Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes

I celebrated my 100th post this past weekend by baking my favorite chocolate cupcakes. They are so rich and moist! I love this recipe. I printed it out years ago from some website and recently found out that it is actually one of Hershey's classic recipes. The only change I made was using one cup of freshly brewed hot coffee instead of one cup of boiling water. It adds a nice dimension to the flavor of the cupcakes. Hope you like it as much as I do! :)

Chocolate Cupcakes (makes about 2 dozen cupcakes)

Recipe adapted from Hershey's website


1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (or boiling water)

Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners; set aside.

In the stand mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Attach bowl to mixer and fit it with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla and mix it on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Switch to low speed and add the hot coffee (or boiling water). Mix until smooth; about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is evenly combined. Batter will be thin. 

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full. (I like using a ladle or transferring the batter into a pitcher with a spout so it'll be easier to pour into the muffin cups since the batter is so thin.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. They’re done when a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer pans to wire rack and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the pans and let them cool completely on the wire rack before topping them with the buttercream.

Cupcakes can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let them get to room temperature (about 20-30 minutes) before serving them.
***These can also be made into cake layers by using two 9-inch round pans. Bake them for 30-35 minutes.*** 

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream (makes about 4 cups)


4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoons
8 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly stir with a spatula until all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool. 
Combine the egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixture and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly and cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. On high speed, beat the mixture until it holds stiff glossy peaks and has cooled down; about 6 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. On medium-low speed, add several tablespoons of butter at a time and beat well after each addition. (Beat on medium-high speed for several minutes if the frosting isn’t smooth enough after adding all the butter.) On low speed, add in the melted chocolate and beat until smooth; about 2 minutes. 
Thanks to my sis for this fun idea to pipe the buttercream :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Purchase

Look at what I snatched up the other day! I love it so much and it was only five dollars! My love for Hello Kitty have lasted for over a decade and she still makes me so happy.
How cute is the inside of the purse? I love all of the little details and I especially love the pop of red color. It's so fun.

I can't wait to use it. Have you made any fun purchases lately? :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

♥ My 100th Post ♥

I love that they wrote "Thousands of stars in every jar!" on the packaging :)
I'm so excited that today is my 100th post! I really love sharing my random bits with you and thank you so much for reading this blog :) I'm going to celebrate this small feat by baking something sweet this weekend. Not sure what yet but I've been dying to use these fun edible glitter. They're so tiny and pretty! I can't wait! Have a happy weekend everyone! ♥

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sweet Notes

James surprised me with this little gift the other day! How cute is he? He knows me too well. I love it so much! I don't even want to use it cause it's so cute...maybe I'll just keep it as a display hehe.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I bought this mooncake because the imprint is so clear and pretty. I love the Chinese characters on it.
Whenever August comes around, I can't wait to go and buy mooncakes. They're sold year-round but are mostly eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival or August Moon Festival (read more about it here). I love the intricate designs on them. They are served in little wedges and best when accompanied with a cup of hot tea. It's a simple celebration that I look forward to every year :)

My favorite filling is the lotus seed paste. Also, can you believe how thin that beautiful crust is? It's so delicate.
These mooncakes were from a Bakery in San Francisco. They were freshly baked and still warm when we bought them. Definitely one of the best mooncakes I've ever had!
Mooncakes are also given as gifts for many celebrations. These were two of the many mooncakes that James' mom gave to my family at our engagement party.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cornmeal-Lime Cookies

Look at all that flavorful lime zest!
This is one of my favorite cookies from Flour Bakery. The outside is slightly crunchy with a zesty lime glaze; while the center is soft with a little bit of a crunch from the cornmeal. It's just so unexpected and refreshing. I love eating them while drinking a nice cup of tea :)

Cornmeal Lime Cookies (makes 14-16 cookies)


1 cup (2 sticks/228g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (175g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest (about 4 limes) 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (280g) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup (100g) medium-course yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Lime Glaze
1 cup (140g) confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 to 1½ limes)
1½ teaspoons finely grated lime zest (about 1 lime)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until it's light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Remember to stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Add the lime zest and mix on medium speed for about 1 minute. This will release the oils in the lime zest making it very flavorful. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined (about 2-3 minutes). Again scrape the bowl to make sure everything is evenly mixed. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is mixed evenly.
Scoop about 1/4 cup of the dough and form them into balls. Place them about 2 inches apart onto baking sheet and slightly flatten each ball with your palm.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until the cookies are pale brown on the edges but still pale in the center. The center should just be firm to the touch. Try not over-bake them and let the tops brown. You want the centers to stay soft and cake-like. Transfer baking sheet onto a wire rack and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool to room temperature. The glaze will stick better onto cookies that are cooled. 

Make the glaze while your cookies are cooling. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, water, lime juice, and lime zest until smooth. (You can make the glaze up to 1 week ahead and store in an airtight container at room temperature.) 

