JANUARY 02, 2016: THE BEST DAMN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

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I’m starting off 2016 right this year, and that means I’m back baking things with a vengeance (not that I need to be back vengefully ha ha). I know I’ve been gone a little while, but life gets pretty hectic when you move to a new city. Anyway, there is no better way to start the year off than with the best damn chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever eaten. These things will cure your soul, put a broken heart back together, and create the biggest sense of pure happiness you could experience. That might be an exaggeration but, well, they’re good. You get it.

These little absolute babes are so easy to make and the ingredients are so standard you’re likely to find them right in your pantry without having to go to the grocery store. When I’ve had a particularly stressful week or I need a little something sweet, these things are my go to. They also make the perfect treat to find your way to anyone’s heart.

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The great thing that I love about this recipe is that you can get a little flexible with it if you like. I have a few quirks with what I do to make these, which I will list below in the instructions. It never hurts to experiment with something until you get it 100% tailored to your liking.

Switching gears though, I really do hope everyone’s new year is going fabulously already. I know we’re just two days in, but having a couple of really great days never hurt anyone, did it? I know I’m having a good start to my new year. I’ve really started to take this whole resolution thing seriously. Each year I’ve never made resolutions because I know I can’t keep them, but I’ve decided my resolution is to proactively make resolutions throughout the entire year.

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I think it’s very important for me in my time of life to continue to grow and flourish as a person. While I did grow in some areas in 2015, I know that there are a lot of changes that I need to undergo still. I need adventure, laughter, kindness, friendships, passions, late nights, long drives, joy, good books, and more good things in 2016. I need to feel myself out as a person and decide finally who I am. I may be 23 years old and a graduate student, but I sure know I don’t have a lot figured out still.

But while the world keeps spinning and we all keep trying to learn and grow, at least there’s this cookie recipe to keep us happy.

Cheers to a great year ahead, and enjoy the cookies 🙂


Recipe adapted from Hot Chocolate Hits

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, at room temperature
1/4 cup raw sugar (I like using coconut sugar – it’s actually really lovely in these cookies. But you should definitely use raw sugar, it does actually make a difference.)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all purpose flower
150-200g (about 1 cup) chocolate chips (I like to use 60% cacao Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips – these go great with the salty taste, and, when I’m feeling special I throw in a mix of caramel chocolate chips or any other flavored chip to give it that extra devilish punch.)
Any other add-ins of your choice, such as chopped nuts
Sea salt for sprinkling

First, preheat your oven to 350F or 180C and line your baking pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking oil. In a medium or large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and light brown sugar until combined – it should be light and fluffy.

Next, add in your egg and vanilla extract and cream. After these are just mixed, add the baking soda and salt and do the same. Once combined, add the flower in batches (I do 1/2 a cup at a time) and mix together until the dough is formed.

Finally, add in your chocolate chips and any other add-ins and mix the dough until everything is evenly distributed. Pop the cookies in the oven for about 12 minutes (or longer depending on the size of the cookies). Mine take up to 20 minutes sometimes, but this may be a little too long for yours. Once the cookies are finished baking, pull them from the oven and sprinkle sea salt on top for that extra sweet and salty kick.

Let cool (or enjoy them warm and soft, yum!) and dig in!

FEBRUARY 25, 2015: WARM HOT COCOA COOKIES

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If you’ve been anywhere but under a rock lately, you’ll know that it’s been cold and dreary outdoors. And what else does damp, dull weather call for but some warm cookies and hot chocolate? After being confined to the indoors for a couple of days due to the conditions outside, I thought there would be nothing more perfect to do than bake something sweet to enjoy.

I originally had the idea of baking some cookies with condensed milk in because I wanted something really sinful, but instead I opted out for some chewy hot cocoa cookies with marshmallows melted on the top. I found the recipe online and made a few tweaks of my own to it, and surprisingly, these were really simple to make. They turned out so nice that my mom enjoyed them more than the cake I baked a while back for Valentine’s Day. You know something has to be really good when it beats out a salted caramel and chocolate cake.

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So if the weather’s got you feeling a little down, bake yourself a few of these and kick back by the fire with a good book. And don’t forget to enjoy the moment – the blazing heat of summer is only a few short months away.


