Happy Pi Day!!

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Happy Pi Day!! In the past, I’ve posted a few pie recipes, including the Cherry Pie Pops on Pi Day 2012. This year, I decided to share something a little different…

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In addition to all the time I spend baking, I spend a lot of my free-time sewing and crafting. Typically, I’m making clothes and costumes for events or every-day use. But one day, while browsing through patterns, I saw this one for a giant pie cushion, and I knew that I needed to make it!

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The picture above shows the size of this project. (I didn’t have a banana for scale, so I had to make do with a wine bottle!) The pie is about a meter wide, which takes up the entire space I normally use for blog photos. It’s wider than my table!

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Along with the pie, I also make 2 strawberry and 3 blueberry pillows for decoration. ๐Ÿ™‚

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So, embracing my love of pie and need for whimsy, I now have a giant pillow pie in the corner of my living room. And I do the happy-dance every time I see it. ๐Ÿ˜€

Hope everyone has a wondermous Pi Day! ๐Ÿ™‚

~ Emily

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Samoa Ice Cream

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I don’t have much to say about this ice cream, except “WOW!” Like seriously, wow. This ice cream is amazing and dangerous, and I shouldn’t be allowed to have all of it in my freezer.

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In my quest to turn Girl Scout cookies into even more amazing desserts, I started out with the Thin Mint Cheesecake last week. (Thin Mints are my second fave GS cookie, with my first being the Samoa/Caramel Delight!) I thought about making cupcakes or cookies, but these ideas felt a little too played out…

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So then ice cream popped into my head! It’s been a while since I’ve made ice cream, and spring is coming, so why not?! (Though I do love ice cream in the winter more than in the summer, but I’m strange like that… ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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This ice cream starts off with a brown butter custard base, which is swirled with coconut caramel sauce and a fudge ripple. Yes, it’s a little complicated.ย When I was dreaming up this ice cream, I texted my other Emily (my go-to friend when dreaming up crazy things), worried that I was over-complicating the recipe. I thought about changing out the fudge ripple for chocolate chunks to simplify it. But when is anything worth doing easy?? ๐Ÿ˜›

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So, if you do want to simplify the recipe, you can use semisweet chocolate chunks instead of the fudge ripple. The ice cream will end up with much more caramel and coconut though, and I can’t guarantee it will be as good as this version!

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One thing to note is that this recipe makes enough of the caramel coconut sauce and fudge ripple for two batches of ice cream. So if you eat all the first batch, you can make another! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Download the recipe!

Guinness Marshmallows

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Oh my gosh, it’s hard to believe that we’re almost half-way through March! I’m already making St. Paddy’s Day food and planning for Pi Day. To make time feel like it’s moving even faster, the clocks sprung forward an hour this weekend!

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But it’s finally starting to feel like Spring here in DC! The added hour of evening daylight is hard to get used to at first, but it definitely helps shake off the winter blues. Now, Iย LOVEย Winter – the snow, the cold, the boots and chunky sweaters – but the beginning of Spring always feels so magical and hopeful.

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Pretty soon, it’s going to be time to start planting (we still have at least 1 more frost in DC) out in my little porch garden. But before the bounty of Spring, I’m still in Winter-baking mode, which means chocolate, citrus, and things I can bake without my usual trip to the Farmer’s Market to pick up fresh fruit.

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So last week, I busted out the candy-making equipment and my stash of Guinness. (I have to hide a few bottles or else they disappear when friends come over. ๐Ÿ˜› ) And I whipped up a batch of Guinness Marshmallows, working off my original Homemade Marshmallow recipe from Alton Brown.

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These marshmallows use what [I think] is theย perfectย amount of Guinness: 8 ounces out of an 11-ounce bottle, leaving a little bit to sip while the syrup is cooking! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The mallows are then coated with a bit of cocoa powder to bring out the malt in the Guinness. The marshmallows are cooked the same as vanilla mallows, but the heat needs to be reduced as the syrup cooks. So they’ll take a few more minutes to make because the bubbles in the Guinness can cause a catastrophic boil-over! (Trust me, I speak from experience…)

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Download the recipe!

Homemade Corned Beef

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Oh gosh, it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day! After last night’s ridiculous Pancake Tuesday dinner party and Pi Day coming up next week, March is a month full of amazing food. This year, keeping with my drive to make as much homemade food as I can, I decided to try out homemade corned beef. The boyfriend picked up a 7-pound brisket at Costco, and I quickly got to work!

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I started the brine (based on recipes from Amazing Ribs and good ol’ Alton Brown!) at the end of February, not realizing just how early I was, and I just figured I could vacuum seal the corned beef and cook it when we got closer to St. Paddy’s Day. But then I posted a picture on my Facebook and Instagram, and a few friends requested the recipe. So I decided to cook it up this weekend and feature it on the blog.

