New Beginnings

This has been a semester of change… weird change.

Friends have graduated, new friends have appeared, and I feel like I’ve learned more about myself in ways both good and bad. One of the things that is very real for me right now is that one of my friends is going abroad next semester, which means I won’t see him… ever… (or at least for a while) unless I’m in Boston for work next year. (Fingers crossed!) It’s sad to think that immediate contact with someone can be cut off so quickly. And even in the age of Skype, Facebook, and ceaseless texts, it’s hard to keep in touch.

We threw him a little surprise sending-off party tonight, just to show him that we love him and are wishing him the best. I made a cake, of course. It’s been a while since I shared a recipe, so here’s one of my all-time-favorites: chocolate cake.

I made it because it’s his favorite, heh. The first time I made it for a group of friends, I think he ate like 3 or 4 pieces. Yup.

I could rave about this friend forever, but I think if he ended up reading this, it’d be disappointing because I couldn’t say enough in a short post. And it also might be embarrassing, but… meh, oh well. <3 <3 <3 I just know I’m going to miss him next semester.

OKAYY away from the mushy-gushy friendship stuff. Now, about this cake…

It’s a huge crowd pleaser. Seriously, everybody raves about this cake. I was lucky that I stumbled upon the recipe a long time ago and kept it! I whip this cake out when I haven’t had time to prepare anything too fancy, but it has never failed me.

The thing that makes this cake so good is the fact that it has a cup of boiling water in it to make it super moist, yet flavorful with that melt-in-your-mouth feeling. I’ve topped it before with store-bought chocolate frosting, chocolate buttercream frosting, and cream cheese frosting. Anything will do, really, because the cake can speak for itself.

I also love this recipe because it only takes ~45 minutes from start to finish, with only 35 minutes in the oven! So quick, so easy, so delicious. Seriously: try it, and tell me it’s not delicious. I dare you.

The only people who don’t like this cake are people who don’t like chocolate. Whatever, more for the rest of us.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 pan or two nine-inch cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. EAT AND ENJOY

nom nom nom <3

Also–working on remodeling the blog a bit so it’s more functional and user-friendly.. but I first have to finish finals, and then figure out how to WordPress. SRSLY what is going on with all the buttons? (Help.) Anyways, I’m hoping to have more photography stuff on here, as well as a recipe index so it’s easier to find the recipes I’ve posted before. Hope it’ll be easier for you and me!

Here’s to friends and love and forever,

syd

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New Friends

Wow, I’ve been slacking.

Sorry, guys…

Summer has been crazy so far, with summer school and starting work but, more importantly, spending time with relatives and meeting new people. Oh, did I mention that I’m in Hawaii?

Basically, I’m super blessed that I get to come to Hawaii more often than most, simply because we have so much family here. Sometimes I think I take it for granted, but I try not to, so I’ve been reading on the beach and jumping in the water and eating tons of good food (of course!). That being said… it’s still organic chemistry for the summer. Ick.

In the two weeks I was home before coming out here, I spent time with my family, but they forbade me to bake anything. “YOU NEED TO LEARN TO COOK,” said mom. “Don’t bake, Syd, you’re gonna get us all fat!” proclaimed dad. “….” commented Derek. So, I cooked jambalaya and chicken parm! Woo! ^_^ The recipes were from the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook, as was the recipe for the Dutch Apple Pie I baked. (Mom requested that one, though. The one exception.)

Apart from that, I’ve done little baking/cooking-wise since the last time I’ve posted. I have, however, done some DIY stuff!

For our first anniversary of dating-ship, I made some photo-canvases for him to use to decorate his bland walls. (Okay, one poster on your wall makes the walls look even more barren.) It was a simple craft I found searching Pinterest and the interwebs that only requires some printed pictures cut to size, canvases, mod podge, and black acrylic paint! I thought they turned out alright ^_^

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Photo on Canvas
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is very easy to do!
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Pretty and simple!

But apart from that, I didn’t do anything of interest…

EXCEPT WHEN I BAKED THIS WEEKEND WOOOOOOOO

Praise the Lord! I didn’t know my auntie (with whom i’m staying for the summer) had soooooooo much baking stuff! All the different pans and ingredients and ahhh *love* It made my nerdy baker self very happy, suffice to say.

