Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Last Dessert Night (at least for a while)

Dessert Night is officially over. Well, at least for the next 2 years while I'm in school. I decided to celebrate the end of an era with one of my favorite desserts, Carrot Cake. I think I really just eat Carrot Cake because I LOVE cream cheese frosting, but nevertheless it was tasty.

I turned again to one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, for the recipe for this week's dessert. However, I opted for a traditional cream cheese frosting instead of the maple cream cheese frosting that SK used because I had leftover cream cheese frosting from the red velvet cupcakes that we had earlier this month.

The cake was super easy to make. I opted to use currants instead of raisins because I happened to have those on hand and substituted allspice for the nutmeg. I didn't include nuts because I'm always conscious of possible nut allergies. Another great idea for this carrot cake would be substituting crushed pineapple for the raisins. My mom used to do this when I was younger and it makes the cake a little sweeter and adds a bit of a tangy flavor to it. I highly recommend it. If you'd like to make your own Carrot Cake, check out the cake recipe here and the frosting recipe here.

Sadly, this will be the end of recipes that I share regularly on this blog. I will still be cooking and hopefully baking as I have time, but you cannot count on a weekly recipe. While I'm sad to end this fun Tuesday tradition, I know that Dessert Night will be resurrected at some point in the future when I'm no longer a student. From now on, you'll be hearing all about my life as a first year at Haas.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Way Too Many Cookies and Ice Creams

With the end of Dessert Nights getting closer and closer, I keep trying to out do myself with each new dessert. This week I went a bit overboard, but July is National Ice Cream Month so we had to have ice cream. And what goes better with ice cream than cookies! On a different note, I accidentally selected 3 of the 4 recipes for the week from either David Lebowitz's blog or his ice cream cookbook, The Perfect Scoop, but since they are so delectable it didn't matter.

Peanut butter and chocolate has long been a favorite flavor combination of dessert night goers, so it was only fitting to make sure that at least one of this week's cookies had this flavor combo. Baking Bites just happened to suggest a recipe that combines everyone's favorite, the brownie, with a peanut butter cookie. This recipe calls for chopped brownies in the batter. Instead of making my own brownies, I went to Whole Foods and picked up some of their brownies in their bakery. Very tasty! This recipe is super easy and requires no special mixers or anything to make and was delicious. If you'd like to make your own Peanut Butter Brownie cookies, check out the recipe here.

Madelines quickly became the other cookie of choice because my cousin just bought me a madeline pan. Unfortunately, you do have to have a madeline pan for these tasty cakey cookies. They are generally rather inexpensive for a decent one, but this may be a barrier for some of you out there. Contrary to popular thought, these cookies are super easy to make, but I will warn you that they take forever! Each step is rather time consuming particularly if you're modifying your kitchen gadgets to act as other things like a strainer as a sifter and such. Definitely liberally butter and flour the madeline pan otherwise you're going to have a tough time getting these little guys out of the pan. I opted to use the baking powder to make sure my cookies were a bit fluffy, but honestly they ended up not flattening out well so were a bit rounded. I'd probably try without the baking powder next to see what happens. All in all, they were super tasty. If you'd like to make your own Madelines, check out the recipe here. (Note: the recipe calls for a lemon glaze which sounded super tasty, but I opted to leave that out.)

Finally for the ice creams, I opted for a simple Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream because it was very easy to make and I love the flavor of all summer berries. Unfortunately, I can't share the recipe for this with you at this time because I've already packed my copy of The Perfect Scoop. The recipe is in there and I highly recommend that cookbook if you like ice creams or even if you have an ice cream maker and don't know what to do with it. When I finish moving, I'll try to remember to post the recipe.

The Absinthe Ice Cream was the most anticipated ice cream of the evening. Absinthe has such a unique flavor that I imagined it would make a very delicious ice cream after seeing David Lebowitz's blog about it. I also happened to have a small bottle of Absinthe lying around which was perfect for this recipe. As far as ice cream recipes go, the ones that are more involved are the custard based ice creams, like this one. Those aren't that bad either, but between the Madelines and the Absinthe Ice Cream, I think I used about 70% of my kitchen utensels. For the chocolate chips in this recipe, I finally found that you can buy dark chocolate chunks (like you see in professional ice creams) at Whole Foods! It was a great discovery and these added a great counter-flavor to the licorice in the absinthe. This was definitely my favorite ice cream of the evening. To make your own Absinthe Ice Cream, check out the recipe here.

Sadly, next Tuesday marks the end of an era with the last Dessert Night. I still don't know what I'm going to be making yet, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to send them my way.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Packing Has Begun!!

Yup! It's official! I'm moving to Berkeley in a week and a half! Apartment...check. Roommates...check. Loans....mostly check. Official employment status: student...check. It's insane! Now that I've officially stopped working and my apartment is starting to live in boxes, it's becoming very real that I'm starting school shortly.

I'm definitely excited about the fun, learning, networking, and general insanity that will ensue in the next two years, but I'm also a little nervous about the balancing act that it will require. Back as far as high school, I haven't been able to do all of the activities that I've wanted to do. It has only gotten more challenging since then as more and more awesome opportunities have come my way. Business school is known for this time crunch. You're not going to have time for classes, job searching, treks, all of the clubs you want, and any other cool projects that you might have the opportunity to participate in. Choosing is the name of the game. Additionally, I have a network of friends outside of Haas that will want me to come and play in the city and do other fun things. So I think the biggest lesson that Haas will help me learn, other than the great business sense that I'm going to develop while there, will be the ability to choose what's most important and balance all of the things that I need and want to do in life.

