Tasting Tuesdays: Gingerbread Muffins

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That gingerbread candle from last month’s Tasting Tuesdays really did me in.

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I was going to make something gluten-free, I swear, but then I opened up Home Made by Yvette van Boven… and that was it. I was done.

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Yvette van Boven is a super-talented cook-baker-artist from the Netherlands. This book is gorgeous–half illustrated diary, half recipe collection. The gingerbread muffins recipe was so ridiculously adorable looking (evidence above) that I couldn’t resist baking it.

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And the muffins are really lovely: moist, spicy, sweet, simple, and extremely easy. Although she suggests a cream cheese based frosting, I whipped up an easy royal icing for some crunch to balance the softness of the muffins.

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By the way, you might be wondering: really, Chelsea? You’re calling these muffins? They look like cupcakes to me… Shh. Muffins are much easier to eat five in a row of than cupcakes. So they’re muffins. Just spiced, sweet muffins.

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These keep well in an airtight container, so you should make them for holiday brunches… for pre-Thanksgiving snacks… for Christmas morning… to leave for Santa… For every night of Hannukah… Oh man, I’m getting a little too excited about the holidays, aren’t I?! I’m blaming Anthropologie’s pretty displays–I got a preview of the holiday windows: just you wait, people, Kim’s windows are going to be amazing! (Not to mention what’s in store right now… I mean. Have you seen these tea towels used in the display? They’re sparkly teacups in the shape of a Christmas tree. Too much.)

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As always, thanks so much to the Milwaukee Anthropologie! The display was lovely and all the staff were so sweet, especially Emily and Lynn! (Last, can I just share? When I popped in for a bit of shopping earlier that week, the ladies called me “our baker” at the cash register. Yes, that totally made my entire month!)

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Chocolate Crackle Cookies

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You know how it’s the sign of a hopelessly dead-end conversation when you need to bring up the weather? I’m a little worried at my consistent desire to bring weather up in my blog posts. So maybe I should avoid mentioning how I chose this recipe this morning… Because I was thinking about snow.

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If I were going to potentially up the dead-ended-ness of my blog, I would clarify that I do not mean that I want a crazy Midwestern snowstorm to dump itself cruelly upon us in Milwaukee. But my family in Pittsburgh got snow last week and one of my best friends in Salt Lake City called me this weekend while she was watching snow fall outside of her house. And between these two things I got a little jealous. My friend even got a long list of everything I’d give myself guilt-free permission to do, were it snowing here. These included make hot chocolate, watch TV under a big blanket, eat caramel popcorn, and not leave the apartment.

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Well, I’m not a weather god, so I can’t invoke a pretty dusting of snow that magically does not bring with it black ice, grey slush, and negative wind chill. But I can dust some super-chocolatey cookies with a generous heap of powdered sugar. And this cookie looks just as pretty as snow, and tastes much better when you eat it.

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These are messy both to make and devour, but are worth the effort (and the wait as the dough chills in the refrigerator). Melted bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder combined with brown sugar make a chewy, fudgy, brownie-like cookie that will leave your hands, shirt, and work surface covered with soft white sugar smudges.

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Messy though they are, they do not require you to bundle up in layers and puffy coats to traverse the bitter cold. So it’s cool, Milwaukee, you keep on holding off on the snow for now. I’ll just be here enjoying my cookies, pretending it’s snowing so that I can spend my Sunday drinking hot chocolate and watching TV under a blanket.

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Weekend Coffee

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I really love coffee. If you had told me when I was in high school that I would even be able to stomach coffee, I would have thought you were crazy. But then I went abroad — to Italy — and that was that. Espresso, freshly made by host mother every morning, combined with a rich latte every afternoon, simply did me in, and now I’m addicted.

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Every so often the fact that I’m technically addicted to a drug (caffeine) floats into my mind. Every so often (like this week) I drink a bit too much coffee and am off the wall all afternoon and evening. At those moments I worry about myself a little bit. But most of the time coffee is a treat to savor and enjoy while I click through my inbox in the morning… Or, on the weekends, while I push emails out of my mind and watch the clouds floating over the lake outside my window, and the changing trees, now leafless, trying fruitlessly to resist the Midwest wind.

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This month’s Tasting Tuesdays cookbook gave me the idea to brew my usual French pressed coffee with a dash of cardamom, so I thought I’d share here my favorite way to make coffee.

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It might not be your favorite way to make coffee. (I think my mom, for one, would not think that this is brewed anywhere near strong enough.) But try it and tweak it and make it your favorite.

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And may it make your weekday inbox dealings more pleasant, and your weekends all the sweeter. Continue reading