Triple Chocolate Espresso Cookies

The school year is coming to an end… finally! I just passed the two week mark until graduation. WOOHOO! I don’t have much going on during finals week, so hopefully that means I’ll have time to bake a lot and use up all of my ingredients before I move out.

Triple Chocolate Espresso Cookies from Square Root of Pie

I made these cookies as a thank you to my dancers for a great semester and brought them to our last rehearsal. The show was great and I was so happy! And I know they were very happy with the cookies too ;)

Triple Chocolate Espresso Cookies
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

Ingredients
1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour (GF or regular all-purpose)
1/2 tsp baking soda
dash salt
1 Tbsp finely ground coffee
1/3 C white chocolate chips
1/3 C milk chocolate chips
1/3 C Sno-Caps or other chocolate chips

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Add egg and vanilla and combine.
3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, soda, salt, and coffee.
4. Gradually sift dry into wet.
5. Fold in chocolate chips.
6. Place spoonfuls on cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes until browned. Cool before serving.

Triple Chocolate Espresso Cookies from Square Root of Pie

I made one batch with regular flour, and one batch with GF flour… both came out great! The GF cookies were actually a little fluffier than the regular ones, which came out more crunchy, but both were delicious.

Triple Chocolate Espresso Cookies from Square Root of PieGood luck on finals if you have any! I’ll bring you recipes for some stress-relieving treats soon, I promise!

 

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Do(ugh)nuts

Do you spell it “doughnut” or “donut”? Doesn’t matter. Either way, I made some.

I’ve recently become obsessed with Fab.com. A little while ago I bought a few new baking pans from a sale Norpro was having there – a square cupcake pan, a mini cheesecake pan, and, yes, a mini doughnut pan. I am in love.

Mini Mocha Doughnuts
Makes two dozen.

Ingredients
for the doughnuts
1 1/2 C flour
1/3 C cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp coffee grounds
2 eggs
2/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp oil
for the icing
1 C powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp hot coffee

Instructions
1.
 Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease your doughnut pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cocoa, and coffee. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk, and oil.
4. Pour wet into dry and mix until a thick batter forms.
5. Fill the pan 2/3 full and bake 8 min.
6. Once doughnuts are cool, stir coffee into powdered sugar in a small bowl. Dip the tops of the doughnuts in the glaze. Top with chocolate sprinkles if desired.

These are teeny tiny, but very dense.

Sweet and Salty

I’ve really been enjoying the city, and since I’ve been here a few times before I’m mostly ignoring the touristy things and trying to really live here. I want to check out lesser known places and little things you might normally overlook.

Last week I went to Momofuku Milk Bar in East Village. I tried their Pretzel Milk, Birthday Cake Truffles, and a Compost Cookie. The Pretzel Milk tasted just like it sounds – so good! They really soak pretzels in milk to make it. The Birthday Cake Truffles, which are apparently kind of a big deal, were actually kind of gross. They’re basically just cake pops, but the were way too sweet. I couldn’t eat more than a couple bites of one, and the package came with three!

The Compost Cookie, on the other hand, was absolutely amazing. The combination of sweet and salty has always been one of my favorites, like chocolate covered pretzels! The cookie came packaged with a label listing all the ingredients, so yesterday I made my first copycat recipe.

Compost Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen.

Ingredients
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp hot water
1 C flour
1/4 C quick oats
1 tsp coffee grounds
1/4 C corn flakes
1 single serving bag potato chips, crushed
1 1/2 graham crackers, crushed
10-12 mini salted pretzels, crushed
1/2 C chocolate chips

Instructions
1.
 Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine oats, coffee, corn flakes, chips, grahams, and pretzels. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Mix in egg and vanilla.
4. Dissolve baking soda in water. Stir into butter mixture.
5. Mix flour into butter mixture. Slowly add the compost mixture until a dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Drop spoonfuls 2 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes until browned.

