Monday, December 27, 2010

Dutch Apple Pie

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your loved ones. I’ve been home in San Jose for a week and I’ve had the best Christmas with my family! I’ve got big plans for this little blog, and I don’t just mean in baked goods. :) Stayed tuned for more information to come, but let me just say: 2011 is going to be a big year for Buttercup!

Anyway, onto the pie. For the past 5 years, my brother-in-law Danny has been asking my sister Erin to make a Dutch Apple Pie on Thanksgiving or Christmas, rather than our traditional double-crust pie. Unfortunately for him, he always asks the morning of the holiday, never in advance, so we don’t have time to find a recipe to suit his tastes. Well, this year, the subject came up a few days early, so were able to track down an acceptable recipe and read up on Dutch apple Pie. My brother-in-law loves the Sara Lee version, so that was we were up against. Erin and I graciously accepted the challenge, and got to work after our Christmas morning mimosas. :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze, served with raspberries and vanilla ice cream!!
What do you give your parents when their birthdays coincide with one another and with Christmas? What do you give your parents when they already have everything they need or want?

When they are my parents, you make a donation in their honor to Sacred Heart Community Services and prepare a really nice three course meal for them. And you do it with your two sisters and your brother-in-law, and promise to play nice all day. I mean it, all day. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Banana Bread

I made it home to San Jose yesterday and all anyone seemed to talk about was the cheesecake they had made the day before for my Dad’s birthday. My sister Erin was even talking about eating cheesecake for breakfast. Naturally, when I woke up this morning, all I wanted for breakfast was cheesecake. I have so far resisted eating cheesecake for breakfast and didn’t have any for lunch either…yet.

After lunch, I took a look around my parent’s kitchen and found 3 very ripe bananas that were calling out to me. One was telling me to make them into banana bread. Another agreed, saying that it would keep us all from eating cheesecake for breakfast. The third just wanted to be written about in this blog. Well, since I am not one to deny a banana the pleasure of being written about, so I decided to take their advice and make banana bread!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cookies!

Oh Christmas cookies, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. You are festive and delicious. You bring people together. You come in many shapes and sizes. You are a reason to bake for hours on end. You are full of happy memories and traditions.

This past weekend, I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen with my aunt Jen. We made 3 different types of cookies for her to give out and bring to her school. It was one of the most enjoyable baking experiences because we were so well-organized and in sync with each other. My uncle Sean had set up our work station with everything he thought we would need so that it would be right at our fingertips. My cousin Caitlin even helped up with the very important placement of the Hershey Kisses on the peanut butter cookies and rolling out some of the gingerbread people.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies!
Oh yes, I went there. Where? There. To the place where cheesecake meets brownie in a marriage so delicious that can only be improved by chocolate chips. I love cream cheese frosting and fillings, so cheesecake seemed like a likely next step in my baking career. And I’ve made brownies from scratch so many times that I could do it in my sleep (although that would probably be a bad idea). So I went for it and decided to make cheesecake brownies.

You may have also noticed that I decided to make yet another dessert with a marbled top. Why you ask? Because I need to get better at marbled toppings. I know that it is a silly thing to need to do, but trust me, I needed to. Anyway, it turned out okay this time. Cheesecake and brownie batter is a lot easier to manipulate than chocolate that is rapidly hardening, so I had that in my favor. And, once again, I found that cutting the dessert into squares always makes it looks great.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Inspiration and Gratitude

If I had limitless funds and mouths to feed, I would bake every day. There is so much joy in it for me. And writing this blog is helping me share that joy with others.

I just watched "Julie and Julia" for the first time. I was enchanted by the movie. I even cried at the end of it. I found Julie Powell's actual blog online and I'm going to start reading it. I also realized that maybe not every post on here has to have pictures and recipes. Maybe it can also be about my adventures, or sharing interesting sites and things I learn along the way. Or about something I have in a restaurant or saw on TV and decided I need to make in the future.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Marbled Caramel Chocolate Squares

I made these delicious squares for a Girls’ Night In last year and they were such a hit. I remember having extras in my apartment and a certain curtain roommate of mine could often be found with a spoon in her hand over the pan. They are that delicious. This year, I decided to make it for my first work holiday party.

Side note: Didn’t I tell you? I’m working about one day every week/every other week (we’re still figuring it all out) as an additional counselor at a middle school. I adore it. I’m still subbing as often as I can, but it’s nice to have a school that considers me part of its staff! Hence, after my first day last week, I was invited to the Christmas party. And it was the perfect opportunity to let it be known that I love to bake!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Apple Pie

The fourth and final Thanksgiving pie was a delicious Apple Pie. For some reason, I was most nervous to make this pie, even though it is a fairly simple recipe. Something about having to alter the amount of certain ingredients based on the taste of the apples made me anxious. What if it was too sweet? Too tart? What if I messed up the most American and classic pies of Thanksgiving? Obviously, I put far too much pressure on myself over a pie. Seriously, it’s just dessert. But, alas, I can’t help it; I want everything to be perfect. I even went to bed Wednesday night thinking about what shapes I might cut out of the top crust. Apples? Leaves? Turkeys? The possibilities seemed endless and I was simply overwhelmed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So many PIES!

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, when all through the house
Every creature was stirring, even the mouse!
The pies were cooling by the oven with care,
In hopes that Turkey Day soon would be there!

Okay, so the rhyme is better when written for Christmas, but you get the idea. It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I baked 3 of 4 pies for tomorrow’s delicious feast (Apple is a day-of pie). This year, we have a much smaller Thanksgiving guest list than usual, but we haven’t lessened the number of pies we’re baking. Actually, I think we've increased it...haha.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I woke up on this lovely, sunny Veteran’s Day and ran to the grocery store to get some milk. I made the choice to walk down the baking aisle en route to the dairy case. What a great decision that was because it brought be to another blog post! Anyway, nestled just below the assortment of chocolate chips and baking chocolates were various holiday recipe cards, just waiting for me to take and use as inspiration. Naturally, I was overcome by the need to bake TODAY. My first thought was something simple and tasty for breakfast: scones!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Cheers to taste testing!
There are few pairings more perfect than peanut butter and chocolate, especially in the world of desserts and baked goods. I feel like peanut butter and chocolate are always a good choice, always a crowd pleaser. So, what better way to commemorate my first post about baking than writing about this oh-so-delicious partnership. I found this particular recipe a couple of months ago while watching the Food Network. The delightful Barefoot Contessa made these cupcakes, but I decided to adapt the quantities for a two layer cake with LOTS of frosting.

Sidenote: I much prefer baking cakes to cupcakes. To me, cupcakes are unpredictable because there are so many of them. Some turn out small, some too big. Then you have to frost them each individually, which is somewhat annoying and time-consuming. But cake is consistent and reliable, and I'm a sucker for reliability. It is also far less tedious and quicker (except for my first cake…but that’s a story all it’s own). And most important: cake is so much easier to transport than a million little cupcakes. I just hate it when frosting sticks to the sides of a container! What a waste!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Start of a Dream

If you are reading this, you probably know me and know that I'm searching for a job as a school counselor, but struggling in this venture. Back in August, I decided that I needed a new hobby while I searched for jobs, so I decided to do some more serious baking. I wanted to finally bake cakes from scratch, something I was always too busy to try while in school. So for my birthday in September, my family gave me all sorts of baking paraphernalia and I was ecstatic.

Let me explain why I love to bake. I love to give what I bake away to friends and family. There is nothing that makes me happier than watching someone take that first bite of some delicious treat that I made. I love sharing something I created with other people. That is why I bake.

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