Chocolate Cake and Le Butter

Dear future self,

Just a piece of advice: Always remember that in order to make buttercream frosting, you’ll need to use butter. Hahaha!

Sincerely,

Me.

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I only had about two hours to bake and prepare a homemade chocolate cake for my younger brother who was coming home from a retreat in the province. I wanted it to be a surprise because we weren’t able to personally surprise him on the day of his birthday since he was out of town. So, I hurriedly prepared the cake batter and frosting, baked the cake and cupcakes, and frosted them just in time.

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While I was making the frosting, I noticed that unlike the other batches of frosting that I made, this batch produced fewer cups. I felt that something was missing, but because I didn’t have much time, I continued to frost the cakes. The frosting was very smooth, chocolaty, and creamy! It tasted like melted ice cream and it had just the right amount of sweetness!

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After eating dinner with the family at home, we brought the cake and cupcakes out and greeted our brother, Gabo, a happy birthday! By God’s grace, the freshly baked cakes were light, fluffy, and moist and the family appreciated how the frosting complemented the chocolate cakes. Of course, Gabo also pointed out that we used his favorite brand of milk chocolate on the cake and I think he was happy about it. Yay! Haha.

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When it was time to clear the table and clean the dishes, I placed some of the cupcakes and cake in the refrigerator and stored the leftover frosting in a small plastic container. Just before rinsing the rubber spatula that I used, I dipped my finger on the remaining chocolate frosting on it and tasted it one last time before the night ended. I couldn’t believe it. Immediately, I blurted out “Shucks. The butter. I forgot to add the butter!”

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It was hilarious because earlier that day, I even made an extra effort to buy more unsalted butter for the cake that I was going to make and I forgot to use it. Hahaha! I felt bad at first because it wasn’t the frosting that I originally wanted to make, but at the same time, I was grateful for it because it was a new discovery for me!

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When I told my family about it, I also mentioned that I was actually planning on using 1 cup of butter for the butter cream frosting. And when they heard “1 cup” they immediately said “Then, it was a good thing that you forgot to add it. Haha.”

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I love how God uses even the simplest mistakes made in the kitchen to remind me of how His grace is always more than enough for me. I was tempted to feel bad because I wasn’t able to use butter cream frosting for the cake, but at that moment, that melted-ice-cream frosting was THE frosting that God wanted us to taste and enjoy. Plus, although it would probably taste delicious too, we were spared from indulging on butter that night. Alright!

It was a great reminder for me to keep on trusting that God is in control, that He knows exactly what I need, and that He is always more than enough for me. :)

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

[Proverbs 19:21]

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To my younger bro, ‘Gaboot’,

You’re now 21 years old. Woohoo! We’ve had so many crazy moments together since we were kids and I know that we will continue to be crazy when we get older. But, by God’s grace, I’ve seen you become more mature in different aspects and it has been a blessing for me to see you grow. I pray that God would continue to give you the desire to know, love, and serve Him all the days of your life. May He use you even more to reach out to others and share the love of Christ to those around you. And even though this stage in your life might be quite challenging, I believe that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. Psalm 105:4!

Lurve,

Le Butter. (HAHA. *inside joke*)

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CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES*

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

4 eggs

1 cup plain sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Stir the flour, cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl.
  3. Mix in the butter until the ingredients are well-combined.
  4. Add in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners and bake for about 15 minutes. Use a toothpick to check the center of the cupcakes if they’re done.
  6. Cool completely before frosting. I used Cadbury milk chocolate to design the cake too!

 

*Recipe adapted from http://bakingamoment.com

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CHOCOLATE FROSTING**

1 cup milk

2/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

  1. Mix the milk, white sugar, flour, and cocoa powder in a pan.
  2. Bring it to a boil while stirring, until the mixture is thick. Set aside to cool.
  3. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave. Set aside to slightly cool.
  4. Whisk the chocolate mixture in step 1 with the softened butter, until creamy.
  5. Add in the melted chocolate. Whisk until fluffy and well-combined.

**Recipe adapted from http://www.visionsofsugarplum.com

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Bake Something Beautiful

Two Sundays ago, I decided to use my Raspberry Artisan KitchenAid mixer for the first time. I knew that I wanted to bake something beautiful because I was grateful for the new investment that I had. And at that moment, baking something beautiful meant doing these three things:

1.) Making a Raspberry-Vanilla cake

2.) Including fresh Raspberries in it, and

3.) Frosting it with Raspberry Buttercream icing shaped like roses.

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I really enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen that day. Because of the freshly baked cakes, our kitchen smelled like sweet vanilla! Moreover, whipping the buttercream frosting was a breeze because of the KitchenAid mixer.

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However, I did struggle with frosting the cake because I didn’t have much time to let the icing chill in the refrigerator. This resulted to a softer cream which made it difficult for me to pipe roses out of it. After frosting half of the cake, I started to get discouraged because it didn’t seem pretty at all. And at one point, I even told my sister “Maybe I should just smudge the icing on the cake and make it look like an abstract design.”

