Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Guys, I love peanut butter. I know I’ve talked about the New Zealand peanut butter situation before, but since then there’s been a new development. It’s called Fix & Fogg and it is my new favorite food. And it’s locally made here in Wellington! Even better. So when I went to make these cupcakes, I had to use it. Sure, the consistency of the icing might have been better with something a little less all-natural, but the flavor! The flavor made it worth it.

I also used local sour cream, although that was less by choice and more because I found out halfway through my first batch that most sour cream in New Zealand is made with gelatin (which I, as a selectively-strict vegetarian, don’t eat). So after throwing away my first batter, including all of my extra special, exorbitantly expensive Dutch-process cocoa powder, and having a small temper tantrum, I went out and bought some lovely Zany Zeus stuff made up in the Hutt.

local

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Winning Hearts & Minds (Flourless!) Cake

This cake is amazing. One of the simplest, most delicious cakes I know how to make. I have never had a bad review, not even the time I accidentally used way too much butter (five ingredients, you’d think I could do it correctly, and yet…) or the time I overbaked it (which you should never, ever do – this is a cake to be underbaked, if anything). It doesn’t have to be iced (it’s perfect as is), it can be eaten warm, it can be eaten cold two days later. In fact, it’s better two days later.

closer

But my favorite thing about this cake is that it’s gluten free. I have no problem with eating gluten, and so I pretty much refuse to learn how to use alternative flours. However, I also have many lovely people in my life with severe intolerances and even Celiac disease, so I have built up a good repertoire of flourless recipes for their sakes. Because everyone should get to enjoy a nice cake every now and again.

cake

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Virgin Apple Cider

So I’m doing this crazy thing called Dry July, where you give up all alcohol for a month. To be honest, I thought it would be harder than it has been, seeing as I work in a bar and all. My only problem is that when I feel like drinking something other than water or tea, I don’t really know what to do. I like coffee, but I can only have so many flat whites a day, and I don’t drink juice or soda or anything like that. And so, I had the brilliant idea to make virgin apple cider.

jar

Every single person I spoke to about this gave me the same blank stare. “You can’t drink cider,” they said, and when I insisted that in the US we have non-alcoholic cider, they shook their heads and told me that I was talking about apple juice. And so naturally I made an enormous batch of my cider and made everyone drink it so they would know what I was talking about. And almost everyone asked for the recipe.

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Triple Chocolate & Caramel Brownies

It was the end of an era at work this week: a bartender who’s been here seven years has finally left us for Australia. Very exciting for him, very sad for all of us. It wasn’t a Friday (my usual baking day) but for his last day I figured I should bring in some treats anyway. He’s a white chocolate fiend, so I started with that and this is what I ended up with.

triplets

These are delicious. And pretty easy to make, too! True, you have to make caramel, but that’s as tricky as it gets. The hardest part is waiting for the brownies to cool long enough to glaze them.

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4th of July Oreos

I’m back! I had a lovely time in Thailand, though I haven’t managed to get through my photos so I don’t have any evidence for you…so we’ll just have to get straight into the baking.

oreo

Back in the States, 4th of July is always a pretty big deal. I’m not the most patriotic person in the world – I mean, I’ve been living abroad for the past three years, so go figure – but it’s such a fun holiday. In my hometown, we start the day with a massive tug-of-war with the town on the other side of the lagoon. Then we have a big bagel-and-mimosa breakfast at our house, then the national anthem and a parade, and then everyone just hangs out at the beach or on the streets and eats and drinks all day until it’s dark enough for fireworks. It’s amazing. Of course, 4th of July isn’t a holiday here in New Zealand, so I’ve had to do without all of that for the past couple of years. But I still wanted to do something in honor of all those good times.

trio

Apple pie is my go-to all-American treat, but it’s not something I can bring into work, practically speaking, so I decided on something a little simpler and more compact: homemade Oreos. And I made the icing red, white, and blue to make sure people got that it was a 4th of July thing.

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