Sunday, April 22, 2012

Show Off Your (Banana Nut) Muffin Tops

Alright ladies-- get out those bikinis!

spotty bandeau bikini via
Oh, that's darling! But I actually was referring to these swim suits...

cupcake liners from sweet estelle via

So yea, now that we're clear-- you heard me! Show off your muffin top. Do it with pride! It's getting warmer and I know you've been waiting to pull whip out that adorable suit of yours and feel good about those extra goodies on the side. Forget any negative comments you've ever heard about your muffin top-- curves are back!

Muffin top? More like love tops, baby!

Lookin' good ladies. Especially in those darling pink polka dot bikinis. 

Banana nut muffin with almond butter and peach lavender jam
Whole-Wheat Banana Nut Muffins (with Yogurt & Chia Seeds)
makes 1 dozen

1 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chia seeds (*optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 large ripened bananas (divided use)
1/2 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup raw sugar (divided use)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare your muffin tin by lining each cup with a paper liner or lightly greasing and flouring them.

1. In a medium bowl, combine and whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, chia seeds, salt,  and coconut. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to blend 2 1/2 bananas, yogurt, oil, brown sugar, 2 tbsp raw sugar, the egg, and the vanilla extract. Once all the ingredients are well combined (about 1-2 minutes), mix in the dry ingredients in two batches just until batter is no longer "dry"-- don't over mix. Gently fold in the chopped walnuts.

3. Scoop batter into each muffin cup. Fill the cups to the edge for well mounded muffins or overfill them slightly for a bigger muffin top. Cut thin slices of the remaining banana half and place them on top of each muffin. Sprinkle the remaining raw sugar evenly over the cups before placing them in the middle third of the oven. Bake for 22-25 minutes; a toothpick should come out clean and muffins should be slightly browned.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blackberry Custard Macarons

Today's Sunday sweets are delightful purple macarons filled with homemade blackberry jam and a spread of thick custard cream.

Don't even try to fool yourself. 

You won't be able to stop after one.  You may not even want to share.

However, this is neither the time nor the place to be selfish.

So you better make yourself an extra batch! 

Blackberry Custard Macarons
For the shells:
100 g aged egg whites (aged= resting in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-5 days)
1 tsp cream of tartar
28 g white granulated sugar
125 g finely ground almond meal (Bob's Red Mill makes a great one)
200 g powdered sugar*
1 tsp real vanilla extract
optional: purple food gel coloring (do not use liquid food coloring)

1. Combine and whisk together the almond meal and powdered sugar. Set aside.

3. Remove the bowl from your stand mixer and add 1/3 of the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Gently fold together just until everything is combined. Repeat with the next 1/3 of the dry ingredients and again with the final 1/3.

3. Remove the bowl from your stand mixer and add 1/3 of the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Gently fold together just until everything is combined. Repeat with the next 1/3 of the dry ingredients and again with the final 1/3.

Prepare two baking sheets lined with silicone mats (or parchment paper if you don't have these).

2. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on a low speed with the cream of tartar until the mixture becomes foamy (kind of like a bubble bath). At this point, slowly pour in the white granulated sugar as the mixer is running. Add the vanilla extract and increase the speed to medium; continue to beat the mixture until a smooth glossy meringue with soft peaks has formed (kind of like shaving cream). Be careful to NOT over beat and dry out your egg whites. If you are coloring your macarons, add a few drops of the gel coloring a little bit before your egg whites have reached their soft and glossy peaks.

4. Prepare a pastry bag with a medium round tip (about 1 cm) and transfer the macaron batter into it. Pipe small circles onto the prepared baking sheets to make neat rows. Be sure to leave about 1 1/2 inches between each macaron. Grab the ends of the baking sheet and, while holding it level, firmly tap it on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. Allow the macarons to rest on the counter for 30-60 minutes before baking.

5. Preheat the oven to 295 degrees F and make sure the racks are in the middle portion. Bake the macarons for 15 minutes, one sheet at a time. Do not open the oven door at all! Once they are finished, allow them to cool for a few minutes; Gently peel away the silicone mat while lightly pushing the macaron cookies off. Repeat with the remaining trays of macarons.

6. Fill the macaron shells with blackberry jam and thick custard cream. Either spread both fillings on one shell, or jam on one and custard on the other.

