Category Archives: cute

Mini Easter Cupcakes

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MINI EASTER BASKET CUPCAKES. Do you see that mini mini mini mini chocolate bun? DO YOU SEE IT??? I’m freaking out. Cute overload.

True life confession: I go into CVS/Walgreens every other day to look at the Easter candy display and I AM NOT ASHAMED. It’s something about the pastels and the 75 different kinds of marshmallow/caramel/coconut eggs and the cute bunnies and alllllllll thaaaat chooooocolate that makes me want to hippity hop for joy.

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So you can bet your bottom dollar that when I saw a bag of teeny chocolate bunnies while waiting in line to check out at Walgreens I literally had to restrain myself from yelling with glee. So teeny-tiny! So itty-bittyl! So perfect for perching atop a mini Easter cupcake!

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I must know: what’s your favorite kind of Easter candy? Are you a jellybean or chocolate kinda person? And what are your thoughts on PEEPS?! (It probably goes without saying but: love, love, love. Especially stale.)DSC_0173

DSC_0193Note: you could really make any kind of cupcakes, since the toppings/decorations are the most important part, but I went with banana + greek yogurt cupcakes since I had an extra-ripe banana lying around!

Mini Banana Greek Yogurt Cupcakes

yield: 24 mini cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 large overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini muffin tin with 24 paper liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the mashed banana, oil, greek yogurt, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and beat on low (or fold with a rubber spatula) until just combined.
  2. Divide the batter evenly among the paper liners. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  3. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack. Top with your favorite buttercream or frosting, then dip in sweetened shredded coconut that has been mixed with green food coloring. Add jellybeans and mini chocolate bunnies (if you can find them!) to the center.
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A Teeny-Tiny Batch of Eensy-Weensy Chocolate Chip Cookies


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I will never be someone who can eat just one cookie. Some people (i.e. those with self-control) can do it. Me? If I have one cookie, I want fifteen more just like it. On the other hand, I like the idea of a portion-controlled single-serving cookie, à la those “giant cookie[s] for one” that I see all over the blogworld. So I decided to combine portion control + my love of multiple (multiplemultiple) cookies and figured out the measurements for a teeny-tiny batch of eensy-weensy cookies.

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image_5These are perfect for any time life calls for a tiny batch of cookies. Like when you MUST HAVE some fresh-from-the-oven goodies but you don’t want to make a normal-sized batch and accidentally-on-purpose eat two dozen. Or when you’ve had a long Tuesday and want to drown your sorrows in warm chocolate chip cookies but you only have ten minutes and two tablespoons of butter and one bowl. Because that’s all you NEED for these, yo.

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And…THEY ARE JUST SO DARN CUTE. They fill me with happiness. Ideal happy Melanie moment: dancing around my kitchen to this song wearing a high pony munching on a batch of teeny tiny eensy weensy adorable-beyond-words cookies. On vacation. And there are sprinkles somewhere close by. And it’s sunny outside. And Mike comes home early from work and makes me dinner. It’s grilled cheese. And he brings a puppy. It’s going to be mine-all-mine and I name it….

image_3…I’m getting ahead of myself. I just can’t even handle the cuteness. There’s something about miniature baked goods that make me do a happy dance. Like, each cookie is ONE TEASPOON of dough. Cutie cute cute cute cute CUUUUUUTE.

image_2imageA Teeny-Tiny Batch of Eensy-Weensy Chocolate Chip Cookies

yield: 18-20 teeny tiny cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned (or melted) and cooled slightly
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons egg*
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 cup mini chocolate chips

*note: to get 2 teaspoons of egg, crack an egg into a bowl, beat it with a fork, and measure out 2 teaspoons

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk the slightly cooled butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla. Add the egg and whisk until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  2. Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake for four minutes (watch carefully, these bake quickly!!), then place on a wire rack to cool.

Momofuku’s Birthday Cake Crumbs

cakecrumbs2.jpgListen. This post has nothing to do with Christmas. But I’ve been freeeeeaking out over these birthday cake crumbs for the past three weeks and decided it’s high time I SHARE.