I’m pretty happy with the result. They’re not quite as chewy as the ones from Milk Bar, but they probably have about half the butter… Meaning I can eat twice as many!

Stress Baking part 1

BE JEALOUS. I’m done with finals. I’m not done done, I still have my animation project due next Tuesday. But I took my only final exam yesterday, finished a report this morning, and now all I have to do is animate some butterflies for the next week. Other plans include manicures, shopping, rock climbing, and – of course – baking.

Anyway, here’s the first installment of my stress baking series. I made them as part of Weekend Breakfasts last last Sunday while simultaneously working on a perception study for my character animation class. (Thanks to anyone who helped out with that survey, by the way. We had pretty great results!)

Almond Biscotti
Original recipe here. We significantly downsized the recipe – this makes one loaf, or about 10 biscotti.

Ingredients
1 C raw almonds
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 scant tsp baking powder
3/4 C plus 2 Tbsp flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 orange

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
2. Arrange almonds on baking sheet and toast 10 minutes. Let cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix almonds, sugars, cinnamon, baking powder, and flour.
4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together one egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Stir into the flour mixture.
5. Work the mixture into a dough with floured hands (it will be sticky!). Add more flour if necessary, but don’t let it get too dry.
6. Form the dough into a loaf on the baking sheet, approximately 3/4 inches thick. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the top of the loaf.
7. Bake 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Turn off the oven. Let cool 20 minutes outside the oven.
8. Using a serrated knife, slice the loaf diagonally into 3/4 inch thick slices, making about 9-12 cookies.
9. Place the cookies back on the baking sheet on their sides. Return to the oven and let warm for 30 minutes with the door closed. The oven should not be on.
10. Enjoy with coffee. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Roasting the almonds was definitely my favorite part of this. It made the entire kitchen smell so good! The orange zest really compliments the almond flavor, too.

I’m a little confused about biscotti though. Are they dessert? Or are they breakfast? They go with coffee, which is usually a breakfast thing, but sometimes you drink coffee at night, too. I don’t know. I definitely consider them cookies… Breakfast cookies? I don’t know. Whatever, they’re yummy.

They should keep for about a month, but mine only lasted a few days. Because I ate them. I love anything you dip in coffee!

 

Aloha

Double recipe post hooray!

It’s almost spring break and I am unbelievably excited. I get an entire week to lay on the beach and get spoiled rotten by my grandparents. Honolulu, here I come! These next two days of classes can’t get over with fast enough.

I did quite a bit of cooking this past Sunday, hence the double recipes. Weekend Breakfast came first, of course. Now, if you know me, you know that I love coffee. As for pancakes, well, any sane human being loves pancakes. So a marriage of the two is only appropriate.

Cappuccino Pancakes with Mocha Syrup

We followed the recipe exactly, so instead of being redundant I’ll just send you on over to The Pastry Affair.

The mocha syrup was amazing. A little too thick to really be syrup though; I ended up spreading it over the pancakes with a knife.

I’m getting pretty good at flipping pancakes/crepes/eggs/other foods you flip. I used to be terrible – I’d always ruin it! But look at this perfectly round pancake I made. So proud.

Of course, I still needed to eat dinner! I found a recipe for enchilada cupcakes, which I thought was an awesome idea. I love cupcakes and I love enchiladas – another wonderful marriage. The original recipe uses chicken, so since I’m a vegetarian I made up a new recipe.

Warning: since I made up the recipe, I sort of eyeballed everything, so now I’m guessing on the amounts. I actually only made 10 cupcakes because that’s how many tortillas I had, and used about 2/3 and 1/2 cans of beans and corn, respectively, so I’m trying to scale everything to use whole cans.

Enchilada Cupcakes
Original recipe can be found here. Makes ~15 cupcakes.

