Crafternoon

Rainy days in Austin don’t happen frequently. In an attempt to finish my pinterest to-do list, I stayed home alone tonight, turned on some Downton Abbey and did two rainy day projects. The lanterns were so easy I think I’ll start giving them as gifts. Each one totals to about $5 per jar. LOVE.

The first one was custom lanterns/candle holders using:

  • glass candle holder or mason jar, smooth
  • frosted spray paint, or etching paint (both can be found in stained glass section of craft stores)
  • squeeze bottle of fabric paint if you want your own handwriting
    or
    sticker letters from the scrapbooking section of craft stores…font of your choice

Directions:

Clean jars of dust and labels

Stick letters onto the jar spelling out a phrase, be sure they are completely pressed on. If you are using puff paint make sure the letters are completely dry by the next step

Spray with frosted glass or paint with the etching paint

let dry for 20 minutes and peel off letters

ta da! SO easy and SO pretty, if I may say so myself.

Margot’s Chocolate Avocado Cakeballs

Chocolate and banana? yes. Chocolate and pretzel? for sure. Chocolate and peanut butter? def.
…but Chocolate and Avocado, you say? THE BEST.

Margot requested any chocolate recipe that I wanted to make be named after her. This girl would love to live off of chocolate if she could, with avocado being a close second favorite. I decided this would be a perfect time to experiment with this unconventional pairing. It seems a little cruel that I made this recipe for her but she’s across the country and can’t even taste it. At least everyone at the office enjoyed them! I guess we will just have to make them again!
No, these are not chocolate covered avocado balls, although that sounds intriguing. All I did in this recipe was replace the oil with 3/4 of an avocado, mashed up. The best part about this is that it uses a boxed chocolate cake mix as a base. Very rarely do I use boxed cake mixes, but they are great for experimenting. That way, if the recipe is a complete bomb, I didn’t waste too much energy.

Cake:

Use boxed chocolate cake mix. I used devils food mix. Replace the amount of oil required with mashed avocado, adding 2 tbl of oil to the mashed avocado for a smoother consistency. Mix well before adding.

Follow the ingredients on the box and bake in a 9×13 pan. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes. Once cooled, rip apart the cake and try to avoid big chunks or the crispy edges.

then…take the cake crumbs and put into a bowl. Set aside.

Make the frosting:

– 2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 6 tablespoons mashed avocado
– 5 tablespoons milk
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix 1 cup frosting with the cake crumbs in a bowl. Just like I mentioned in my first cakeballs post, the amount of frosting added to the cake crumbs determines the consistency of your cakeball. More frosting will make your cake the consistency of brownies or cookie dough rather than cake-like. If you want it to be as cakey as possibly, start with 3/4 cup of frosting and keep adding until your cake crumbs stay together when rolled into a solid 1.5 inch ball. If you like them moist and doughey, keep addin that frosting!

And now the cake-balling begins!

1) Once your crumbs mixture reaches the consistency that you want, and will stick together when rolled, roll into 1.5 inch balls. Place the cakeballs on a pan with wax paper and refrigerate for 3+ hours. You can leave it overnight. Either way just make sure they are cold and this will be a much easier process.

2) after cakeballs have been chilling (literally) in the fridge for over three hours, you are now ready to insert the cake pop sticks. Start to melt your melting chocolate of choice (colored, white chocolate, dark chocolate, or milk chocolate) on low heat in a double boiler. Be sure to keep it on VERY low heat even if it seems like it is taking forever to melt. be. patient.

3) Dip one end of the stick into the melted chocolate and insert into the cake ball. Having this small amount of chocolate helps the cakeball not slip off when you dip it.

4) Making sure that your chocolate is not overheating (you might want to take it off the stove for a little), dip your cakeballs into the chocolate coating. Let the excess drip off and then set back onto the pan. If the flat edge caused by the pan bothers you, stick the cake pops into a styrofoam block to avoid a flat-pop. If possible try to avoid putting these in the refrigerator as condensation will form on the chocolate coating.

another superb idea from pinterest was to make my own chalkboard plate. Now, every time I bake I can erase and re-write the name of the daily treat! Co-workers ate these cake-pops pretty quickly and even the skeptics love the avocado + chocolate relationship.

Katie’s VERY lemony lemon bars

also in this post: how to brulee the top of lemon bars

For the crust:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp orange zest

For the full-size lemon layer:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Crust:

1) In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix 2 cups flour with 1/8 tsp salt. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add orange zest. Add flour mixture. Mix until dough pulls away from bowl.

lemon bars 014

2) Press into greased 9×13 pan, pressing the dough up the sides of the pan as well. It helps to press the dough with wet (not dripping wet…that would not be good) hands to prevent sticking.

3) Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or until edges brown. Let cool completely.

lemon bars 021

Filling:

Whisk together all filling ingredients.

lemon bars 036lemon bars 044lemon bars 052

Check your filling for lemon seeds before you pour onto the crust! Once crust is cooled, pour filling mixture and bake at 350 for another 30-35 minutes.

Traditional topping:

Let lemon bars cool completely and right before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

photo (2)

Brulee topping:

sprinkle granulated sugar all over your lemon bars (already cut into squares). Either put in the oven on broil setting until crispy brown, or torch with a culinary torch. The lemon bars in the picture below could have used 30 seconds more of torching, but I got scared that they would blow up.

lemon bars 062

Sophie Bars (banana bread bars & browned butter frosting)

While the name of this recipe is not nearly as appealing to the palate as the ingredients are (sorry sophie), I have made a promise that the recipes my friends request will be named after them on my blog. Sophie won a bet earlier this week and her reward was a treat of her choice. She loves banana bread and these bars taste heavenly.

Banana Bread
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 c. greek yogurt (you can use sour cream or vanilla yogurt also…it all kinda works)
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Browned Butter Frosting:
1/2 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. almond milk

Directions:

1) Heat oven to 375 F and grease a 15×10 inch jelly roll pan. Mix first four ingredients in a bowl (no need to schlep up the electric mixer on this recipe. Just use some muscles and stir away!).

2) After mixture is smooth, add mashed up bananas and vanilla. Stir.

3) Add dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and walnuts if you’re feeling fancy.

4) Pour the mixture in a 15×10 greased pan and use the wet back of a spoon to even out the batter.

5)Bake on 375 for 20-25 minutes. Bars will be ready to be frosted 5-10 minutes after being removed from the oven. Cool enough to not completely melt the frosting, but warm enough to soften it a bit.

Meanwhile make this lovely brown butter icing:

1) Place 1/2 cup butter on a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until it starts to bubble and a foam layer begins to form. Immediately take the pan off the stove and keep stirring, allowing the butter to cool down. As the foam disappears you should see the butter has become a rich brown color.

2) Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk.

3) Stir and cover until bars are ready to be frosted.

Enjoy Y’all! Hope you love them!