About Aneesa S.

Posts by Aneesa S.:

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt [ambitious kitchen]

(Originally posted: March 2, 2014)

I hate hard pretzels. I have always hated hard pretzels. There’s something about their weird saltiness but not-quite-bread-ness that I can’t handle. I think they’re dry and gross and I do not like them.

BUT. I love chocolate-covered pretzels.

I’m convinced that the salty-sweet combination is pure magic. Salted caramel, chocolate- or yogurt-covered pretzels, dark chocolate with sea salt, a bowl of popcorn sprinkled with M&M’s–I’m in love with all of it.

Enter these obscenely delicious peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen.

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Warm, melty chocolate. Creamy peanut butter. The sudden crunch of sea salt every couple of bites. Perfect with a glass of cold milk, and definitely too good to eat just one. Mine did not turn out as thick as the ones in the recipe, but they were still wonderfully chewy, even long after they cooled down. 

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The batch was surprisingly large, and even in my apartment of four (with the frequent visiting friends), these lasted a while, still calling to me from the kitchen counter at 2 am nearly a week after they came out of the oven.

If you’ve ever found yourself studying late into the night anywhere near homemade baked goods, you understand this call that cannot be ignored, no matter how much your stomach may make you regret the decision soon after.

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Seeing Greek yogurt and honey in a recipe can almost fool you into thinking it’s healthy.
Almost.
At the very least, it serves as an (admittedly shaky) excuse to eat more than one when they come out the oven.
If there is a problem with this, I cannot see it.

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Obviously, there is science behind the unbelievable appeal of this salty-sweet combination, and being the nerd that I am, I started googling to find out the truth behind my deep, deep love of those dark chocolate/sea salt Lindt bars.

FUN FACT TIME!

There are a handful of studies that delve into the curious effects of salt on sweet treats. Our taste buds can experience five different categories of tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, which translates loosely from Japanese as savory. In general, our whole tongue is capable of tasting all five types, but there are different receptors for each one. Many studies suggest that the presence of sodium–half of what we use as common table salt, which is sodium chloride–affects more than just the salty taste receptors and in fact removes inhibitors that exist in other ones, allowing the sweetness of the food to be tasted more intensely than it would’ve been otherwise. In fact, this characteristic is what makes salt such a good flavor enhancer in the first place.

However, there is, of course, a limit. Please don’t go emptying your bottle of sea salt into your next chocolate cake. That is not something that will end pleasantly for you or anyone else.

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All science aside, whether you’re curious about the functions of your taste buds or not, these cookies are delicious and are bound to satisfy some craving of yours.

Stay safe, stay warm, and stir up a batch of these if you find yourself bored at home tonight.

Happy Saturday! 😀

 

red velvet cupcakes/cinnamon cream cheese frosting [joy the baker]

(Originally posted: February 14, 2014)

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Whether you’re spending it with a significant other or with a movie and some chocolate, make sure you treat yourself well today.

My Valentine’s Day gift to myself is takeout, a bad 1970 adaptation of Dracula, and good friends. Ladies and gentlemen, life at UChicago.

As far as V-Day treats go, though, I’m a big fan of red velvet done right. In my quest for the perfectly moist, tender and crumbly red velvet cake, I made these cupcakes from Joy the Baker.

Let me just say: right choice. This is by far the best red velvet recipe I’ve tried to date.

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Moreover, the frosting? Oh my god, to die for. Why have I never thought of putting cinnamon in cream cheese frosting?

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And the ratio of powdered sugar to cream cheese is just right for a frosting that sets firm but is still nice and tangy from the cream cheese. It tastes like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch–only better.IMG_5718

The one note I have is about the red food coloring. 2 Tablespoons? That’s a lot. I didn’t even have that much food coloring in my house when I made these. I ended up using 2-3 teaspoons of food coloring + 1 T hot water, and then added another teaspoon or two of hot water to the chocolatey paste when it wasn’t quite paste-y enough. As you can see, the cupcakes were still a vivid shade of red, so nothing lost here!

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Make these for your valentine, for your friends, for yourself, for your cat–whomever you wanna share some love with today.

