Category: desserts

Depression era hipster cake.

I’m all about old timey things. I always say I was born in the wrong era- I should’ve been born around 1900 so I could have been a “flapper.” I love everything about the 1920’s/1930’s and I am obsessed with vintage everything. I collect vintage Pyrex/Depression glass/jadeite and vintage cookbooks. And vintage canning jars.

I’m just an old soul.

Anyway, I saw this cake over at gbakes.com and I knew I had to make it. Women during the Great Depression (and during WWII) were the original hipster vegans. Just not by choice. They had Victory Gardens, used butter & eggs rarely. And meat? It was a treat. I myself haven’t made a “cake” in quite some time. So when it involved such little effort and no eggs/butter? Hey. I’m there.

Depression era hipster vegan cake.

The best thing about this, though, is that it’s relatively cheap. And you don’t have to go run out and make sure you have the ingredients. I mean, most people have all the ingredients on hand- whether you’re vegan or not. Vinegar? Everyone has it. Canola or vegetable oil? Same. And most folks have cocoa powder. Which, by the way, is definitely vegan, whether you choose to use Dutched or regular. I like Hershey’s Special Dark myself.

The finished product kind of looks like a composition book, doesn’t it? Haha. Also: darkest cake I’ve ever made. Yes, I used dark chocolate but still. This cake is so dark it’s black.

Depression era hipster vegan cake.

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Red currant cupcakes.

This is probably the first and last time you’ll see red currants on this blog.

Red currants.

Enjoy it.

See… they don’t grow locally. And they’re usually imported, and they’re usually pricey. Like $5.99 for 6 ounces pricey. Mmm hmm. And they’re not for everybody. They’re not like apples or oranges that everyone loves. They’re kind of a niche product. Most Americans don’t even know what a red currant tastes like, let alone have they seen one.

I’m telling you. My whole life and I’ve seen fresh currants TWICE in a market. TWICE.

Red currant cupcakes.

But that’s why they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day. Because they’re hard to find, they cost a pretty penny, and they’re just pretty. They have these perfectly round, translucent little orbs on the cutest little vines. They’re very delicate, too, and you realize when working with them just how hard it must be to pick them without crushing them. Which I’m sure only adds to the price.

I stretched out 12 ounces of red currants to make two 8-oz. jars of red currant jelly and then I used a bit of that jelly to fill some cupcakes. And I had to top them with fresh red currants too. I mean… if we’re gonna be decadent and floss a little bit… *pops collar*

Red currant jelly.

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Red velvet whoopee pies!

Well. I definitely got a bit of inspiration. It struck out of nowhere, but when it came I was more than happy to go with it. Even if it isn’t groundbreaking.. it’s fun.

Red velvet whoopee pies! With cream cheese frosting filling.

It has been a LONG time since I have made whoopee pies. I think… 5 years? I really don’t know why. They’re so cute. And fairly easy, really. They’re also a nice change from your typical cookies or cupcakes. And when they’re red velvet, they’re even cuter, I think.

Don’t you agree?

And by the way, is it “whoopee” pie or “whoopie” pie? Someone plz get back to me, thx. Anyway, yeah. Red velvet whoopee pies. Or whoopee.

red velvet whoopee pies.

And there is no special equipment needed to make them. Just cookie sheets, your hands, a mixer and a recipe. Oh- and the frosting of your choice to fill them with, of course. Although you could opt to just leave them as soft cookies, with a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar on top, too.

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Rocky road (of life) brownies.

Guys, I’m sorry. I’m trying really hard to keep up the posts here, but honestly I haven’t been inspired. I’m hoping for some sweet Valentine’s Day inspo soon, but right now the rivers of ideas in my brain have run dry.

However, today, we shall feast like kings.

Rocky road brownies with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

So this happened. Yup. I was sitting home Saturday night, thinking how much I’d love a brownie. Then I saw the marshmallows I made. And the Oxo container filled with walnut halves. And I thought, “Why just REGULAR brownies? Why not SUPER BROWNIES?!” And then while writing this, I realized… rocky road… rocky road of life… because you know, I’m sitting here being dramatic and pouting that I haven’t posted enough at the blog this year (so far). *siiiiiiigh*

The really cool thing about these is that they’re 100% made from scratch. I mean, I didn’t grow the cacao or the walnuts. I probably could- I had an aunt who had a walnut tree in her yard. But I made the marshmallows from scratch, and the brownies. Pretty neat. They’re as homemade as you can get. Look at them:

Rocky road brownies; covered with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

Right? RIGHT?! Insanity. Insane in the membrane. Intensity in 10 cities.

Imagine, if you will, these babies crumbled- or just plunked- on ice cream. I know. Stop. Your brain is gonna explode. Calm down.

Do they make up for the lack of posts from me?

Rocky road brownies; homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts topping rich chocolate brownies.

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Fluffy bourbon vanilla marshmallows.

Bourbon vanilla marshmallows.

