Christmas Baking: Shortbread!

Okay, Christmas is over but well, seeing as today is Boxing Day, I figured its not totally inappropriate to still use this title ūüėČ The final baked goods I made for Christmas was shortbread.

I am horrible at shortbread but every single time I do this, I change how I approach it a little and how that it’ll turn out better. This time, the taste was pretty spot on. ¬†The cookies did not turn out how I wanted them to look though. ¬†Hmm…I need to figure that part out. Here they are!

Shortbread

Shortbread!

The recipe is from Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook.

SHORTBREAD

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon almond extract, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon.  Stir in flour and almond extract.  (If dough is crumbly, mix in additional 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened.)

2. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into 9×6 inch rectangle, 1/2 inch thick. ¬†Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares with knife or cut with 1 1/2 inch cookie cutters. ¬†On ungreased cookie sheet, place squares or shapes about 1 inch apart.

3. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until set.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely about 30 minutes.

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Lets start with modifications. ¬†I used vanilla extract instead of almond extract. ¬†Which comes to the point that I could have done brown sugar shortbread by replacing the sugar with brown sugar but I didn’t read that far until after I poured the sugar in. ¬†What could I say? Next time, right?

Regardless, I pulled out my new bite size cookie cutters that my mom bought for me in Hong Kong on her last trip, thats why its not completely Christmas theme but there was teddy bears and stars. ¬†I do have to say, this is the most impressive batch I’ve made which makes this pretty sad.

The taste was very delicious: a nice balance between buttery and sweetness. ¬†It was crumbly and melted in my mouth. ¬†I loved it! Like I said, I’m quite proud of the taste. ¬†Only thing I need to work on is the appearance. ūüôā

I still have some potluck baking in a few days so I have more baking and cooking going up. ¬†It’ll be a fun final run to bring in 2014. So come back for more, k?

Hope all of you had a great Christmas celebrations and enjoy the boxing day sales! ūüôā

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes!

After talking about it for 2 weeks, I finally opened up my new cookbook and got back into the baking world ūüôā Suffice to say, it was a very pleasant and relaxing experience for me. Man, did I miss it so much! After flipping through The Big Book of Cupcakes, I chose to do the Snickerdoodle Cupcakes! If you haven’t seen or tasted Snickerdoodles, you can head on right over HERE to check out the ones I made and the recipe if you’d like to try it out because they have heavenly!

snickerdoodle cupcakes

Snickerdoodle cupcakes

The recipe is from Betty Crocker’s The Big Book of Cupcakes!

Makes 24 cupcakes

 

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup shortening or butter

1 2/3 cups sugar

5 egg whites

2 1/2 tsps vanilla

1 1/4 cups milk

Cinnamon Frosting:

6 cups powdered sugar

2 tsps ground cinnamon

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 tbsp vanilla

2-4 tbsps milk

Topping:

2 tsps granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

1) Heat oven to 350F.  Place paper baking cups in each of the regular-sized muffin cups.

2) In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; set aside

3) In large bowl, beat shortening with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/3 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl occasionally.  Beat 2 minutes longer.  Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  On low speed, alternately add flour mixture, about 1/3 of mixture at a time, and milk, about 1/2 at a time, beating just until blended.

4) Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.

5) Bake 18 to 20 minutes.  Cool in pans 5 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pans; place on cooling racks to cool.

6) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix powdered sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and butter with electric mixer on low speed.  Stir in vanilla and 2 tbsp of milk.  Gradually beat in enough remaining milk, 2 tsp at a time, to make frosting smooth and spreadable.

7) Frost cupcakes.  In small bowl, mix topping ingredients; sprinkle over frosted cupcakes.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

My modifications from the original recipe above! For starters, my cupcake was just a white cupcake, because of the setup of the book, I totally forgot I had to add in cinnamon.  Silly and forgetful, I know! I used shortening instead of butter and milk was replaced with unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk.  This helped as I ran out of vanilla during this recipe. For the frosting, I used butter and also decreased to 4 cups powdered sugar as I know it always is way too sweet (for me).  Also, I used 3 tbsp of milk approximately to make the frosting a nice texture.

