Chocolate-Dipped Pistachio Shortbread (Cheat)

Guys I’m dying and my mouth is in food heaven. This shortbread oh em geee.

  

I’ll probably regret eating 4 of these decadent shortbread cookies later on when I’m having roast duck for dinner, but I couldn’t help it! There is just layer upon layer of flavor and texture and I can’t stop eating them.

When these first came out of the oven, I had to will every atom in me not to grab the whole chunk of shortbread and eat it straight away. It smelled so amazing. Then, I had to torture myself with letting the damn thing cool (not before eating a few crumbs first, of course).

Of course, I couldn’t help but eat a cookie as I was dipping the others in chocolate. The shortbread itself was soo amaaziinnggg. It was perfectly buttery and flaky and left behind a gentle saltiness that made me swoon. Not to mention, the salt brought out the undeniable flavor of pistachio. The pistachio itself offered a delicate crunch that differed in texture from the shortbread. I was blown away.

Then, I ate the shortbread dipped in chocolate, and my world changed again. The chocolate paired so beautifully with the shortbread and the pistachio and the saltiness and it was so decadent and delicious and perfect and I honestly have no words. My babbling is a lame attempt at conveying to you exactly how foodgasm these shortbread cookies are.

You’d think, “it’s just shortbread”, but no, these are the ultimate shortbread. Better than any shortbread you’ve ever had before. I can guarantee.

By the way, in the unlikely event that you were wondering why I haven’t posted anything in a month – I’ve been busy stressing out about my final IB exams in May, so I haven’t really had the chance to bake much, not to mention take photos/edit photos/write posts. Anyways, after my exams end, hopefully I’ll find the time then to bake up a storm in my kitchen to make up for all the time lost. In the meantime, wish me luck and enjoy these shortbread cookies xx

Chocolate-Dipped Pistachio Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (150g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1/8 cup (25g) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (140g) flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (50g) finely chopped toasted pistachios
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth. Beat in both sugars until smooth.
  3. Gradually mix in the vanilla, salt, flour, and cornstarch until the mixture is fully combined and forms a crumbly dough
  4. Mix in 2/3 of the chopped pistachios
  5. Line an 8- or 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and press the dough tightly into the pan
  6. Bake the shortbread for 30 minutes until lightly browned
  7. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the cake pan. Cut the shortbread into wedges while it’s still warm. Allow the shortbread to cool completely before dipping into chocolate.
  8. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring in between intervals until it’s completely melted
  9. Dip the shortbread into the chocolate and sprinkle with remaining pistachio and sea salt. Enjoy!

Ultra-Fluffy Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes (Clean)

I’m in a bit of a dilemma.

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By the time I post this, my mock exams will probably be over, but right now, they haven’t happened yet and I don’t know what to expect. (Yep. Mocks ended today and I’m just posting this now.)

See, I had a week-long break recently, and I spent the whole time watching movies and sleeping because senioritis hit and I just couldn’t be bothered to do anything. Not to mention, I kept reminding myself that mock tests don’t matter, because they just count towards Semester 2 grades and nobody ever sees those. But now, just a night’s sleep away from my first exam, I’m starting to question that philosophy. I’m starting to wonder, what actually matters??

If you think of it in the perspective that everything contributes towards university, then wow – that changes things. When I was in middle school or when I just started high school, upperclassmen would always say “ah, don’t worry, none of that actually matters”. If I ever complained about how much homework I had, upperclassmen would always say, “that doesn’t matter, and that’s nothing in comparison to what’ll come later”. As we get older, we tend to play down the things that happened in the past. I think it’s because, once things are over, we realize how insignificant each thing was because we already know how it turned out.

Let me explain that. Say you have an essay due. It stresses you – of course it does. But once you find out what your grade was, and you did alright, it becomes something of the past. The grades go by and because nothing devastating or life-changing happened, it becomes relatively insignificant. What we don’t understand is that, for the people who are experiencing what we’ve already experienced, it’s all that matters.

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I think I’m starting to understand my thoughts now. I think my point is that all that matters, for anyone, is now. The simple concept of what is happening in the present, or in the recent past/near future. It all matters.

Okay, I’ve finished that thought. Now I’m going back to the concepts about how we learn. Technically speaking, mock exam grades don’t “matter” in terms of university applications, since those have already been sent. But, they do quite accurately predict how you’ll do on your final exams, and are also a good way to refresh what you’ve learned in the past two years of IB.

All those tests you take in middle school are “useless” and “pointless” in terms of college applications, but really, they’re not. The numbers themselves will never be seen, but grades are a representation of what you learn. Thus, if you don’t give a damn in middle school, your grades will tell you that you’re not learning, and you won’t do well in high school or university. If you do well in middle school, you will build the core skills you need to become a good learner and a good student. It all matters. Think about it. The kids who didn’t learn well in middle school usually don’t change much in high school, and the kids who worked hard continued to do so through all their years of education. It matters. It’s not all about grades and university applications and Ivy Leagues, it’s about learning. That’s it.

