Blood Orange Yogurt Cakes

There are a number of reasons why I made these cakes. Well, I suppose there are reasons behind every recipe I make, but this one has specific ones.

blood oranges

First, I picked up a bag of about 10 or so blood oranges at the grocery store last weekend. If you’ve never had one, they’re about the size of a tangerine and a little more tart than regular oranges. And they’re beautiful. They make a great snack on their own, but I thought their color would look beautiful baked!

Second, on that same trip to the grocery store I bought a big tub of Greek yogurt. Which I hate. I do this every so often – I buy yogurt because I want something new for breakfast and because I know it’s healthy for me. Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, granola, and honey… it sounds so delicious! Then I eat it and remember why I never buy yogurt. I hate yogurt. So I thought, what am I going to do with this?

Lastly, I was convinced I had a loaf pan. So I wanted to make a loaf cake. I didn’t realize I don’t have a loaf pan until after I put out all of my ingredients and started preheating the oven. Whoops.

Blood Orange Yogurt Cakes from Square Root of Pie

Blood Orange Yogurt Cakes
Makes 12 cupcakes or 1 loaf cake. Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes.

Ingredients
for the cake
1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1/2 C sugar
1 C nonfat Greek yogurt
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C vegetable oil
zest of 2 blood oranges
juice of 1/2 blood orange
for the glaze
3oz reduced fat cream cheese
juice of 1 1/2 blood oranges
1-2 C powdered sugar

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare cupcake tin with liners or loaf pan with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a larger bowl, mix sugar, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, oil, zest, and juice until smooth.
4. Add dry to wet and stir until combined.
5. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, or loaf for 50 minutes until a knife comes out clean.
6. Once cakes are cooled completely, begin glaze by mixing juice and cream cheese.
7. Slowly incorporate powdered sugar. Add less for a thin glaze or more for thicker frosting.
8. Frost cakes and serve.

Blood Orange Yogurt Cakes from Square Root of PieIsn’t that pink color gorgeous? The blood orange juice is beautiful! And the yogurt makes a really light, fluffy cake. Much more enjoyable than in a bowl all by itself.

 

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Boozy Baking

Happy Halloween everyone!! This recipe isn’t super festive, but the colors are a bit Halloweeny, so that counts, right?

This was my first time experimenting with alcohol and baking, and I really liked the effect! Don’t worry – you’d have to eat about a million of these before you get any sort of a buzz ;) But I love drinking orange juice with amaretto, so I thought it would make a nice flavor for a cake. The orange definitely lightened up the heaviness of the pound cake.

Orange Amaretto Pound Cake Cupcakes
with Chocolate Amaretto Ganache

Makes one dozen.

Ingredients
for the pound cake
2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
1/3 C amaretto
zest of one orange
for the ganache
3/4 C semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp amaretto

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In a smaller bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt.
4. Pour wet into dry and combine. Stir in amaretto and orange zest.
5. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full (these puff up a lot!) and bake 22-25 min.
6. When cupcakes are completely cool, begin ganache by pouring chocolate chips and amaretto into a bowl.
7. Over medium heat, simmer cream. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth.
8. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the ganache. Garnish with orange peel.

They were so pretty when the ganache was fresh and shiny! Not quite as pretty when it dried dull, but they still tasted great. The chocolate works really nicely with the orange and amaretto.

All the Way from Seattle

Guest post! Meaning I get to be lazy and not do anything! But also meaning I didn’t get to eat any of this wonderful recipe :(

My baking partner in crime, Pinar, is living in Seattle for the summer, which means we have to bake solo all summer. Sad. But she sent me this great recipe she tried out last week and gorgeous photos to match.

Just like you have a “thing” for sweet and savory, I guess I have a “thing” for sweet and sour. Here’s the adapted version that I made. Basically I used more orange zest to make it sweet and cut down on sugar. Also the icing was amazing. And I don’t even like icing… in the original recipe, you are supposed to put lime if you’re using Corona and orange if you’re using Blue Moon, but I thought the sourness from the limes would add to the cupcakes – and they did! So there you go!