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This is the first really non-baking related post, creating a whole new category! I’ve pondered the idea of expanding the blog to include more than just desserts and breakfast foods as I’ve become a better cook and started this homemade journey. I’ve been successfully curing homemade gravlax the last few months and am hoping to start up bacon soon, so those posts should end up here too!

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What’s great is that none of these things are particularlyย hard to make, and the effort is rewarded greatly, as the homemade versions taste significantly better than store-bought! And they can frequently be cheaper than store-bought, depending on where you get your ingredients and in what quantities. (Yay for Costco and online retailers!)

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So, this year, how about skipping the pre-packaged overly salty corned beef? Why not try making your own?ย Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Download the recipe!

Thin Mint Cheesecake

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It’s Girl Scout cookie time!! Which means I brought home a bag full of Samoas (Caramel Delights) and Thin Mints last week… I may have over-ordered on cookies, but I never felt like I had enough Samoas last year after my last box mysteriously disappeared. (I probably ate them and just forgot… Whoops!) But this year I’m prepared, and a few boxes will be going into the freezer for later. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I’ve been wanting to make things out of Girl Scout cookies for a while, but other things always seemed to hit at the same time (Pancake Tuesday, St. Paddy’s Day, etc.). But this year, I’m making two things using my two favorite Girl Scout cookies! The first is this Thin Mint Cheesecake, which has a crust made from an entire box of Thin Mints, minus the 2 that I nibbled while I was baking. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Instead of making an entire chocolate-peppermint cheesecake, I decided to divide the batter. I didn’t want a heavy cheesecake, as cheesecake is already rich and dense. So about two-thirds of the batter was dyed light green and flavored with just peppermint. The rest of the cheesecake batter was amped up with melted chocolate and swirled ย into the peppermint batter.

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And wow, this cheesecake is amazing! I brought it to a party on Friday night, and it was devoured. Thankfully, I cut two pieces from the cheesecake to take photos, and saved them for the boyfriend and I to enjoy later! And those were the perfect after-dinner treat last night! ๐Ÿ™‚

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Download the recipe!

Hot Toddy Cupcakes

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Well, we had our first real bit of winter here in DC. While it had gotten pretty cold in December and early January, the snow just kept missing us! (Definitely the opposite of what happened to my friends and family in the Midwest, who’ve been pummeled with snow almost every week…) It was nice to finally get some snow here , even if it does shut the city down for days… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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One of the great things that comes along with cold and snow is the Hot Toddy. It’s the perfect drink to warm up, relax a bit, and fight off a stuffy nose. For those not familiar, a Hot Toddy starts with Earl Grey tea (or English/Irish Breakfast tea, depending on your preference) sweetened with honey. A shot of whiskey and a squirt of lemon are added, along with a cinnamon stick and a star anise.

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While drinking a Hot Toddy, I decided that I wanted to make a cupcake version. And the challenged lied in how to infuse the Earl Grey tea into the cupcake and how to marry all the flavors together without being too muddled or overwhelming.

I started off my infusing butter with loose tea leaves to flavor the cupcake base. I kept the cake pretty simple: sweetened by both sugar and honey with a small amount of cinnamon and anise extract added. The buttercream icing is flavored with whiskey (I used honey whiskey for just a bit of honey flavor) and lemon extract.

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And the result was a Hot Toddy cupcake! The flavors come together perfectly, with a great tea flavor that’s not too strong or bitter. Because the cake is sweetened with honey, it’s also not overwhelmingly sweet. Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Download the recipe!

Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake

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I’ve been thinking about this cake for over 3 months, ever since Thanksgiving. I had a large bounty of apples that I’d picked up from the Farmer’s Market and was looking for desserts to make. And Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect opportunity because I can usually make a few different desserts!

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For the last few years, the boyfriend and I have been hosting a left-behind Thanksgiving dinner, but since we had plans with his family last year, we hosted a Secondsgiving over the following weekend. Usually, I take care of the turkey and the desserts, which are my two favourite parts. But last year, other friends who host a left-behind dinner bought over all their leftover dessert… So I didn’t need to bake anything!

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While I had mixed feelings about not being able to make all the desserts, it was a nice change of pace to be able to focus on savories and sides. But then I never got the chance to make the Caramel Apple Upside-down Cake! After 3 months, I finally found the right time!

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The cake starts with a layer of sliced apples coated in a quick caramel sauce. A fluffy cinnamon cake is baked on top of the apples, and the whole thing is inverted onto a serving platter. The caramel cooks the apples and creates a gooey layer on top of the cake, with a light caramel taste. To boost the caramel flavor, serve the cake with extra caramel sauce!

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One thing to note when baking this cake is to use extra-wide aluminum foil to cover the bottom of your springform pan, and place a large cookie sheet on the rack below the cake. Springform pans have a tendency to leak slightly, so you’ll want the pan there to catch any drippings! Otherwise, you’ll panic when smoke starts pouring out of your oven, like I did… ๐Ÿ˜›

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Download the recipe!