Chocolate Cupcakes for my 8th Work Anniversary!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Frosting
Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

8 years ago, I started my second career as a public librarian (before I worked in non-profit accounting). It's my 8 year work anniversary today. Can't believe how fast that time has gone.

I have a meeting today so I'm bringing in some Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting. Both super duper easy to make, and always enjoyed by my library friends.

It's also my friend's birthday, so Happy Birthday Susan!

And it's Talk like a Pirate Day. Ahoy mates! Make some cupcakes and learn Pirate via Mango Languages' free course.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Frosting
Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Frosting (Adapted from Hershey's)
1 stick butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup natural cocoa (40 grams)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk (I used 1%)

Beat the butter until soft and fluffy.
Sift together the cocoa and powdered sugar.
Mix the milk and vanilla in a measuring cup.
Slowly add the dry ingredients and alternate with the milk mixture.
When combined, beat at high speed for 30 seconds until desired consistency. Also, if it is too thin, add more powdered sugar, and if too thick, add a little more milk.

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Hershey's Frosted Chocolate Brownies

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hershey's Frosted Chocolate Brownies

Sometimes I open my cupboard for inspiration. I knew we would need something special for a meeting and couldn't decide what to make. Then I looked on the shelf and saw my big tin of Hershey's cocoa and knew what I was going to use.

A quick scroll of the Hershey's website and I found their "Ultimate Chocolate Brownies."

Chocolate Brownies with Frosting
Hershey's covers theirs with a few chocolate chips, but I have these great dark chocolate Belgium sprinkles. So delicious!

Chocolate Brownies with Frosting
Honestly, I'm not a fan of frosting and usually not a fan of the frosted brownie. But I am growing fond of the Hershey's One Bowl Chocolate Frosting. It provided a nice balance to the brownie.

The brownie has natural cocoa and 1 cup of chocolate chips (I used Dark Chocolate chips). You can make it in one 9x13 pan, or two 8x8 pans (that's good for those who like brownie edges). When cooled, you top with chocolate frosting...and sprinkles or more chocolate chips. If I were to skip the sprinkles, I would garnish with mini chocolate chips because everything is better in mini form.

Chocolate Brownies with Frosting
Can you see the chocolate chips in the brownie? Always a winner.

Hershey's Frosted Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from the Hershey's website

3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa (or a natural cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted (This is such a weird amount of butter. Since it is really 10 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of butter, I just used 11 Tablespoons of butter or between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 sticks of butter)
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2  eggs (at room temperature)
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur All-Purpose)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Dark Chocolate Chips or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I used Hershey's Dark)

Frosting (see below)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or two 8-inch square baking pans. (I used a 13 x 9 pan, and I lined the pan with parchment paper.)

2. In a large bowl, stir the cocoa and baking soda together with a whisk, and then stir in 1/3 cup butter (that's half the melted butter). Add boiling water and stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup butter. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Fold in the flour, then fold in the chocolate chips. Don't overmix. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan, 30 to 35 minutes for square pans or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

4. When cool, frost cupcakes. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles, other fun sprinkles or chocolate chips. Cut and enjoy!

Hershey's One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2-2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup natural cocoa
1/3 cup milk (I used 1% milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa (Hershey's instructions don't have this, but I find it is very helpful to sift all powdered sugar and cocoa).

Beat butter in medium bowl until soft and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla.

Spread over cooled brownies. 
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Fresh Peach Muffins

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fresh Peach Muffins
Fresh Peach Muffins
(photo taken in my cubicle at work)

It's been really hot and muggy in Los Angeles. And houses where I live weren't built with air conditioning (350 days a year this isn't a problem because we get ocean breezes...but those few days of heat wave are killer). I sat in the backyard with Cidney the Girl Dog this weekend (thank you iPad) until 9 pm hoping the house would cool down (it didn't). So I haven't been baking much because it would be a crime against humanity to turn on the oven.

But last week I made some peach muffins for work early in the morning. I didn't have time to pull out the big camera and take photos. Also, as summer ends, I don't have any morning light anymore as I leave the house at 6 am for work. Sad times, yo. So, even though the photos aren't pretty, these muffins were good. They aren't sweet, and rely on the sweetness and tenderness of your summer fruit to carry the muffin. We only have a few weeks left of peaches, so make these soon.

Fresh Peach Muffins
Fresh Peach Muffins

Adapted from the Easy Morning Muffins in the Art & Soul of Baking, page 148 (find it in your library via WorldCat)

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 stick (3 ounces) butter
Zest of one lemon or orange (I used an orange)
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, room temp
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 medium peaches, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups of peaches)
Sanding sugar or Sugar in the raw

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Prep a muffin tin with liners or butter the tin. I got 14 muffins from this recipe (I put liners in individual ramekins and place them next to the muffin tin in the oven)
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan or microwave, then pour into small bowl. Add the zest and buttermilk and let sit for a few minutes to cool off. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla.
4. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).
5. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour the butter/egg mixture and the chopped peaches (reserve a few pieces) into the dry ingredients and quickly fold together. Don't overmix. Don't worry if you have a few small lumps.
6. Using an ice cream scoop, dish batter in the muffin tins. If you wish, place a few of the peach pieces on top of the batter in an attractive fashion. Sprinkle sanding sugar on top of batter.
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.
8. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then remove muffins to let cool on a wire rack...or eat warm!

Read the book for more yummy recipes and variations!

Cool Greek yogurt, muesli, and warm grilled peaches & plums. This is all the laboring I'm doing today.
Here is something else you can do with the last of this summer's fresh peaches - grill them and serve with Greek yogurt and muesli for a quick and delicious breakfast.

Cast iron pan love. Grilling white peaches and plums for breakfast.
I threw white peaches and red plums in my cast iron pan for a few minutes...until warm and grilled. It really brings out the sweetness in the fruit and is sooo delicious. Of course, this is lovely after you use a real grill and serve with ice cream...for. the. win!
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