Mini Brownie Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Happy birthday… to my blog!

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Have you ever made yourself a cake? I’m not talking a sad, I’m-making-only-one-pathetic-but-beautifully-decorated-cupcake-because-I’m-oh-so-depressed-about-my-crazy-friend’s-wedding-and-confused-about-my-hot-Irish-cop-love-interest-ala-Kristin-Wiig-in-Bridesmaids kind of cake.

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I’m talking a smile-on-my-face, accomplishment-celebrating, yes-I-am-a-totally-awesome-person-so-I’m-making-myself-a-cake-and-I-might-just-eat-it-all-by-myself-because-I-deserve-it kind of cake.

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A year ago I decided that I wanted to share my love of baking with more than just my poor coworkers and friends, who were stuck listening to me describe my creations in person. In September, I concocted some pretty cupcakes, valiantly attempted macro-style photos of them with my cell phone camera, and wrote a little missive about lemons and lavender on a super-secret blog that no one knew about.

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Then I kind of forgot about it… Until I made some peppermint brownie cookies. They were so good that forcing my friends to listen to me rave about the combination of dark chocolate and crushed peppermint before they tasted it themselves seemed cruel, so I pulled up my super-secret little blog and wrote a post, complete with fuzzy faux-macro cell phone photography.

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Then, on December 31, almost exactly a year ago, I spent most of the day in my PJ’s and made the most wonderful salty oatmeal cookies for a New Year’s Party. Before I got fancied up, I took pictures of them on my coffee table. And I wrote about it on my super-secret little blog. And I realized I really liked doing this weird thing where I wrote about food on the internet.

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So I took a deep breath, steeled myself for the credit card bill, and invested in a fancy camera as a post-Christmas present (it was totally worth it, for the record).

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For the first few months of the year I baked every weekend (nothing new), took the prettiest pictures I possibly could, and wrote little online love letters to my baking in an attempt to share them with more people than just my Milwaukee friends. And eventually I started a Twitter account for it, and a Facebook page, and got some recipes onto Tastespotting–and all of a sudden people who weren’t my mom or my friends started coming to this little site (hello to you, new internet pals!). And I even started baking for Anthropologie, which is wild and dreamy and so much fun and still feels unreal.

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Weird things happen when you blog. You start collecting mismatched plates and napkins you use for no other purpose than to put cookies on for “food styling.” You start occasionally calling yourself a “blogger” instead of your real-life professional title when introducing yourself. You make yourself blog calling cards–a.k.a. business cards. You buy yourself a Pro account on Flickr because without one, you don’t have enough space every month to upload all the photos you need to. You start looking at the world a little differently–noticing the different qualities of light, wishing you had your camera with you in random places, getting way too involved in Top Chef Just Desserts, and critiquing plating techniques at unsuspecting restaurants.

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And you make yourself tiny little celebratory cakes. Out of fudgey, cakey, dense, chocolatey brownies. With creamy vanilla bean frosting. And you sit on your couch with your flour-loving cats while it snows big fluffy flakes outside, and you have yourself a happy little start to the New Year.

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But the weirdest and most wonderful part of this whole blogging thing is unexpected. Instead of being shuffled to the side, only discussed in comments and Facebook posts and tweets, things start to happen outside of your computer. When you put your dorky hobby out into the internet world, people in the real world actually start to talk to you about it. Your mom texts you when she sees a new post. People you barely know compliment your photography. You start to tell your friends about something you made this weekend, and they politely interrupt you to say, “Yeah, I already saw that on your blog… Did you bring me any?” And people you don’t know call you by the name of your website. As in: “Oh! You’re Chelsea Bakes!” And you just smile and nod and giggle to yourself, because, of course, your name isn’t actually Chelsea Bakes.

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And then you stop your giggling because, well, now it kind of is. And that’s just fine by you. Continue reading

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