hostess with the mostest… cupcakes, that is

Some people Google-search their crushes, or their exes, their favorite celebrities or hottest trends. Me? I Google-searched my favorite childhood snack cakes the other day.

Growing up in Montreal, sleepover parties and special bagged lunches were not complete without a Vachon brand snack cake, namely a delightful and creamy May West treat.

As I flipped though images of these delicious snacks, I was reminded of the iconic Hostess cupcake that was so scarcely available in my neck of the woods. I remember tasting one for the first time on a road trip across the border and deciding that these cupcakes were absolutely adorable to look at and super-fun to eat!

Feeling inspired to jump on the bandwagon of bakers who have created their own homemade takes on this classic, I decided to try my hand at it. My goal was not to recreate the exact flavor, I live dangerously close to a 7-11 that carries the real thing if that if what I am after.

Instead, I used the flavor and composition as my guide and selected my favorite recipes for each element in order to produce a delicious, fancier-pants version. With this system as my template I am feeling pretty excited about making even more flavor variations.

But for now, I will enjoy the infallible combination of moist chocolate cake, fluffy light-as-a-cloud white icing and deep chocolate ganache.

I made my favorite chocolate cake recipe but divided it into lined muffin tins. I let these cool and rest overnight. Breaking this process up between two days helped saved me some energy and some mess.

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I got my whipped filling on the go. I debated using jacked up marshmallow fluff, but settled on a light vanilla cream frosting for the centers of my cakes.

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With my mixer on the go I heated up some cream to pour over my chopped semi-sweet chocolate, resulting in the creamiest dreamiest ganache.

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I cored my cupcakes, saving the scooped out portion to place back on top after piping the cavities with the fluffy filling.

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After sealing in the cupcakes with their previously removed cores, I flooded the tops with my cooled, glossy ganache. I whipped up a fraction of my usual Classic Buttercream icing recipe while to cupcakes chilled to set.

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I piped a little design on the tops of the finished treats and wasted no time completing a very thorough taste-test!

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reese’s pieces be nice chocolate chip cookies

Today I am feeling totally out of sorts. The truth is I have been feeling sort of blue these days. Maybe it is pure coincidence but I have been hearing all kinds of deflating stories about mean people lately.

It seems that the same bullies we witnessed as kids in our elementary school classes rear their ugly heads again in a great many of our workplace settings today.  The passive-aggressive comments, back-stabbing and cliques appear to be cropping up in my friends’ stories and my own life.

Life is so short and offers up so many uncontrollable and unforeseeable  obstacles and heartbreaks – why must anyone go out of their way to make things worse for another person? The only consistent explanation I can come up with is that this bad behavior almost always comes from a place of deep insecurity.

I am certainly not perfect, but I am no bully. When I feel insecure but not quite ready to deal with my feelings – I EAT them! That’s right. I’m not saying that it’s a great coping mechanism but it is effective in extreme situations and far nicer than making someone else feel awful.

Getting home from work tonight I couldn’t even make it all the way into my pajamas. A silky sleep shirt and tights was the haphazard and incomplete look that reflected my mood perfectly. I decided to bake up a batch of cookies that I will bring to work tomorrow. Hopefully my crusty coworkers will benefit from my therapy of choice – cookies.

I had a bag of Reese’s Mini Pieces on hand and decided to mix them with chocolate chips and stuff them into GIGANTIC cookies. The kind so big and scrumptious that they make your mouth too full to say mean sh*t!

Here is the recipe I threw together for Reese’s Pieces Be Nice Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 package Reese’s Mini Pieces, or about 2 cups of regular Reese’s Pieces
  • 1 package of chocolate chips, I used milk chocolate… and ate a bunch before they made their way into the dough…

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Next, beat butter with sugars together. When this mixture looks light and creamy, add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add the flour combo in thirds and mix until flour disappears.

Dump the Reese’s and chocolate chips into the dough and work them in until they are evenly dispersed.

Use a quarter measuring cup to scoop uniform balls of dough onto a lined cookie sheet, leaving about two inches of space in between.

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Bake for approximately 12 minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack … before taste testing at least one cookie from each tray that comes out of the oven:)

I made some smaller cookies by using a tablespoon to measure out a consistent size and baked them at the same temp for 9 minutes.

reverse chocolate chunk cookies

Sunday night is almost always a baking night for me. I am usually bummed about the weekend being over and somehow the whole creative process and subsequent snacking process both work wonders, easing my transition to Monday.

Tonight’s creation is feeding a group of hungry artists. Seriously. I decided to make something traditional but unconventional, classic but unexpected. What could fit the bill more appropriately than a reverse chocolate chunk cookie?

There is nothing too extraordinary about this recipe but I firmly believe that oftentimes, the very best (not to mention yummiest) things are the most simple. These cookies boast big chunks of velvety white chocolate that burst through a rich dark chocolate base. They are a little puffy, a little chewy, and a lot delishy.

Mushy PJs? Check. Apron? Check. Here is  my recipe of choice for:

Reverse Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6-8 ounces of white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until the mixture is fully combined, light and fluffy.

Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Mix in vanilla and instant coffee granules.

In a separate bowl, stir to combine cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and baking soda.

Slowly, adding in thirds, add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined.

Fold in white chocolate chunks until evenly distributed.

Drop tablespoon-sized scoops of dough onto lined cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.

Finally, marvel at how incredible you are for turning ordinary ingredients into a delightful concoction, and celebrate that you did it all in the comfort of your jammies! Then, if you’re feeling so inclined, take a couple of them to munch on in bed and enjoy a sweet, sweet end to the weekend… …that is my plan anyhow!

my sweet tooth and my sleep tooth

Based on the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night, we are expected to spend one whole third of our lives fast asleep. While I am certain that I do not get 8 hours of sleep every night, I am also positive that I spend at least that much time in my pajamas. They are the first thing I put on when I get home from work and I prefer not to remove them until it’s time to leave again (obvious hygienic and romantic exceptions apply). It seems fitting to me, a die-hard pajama-fan, to dedicate some time and attention to these dynamic nocturnal ensembles we wear.

Not to be up-staged by my appreciation for sleepwear is my legitimate love of cookies. I am constantly baking up batches of sweet treats for friends, family and sneaking more than few for myself. I always feel safe experimenting with cookie recipes because when only delicious ingredients are used and served up in delightful individual handheld portions you kind of can’t go wrong. So I intend to bring my two loves together. I look forward to sharing some delicious recipes for my favorite treat of all time and some incredible sleepwear inspo too.