Cookbooks, which can be found here.

3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil or olive oil
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut, shredded and unsweetened
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
6 - 7 oz. chocolate chips (I like using dark chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 F, racks in the top third. In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla and oil, set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, coconut, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Add the dry to the wet and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate. The dough is looser than a standard cookie dough but don't worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart onto parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tailored Tuesdays

Sorry for my tardiness. I was preoccupied with midterms.

Mmmmmmm edgy.
I love black.
The end.

1. Helmut Lang "Asymmetric fastening leather jacket"
2. Marc Jacobs "Ruched printed silk dress"
3. Jimmy Choo "Blythe large tote"
4. Rayban "Wayfarer sunglasses"
5. Tory Burch "Reva patent leather flats"

all images can be found at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ricotta Anything Muffins: Two Ways

These muffins are delectable.

The ricotta in the batter is so unbelievable dreamy and creamy. The sugar on the tops add a teeny bit of crunch and the berries add a bit of tang. The almond extract is a nice addition as well, as it goes great with both blueberries and raspberries.

I ended up trying two different recipes just for experimental sake. I had only planned on making the blueberry muffins but the recipe only yielded 10 muffins plus I had tons of ricotta left over. The blueberry muffins use almond meal, which is a bit harder to come by and just a teeny bit more of a hassle to make. So for the raspberry muffins I eliminated the almond meal but still had all the delicious almond flavor by using extract and topping it with more almonds.

Raspberry Ricotta Muffins

Yields: 10 muffins

Slightly adapted from here.

Printable Recipe

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

1/2 stick butter

1 egg

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1 cup fresh raspberries

1/4 cup slivered almonds, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside. Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg, ricotta and extracts and mix well. Mix wet with dry until just moistened. Fold in the raspberries carefully. Pour batter into prepared tin. Sprinkle each with a little sugar then top with slivered almonds. Bake for 28 - 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

I really can't tell which muffin I like better. Each of them were incredible in my opinion. The ricotta is what really makes these muffins. They were so moist and full of flavor! But honestly you could add whatever fruit or flavorings you'd like in this muffin, I'm sure anything would be just as delicious as these combinations!

Blueberry Ricotta Muffins

Yields: 10 muffins

Original recipe from Stick to Your Hips, which can be found here.

Printable Recipe

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 egg + 1 white

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, egg white, vanilla, almond extract and ricotta cheese. In a small bowl mix the flour, almond meal, salt and baking powder. Stir into the ricotta mixture until just moistened. Fold in 1 1/4 cups of the berries. Fill muffin tin with batter and press the remaining berries on top of the batter, then sprinkle with extra sugar and bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Moist and bursting with juicy blueberries!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Midterms Mixtape

Yep. It's that time again; midterm season, the time when I am just mere inches away from my death. But my savior? Music; especially these upbeat mixes.

1. Walter Meego - Forever
2. Santogold - Lights Out
3. Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
4. Passion Pit - Sleepyhead
5. Friendly Fires ft. Au Revoir Simone - Paris (Aeroplane Remix)
6. Vampire Weekend - Ottoman (Redlight Remix)
7. Fleet Foxes - Summertime (The Professor Remix)
8. Thao Nguyen with The Get Down Stay Down - Goodbye Good Luck
9. Britney Spears - 3
10. Gonzales - Let's Ride
11. The Pragmatic - Circles (RAC Maury Mix)
12. Metric - Help, I'm Alive

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spooktacular Cupcakes

These are some cupcakes I made for an upcoming event for my club at school, The Flying Samaritans. It's an amazing club and I'm so proud to be a part of it! It was only a matter of time until I made some cupcakes for them. We are gonna be selling these to help fundraise for our club, I hope people will like them!
Furry Swamp Monsters!

Blood Bones!