Snickerdoodle cupcakes

 

The result was great! The frosting was a perfect sweetness balanced with the delicious and fluffy white cupcake.  The snickerdoodle taste was definitely there.  It was relatively easy to make.  I did have to make two different batches.  However, it was definitely worth it! Smelled awesome and tasted delicious!

I promise I’m back with more baking, k? Just needed to get back in the groove ūüėČ I already have my next dessert figured out! ūüôā

Double Baking: Cherry Coffee Cake & Cinnamon Rolls

This weekend was absolutely awesome. ¬†Yesterday, I had promised to post up the recipe for the dessert I made for the BBQ with friends. ¬†You can read that post HERE. ¬†However, I felt like baking again and I ended up making something I’ve been planning all month, Cinnamon Rolls.

The Cherry Coffee Cake was actually a slight modification of a dessert I posted a few weeks ago called the Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake.

Cherry Coffee Cake fresh out of the oven!

Cherry Coffee Cake fresh out of the oven!

Check it out HERE to get the original recipe.

The modifications I made were the following:

  • 1 cup of Bisquick mix (ran out)
  • no yogurt or grated lemon-zest
  • replace milk with unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • replace fresh blueberries with fresh cherries. Remember to remove pits
  • No streusel topping but sprinkled with brown sugar before putting in the oven

Its straight forward and delicious! The change in fruits made for a refreshing taste.  Some  of my friends ate it with ice cream and found it was a good match. Still a very worthy recipe!

Next up, my first attempt at making CINNAMON ROLLS! There were super successful! ūüôā

Cinnamon Rolls! Fresh out of the oven!

Cinnamon Rolls! Fresh out of the oven!

This is a long and time consuming recipe. ¬†Its two times of waiting 30 minutes to wait for the dough and the rolls to rise, but then the actual baking time is only 25 minutes. ¬†However, if you want your house to smell sweet and delicious with cinnamon aromas, this is the perfect choice ūüôā

I found the recipe in my Looneyspoons cookbook called Rolls Royce!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

2 1/4 tsp quick-rising yeast

1 tsp salt

1 cup 1% milk

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp butter, at room temperature

Glaze

2 tbsp light cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tbsp butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Goes great with Maple Soy Ice Cream :)

Goes great with Maple Soy Ice Cream ūüôā

How to make it:

1. To make dough, combine both flours, flaxseed, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

2. Add milk, sugar, butter and vanilla to a small pot.  Heat over medium heat, stirring often, just until milk is warmed, butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Do not simmer or boil.  Remove from heat and carefully pour into a large mixing bowl.  Add half of the flour mixture and egg.  Stir using a wooden spoon until well blended.  Add remaining flour mixture and stir until soft ball forms.  Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface.  Add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky.  Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 1 minute.  Place dough in a clean bowl that has been lightly oiled.  Cover with a tea towel and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes or until double in size.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

4. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

5. When dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. ¬†Roll out dough to a 12×14 inch rectangle. Using a butter knife, spread 2 tbsp butter evenly over dough. ¬†Sprinkle with brown sugar-cinnamon mixture and spread evenly to edges. ¬†Roll up dough jelly-roll style. ¬†This should be 12 inch long. ¬†Using a very sharp knife, slice roll into 12 equal pieces. ¬†Arrange rolls in a single layer in prepared pan. ¬†Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake rolls for 25 minutes, puffed and light golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly while you prepare the glaze.  Using an electric mixer, beat together all glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.  Spread evenly over warm rolls.

Close up texture

Close up texture

Of course, I made some modifications and here they are:

  • Omit flaxseed (didn’t have any)
  • Replace 1% milk with unsweetened almond vanilla milk
  • No glaze

Not so many changes but that dough is extra hard to roll into a rectangle. ¬†Mine was slightly lopsided. ¬†That made for two of the rolls to be a bit funky looking. However, I’d say that it was a successful first time trial and I’d definitely try it again. ¬†This recipe was delicious. ¬†I removed the glaze because even without, it was sweet enough. ¬†Plus, the glaze has cream cheese and I can’t eat that.

If you want to make your house into a delicious smelling place (if you like the smell of cinnamon), then this one is a sure fire. ¬†It may be time consuming but its a really fun experience (even when I was cursing the dough for not turning into a rectangle ūüėČ

Happy Monday Morning! Cinnamon rolls anyone?

Peanut Butter Cookies!