Blue Moon Cupcakes with Citrus Frosting
Original recipe here. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients
for the cupcakes
3/8 C unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 C sugar
1 1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 to 1 Tbsp orange zest
1/2 Tbsp lime zest
1/2 C Blue Moon, plus more for brushing on tops
1/8 C milk
orange/lime wedges for garnish
for the frosting
6 oz cream cheese, cold
3 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 Tbsp lime zest
2 C powdered sugar

Instructions
1.
 Preheat oven to 375F.
2.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
3. With an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and zest.
4. Alternatively add flour, milk, and beer to the butter/sugar mixture.
5. Pour into tins and bake for 18 minutes. After removing from the oven, poke holes in the tops and brush with beer.
6. For the frosting, mix cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add juice and zest.
7.  Gradually mix in powdered sugar to desired consistency.
8. Once cupcakes are completely cool, pipe with frosting.

 

Stress Baking part 2

What happens when you guys stress out? I get canker sores. Really bad ones. I have two right now that are almost healed, but they were really killing me a couple days ago. I hope none of you have that problem. It makes eating really difficult.

I made these the same day as the biscotti, when I should have been writing a paper on Chinese opera. I took the whole batch with me to dance rehearsal that night, and they were a huge hit. I’ll definitely make these again, even though they’re the reason I had to stay up until 5am writing that stupid paper. Whatever, I got an A. Hah.

Chocolate Orange Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen. Original recipe here.

Ingredients
zest of 1 orange
1 1/3 C sugar, divided
10 Tbsp butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 C flour
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
~6 oz chocolate chips (optional – I used them but next time I won’t)

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine 1 tsp orange zest and 1/3 C sugar and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream remaining sugar, butter, and orange zest.
3. Mix in egg.
4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, powder, and soda.
5. Stir dry into wet. If using, add chocolate chips.
6. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, flatten, and roll in orange sugar.
7. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet 9-11 min.

The sugar gives them a crunchier outside with a softer inside. They were all eaten very quickly, so I don’t know what they’d be like if left until the next day. These are so good, though, that I don’t think you’ll have a problem getting rid of them if you need to.

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!

 

Scorpions Taste Like Bacon

Today was the last day of my Chinese class. For whatever reason, it ends three weeks before all the rest of my classes, so now I have five day weekends. For the oral portion of my final, I had to choose a topic and talk for two minutes – I decided to talk about my trip to Beijing! Here’s my script, in case you’re curious:

上个星期我去了北京旅行。我的朋友都不会说汉语,所以我跟北京人说了很多普通话。我们在北京玩儿得非常好!我们参观了前门,天安门,故宫,天坛,还有 颐和园 。颐和园的风景最漂亮。那儿有一个很大的湖,可以坐船。我们在金山岭长城走了四个多小时。走完以后,我们太累了!我们也去了王府井小吃街。那个地方有很多好吃的菜。我吃了冰糖葫芦,羊肉串儿,煎饼果子,还有麻团儿。这些东西都很好吃!还有,我吃蝎子了,吃得坏!我很害怕!

Of course, now I have to tell you that same story but in English, but I really don’t know where to begin. I had an amazing five days in Beijing. I was with a couple Americans and a ton of Danes, and I was the only one who knows (well, sort of knows) Chinese, so naturally I got quite a bit of practice in! Sure, I was speaking in broken sentences the whole time, but it was great to talk to real people outside of a classroom.

Our hostel was right by 前门 Qianmen, so the first day we mostly walked around there. Qianmen means “front gate,” meaning that was the southernmost gate on the wall that used to surround Beijing. A ton of places in the city end in 门 “men” because they used to be gates!

In addition to the actual gate, Qianmen has shopping (regular and market-style) and tons of food.

