I usually don’t do anything for St. Patrick’s Day other than wear something green to avoid being pinched. This year, the holiday fell on a weekend and a delicious recipe popped up in my RSS Feed – these Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes from Oishii Treats.
I’ve been wanting to make green tea cupcakes for a while, but have been a bit wary. Green Tea is an acquired taste and I was worried how these would go over with my taste testers.
I replaced half of the flour the recipe called for with whole wheat flour, which went well with the earthiness of the matcha, though it probably kept the cake from being more green. I also used almond milk instead of regular milk. Since green tea is an acquired taste, I opted to swirl the frosting so that it’d be half matcha and half regular cream cheese frosting. This kept the cupcake from being a matcha-overload while adding a nice flair.
The best thing about these cupcakes are the smell. I love the way they smelled coming out of the oven and when I opened my carrier up to bring them in to the office. You’ll definitely want to use a nice quality matcha since they’re the star ingredient here. And, this is the way that you’re getting a dose of green, naturally!
The baking with Girl Scout Cookies® saga continues! Trefoils™ are sometimes seen as the plain, boring cookies that you always have extra boxes of after a booth sale. My sister had an extra box of Trefoils™ from last year and gave them to me on the condition that I bake something with them. Also, did you know that February 8th is National Girl Scout Cookie Day?
I was a little burned out on chocolate, as crazy as that may sound, so I wanted to make something for my office for Valentine’s Day that was decadent, but lighter. I made my Mini Blackberry Cheesecakes recipe and replaced the blackberries with blueberries. I also replaced the vanilla wafer cookies with the buttery, fragrant Trefoils™ and added some almonds in too (omitting the almond extract in the original).
It was easy to convince my office-mates to try these treats. The fruit on top makes it “healthy”; they’re bite-sized; they have Girl Scout Cookies® in them, which makes them “limited edition”. The crust on these are delicious and it goes well with the tanginess of the cheesecake and the tart berries.
Feel free to sub your favorite fruit on top or replace the cookies with what you have on hand. I had some extra filling and crust and swirled in some chocolate chips and crunchy cookie butter for a rich Valentine’s treat.
My best friend Stephanie moved to Pittsburgh a few years ago. Even though I don’t see her as often as I used to, we make it a tradition to get together and make truffles every year (See: 2010, 2011). This was our third year, and we spent the weeks before deciding on flavors, shopping, and picking up packaging materials.
No matter how much you plan in advance though, there are always some snags. We had a few last minute shopping trips, a recipe mis-calculation, and a slight shortage of boxes, but everything turned out great. I chose to make a Dark Chocolate Crunchy Biscoff truffle and Stephanie chose a Deep Milk Chocolate Earl Grey and Lavender truffle. Both were delicious (I’m not biased at all).
This year we even remembered to print off some labels to put on the inside of the boxes so that recipients would know what they were eating. Extra truffles that didn’t fit in boxes were placed in bags. We also made just enough peppermint bark – some made in a cute rilakkuma chocolate mold, and some made in a brownie bite pan.
The base recipe for these truffles are from a truffle making class that Stephanie and I attended at ACKC in Washington, DC on 5/25/10. These truffle recipes have served us well for the past three years, and we’ll continue to use them in the future.
Even though I was making 4 types of Christmas cookies, my office wouldn’t get to try any of them, so I whipped these up on a weeknight after seeing them on my friend Olga’s blog. I decided to make the pistachio cookies more festive by adding some red dried cranberries and some zingy crystallized ginger. I thought I was pretty clever turning these into Christmas-colored cookies.
Sometimes I think that chocolate is often used as a crutch in baking. It takes a really good hand to be able to make something delicious without chocolate in it that everyone will enjoy. These cookies had a firm yet delicate crumb and were extremely flavorful. I like that each bite had a bit of something else in it, an element of surprise, but some people don’t like that.
While these cookies were baking, I realized I had some chopped pistachios, cranberries, and ginger left over. I combined these with some leftover chopped hazelnuts from my homemade nutella and thought they’d make a delicious topping for one of my favorite things to make – pumpkin bread (or muffins). I scooped the bread batter into these odd shaped Panibois Baking Molds and hoped for the best, checking them often since they held varying sizes of batter. I couldn’t taste them after they baked (obviously), but I wrapped them up in cute snowflake cello-wrap and tied them with twine. I gave some to my family and some to co-workers. I’d like to think this is a more tasty version of a fruitcake, but pumpkin!
Every year I hand make gifts for the holidays. Whether it’s homemade vanilla extract, cookies, truffles, ornaments, or even bread, I think that the extra effort and thought that goes into making something yourself is priceless.
This year, while looking through the Bon Appétit Holiday Issue for possible Christmas cookie inspiration, my boyfriend said “you should make this.” I looked at the recipe and agreed – I would absolutely have to make this delicious looking homemade nutella.
The recipe was very straight forward (though if skinned hazelnuts existed in my area, I’d be much happier) and I made cute little recipe cards to go along with the gift. I only send recipe cards with edibles when I know they taste delicious and the recipient most definitely will be recreating on their own. Which they will, because this spread is delicious. It might taste better because I skinned those hazelnuts with my own two hands, and worked my biceps while attempting to whisk the thickening ganache. But I think it tastes better than the stuff in the store because I know exactly what’s in it. Cream, butter, nuts, good quality chocolate, sugar, and a dash of salt. Not to mention that my packaging is super cute.
Here are some pictures that went out with my family’s holiday card this year. Every year it takes us a while to figure our how to use the timer on my mom’s fancy camera. Every year we have to take a bajillion re-takes while trying to pretend it’s Christmas even though it’s Thanksgiving. But it’s tradition, and it’s worth it. Just like these precious bundles of perfection.
It’s also my sister’s birthday today – Happy Birthday Ariel!