Cheesecake Fudge Brownies & Liebster Award

I was nominated by Method of My Melody for this award and I personally don’t know where it came from. I do know it’s some sort of a blog tagging game, and I’m glad to answer the questions she had. This is like a virtual talk show (in my opinion), and you know what they miss out on talk shows? Food! I enjoy catching up with people over breakfast, lunch, dinner, or afternoon tea. So I’m answering this while munching on pastries I just baked. 🙂

What was your favorite vacation and what makes it your favorite? I’ve been on a lot of vacations so it’s hard to pick just one. My favorite solo trip would be exploring Vietnam by eating my way through Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh and taking the train to different cities. Vietnam is one of the countries I plan to head back to because I really enjoyed the food and it’s pretty affordable to stay longer too. My favorite trip with friends was the autumn trip we took to Seoul, South Korea. It’s technically not my first foreign trip with friends but I enjoyed it because South Korea has always been one of the places in my bucket list (in fact, C & I will be heading to Seoul this winter). The friends I went with are fun too, and Korean cuisine is superb. My favorite vacation with C was last year’s anniversary trip to Tokyo, Japan! It still tops my favorite trips even if Japan wasn’t really something I initially thought I wanted to go to. But stuffing myself with sushi and onigiri are enough reason to go back (and we are going back next year!).

What is your favorite food? I don’t have a specific dish that’s my favorite but I can eat potatoes (in different forms) every day!

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I’ll be 35 by then, so I hopefully already live in my own house and have covered so much more ground traveling. I do hope we’re already financially ready to have a kid or two by then, too. 🙂

Married, kids, job, etc? I am not yet married and no children in sight within the next few years. 🙂 I work as a Senior Business Analyst for a multinational company. I rarely talk about my job in detail because I don’t really think it’s that interesting. It’s mostly made up of a lot of meetings, documentation, and making sure everything is on track.

What are your hobbies? My hobby is trying out new things. Haha! I enjoy checking out workshops that seem interesting and learning new things.

If you could have any job in the world what would it be? Totally an ice cream taster. Or a bed tester – so I can sleep at work and use the rest of my time doing whatever I want.

What is the thing you are most proud of? This is something I ask myself a lot, too. Whenever I get self-doubt, I feel like I have done nothing to be proud of. Good thing I have a great support system who reminds me that I do have things to be proud of. 🙂

If there is a quote that defines your outlook on life, what would it be? I don’t have one. I think a quote being appealing to anyone is dependent on their current state of mind, and I find that I can relate to different quotes in different times.

What did you do yesterday? (Or…what is a typical day for you?) I work from home most of the time, so I don’t really go out much during the weekdays unless there are errands I need to run or friends I’m meeting up with. I boot up my work laptop at 8 PM, and have an 11/12 hour shift since the company I work for have 45-hour, 4-day work weeks. I’ve been working the night shift since December 2015 and have only gotten 4 weeks worth of working the day shift since then. (A week last year, and three weeks last February) My sleep gets so messed up every time I take some time off because it’s just like jet lag minus the plane ride and passport stamps.

What is the worst injury/illness you have sustained? If so, how? I’ve never really had any major injury, but the worst illness to date is getting a mysterious bout of hives early this year. My only known allergy is on a specific brand of kid’s cologne that gave me crazy rashes every single time I used it when I was a kid, but I have no dietary restrictions. I spent the entirety of February trying to survive on vegetables and no preservatives because the doctor wasn’t sure what caused it.

Do you have any pets? Yes! I have one dog I adopted when she was a puppy. Her name is Roxeebelle and I call her ‘Rox’ or ‘Roxee B’. Her estimated time of birth is October 2009 (according to the vet) and I found her December 2009. She likes chicken-flavored treats the best. She’s old now and I’m afraid that we only have a few years left with her. Just thinking about it is making me teary-eyed but that’s the reality of it. 😦

3/4 month old Rox
We also Facetime whenever I go on trips!

What is your favorite season? The only seasons in this country are hot or hotter. It’s supposedly rainy season now, but it’s hot and sunny. Too hot and too sunny. It also sometimes rains heavily during the summer.. And it’s still hot even when it happens. Air conditioning is one of the best inventions to ever reach the shores of this place.