At the moment, just going with the flow and getting excited to move to campus and meet my 238 classmates! Happy last weeks of summer guys!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Apple Cake

The count down to the end of dessert night has begun, sadly. This week was our 3rd to last dessert night ever. As such, I'm trying to pull out some of the most unique and more challenging recipes to go out with a bang. Over the past year and a half, we've had several varieties of apple pie, apple crumble bars, and German Apple Cake, but this recipe was more of the traditional East Coast Apple Cakes.

The recipe was super easy to make. Don't be concerned if your cake doesn't start puffing up until an hour into your baking. Mine didn't and still puffed up nicely in the end. Also, the recipe says that the cake bakes for 1.5 hours. Mine took closer to 2 hours. It is a dense and filling cake that really brings out the flavors of the apples. Definitely make sure to use good apples for this recipe because they make the flavor of the cake. If you'd like to make your own Apple Cake, check out the recipe here.

Stay tuned for a variety of cookies and ice creams next week!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Black Forest Ice Cream Cake

Summer always means ice cream. I had my first ice cream cake of my adult life for ChuThis's birthday month ago and I really liked the combination of cake/cookies and ice cream. My mom found this recipe in a magazine and contributed it to dessert night.

I didn't have time to make the ice cream for this cake, so I used Dryer's Chocolate chip ice cream. It was tasty, but the ice cream was a lot softer than I had anticipated it being so it melted really quickly. I also decided to use Chips Ahoy cookies for the crust instead of just a chocolate wafer cookie. This turned out to be really tasty but the frozen chocolate parts of the cookie made the crust a lot tougher to cut than I had anticipated. Perhaps a Nilla Wafer or cookie with fewer chocolate chips would have made the crust less tough.

This was a very tasty and super easy summer dessert. Just make sure you keep it close to the freezer and use ice cream that's not as soft as Dryers. Here's the recipe for your enjoyment.

Black Forest Ice Cream Cake: (recipe from California Country)
2 cups ground chocolate cookie crumbs, such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (I used Chips Ahoy instead)
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 quarts chocolate chip ice cream (I don't recommend Dreyers because it's too soft)
1 1/2 lbs. cherries, stemmed and pitted
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch

In a bowl, stir together cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Freeze for 30 mins.

Let ice cream sit at room temperature for about 2o mins to soften slightly (less time if it's hot out). Put ice cream in springform pan. Firmly press ice cream on top of crust. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze cake for several hours until firm. (Can be made several days ahead.)

While cake is freezing, combine cherries, water, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until cherries have given off juice and have thickened. Refrigerate until cold. Just before serving, unmold cake. Place cherries on top of cake. Slice and serve. Serves 8 to 10.

Monday, July 6, 2009


For those of you, non-international students, who've embarked on this adventure you totally know what I'm talking about. For those of you who look forward to a FAFSA in your future, here are a few tips to get you through this process that has the potential to be plainless with just a bit of pre-work:

-do your taxes before trying to fill out the FAFSA and have them on hand when you sit down to complete it
-know your school's code for the FAFSA
-set aside a good hour of uninterrupted time to complete the FAFSA

Really, the FAFSA wasn't a painful experience for me once I lined up the my taxes and an uninterrupted hour. Hopefully, these tips will help you fill out your FAFSA when the time comes.

Good luck!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July Celebration: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Everyone has been all gaga over red velvet cupcakes ever since Sprinkles came out with red velvet as their signature cupcake. I had my first Sprinkles red velvet cupcake about a month ago and it was good, but not necessarily $4 a cupcake good. Since I didn't even know what made up a red velvet cupcake, I decided that I'd make some for 4th of July.

I have to say that the ingredients of a red velvet cake are rather disgusting: 2 huge bottles of red food coloring, chocolate, flour, sugar, and some buttermilk. The red food coloring is particularly gross to me, so I'm considering making them again without the red food coloring and seeing what happens. All in all, this recipe turned out a very moist red velvet cupcake.

The frosting recipe that is also on Pinch My Salt's website was very flavorful, but turned out a bit softer than I would have preferred. Next time, I will add more powdered sugar to stiffen it up.

If you'd like to make your own red velvet cupcakes, check out the recipe here. These cupcakes also work great for a Valentine's Day surprise, but with the blue sprinkles, they were great for 4th of July.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th!!

Apartment in Berkeley!!

After visiting over a dozen apartments, calling even more landlords to try to see apartments, and constantly surfing Craigslist, I managed to find a wonderful home in walking distance of campus and in a cute neighborhood called Elmwood.

Haas students generally live in one of three neighborhoods: North Berkeley, Gourmet Ghetto, and Elmwood. After visiting all of these neighborhoods, Elmwood became my clear favorite because it's not on a huge hill and while not close to some of the most favorite restaurants in Berkeley, it's still close to a very nice area of shops and restaurants. Also, it's conveniently located on the south end of campus so it's closer to the Bay Area and Peninsula, but not so close to south campus that it's in the middle of the undergrads and sorority houses.

I will be living in a nicely remodeled 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with two other girls starting at Haas in the fall. We are on the top floor of a small 3 unit building and have a garage, dishwasher and laundry with our apartment. Our landlord is an awesome very responsible guy who did a fabulous job redoing all of the apartments in the building. We are also very excited that another Haas '11 and his wife will be moving in downstairs.

I think it's going to be a great spot and I'm very excited to be moving away from my very heavy-footed upstairs neighbor. I'm also just glad that the housing search is officially over and now I can focus on the other key things that I need to start school like financial aid, health care and all of the other self assessments that I need to do prior to the first day of class.