Happiness in A Cupcake

Spontaneous baking… Haha that’s what this was. That & it was the perfect opportunity to use those edible silver pearls I just bought! I really wanted to make something with bananas so I was about to make my 4-ingredient banana bread, but…… There was the fact that I couldn’t remember the last time I made cupcakes. Cupcakes it was :)

*Why do I say “Happiness in A Cupcake”?? Well, as it turns out- Bananas have been known to cheer people up. They are the only fruit that contain high levels of tryptophan that is later converted to serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that lowers depression. Sadly….. I discovered during my research that this is a myth -__- Yes, bananas contain serotonin. BUT there remains the fact that this serotonin is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier and so can’t get to where it needs to be. I still believe there is a lot of happiness to be found in bananas. Seriously, with almost no fat, low calories, and a plentiful of vitamins who could deny this bountiful fruit?

Banana Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or regular milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat: 350 F

  1. Get a large mixing bowl and beat the butter for a few minutes until creamy 
  2. Add the sugar and then the eggs & vanilla extract while beating at a low speed
  3. Add the 2 mashed bananas & coconut and continue to beat
  4. Mix in the flour and buttermilk in small intervals
  5. Fill the cupcake pan about 2/3 full each and bake for about 18 minutes

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Beat together the cream cheese and butter
  2. Add the powdered sugar in small intervals
  3. Pour in the vanilla extract and beat until fluffy for a couple minutes

 

Adapted from BlissfullyDelicious

Houston Premier Bakeries

Yup. I’ve finally decided to put a list together of my top 4 favorite bakeries in Houston! Of course I’m sure there are manyyyy more than what I’ve listed & I’m always on the lookout for new finds so I’ll find them slowly but surely :)

Something my friends & I loveeee doing is finding new places to eat out at whether it is a restaurant or a bakery. A successful find = a new go-to place to hang out with friends or to grab a quick dessert. Most of the places that I have found have been through word of mouth. Seriously, after hearing about a bakery for so long, there’s no doubt that you’ll be curious as to why it’s so prominent. And of course, there are those that we discover simply by driving by. You’re driving past the normal everyday stores you see, but wait… Something catches your attention! That new bakery on the street or whatever it may be haha. Well enough already, you get the idea. Let’s just get on with these deelish bakeries. By the way, they are in no particular order!

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SAVANNAH BAKERY & CAFE

http://savannahcafeandbakery.com

This bakery is simply amazing. When you walk in, you really are overwhelmed with the amount of choices you can make. Shall it be that Raspberry White Chocolate Cake, Red Velvet Cookie, or even that Apple Praline Pie? I was actually really excited when this bakery opened, because I thought it would be one of those local bread bakeries. Turns out I was wrong lol, but nevertheless I was very happy with this find! Friendly staff, nice atmosphere, and large portions are more than enough to enjoy with friends :)

*Apple Praline Pie pictured above*

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 DOLCE DELIGHTS

http://www.mydolcedelights.com

Macarons (n):  delicate small cookie sandwich with mystery filling; constantly seen everywhere in a variety of colors/flavors; very addictive.

Any bakery serving these should be beyond amazing. Not only does Dolce Delights serve these, but they also have these miniature mousse cakes that are too adorable (not pictured). I actually discovered this place from my one of my friend’s Instagram pictures. After she told me the name of the place, I went literally the next day with my friends and got some macarons. The best one out of them was the salted caramel hands down! The banana cream one though was not as soft as the others, leading me to believe that few people have probably ordered that one haha. The mocha and red velvet were both equal in my opinion after the salted caramel one. Overall, if you are craving macarons or a cute little cake, this is definitely your place.

*Salted Caramel, Mocha, Banana Cream, & Red Velvet Macarons pictured above*

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NOTHING BUNDT CAKES

http://www.nothingbundtcakes.com

If you’ve been following my blog then you probably know too well my obsession with pumpkin desserts! Haha. I was so excited when I got this Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It may look small in this picture, but the cake was so dense that it actually feeds two people. Not to mention, it was super moist as well! I got an extra bonus when I got this bundt cake, because the place had just opened so they had mailed out “free bundt cake” flyers in the mail. The variety here was smaller making it easier to choose something. You know what you’re getting: a bundt cake basically. All you have to do is choose a flavor. Simplicity wins here. I can truthfully say that this was simply delicious ;)

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SPRINKLES CUPCAKES

http://www.sprinkles.com

Oh no…. On to the last bakery on my list! Don’t worry, I will most probably have a second post once I find more memorable bakeries. Anwaysss, Sprinkles Cupcakes is well known all over the US. I’m sure every area has a place that could be comparable to this one (Georgetown or Crave Cupcakes for example). These cupcakes are quite pricey and didn’t seem worth the hype that everyone always makes over them, although they are good. But.. If you go on twitter or their fb page, you’ll be sure to find these secret words that get you a free cupcake. And they post these words every day for the first 50/100 ppl to say it, so be sure you are one of those lucky few!

