Tag Archives: baking

Overloaded Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Overloaded Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. That’s a mouthful.

Literally. It’s worth every single marshmallowy, chocolate-chipped, caramel and peanut butter-covered bite. It’s also worth every single jolt of stomach pain you suffer from eating a way-too-big slice after 9 o’clock at night.

cookie cake 1

cookie cake 4

cookie cake 2

I had a moment to sit down and read through some of my favourite blogs today. I fully intended on spending the day laying around on my couch and relaxing, but the moment I saw the post for this cake on Sprinkle Bakes, my baking fire ignited and I just had to try it! The base of the cake is essentially a giant chocolate-chip cookie baked in a springform pan. It is then topped with marshmallow fluff, peanut butter chips, chopped up peanut butter cups, marshmallows, chocolate chips, caramel sauce, and peanut butter buttercream. Could it get any sweeter?

No. No, it could not.

cookie cake 5

It feels so good to be baking again. Now that classes are winding down, the flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining a little bit longer with each passing day, I’ve got baking fever! I hope to be sharing more and more recipes over the coming months.

I hope you’re all having a blessed April and are embracing every possible opportunity to find a smile each day!

Tagged , , , ,

Weekday Round-Up: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Have you missed me? I’ve missed you. I’ve missed this. I’ve missed crafting, photographing, blogging, and posting. But as I mentioned earlier, my time has been invested in settling into my new virtual kitchen. And boy oh boy, is she ever cookin’! I have been baking up a storm these past few weeks. I don’t know if it is because I know that school is starting again soon so I want to get all of my “bucketlist” baking items checked off, or if it is simply because I am feeling flavourfully inspired. Regardless, my Kitchen Aid has been mixing, my oven has been baking, and I have certainly been eating!

I usually do Weekend Round-Ups, but this is a special occasion. I wanted to share a few (okay, so there are a lot of them) photos that give you a better idea of where the heck I’ve been these past few weeks.

From custom sugar cookies to experimental cupcake flavours, peanut butter brownie cups and classic chocolate chip cookies, the baking has failed to cease. I have two words for you: sugar coma. And that, my friends, is where Carmen Sandiego (or in this case, Amber Wideman) has been.

Today, I have aspirations to finally get my sewing machine set up! When that happens, the sewing will resume along with the crafting, knitting, card-making, and re-fashioning. I hope you are all appreciating these last few bursts of summer. Many blessings!

Looking to make some of these treats? You can access the recipes for White-Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes, Chocolate Chai Cupcakes, Chocolate Chip CookiesChunky Monkey Cupcakes, and sugar cookies.

Tagged , , , , ,

Diary of a Cookie Cutter

Have you ever moved? You spend hours upon hours packing up boxes, organizing all of your belongings into appropriate categories, and gathering friends and family to help with the heavy lifting. Eventually you reach your new home, only to find it completely empty with the huge task of settling in looming above your head. Where do you start? Will you ever feel settled again?  These are a few of the questions that you ask yourself as you prepare to unpack.

Although I have only moved houses once in my lifetime, I have recently asked myself these unsettling questions. As you may or may not know, I am an aspiring baker. Recently, I have been spending a lot of time creatively exploring my future in the art of baking. From brainstorm journals to e-courses, research to daydreaming, I have been striving to develop a business. I’ve been taking custom baking orders for a couple of years now, but now that my work is getting “out-there”, I am looking for new ways that I can create a brand for my products that is appealing to my future customers. One aspect of this is developing a social media experience that is simple and easily accessible.

The move I’ve made involved relocating from one virtual kitchen to another. I have been operating a blog through Tumblr called Diary of a Cookie Cutter that chronicles some of my adventures in baking. Tumblr worked really well for my needs in the past, but now that I am passing out the web address as my main form of contact for potential customers, I needed a system that was more organized and easy to navigate. Since I have been hosting this blog on WordPress for nearly eight months now, I decided that my other blog needed to make the move.

Needless to say, I have been spending oodles of time trying to settle into my new kitchen. It’s hard to transfer a couple of year’s worth of baking posts to a new place, so I have decided to leave the majority of them at their old home and have created a link to the new blog.

So I am starting to settle into my new blog. The essentials have been unpacked and the rest will come slowly but surely. I’ve developed a Gallery that features various albums of some of my baked goods. I’ve also created a very specific Contact page that contains all the information needed for customers to contact me. I have even created a Recipe Archive (similar to this site) and a more baking-specific About page.

I’ve already created three posts at my new home. “The Story of a Cookie-aholic” gives an overview of my purpose for re-locating as well as gives a little background information about my love for baking. “The Top Five Tastes of Summer” counts down my five favourite summer bakes so far. And finally, “Go Bananas: Chunky Monkey Cupcakes” is my very first recipe post and is littered with numerous photos of some tasty banana cupcakes. I’m excited to share even more and more as I explore flavour combinations and test lots of recipes.

If you are interested in the baking-aspect of A SMILE EACH DAY, I suggest that you hop on over to The Diary of a Cookie Cutter. It contains even more posts about delicious and tempting treats.

So once again, I just want to say thank you. I appreciate your patience as I get my belongings unpacked. I hope that you are all finding lots of smiles each and every day!

Tagged , , , , ,

Well Isn’t That Peachy: Peach-Streusel Bread

Since I’ve been home from camp, I’ve been on a baking kick. That’s right, I haven’t even touched my new sewing machine yet. Not once. Every morning, I lay in my bed and plan out my day. After making a logically organized goal list for the day in the notes on my phone, I pull myself out of bed and get myself ready for what’s ahead. However, the moment I set foot in my kitchen, my sister’s new Kitchen Aid Mixer stares me in the eyes, softly calls my name, and practically plugs itself in. And that’s that. I end up baking all day.