I wanted to bake for my new friends at church. Some might call it bribery. Maybe it was. Heh. (“Here, eat this and be my friend!”) But really, it was just because I really like them and wanted to make them happy ^_^ And make me happy, too, because I didn’t realize how much I missed baking.

I had 1.5 hours to do everything because we were going to a Food and New Products Show in town, so I quickly narrowed my choices down to two things: Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake. Which to choose? Ahhh!

After much thought, I decided to combine them.

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My Messy Creation

Chocolate Chip Cookie! Brownie! Chocolate Chip Cookie! Cheesecake! All stacked on top of each other (in that order) to make a delicious, gooey mess of everybody’s favorites!

Of course, I could’ve used any cookie recipe (snickerdoodle, peanut butter, etc) and any brownie variation (oreos, blondies), but I stuck to the classics this time. Note to self: try variations next time. And yes, there will be a next time.

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Mmmm…

Here’s what I call the Best Friends Bar.

Best Friends Bar

Ingredients

For the Cookie Layer:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

For the Brownie Layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For the Cheesecake Layer:

  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Directions

Grease 8×8 pan generously with oil. Preheat oven to 350F.

For the Cookie Layer:

1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth.

2. Add and beat in the eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.

3. Dissolve baking soda in hot water, add to bowl, and mix in salt.

4. Stir in flour and chocolate chips.

For the Brownie Layer:

1. Mix melted butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in another large bowl.

2. Beat in cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder.

For the Cheesecake Layer:

1. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and egg until smooth.

All together now:

1. Press a little more than half of the cookie dough into the bottom of the pan.

2. Pour all of brownie batter on top of cookie dough, spreading to make sure it’s an even layer over the cookie.

3. Carefully spread the rest of the cookie layer on top of the brownie layer. This part might be a bit tricky, but this layer doesn’t have to be very even. If desired, you can put more of the cookie layer on the bottom layer and simply sprinkle the rest on top of the brownie.

4. Pour cheesecake layer on top, spreading out for evenness.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cookie and brownie layers are solid and come out clean with a toothpick. The cheesecake layer will still be soft but will solidify when cool.

6. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. These can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple days in an airtight container.

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Bite me.

How did yours turn out? Did you try any variations?

PS-speaking of new friends, here’s one I found at Goodwill. No judgement please! He’s cute and loves you!

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Any name ideas?

Healthy Makeover: Microwaved Mug Brownie

Unfortunately, the mug brownie I shared in a previous post isn’t the healthiest thing. Of course, who would expect a brownie to be healthy, right? Well, for all those health-conscious people out there, I found a healthier recipe with only 100 calories! DANG BRO.

I still haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s definitely worth a shot!

Healthy Mug Brownie

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 1 dash salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 pinch instant coffee (optional)

Directions

  1. In a 12 oz. coffee mug, mix water, oil, salt, vanilla, and coffee (if using). Whisk well.
  2. Add cocoa powder and mix well. Add sugar, then mix, and then flour, and mix. Stir until the batter is smooth.
  3. Microwave for 60-75 seconds, 60 for a molten bottom and 75 for uniformly done. This may vary depending on the strength of your microwave.
  4. Enjoy with some ice cream and no shame!

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Aww yeah. I’m definitely trying this the next time I’m craving chocolate. (Which is… like, now.)

Happy Friday!

Easiest Brownie Ever. EVER.

It was one of those days.

You know, the days where you want chocolate IMMEDIATELY but don’t have any chocolate bars on hand and you RAGE. (Yeah, first world problems, right?)

But it was one of those days, and I wondered, “Hmm, I want cake fast. Or a brownie. What should I do?”

Lo and behold, I found a wonderful recipe for the quickest, easiest, MICROWAVED brownie ever! I whipped it up in 5 minutes tops (and that’s being pretty generous), and it was delicious! I even made it a couple more times to give as Secret Santa gifts, and they were a hit!

So no more of those sad days without a sweet fix; now to the days of chocolate goodness, microwaved in a mug!

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So easy!

Microwaved Brownie in a Mug

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt together in a microwave-safe mug. 
  2. Mix oil and water to the dry ingredients.
  3. Microwave on high for 1 minute and 20 seconds. (This might vary depending on the strength of your microwave.)