My first meal in Beijing! The best thing about being in restaurants was speaking Chinese to the waiter/waitress. I can’t tell you how many times I asked 您有没有英文菜单?Do you have an English menu? First thing I noticed right of the bat was that restaurants serve a lot more vegetables than the ones in Hong Kong. The one on the right was my food – chicken with peanuts, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, and onions. I miss veggies! The little cakes in the center are fried pumpkin with a bit of red bean inside.

Beijing street food is generally amazing, but especially in Qianmen. Everywhere you turn there’s a little counter selling all sorts of cakes, buns, fried tofu, hot dogs, and corn on the cob. One of my favorite things was 冰糖葫芦 bingtanghulu, skewers of candied haw berries. They have just haws, haws covered in sesame seeds, or haws cut in half with orange slices in the middle, and even skewers of candied strawberries, grapes, pineapple, or kiwi. I like the plain haws the best, but you have to look for ones with cuts down the middle – that means they’ve taken out the seeds, which can be pretty painful if you bite down on one accidentally. It’s a bit more expensive when you get it that way, but even then it’s only about 8元 max. The ones with seeds are a cheap as 1元.

On the second day, we got up bright and early, left the hostel around 6am for 金山岭长城, the Great Wall at Jinshanling. It’s a couple hours northeast of the city, but I’d say it’s definitely worthwhile to make the trek all the way out there rather than going to the 八达岭 Badaling section which is much closer. There’s nothing I hate more than pictures with people in them, and once you’re all the way out there it’s pretty easy to get some gorgeous shots of the wall without any tourists, whereas Badaling is super crowded. That also means it isn’t as well restored in some places, but that can be good, too. We walked for around four hours; I didn’t realize it would be so steep in some places!

It was the perfect day for the Wall. Pretty cold in the morning, but once we got walking we warmed up quite a bit, and it was the least hazy of all the days we were there. You really could see on forever, mountains behind mountains behind mountains.

After a long day, we finally made it back to the city and went to 鬼街 Guijie, Ghost Street, for dinner, near 东直门 Dongzhimen. It’s a couple blocks of all restaurants, and at night people will set up little tables where they try to sell you overpriced souvenir crap.

We were in need of some delicious 烤鸭 roast duck, so we got some of that as well as something called 杂粮包 zaliangbao. I’m not sure if it has a real English name, but Google Translate tells me that means “cereal package.” So I’ll just stick with zaliangbao.

It’s little bowls of steamed bread, with veggies and meat that you put inside! I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this before. Such an interesting change from the usual noodles and rice.

Friday we headed first to 天安门 Tian’anmen Square and 故宫 The Forbidden City, both of which were walking distance from the hostel. I couldn’t believe how crowded these places were. There were tons of tour groups – 20 or so little old Chinese ladies all wearing the same bright orange baseball cap, following some guy with a big flag and a megaphone. In the Forbidden City, you can look inside the buildings but you can’t go into most of them, and wherever there was an open spot to look people were pushing and shoving! After awhile, I just decided it wasn’t even worth it to fight my way through. The buildings themselves are already gorgeous, not to mention the gardens, so who really cares whether or not you get to see the Emperor’s favorite concubine’s dressing room?

After that, we made our way over to 西单 Xidan for some 火锅 hotpot! I had a recommendation for a place called 海底捞 Haidilao, and it was soooo delicious, and very inexpensive. They have a few locations, and apparently they’re pretty popular – you should have seen the size of the waiting area.

Then we went to 天坛 Temple of Heaven. We got there after the actual temple was closed, but it’s a huge park, so it was still nice to walk around. There were so many trees! That’s one thing Hong Kong could definitely use more of. We also did a bit of market shopping.

Finally, the thing I had been waiting for: 王府井小吃街 Wangfujing Snack Street, a little alley off of 王府井大街 Wangfujing Street that sells tons of crazy street food. There was some normal food, of course, but I was most interested in the crazy When-In-China type food. They really do eat anything and everything in China, and in Wangfujing you can get it all, usually on a stick.

