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Sweet & Salty Cupcakes for a Virtual Baby Shower
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Sweet & Salty Cupcakes for a Virtual Baby Shower

One of my absolute favorite flavor combinations is sweet and salty.  Sit me down with some potato chips and a handful of M&Ms or chocolate-covered popcorn and I’m in trouble!  So you could imagine the level of my excitement when I flipped through Baked: New Frontiers in Baking for the first time and saw my nemesis flavor combo in a cake.  Add some salted caramel to a chocolate cake and I’m pretty much done for.

Now admittedly, I’ve had this cookbook on my shelf for well over a year and I’ve yet to make the cake.   It’s hard to justify making a whole cake for only two people just for the heck of it so the cake has ended up sitting on my list for what seems like forever.  And then came Courtney’s Virtual Baby Shower.  Among the many reasons why Courtney and I are such great friends (real-life friends, not just blogging friends!), I firmly believe that our love for Baked’s cookbooks links us together.  And while I’ve never visited the famous bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Courtney and her awesome husband, Eric, did a few years ago during a trip to NYC and they had a blast.  (For the record, I’m jealous.)  This cake is perfect for Courtney.  She is seriously one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met and would go to any length to help a friend, but she’s also got this “salty” side, a sense of sarcasm, dry humor, and frankness that I adore.  I was lucky enough to be able to spend a whole weekend with Courtney this past weekend with Josie and Annie in Richmond when we surprised her with a visit for a real-life baby shower.  It was an insanely fun girls weekend filled with soothing Southern comfort food, a chocolate shop that blew us all away, tons of laughs, and so many memories I have to cherish with some of my best friends.

Sweet & Salty Cupcakes for a Virtual Baby Shower

These sweet and salty cupcakes are truly an outstanding creation.  I used Baked’s sweet chocolate cake recipe (next time I’ll use my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe as I miss the domed cupcakes) and merged it with Sweetopolita’s recommendation of a salted caramel Swiss buttercream.  Need I say anything else?  Rich, sweet, salty, dreamy.  Perfect for my dear friend Courtney as she prepares for baby C’s arrival in the next few weeks.  Courtney, pour yourself a glass of milk, put up your feet, and enjoy!

Josie from Pink Parsley is hosting Courtney’s shower to be sure to head over there (and to Courtney’s blog as well!) to catch up on all of the other amazing treats nearly 15 other fabulous food bloggers have contributed to the shower!

Brewer’s Blondies
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Brewer's Blondies

Oh boy am I excited about today’s post and I think it’s mostly because while the name of these blondies stopped me from making them for so long (brewer’s, like in brewer’s yeast??), they actually turned out to use some of my favorite ingredients. Essentially, we’ve got these fantastic, drop-to-your-knees-amazing malted milk ball/Whoppers blondies from the awesome guys at Baked, who’ve yet to let me down on a recipe.  Filled to the brim with Whoppers and chocolate chunks, these blondies are a treat I will not soon forget. If you remember, I’ve been lamenting about my love for malted milk powder over the past year, so you could imagine my excitement when I spotted my new favorite baking ingredient as an ingredient in these blondies.  Adding some depth and a little bit of a caramel flavor to the blondies, the powder combines with dark brown sugar, Whoppers, and chocolate chunks…and it’s a heavenly combination. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but save a few of your Whoppers and press them into the tops of the blondies when they come out of the oven, not only for a great look, but because, ummm…it’s whole pieces of candy!

Brewer's Blondies

Don’t have or can’t find malted milk powder?  Well whatdoya know!  I’m giving some away!!

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
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Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Somethings are worth waiting for.  Like these muffins.  Perfect banana flavor balanced with semi-sweet chocolate chips that are totally enhanced by some instant espresso powder. Love, I tell you, love.

My interest was piqued months ago while tagging recipes to make in the Baked cookbook and then my interest took off after both The Pêche and Smith Bites blogs, my fellow Big Summer Potluckers, were gushing about these muffins on Twitter.  For whatever reason, the recipe got pushed down “the list” and I finally just took a few well-ripened bananas out of the freezer this week, only intending on using them in this recipe.  And boy, I can see what they were gushing about months ago!  These muffins are hands-down some of the best I’ve ever eaten!  I love the fact that they were so quickly whipped up (not literally) by hand rather than having to pull out the stand mixer…and I love the fact that even though I forgot to add the milk until after I mixed in the chocolate chips at the end, the muffins still turned out amazing!  They bake up with this funny shape, only what I picture to be a quintessentially quirky Baked trademark look, and when fresh out of the oven, the chips are gooey, the banana is prominent, and there is a slightest hint of crispiness around the top edges. Love, I tell you, love.