Chocolate Chip and Walnut Meringue Cookies

When I bake, I prefer to have the entire process, from the first measuring cup I fill to the last countertop I wipe, contained within an afternoon. On some occasions, such as when I make pie, the afternoon inevitably extends into the evening, but rarely have I ever made something that required an overnight stay in the oven. These chocolate chip and walnut meringue cookies, or “forgotten kisses” according to Emeril Lagasse, had a toasty sleepover in my oven after their initial 2 hour baking time.

These meringue cookies are winter white, but texturally, they are crisp like fall leaves. In full embrace of the chillier months ahead, but still holding onto memories of summer, these delicate, simple, and handheld treats are the perfect transition confection.

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Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

This week I finish an eight month internship at a major art museum in Los Angeles and I am a little sad about it. While there, I have developed relationships with people that are passionate, smart, and kind. Learning from them has made me even more sure about the career path I wish to pursue and feel an immense amount of gratitude for their mentoring, patience, and friendship. This being my senior year at UCLA and all, I have mentally prepared myself for several “lasts;” last sorority sisterhood event, last final exam, last Diddy Riese ice cream sandwich, etc. Yet, the realization of my first “last” has hit me like a cold wind and I find myself dreading my last day.

I made these chocolate pistachio biscotti for those mornings when all you want to do is linger a little longer and savor the random things that you never thought you would miss. As an intern, I did do a fair share of paperwork and heavy lifting, but it was definitely worth it for things like walking by Egyptian antiquities everyday on my way to the office and taking “art breaks” to see the latest installation of a crazy new contemporary piece or a full eighteenth century gown.

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Nutella Blondies

Stephen and I have finally had a chance to breathe a little, now that recruitment is over for our respective Greek organizations. This school year promises to be busier than usual; all the senior year festivities, graduation audits, and final projects have already begun to dominate my time. (And I’ve only been going to class for two weeks!) It’s my last school year at UCLA and I have high expectations for myself. Balancing work, sorority life, schoolwork, thesis research, and a healthy, committed relationship requires hearty sustenance and bottomless joie de vivre. These Nutella blondies from Martha Stewart are definitely keeping me chipper in the early mornings when I have early class and perky when the afternoon lulls sleepily in the last of summer’s warmth.

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

A few weeks ago, Bakerella posted about all of her travels to various cupcakeries and bakeries around the country. Of course, L. A. is all about Sprinkles Cupcakes, arguably the cupcakery that started the craze. With the demands of my internship and my part-time job, I haven’t been to Sprinkles in a long while. When the opportunity to bake for a collegue’s last couple of days in the department came up, I was glad to have Candace Nelson’s strawberry cupcake recipe on hand.

Though the cupcakes lack the signature strawberry frosting, I think chocolate ganache is a more refined, bold topping. Since I was transporting my creations via public transportation, I also did not want to risk any frosting mishaps.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

As a student with a meal plan, I end up accumulating a lot of bananas, apples, and oranges from the dining halls. This week, I had about three extra bananas. I have already made banana cupcakes but this time, I wanted something that wasn’t so tooth-achingly sweet and had a bite a bit heftier than a fluffy little cupcake. It turns out this banana chocolate chip pound cake does a great job of showcasing the moistness and natural sweetness of bananas and satisfying my personal need for more chocolate chips in my life in addition to the aforementioned stipulations.

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Afternoon Tea at Harrods’ Georgian Restaurant, London

Before I left for London, I researched and researched places all the touristy things I wanted to do and some of the yummy places where I wanted to eat. Afternoon tea was very high up on my list, after all, in my mind it’s so quintessentially English. Websites like Chowhound recommended the Mandeville Hotel, and brief a browse through their menu convinced me to go there. But the day my mom and I wanted to get afternoon tea, we weren’t close to the Mandeville Hotel. It was an awkward in-between time after having spent hours at the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey and before we had to go see Legally Blonde: The Musical, a time that we both agreed should not be spent transporting ourselves to and back from where we were staying (a lovely hotel in Kensington) or unnecessarily wasted trying to find a new landmark.

We had just been to Harrods for the Chocolate Bar the day before and on our way out, we had meandered into a remote part of the children’s floor and found the Georgian. It was our last full day in London. Afternoon tea had thus far remained elusive. Towards Knightsbridge we went (again). And we were there for nearly three, incredibly relaxing, tasty hours.

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Chocolate Bar at Harrods: A fun indulgence

One of those iconic, must-see landmarks of London, Harrods is like Rodeo Drive but inside a single department store building. A super-high end department store with an amazing, Egyptian-themed elevator that doesn’t feel pastichey at all, salespeople that all smile at you (even though you clearly are a tourist), and a food court that literally explodes with gourmet teas, jams, cookies, and confections.

When you get away from that hectic lowest floor however, you’ll eventually run into Harrod’s Chocolate Bar. On the menu: everything chocolate! Brilliant, I know. And to my delight, everything was served with a fanciful dusting of cocoa powder. Completely decadent and over-the-top, snacking at the Chocolate Bar was a perfect way to participate in the Harrods lifestyle without buying a Prada.

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Marble Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve baked. Though I’ve cooked a few things recently with Stephen, it’s just not the same as baking. I don’t know if I’m just rusty, but some less than ideal things occurred during this process. I believe the recipe is perfect though, because the marble cake I made still turned out to be delicious. (Thanks, Martha!)

Just in time for a quarter with several days of early morning class, this marble cake makes breakfast fast and delicious. It’s not too sweet (I chose to  omit the white chocolate glaze that the recipe is paired with in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook) but has subtle vanilla and cocoa flavors that meld well on the tongue of a sleepy, witless college student at 7:00 AM.

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His and Hers Hot Cocoa

There isn’t a whole lot to hot cocoa, but like many simple things in life, it can be just perfect. Los Angeles as been a bit frigid lately, so this past weekend, my boyfriend and I holed up in his apartment, donned our his and hers Snuggies, and clutched these toasty mugs of chocolate and marshmallow.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

Last spring break, I got to visit New York City with family. I wish at the time that I had been a food blogger then, because now I know that bloggers really have the best recommendations as to where to go eat. I relied on Yelp!, which gave me some pretty good options, but I neglected so many landmark bakeries, restaurants, and cafés that I pretty much smack myself every time I think or hear about places like Butter, Per Se, or Magnolia Bakery. I know, right, these places are like really famous and critically acclaimed, so I must be an uncouth cave-dweller, right? I just didn’t know about them when I was a sophomore in college. All I had in my mind was to hit as many art museums as possible while in the Big Apple. Now that food blogging had introduced me to this world, you can bet that I won’t be letting good eats slip by me like that.

Speaking of good eats, this quickbread recipe is from New York’s Baked. It’s in their first cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Now, I don’t know if they’re necessarily dessert frontiersmen as they so claim, but this pumpkin chocolate chip loaf was very very yummy. It was a perfect way for me to redeem myself for my failure to even know of Baked’s existence when I was in New York. Moist and spicy with the luxurious sweetness of chocolate and the subtle richness of pumpkin, this pumpkin chocolate chip loaf is enjoyable at all times of the day.

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