Ohhhh, I have been wicked sick. Since December 28th or so, I’ve been a mess. I was on TWO different antibiotics, my head and chest were full of gunk and I could barely taste anything. I went to the doctor twice, got a chest X-Ray, and was given Hycodan syrup to sleep (only after practically begging for it because after 5 days with a total of just 4 hours sleep I was losing my mind). It was bad. To be fair, this was my own fault. Jay was sick in early December, and so was my mom, and then I got sick and just wrote it off as being “just a cold” so I didn’t do much about it. I was told to go to the doctor about 4 or 5 times. I was told it would get worse. I didn’t listen. 

I always do that. Remember when I was in the hospital that time? Yeah.

So it festered and hung around and got worse… and voila! Ended up going to the doctor twice in 5 days. Thankfully, I made it through the holidays. But on New Years Eve I was in a fitful, sweaty sleep on a double dose of NyQuil by 10:30 p.m. I don’t recommend a double dose of NyQuil, by the way. I was just desperate. I’m better now, but a bit of a cough is still lingering, and my head is still filled with gunk. Anyway. That’s the only excuse I have for my semi-absence. Usually, I have some posts lined up, but I was so sick I couldn’t face baking or even standing up for any period of time. Did you know most bloggers (myself included) set up their blogs to post automatically? Yep. Most of my posts are set up a week or so in advance. However, because I was sick, I fell behind. So here we are.

Bourbon vanilla marshmallows.

Coincidentally, though, this post is about marshmallows. And marshmallows tie in to being sick in an interesting way (thanks Wikipedia):

Marshmallow probably came first into being as a medicinal substance, since the mucilaginous extracts come from the root of the marshmallow plant, Althaea officinalis, which were used as a remedy for sore throats. Concoctions of other parts of the marshmallow plant had medical purposes as well.[2] The root has been used since Egyptian antiquity in a honey-sweetened confection useful in the treatment of sore throat.[1] The later French version of the recipe, called pâte de guimauve (or “guimauve” for short), included an egg white meringue and was often flavored with rose water.

The use of marshmallow to make sweets dates back to ancient Egypt, where the recipe called for extracting sap from the plant and mixing it with nuts and honey. Another pre-modern recipe uses the pith of the marshmallow plant, rather than the sap. The stem was peeled back to reveal the soft and spongy pith, which was boiled in sugar syrup and dried to produce a soft, chewy confection.[2] The marshmallow plant’s sap was also used by gladiatorsin ancient Rome. The sap was rubbed on the body in preparation for the fight.

So really, it’s appropriate that I am sitting here, after recovering from being sick, writing about marshmallows. Especially ones that include another cold/flu remedy… bourbon.

Bourbon vanilla marshmallows.

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Earl Grey caramel.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

 

Earl Grey caramel.

Don’t hate me. This wasn’t my idea. I mean, it was. But I first saw it on Saveur, so blame them. However, their version was a lavender Earl Grey caramel, which sounds lovely. It really does. It just doesn’t appeal to me, personally.

I don’t like lavender much. Especially not on my food.

I LOVE caramel, though. LOVE it. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. And I also love Earl Grey tea! So I knew this would be a home run for me. I just tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes and voila. A jar of delicious, soft, Earl Grey caramel. Perfect over ice cream. Delightful with pound cake.

Earl Grey caramel.

I’m always reminded of my Nana when I make anything involving tea. She would’ve loved this, too.

So many people are afraid of trying to make caramel. They think of boiling sugar and candy thermometers and “hard crack” and “soft ball” stages and get terrified. No need. It isn’t all that hard and you don’t need a thermometer. I promise. Just common sense. Its HOT sugar. Don’t touch it. There. End of story.

Earl Grey caramel.

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Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with brandy icing and sugared cranberries.

Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with sugared cranberries.

So, hey guys… I made some mini-bundt gingerbread cakes. Cutest little things. And add to them some cute little sparkly sugared cranberries. Ugh. Forget it. Are visions of sugarplums- or sugared cranberries- dancing in your head? It’s Christmastime, folks! I know! So exciting. It’s such a busy time of year, I know, but I hope you all take some time to spend with your families and friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget that not only are we all human- but what’s important.

Beautiful things don’t always have to be complicated. Simple is beautiful too. And I promise you that these little mini gingerbread bundts are simple. Don’t be scared by the sugared cranberries!

Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with sugared cranberries.

Gingerbread is so Christmas, it’s practically mandatory. If you let a holiday season go by without making gingerbread, it’s almost sacrilegious. I decided to up the ante and add another holiday favorite: cranberries. And let’s not forget brandy, another holiday staple.

So yeah. Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes. They’re so beautiful… and also just plain adorable. But SIMPLE. Just a few ingredients, a little bit of mixing and tossing and whisking and voila. Gorgeous little cakes to serve after a holiday meal. And they’ll make you feel all Martha Stewart-y.

Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with sugared cranberries.

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