Category: vanilla

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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B-b-b-butterscotch pie.

Uhm. I’m not really great at pie. Seriously.

Butterscotch pie with toasted meringue!

Or at least thats what I always say. I might not be able to get away with that anymore, though. Between the apple bourbon brown butter whatever it was pie and the apple cranberry pie and now this… people are starting to think I’m just full of shit. They’re starting to think I pretend I’m not good at pie so that I can avoid making it.

But in the past I’ve had on and off love/hate relationship with pie. I’m notoriously bad at the crust because I lack patience. And I also never wait for them to cool before cutting so, yeah, they can look messy. Some come out perfect. Others don’t. This one. Meh.

Butterscotch pie with toasted meringue.

This butterscotch pie came out visually okay. Not great. I was a little tired and it was getting late and I rushed it a bit in my anticipation of eating it. But the taste? OH MAN.

The taste alone made everyone crazy.

But did I mention I’m tired? Yeah. This time of year is kicking my ass. Between working & baking & decorating & blogging & family & this annoying cold I’ve been fighting off… let’s stick with pie.

Butterscotch pie with toasted meringue.

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Apple-cranberry pie.

(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.)

Apples for apple-cranberry pie.

Peeling apples for apple-cranberry pie.

As a food blogger and someone who just loves to eat in general, there are a few things I hear from people a lot. One is usually something like “How do you stay so skinny?” Now in my mind I am far from skinny, but also do people assume I eat every single thing I make in it’s entirety? And two, which really bothers me: “I don’t have time to do all that!”

Yes, yes you do.

Apple-cranberry pie; like apple pie with cranberry sauce!

I’m busy too. Trust me. I have a lot going on in my life. But it’s a matter of priority. Some people will always choose to drive through a fast food restaurant, others will make homemade hamburgers. That’s just the way it is. Some people won’t ever try to do it, so they won’t realize how it really doesn’t take 6 hours and it isn’t all that difficult. However, if I want something, I want to make sure its the best it can be. Sometimes, yes, I use shortcuts like frozen pie crust, and that’s okay. That is TOTALLY OKAY. But Jay can sniff out a frozen crust from a mile away- and he prefers homemade. So if I know I’m making a pie ahead of time (and not at 3 a.m. when I can’t sleep), I try to put aside extra time to make a homemade pie crust. Especially if it’s for a holiday dinner.

This pie was new for me, and I wanted to share it with you because it’s a great Thanksgiving pie. And Christmas pie, too, really. It’s like cranberry sauce and apple pie rolled into one. It’s dessert and a side dish. It’s totally unexpected. And it’s also adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, which I happen to trust immensely when it comes to recipes.

Apple-cranberry pie.

I hope you’ll try it this year for the holidays. Maybe you’ll come to love it so much, you’ll never buy a frozen crust or store-bought pie ever again. And yes… I continue my tradition of being horrible at folding pie crust.

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Simple scones with caramel ginger pear jam & vanilla butter.

Simple scones, vanilla butter and caramel ginger pear jam. Click through for all three recipes!

It’s cold! On weekends this time of year, I wake up hungry. Hungry and chilly, I wander bleary eyed into the kitchen. Indy sits next to me some mornings, on “his” kitchen rug patiently waiting for the back door to open so he can take care of his… *ahem* daily constitutional. I put the Keurig on and stand there waiting for coffee in my pajamas, fuzzy socks or slippers, rubbing my eyes thinking, “God I wish I had something to shove in my pie hole.” Usually… I also wake up lazy; too lazy to make something. But if I’m lucky I already have made something! For example, scones with caramel ginger pear jam & vanilla butter.

Jay is a huge fan of scones. So am I really, and for some reason I never make them. I should really make them more often. They’re ridiculously easy and delicious- requiring no mixing other than by hand, no special equipment. And also? They go with everything. Like the recipes I’m giving you today: caramel pear jam and vanilla butter.

Yes, I said vanilla butter. I’ll get to that in a sec.

And… caramel ginger pear jam. It is pear season, you know. Go getchu some gorgeous pears and do something. Ginger is so warming, and it gives an exotic kind of scent to the jam. But you can feel free to omit it and keep it just caramel pear, if you want. YES- YOU GUYS GET THREE RECIPES IN ONE POST TODAY. OMG AREN’T YOU LUCKY.

Caramel ginger pear jam.

By the way- these scones are NOT just a vehicle to get vanilla butter and jam into your face hole. They’re buttery, flaky, and delicious. Totally great on their own. But also great with: marmalade, plain butter, clotted cream, crème fraîche, and just about any kind of jam or jelly you can imagine. They also can be totally changed up to suit you.

They really are easy too. I swear.

Simple scones.

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