chocolate

slutty cupcakes: a story

Picture it if you can:

Wednesday night of 10th week. Classes are done for the year, finals are still far enough that the panic hasn’t set in, and the ladies of PBT are rocking out to Taylor Swift in a dorm basement kitchen.

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Note how excited Emma and Estelle are. As they should be.

Their mission for the night has been long awaited, but what better way to welcome reading period than with stress baking? Yes, the night was simply perfect for slutty cupcakes.

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You’ve never heard of slutty cupcakes? Victoria is skeptical.

Now don’t ask me why they’re slutty. I can’t answer that question in any remotely satisfactory fashion. What I can tell you is that they’re so rich, so deeply indulgent, and so damn easy to make that they should be illegal(Except not actually, because then what would we do without them?!) These classic but slightly terrifying muffin-cupcake-brownies–because one name is not enough to capture what they are–consist of a soft cookie dough base, one full Reese’s Cup, and one full Oreo layered over it, all topped with a healthy serving of gooey, moist brownie batter.

Warning: more than one of these may kill you.

So we assembled the trays. Readymade cookie dough, Reese’s Cups, Double Stuf Oreos, and Betty Crocker brownie mix. They looked like those adorable chocolate-covered marshmallow and graham cracker cookies, whose name completely evades me.

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So cute already!

The baking time was an educated guess, so I set the timer for 20 minutes, and we went off to find a way to amuse ourselves.

Victoria remained skeptical.

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I was domestic.

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Emma vandalized Sheena’s whiteboard.

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And we took incredibly cheesy photos in our matching dresses.

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Somewhere in between all of this, Victoria ended up with a busted ankle. No worries–she’s fine now–but the valiant sacrifice of her body will not be forgotten.

Finally, out came the slutty brownies, hot and baked to perfection, crisp with melting insides. We probably should’ve let them cool longer, but we couldn’t help it. We dug in.

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Estelle is super excited…

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…and super cute when caught off-guard. Sorrynotsorry, girl.

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Nina’s allergies deprive her of slutty cupcakes and make her sad. (It’s okay; she got real cupcakes after this.)

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Emma shows off those beautiful layers.

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And Sheena is simply pleased.

Satisfied, we split up the remaining cupcakes and called it a night. Almost zero effort for a small treat that goes a long way–and makes a great gift for physics TAs, as we found out.

Seriously, make these. You won’t regret it in the slightest.

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On to baking logistics things! One package of brownie mix and one roll of ready to bake cookie dough yielded 24 cupcakes, with leftover brownie batter. Our cupcakes stuck to the paper liners pretty badly, especially once they’d cooled. If you don’t want to deal with that, I’d suggest forgoing the liners and simply spraying the pan. That should solve the problem.

20 minutes at 350F was enough to bake these really thoroughly. As you can see in the photo above, the brownie batter formed a light, flaky skin over the Oreo just as it normally would, and the surrounding edges were crisp like the edges of a pan of brownies. I would actually start checking the cupcakes around 16 minutes to make sure they don’t overcook. The cookie dough will definitely be cooked–you’ll just want to test the brownies, which you can do with a toothpick as normal, cooking until a toothpick inserted into the batter (away from the Oreo!!) comes out clean/with a few moist crumbs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

I’m back! In case that wasn’t obvious. After a week at home to settle in, I’m getting back into the baking swing of things, and updates will become regular again (every weekend!). Unfortunately, being back home means the UChicago cupcake orders have been put on hold for the summer. That being said, if enough people around here want custom cupcakes, I’ll consider making this a second location. Just drop me a comment/message! 🙂

And speaking of UChicago–shameless self-promotion! HUGE thanks to Hannah at Spoon, a UChicago food magazine/blog for writing about tlc baking this month! Spoon is growing quickly, and is definitely worth keeping an eye on even if you don’t go to UChicago. Check out their site here, and read the article about tlc here!

Aaaaand that’s it for my very, very long post. Sorry, guys! Making up for lost time here. 😉

See y’all next weekend!

dark chocolate + butterscotch chip cookies [tracey’s culinary adventures]

Who doesn’t love a warm, chewy chocolate chip cookie with a tall glass of cold milk? There’s something so simple, so childlike and comforting about milk and cookies. And sometimes–most of the time–dining hall cookies just don’t cut it.

So I took matters into my own hands last week and turned to my absolute favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.

