Tag Archives: Cookies

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies and Post-Guatemala

chocolate gingerbread cookies

I still haven’t blogged about the last couple of days in Guatemala, but since I already started posting recipes, it’s too choppy to go back and finish it off. So, I’ll end that journey off by sharing my thoughts and feelings post-Guatemala.

My first day back in Vancouver

Woke up in bed today with a sinking realization. It finally hit me that I’m not in Guatemala anymore. I’m back in Vancouver and surrounded by inches of snow. No more palm trees. No more rolling hills. No more rooster morning wake up calls. No more Sheily. And worst part of all: no more SOS peeps.

I’m a bit late to this awakening, since most people already cried and spiritually said their goodbyes on our last night in Guatemala City. 

The whole day, I felt like I was just a shell. Empty and hollow. The essence of me was left behind somewhere on the winding paths in Bueno Vista. 

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1 week later

After coming home from Guatemala, my perspective on the world and how I want to live my life has changed. Though I was only there for a little more than a week, the people and culture of that country have left have a huge impact on me that I don’t think will ever fade. 

I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is having gratitude and carrying that with you through everyday life. 

A couple years ago, I started my happiness journey. What triggered it? A really unhappy year as a freshman in university. Before that, I never gave much thought to my own happiness. I think I just ran on automode all the time. My goal was to just study 24/7, get the grades, then get that dream job and start rolling in 6 figures. My definition of life and “happiness” was really narrow. Sure, I guess I could go through life living like that, but will I satisfied? Will I ever reach the self-actualization phase that Abraham Maslow was talking about?

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When I embarked on my search,  I started a gratitude journal for me to write one liners and reminders about what I’m grateful for. 

“Today I’m grateful for… emotional learning experiences.”

“Today I’m grateful for… feeling needed and loved by my family.”

“Today I’m grateful for… the sis and bro”

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On shitty days, it’s really hard to find something good to write about. Since I’m a pessimist by nature, I have a tendency to revert to negativity, deconstructing myself in the most harmful way as I critique myself for pages and pages on end.

On good days though, I feel a lot more up lifted after I write. 

These observations tell me two things:

1. The gratitude journal is working.

2. I let external circumstances affect me too much. Bad days I’m sad, angry, regretful, and embarrassed. Good days, I’m motivated, inspired and energized.

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This is where I feel kind of ashamed. One of the things that I noticed about Guatemalans is that they are much happier people than we are. They have less than what we would deem as “the bare essentials”, yet they are some of the most cheerful people I have ever met. Despite having so little, they were more than welcome to share and give, asking for nothing in return. Those three actions, according to writer Gretchen Rubin, cultivate happiness and contentment.

On our last day in Bueno Vista, we visited a small church that was located just uphill of the school we were volunteering at. The pastor said something so beautiful that my friend, Yuki, and I silently held each other as we cried. In his best English, the pastor said: 

Life is about spiritual living conditions, not physical living conditions.

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It’s been 4 years since I began my happiness journey and I felt deeply resonated with that quote. I sat there in the front pew, surrounded by a bunch of new friends who are really more like family at this point, and felt this serene energy grow from within me.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I shouldn’t only try to find happiness in one event per day. I should be happy with what I have and find the good in everyday life, not just when I feel like it or when circumstances make it easy for me to do so.

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Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnmon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg)
1 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa (any type will do here, it’s just a cookie!)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 tbsp freshly grated peeled ginger
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used Roger’s best brown)
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp boiling water
7 ounces semi sweet chocolate chunks (I used 8 ounces, just for good measure ;) )
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Sift flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves nutmeg and cocoa in a bowl. 

Beat butter and ginger on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar, beat until combined. Add molasses, beat until combined.

Dissolve baking soda in hot water in a small bowl.

Beat half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. 

Beat in all of the dissolved baking soda. Then add in the last half of the flour.

Gently fold chocolate into the dough.

Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

Remove dough from fridge and roll into balls and cover with granulated sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes and let it cool on the baking sheet before moving. 

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

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Top 10 of 2013

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and a happy holiday! 

I can’t believe how fast the year has gone by! I feel that the more conscious I am of time, the faster it passes. But if I don’t keep track of time, I get nothing done. See my dilemma? 

2013 has been really good to me. I still can’t believe how lucky I have been. This year started off with a bang when I won my first ever kitchenaid mixer . Then I gained a ton of experience through two new jobs that I have never ever done before. I stepped out of my usual hostessing routine and got a job as an event coordinator and another as a project assistant for the student health department at my university. It wasn’t easy, I was challenged everyday to use new skills, think outside of the box, and monitor my own pace to make sure that I was meeting all the deadlines. In May, I fulfilled a long-time goal of mine which was to earn a spot in the dietetics program. It has changed my life and I have never been happier. In October, I made it a priority of mine to hone out my baking skills. So, armed with passion but ZERO formal training, I applied to a couple bakeries in Vancouver and eventually got a job at a cakery! Being surrounded by sugar, butter, chocolate and cake all the time has been quite the dream. Then in November, something totally unexpected happened. I won a second kitchenaid mixer, this time from Simple Bites. Along the way, I’ve met and befriended some fantastic people who are as inspiring as they are talented. The combination of new experiences and meeting new people has helped me to grow into a better person. I feel more self-assured than I ever was, but I’ll admit that I still have a long way to go until I feel self-confident. I have finally kicked the habit of food guilt. I used to hate myself if I ate more than I should have. I extremely hated my body and was always criticising myself while pinching my fat in front of the mirror. Now, I can eat whatever I want whenever I want and not feel the slightest amount of guilt. 500g of chocolate chips at 4am? Sure! Hash browns cooked in bacon fat? Gimme some of that with a side of ham please! Though I have gained some weight from doing this, a load of mental weight has been lifted off my mind.

