A cooking and baking journal

Sweet Cakes for a Sweet Gal + Thoughts on the Sweet Chic Cookbook

What I think is harder than being a daily blogger is writing up a post after a long (and in my case, very long), duration of blog silence. And that is where I'm at today. It is harvesting time at the farm and there are lots of fruits and veggies to pick, but that little ol' thing called "Time" is hard to come by these days. 

Cooking for me over the past couple of months has been sort of on-the-fly, usually coming up with a meal plan the day before. Very much unlike my Winter and Spring meal calendars where I was all set a month in advance. But I'm making it work, anyway! 

What is the real disappointment I've found with all the craziness of the harvesting season is not finding time to bake. Baking takes a little extra time and so I haven't been breaking out the baking powder and measuring spoons much. 

Now enters Sunday. Sunday, August 14 to be exact. Ah, yes, that's when I found some time to bake using a new cookbook I just received a couple weeks ago. It is called Sweet Chic and this is what I made:

That is a chocolate cupcake. But wait.

Now it is a cupcake with chocolate frosting. Now that's better. :) And oh look, there's more:

The Sunday I made these was my sister Catherine's birthday and so I made 3 dozen worth and had milkshakes, too:

I was one proud baker after making these cupcakes. They were extremely moist (probably because the recipe uses solely vegetable oil instead of butter), and the frosting was chocolatel-y and not too sweet. Catherine loved them (yay!) and my Papa, a cake and frosting connoisseur, thought they were excellent. Sigh. What reviews! I'm blushing.

The Sweet Chic--Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion cookbook, written by Rachel Schifter Thebault, has a very interesting approach to baking. The book is divided into three sections: cookies, cakes/icings, and confections, like truffles and bark. A good portion of the recipes provided are basic in nature, such as CCC (Chocolate Chip Cookies), chocolate brownies, sugar cookies, chocolate cake, vanilla cake, buttercream frosting, chocolate truffles, etc. Complete with clear photos for most of the recipes! I'm a sucker for the photography.

What the author did to give her own twist to the book was to supply you with ideas to create special variations of the basic recipes; allowing you to dress your desserts up or down. Dress up or down? Hmm, sounds like fashion, right? That is the exact metaphor the author is using for this book. Each subsection is given a fun fashion nickname like the Scoop Cookies are the Basic T. Fun! So now I can take the basic recipe, Devil's Food Cake, and make mini S'mores Cupcakes, Rocky Road Cupcakes, and even Individual Mud Pies.

When I first glanced through the book I thought, "Oh, another cookbook with lots of basic recipes. I probably could easily find all of these with a quick google search." But after getting comfortable in bed and reading it thoroughly, I knew I found something special. I have the habit of deciding to bake something out of the blue, so I don't give myself much preparation time. You can usually find me running around for a peanut butter cookie or a fudgy brownie recipe just minutes before I get into the kitchen. And once I find it (usually off the internet), I need to alter it a bit because of pan size, yield, and then I cross my fingers that I got the recipe from a good source.

Sweet Chic helps so much in this recipe-finding turmoil I usually find myself in. I just go to one of the book's basic recipes, find the variation I want, maybe change the yield, and then simply execute. The book has all the usual desserts I make on a weekly basis so it is all in one place.

So this is how it panned out last Sunday. First, I knew I wanted to make cupcakes. Looked in the cake section of the book. Found chocolate mini cupcakes. Hmm, no mini cupcake liners on hand. So just doubled the recipe. Simple. Next, frosting. Found chocolate frosting made with a melted chocolate base and sour cream. Sounded good so I chose that one. DONE!

If I had to do it my old way I would be going through my huge recipe binder for 10 minutes at the least. It is so helpful to have a cookbook at the ready!

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