Picture 1I discovered the crumbs while searching for a birthday recipe for a good friend who is a big fan of Momofuku’s Milk Bar. [I briefly posted about Milk Bar last year around this time – hellO red velvet soft serve!]

Words cannot describe, so I’ve compiled a list of reasons+pictures you should whip them up as. soon. as. humanly. possible.:

cakecrumbs4.jpg1. Crumbs, in their eensy-weensy size, do not have calories. No one was ever like, “Oh man, my pants feel extra tight. It must be all those crumbs I’ve been eating.”

2. Therefore, birthday cake crumbs = zero calories. Guilt-free.

3. They are so super duper easy to make!

4. Rainbow sprinkles!

5. So many!

cakecrumbs5.jpg6. Spoon – – mouth. Spoon – – mouth. Repeat.

7. You’re probably sick of Christmas cookies. Make crumbs instead.

8. Observe:

cakecrumbs3.jpg8a. Hypothetically, if you let your ice cream melt a little, mixed in some crumbs, and put it back in the freezer? Hypothetically, you might have BIRTHDAY CAKE CRUMB ICE CREAM. And hypothetically, your boyfriend might eat it all in .5 seconds. Hypothetically.

9. IT’S LIKE BIRTHDAY CAKE STREUSEL. I REPEAT, BIRTHDAY CAKE STREUSEL.

10. Do you really need a tenth reason at this point? WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE??? GO! MAKE THEM! NOW!

cakecrumbs6.jpgMeow. Woof. Ho ho ho.

Momofuku’s Birthday Cake Crumbs

Note: The original recipe from Momofuku is in grams, but since I don’t have a kitchen scale I used this recipe from Hummingbird on High with a couple minor changes.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup cake flour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles**
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

*I didn’t have any cake flour on hand so I used this trick and added 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch to a 3/4 cup measure and filled the rest with flour.

**The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of rainbow sprinkles, but I’m willing to bet you could pump up the jam all the way to 3 tablespoons if you’re really feeling the rainbow sprinkle cheer!

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with Silpat or parchment.
  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles. Mix on low until combined. Add the oil and vanilla and mix on low until the ingredients start to clump together in small clusters  – it should take about a minute for everything to combine.
  3. Dump the crumbs onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out gently with your hands to form a single, even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, carefully stirring once, until the crumbs turn a very slight golden brown.
  4. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack – the crumbs will harden as they cool. Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

 

 

Caramel Pecan Graham Squares

My dreams came true on Sunday. If you didn’t notice me shouting it from the Insta-sphere, THIS. HAPPENED.:

Oh just the tiniest 12-week-old baby Frenchie. WHOSE NAME IS BERNIE. With the nicest owner who let me pet that teeny little ball of wrinkle and take 10000 pictures and threaten to take him home. The stuff [my] dreams are made of, people. The stuff. Of dreams.

I apologize that this picture is blurry but I just needed to show you that Bernie is THE SIZE OF MIKE’S FOOT. His head is the size of a clementine. I AM LITERALLY LOSING MY MIND.

As in, I can’t think about anything else. WhencanIgetapuppywhencanIgetapuppywhencanIgetapuppy??? And also: grahamcrackercrumbscaramelpecanschocolate.

After meeting the puppy of my dreams (and eating an entire pot of fondue at Grendel’s Den), I came home and ate the best caramel-pecan-graham bars in the whole world and subsequently had the best Sunday e-v-e-r. Puppies + cheese + chocolate = MelsSweetLife ideal day.

These bars are whasssssupppp. They’re kind of a pain to make (ahem, homemade caramel), but I promise you they are worth it. I mean, can you ever go wrong with caramel and pecans and graham cracker crust and dark chocolate drizzle and a puppy named Bernie? Can you?

You can’t. So make these bars and and bask in their chewy caramel-ey graham cracker glory.

And think of Bernie. Always.

Caramel Pecan Graham Squares

yield: about 16 squares, depending on size

Ingredients

For the graham cracker crust**:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans, toasted

For the caramel layer (recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten):

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate drizzle:

  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

*Edit: Originally I had noted that the crust seemed very crumbly, so I did some research and realized the ratio of butter to graham cracker crumbs was too high – I’ve reduced the amount of butter from 8 tablespoons to 5, which should solve the crumble problem!