Ingredients
15 small corn tortillas
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1/4 C red or white onion, chopped
1/4 C green onion, chopped
1/2 C your favorite salsa
shredded cheese

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Cut out a circle the size of the cupcake pans from each tortilla, then cut the remaining ring into wedges (I found 6 wedges worked best). Arrange each tortilla into a ‘crust’ into a well of the pan. (If this doesn’t make sense, check out the original post for a nice picture.)
3. In a large bowl, mix together the beans, corn, onions, and salsa.
4. Scoop filling into each cupcake and top with cheese.
5. Bake for 20-30 min.

A word of advice: wait for them to cool a little bit before you eat them. I was so eager/hungry that I immediately took them out of the pans and onto my plate, where they fell apart. They tasted delicious, but weren’t as pretty. The ones I ate as leftovers yesterday and today held up much better.

What Month Is It?

I’ve been back in sunny Southern California for about two weeks now, loving this weather and absolutely dreading my return to Pittsburgh and the snow. It’s “cooled off” a bit here, down to about 75 everyday, but it was high 80s last week. Feels like summer. I hate snow.

I’ve got a couple recipes for you. It’s been so hot that I’ve been making smoothies almost everyday for lunch. This one has hidden veggies in it, but unlike my Tropical Green Monster it doesn’t have a scary color.

Berry Green Smoothie

Ingredients
1 C frozen mixed berries (I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1/4 – 1/3 C milk, as needed (I used soy but any milk would be fine)
1 Tbsp chia seed
1 Tbsp flax meal
soy protein powder
1 large handful fresh spinach leaves
agave nectar, to taste

Instructions
Blend until smooth and serve.

Then the other day, my mom and I tried out a new recipe for vegetarian chili. It was really delicious but it took a lot of work. It wasn’t difficult but just cutting the vegetables took forever because there was so much. I must say, though, this is a pretty substantial chili. Some of my meat-eating friends seem to think there’s no such thing as vegetarian chili – I think they should try a bowl of this. It’s got some really interesting ingredients – coffee and chocolate – that give it a really unique flavor.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili
Original recipe from Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2012

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 tsp adobo seasoning
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
1/2 C brewed coffee
1 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes, crushed
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 head cauliflower, grated
1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, onions, corn, etc. for topping

Instructions
1.
 In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, carrots, and salt, stirring frequently for 8 minutes or until carrots are soft.
2. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
3. Stir in chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, chipotle, adobo, tomato paste, and tortillas. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a splash of water if the mixture begins to stick.
4. Add coffee and let simmer 30 seconds until almost completely reduced.
5. Reduce to low heat. Add tomatoes, cocoa powder, beans, and 2 1/2 C water, and let simmer for 1 hour 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Stir in cauliflower and let cook an additional 10 minutes.
7. Dig in!

How do you eat chili? Just in a bowl? My mom puts it over rice, or sometimes we put it on baked potatoes, but my first choice will always be the Frito Pie. How do you make a Frito Pie, you ask?

Just like that. Asian noodle bowl is optional.

Kuala, not Koala

Just warning you, this is going to be a really long post.

I spent last weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Not a long trip – just Thursday night through Sunday afternoon. Considering the limited time we had, we did quite a lot. It was a jam-packed, exhausting weekend.

Sidebar: classes are officially cancelled today because Hong Kong is under a Typhoon Signal level 8, meaning winds are at or above 63km/h and Typhoon Nesat is approximately 350km away. Gonna be honest, I’m a little freaked out… I’ve never been in a storm like this before!

First of all, remember back around Mid Autumn Festival when I was super sad I didn’t get to try more mooncakes? Especially the frozen kind? I had been hoping they would get cheaper after the holiday, but by the time I went to look they were all sold out. I was super depressed – I really wanted to try them! Well, guess what I found at the airport?

That’s right. Snowy mooncakes. The one on the left is strawberry and mung bean, and the one on the right is coffee with chocolate in the center. Oh my god, these things were worth the wait. The outside, instead of being a doughy sort of pastry like the regular ones, is basically just mochi. Yum!

Then came the flight. Four hours long, but at least the view was okay.