In conclusion, don’t look back at a younger kid who’s determined to do well and tell him/her that “it won’t matter”, because it does. That determination will grow with them and become a part of their personality, which is a wonderful thing. Each step of life has its significance, but it’s not always shown through numbers and letters and quantity – it just becomes a part of who we are. Everything matters.

Okay so none of that made any sense, but I’ll keep that there because I’ll probably enjoy rereading that when I’m like, 30 years old.

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Well, then. My mock exams are now over so all of that^ is now irrelevant. Now, it’s time to talk about these pancakes! *insert heart-eye emoji here*

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Okay, these pancakes are really special. They’re asiudhjnk ridiculously fluffy!!! I mean, if they weren’t super duper fluffy I wouldn’t have added the word “fluffy” to the title, right? So, I think my point has already been proven.

These pancakes are honestly just a dream. They’re full of that classic pancake flavor. You know the one I’m talking about – the sweet sweet scent of pancakes that just reminds you of fluffy little patties drenched in syrup. That’s the one.

The added yogurt makes them super moist without much oil, and the blueberries are just sweet little blobs of goodness that provide wonderful flavor and happiness 🙂

Because I didn’t manage to finish all of the pancakes in one sitting (despite my best efforts), I stored the leftovers in the fridge or freezer, and they were just as perfect when I heated them up in the microwave. They make the perfect 2-minute breakfasts. Just plop a few on a plate, microwave them, cover in honey and fruit and you’re good to go!

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Ultra-Fluffy Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)*
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Toppings of your choice (blueberries, honey, maple syrup, yogurt, banana…)

*If you want to eat the pancakes plain, then I’d recommend adding a little sweetener, but if you plan on eating them with maple syrup or honey, then it’s fine to omit as well

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, oil and eggs.
  3. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined
  4. Fold in the blueberries
  5. On Working in batches, scoop 1/3 cup batter for each pancake and cook until bubbles appear on top and underside is nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook pancakes on the other side, about 1-2 minutes longer; keep warm in oven.
  6. Serve immediately with maple syrup.
  7. Lightly grease a skillet and heat over medium heat. Add in a 1/3 cup of batter and cook until bubbles appear and the bottom is golden brown. Flip over until cooked. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  8. Serve with your desired toppings!

Mini Valentine’s Chocolate Cake (Cheat)

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I went through so much to get this cake to work (none of which should discourage you from making it! You’ll see…)

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So Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I figured I’d find a mini chocolate cake to bake in my heart-shaped cake pan and share that with you guys!

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I found the perfect recipe. I precisely measured out all my ingredients and mixed them together, only to find that the batter had turned into a thick dough instead of a silky cake batter. In my state of despair, I added in a splash of milk to thin the batter, but no luck. I was utterly confused. Everything was perfect…right?

I decided to take a look at the recipe again, reading the first ingredients and – oh. It called for 1/2 cup of flour, but because I’m so used to making full-sized cakes, my mind automatically processed it as 1 1/2 cups. uGH. Unfortunately, I had to discard that batter (after eating a bit of it, of course), and starting over. You can observe this failure here:

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Also, the cake is meant for a 6-inch circle pan, but mine is heart-shaped so it’s smaller. I had a little bit of leftover cake batter, which I made into a cute little bear cake! I was planning on drawing on it’s little eyes and nose and mouth with melted white chocolate, only to find that I don’t have white chocolate at home. Since when is that a thing?? What happened to my emergency stash of 3 white chocolate bars?

And lastly, lighting was not my friend today. I must’ve tried taking photos in at least 6 different locations around the house, hence the inconsistency with backgrounds in these photos.

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Despite all that, the cake itself turned out amazing. Look at how fluffy it rose! It’s so fluffy and has the perfect chocolate flavor to it. If you wish, a chocolate ganache would pair beautifully with it, but a dusting of icing sugar works just fine as well.

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Mini Valentine’s Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Dessert for Two

Makes one 6-inch round cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (70g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons (37g) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream or yogurt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon warm coffee
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar or chocolate ganache (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, sour cream or yogurt, egg, vanilla extract, and coffee
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips
  5. Transfer the batter into a lined and greased 6-inch round cake pan and bake for 29-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  6. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate ganache (optional)

Vegan Peanut Butter Blossoms (Clean)

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Christmas is only 4 days away! These past few days have been fully dedicated to Christmas prep, and I mean purely Christmas prep. Yesterday, I spent the entire morning putting up Christmas window stickers with my mom, spent the afternoon shopping for more gifts, and spent the night wrapping gifts. I’ve probably spent at least 5 hours wrapping gifts in the past few days, but it’s all worth it. Not to brag or anything, but those gifts are looking pretty damn good. I’d show you now, but I think I’ll save that for a separate Christmas post where I can show off how festive my house is at the moment.