Recipe adapted from Holly Lofthouse

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flower
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Large marshmallows as needed, cut in half

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and semisweet chocolate chips, stirring frequently until melted. When the mixture is melted, remove it from the heat for about five minutes to allow it to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer until the ingredients are just blended. When the chocolate and butter mixture has cooled, beat it in until blended.

Add the cocoa powder, flower, baking powder, and salt to the mixture and blend until just mixed. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let your cookie dough refrigerate for two hours.

When the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 325ºF. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and for each cookie, scoop out about a tablespoonful of dough onto the cookie sheet. Make sure to place each cookie about 2 inches apart. You should fit about 12 cookies per baking sheet. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes.

Once the cookies have baked, remove them from the oven and place a marshmallow half on top of each one. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 4 minutes to melt the marshmallow halves. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

FEBRUARY 13, 2015: THREE LAYER SALTED CARAMEL CAKE WITH BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

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It’s about that time of the year. February 14th is looming near, and you either observe it as a day to appreciate your singularity while consuming large amounts of sweets or find yourself in hearts with someone while consuming large amounts of sweets. Either way, there’s one thing that (almost) every single person does on Valentine’s day, and that’s enjoy copious amount of chocolate.

This year, instead of sitting around and eating store bought chocolate, I thought I would try and make something my whole family could enjoy. And that something is a triple layer chocolate cake complete with buttercream frosting and a drizzle of salted caramel.

I stumbled across this recipe while searching for something sweet to make on Pinterest. Naturally, I’m a big fan of salted caramel, so I knew when I found this recipe I should give it a good try. I mean, who doesn’t love caramel and chocolate? The only funny thing about this recipe is that the cake batter has a consistency that’s next to water. I’ve never baked a cake where the batter is a full on liquid, so this was a little intimidating for me. But alas, the cake turned out more than a-okay.

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Doesn’t it look ridiculously pretty? It may be nice looking, but it tastes even better. The cake is super moist and the icing has just the perfect hint of caramel. The only thing I would recommend is to make double the caramel sauce and frosting. After my mom and I both sampled the cake, we agreed that adding a little more icing would bring the cake up another notch.


Recipe from Flourishing Foodie, who adapted it from
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking With Fine Chocolate

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flower
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup boiling water

Frosting Ingredients:
2 tsp light corn syrup
4 tbsp water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cream (I interpreted this as heavy cream)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
Maldon salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 3 – 6″ cake pans with parchment paper. Grease with butter and then dust with flower.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flower, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the lightly beaten eggs and combine. Then add the canola oil and whole milk and combine before stirring in the boiling water. At this point, your cake batter should fairly resemble liquid. (Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be sort of watery!)

Divide the batter into three pans, place in the oven, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before removing the cakes and placing them on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Next, place the corn syrup, water, and granulated sugar in a small saucepan and combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture while boiling. Continue to boil until the mixture thickens and turns a light brown caramel color. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly add the heavy cream, vanilla, salt, and lemon juice with a wire whisk. If the caramel clumps unevenly, place back on the stove on low heat and stir until it becomes smooth. Set the caramel aside to cool completely.

Once your caramel sauce has cooled, combine the sticks of softened butter, powdered sugar, and 3/4 of the caramel in a bowl and beat with a mixer until smooth. Once the cakes have cooled, assemble them by spreading a thick layer of the caramel buttercream frosting in between each layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the frosting. Finally, drizzle the rest of the caramel over the cake and top with Maldon salt if desired.

Enjoy!

FEBRUARY 8, 2015: TULLE SKIRT

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First off, let me note that I’d like to dedicate this entire post to a fabric that I will always love – tulle. It’s the epitome of femininity; there is nothing on this planet that makes me feel more like a princess. It can turn an otherwise dull outfit into something magical, flouncy and fun. And, let’s face it, it’s a show stopper. Worn in the correct way, tulle can bring just the right amount of class and glamour to a look.

I designed this outfit specifically around this tulle skirt just because I love it that much. But now that I’m done professing my love for all things tulle, I guess I should get down to the real meat of the post. And by meat I mean me rambling.