I can’t complain though. The summer months are full of fantastic flavours and tastes that deserve to be baked into delicious treats. The winter months are good for rich chocolate-y desserts, but summertime screams “fresh fruit”! I joined my sister on a trip to the local farmer’s market the other day. While we were there, we found a whole assortment of locally grown fresh fruits that we couldn’t resist. We picked up some blueberries, strawberries, and peaches. But with all that fresh fruit, we had no choice but to bake with it. Otherwise it would just go to waste, right? So we scratched our heads, pulled out some of our favourite recipe books, and got to work.

As we drove home from the farmer’s market, it dawned on me that I didn’t really know what flavours went nicely with peaches. A while back I came across a recipe for Apple Pie Bread. It looked fabulously delicious but needed to be saved for the autumn. However, after pondering the peach question for some time, I realized that peach would be a nice summer alternative to apples in the recipe. As it turns out, my leap of faith paid off because the adapted peach bread turned out delicious. I went back for seconds. And thirds. Okay, and maybe fourths.

In this recipe, peach is paired with cinnamon to create the perfect summery sweetness without being overwhelming. The loaf is topped with a delicious walnut streusel to add an extra crunch. It is crumbly, but every single crumb is worth eating (trust me, I watched my Dad eat every crumb off his shirt that was dropped in the process of eating a piece). The bread can be enjoyed as breakfast, with your afternoon tea, or as a late night snack. It also packs quite well in lunches.

Did I mention that it’s easier than (peach) pie to make?

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with shortening. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the buttermilk and baking powder and beat until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. In a separate container, combine the cinnamon, flour, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in the diced peaches. Pour the mixture into the greased loaf pan.

In a smaller bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour for the streusel topping. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until small crumbs form. Stir in the walnuts. Top the batter in the loaf pan with the streusel. Lightly press the streusel into the batter. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes. When the loaf is finished, a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow generous amounts of time to cool.

Once the bread is cooled completely, you can either slice it up piece-by-piece in the loaf pan or remove it from the pan and pre-slice it, storing the pieces in a tupperware container. The streusel can be quite crumbly so I personally find it more worthwhile to leave the bread in the loaf pan and slice it by need. That way, I can savour every bit of crumbly goodness!

What delicious fruits are in season around your neck of the woods? Do you have a local farmer’s market where you can get local fruits and veggies? What is your favourite summer fruit?

Have a peachy day, friends!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Early Mornings, Late Nights, and London Fog Cupcakes

Let me tell you a little story.

Two years ago, a naive eighteen-year-old girl was preparing to begin a new chapter of her life at university. She wasn’t nervous or scared, but instead was excited to be more independent and self-reliant. Little did she know how much dedication, organization, and energy was required to be successful. When September hit, she was faced with the long and painful hours spent reading, the early mornings required to beat the traffic rush, and the chaotic atmosphere of students rushing here and there. Although stress quickly hit and a few breakdowns transpired, she found great comfort in the hours she spent in the coffee shop on campus, sipping away at her new found favourite hot drink. She made it through that year (and the next) with a little help from the pure sweetness that London Fogs brought to her study hours.

Okay, so London Fogs are not the only thing that got me through my first two years of school, but they definitely contributed. I have vivid memories of sipping the sweet drink while fighting my eyes to stay open as I read my astronomy textbook. And modern art history textbook. And arts and culture textbook. You get the point.

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself “What in the world is a London Fog?”. I don’t blame you for asking. It is essentially a sweetened earl grey tea latte. Put simply, vanilla syrup is added to earl grey tea and steamed milk. It is sweet and frothy and every sip is as good as the last. The only thing I can really say is: de-lish. If you haven’t tried one, you need to.

So that brings me here. The other night, I was tossing and turning into the late hours of the night. Millions of thoughts were running through my mind. From mental checklists to cupcake flavour combinations, my brain could not settle itself down. But I guess I can’t complain because I came up with some fabulous ideas for future baking projects, one of which being this one.

A couple weeks ago, I was scanning through one of my favourite blogs. I was introduced to the possibility of using tea in baked goods when I came across a recipe for Earl Grey and Poppy Seed Muffins. I wanted something sweeter than muffins though. I wanted cupcakes. So I adapted my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe to include earl grey, whipped up a batch, and swirled each with some delicious vanilla buttercream and chocolate sprinkles. Then I ate one. Or two.

So let’s make some, yeah?

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Continuously whisk the milk to prevent it from burning on the bottom of the pot. When it begins to steam, add the tea bag and continue to whisk. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking occasionally. Simmer it for two minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and cover, allowing the milk to sit for three minutes. Remove the lid and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the first three ingredients in a small bowl. Cream the butter and the sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla. Alternatively beat in the flour mixture and the milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly into paper-lined cupcake tins. Bake for 20 minutes. Cupcakes will be slightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, cream together 3/4 cups of softened butter and 1 and 3/4 cups of icing sugar. Add a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat until light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag adorned with a preferred decorating tip. Cover the tops of cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.

That’s all there is to it. Whether you are an avid tea lover, an adventurous flavour seeker, or just simply willing to try something new, you will love these cupcakes! The earl grey flavour is not overpowering at all and combines perfectly with the vanilla. The buttercream is very sweet, so I suggest going easy on the swirls of frosting. Overall, the flavours combine together quite nicely and create a delicious (and in my case nostalgic) treat.

As I baked these up, I couldn’t help but wonder what other flavours besides vanilla would go nicely with earl grey. I also tried thinking of what other flavours of tea would bake nicely into a cupcake. What do you think? Green tea? Herbal teas? Something fruity?

Tagged , , , , , , ,