Brush the cookies with a thin layer of the glaze. Let the glaze set for 10 minutes before serving or storing.

The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can also store the un-bake dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flour Bakery

All the goodies that greet you in the morning. It always smells so wonderful!
I want to talk to you about Flour Bakery today. I crossed path with Flour a few years ago after I left my full-time job to pursue something more creative and fulfilling. I've always wanted to open my own bakery but had never worked in one before. I figured it would be a good learning experience and it was.

Joanne's famous sticky buns! They beat out Bobby Flay's in the Sticky Bun Throwdown and yes, they are incredible :)

Left: The bakery is just so comforting and inviting; Right: Special Valentine's Day decadent!

I loved working at Flour. The staff was so wonderful. Working there, I had a greater appreciation for all of the baked goods and food that Flour offers. There is so much love that goes into making every single item!

Dreamy fresh fruit tart. The fruits always change depending on what's fresh and in season. I can never go back to eating glazed fruit tarts after working at Flour. It really takes the freshness away.

Another beautiful fruit tart
Mini tartlettes are perfect when you just want a little treat. They're about the size of a half-dollar coin and are oh so cute! From left to right: caramel nut, chocolate ganache, fresh fruit, milky way
To me, it's the perfect bakery. There's really something for everyone. It was always hard for me to recommend my favorites because there were so many! There is also a delicious lunch menu in addition to all of these amazing sweets.

Left: Coconut Macaroons; Right: Chocolate Cupcakes

I learned so much by working there. It was one of the best working experiences I've ever had. It was rewarding to be a part of such a great place where you truly believe in what you are offering to your customers. I loved Flour before I worked there and I love it even more after I've worked there. That's not something that can be said often.

Flour has such a nice comfortable vibe to it. Don't forget to eat lunch there. The food is delicious.
Me and Joanne at Flour's holiday party. I admire her so much. She's so inspirational with her love and vision for Flour. Plus, she's a great boss :)
So, you must go to Flour if you are ever in Boston (here is little sweet guide that I wrote for Cakespy if you do visit). If you don't ever intend to visit (which would make me sad), you're still in luck. Joanne's cookbook came out last year and there's a recipe for everything that you see here and much more! I love the book so much and have tried many recipes from it. Come back tomorrow where I'll share the recipe for Cornmeal Lime cookies (one of my favorite at Flour)!

P.S. Sorry if I made your sweet tooth act up after seeing all of these goodies (I know mine is!).

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm in love...

Roxy's Mighty Rib Melt with fontina cheese, braised short ribs, and caramelized onions. It was so delicious! It was hard to share it with James hehehe
with a food truck. Seriously, look at this grilled cheese sandwich! How can I not love Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese? They're one of the reasons I look forward to being at SoWa on Sundays. They're just so good! Perfectly crisp on the outside with gooey cheesy goodness on the inside.

 Their awesome logo; so sweet yet so badass at the same time (left); My favorite: Green Muenster Melt w/ muenster cheese, homemade guacamole, and applewood bacon (right)

What's even cooler is that they're on Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race this season (which premiered last night). I loved that show last season and I'm so excited to be rooting for Boston's own food truck this year! I hope they make it all the way :)

♥Special thanks to James for taking the pics of the food truck for me while I sell at my booth and also for always buying me Roxy's for lunch ♥

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mini Limes

Like my mom, Disco Bob has quite the green thumb. Here he's showing off the tiny limes that's growing in his garden. These would be perfect for my favorite cornmeal lime cookies recipe! Come back next week for the recipe :) Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fall Preview

This cooler weather is making me think of apple-picking season and homemade apple pies. I can't wait for fall to come! :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Distant Places

I love coming back to a comfortable hotel bed after a full day of exploring a new city. There's nothing quite like vacation sleep :)
James and I are having a little problem. Our traveling bug has been acting up and we want to go somewhere so badly! We're saving up for our wedding next year (and a house!) so its been tough. Maybe a little road trip? I'm sure we'll figure something out soon. I'll keep you posted :)

Late post tonight so have a good night everyone!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cute Snacks

My sister bought me these Japanese rice crackers. Aren't the wrappings the sweetest? I love how pretty and cute Japanese products are. When I was in Japan, everything that I bought were automatically gift-wrapped in pretty paper. They're just so meticulous with the presentation whether it's big or small. These little details make them feel extra special :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Little Lovebirds

Look at these two cute little birds. We took a walk and saw them chirping away at the top of the tree branches. I love their yellow color. They're just so sweet :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Greenway

It's so fun to see the children play at the Rings Fountain ...notice the little guy at the bottom left-hand corner running towards the fountain :)
Here's one of the perks of being a vendor at the Greenway Open Market. Look at this view! It's just so pretty there. It's described as a mile-long ribbon of urban parks located in the heart of Downtown Boston. From this park, you have access to so many of Boston's attractions like Faneuil Hall, the North End, and the Aquarium. James and I feel like we're just hanging out whenever we're there for the open market :)