*Red Velvet & Mocha Cupcakes pictured above*

Any favorite bakeries that you have found worth sharing?

Peppermint Shakes & Macarons = Pure Joy

College winter breaks are seriously the best!! Totally beats the measly two weeks we would get back in high school. One of many things that I was looking forward to making once I had finished with the busyness of all my exams was macarons!! This soft delicate cookie along with the slight crunch you taste when you first bite into it, is truly one of a kind. The hundreds of flavors that you can make it in, not to mention the crazy fillings you can come up with, only make it more desirable. In a previous post, I made chocolate macarons with 3 different kinds of fillings- chocolate espresso, chocolate chip cookie dough, and chocolate coconut. This post along with the recipe can be found here. Today though, I made a pink coconut flavored macaron and filled it with chocolate espresso. Needless to say, they disappeared within seconds. Can’t wait to make these again!

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The day before I made these macarons, I was really craving something sweet. Hmmmm, what to get?? I decided I must get a shake! Sadly though, there are no places near my house that are known for their shakes. I was quite disappointed with the ones from Sonic. They tasted more like ice cream and were so thick I had to use a spoon to eat it. The best shakes I have tried where at Chicago at a chain restaurant called Steak N Shake. I guess you can deduce from the name that they must be famous for their shakes! There is a Steak N Shake in fact near my area, but the fact that it has not opened yet is killing me!!! Oh well, the next best thing I guessed would be a homemade shake. Being it the winter season and all, I’ve been reading about all these peppermint desserts so I resolved that I would make a Peppermint Shake. A quick search on foodgawker and I had my recipe ready to go. It really is quite easy. All you need is vanilla icecream, white chocolate, milk, and peppermint candy canes. Blend it all together and top with crushed candy canes and whipped cream and you are good to go!

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The Search Is Over!

I read in an article once that spending money on experiences and eating out made people happier as compared to spending money on materialistic items. I for one, agree completely with this. An experience will stay with you forever, an unforgettable memory. Every time I eat out, it’s another new experience. Discovering new restaurants and bakeries is always a joy, not to mention the varieties of cuisine that you will get exposed to. In the past weeks I have also discovered two new bakeries, one known for their moist bundt cakes and another for their delish macarons (pictures coming up soon).

Anyways, me and my friends have been looking foreverrrrrr for an exceptional Chinese restaurant to go to! The Chinese fast food in the mall just wouldn’t cut it anymore and neither would those loaded buffets. We settled on P.F.Changs in the end, a decision well-made. Before we even walked into the restaurant, we knew it would be spectacular due to the clean cut presentation. If you haven’t been to this restaurant yet, I highly recommend you visit it if it’s near your area.

**By the way, my goal this winter break is to post something everyday whether a recipe, book review, or something interesting I’ve read, so keep posted! :)

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P. F. Changs!

What we ordered…. Before the real food came haha. Dynamite Shrimp, Crab Wontons, Spring Rolls, oh and can’t forget Auntie Chang’s Frappe :)

*Almond & Cashew Chicken*

Stir-fried with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, celery, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts in a garlic soy sauce

Pumpkin Spice Trifle Goodness

Wow. I can’t believe that I haven’t posted anything for about a month. Things have been pretty crazy with all my classes and college but nevertheless, here is something quite amazing to make up for the long hiatus! Trifles are so versatile which is one of the characteristics that makes them so amazing. More of a fan of red velvet cake? Well just throw in a couple chunks of that and a pudding layer and you will be good to go. If you want a healthier version, try pineapple cake and top it with various fruits. Not only does it look great, but it is the perfect easy dessert to make for a large group. Food really does bring people together so take advantage of this recipe to invite over a couple of friends :)

Ingredients:

  • Ready Made Pumpkin Cake (recipe found here)/ Spice box cake mix
  • 1 box vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice mix
  • 2 (12 oz) containers of Cool Whip topping
  • Optional: crushed gingersnaps for topping

Directions:

  1. Bake the cake using either of the above options
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the milk and pudding mix until thickened
  3. Fold in 1 container of Cool Whip, 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, and all the brown sugar and pumpkin spice (leave the other container of Cool Whip for the layer of whipped cream)
  4. In a large trifle bowl, layer the cake, pudding pumpkin mixture, and whipped cream till you fill up the bowl
  5. Top with the crushed gingersnaps and a couple dashes of pumpkin spice too

What Better Than A Pumpkin Spice Latte with Choc Swirl Pumpkin Pie?

