Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chocolate brownie cutout cookies


As I've mentioned before, I tend to dislike recipes that involve rolling dough out. I much prefer to just scoop and plop the dough straight onto the baking sheets with as little dough handling as possible. For the sake of pretty cookies however, it's an effort that I'll make.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cinnamon Nutella macarons


After several months of baking goodies in the dorm ovens, I'm still not too confident yet about the accuracy. These ovens definitely are hotter than whatever I set them as and I'm constantly pulling my things out early so they don't burn. It's for this reason that I haven't tried making macarons yet - they are more sensitive to changes like this.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mini cannoli bites


Pretty much immediately after I moved to Boston, I learned about one of its more popular dessert destinations - Mike's Pastry. Known for its generously filled cannolis (in assorted flavors) and lobster tails (a flaky pastry filled with cream), there are almost always lines pouring out the door at this bakery.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chai tea cupcakes


Last weekend, I took a brief trip to New York City with some friends. It was great to get away from the studying and homework for a little while and enjoy sightseeing in the city. We even got to see Cinderella on Broadway!

Monday, November 3, 2014

White chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles


Happy belated Halloween everyone! I usually don't put much effort into my costumes, but this year, someone was awesome enough to make me an amazing TARDIS hat (the light on the top blinks and everything!). All I had to do was put on my TARDIS apron and not move my head too quickly (the hat was pretty heavy).

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkin spice cake pops


Recently, I feel like every blog post is starting out with me saying how busy I am. Which is 1) true, and 2) only going to get more truer as this semester goes on. These blog posts are coming a week after I bake the goods, rather than a day or two after, but I am still determined to keep up with them. The time is there - I just have to find it. Welcome to grad school!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

3-ingredient Nutella cupcakes with peanut butter whipped cream


So far, grad school hasn't been the horrible, all-consuming experience as some people have described it to be, but I certainly don't have as much free time as I used to. Baking is still a priority (I haven't missed a week), but time management skills are as important as ever now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pumpkin pie cupcakes


One thing that I had forgotten about while living in San Francisco was seasons. It's pretty much the same climate throughout the year, so no snow, no changing leaves...I was reminded of all that again when I moved to Boston, with fall taking a turn now. It's nice seeing the leaves change around campus (although I bet the view is even better outside of Boston) - and it's a great reminder that it's pumpkin flavor time in the baking world!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chocolate chip cookies


It's been a busy week - homework is starting to pick up, as well as other grad-school related things. I was able to make time on Tuesday to bake, but didn't get around to the blog post until today - but here it is (although short)!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Green tea chocolate cupcakes


Around the same time that I got addicted to baking last summer, I discovered the world of loose-leaf tea. I actually grew up drinking regular loose-leaf green tea, but hadn't had much else past that. When I visited a tea shop for the first time, it was a little overwhelming. Rows upon rows of tea infused with fruit and spices and some stuff I couldn't even pronounce. It was fun trying all sorts of different flavors, but at the end of day, I always found myself coming back to regular green tea.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

S'mores brownies


Life is getting busy, but there's always time for baking! Once I get a better handle on my schedule, I can make fancier desserts, but while I'm still getting fully settled in, I've been sticking with simpler recipes, like cookies and brownies.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Red bean sesame cookies


I hope to avoid being a stereotypical poor grad student, yet somehow keep up my baking habit. After doing the math, I should be just fine, but still, I can't go wasting ingredients. After recipe though (especially a more unique recipe), I often have leftover ingredients that aren't commonly used in other recipes. I hate to see that food to go waste, so my solution has been experimenting with new recipes that use up what I have.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blueberry lemon cheesecake bites


Living in my new dorm-style apartment in grad school reminds me a lot of the college days, but I actually don't mind that. There are quite a few building events every week (usually involving free food) and it's a great way to meet new people in a new environment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Peanut butter apple cookies


We are still working through the massive pile of apples we brought from last week's apple picking, but luckily we're not sick of apples yet! Naturally, to help speed along the apple-depleting process before they all rot, I decided to bake with them. Again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Salted caramel apple pie


The last couple of weeks have been hectic. Fun and exciting for sure, but super busy. Moving across the country and settling down in a new place isn't easy, but it's been pretty great so far. There were some slight hiccups in moving logistics, but as of today (knock on wood), everything is mostly taken care of.

Starting grad school kind of feels like starting college all over again. So many orientation events (with free food!) and lots of new people to meet. So far, I've been on a Boston Harbor cruise, gone hiking in the White Mountains, and (the reason for this blog post) went apple picking! No, seriously, we somehow managed to pick around 20 lbs of apples. They are all sitting in the fridge right now and probably will comprise most of my diet for the next few weeks.


Knowing me, I immediately began thinking of ideas to bake with these apples too. For my first blog post since moving to Boston, I decided on a traditional apple pie - with a sweet twist. The recipe on Sally's Baking Addiction includes a layer of delicious salted caramel in the pie that I had to try.

Since I was short on time and kitchen space (my new kitchen is seriously tiny), I cheated and used a pie crust mix for the crust. Simply add water, mix, and you have ready-to-go pie crust. I rolled out half of the dough for the bottom layer and saved the other half to weave on top.

The salted caramel was actually relatively easy to make - I just melted sugar in a saucepan, added butter, followed by the whipping cream, and finally salt to taste. The key was to do this carefully so that the sugar begins to caramelize, but doesn't heat up so much that it begins to burn.


The apple filling was also straight forward. I cored and peeled and sliced around 7 apples of four different varieties, ranging from sweet to tart, because I wanted a range of different flavors in the pie. The apple slices were tossed with lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and then loaded up into the pie tin. The salted caramel sauce was generously drizzled all over the apples.

To top it off, I rolled out the remaining pie dough and cut thin strips from it. Using this strips, I created the lattice weaving pattern by criss-crossing the strips over each other. I didn't really weave them - I just alternated putting the strips on. For the finishing touches, I brushed the top with a beaten egg and dusted sugar over the whole thing.

Making the apple pie was simple enough. Baking it, in my old temperamental dorm-issue oven? That was a little trickier. For starters, I think my oven heats up to hotter than what the set temperature is, but I haven't confirmed this. It's also tiny and barely fits my cookie sheets. The crust of the apple pie also cooked up a lot faster than the filling, so halfway through, I had to cover the top with tin foil to allow the inside to keep cooking without the crust burning.

It was slightly stressful, but in the end, I managed to produce a decent looking apple pie! And from the feedback I got from my new classmates, it was pretty delicious as well! Here's to more baking adventures in grad school!


Salted Caramel Apple Pie (makes 1 9-inch pie)
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Crust:

  • 1 box of pie crust mix (I used Betty Crocker)
Filling:
  • 6-7 medium-large apples (I used a mixed variety)
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (31 g) of flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) of white sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • sugar for sprinkling on top
Caramel sauce:
  • 1 cup (200 g) white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tsp salt
  1. Make the caramel sauce now or ahead of time! Melt sugar in saucepan on medium heat. Stir constantly. Sugar will begin to clump up and eventually melt into a brown liquid as you stir. Don't let it burn!
  2. Add the butter and continue mixing until all is combined. (The mixture will bubble, this is normal!)
  3. Slowly add the whipping cream and let the mixture boil for one minute (it will bubble up and this is normal too!)
  4. Remove from heat and add the salt. Let cool before using. 
  5. Preheat oven to 400F.
  6. Follow the instructions on the pie crust mix to make the dough. Divide dough in half. Roll out one half until it's a circle slightly wider than a 9 inch pie tin. Press the dough into the pie tin.
  7. Wash/peel/core/slice the apples. Toss apple slices with lemon juice. Mix flour, sugar, and spices in separate bowl first and then toss with apples.  
  8. Fill pie tin with apple filling. It might seem like too much, but it will all fit in there. Stack the apples up high, if need be. 
  9. Pour caramel sauce (about 1/2 cup worth) over the apples. 
  10. Roll out remaining dough and cut into strips. Layer strips over apples and press ends of strips into the bottom layer of dough to make it stick. 
  11. Brush beaten egg over the top of the pie. Sprinkle with sugar. 
  12. Bake pie for 20 minutes at 400F. (Tip: place pie tin on a cookie sheet to catch any escaped pie juice). 
  13. Remove pie, cover top with tin foil, turn down oven to 375F, and then continue baking for another 40-50 minutes. 
  14. The pie is done when the filling begins bubbling up. 
  15. Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The great macaron marathon of 2014


For the past year that I've been baking, I've always brought something into work at least once a week, and people have definitely noticed. Free food (especially free baked goods) is always a welcome sight at the workplace. About a month ago, one of my coworkers approached me and asked if I could make macarons for his upcoming wedding, since his fiancĂ©e loves them. Being the ambitious baker that I am, I said yes.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chocolate cake mix cookies


I don't have much time these days. Moving across the country is no easy task, with all of the logistics to take care of. Plus, I want to hang out with as many of my friends as often as I can before I leave. This weekend was no exception. Lots of fun, but very little time for rest.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Funfetti donut holes


I've got exactly a month before I pack up and haul out to Boston, so my weekends are currently filled to the brim of me trying to do as much as I can and hang out with as many friends as possible.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sachertorte


A month or two back, I participated in Reddit's Arbitrary Day gift exchange. It's basically a giant online Secret Santa exchange, except in the middle of summer (hence, the name Arbitrary Day!). To my delight, I was sent a baking challenge - the Sachertorte.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chocolate strawberry mochi cupcakes


I'm currently about six weeks out from my big move to Boston. I've bought my one-way ticket, secured my apartment, and am compiling a list of places to eat and things to do for the city. The biggest challenge for me is getting all my stuff across the country. Simply put, I've just collected too many possessions over these last two years in San Francisco - and now I've got to decide what I really want.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Strawberry shortcake cupcakes (4th of July themed!)


Holidays are great. Not just because of the day we get off of work or all the festivities that go on during this time - but the food. And not just eating food! Holidays give me a theme to build my baking inspirations around.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wilton Method Classes


As I mentioned in my last post, I took a Wilton Method class (their Course 1 Building Buttercream Skills) at my local Michael's and really had fun, so I figured I write up my experiences for this blog post. (I did bake over the weekend for a friend's birthday, but he requested I repeat a previous recipe, so nothing novel to write about).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cake mix funfetti cookies


I've heard quite a bit about the Wilton Method classes and always have been curious to try them, but the courses are pretty pricey. Last month though, I was shopping at Michael's for craft supplies, and the store happened to be holding a special on their classes, giving me the opportunity to sign-up for Course 1 (Building Buttercream Skills) for half-off.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Peanut butter s'mores cookies


This past weekend, I was up camping at Lassen Volcanic National Park. I had no idea I lived so close to an active volcano and was really excited to climb. Lassen Peak exploded in 1915 (quite recent for a volcano) and during this time of year was still covered in snow. The view from the top was very pretty, but it was the climb up Cinder Cone that made me actually go "YUP. VOLCANO." It's really hard to put into words (and impossible to capture it all on camera) how different and alien-like Cinder Cone was and was really worth very painful step up that steep slope.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

No-bake peanut butter Nutella cookie truffles!


So after making my adorable little Cookie Monsters last week (which were quite the hit), I had a whole bunch of store bought mini-chocolate chip cookies leftover.

"Why don't you just hand them out and pretend you baked them?" suggested one friend. "You have enough baking credibility to pull that off."

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cookie monster macarons



C is for cookie, that's good enough for me!

I think Cookie Monster and I would get along great. I could bake as many cookies as I wanted and he could taste test all of them for me. In honor of my favorite Sesame Street character (and to celebrate my new-found skill of macaron-making), I crafted these adorably delicious macarons for a friend's birthday!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Baked brownie doughnuts


As I was pondering what I was going to bake for tomorrow (going to a concert and wanted to bring baked goods for everyone), my friend helpfully informed me that it was National Doughnut Day on Friday. Apparently it's been held on the first Friday in June ever since 1938!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Brown butter baked doughnuts


I'm currently vacationing at home right now, which means ultimate laziness and infrequent blog updates. Haven't had the chance to properly bake at home, so I'd figured it would be a good time to post a doughnut recipe from awhile back. I know, I know, I've been saying I'd post this recipe for a month now, but here it is, finally!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chocolate macarons with chocolate hazelnut porter filling


Macarons have been on my "to-bake" list for awhile now. I've made plenty of meringue-based desserts, including my faux-macarons, but never an authentic French-style macaron. Enough was enough, I decided. I got some almond meal, hit up a few instructional Youtube videos, and hit the kitchen this past weekend.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Meringue chocolate caramel roses


What do I do when I'm out of flour but still need to bake something for tomorrow? Meringue cookies, of course! Or, you know, go buy some more flour. Which I did. But the idea of meringue had already been planted in my head...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Chocolate chip cookie cupcakes


It's one of those weeks where I don't have anything fancy or different in my baking cupboards, just the basic necessities. This wouldn't really be a problem because I can just make good old (delicious!) chocolate chip cookies, but as my friends know, I'm not the type to make anything traditional. There's always got to be a twist.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Reese's Pieces cupcakes!