Directions

  1. Prepare the graham layer: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 if you’re using a glass baking dish). Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the butter, graham cracker crumbs, honey, and cinnamon. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan to form a smooth, single layer. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Place on a wire rack to cool while you make the caramel. Sprinkle the toasted pecans to form a layer on top of the graham crust.
  2. Prepare the caramel layer: In a deep saucepan (at least 4 1/2 inches deep) combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil until the caramel is a warm golden brown color. Do not stir – just swirl the sugar mixture around in the pan. Watch carefully, because the mixture will burn quickly! While the sugar is cooking, bring the cream, butter, and sea salt to a simmer in a small pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside. When the caramelized sugar is the right color, slowly add the cream mixture to the caramel – it will boil up at first but should subside after a few seconds. Stir in the vanilla with a rubber spatula and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 244 degrees F (between soft and firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Carefully pour the caramel on top of the pecans/graham crust in the prepared pan. Put the pan into the fridge and allow it to cool for a few hours, until the caramel is set.
  3. Prepare the chocolate drizzle: In the microwave or using a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and shortening; stir to combine. Drizzle over the cooled caramel bars. Allow the chocolate to harden, then cut into squares (tip: it’s easier to cut the bars if they’re at room temperature, but make sure the caramel and chocolate have set before you start slicing!). Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

Bernie.

Mini Almond Flour Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Dear Everyone in the World,

WHY HAVEN’T YOU TOLD ME ABOUT BAKING WITH ALMOND FLOUR BEFORE?????

Sorry for yelling.

Love,

MeI opened my fridge yesterday and spied the huge bag of almond flour I bought in Paris last spring (otherwise known as The Time I Went To Paris And The Only Souvenirs I Bought Were Food) that was {{GASP!}} about to expire!! Rather than let my beautiful Parisian memories go to waste, I decided to a little baking-with-almond-flour experiment.

Usually when I conduct a baking experiment in my kitchen, it goes 50-80% wrong and I send the failed baked goods with Mike into work and his fancy lawyer co-workers that I should try harder to impress work peeps eat them anyway and give me compliments and I feel super good about myself because even when I fail at baking I still make wicked delicious things. Right? Right.

So when I finally had a baking experiment success, I couldn’t help but feel a little mad at you, everyone in the world, for not telling me about almond flour sooner. I could have been baking 100% DELICIOUS things and sending them into Mike’s work and being impressive all along!! What the heck??? I forgive you.Baking with almond flour makes these muffins really really not dry (for lack of a better word) (AHEM…moist. MOIST! THESE MUFFINS ARE SO MOIST.) with very little added oil. Who knew???

And the flavor is out-of-this-WORLD. Try them! Try them!! I promise to never say moist again.

Mini Almond Flour Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

makes 36 mini muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and brown sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the bananas and vanilla; beat until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly stream in the vegetable oil until fully incorporated.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the banana/sugar/egg mixture and beat on low until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Fill mini muffin tin 3/4 full; bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges of the muffins are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.**
  3. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Best served within 24 hours.

**Almond flour bakes differently that regular flour, so the muffins might look a bit over-baked but they will still be moist inside! Just watch them carefully once you hit the 12-minute mark.

Baked Confetti Donuts

WHY hasn’t anyone called me out on the fact that it’s been MONTHS since I’ve posted anything involving sprinkles????

For a self-proclaimed sprinkle queen, this is nothing short of TRAGIC. So I’ve created a baked good that will allow me to shove maximum rainbow-sprinkle-goodness into your face. You. are. welcome.

As an aside, can someone help me figure out a better way to express my excitement than to type in ALL CAPS, ALL THE TIME? I really don’t know how else to show my enthusiasm. For example: “rainbow sprinkles” in no way highlights their awesomeness in the same way “RAINBOW SPRINKLES”, or better yet, “RAINBOW.SPRINKLES.” does. Amiright??

Exhibit B: french bulldog vs. FRENCH BULLDOG!

Exhibit C: ohmygod vs. OH.EM.GEE.

I am the most annoying person ever.

Let’s get back to baking donuts.