I didn't have much time so I used boxed cake mixes. But I did make my own Swiss meringue buttercream! I used Martha's recipe but let me warn you, this recipe makes SO much frosting. I made 36 cupcakes and I still think that I had enough frosting left over to frost another 36! Even though the recipe said it was only for 28! Make sure to cut the recipe in half if you aren't making a ginormous amount of cupcakes!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yield: enough for 40 - 50 + cupcakes
Original recipe can be found here.

2 1/2 cups sugar
10 large egg whites
8 sticks/ 4 cups of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place sugar and egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers, it should feel completely smooth. Transfer the bowl back to the standing mixer and using the whisk attachment, whisk on high speed until mixture has cooled and forms stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes. Add the butter, a little at a time and beat after each addition. DO NOT WORRY if it starts to look like it curdled, keep mixing and it should eventually become smooth again. Beat in vanilla and just mix until combined. Enjoy!

To make the furry swamp monsters:
I used a smaller star tip and just piped small stars around the whole cupcake surface until it was covered. I used M&Ms for the eyes and edible ink pens for the irises.

To make the blood bones:
I used a 2D closed star tip to frost on the frosting. To make the bones I used red candy melts, melted them, then put them into a ziplock bag with the tip cut off to pipe out bone shapes. After they hardened, I added them to the cupcakes.

To make the brains:
I used a medium sized circular tip, first divided the cupcake through the center then swirled the tip around to fill each hemisphere of the brain.

To make the spiderwebs:
I used an offset spatula to spread some dark grey frosting in a thin layer across the top of the cupcake as a base. Then I used a small circular tip filled with white frosting to pipe concentric circles on the top of the cupcake. Then I used a toothpick to drag the frosting from the center out to the edge of the cupcake.

To make the mummies:
I used a rectangular basketweave tip to pipe lines in random ways across the top of the cupcake. I used M&Ms for eyes and used edible ink pens to make the irises.

The Kooples

Not yet available here in the states yet, sadly, but you can find these amazing pieces here. Aren't they just perfect for a Californian winter?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tailored Tuesdays

It's getting colder. FINALLY!
I'd probably suggest a light cardigan or jacket with this one then.

1. Denis Colomb "Two tone horizontal stole"
2. James Perse "Casual cotton t-shirt"
3. Chloe "Wool flannel turn up shorts"
4. Yves Saint Laurent "Divine peep toe pumps"
5. Chloe "Paraty leather tote"
6. Mawi "Heiloom multistrand necklace"

all images can be found at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Monkey Bread

The Pioneer Woman strikes again. That woman has it out for me. Well, actually this recipe found me through a long string around the world wide web. First I saw it on Honey & Jam, where she found the recipe from Ryan via the Pioneer Woman. What a tangled web we weave...

But this monkey bread? Not so tangled nor complicated. Quite possibly one of the simplest and most satisfying recipes yet. It takes pre-packaged biscuits and turns them into something so much more than you could ever think possible. Really how could cinnamon, sugar and butter go wrong? It can't. And I do believe that is a fact. Cold hard facts people.

This bread is sticky sweet and slightly chewy in texture. It's quite sweet so I think a nice, steaming hot cup of black coffee would be the perfect accompaniment. Or even a cold glass of milk too! Enjoy the bread warm though, it's best that way!

Monkey Bread

Yields: 2 of the loaves shown above

Original recipe from Ryan via The Pioneer Woman, which can be found here.

Printable Recipe

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 sticks/ 1 cup butter

2 - 3 tsp. cinnamon

3 cans buttermilk biscuits (the non-flaky ones)

1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Open up all three cans of biscuits and cut each one into quarters. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large zip lock bag and shake it to mix evenly. Drop biscuits into cinnamon sugar mix, close the bag and give it a vigorous shake to nicely coat each piece. Spread them in any bundt pan of your choice. Melt the butter together with the brown sugar in a medium saucepan until the two become incorporated. Pour over the biscuits and bake for 30 - 40 minutes until the crust is a deep brown on top. Allow to cool for 15 - 30 minutes before turning it over onto a plate.