Now that you’ve come this far, here’s a photo of this yummy batch of brownies I made last night. Not gonna lie, the reason why this is the only photo of it was due to the sister and I proceeding to eat this straight from the pan (after spending the night constantly opening the fridge to check if it was ready). I’ve never had much luck with making an actual cheesecake. I’m always afraid of overcooking it that I always end up taking it out too early and no amount of chilling ever made the center cook. I’ve had better luck with cheesecake in cupcake form or mixed with any other medium. I also have no shame in using boxed mixes when I want a quick snack. And this was no exception because I had a box of Duncan Hines Fudge Brownies in stock at home. I was confused whether to make grilled cheese sandwiches or bake the brownies, that I had the brilliant idea of combining the two. I only realized how I would be scrambling to look for another snack after baking because with the cheesecake ‘layer’, the brownies weren’t ready for immediate consumption. *facepalm*

One day, I’ll be successful in make an actual cheesecake. But right now, this works for me and my appetite! 🙂

Green Tea Spread Chocolate Chip Cookies + The Struggle [to be grateful] Is Real

For someone who just wrote about working on losing weight, I sure bake a lot these days. Fortunately, I only like the process of making pastries, and not eating what I bake. Some people find it weird when I say it, but that’s how it has always been. There’s something about standing in the kitchen, steadying a bowl in one hand, and a whisk in another, that soothes me. Staring into the batter I’m mixing puts me into a hypnotic state, and transports my mind to places. It’s like everything else that’s begging for my attention quiets down, my mind calms, and I am able to think much more clearly. You can say baking is my own version of a Magic 8 Ball. My career feels stale, should I quit my job? As I whip cream cheese frosting manually and without using a handheld mixer. Sometimes the thought that I will forget how my mom looks like terrifies me, and I think this batter needs a little more flavor. I feel like I’m wasting my life on things that don’t necessarily matter but I am unsure on what to do about it, and I hate how stubborn this cookie dough is.

I find solace in baking, the type that I don’t get from anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great support system and a privileged life. This is why I struggle more whenever I don’t have a grateful heart because I know there are so many things about my life that deserves gratitude. I have a roof over my head, a stable job that pays my bills and spontaneous travel plans, and I’m surrounded by people who love and support me. I know it’s all in my head which makes it harder because how do you banish your own thoughts and mindset? These days come few and far in between, but when it does, is such a downer. Maintaining how I feel about life takes conscious effort and is always a work in progress. I find that there’s no shortcut in being happy with what you have.. but luckily, in baking sometimes there are shortcuts. Not gonna lie, I do use mixes on days when I don’t feel like baking from scratch. When I saw this on S&R, I purchased a box to try it out.

Baking instructions. I use unsalted butter when baking, as always, but I hate how expensive it is compared to regular butter!

Mixing in progress. When I’m preparing cookie dough, I usually stick with a spatula to mix because it’s a pain to use a whisk on. It’s a task in itself to scrape off all the dough off a whisk. I used a fork instead to make mixing easier! The annoying thing about working with Hershey’s as I come to realize is that their chocolate chips melt quickly. It’s not a big deal to me (who eats leftover batter on the fork, screw salmonella), but I would prefer my chocolate to mix inside the cookies while it is in the oven.

I bought a few bottles of green tea spread when I went to South Korea last year (I only have one left!). I’ve made green tea cookies before, and what I usually do was make a ball out of the cookie dough and place a small blob of frozen green tea spread inside. I place the entire baking sheet in the fridge to chill it while preheating the oven to make sure it does not spread too thinly and the green tea stays inside the cookie. But since we’re taking shortcuts, I went and put in a significant amount of green tea spread in the batter.

It turned into an ugly shade of brown after mixing (photo below), and I decided to put in some more green tea spread but not mix it in too thoroughly so that when I take a bite of a cookie, I’d still see some actual ‘green tea’ in there.

I usually am meticulous in scooping cookie dough into evenly sized dollops. But to be consistent with how I wanted to make things quickly, I used a spoon and a clean finger to put it on the tray.

The result! The cookies are actually way darker in real life and I used my limited Photoshop skills to brighten this photo to show the resulting green. Overall, I probably would not repurchase a box of this cookie mix. It was way too sweet for my liking, and I had to down black coffee/green tea with it. I’m not the biggest fan of biting into diabetes-inducing pastry.

I’ve mulled about life over cookies and more green tea. And I still haven’t gotten answers to any of my existential questions, no assurances that my fears won’t materialize, and no idea on what steps to take next. My goal of being consistently and genuinely happy may seem like a long shot some days. But I do know, that at the end of the day, I’ll manage and [hopefully] surprise myself. 🙂

Anyone else here feeling this ‘midlife’ crisis? I sometimes feel like it is too early in life to feel like it has left me behind.

