Chocolate Spiderweb Cupcakes

Happy Halloween! 

Since Halloween falls on a Monday this year, Ward, Andrew, Dion and I celebrated on Saturday. We dressed as the characters from Stranger Things to celebrate Halloween and I decided to bake some Halloween inspired cupcakes!

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Now, we know that I always try to make things from scratch, but I think we can all appreciate how amazing boxed cake mix and frosting is. That’s probably what made these spiderweb cupcakes such a breeze to make and I was thankful for it!

I found two different recipes – as it turns out – and accidentally combined the two recipe ingredients into one list. I didn’t realize this until I had already taken my photos so please disregard the maple syrup and pumpkin pie filling because I went with the Itsy Bitsy Spiderweb Cupcake Recipe instead.

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I started by making the cake mixture and pouring it into the muffin tins.

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I baked them for 17 minutes at 350. While they baked, I made the white chocolate spiderwebs by melting the white chocolate chips and piping them out onto the stencils.

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I made a point to strictly follow the stencils at first but towards the end I moved quickly and made circles instead of curved lines.

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I put the webs into the fridge to set and moved onto the cupcakes which had cooled by this point.

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I put the frosting into a bowl and microwaved it until it became thin enough to pour.

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I dipped the tops of the cupcakes into the frosting and let the excess drip off.

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I took the webs out of the fridge and started to assemble the cupcakes. I was super impressed with how the webs came out.

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I added the plastic spiders and voila!

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I’ve always been the person who sets out on an art project and has it turn out less than perfectly so I was so, so pleased to see how these turned out!

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I hope everyone has a safe & happy Halloween!

Sweetly,

Simona

Maple Pumpkin Muffins

I’m not going to lie, I initially chose this recipe because the original poster called them “100 calorie muffins”.

… and I figured that a low calorie pastry might do us all some good in the weeks heading towards the holidays! There was no sugar and no flour in this recipe – sounds crazy, I know, but they were so good!

I made “flour” by processing the rolled oats in the blender.

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These were blender muffins after all, so the next step was to add the pumpkin purée, eggs, Greek yogurt, maple syrup, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

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I blended it all up to create the muffin batter and then divided it up into the muffin tin.

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They baked at 450 for 15 minutes and then I removed them from the oven to cool. I’m a huge fan of anything and everything “pumpkin spice” so when my kitchen started to smell like fall in a cup, I was so happy!

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The recipe said to sprinkle the muffins with any toppings before baking. I decided not to do that but I did end up sprinkling powdered sugar on half of them after the fact. They were delicious with and without it.

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These were easy to make and yummy – especially straight out of the oven! They would be great to have as a healthy snack or as an alternative to a rich chocolate cupcake (which I’ll be making this weekend)!

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Sweetly,

Simona

Meyer Lemon Limoncello

I know this isn’t technically baking…

But, I had so many Meyer lemons and this was fun to make so I figured that I would share it with all of you!

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It was my mom’s birthday last week and she loves limoncello so it was perfect timing that I got a huge box of Meyer lemons 3 weeks before her birthday. It was surprisingly easy! All you really need is vodka, lemons, and sugar so, the first step was to get a bunch of lemon zest.

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I poured vodka into the bottle with the lemon zest and added a label dated a week ahead.

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I let the vodka-lemon zest mixture sit in a room at room temperature for a week. Every couple days, I shook it up to mix.

In the meantime, I went out and got these adorable bottles for the limoncello at Just For Fun!

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After the week was up, I made the syrup to add to the limoncello. Just water & sugar!

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Once the syrup cooled, I added it to the vodka mixture. Once combined, I strained he lemon zest out of the mixture and poured it into bottles.

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Once in the bottles, I kept them at room temperature for two weeks. As you can see in the above photo, the limoncello was very light yellow and still pretty translucent. I wasn’t sure if it would “thicken” up and turn more yellow or not.

After two weeks, I put one of the bottles into the freezer and Ward and I took a taste sip. The color was more yellow but still not as yellow as you see at restaurants. The taste was pretty great, though. It packed a punch when it first hit your mouth and was followed by a smooth and sweet finish. Super refreshing! Definitely thinking of making more of this as gifts!