These donuts would be really great for a celebration, like, say for instance if your boyfriend happened to graduate from law school and become employed (praise Jesus) all in the same week. Or if it’s nearly the end of the school year and you get to have a small break from small children (or a large break from large children, or no break at all but at least it’s summertime!). Or if your roommate went on vaca to Costa Rica and found a Costa Rican boyfriend and then saw him on the Real Housewives of OC this week.

All celebration-worthy, all appropriate confetti donut occasions. Bake donuts and put rainbow sprinkles in {on, around} them and let’s call it a party!

PS: This donut batter tastes 97% like Funfetti cake batter and NO I did not eat 4 spoonfuls of it! With extra sprinkles! Stop asking!

Baked Confetti Donuts (slightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats)

yield: 6 donuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons buttermilk*
  • 1 egg
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup rainbow jimmies plus more for decorating

*I only had soy milk on hand so that’s what I used and the donuts came out fine, but I think they would have been fluffier if I had used buttermilk.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat a donut pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Pour in the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, melted butter, and sprinkles. Stir until combined but do not overmix!
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the donut wells. It’s easier to pipe the batter using a ziploc bag, but I got lazy and just dolloped it in with a spoon. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the donuts spring back to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Top with vanilla glaze (below) and rainbow sprinkles.

Vanilla Glaze

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1-2 tablespoons milk. Stir until smooth and then dip the cooled donuts in!

Mini Dark Chocolate Blueberry Cupcakes

When I was a senior in college, I had a quarter-life crisis and bought a bunny. Literally woke up one day and said, “I can NOT live ONE MORE DAY without a pet”, hopped on the always-reliable Craig’s list, and within a few hours found myself at a totally-standard-and-definitely-not-sketchy upstate NY backyard farm. Llamas and all.

I ended up purchasing a prize-winning “show rabbit” from a 13-year-old 4H all-star. He had perfect black and white markings and I named him Professor Blueberry.   

This is my real life.

Never mind the fact that I a.) didn’t yet have a job, b.) was graduating in a month, and c.) had no idea how to care for a bunny.  Mere details.

As much as Professor Bluebs was totes the cutest bunny on the block, there’s a couple things I learned during my stint as a pet-owner:

1. Bunnies are cute in theory.

2. Until they poop EV-A-REE-WHERE.

3. Bunnies who still have their…ahem..man bunny parts are not as cute in theory.

       a. They can be mean and will try to kick your boyfriend (sorry Mike). True story.

4. You can’t walk a bunny on a leash.

So, after a month of hiding the Blueb from my landlady and cleaning up 2352397523 poop pellets, I said goodbye to Mr. Blueberry. Luckily my 4H prize-winning bunny-owner friend was able to take him back. Word on the street is he lived a long and healthy life as a prize-winning bunny-maker (if ya catch my drift).

True or false: I received pictures in the mail of Bluebz prize-winning offspring?

My most recent cupcake creation is an ode to the Professor. Fluffy and tiny and blueberry buttercream topped, these cupcakes are almost as cute as my ex-bunny-baby. RIP rabbit friend.*

Dark Chocolate Blueberry Cupcakes (cupcake recipe from The Sweet Little Book of Cupcakes)

yield: 48 mini cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.  Stir in the chopped chocolate.
  3. In a large bowl or the bowl of stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the buttermilk and allow to incorporate for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated; turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 20 seconds.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full; if you only have one 24-cup mini-muffin tin (like me), you’ll have to bake in two batches.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Top with blueberry buttercream (recipe below).
Blueberry Buttercream
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 4-6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions
  1. In a food processor, grind the thawed blueberries into a puree for about a minute, or until you can only see tiny pieces of blueberry skin. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and shortening on high until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the blueberry puree and beat on high until fully incorporated. Add 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix on low until it starts to come together, then beat on high for 1 minute.
  3. Depending on the consistency you want, add up to 2 cups more of confectioner’s sugar. I wanted the buttercream to be somewhat soft, so I only added one additional cup of sugar. Beat on high for 1 minute, then frost your cupcakes!

*Did I take it too far in this post? True life: I’m a w-e-i-r-d-o.