I promised baking! And here it is! I only managed to start prep work at 11pm to make these but they were all done by midnight!

We all went to bed with a delicious baked goods smell in the air! Talk about some sweet dreams in candyland, right?

This time up, I was craving something with peanut butter. ¬†My boyfriend and I had miscoordinated and we ended up with two jars of peanut butter sitting in the fridge so seeing as thats the case, I decided to make something with it. ¬†I love cookies! And these ones were simple and quick. ¬†Only deal was that I was reading some comments and they all had some criticism about the sweetness or the lack of it. ¬†I never have problems with that though. The reason why I never liked peanut butter cookies were that they were overly sweet. ¬†If these weren’t, it sounds like a done deal ūüėČ

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I found this recipe on Martha Stewart and you can find it right here: http://www.marthastewart.com/339730/peanut-butter-cookies

Its nothing absolutely creative and I didn’t do much modification to it. ¬†The bake time is actually not accurate in this one. They were in the oven for 15 mins and it was already good. ¬†However, all ovens bake differently so just keep a close eye for when it turns golden brown. ¬†The only thing was that I didn’t sprinkle any peanuts on it because I just don’t have any at home.

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The recipe yielded the exact amount (or almost) the same. ¬†I ended up with 25 cookies and they estimated 2 dozens :). ¬†Thats about the closest I’ve ever gotten what the recipe says. ¬†The texture of the cookies when the first came out of the oven were quite soft. It smelled extremely awesome! Once they cooled down, ¬†it turned to be more crunchy and crumbly. ¬†Less moist and soft. ¬†It wasn’t dry though. ¬†The first bite had a good mix being still a bit moist in the center and the outer part was crunchy and it somewhat melted into my mouth. ¬†It wasn’t too sweet either (for me)!

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I would never eat peanut butter cookies in abundance but these ones do taste quite good. ¬†The key to this is to use a peanut butter which is less oily because it pulls out a lot of oil from both the peanut butter and the butter. My peanut butter was Just Peanuts so it had some peanut oil residue under the cookie. ¬†However, I imagine some of the other brands with other sorts of oil would create a less healthy blend and feel more greasy. ¬†I’m saying it could be a possibility. ¬† Not sure if that would actually happen. ¬†The taste of the peanut butter will also determine what your cookie will taste like.

Choose your peanut butter wisely ūüėČ Watch the baking time. ¬†Only two suggestions I offer for this.

This recipe is a winner for some delicious crunchy peanut butter cookies! Now I have the peanut butter cookies all settled in for both soft and crunchy! Its made the end of my weekend quite happy ūüôā

Shortbread!

I’m finally back with more baked goods! I’ve been taking a break after the whole holiday baking frenzy. ¬†Now I’m ready to get back to business with that…

First up we have SHORTBREAD.  I had wanted to do them for Christmas but decided to do Gingerbread Cookies instead.  So here we are with these wonderful cookies.

P1200559

SHORTBREAD (from the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook)

Makes about 2 dozen cookies (I got about 18 cookies!)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp almond extract

1. Heat oven to 350F.  In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed.  Stir in flour and almond extract.

2. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into 9×6 inch rectangle, 1/2 inch thick. ¬†Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares with knife or cut with 1 1/2 inch cookie cutters. ¬†On ungreased cookie sheet, place squares or shapes about 1 inch apart.

3. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until set.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely about 30 minutes.

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First batch out of the oven!

The dough will turn out to be on the crumbly side. ¬†I wonder if thats normal because I had that same situation with another recipe, the Peppermint Swirls, ¬†with the same type of texture. You can click HERE for that recipe if you’re interested. I didn’t want to use food coloring to decorate it since it was just for fun. ¬†If I do a batch with it in a more decorative way, I’ll post it up in an update!

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The texture was crumbly and delicious.  The taste was perfect.  Both my mom and my boyfriend enjoyed them a lot.  These may not have turned out super pretty and colourful but it still was quite tasty.  Definitely something fun to try out!

Do you like shortbread? Are there any ways to make it less crumbly for the dough, maybe with more butter? Any ideas? Do you have another recipe that differs from this one? Feel free to share the link or suggest it! My mom seems to like shortbread a lot so I’m searching for the perfect recipe.

Peanut-BETTER Gingersnaps!

I “heard” from David at Lead.Learn.Live¬†that it was National Cookie Day yesterday. ¬†I’m not really sure if “national” includes Canada but that doesn’t matter. ¬†In celebration for that, I’m giving you the cookies that I made last weekend. ¬†Plus, gingerbread cookies are my ¬†iconic treat for Christmas but last year I learned that Gingersnaps are amazing as well.

This year, I took it in my own hands to make these beautiful cookies called Peanut-BETTER Gingersnaps from Looneyspoons Collections.

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Don’t they look awesome?

Ingredients:

Makes 20 cookies (supposedly)

 

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp each salt and ground allspice

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup light peanut butter

3 tbsp butter, at room temperature

1 egg

2 tbsp molasses

1 tsp vanilla

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven at 350F.  Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together both flours, baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ginger, salt and allspice.  Set aside.  Combine granulated sugar, and remaining 1 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl.  Set aside.

3. In another medium bowl, beat together brown sugar, peanut butter and butter on medium speed of electric mixer for about 1 minute.  Add egg, molasses, and vanilla.  Beat again until smooth

4. Using a wooden spoon, stir flour mixture into peanut butter mixture.  You will be making a stiff dough.  Using your hands, shape dough into 1.5 inch balls.  Roll balls in reserved cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place cookie sheet at 2 inches apart (they spread a lot while baking).  Flatten cookies slightly using a fork.

5. Bake cookies for 7 minutes.  Remove cookies from oven and cool on pan for 1 minute, then transfer from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

 

This one didn’t take a lot of modifications. ¬†I own a lot more assorted ingredients than I used to 6 months ago. ¬†The only ingredient I needed to replace was allspice. ¬†I used nutmeg instead. ¬†Another thing was, “a stiff dough” didn’t really happen for me, but it still worked. ¬†I did end up with bigger cookies so I separated it too big so it yielded less than 20 cookies but rather about 15 or so.

Peanut-BETTER is definitely right. ¬†I usually am not a big fan of peanut butter but man, this one was a perfect mix. ¬†The absolute perfect one and I think its because of the peanut butter. ¬†I used the healthy type which is not even light, its just purely with peanuts and not other additives or preservatives. ¬†The taste was less sweet and it brought out the gingery taste. ¬†The texture was amazing. ¬†I have to say that this ranks as one of my MOST favorite cookies that I’ve done so far. ¬†And I don’t think I’m the only one as I gave some of these to my boyfriend’s parents and apparently, it vanished the next day.

A pure hit and very delicious and also very quick to make. ¬†So quick that you have to be careful of it when its in the oven and you run off to do something else, my suggestion: Don’t do it..just sit next to the oven for a little bit and it’ll be ready for you to take out before you know it!

Have fun! Tell me if you liked it if you do try this out!

Why type of desserts or cookies do you like to eat during Christmas? More minty? More chocolate? Shortbread?

 

Sunday Baking: “Cookies for Rookies”

Wait wait, you thought Sunday was just dinner? No way, I went all out. ¬†While the Minestrone Soup was simmering and after the chicken strips were out of the oven, I went on a crazy turbo mode and whipped up some cookies to put in the oven while we were eating. ¬†Any guesses on what “Cookies for Rookies” is? Seriously, isn’t the name just so fun? I love these recipe titles in my new cookbook. ¬†It makes cooking and baking even more fun. I made these ones not only for my boyfriend but also we were dropping by my boyfriend’s parents place so it was a little something to bring over.

Cookies for Rookies everyone? Any ideas up to now? Okay okay, I’ll tell you. ¬†Its a mix of three ingredients: Chocolate chip, Oatmeal and…Peanut butter! Doesn’t that sound amazing?

While I was mixing it all together, the smell of peanut butter was surrounding me.  As it was baking, man, it was a fantastic smell that filled up the kitchen and dining room of chocolate and oatmeal and peanuts..yummy stuff right there!

So lets get straight to it..the recipe.

COOKIES FOR ROOKIES (from The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet and Greta Podleski)

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)

1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup light peanut butter

1 egg

1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Preheat over at 350F.  Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

3) In another medium bowl, beat together brown sugar, butter, peanut butter and egg on low speed of electric mixer until well blended.  Add dry ingredients and chocolate chips and mix well using a wooden spoon.  Dough will be stiff.

4) Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.  Using a fork dipped in flour, flatten cookies to 1/4 inch thickness.  Bake for 10 minutes.

5) Remove cookies from tray immediately and cool on wire rack.  Store covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container.

 

And thats it! Easy stuff, right? Look at the texture of it.  It was amazing!

So back to what I did different. ¬†There really wasn’t much. ¬†As usual, I changed the butter to margarine and the mini chocolate chips to chocolate chunks. ¬†Other than that, all the ingredients stayed the same. ¬†The only other thing I did was that I had beated the peanut butter blend by hand then mixed in the dry mixture by hand as well. ¬†It wasn’t a complex recipe so it didn’t cause any big issues with the dough consistency. ¬†It still turned out pretty stiff.

Definitely a winner for people who like peanut butter.  It smelled wonderful and tasted wonderful. Nice easy batch of cookies.  It took me less then 30 minutes to get it in the oven and only 10 minutes to bake.  Less than an hour and its ready to be served.  Efficient stuff, I like it!

Banana Cupcakes!!

I told you that I had a lot of bananas! Last Monday, I had a day off for Labour Day (sorry for being so late) and decided to kick it into gear and bake some more. ¬†After thinking a long time, I decided on making Banana Cupcakes. ¬†I’m really not good with cupcakes and this time, I think I was just really tired and half asleep doing this because I mixed up the recipe and misunderstood it all over the place.

I can tell you which recipe inspired me but in reality, it turned more into my little experiment than actually following the actual recipe. ¬†Part of me still believes that the recipe wasn’t clear anyways, but did teach me to read through ALL the recipe before actually starting it.

So, I found these recipes here:

http://www.marthastewart.com/314362/banana-cupcakes-with-caramel-buttercream

http://www.marthastewart.com/328102/yellow-butter-cupcakes

My confusion was based on using two recipes to make it. ¬†So This was modified in the way that I was making the cupcake for the 2nd recipe and realized when I reached the point of adding the wet ingredients that I was sure something was definitely wrong with the recipe and I had already made some modifications that ended up being similar to the actual recipe that was to be done. ¬†I just didn’t understand why it wasn’t just written out instead of referring to another recipe. ¬†Anyways, I’m not here to tell you how unhappy I am with the confusing setup of the site.

So here’s what I did instead:

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups flour (I don’t own cake flour, if you do, then use 3 cups of cake flour and 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour)

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

9 ounces margarine or unsalted butter, softened

2 1/4 cup sugar + another 1/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

4 very large ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)

3/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and 2 1/4 cup sugar together in a large bowl.

3. Cream butter and 1/4 cup sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each one.

4. Using another bowl, mix bananas, water and vanilla extract together.

5. Add dry mixture to butter mixture, in 3 batches alternating with wet mixture.

6. Scrap the sides of the bowl.  Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each to full.

7. Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes.  After, let cool on wire rack.

Here you go! This was the morphed version a la Tranquil Dreams. ¬†I also didn’t decorate it with anything as you can see. ¬†Decorations will be coming shortly for future recipes though because I finally bought a pastry bag set. ¬†Despite all the changes and confusions, it turned out pretty decent. ¬†My boyfriend actually made a weird comment which he said was a compliment about how it didn’t taste too much like bananas and had a good texture type of thing. ¬†I found that it had a bit of a flour-y taste and I think its because of the omitting of cake flour ¬†(but its probably also because of the misinterpretation on my part). ¬†I found instructions to make homemade cake flour in a way. ¬†So I’ll probably experiment with that next time in hopes of improving the taste.

You’ll be seeing more cupcakes probably as it seems like I’m having a little cupcakes and pastries type of phase. ¬†We’ll see how things go. ¬†Not a bad recipe though but my suggestion is maybe not to use mine but use the ingredient portions of the first but follow the instructions of the second. ¬†Dry ingredients mixture DOES NOT include sugar..that was a mistake I made also. ¬†Although I don’t think it made a whole lot of difference except making it a bit sweeter maybe. ¬†I have no comparison so who knows. ¬†Over sweetness was not an issue with how I made it.

Trial and error, right? I’m learning day by day. ¬†Hits and misses help me improve and I definitely have, I can tell you that!