From top to bottom, left to right, that’s pidgeon; sea urchin; squid tentacles; scorpions, starfish, and seahorses; lizards and more seahorses; quail eggs; 羊肉串儿 yangrou chaur (lamb kebabs); mini lobsters (who knew they came that small?). I kept pretty tame with my choices: a corn on the cob, lamb, squid, and some chicken dumplings. I did, however, do something a little crazy. I ate 蝎子 xiezi. Scorpion. A big, huge, deep-fried black one.

Gonna be honest, I screamed a little, but who wouldn’t? It really did taste like bacon though. Disgusting bacon, but bacon nonetheless. No amount of peer pressure could get me anywhere near the grasshoppers or centipedes though. Nuh uh, no way. The scorpion was immediately washed down with some delicious haw berries.

On Saturday we headed northwest of the city toward 圆明园 Yuanmingyuan (the Old Summer Palace) and 颐和园 the Summer Palace. Yuanmingyuan was the Summer Palace for the Qing dynasty emperors until it was burned down during the Second Opium War in 1860. That’s where the newer Summer Palace comes in.

Three-quarters of the park is a huge manmade lake. Really, you see this thing and you’re just blown away. Definitely the best scenery of the trip (which I said in my Chinese final! 颐和园的风景最漂亮!)

Then we made our way back to the city, stopped by the 雍和宫 Yonghegong Lama Temple, and then 798 艺术区 Art District, basically the hipster-central of Beijing. Tons of interesting art galleries, cute little boutiques, and small coffee shops. We also went to the Olympic Park, where the games were in 2008; the stadiums were beautifully lit at night. Finally, we ended the night with cocktails at 什刹海酒吧 Shichahai Bar Street in 后海 Houhai. We found a place called the Lotus Blue that had a live reggae band! In the middle of Beijing, of all places.

Finally, it was our last day in Beijing. I really wanted to make it to the Ming Tombs, but that’s a bit outside the city and I was afraid we wouldn’t make it back in time for our flight. Instead we stopped by 孔庙 Temple of Confucius and did a bit of last minute shopping at the clothing market in 三里屯 Sanlitun. And got some more street food, of course.

The one on the top left is called 麻团儿 matuar in Beijing and other parts of northern China, but I usually call it 煎堆 jiandui. It’s fried glutinous rice flour covered in sesame seeds, usually with lotus paste inside. My favorite is when it has red bean, so I was a little disappointed to bite into the lotus paste, but I kept eating and found that there was red bean INSIDE the lotus paste! The top right is a crunchy, eggy pastry. Bottom left is a chewy cake-type thing with red beans, and the bottom right is a flakey, buttery bun. Outside of Qianmen, most street food comes from the back of someone’s bicycle. They attach a box of food to the back and just hang around somewhere. People sell fruit, roasted chestnuts, and my personal favorite, baked sweet potatoes.

Outside the Confucian temple, we got stopped by these adorable guys from Beijing University. They were all holding cameras, so at first I thought they wanted pictures of us (that happens when you walk around with blonde people in China), but instead they asked if they could each have a conversation with us and film it. It was homework for an English class. It was seriously the cutest thing that’s ever happened to me! They were all obviously very nervous, and kept checking their scripts whenever they forgot what they were supposed to say.

My last meal in Beijing. It was good, nothing special, but what I really liked was the English translation on the menu: eggplant face. The word for noodle, 面 mian, has several meanings, one of which is face. I laughed so hard when I saw that!

My five days in Beijing were definitely some of the most memorable yet. Honestly, I wish I could have stayed longer! Being able to practice my Chinese with real people was so great, too. I’m really sad I won’t have time to make it to Shanghai during my stay here in Asia, but I guess that just gives me a great excuse to come back.

Hong Kong Halloween

Two weekends since my last post! I’m terrible. Sorry Mom. I’ve been way too busy being a good girl, doing homework and studying.

Last Friday I went to Shek O, on Hong Kong Island, which is pretty much the best beach in all of Hong Kong. Man, I love not having class on Fridays. Getting there isn’t even that bad, just a couple of buses.

