My roommate normally doesn’t question my baking. She wakes up in the morning, stumbles into the kitchen, and is totally accustomed to seeing me hunched over the stand mixer or anal-retentively trying to make sure each cookie dough lump on a baking sheet is evenly sized and spaced. This morning, however, she piped up, apparently sensing something was amiss when she glanced over and saw me filling a bag to pipe icing.

“What’s the occasion?”

“I need an occasion to make mini cupcakes?”

“You need an occasion to pipe icing.”

Ravaging cherries.

The dialogue ended there because, well, I need an occasion in order to go the extra mile with my presentation. There’s no sense hiding my laziness, hungriness, impatience, etc, but because it was early (and I’ll attribute it to that, instead of my charming personality) I kind of huffed and puffed, claiming that there was no reason at all. Being a Colleen-Yoda and all, she grabbed a cupcake and laughed it off.

But there is a very real reason, or “occasion”, for my going pipe-icing crazy today. For those of you who don’t know (or care?), I’m studying for this crazy BEAST of an exam and am stressed about it. It’d be fine if I were one of those very fortunate people who can sit down to take exams like it’s the most normal thing in the world, but I’m another kind of person who, when they sit down to take an exam, completely blank on EVERYTHING and answer questions like a rock with hands for holding a pencil. [Insert more complaining, whining, and grumbling. I’ll spare you by letting you use your imagination.] The purpose of relaying this information is that a good kitchen project, one that would work for me and make me happy, was in order.

Behold the happy-making power of a mini-cupcake. Ooooh. Aaaah.

Vanilla Cherry Cupcakes

(Recipe adapted from Erin Does Cupcakes, originally Vanilla Peach Cupcakes)

Yields about 24 mini cupcakes

Note: I quartered the original recipe in order to significantly curb the final number of mini-cupcakes, and wrote out the recipe exactly as I made it. I always suggest clicking over to the original recipe, but in this case I especially suggest it if you want to make normal-size cupcakes!

Ingredients:

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup cake flour (not self-rising)

½ cup granulated sugar

Heaping ½ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

¼ cup butter, room temperature, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 egg

¼ cup milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

(Optional: 1/8 teaspoon almond extract)

1/3 cup cherries, pitted and finely chopped

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a mini-muffin tin with cupcake papers.

2. In a large bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer, stir together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and stir just until cubes of butter are coated in flour.

3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and extract(s), until combined.

4. Add wet mixture to dry in three parts, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition. After third addition, stir just until combined and fold in chopped cherries.

5. Fill each liner 2/3 of the way full and bake, in preheated oven, 15-17 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

6. Let cupcakes cool in pan at least 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Let cupcakes cool to room temperature before frosting.

 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

(Recipe adapted from the Cupcake Project, originally Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting)

Note: Split recipe in half if you don’t plan on piping.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup powdered sugar (adding more or less depending on desired consistency)

½ unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

(Optional: ½ teaspoon almond extract)

1 tablespoon milk

Method:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until creamy, between three and five minutes.

2. Add extract(s) and milk, and continue to beat for another minute or so.

3. For a stiffer consistency, add more powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.

 

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Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

December 24, 2010

Second to last coworker request, and four days later than my original goal. Oops.

“Something with cherries would be nice.”

She also doesn’t prefer peanut butter in her baked goods, which is kind of a relief, because peanut butter wears me out. That was kind of a weird thought, but peanut butter is one of those things that I love dearly yet don’t want to indulge in all the time; I tire of it rather quickly.

The recipe explicitly warns against using quick cooking oats, but, when I looked in the pantry, the oats we had were quick cooking. Amazing, because I never eat quick cook oats. It must have been one of those black-out moments at the grocery store, you know, the moments when you’re so overwhelmed that you aren’t conscious of what you’re grabbing? Please tell me someone else experiences these moments. The cookies came out well, not really like oatmeal cookies, but almost like cake cookies, in a good way. They remind me of the oatmeal chocolate chip cake, from Baked Explorations.

Definitely a sweet treat. Consider yourself warned!

Subliminal Nestle advertising?! Oopsie.

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

(From All Cakes Considered, by Melissa Gray)

Yields about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

a pinch of salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/3 cups light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

¼ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ½ cups traditional, rolled oats

½ cup dried cherries

½ cup butterscotch morsels

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with parchment.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and set aside.

3. Cream the butter and sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

5. Add in the milk and vanilla extract, then beat well.

6. Gradually add the flour mixture, and beat well after each addition. If you’re using a mixer, turn it to lower speed for this step.

7. Add the oats, then beat until just mixed.

8. Add in the cherries and butterscotch morsels, then mixing just until all the batter is incorporated.

9. Drop the cookies onto prepared sheets, using a teaspoon, so they are evenly spaced. Melissa suggests 9 cookies per sheet.

10. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, until they are golden brown in color.

11. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

These keep for a few days, sealed in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

A simple photo to showcase my new jars. New jars!!!!