01
Jan

Champagne Cupcakes

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, holiday

Happy New Years, internet! Hope we’ve all shaken off our 2010 hangovers.

New Years means champagne, of course! So I popped a bottle to make these desserts. If you’ve got an occasion to pop a bottle soon (bridal shower? birthday party? Tuesday night?), these are a really fun way to cook with a little bubbly.

I adapted a recipe from Allrecipes and halved it.

Champagne cupcakes with Sweet Champagne Buttercream (recipe follows)
Yeilds 10 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup pink champagne
3 egg whites
(I’d like to try it again with 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. The champagne alone wasn’t sweet enough!)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line your cupcake pan. I used little foil cups. New Years is all about sparkle.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. I use my stand mixer which I am in love with. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then add to the creamed mixture. I went about 1/4 of a cup at a time, alternating with the champagne.

If you’re using a stand mixer like me, you’re going to have to transfer your mixture into another bowl because you’re going to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. This was a bit of a pain in the ass for me because it meant transferring everything, washing the mixer’s bowl and then mixing the eggs (at medium and then on high). And then washing the bowl again…

At this point, your mixed ingredients don’t look like cupcake batter. Mine was thick, almost like a cookie dough but! after the eggs have reached a stiff peak, fold them into the batter. This makes all the difference and after a few minutes of aggressive folding, my batter became smooth and shiny.

Pour the batter into the cups and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t forget to rotate them if you have a tricky oven like me!

Sweet Champagne Buttercream adapted this recipe at Gimme Some Oven!

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (might try almond next time)
a splash of Champagne

Start by creaming your butter and confectioners sugar. I was really patient and it turned out beautiful and smooth.

Then add the vanilla and champagne. I added more to taste. And I guess because I was having a glass myself, why not add more! Be careful, though, you could thin the icing too far with too much liquid.

Ta da!

I iced them and added some black glitter. The glitter was kind of on a whim because I had some left over from Halloween macarons but I think New Years Eve in New York City is all about black glitter.

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28
Dec

Merry Christmas!

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, gift, holiday

Christmas time has come and gone. I was excited to start blogging up a storm about the adorable Xmas I was planning but my forgetfulness got the better of me and I left my computer charger in Manhattan!

Disappointed as I am, here are some of the homemade presents I made for Christmas. Of course, I’m all about homemade gifts. They’re fun to make, they’re inexpensive, they’re really appreciated, and they usually impress people. This gift was inspired by a lot of time surfing on Etsy and this recipe by Baked Bree.

I started by buying a dozen quart-sized mason jars. This was probably the most exciting part of the gift because I found out that my local hometown hardware store sells them. And at $13 a dozen, I don’t think I’ll be buying them from the chic baking store in Manhattan anymore. (Apparently it’s common knowledge that hardware stores carry mason jars, I was surprised. Maybe I’m out of the loop.)

Anyway, Bree’s recipe is really beautiful. You should check out how her jars came out. They call for:

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup Heath Chips

which I layered in order in the jars. The rest of the recipe is on her blog.

I also used a recipe for Butterscotch Chip cookies which starts with a jar layered with this:

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup rice cereal

On the recipe tag, I wrote out all of the jar’s ingredients along with the wet ingredients which are:

1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Empty the contents of the jar into a large mixing bowl and add the wet ingredients.
2. Mix until completely blended.
3. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

That’s a picture of the finished product amid the Christmas mess. I went to the Christmas Tree Shop (which I have to say, is one of my least favorite places to shop) and bought two 10×10″ festive fabric napkins for only a dollar. The napkins were my mom’s idea. She knows how to innovate like no one else. I really like the snowflakes on these because they’re a little more secular and still beautiful (read: red and green plaid didn’t make it).

I cut each napkin into quarters and trimmed the hem off. It left me with a little bit of a rugged edge but I liked the home-made look. I wrote up the recipe cards with festive colors on a plain index card. I would have liked to have done a more decorative card but time kept me using white ones and swiftly-dying markers. After punching a hole in the recipe card and gift tag, I put a rubber band around the fabric to hold it onto the jar and tied everything together with a piece of shiny red yarn (hooray for stash-busting, even if only a few yards).

I made one for everyone in my family. It’s a fun gift because it’s everything you need for a lazy day-after-xmas cookie baking kind of day. I have a feeling it’ll make a great gift for other occasions, too. And I’ve got a bunch of extra mason jars so we’ll see what happens with those!

What adorable gifts did you make? Or bake!

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19
Dec

Want!

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, holiday, knits, new york city, want

It’s been a busy busy week. I’m very excited because I think this will be the most creative Christmas ever. Before I can reveal any of my presents, I’ll just have to write this blog post to Santa. Want!

To make these charming little cupcakes.

To pack everything with this sweet tape!

To be able to afford almost 4,000 yards of Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter yarn for an afghan. (Feel free to donate :p)

To pick up crewel embroidery again.

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05
Dec

Housewarming Cookies

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, holiday, new york city

What do you give the girl that has everything (in boxes)? I wanted to bring my friend Ashley something special to welcome her into her new apartment. Wine is a classic and always appreciated but I like to think that I am less conventional. Last year, Ashley gave me a really beautiful flower when I moved. I went with a new recipe I found and made these hot chocolate cookies from Baked Bree. They certainly didn’t turn out as beautiful as Bree’s but they taste amazing!

Ashley’s got a great little studio that her cat is just loving. What a great space, you lucky girl!

These cookies were a great double whammy because I brought half of the batch to Chanukah dinner with Jon’s family. I think they were a hit…even though there were leftovers, his mom asked to keep them. I hate to see a great cookie go to waste, don’t you?

What do you give for housewarming gifts?

By the way, don’t these cookie pictures look fantastic. I think it’s time to start using a real camera and leave my iPhone to the snapshots!

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05
Dec

FO: Dog Sweater!

Written by Sarah. Posted in holiday, knits

I promised to have photos of my finished faire isle present. Well, here they are!

When it’s time for gift giving, there’s a present for everyone and every occasion. This year I decided to knit for the dogs in Jon’s family. It was pretty exciting since I’ve never done that before.  But it turned out well! I love used this DROPS design pattern. I’ll be honest, the pattern was a little hard to follow, but I got through it and it paid off.

Those Charlie Brown colors are Lion Brand’s LB Collection Superwash Merino in Dijon and Mahogany. I have to say, I’ve been using LB Collection yarns a lot recently. They’re soft and the colors are beautiful and, most of all, they’re incredibly affordable. I like to keep handmade knits inexpensive but these yarns don’t skimp on quality.

Look at how happy Jah is in his sweater! 🙂

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01
Dec

Macarons and Chanukah!

Written by Sarah. Posted in holiday, new york city

Tonight I’m enjoying some delicious macarons from the Macaron Cafe on 36th Street. I have just been going through a macaron obsession since the summer. Chanukah is here! And Jon got me these adorable limited edition Ray Ban sunglasses. I’m obsessed with them too!  (You’ll have to excuse the quality of the photo! I was so excited I took a picture on my phone.)

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