It was such a perfect day. The sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot, there were hardly any people, the water was warm, the sand was unbelievably soft. Honestly, I could have laid right down on the sand instead of my towel and it would have been just as comfortable. Out in the water, they’ve got these huge raft things, so we swam out there and just sat for awhile. It was so relaxing! I really need to take advantage of this weather while I can and go back.

There are a few little restaurants right by where the bus lets you off, and we decided on a little Thai place called Happy Garden. I was pretty stoked, since it had been awhile since I had Thai and that’s pretty much my favorite. I got red curry, my favorite food ever, and it was aaaaamazing. Full of eggplant, green beans, bell peppers – everything I love. I was in heaven. Seriously, perfect day.

A couple weeks ago, I came across something called a hotchocspoon. My Dutch friend was all excited, because it’s made by a Dutch company; basically it’s a huge chunk of chocolate stuck on a spoon that you melt into hot milk to make the most amazing hot chocolate ever created. I made it the other night while I was studying for a (super dumb/easy) midterm…. so delicious. Apparently they make like 75 different flavors – the store where I saw it had maybe 20, but it was still a huge decision. They have regular things like milk, dark, hazelnut, but also crazy flavors like green tea, blackberry, tiramisu, and cardamom. Then they have ones with alcohol in them! It’s got a little plastic bulb of alcohol that gets released as the chocolate melts – what a cool idea! I finally settled on orange and Cointreau.

It was dark chocolate with pieces of candied orange peel, with just enough Cointreau to give it a really nice orange flavor without overpowering the richness of the chocolate. Seriously the best hot chocolate I have ever had.

On Friday, I decided to do some more solo exploring of the city. I went to Soho, which, in Hong Kong, means south of Hollywood Road. It’s a pretty trendy hipster-type area, with plenty of overpriced boutiques, but also a handful of super cool vintage stores. I didn’t end up buying anything, but there was some pretty cool stuff to look at – old suitcases, 1970’s Dior sunglasses, battered leather boots and rotary phones. I thought vintage stores in Hong Kong might be a bit different, but honestly they had pretty much the same stuff we’ve got at home.

Enter stage left: Halloween. I’ve been hearing nonstop about how Halloween is such a big deal in Hong Kong, which I wasn’t expecting. Everyone says, “They go crazy here!” “Professional costumes and makeup!” “It’s insane!!” That was only party true. Saturday night, we head over to Lan Kwai Fong, the area full of bars and clubs that’s usually all foreigners. There were plenty of locals that night, sure, but not to celebrate. They come to gawk at the crazy white people wearing costumes.

I went as Buzz Lightyear, and I felt like a celebrity. Literally, I couldn’t walk anywhere without being completely bombarded by cameras. Everyone wants a picture of you or with you. At first, it was kind of funny and cool, but after awhile it was really just annoying. They walk up to you and shove cameras in your face! The worst is the people with kids. It’s a few streets of just bars and drunk people, and parents bring their little kids and ask you to take pictures with them. Sure, they look adorable, but they should not be in Lan Kwai Fong on a Saturday night.

They trick-or-treat, but completely backwards. Little boys would come up to me, say “trick-or-treat!” and then hand me a piece of candy from their bag. I have no idea how or why that tradition got changed, but it was very strange to experience.

Sunday was a day to relax. For dinner, I tried out a place close to the dorm called King of Noodles. I will definitely be going back – it was so cheap, and they had fish cake. Not the super artificial pink kind, either, but the good stuff.

The only thing I really like about eating meat again is being able to have everything I loved as a kid. That means fish cake, cha siu bao, duck, dried squid, and siu mai. Especially siu mai. I really have a problem with that stuff, especially the fish kind you can get on the street. They are seriously the best snack. I found a place really close by that sells siu mai and all sorts of other street food until 3am… very dangerous. I will really have to limit my midnight snack intake. That stuff is too delicious.

I really can’t believe it’s almost November. I go home in exactly two months… how depressing. I want these next two months to go by so slowly, but I know they’ll fly by just like September and October did. Le sigh. I don’t want to leave.