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Sweetly,

Simona

Strawberry Apple Crumble

It’s my mom’s birthday week!

Her actual birthday is on Friday but today, the office threw together a surprise potluck for her. Yes, my mom is also my boss =) Last week she mentioned that she wanted me to bake her a strawberry rhubarb pie for her birthday. Unfortunately, rhubarb is out of season so I opted for strawberry apple.

I made the dough ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge while I made the filling and crumble. I made the crumble top first by mixing the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, brown sugar, and salt) together then added the melted butter.

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I mixed it all together to create the crumble (which was delicious on it’s own by the way).

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I put that aside and started on the pie filling by cutting up the apples and strawberries.

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I coated the fruits with cornstarch and a little bit of sugar.

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While the fruit sat, I rolled out the dough and placed it into a cake pan. Turns out all of my pie dishes are at my mom’s house! I read up on it to make sure the pie would cook evenly in a cake pan and the consensus was, yes. I put the fruit in the rolled out dough and covered it with the crumble.

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I put it in the oven for 55 minutes at 375 degrees F. It was supposed to bake for 1h15 minutes but I’ve learned to bake my pies for less time than directed. I learned this from how my pies would dry out if I baked them the whole time and then reheated them again in the oven.

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Bits of the crumble got a little too dark but overall, the pie looked amazing! My mom and everyone at the office agreed that it was delicious and a great way to transition from summer to fall (or from rhubarb to apple)!

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When I cut into it, it was definitely a crumble and the pieces barely held together. It was super juicy with a nice amount of crunch at the top. Yum yum yummy!

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Sweetly,

Simona

This entry was posted in Pies.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

A friendly neighbor gave away a huge box of Meyer lemons!

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So I got busy coming up with what to make with them and my first thought was marmalade! I followed Simply Recipe’s recipe because it was the most straight forward.

I started by cutting up the lemons, removing (but keeping) the seeds and any membrane and pith.

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I cut the lemon wedges into tiny pieces and put them into a big pot with water. I put the pith and seeds into a cheese cloth and tied it closed. The contents of the bag were to create pectin, instead of adding store bought pectin. I hung the bag over the edge of the pot so that the contents of the bag were in the water/lemon mixture.

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I then boiled the water mixture for about 30 minutes until the lemons were soft.

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When it was done, I removed the pectin bag and squeezed it to obtain about 2 tablespoons of pectin.

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I poured this pectin along with the frightening amount of sugar into the cooked lemons. I did a lot of reading and the reason some people’s marmalades don’t work out is because they shy out on the sugar and that doesn’t allow the marmalade to set.

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I turned on the heat and waited for the mixture to boil. In the meantime, I prepped the jars by placing them in the oven for 10 minutes at 200 degrees F. This was to sterilize them but also to ensure they didn’t crack when the hot marmalade was poured in. I also poured boiling water over the lids and let them sit.

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I had the candy thermometer attached to the pot of boiling lemon mixture. The goal was to get to 218-220 degrees F.

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This had to be watched to make sure it got to the right temperature but the recipe also gave alternative ways to check when it was ready. The best method, they said, was to have put a plate in the freezer beforehand and drip a bit of the mixture onto it. If, when pushed with your finger, the mixture rippled, then it was ready. I did this over and over again and it never seemed to be ready (even though the temperature read 218. I finally realized that it wasn’t an instant. I would drip the mixture on the cold plate, move it with my finger and then, if I waited, it would set and ripple! Once I figured this out, I turned the heat off and quickly started to jar it.

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It said jar and cap quickly so I worked fast.

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The recipe said that it could take one night to one week for the marmalade to set and to not be disappointed if it didn’t set over night. I was also worried that I had done something wrong with the heating process since I hadn’t figured out that it was ready right away.

Needless to say, the next morning the marmalade had completely set! It was like real, store-bought marmalade! Amazing! I tried it on toast and it was so good. It was tart and not overly sweet at all. I loved the pieces of cooked lemon in it too!

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I will definitely be making more marmalade in the future!

Sweetly,

Simona