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In other news, tenderloveandcupcakes.com is officially my own, GoDaddy-hosted website! This is very exciting news. It also means I’ll be playing with the layout a lot for a while, so bear with me, please. And feel free to leave comments on how it looks/what works/what doesn’t! I’ll try to stay on top of everything, but there will be bugs, and for that I am sorry.

Poke around, leave me a comment, and have a happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂 <3

TARDIS cake – happy 50th!

Let me preface this by saying that I have the coolest roommates ever.

Phillips, being the perfect person she is, threw a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary viewing shindig, in which all guests dressed up and came over for Doctor Who-themed snacks like Adipose marshmallows…

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…and, of course, to actually watch the new episode and collectively freak out.

Kaitlyn, being the perfect person she is, used her artistic powers for good and turned our door into a TARDIS.

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What? It’s bigger on the inside, you say?

Why, yes, it is.

Sam, being the perfect person she is, sat through several episodes and a crash-course powerpoint presentation (courtesy of Phillips) so that she wouldn’t be lost during the party, and even dressed up as Sally Sparrow.

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of this.

My contribution for the night was a TARDIS cake, inspired by this wonderful tutorial by the Artisan Cake Company.

The results (with a borrowed sonic screwdriver):

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Ooooooh.

Of course, I’m terribly nitpicky, so it kills me to compare my cake to the tutorial. I’m already looking for an excuse to make another one and perfect the design. Probably a bad idea, considering how long this one took me, but I’m not going to think about that.

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This cake was…quite an ordeal. It began on Friday night with the cake itself, the frosting, and the modeling chocolate. The frosting started out as a Swiss meringue buttercream, but I evidently haven’t mastered that yet, because it quickly turned into a regular buttercream. Thankfully, nobody I know is opposed to regular ol’ buttercream. 😉

The cake–well–it was definitely the easiest part of the whole process. I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe from foodess. It’s darker than most chocolate cakes without being overwhelmingly rich, it’s moist, and it has a soft crumble that’s hard to stop eating.

The modeling chocolate, made using this video’s recipe (also referenced by the tutorial), turned out way greasier than the instructions suggested it would. I ended up draining the excess water/grease as I mixed the corn syrup and melted chocolate. I was a little nervous that it would turn the chocolate into a crumbly mess (as threatened by the video), but after sitting wrapped up overnight, it was just as perfectly malleable as I’d hoped. Phew.

Which prompts me to say: if you’re using Wilton candy melts, you’re going to end up with alarming amounts of liquid as you’re mixing. Don’t panic. Drain the excess, wrap the chocolate in plastic wrap, and go to sleep. It’ll be fine. Really.

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There are few situations I could’ve imagined in which I’d be molding a cake using a paring knife. This is what happens when there’s no way you can get your hands on an exacto knife.

Several layers of modeling chocolate later, I had a vaguely shaped blue box. Hooray!

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Windows, decals, and a lot of coaxing later, I had turned my blue box into a TARDIS-shaped blue box. Double hooray! 🙂

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In the interest of keeping this cake as cheap as possible–and actually finishing it in time for the party, which was a struggle as it was–I passed on the white fondant and the intricate painting of windows, using leftover buttercream and a bit of black gel food coloring to finish the decorations.

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I also used a tiny balled up piece of aluminum foil instead of an actual floral light.

I’m a college student; what am I supposed to do with an entire pack of floral lights?

Topped that with leftover modeling chocolate painted black, and I had a “light” for my TARDIS.

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At some point during this process, I switched from apron-clad apartment baker to a femme eleventh Doctor putting the finishing touches on her precious ship.

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The suspenders and blazer showed up later.

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All in all, definitely a successful project. It was painful finally cutting into the cake–but also beyond worth it when everyone actually got to enjoy it.

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The support straws got sliced in the process and looked rather silly.

Also dang, look at those slabs of modeling chocolate. I didn’t even realize how much frosting and chocolate had been layered on there until I cut the thing open.

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Overall: 10/10, would definitely try something this out there again. Too much fun!

For progress photos & many more detail shots, head over to my flickr. Most of these are courtesy of Kaitlyn, who is responsible for the majority of the party documentation.

Thank you, Kaitlyn!

Next time, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming that includes far less time-consuming recipes.

To my UChicago friends: happy 10th week! And to all, happy December! Let the season of peppermint and huge sweaters begin 🙂 x