For the filling:
Blackberry Jam
1/3 cup fresh blackberries
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp white sugar

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Stirring often, bring the mixture to a low boil then reduce it to a simmer until the fruit breaks down, most liquid has evaporated, and the result is thick and gel like. Remove from heat and all it to cool.

Thick Custard Cream
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp corn starch

1. Whisk and combine the egg yolks and corn starch in a small-medium bowl. Set aside.
2. In a small sauce pot, combine the milk, vanilla, sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring often. Turn off the heat and while whisking the egg yolk mixture constantly, slowly pour in about 1/3 of the hot milk. Whisk for about 30 seconds to 1 minute then pour the egg and milk mixture back into the original sauce pot with the remaining milk. Replace the pot onto the stove over low heat and continue to stir while bringing the custard back to a low simmer. Custard is done with it becomes very thick. Remove from the heat, pour the custard into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard, and allow it to cool.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oh, Hey Tropical Blondies!

Whoops...sorry, not you guys. Nice tans, though!

I was saying "Hey!" to these tropical blondies-- white chocolate coconut blondies, to be exact!

Mmm...these have to be some of the most comforting baked goods. Buttery, moist, perfectly sweet with just the right amount of white chocolate and coconut. These blondies also can perform magic tricks! They have nailed down the disappearing act-- first they were in my baking pan, then several vanished within minutes!

I am sure if you ask them, they will gladly demonstrate the same magical performance for your belly. I mean, eyes.

White Chocolate & Coconut Blondies

12 ounces white chocolate chip cookies (divided use)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
1. Combine the butter and 8 ounces of the white chocolate chips in a glass bowl; place it over a pot of simmering water-- make sure the water is not touching the bowl (double broiler). Stir the chips and butter until it is melted and smooth. Turn off the heat and set the mixture aside to cool down. In small-medium bowl, combine the flour and salt-- set aside.

2. In large bowl, or stand mixer, beat the eggs together for about 3 minutes. Slowly add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract while the mixer is still running on low-medium. Slowly pour in the melted white chocolate and butter mixture and continue to mix for another 1-2 minutes. Turn off the mixer and fold in the flour and salt mixture, in thirds, with a rubber spatula. Fold in 1 cup of the shredded coconut and half of the remaining white chocolate chips. 

3. Spread the batter evenly into a lightly greased 7 x 11 pan (or 9 x 9-- it doesn't really matter as long as you take into account depth and width to ensure you don't have skinny-mini or super thick blondies). Sprinkle the remaining white chocolate chips and shredded coconut over the top of the batter. Bake on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean (opt for the lower end of the range for chewy blondies, but it will depend on your oven and pan size). Allow to cool for several minutes before cutting into bars and eating.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wear What You Drink

It's been awhile, but you still need to wear what you drink!

It's spring (don't let the rain deceive you)! Wear this darling green "Scattered Limelight Dress" from Anthropologie (on sale now) while you sip and drink on this refreshing "Spring Breeze" cocktail from Teroforma: At the Table .

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! Which one of these eggs is not like the other?

With some leftover carrot cake and hazelnut buttercream, I made a mini Easter egg cake to celebrate yet another joyous reminder of salvation (and sweet tooth cravings and pastel colors). :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Nice Moves

This morning when I opened up my e-mail inbox, I was puzzled when I saw one from "Warby Barker". Yes, I said Barker...not Parker. I immediately chuckled at the images on the message-- several breeds of adorable dogs wearing glasses! I clicked on the link right away and the squeals only got louder! As soon as the site fully loaded up, I found myself questioning every link. Could these be the new "Doggles?" Warby are a GENIUS! I'll take two-- one for each of my dogs. Oh, right...they don't need prescription frames. I'll just purchase frames from the Sunwear collection then. No problem!

Yes, I looked at every pair of glasses. Yes, I am sick! But, I wanted to see all the dogs! When do pooches ever get the opportunity to look hilarious and professional at the same time? Not often, I'll tell you that. :)

Every purchase comes with a gluten-free dog treat and free shipping. What a deal.

Yes, like I said, I am sick.

However, no worries, when you try to purchase (no, I really wasn't going to buy them...I'm not that nuts), Warby Parker let's you know it's all an April Fools joke. Ohhhh, nice moves, guys! My favorite and the most adorable AF joke, today.