There’s no season for me when it comes to pumpkin spice anything. It can be eaten anytime & anywhere. Some foods though do just happen to taste better in certain types of weather than others. I guess we can say that Pumpkin Spice is one of those, because it just goes perfect with the nice crispy & chilly fall weather outside! I am in love with this weather because it brings back so many of my past memories from chilly Chicago winters. I always look forward to the Starbucks signature seasonal drinks, one of them being the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The last time I bought it though, it just tasted too sugary and syrupy so I decided that I should attempt to remake it on my own terms. The recipe I found was amazing because it makes enough to last you for about 8 lattes. You can just refrigerate it during the week and take it out whenever you please.

The Famous Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ingredients

For the Pumpkin Spice Syrup:

  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree or 2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mixture or ( 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp ground dried ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp allspice)

Remaining Ingredients:

  • ready made coffee
  • whipped cream

Directions

    1. Combine all the pumpkin spice ingredients in a blender and puree for about 30 seconds or till your desired consistency
    2. Pour about 1/2 cup of the mix in a mug and microwave for about 15 seconds
    3. Add a cup of hot brewed coffee and stir
    4. Finish it off with some whipped cream and pumpkin spices
    5. Pour the rest of your mixture in a container to put in the fridge (it will last up to one week)

Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

Ingredients

Crust (or pre-made graham cracker 9 inch crust)

  •  1 1/2 cup crushed gingersnap cookies
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 15 oz. of pumpkin puree (1 can)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut milk)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice mix (make your own: 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Nutella (or ½ cup of chocolate chips)

Whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

Preheat to 350 F

    1. If making your crust from scratch, spray a 9 inch pie dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Combine the crushed gingersnap cookies with the butter, sugar, and salt. Press into the prepared pie dish about halfway up the side. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes and let it cool.
    2. Whisk the eggs together and add the remaining ingredients for the pie except for the Nutella/chocolate.
    3. Reserve one cup of your mixture and set aside. Pour the remainder of the pie mix into the crust.
    4. Microwave the Nutella for 30 seconds. Mix the reserved cup of pie mix with the Nutella until well combined.
    5. Drop spoonfuls of the mix all over the pie and swirl it gently with a knife.
    6. Bake for about 55 minutes or until the filling is set (it will jiggle slightly).
    7. Cool for an hour.
    8. For the whipped cream topping: whip the cream, vanilla, and sugar for 3-5 minutes until stiff peaks form using an electric hand mixer or hand whisk.

Notes:

– if your pie survives a day in your household, you can store the pie for up to four days refrigerated or can freeze it for up to 3 months

– you can make this recipe without the chocolate swirl if preferred

-if using mini graham cracker crusts, decrease the baking time from 55 minutes to 15-17 minutes

Any favorite seasonal recipes or foods?

Espresso Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

So I haven’t posted in a while… Doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped baking though! I have a couple of deelish recipes so keep posted this whole week. I actually went a whole week without cooking or anything because of college tests. It’s all good now though. To celebrate I made these moist and chewy espresso chocolate chip brownie cookies. Oh and also some cream cheese glazed cinnamon rolls which will appear in my next post!

P.S. Be expecting a bunch of pumpkin spice recipes coming up. Tis’ the season after all and I am all but obsessed haha :)

Espresso Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips ( you can use any type you want- i did half milk/semisweet)
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat: 350 F

  1. Put together the unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, and butter in a double boiler. (put them in a small pan inside a larger pan filled halfway with boiling water). Stir until melted. Be careful not to overheat.
  2. Whisk together your eggs, sugar, and instant coffee granules for a couple minutes until thick.
  3. Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl and mix well.
  4. In a different bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in your last 1 cup of chocolate chips.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir until combined.
  6. Put a tablespoon of batter about 2 inches apart from each other on the cooking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes.