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    Authors Kitchen is Turning 5!!

    That's right, Authors Kitchen is 5 years old today!  Surely that deserves some serious pomp and circumstance, right? A 6-layer cake with fillings and marzipan decorations or something? Actually, I decided to kind of go the opposite direction with it. I wanted to create a cake that people might actually make, something accessible and realistic. With that in mind, I was determined to create a recipe for a single serving, microwave cake, that is fantastic enough to celebrate our fifth birthday with. I know, you’re skeptical. We’ve tried a microwave cake before and it turned out, well…

    But trust me. This recipe creates a moist, chocolate studded, molten cake that is nothing short of fabulous. The cool (and dangerous) part is, it’s only 5 minutes from “I want chocolate cake” to taking a bite of warm, rich, chocolaty goodness.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 3 Tablespoons flour
    • 1 ½ Tablespoons cocoa
    • 2 Tablespoons sugar
    • Scant ¼ teaspoon baking powder
    • Pinch of salt
    • 3 Tablespoons milk
    • 1 ½ tablespoons oil
    • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips
    • 2 Tablespoons cocoa almond spread
    • (or Nutella, cookie butter, peanut butter, caramel, etc.) 

    First up, choose a microwave safe vessel. I’m using a 14 oz. ramekin. If you don’t have something like that, a mug that’s 12 oz. or more will work. Whatever you use, go ahead and spray it lightly with non-stick spray. I like to use Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray.

    Set that aside and measure all of the dry ingredients into a small mixing bowl.

    Whisk them so that they’re evenly distributed and there are no clumps of anything.

    Add the milk, oil, and vanilla.

    Whisk until everything is combined and there are no, or at least few, lumps.

    Add the chocolate chips. I like Ghirardelli semisweet, but you can really use whatever you like.

    Fold those in and pour the batter into your prepared vessel.

    Dollop on some of whatever you want to use for your filling. I LOVE Trader Joe’s cocoa almond spread, but if you don’t have that, don’t like it, or can’t have it because of allergies, use something else. I’m sure cookie butter would be delicious, nutella, or perhaps a couple squares of good salted caramel. If you like peanut butter, add some of that. Me, I’m going with the chocolate almond deliciousness.

    To prevent spills in your microwave and also make it easy to handle, I like to go plate, damp paper towel, then ramekin. That way it won’t slide around on the plate.

    Now, into the microwave for 70 seconds. I know, you still don’t believe this is going to turn into an actual cake… especially one that’s delicious, but there it is.

    Top it with powdered sugar or a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

    Amazing chocolaty goodness, so quick easy to make, it doesn’t have to be your birthday to enjoy it!

    The only thing that could make it any better would be to eat it by the ocean and be rid of this yucky snow. 


    Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

    I gave Vanilla Sugar to most of my friends and family this year, so I decided I should probably create a recipe that uses it. These Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies are just the thing. They’re simple, but with a fantastic vanilla flavor, chewy texture with just a bit of crunch from the sugar, they are anything but boring.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
    • 1 ½ cups vanilla sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup vanilla sugar for rolling 

    Be sure all of your ingredients are room temperature before you get started, then preheat your oven to 350°. Drop your two sticks of butter into the bowl of your mixer.

    Beat them for a minute or two until the butter I nice and soft and fluffy.

    Add 1 ½ cups of vanilla sugar and beat for another minute.

    Add one egg and beat until it’s incorporated.

    Scrape everything down and add the second egg and the vanilla.

    Mix again, until everything is completely incorporated.

    Now it’s time for the dry ingredients. For cookies, I usually just add them on top. The only time I bother to mix the in a separate bowl first is if there are lots of different spices or something. So go ahead and add the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt.

    Mix just until it’s combined. Your dough should be soft, but not sticky.

    I used a scoop that is about 1 ½ tablespoons, but size doesn’t matter. You can make them whatever size you like. For smaller cookies, subtract a minute from the cooking time and for larger ones, add a minute. Whatever size your balls are, drop them into a bowl of vanilla sugar and roll them around until their coated.

    Place them on a parchment lined sheet pan. See the little black seeds from the vanilla sugar? That’s what makes these cookies so delicious!

    Leave plenty of room between the cookies because they will spread as they bake.

    Now into the oven for 11 – 12 minutes.  When they’re done, they won’t be browned, but they’ll puff up nicely and start to get cracks over the surface.

    Allow them to sit on the pan for 5 minutes, then move them to a rack to finish cooling… except for the one you eat for ‘testing’ purposes. 

    I will be enjoying the holiday season in San Diego, because in my world, there is nothing better than a sunny beach on Christmas Day. What is your favorite holiday tradition?