Thank YOU, for being my readers and friends (if I may). You guys motivate me to find the time to bake no matter how exhausted I am from school and work. Without you guys, this blog would be nothing. I know that I’m not the most consistent, nor adventurous, nor exciting blogger. I’m just a girl in her 20s with a gigantic sweet tooth and a camera. I don’t post pictures of me conquering Mount Everest or setting world records or backpacking through Europe. I only post white unbalanced pictures of the things that I bake in my modest kitchen. Somehow, you guys are still here and have stuck by my side through it all. Thank you again for being the greatest audience of my life.

Without further ado, let’s count down the list of top 10 recipes from 2013!

top recipes 2013

10. Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

I made these for C for his 20th birthday and they were a hit! But did we expect anything less from the dynamic duo of PB and chocolate though?

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9. Red Velvet Brownies

And the red velvet reign continues! Seriously, can someone tell me why red velvet is so popular? It tastes like watered down chocolate to me. This is the second appearance of these brownies in the top 10 ranking!

red velvet brownies 1

8. Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes

I only posted the recipe for these cupcakes about 2 weeks ago and already they have become a hit!

peppermint cupcakes (9)

7. Ninjago (Orange Creamsicle Cake)

Some of my most creative projects happen when people ask for them! (I, on my own, am not a very creative person). One of my coworkers asked me to bake a cake for her son who is absolutely obsessed with Ninjago. I knew nothing about ninjago nor character cakes, but I agreed to it anyway! When in doubt, always say yes right? You should’ve seen the face on him when I delivered the cake and he realized that it was all his to eat!

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6. Caramel Cream Pastry Cream Cake

“I want to take a straw and drink the pastry cream” is what a friend said to me after he had this cake. 

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5. Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

If you’re a chocolate chip cookie fan, you must try it in skillet form! But please, don’t make my mistake. I forgot to eat it with ice cream. It is still one of my biggest regrets to this day.

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4. Black Magic Cake

My go to chocolate cake. Hershey naaaaailed it.

3. Rainbow Zebra Cake

Just like the red velvet brownies, this is also the second time that rainbow zebra cake has made an appearance in the top 10!

zebra cake baked

2. Tuxedo Truffle Cake 

I made this cake last year when I was going through my chocolate collar addiction phase. You have no idea how much fun I had making the chocolate decor. I’m odd.

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1. Hazelnut Praline Ganache Chocolate Cake

This cake. Bueno. Won by a landslide. In just a couple months, this cake earned the spot of greatest views of all time on my blog! It has 800 views more than the second most popular recipe. I created this recipe by just following my insatiable cravings and tastebuds. Had no idea this would be so well received!

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Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

There’s a pile of papers and textbooks waiting for me to read, but I just have to share this cookie with you. I was going to wait until the weekend to share, but that would just be way too selfish of me. I can’t make you guys wait until the weekend, could never do that to you, that would just be cruel. You need to know about this nooowwww.

Look at it. Isn’t it beautiful?

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skillet cookie

Best part: it was made and baked in ONE skillet. If you hate doing dishes like I do, this is the cookie for you!

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I have always always always wanted to make a skillet cookie. They just look so much better than the average baking sheet cookie. So much chewier, and thicker and chocolatey-er. The result? Faaaaantasical. Every bit as delightful as I imagined, except I may or may not have burnt the roof of  my mouth… Yea, don’t be like me. Let the cookie cool before digging in. I hope someone benefits from my dumb mistake :P

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I realized (after I ate the entire cookie) that I forgot some crucial crucial ingredients: ice cream, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce. I was banging my head against the wall and holding the empty skillet in my hand. How could I forget?!

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Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Ingredients

  • 1 stick Butter (salted/unsalted will work here)
  • ½ cups Granulated Sugar
  • ½ cups Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate, Cut In Chunks

How To

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in an 8 inch cast iron skillet set over medium-low heat. Stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat. Let rest until pan is warm, but no longer very hot, about 5 minutes.

2. Crack an egg onto the butter and sugar mixture, and use a fork to whisk it into the mixture. Place flour, baking soda, and salt on top, and very carefully stir into the mixture until smooth and well-mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks. Place in the oven for 15-25 minutes, or until starting to turn golden on the top and around the edges, but still soft in the center. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Source: How Sweet Eats

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