Orange S’mores Cupcakes

Hiiiiiii! For some weird reason, views on old posts are picking up, and it’s just.. well, weird. I used to host this blog on another platform and had a slightly different domain, so I don’t know why that’s happening. I migrated all of them here, so posts that were published before 2016 are a hot mess, and since I’m a little crazy OC, I went back to work on it. I’m not even halfway done with it yet. T_T

Since I have emptied out my backlog of travel posts, I’m back to making baking content [because this blog is not called ‘Adventures of Cupcake Girl’ for nothing]. The other day, we were defrosting the fridge and I realized that we’ve had overripe oranges for a while now. I checked our other supplies and found half a pack of marshmallows from when I made Chicken Boy S’mores Cookies for Valentines Day. This is usually how most of my baking sessions go, with me using whatever is available at home.

I substituted freshly squeezed orange juice instead of hot water in the recipe, to give it the orange flavor. Orange and chocolate is not a new flavor combination so I was pretty confident that at the least, it wouldn’t suck. I am linking down below a base chocolate cupcake recipe. I have the tendency to modify as I pleased, but this is the ‘base’ chocolate cupcake recipe I play with.

What was funny was that I manually squeezed each piece of orange, when we had both a juicer and a lemon squeezer at home. I only even remembered after I had already squeezed both oranges. I had three oranges at hand but only needed two oranges to get enough juice (3/4 cup). However, if I ever make this again, I would put in more oranges (maybe 1 1/2 cups of it) to make sure that the orange flavor is not overpowered by the chocolate.

I placed a marshmallow in the middle of the cupcake before putting it in the oven because I wasn’t sure what would happen and I wanted to know, okay.

I baked it for 20 minutes instead of 15. Fun fact: apparently, if you put in a marshmallow inside a cupcake, it will make it harder for you to check if it’s already done or not because your toothpick will be sticky and pick up a lot of marshmallow/cupcake batter. I initially thought that the marshmallow would stay in the middle of the cupcake but most of it melted on the top.

A bit disappointing, but Nutella makes everything better. I smeared a generous amount on top of the cupcake which did two things: it made it yummier, but it also masked the orange flavor and there was barely a hint of it upon tasting.

Good thing that I had an orange left. I thoroughly washed it, mixed Nutella and orange zest together, and topped it with more orange zest. I’m crazy about citrus.

(This turned out to be a nice photo in the end, but it was annoying to be grating the orange and having everything fall on the table instead of the cupcake haha)

The kitchen smelled a mix of freshly baked chocolate cupcakes, Nutella, and of oranges. It’s the type of fragrance I wish I can bottle up and spray on, especially on days when things don’t go my way. I’m trying to lose weight so I only had one, and made both siblings bring the rest to school. Ha!

Useful links: Bakerella’s Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Any other ideas on what other flavors to mix with chocolate? Come on, be generous with it!

S’mores Cupcakes

When I was brainstorming for a blog name that will stick, The Adventures of Cupcake Girl (which was thought of by my brilliant life partner) was a perfect choice. I was going to start paying for my own domain and I needed something that felt pretty relevant to my blog content – and I just […]

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting topped with Heart Sugar Cookies

Au Revoir, Février. Bonjour, Mars!

I barely updated this blog last month, but since it’s the first day of March, might as well try to make a change in habit. 🙂

Since February was dubbed the Love month, here are photos of the Valentine treats I made for C: Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting topped with Heart Sugar Cookies ❤ C happens to love my sugar cookies, so I packed all the rest of the sugar cookies in a cute box as well.