And that’s it!

IT’S SO EASY. AND SO DELICIOUS.

Traveling & Brownies

Oh hello again!

I’ve been traveling and packing and traveling, so I haven’t been able to update as of late! It feels good to be home again after four to five months at school ^^ Actually, it’s just nice to be back in warm weather. (A.k.a. above 40 degrees) 

And now I’m heading on a plane again to visit more family! Most of whom I don’t remember how we’re related. Too many cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins, aunts once removed, etc. Mmm another long plane ride! More time to relax, draw, sleep, watch boring TV, sleep, draw on my brother’s face…

A little more about me: I’m a Tufts University student studying biomedical engineering and a doctor hopeful! My favorite dessert might be cheesecake. It might also be snickerdoodle cookies. Or mango lassi. Or pumpkin pie. Or or or… -_______- too many options!

Yes. I like to travel. We have a family friend who sends us cookies from afar, and they’re always delicious! We got them yesterday, though, so we didn’t have time to enjoy that. Maybe I will do that, too, (Send cookies, I mean) so I have an excuse to bake, since I don’t eat a lot of my own baked goods anyway heh. 

Anywho, I mentioned that I was going to share my s’more brownie recipe! This one is courtesy of allrecipes.com (nothing fancy, but always reliable)! 

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This one was for the freshmen in my Freshmen Small Group Bible study that I co-lead at school! It was quickly devoured, though with some difficulty because of the gooey mess it creates. But that’s the best type of mess, right?

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I usually use pretty easy recipes, and this one’s no exception: it uses brownie mix! You just plop that in, put some ‘mallows and chocolate and graham cracker goodness on top, and you’re ready to nom nom nom ALL THE DELICIOUS

Ingredients:

  • 1 box brownie mix (I used one for a 9×13 pan)
  • 6 graham crackers
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshamallows
  • 8 (1.5 oz) bars milk chocolate or chocolate chips (I used the chips since that’s what I had on me!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare brownie mix according to box directions and spread in greased 9×13 inch pan. Make sure it’s generously greased, or it’ll be hard to remove the brownies when they’re done!
  2. In a medium bowl, break the graham crackers into smaller pieces and toss with 1 cup of the mini marshmallows and chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar. Mix so everything is well distributed and set aside.
  3. Bake brownies for 25-30 minutes. Then take them out of the oven and spread the s’mores mixture over them. Bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the marshmallows start to get to dark before the brownies are done, place a piece of aluminium foil over the pan for the remaining time. Let the brownies cool before cutting them into squares. 

The original recipe said to bake the brownies for 15 minutes and then with the s’mores mixture for an additional 15-20 minutes, but other reviews said it worked better if the s’mores mixture was baked for less time.

Feel free to use more marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers as desired! I think I should’ve put more graham crackers, and maybe even done a graham cracker crust, either on the bottom of the brownies or in between the brownies and marshmallow layer. Regardless, the brownies were delicious and tasted like a fresh, delectable s’more straight from a campfire! Now to sing kumbaya and all that jazz ^_^ Enjoy!

syd

Hello!

Hello!

I’m Sydney, I’m a college student, and I have a problem.

I love baking too much.

Is there a “too much” to baking? Well… no, I don’t think so. There’s too much of eating delicious things that are produced in ovens. I suppose I succumb to that guilty pressure too often, though, and make myself feel better by baking for other people, who shamelessly enjoy all of it.

And now, I’ve decided to share my creations and the sources from which I get them! (Because I’m not creative enough to make up my own recipes. Heh.)

Along with baking, I take pictures (mostly of food) and do a lot of DIY stuff. If I don’t end up being a doctor or engineer, I’m going to open up a side bakery and have an interior design business. My wedding will be completely DIY. Well, not completely. I can cheat a little bit, can’t I?

So for all you baking-photo-artsy enthusiasts, here’s my blog! Enjoy!

syd

P.S. Here’s what I made last week: S’more Brownies!

Brownie. Marshmallow. Graham crackers. More chocolate. Wow.
Brownie. Marshmallow. Graham crackers. More chocolate. Wow.