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

vegan key lime pie [blogilates]

As the weeks fly by and my blog continues to be neglected, I realize more and more that I am probably doing too many things for my own good. For those of you still reading: thanks for sticking around. I’ll figure this out eventually.

On to pie!

Well…sort of.

With the holidays coming up quickly, my favorite food sites have been flooded with fall spices, apple crumble, and pecan and pumpkin pies. But while my stomach says hot damn yes, my jeans say NO, and I find myself looking for healthy alternatives to eating a different kind of pie every week.

Enter the vegan key lime pie, courtesy of Cassey Ho at Blogilates. While it looks like pie and feels like pie, it doesn’t quite taste like pie–but it is still absolutely delicious, and good for satisfying a sweet tooth.

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The wonderful part: this deceptive “pie” is made from wholesome ingredients that will actually make it good for your health to be eating a slice. What?! I know. There’s also no actual baking involved–just a freezer.

The less wonderful part: the prep requires a food processor. If you’re like me, that means digging around on the top shelves of cabinets and sorting through all the kitchen appliances your mom owns but doesn’t actually use. Which then leads to extra cleanup. This dish also doesn’t keep for very long, and some people will be incredibly disappointed at the lack of actual pie. But we don’t need to worry about those people.

The ingredient list is short and simple: avocados, dates, walnuts, limes, and sugar. You can add tapioca flour, but that’s not something I have handy, so I ground two tablespoons of rolled oats instead. (Feel free to omit the flour altogether, though.)

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After soaking the dates in water for an hour, blend them with the walnuts to make the pie crust.

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Slice up your avocados and throw them into a food processor with the sugar and (optional) oats/tapioca, blend it all, and pour it over your crust.

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Garnish with coconut flakes, lime slices, and whole walnuts–and you’re done! Just pop it into the freezer until it’s firm.

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My family and I worked our way through this pretty quickly. I felt no guilt whatsoever. 😉

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Avocados aren’t in season anymore, but let me know if you find some good ones and try this recipe out!

And to anyone who is less than thrilled about a healthy vegan dessert: fear not. Butter, sugar, and chocolate will return soon.

Happy Sunday! 🙂

snickerdoodle muffins [tasty kitchen]

…aaaaaaand I’m back!

To those of you still reading: thank you for sticking around through the past few months of sporadic posts–and utter lack of posts. This is an experiment and a learning experience for me, and as it turns out, I’m terrible at updating regularly when I don’t have a structured schedule for the rest of my life. In other words, summer completely whacked out my posting schedule.

But now I’m back at school! And things can go back to normal again: weekly updates, lots of photos, and cupcake orders! Yes, I am back in business, and very happy to be so. I’m hoping that this quarter will mean some serious growth for tlc–assuming I can handle it on top of school. Eep.

Alright, enough chatter. On to the main attraction: these muffins.

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Cinnamon sugar, melt-in-your-mouth, cookie muffins.

Do you hear that?

Cookie muffins.

That is literally what these are.
And with the sheer amount of butter and sugary goodness in these muffins, how could they be anything less than delicious?

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As the weather gets cooler–though it’s debatable whether or not it’s actually cooling down in Chicago–I find it too easy to fall in love with the cinnamon and spice craze that seems to sweep up everyone when sweater weather rolls around.

Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that half of my wardrobe was made for autumn. I am not ashamed.

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I first made these in high school for an English class breakfast, and I’ve made them probably a half dozen times since. The most recent iteration was for a visit to my best friend. There’s something about snickerdoodles that tastes like childhood and home.

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I also get a silly amount of joy from dolloping sticky balls of vanilla batter into a bowl full of cinnamon sugar and rolling them around.

Warning: you will want to lick your fingers afterward.

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The base is actually just a simple, buttery vanilla muffin that I imagine would also make a wonderful fruity muffin, like blueberry. And as if the cup of butter weren’t enough, there’s also a cup of sour cream to make every bite rich and moist.

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Bright, warm colors, spicy and sweet cinnamon, and thick vanilla flavor will have you finding excuses to eat these muffins for breakfast, as a snack, and as dessert.

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If you’re confused, there’s a great step-by-step photo series here, also on Tasty Kitchen. You’re less than 30 minutes away from snickerdoodle happiness. Don’t let anything get in your way.

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For the record, I probably ate four of these snickerdoodle muffins in the two days before I left for Chicago. And they are nowhere close to the healthy streak I had going for a while over the summer.

Oh, well.

As I was saying earlier, yes, I’m open to cupcake orders once again! I’m still settling in and waiting on some supplies, so I may ask you to be a little flexible with your delivery dates, but oh man, I will be so happy to be baking regularly again. I got all these new baking toys and I am so excited to use them, you don’t even know.

And to all you new Crownies (or really anyone else) who wound up here after my speech 15-second rant tonight, heyhihello! Check out my old posts, order some cupcakes, knock on my door and ask me things–and tell your friends if you like what you see!

As always, comments/questions/cute animal photos are welcomed! See you next week 🙂