Honestly, I was going to go for just plain chocolate chips, but I had none left. But this ended up working in my favor because butterscotch and dark chocolate how could you go wrong

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I’ve been using this recipe for a while now. It’s my favorite for two reasons: 1) brown butter. ‘Nuff said. 2) Everything is whisked by hand, so there’s no need for a stand mixer or a handheld blender or really anything more than a stovetop, a heatproof bowl, and a whisk. It’s extremely conducive to dorm baking.

You might think the instructions are strange at first–whisk, wait, whisk, wait, etc.–but don’t skip any steps, because it will make a difference in the final product. It’s not a difficult recipe; it’s just precise. And it’s definitely worth being a little patient. 🙂

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The only change I made was replacing the 1 1/4 cups of semisweet chocolate chips with 1/2 cup dark morsels and 1/2 cup butterscotch chips. The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate, the nutty toffee hints from the browned butter, and the creamy sweetness of butterscotch all combined in a chewy, buttery explosion of flavor. The only reason I still have a couple left? They’re too good to finish.

Seriously, I can’t rave about this recipe enough. (In case you couldn’t tell.)

Way more than the butterscotch or dark chocolate, it’s the brown butter in the base that makes these cookies so delicious–and so different from most other chocolate chip cookies. I’m sure you could throw just about anything into this dough, and it would taste fantastic.

A last note on the baking: err on the side of taking the cookies out too early if you really want them to be chewy. They won’t get hard even after about 13 minutes, but they won’t be quite as soft as they could be. And if you want them thicker than the ones I made, after you portion the dough into balls, freeze it for a couple hours before baking. It works wonders.

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That’s it for today! I think I’m gonna go find myself some milk and eat what’s left of these. 😉

Have a great week!

s’more poke cake [confessions of a cookbook queen]

Last night, I was joined by the lovely Gabby Costa in my somewhat janky house kitchen, where we attempted to recreate these beautiful squares of marshmallow-and-graham-cracker-goodness.

Let me tell you: it got messy.

But I mean in the best of ways–the kind that includes fluff stuck to fingers and far more Aaron Carter than is probably acceptable anymore.

And on the topic of fluff, can we address how terrifying the stuff is? It sticks to anything and everything except what it needs to, its shelf life is alarmingly long, and somehow, it is still delicious. Seriously, there’s something wrong with this picture.

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Nothing wrong with this picture, though. All those golden, perfectly toasted marshmallows topping a fudgy chocolate cake made even more gooey with smooth chocolate pudding.

Oh yes. That’s quite the cake.

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So this particular recipe was actually chosen by Gabby. I was instantly sold when I saw that there was chocolate pudding involved. Spouts of pudding? Inside my cake? Yes, please!

Unfortunately, as you can see from my photo (especially compared to the ones on the original recipe), the pudding never quite made it into the cake. Despite borderline destroying the cake with holes, we couldn’t get much of the pudding to actually sink into the cake. This brings up two issues:
+ Make big holes for your pudding! Either use a wooden spoon with a thicker handle, or just push the handle around to make the holes bigger. Otherwise, the pudding won’t actually fill your cake.
+ 3.4 ounces of instant pudding is a lot. Like a lot. Like way more than you actually need for this cake.

And you know what else is a lot? 13 ounces of marshmallow fluff. I ended up using just over one 7.5-oz jar of fluff, and if you look, it was enough to coat the 9×13 cake with a good, thick layer of marshmallow. Save yourself the trouble of dealing with 13 ounces of the monstrously sticky stuff, and just use less.

Lucky for us, we were baking in a dorm, and we had no trouble getting rid of things like extra chocolate pudding and fluff.

Other adjustments: I dropped the sugar from the graham cracker crust–the cake is sweet enough–and increased the baking time of the actual cake from 20 minutes to ~30, because mine was still jiggling after only 20. You want it to be just baked, so that it can still sit in the oven for a little while after the pudding and marshmallows are added.

The final product was gooey, got all over our hands/faces/clothes, and went perfectly with a tall glass of milk. The only way I could cut through it so neatly was with a heated knife (which Gabby thought of; thanks, girl!). But they really did taste like s’mores fresh off a campfire, with the golden-crusted marshmallows and everything. All in all: would definitely bake again. 😉

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That’s all for today, folks! Don’t forget to keep placing those cupcake orders! Remember that Relay for Life will be getting 50% of the proceeds from orders placed between now and May 17th 🙂
And in the meantime, enjoy the beautiful spring sunshine!