Time seriously flew by.. it has been an eventful two months and I wouldn’t have it any less. Only 10 months left for the year now, but then again, a lot can happen. 🙂

NYE Goodies

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a fun first day and has kept all their body parts intact. 🙂

For New Year’s Eve, mom tasked me to make sugar cookies and cupcakes for the neighbors and so I did. I also made Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting. 🙂

After the night’s festivities and a few hours of sleep, I was up again for another batch of cupcakes and cake making for the celebration with the family. We made Orange Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and my first kinda successful attempt at Victoria Sponge Cake. I’m not very fond of working with fresh fruits when baking but everything I had made for NYE had a fruit element. The sponge cake had blueberry jam, left over cream cheese frosting and strawberries in the middle, while it was topped with more frosting, apples, mangoes, peaches and grapes. 🙂

I do hope this sets the tone for the year, where I push my limits and try more new things! Hello, 2015! 🙂

Candyland Themed Goodies

I believe the best thing anyone can strive for is to produce something they are proud of and that is what I live by when I bake. I stand by never delivering anything substandard (of what I know). It is one of the few things I am passionate about. So when Pepper, my goddaughter, celebrated her first birthday, I was glad to be part of it. What I was not glad about was having to make a fondant cake. I do not like to cover cakes in fondant nor eat a slice of one, but I agreed because she’s my goddaughter and I have always wanted to be a good ninang. And then it had to be a 2-tier cake (10-inch and 8-inch) which I have never even attempted before. To say I was out of my league is an understatement. I swear. Having to manually roll out the fondant to cover such a huge cake almost reduced me to tears. But if my mantra for work is “I hate this. I fucking fuckety fuck hate this”, the phrase “I can do this! You can do this Teesh!” kept running on my head until I finally did!

Printed out stickers for the souvenir cupcake boxes!

Cupcake liners

Cupcake toppers – also made ones with lollipops and candies
The cake!!!

My tasks for this cake were: bake a rainbow cake, cover the rainbow cake, make all the fondant toppers on the rainbow cake, pack the cookies and bake the cupcakes. I was lucky enough to have a sister who enjoys baking, so she made all the assorted fondant cupcake toppers (colorful cupcakes, cookies, lollipops and candies), frosted the cupcakes and helped make fondant cut outs. Mom and my brother helped with the individual packaging of the cupcakes. And C honestly did so much with moral support (calming me down when I got frustrated, massaging my back, etc), and helping my sister put the cupcakes together. I had a great team with me. 🙂

Will I ever do this again though? Once you’ve produced a 10-inch and 8-inch cakes covered in fondant, 80 cupcakes with assorted fondant toppers in individual packaging, and 50 individually packed cookies – all in less than 24 hours, you end up feeling that you can do anything (but maybe not a 3-tier cake or higher in the near future haha).

[The Comeback of] Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

So another cupcake that made a comeback for C’s birthday are the ones I made also for his birthday back in 2012. I realized I never posted a behind-the-scenes kind of thing for that one, so here goes. I originally got the idea of putting in the cookies inside the cupcake that way from one of my baking idols, Bakerella.

I used my recipe for chocolate cupcakes though and simply added Cream-Os to the equation.

I had some extra batter because the existence of cookies meant you can put a little less batter in each so there.

I had my brother Tristan crush some of the cookies with a mortar and pestle. 😛

Mixed in the crushed cookies with the frosting..

I actually practice piping on the scraper before trying it out on the actual cake or cupcake.

But it got a little messy and involved a spoon, so meh.

Sniculoos Cupcakes

And I’m back with another baking related post which I know you guys all love (because if you don’t, I would have to wonder why you still follow my blog as baking has taken over MOST of my life haha). I never really sell Sniculoos cupcakes as I’m not a huge fan of the spread myself. However, I remember making a Snicker-y (not an adjective but stay with me on this) treat for C a few years back which he loved. Dad loves this spread though and we have it in a variation of flavors at home. I thought that the flavor might complement Snickers instead of Caramel so I went on with that hunch. Hihi

There were a lot of taste test that went on with the batter because I was stubborn and did not go on Google to search for Speculoos cupcake recipes. I did go to Google for this e-card though..

I really want to buy a new cupcake pan. I only have four at home and it’s such a hassle when I’m baking by bulk (TMI, anyone?).

There were some texture issues though as you can see. I have fixed the recipe already as of writing, but for C’s birthday, it had to do because I was making this a few hours before we were supposed to meet up. Sigh.

Snickers party!

Good thing the said issue was concentrated in the middle of the cupcakes as I placed a hole in the middle to put the Snickers in. The ones I’m selling though, I bake the Snickers directly inside. 🙂

And have I mentioned how my mixer broke down? Hand mixing frosting is one of the best arm workouts, I tell you.

My favorite part about making cupcakes/cakes or anything that needs something piped is.. yes, piping the frosting. Not eating, not mixing, not making fondant. Just piping frosting. 🙂

Since I cannot give any of you a cupcake, indulge yourself with the photos of the finished product below. Mehehehe