Actually, this post has nothing to do with the sunny state of California at all - only the fact that I seem to be living in "Cali time" nowadays. What I mean is that my "internal clock" or "Circadian rhythm" is set to three hours later than it should be. When it is midnight here, I feel like it's only 9 pm (which would be the present time for western states/provinces). And so even if midnight is usually my sleep time, I am awake and struggling to fall asleep. By the time it is 3 am, I am finally getting some shuteye. But it's not like I'm not getting any sleep either! I'm waking up at noon (haha!) just as if it is only 9 am! Plus I squeeze in some naps here and there. I've been doing this every day for a week now.
My sleeping pattern has definitely changed as all those late work nights have built up over the month. And now all the fatigue from the stress and restlessness is hitting me. I've never been an easy sleeper, but this is getting a bit ridiculous. It doesn't help that I'm done school now and I have no set schedule and so I've been sleeping and waking up whenever I want to. My family has been quite generous and letting me relax a bit after finishing all my school stuff, but it's starting to get a bit embarrassing. My mom once sweetly said, "You know the saying, the early bird gets the worm? Just thought you'd like to know.." Haha.
I think it's about time I get back to Toronto time and get it altogether again! Sometimes, self-motivation seems to be the hardest thing, especially after a long journey already. I'm still terribly worried about my new career situation but I feel tired and unmotivated. :( BUT, life is not just about "feelings". It's about doing the right thing even if it's hard, sowing the seeds, and passing through the tunnel! I really should get out there and look hard! There's bound to be a window open somewhere! I'm sure there is a good place waiting for me... I just need to find it.
Anyways, how self-indulgent of me. I've just been ranting on and on about myself without even telling you about the delicious baked goods you've been eyeing on this page so far. Am I right? Well you're in for a treat! Three treats, to be exact. These three goodies were for a very special picnic for a very special girl: Cheryl! It was my favorite Cheryl's 22nd birthday picnic, ever so sweetly organized by her boyfriend. It was a fantastic picnic with gourmet sandwiches, delicious antipasti, champagne and - you bet - cupcakes. I always like to bring baked goodies as gifts for my friends' birthdays, so this time it was no different. Just times three.
Her boyfriend requested some goodies along with birthday cupcakes for a group of ten or so. I decided that super sweet and sour lemon squares, and a fun and colourful m&m cookie would be perfect for a summery picnic! I also considered blueberry crumb bars as well, but it was just too much to make. Anyways, I'm so excited to introduce you to my new favorite recipe for lemon squares, which were much much much better than my last try. I really loved them because they were super lemony - but beware, the sugar level is crazy in this one. Only people with a true sweet tooth will appreciate this square. It was received very well among many, but my daddy did not approve. Next was my m&m cookie which just needed a terrific cookie dough recipe. I used allrecipe's Best Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie. It wasn't exactly the chewiest, but it was still great with the crunchy candied chocolates. By the way, I looove how it looks on the back of the cookie. The candies look like they were drawn on by colourful chalk! It's so cute!
Lastly, my white chocolate cream cheese frosting on raspberry dark chocolate cupcakes. Well, see, I once tried this most fantastic cake which consisted of a moist deep chocolate cake, raspberry jam, a terrific white chocolate buttercream, and lots of white chocolate shavings on top. This was one memorable cake. I've always dreamed of recreating that with my cupcakes and this was my chance. I really had to investigate different ways I could make this cupcake because there are so many possibilities! I considered putting the raspberry jam right into the buttercream, or making a raspberry mousse to swirl with the buttercream, or to fill the cupcakes with raspberry jam... and it goes on. In the end, I sorta just settled on a easier and simpler method. I simply spread the rapsberry jam (which was DELICIOUS, and should be, because I spent lots of money on it) on top of the cupcake, and then I iced the buttercream on top. It turned out great... until I had to leave it in the hot car for a few hours. O DEAR O DEAR. Bad idea. It was a smoltering day and I should've known!! But baking till 1am did not do me too good so the next day I was a bit slow in realizing I should've kept it cold. The cupcakes were pretty gross looking by the time it was picnic time... but my friends didn't care. So sweet of them, they still ate it with much glee and praise. Thanks guys!!
Yummy M&M Cookies
adapted from allrecipes
makes 3 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 cups mini or regular m&ms
1.Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
makes 30 squares
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
6 oz. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
about 3 tbsp of confectioner's sugar
Crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine flour and confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on low speed until mixed. Add butter and continue to mix until the butter is the size of small peas, about 30 seconds. The mixture will be very dry. Gently press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Filling: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and granulated sugar until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and then flour. Pour the filling on top of the crust.
Bake until the lemon filling is set, about 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and then put in the refrigerator for an hour or keep at room temperature for three hours before cutting. Cut into squares, about 2 1/4 inches. Dust tops with confectioner's sugar.
Note: The squares can be made a day in advance, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.