Friday morning, we got up early and made our way 13km outside the city to the Batu Caves. They’re these gigantic limestone caves that double as a Hindu temple. Some temple buildings and statues are outside the cave, including the 140ft gold statue of Murugan (I Wikipedia‘d that one) standing next to the 272 steps leading up to the cave. All along the steps are KAJILLIONS of monkeys. Tourists must feed them all the time, because they’re all over and they’re really comfortable around the people. I got some pretty close up pictures, and one even reached out and grabbed my ankle after I took its photo! This was extremely shocking because I’ve gotten so used to never seeing animals. Around Hong Kong, the only animals I see are bugs and pet dogs, barely ever even birds, let alone monkeys. Even hiking out on Lantau I never saw any animals! To come to Kuala Lumpur and see all these animals was such a change.

Once you finally get up to the caves, you basically just stand there in awe. I won’t try to explain how beautiful and just huge they are because I will never do it justice. Although I will say it’s the most perfect place for a temple if there ever was one. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

After we left the main temple cave, we went into what’s called the Dark Caves. Just like in Hong Kong, these people aren’t very creative with names. The caves are literally pitch black inside, and filled with all sorts of gross things like bats, cockroaches, centipedes, and the world’s rarest spider. They neglected to tell us all of this until after we paid for the tour. I swear, three hours later I still felt like there were bugs crawling all over my legs.

At the bottom of the caves, we found a small Indian restaurant for lunch. Well, to put it more accurately, the restaurant found us. One of the biggest differences between HK and KL, besides the animals, is the people in restaurants. In HK, the doors to restaurants stay closed and the people working there don’t really care whether or not you come in. In KL, they act like those annoying girls at the mall kiosks that sell curling irons. “Come in here! Our food is great! Are you hungry? Come eat! So cheap, so delicious, come in, come in!!”

See that? That would be rice with lentils and green beans and cauliflower and squash all on top of a banana leaf. The fact that they serve it on a banana leaf is ridiculously cool, but you know what’s even cooler? The fact that it’s all 100% vegetarian. Oh my god I love Malaysia and its high Hindu population. All the Indian vegetarian food I ate made me so happy. And those green beans were out-of-this-world delicious.

After the Batu Caves, we made our way back to KL and got on the Hop On Hop Off bus. It’s a tour bus where you can buy a ticket for 24 or 48 hours and it stops at all the different touristy locations within the city. You can get on at any stop, get off whenever you see something cool, and then get back on again when you’re done. It even has audio commentary about whatever you’re going towards next! It’s a really neat idea, but it only runs in one direction, which is a pretty big bummer. Anyway, we took it to the Kuala Lumpur Orchid Garden, and then to the Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world.

Did I mention who I was travelling with? It was me, a girl from New York, and two girls from Japan. Everywhere we went, people would ask us where we’re from. “The two of us are from the US, and they’re from Japan.” “…but … why are you together?”

As a relaxing way to end a long day, we decided to go to a fish spa. What’s a fish spa, you ask? Basically you put your feet into a pool of small fish and they nibble off all the dead skin. Sounds wonderful. It’s just such a weird idea that we wanted to try it. Well, it took us so long to finally get to the mall where the fish spa was supposed to be, and then it was closed for remodeling! What a disappointment! We were able to, at least, find a really good Malaysian restaurant in the mall, so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

We had everything the waiter recommended. A spicy chicken dish, prawns, pineapple fried rice, an egg “flower” (basically scrambled egg with vegetables), and some sort of veggie. I don’t know what kind of vegetable that was, but I wish I did because it definitely stole the show. The whole dish is really garlicky (my favorite), with both the stems and the leaves. The stems are pretty crunchy, like broccoli almost, and the leaves reminded me a lot of kale chips. Ugh, just talking about it is making me want to eat it again.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early again, off to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Center. It’s located about two hours outside of Kuala Lumpur, so it takes a really long time to get there. We decided not to book a tour, since everything we read online said the only thing the tour is good for is transportation – once you’re there, it’s the same whether or not you’re with a tour group. So, we hopped on a train, took it to the very last stop, and then rode the bus for an hour.

