Baking, Uncategorized

Goodbye Vacation

Winter break is officially over after this weekend, and I don’t know if I’m ready to get back to the grind quite yet. This break hasn’t been as productive as I wanted it to be, especially in the book-reading department. I had a list of books I wanted to get through, but I just couldn’t make it through all of them. I was only able to finish The Cupcake Diaries series (a cute little kids series from Simon Spotlight) and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Oh my, The Night Circus was absolutely amazing. It actually took me a bit less than two weeks to read it, but it was worth every second. I had been itching to read it since August, but timing was never right and The Strand never had a used copy available.  I finally got my hands on a copy, though. When I first heard about this book months ago, I believed it to be a YA novel, but then I read that the author is very adamant about the fact that it is not. The length of time it took me to read it is also a testament to the fact that it is very much a work of adult fiction; I can usually get through a considerably long YA book in a matter of a weekend, but The Night Circus has so many details and intricacies to it that I was forced to slow down in order to even try to take it all in. The tendency to jump between years in each chapter was a bit troubling at first, but by the end of the book I was able to get the timeline straight.This book is definitely something I would not hesitate to read again, because I am sure that I missed at least a few things, especially in my moments when I was half-asleep reading. The characters are well-developed and the plot is not so predictable that reading becomes boring.

I’m also in love with the book’s physical design. If I may say, it’s very classy. The jacket is wonderful with its black, white, and red coloring (the same palate as the circus itself), and the actual cover is beautiful with silver designs inlaid on a black background. I’m a sucker for a beautifully designed book, and these colors all come together in a wonderful way. The only way to describe it is that it’s classy, pure and simple.

Okay, enough about The Night Circus. On to my most recent batches of doughnuts!

Unfortunately I have no pictures of my improved chocolate doughnuts. They were just too good to wait for natural lighting so I could take proper pictures. Instead, I just have the recipe I came up with, which was inspired the Lara Ferroni recipe I used before.

Baked Dark Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

*Makes 9 delicious doughnuts*

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup granulated sugar                                                                                                                                                                                                                           3/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 squares of Trader Joe’s 70% Pound Plus dark chocolate, shaved/chopped

Steps:

1.) Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray a doughnut pan with non-stick spray.

2.) Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda so it is all evenly incorporated.

3.) Add the sugar, nutmeg and salt. Stir to evenly incorporate.

4.) Add the melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and egg to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.

5.) Carefully stir in the finely chopped chocolate.

6.) Fill each doughnut well 1/2 to 3/4 full. I used a spoon. Don’t overfill the wells, or the holes will get baked over. That would be sad.

7.) Bake for about 8 minutes, until the doughnuts spring back when touched. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

8.) Once cooled, glaze if desired (1 cup powdered sugar, slowly add buttermilk or milk until it reaches your desired consistency, add a splash of vanilla).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The doughnut-making didn’t stop there. I made those ones a few days ago, and I couldn’t resist making one more batch of doughnuts this morning. But this time I went with the Baked Glazed Doughnuts from Iowa Girl Eats, and I spruced them up with a dark chocolate glaze. I love me some dark chocolate!

I followed the recipe for the most part, but instead of using the cinnamon it called for, I replaced it with my new favorite baking spice: nutmeg! I used a little more than 1/4 teaspoon of that glorious doughnut spice.

For the chocolate glaze, I shaved 3 squares of Trader Joe’s 70% Pound Plus dark chocolate. Then I added about a teaspoon of milk and melted it all in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Then I mixed it vigorously to melt the remaining bits. I added 1 cup of powdered sugar and a bit more milk to the chocolate and mixed it all together until smooth. As it was there was a distinction between the chocolate and powdered sugar, so I added a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Perfection!

I cooled the doughnuts before dipping the tops in the chocolate glaze. Then I put them aside to further cool and set up. I may or may not have put each doughnut in one of the wells from my muffin top pan. A normal plate was too small to fit all six doughnuts, but the six over-sized wells were a perfect fit. It was fate.

I only hope I’ll be able to share the remaining doughnuts with my three roommates and a friend who are coming back to the city tonight. But if not, it’ll be a great excuse to make them again. The glaze really is perfection. I could swim in a vat of it. I especially like how it sets up and becomes a thin but fudgey blanket over the doughnuts. Yum!

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Uncategorized

Clockwork Prince Release Event

Here’s something a little different.

Interning at Little Simon has had so many perks this semester. I don’t know how many free books I’ve gotten from the give-away shelves, but it’s a lot. Yesterday topped it all, though.

I was introduced to Cassandra Clare’s books in the spring, and I read all of The Mortal Instruments series and the first book in The Infernal Devices series over the summer. Just like so many other fans, I was eagerly awaiting the December 6th release of Clockwork Prince (the second Infernal Devices book). And wouldn’t you know, her publisher, McElderry, is an imprint of Simon & Schuster! If that fact wasn’t obvious before, the giant poster at the end of the hall on my floor certainly clears up any doubts. Love it.

Needless to say, when I received the invitation to the in-house release event, I was literally through the roof with joy (and it was certainly needed that day). If the event wasn’t at a time when I wasn’t normally at S&S, you could be sure I would be there anyway. Thankfully it fell during my normal work hours, so no classes needed to be skipped to take part.

Well, the day and hour arrived and I was the second person to the conference room, aside from the people setting up. I quickly snatched up a copy of Clockwork Prince to get signed, and then the waiting began.

People wandered into the room bit by bit, and it was pretty packed by the time the guest of honor arrived.

We toasted the release and ate cake, then those of us who wanted to, got in line to get our books autographed. Despite the ton of people that showed up, not everyone was as enthusiastic as I was about meeting Cassie and getting books signed. I took that as a good thing, because I didn’t feel nearly as guilty about lining up 4-ish times.

When it was my turn, we exchanged pleasantries, and wouldn’t you know, Cassie had thought she’d met me before! I wish! She was so nice and personable, even after the fourth time I came around, haha.

I stayed until there were only a few stragglers left (mostly editors and such who were required to be there), and boy did I make out like a bandit. All of those pretty books on the table were ours for the taking, so I took. I now have in my possession a signed collection of Cassandra Clare’s works. I even managed to get a copy of Clockwork Prince signed and mailed off to the friend who introduced me to these books!

Now I just need to get back to S&S when the fifth Mortal Instruments book is released on May 8th. And wouldn’t you know, that’s my school’s Reading Day! Perhaps I’ll be paying S&S a visit that afternoon. . . . I can’t wait!