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January came and went too fast for my comfort, and I’ve already found myself back in the daily routine of going to class and spending lots of time sitting at my computer writing code. There’s not much time for me to think about anything else besides computer graphics and artificial intelligence, but I can’t complain because I like what I do and I’m somehow managing to keep my head above the water. I’ve had a constant stream of encouraging and kind people in my life, and I think that’s how I’m keeping my sanity.

That being said, there’s something about the month of February that I’ve always been really fond of, too. I guess it’s the fact that winter no longer seems to drag out into eternity and spring weather is right around the corner. And if anything February brings lots of sweetness back into the world by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around no matter if you’ve got someone special to share it with or not.

This year I won’t be sitting around eating questionable amounts of Lindor Truffles and thinking about what I’d like to watch next on Netflix (although that still seems like the absolute perfect night to me).

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Even though I’ve got a little bit of a hectic schedule, I would love to bake something festive this week in preparation of good old V-Day. I always jump at any excuse to try my hand at making something sugary, cute and holiday themed. Particularly around Valentine’s Day linzer cookies (who doesn’t love those because raspberry jam) and all things chocolate come to mind. Does anyone else get as excited about baking as I do? I think my excessive sweet tooth kicks it up a notch.

I’ve got a list of things to do this week including seeing Fifty Shades of Grey to spending my V-Day out with a border collie-loving, joke-making, (manly) law student. I’m not entirely certain how I feel about seeing Fifty Shades, even though part of me actually shamelessly wants to watch it.

I hope everyone has fun things planned ahead for Valentine’s Day and the rest of February!

Cheers.


Outfit: Sweater – J. Crew Cashmere • Scarf – Fur Hat World • Belt – Anthropologie • Tulle Skirt – Bailey 44
Hat – Gifted • Pumps – Sacha London • Lipstick – Nars Terre De Feu and MAC Media

JANUARY 18, 2015: CASUAL SHOOT

10888723_10152504293592062_5222518194349297354_nWhen I thought of starting a fashion blog, I didn’t think it would be this difficult. I thought that maybe I could put a few outfits together, take a few pictures, and throw myself out there in a snap. It really wasn’t going to be that big of a deal. I mean, all I had to do was put on some clothes and smile, right?

And then I realized I was wrong.

Partially, this was because I’m almost never satisfied with anything I do. Outfits that filtered into my wardrobe not even a year ago are already obsolete in my mind. The other thing is, I’m particularly nitpicky about everything. If it’s not right to me, it certainly shouldn’t be published on the Internet. And 100 percent of the time, I’m working hard to give my 100 percent.

I never thought my clothes were up to par and neither was my camera quality. But I mean, really. Am I ever going to get anywhere if I keep fretting over silly details?

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No. Of course I’m never going to put myself out there if I’m too afraid to jump out of the gate.

So what if I’m not an amazing writer or I think my clothes don’t compare to flawless fashion blogging icons? I’m just a regular 20-something girl trying to do something I love, and that doesn’t mean it has to be perfect.

So hello, I’m Lauren. Computer scientist by day, fashion and art nerd by night. I grew up with dreams a whole lot bigger than myself and a quiet streak. I’m a huge fan of lattes and indie music turned up really loud. I particularly like sweet things, pretty flowers, and gloomy days. But this post isn’t aimed at telling you everything about myself; I’d really like to introduce you to my blog.

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Fashion is something I’ve been obsessed with ever since I could dress myself without my mom’s help. And no, I’m not using the term obsessed lightly. Dressing smart means a whole lot to me. The way you dress is an extension of your personality. You can be whoever you want to be from the moment you open your closet door in the morning – there are no limits. You can be a classic French girl one day and be Los Angeles edgy the next.

And this blog is simply a catalog of outfits I put together that I’m really fond of.

I can’t guarantee that every post will be about fashion. I’ll probably have a day or two where I bake something sweet and decide to share it, or take a trip and want to post some pictures. But mainly, this is about the fashion. So if you’re interested in the outfits I put together (or at least watching me try hard), feel free to give me a follow or leave a comment about what you think.

Cheers!


Outfit: Blazer – Silence + Noise • Shirt – Poolhouse • Jeans – Madewell • Shoes – J/Slides • Earrings – Bauble Bar for Anthropologie • Bag – Tory Burch