We were in Middle-of-the-Forest, Malaysia, just south of I-Have-No-Idea-Where-We-Are. The bus only takes you so far, so after that you have to take a taxi the last 14km. The only problem is, once you’re that far out in the boonies, there aren’t really taxis, just people with cars who want to make an extra couple of bucks. Consequently, we were given a ride by a toothless old Malaysian man with an Aloha shirt and a 1980s Corolla. Don’t freak out, Mom. Somehow, going with him was the best decision we could have made – he must spend all his time waiting around for confused tourists in need of a ride to the sanctuary. Not only did he know the way by heart, but he also showed us where to buy tickets for the bus back to KL and was even waiting patiently for us outside the sanctuary when the activities were over, like a dad picking up his preteen daughter and her friends after a movie. All that for 60 ringgits? I’ll take it. Even if he had no teeth.

Once there, we watched a video about the elephant relocation program – basically, they move elephants that are pillaging farms to a new habitat. The only reason they eat the crops, though, is because their natural habitats are being destroyed to make room for the farms. It sounds mean, but I guess it’s better to move them than to have them killed by angry farmers. The elephants at the Center are trained to help move the “problem” elephants, since being around other elephants seems to help comfort them during the transport and keeps them from getting scared and possibly hurting people.

After being thoroughly depressed by the movie, we got to feed the elephants, ride them, and then “bathe” with them in the river. I felt bad for the elephants giving rides; they seemed so bored just walking in a circle over and over again. The ones in the water, though, seemed like they were having tons of fun with the people. They would spray everyone with their trunks, and loved splashing around. It was seriously one of the coolest experiences of my life.

After we became official “Elefriends” (their word, not mine) we made our way back to the city and headed over to Little India. It’s only about two blocks long, but packed with restaurants, produce markets, and tons of stores selling beautiful sari fabric. I kind of wish I had bought some.

We passed by a bakery called Venusitas that had the most beautiful, colorful displays in the window. It all looked so good, I ended up buying a box with one of everything just so I could try it all. Most of it was way too sugary for me, but still nice to have a bite or two. For the most part, they all had just a plain, sweet flavor, but some had hints of coconut, and one cookie was even a bit lemony.

Again, we ate delicious Indian food. We were accosted by a man in an orange polo shirt telling us we absolutely had to eat at his restaurant. We decided to trust him, and I had naan with two really good types of curry and one other sauce that was good but way too intense with the lime.

Finally, it was time to go back to Hong Kong. We had a little bit of time on Sunday morning before we had to leave for the airport, so we spent about half an hour at the Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple, just a few minutes’ walk from our hostel. After this trip, I officially love Hindu temples. They are all so colorful and fun to look at! The statues are beautiful.

For our last meal at the airport, we went to Marrybrown, the Malaysian competitor to KFC. (KFC is a HUGE deal in KL. I’m talking way bigger than McDonald’s, and it’s not out of the ordinary to see KFC’s with two floors. I realized it’s probably because of the religious groups there – predominantly Hindu and Muslim.) Looking at the menu, my eyes immediately jumped to the #5 combo, a veggie burger with curly fries and a drink. Veggie burger?! CURLY FRIES?! Talk about exciting!

Well, at least the fries were good. What looked like a delicious veggie burger in the photo turned out to be hash browns and lettuce in a bun. Not kidding, hash browns. Straight up potato. No yummy Boca patty, no vegetables smushed into a disk, nope. A McDonald’s style hash brown. I got chicken nuggets afterward to supplement my “meal.”

I never thought in my whole life I would travel to Malaysia. It was never really on my “list,” you know? I didn’t know anything about the country until I booked the flights and started doing a bit of research! But I had such an amazing time and I am so happy I went. Can’t wait for more weekend trips like this one!