I love peanut butter, so by extension, I also love Reese's Pieces - both for eating and for baking! They are probably one of the most versatile candies to use in baking - they go well in cookies, with Nutella or with chocolate chips. I've made them in brownies as well (although I didn't get a chance to blog that creation).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Peanut butter cup cookies


I guess April must be my own personal cookie baking month or something. So far, of the five recipes I've posted during this month (including this one), four of them have been cookies. Must be a sign that it's been a busy month - cookies are a lot quicker to bake than baking, filling, and icing cupcakes!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Coconut mango mochi cupcakes


Thai food seems to be a pretty popular choice for when my company orders lunch and for a good reason. Who doesn't love pad thai, curry, and - best of all - mango sticky rice for dessert? After the third or fourth helping of mango sticky rice in about a month, it suddenly hit me that I could take these flavors and put them into a cupcake!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Puffy snickerdoodles


And as promised, here's part two of my Friday night cookie extravaganza: snickerdoodles! I baked these at the same time as I made my caramel gingersnaps and I've been bringing these cookies to every weekend activity so far - but there are STILL cookies leftover. Which is not a bad problem at all to have!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Soft chewy caramel gingersnaps


It's a Friday night and what do I do? Get a friend to come over and BAKE ALL THE COOKIES! We couldn't decide between two recipes that I wanted to try, so like any normal baker would do, we made them both.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Brown sugar cookies


So a lot has happened since the last time I baked n' blogged - HIMYM ended, Game of Thrones started, I went golfing and hiking, and somehow, with zero knowledge of basketball, managed to produce a bracket that predicted the winning team.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spaghetti cupcakes!


I'm not the biggest fan of April Fool's Day - I usually spend the day on pins and needles, hoping nothing falls out of the sky or jumps out to scare me. Needless to say, I hate being unnecessarily surprised. But April Fool's Day does afford me the opportunity to make a fun dessert, so I can't really complain!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

HIMYM finale baking: sumbitches cookies



Over nine seasons, How I Met Your Mother has had its ups and downs, but unlike many other people, I stuck with this show to the very end - and that end has come. Tomorrow night will be the series finale, where hopefully we will finally get the answer to the show's title: how did Ted meet The Mother? (Spoilers for all nine seasons of HIMYM in my post below...)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chai glazed buttermilk donuts


With the HIMYM series finale looming in less than a week, I have to start thinking about a perfect HIMYM-themed dessert for the finale-watching-party. The only thing I can come up with at this point is something pineapple related. The only other food-related running joke I can think of are sandwiches, and we're not having those at the party (not HIMYM "sandwiches" anyways).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Neapolitan cupcake tarts


Okay, so serious things first: I am officially moving to Boston in five months. This means I now have an issue with my blog name. Unfortunately, "Ally in Boston" or "Ally at MIT" just doesn't have the same rhyming ring to it as "Ally in Cali" does. After about two seconds of pondering, I then realized that no one is going to read my blog and go "But she doesn't live in California! I'M NEVER READING THIS BLOG AGAIN." So now I no longer have an issue with my blog's name. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chocolate caramel bars


So I finally saw Frozen for the first time on my flight home from Boston. Over the last few months, I've been told that I have to see this movie - and now I see why. I think I've listened to "Let It Go" fifty times at this point.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Whoops, I baked again. Yes, I know this means three days in a row.

You know how sometimes, you look down and see that bowl of [insert cookies or chips or grapes or etc. here] is completely empty? And then you realize you must have unwittingly ate it all without paying attention?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cinnamon rum apple pie cupcakes


I've been looking back through my previous blog posts and have noticed quite a few changes as I baked more and more. For one thing, my food photography skills have drastically increased. They are still pretty limited, since I use the camera on my phone, but at least I take the time now to arrange the desserts before photographing them and touch up the pictures in Photoshop after.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Nutella Reese's Pieces Cookies


As I looked through my cupboard to survey my baking ingredients, I came across a giant bag of Reese's Pieces. I previously had made Reese's Pieces chocolate chip cookies before, so for these cookies, I decided to make a slightly different variation. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Peanut butter fudge sandwiches


I'm a pretty indecisive person (a problem that will be highlighted clearly when I try and decide on grad schools), but in the case of baking, indecision can be a good thing. Take tonight for example: I wanted to make something with peanut butter, but couldn't decide between cookies or fudge. Instead of deciding, I just combined the two into one super recipe!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mint brownies


This mini-TV hiatus is really getting to me. I don't watch the Olympics much anymore, not since I stopped watching figure skating a long time ago. Instead, I'm just sitting around, waiting for my shows to get back on air.