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Pop quiz: Why did I choose to make peanut butter blossoms?

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Answer: Because Hershey’s kisses were on buy-one-get-one-free and I didn’t know what to do with all of them ^_^ (If anyone has suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them!)

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Let’s focus on these peanut butter blossoms. I do realise that the cookie-to-chocolate proportion is a little off, but hey – more chocolate is never a bad thing, right?

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These cookies are so easy to make and are perfect for sharing during Christmas! You could even wake up half an hour early on Christmas Eve to bake these cookies – they’re that quick! You just throw together a bunch of ingredients, bake them for just under 10 minutes, stick a Hershey’s kiss on top of each one and voila! Cookies!

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What I love about these is the perfect pairing of both textures and flavours. The cookie has the wonderful texture of a crunchy cookie, while the chocolate just melts in your mouth. In terms of flavour – peanut butter and chocolate is a classic flavour combo, and all classics exist for a reason – because they pair so damn well together!

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This may perhaps be my last post before Christmas, so I wish you all a Merry Christmas and I hope that you get to spend time with your loved ones, receive lots of gifts, and eat delicious food. I know I will 😉

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Vegan Peanut Butter Blossoms

Adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120g) white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature or 3 tbsp aquafaba
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (64g) natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (96g) coconut sugar
  • 15-20 dark chocolate kisses

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the aquafaba/egg white, almond milk, and vanilla extract
  4. Stir in the peanut butter until fully combined
  5. Stir in the coconut sugar
  6. Stir in the flour mixture (you may want to use your hands for this part) until a dough forms
  7. Roll the dough into 15-20 spheres and place onto a baking sheet lined with a parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Flatten each sphere until it’s larger than the base of the chocolate kisses
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes. While the cookies bake, unwrap the chocolate kisses
  9. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, press a chocolate kiss into the centre of each one*
  10. Allow the cookies to cool and the chocolate kiss to set before serving. Serve at room temperature

*If you don’t want the kisses to soften and have a truffle-like consistency at room temperature, place the cookies into the freezer immediately to prevent the kisses from warming up

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pink Buttercream and Chocolate Cupcake-Toppers (Cheat)

Happy birthday, Mommy!! ❤

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I made these cupcakes a couple of days ago for a bake sale, but the main reason I made cupcakes was so that I could reserve three of them for today – my mom’s birthday. I don’t like making small-batch cupcakes because making a batch of 24 cupcakes requires the same effort as making 3. (Hence, why I always make cupcakes for bake sales).

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This is the first time that I’ve used chocolate cupcake toppers, but it definitely won’t be the last. They’re deceivingly easy to make, and they look gorgeous! They take the cupcakes to a whole new level, while only requiring an extra 5 minutes.

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I forgot to take photos while I was making the chocolate toppers, but basically, you just melt down some dark chocolate and pipe it out on parchment paper. If you’ve melted the chocolate gently, they should harden at room temperature and peel off easily, giving you these beaautiful cupcake toppers!

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There are so many things that you can pipe out using the chocolate. I stuck to some simple shapes. I used stars, hearts, flowers, the little thingy in the photo below, and random squiggles. Next time, I’d definitely try words and maybe I’ll challenge myself to piping out a puppy or something. We’ll see~

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With the frosting, feel free to choose any color you wish! I like the way that the pink contrasts with the darkness of the chocolate, but I’m sure that blue would be gorgeous as well.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Pink Buttercream and Chocolate Cupcake-Toppers

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 200g all-purpose flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 280g granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 80g unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature
  • 240ml  milk, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 300g unsalted butter
  • *400g-600g powdered sugar, sifted
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Gel food colouring of choice

For the chocolate cupcake-toppers:

  • 100g dark chocolate

*To taste

Method

  1. For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius or 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and salt
  3. Add in the butter and beat until the mixture has a sandy consistency
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla until combined
  5. Pour half the milk mixture in with the flour and beat on high speed until smooth
  6. Gently mix in the rest of the milk mixture until jut combined. Do not over mix
  7. Transfer the mixture into a lined cupcake tin and bake for 20-23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean
  8. For the frosting, in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy
  9. Beat in the powdered sugar for 5 minutes or so, before adding the whipping cream and vanilla extract and beating for another minute
  10. For the chocolate cupcake-toppers, chop or break the dark chocolate into equal-sized chunks and place in a microwave-safe bowl
  11. Microwave the chocolate for 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between each interval so that the chocolate heats evenly. When the chocolate has 80-90% melted, stir the chocolate until it’s fully melted
  12. Transfer the melted chocolate into a piping bag or into a sandwich bag with a TINY corner cut off
  13. Pipe designs of your choice onto a sheet of parchment paper. Allow to harden before carefully removing and placing on your frosted cupcakes. Enjoy!

Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Cheat)

I don’t bake with fruit much, but bananas are an exception.

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Banana bread and banana cakes – I could never get enough.

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I had such a difficult time letting the cake cool enough to be frosted. As soon as I took the beautifully baked cake out of my oven, the entire kitchen was filled with the aroma of banana cake. It might not sound that appealing, but trust me, it took so much mental effort to not eat the entire cake right there and then. It smelled that good. It was honestly driving me crazy, and I went on this rampage around the house, desperately trying to find something to satisfy my cravings so that I wouldn’t eat the cake before frosting it. I was so keen on eating banana cake that I didn’t even want chocolate truffles, and let me tell you – I never turn down chocolate truffles…well, until now.

Finally, I had no other choice but to eat something completely different. I microwaved a plate of homemade dumplings leftover from yesterday, covered them in vinegar (I love vinegar), and ran away from the banana-scented kitchen. At last, my taste buds had calmed down and I could focus on other things again as my banana cake cooled in the kitchen.

Soon enough, my cravings started up again and I figured it was time to frost the cake up and start eating.

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I think I knew how good this cake was going to be, but nevertheless, tasting it for the first time blew me away. The banana cake is everything you’d want a cake to be. It had a crumb similar to banana bread, only fluffier. The flavour of banana was definitely there, and it paired so beautifully with the cream cheese frosting. I mean, the cake itself was amazing, but the cake and the frosting go together like peanut butter and jelly. It was a perfect combination of flavours and I’m so in love.

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Oh, and in case you were wondering, the cake was gone within two days. It was that good.

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Best Banana Cake

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed (1 and 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, room temperature

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces (224g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. For the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt
  3. In another bowl, use an electric hand mixer or in a stand mixer, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat until creamed together
  4. Mix in the eggs and vanilla, before adding in the mashed bananas
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, 1/3 of a time and alternating with the buttermilk (Stir in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, stir in 1/3 of the buttermilk, and repeat with the remaining). Do not over mix
  6. Spread the batter into a greased and/or lined 9×13 inch baking pan and bake for around 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting
  7. For the frosting, using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes
  8. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving
  9. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days

Banana Bread Waffles (Clean)

So relieved that it’s October break. It’s a very well-needed break. I wrote up a list on my whiteboard of all the things I need to accomplish over these next 7 days, but just looking at it makes me want to cry…UGH LIFE.

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On the bright side, not having school early in the mornings means that I can take a little more time to put together the perfect breakfasts (best meal of the day amiright?). I realise that my last post was also a breakfast post, but this just goes to show how important breakfast is. If you’re into pancakes, go check out that post, but if you’re into waffles, stay right where you are. I’ve got a hella good banana bread waffle recipe for you.

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Anyways, I’m going to take a few minutes here to just focus on how wonderful these banana bread waffles are, and hopefully forget about all my troubles for a bit.

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You’ll notice that I pretty much always top my waffles with ice cream. I’m not really sure why, I just think that waffles and ice cream are the best way to go. Especially when you drizzle over some melted chocolate and let it set and cover it with all sorts of delicious sprinkles and toppings and whatever you like. You know all the little pockets in waffles? The little indents? I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to fill those with ice cream so that you get 50% waffle and 50% ice cream in each bite.

God, I totally need to host a waffle party sometime. Look at all these different combinations! I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have a great time making these.

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The waffles themselves are just what you’d expect from a recipe called “Banana Bread Waffles”. They taste just like banana bread – but in the form of a waffle! They have that sweet flavour of banana infused in a light, fluffy waffle with a wonderfully crisp edge. Yumm! *insert heart-eyes emoji here*

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Banana Bread Waffles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 cup overripe mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)
  • 1 large egg or 1 flax egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream, melted chocolate (optional, highly recommended)
  • Other toppings (banana, berries, granola, nuts etc.) (optional)

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, almond milk, mashed bananas, egg, and vanilla extract
  3. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
  4. Heat a waffle iron. When it’s ready, spray or brush it, to cover it in a layer of oil. Pour the batter into the heated waffle iron, adding enough to just cover the bottom layer of the iron. Everyone’s waffle iron is different, so just estimate this and make adjustments as you go. Cook the waffle according to the waffle iron’s instructions.
  5. Top with vanilla ice cream, melted chocolate, and topping of your choice