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I placed the cake in the refrigerator and took a break for a few minutes. A part of me really wanted to smudge the icing, but somehow, I felt like doing it would be a waste of resources because I had a purpose for it. In spite of the discouragement and the cake’s flaws, God allowed me to see the beauty in it and He encouraged me to continue frosting the cake.

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And so, after 10-15 minutes, I got the cake from the refrigerator and started to pipe roses again. The amount of icing was just enough to make three layers of roses and the extra fresh Raspberries that I had were lovely toppings for the cake too.

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By God’s grace, I served the cake to my family after dinner and they genuinely appreciated it! They said that it looked pretty and it tasted good. Woohoo! (Thank you for being so supportive. :) )

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This experience reminded me of three things:

Inspite of our weaknesses and struggles,

1.) God never gives up on us.

2.) God sees the good and beauty in us.

3.) God is constantly at work in our lives.

I realized that many times, it would be more convenient for us to complain and to give up when things don’t go the way we want them to. But, I’m learning to continue doing my best as I put my trust in God because He definitely knows what He’s doing in our lives. And in His perfect timing, I know that He can make beautiful things out of our weaknesses too. :)

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

 Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Best Before March 4

About a month ago, I noticed two unopened, packs of cream cheese in our refrigerator.  I saw that both packs had “Best when used by March 4, 2013” printed on them. And because I didn’t want to waste cheese or risk eating spoiled cream cheese, I promised myself that I would use them immediately.

But, because I wasn’t able to prioritize it, I ended up forgetting about the cheese! I only remembered it two days ago — two days before the “best before date”!

With the limited time that I had, I decided to make two kinds of no-bake, mini cheesecake cupcakes: Oreo and Blueberry. While making them, I was getting paranoid with the quality and taste of the cream cheese because all I could think of was the possibility of it being spoiled.

“I don’t want to use expired ingredients again. :( Lord, please don’t let this cheese be bad.”

I guess I got traumatized before, when I used “expired” crushed graham crackers for a dessert. At that time, I figured that since they were crushed crackers, they wouldn’t probably taste bad even if it was already past their “Best Before Date”. However, it was so awful that it tasted like carton/cardboard.

That moment flashed back in my mind again and again as I was making the cheesecake cupcakes and I figured that since cream cheese is a more delicate ingredient, it would taste bad after “the date” too!

But, God still encouraged me to learn from that moment; use the two packs of cream cheese this time; and seek the opinions of my mom and sister while I make the desserts.

After hours of preparing and waiting for the cheesecake cupcakes to chill, I was finally able to make 24 no-bake cheesecake cupcakes without using expired ingredients! Hooray!

This cheesecake moment allowed me to experience God’s grace once again. He saved me from wasting more ingredients and motivated me to finish producing the cheesy treats, in spite of my discouraged spirit and past traumas.

In the same way, I know that God’s grace is enough for us no matter what situation we’re in. His timing and His ways are always perfect.

 

Are you going through a rough time? Tempted to worry and give up?

 

It says in Hebrews 4:16:

 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Cake Fail to Cake Pops

One of the things that I thank God for is our oven at home. Since 2005, we’ve been able to use it for desserts and meals and learn more about the processes of baking through it. However, since the oven is already deteriorating, it is inevitable for me to experience hassles and inconveniences whenever I use it.

Just last week, while I was experimenting with cakes, I got so frustrated with the oven that I started to complain and get discouraged. But, God used that moment to remind me of His grace and encouraged me to bake again.

The problem that I experienced with the oven was that it wouldn’t evenly circulate the heat. As a result, the outer part of the cake would be baked, but the inner (middle) part would still be raw/slightly raw. I even tried it with two recipes, but it still produced the same consistency.  So, I decided to call it a night.

Since I didn’t want to waste the ingredients, I kept the baked cake parts in an airtight container and baked the slightly raw parts in the oven more (which I eventually kept as well).

The next day, I was asking God about my next action steps for the “reject cake layers” that I kept. I knew that I couldn’t make a cake out of it because the layers were already a mess. I was even tempted to just throw them away and start again. But, God had a better idea. He encouraged me to make Cake Pops instead. :)

 

When I already had the time, I gathered the ingredients and made one cake pop at a time. It was interesting because after making a few Cake Pops, I began to appreciate their beauty and ‘awesomeness’. I told God: “Whoa, Lord. They were messed up cake layers a few minutes ago and now, they are lovely little treats! You are amazing.” :)

I then remembered a few lines from one of my favorite songs, “All the Broken Pieces” by Matthew West:

“I can take even your greatest mistake, every scar, every tear, every break. I can turn it into something more beautiful than you have ever seen. So, lift them up to Me.”

In the same way, I was reminded of how God continues to graciously love us and think about us in spite of our broken hearts, messed up attitudes, weaknesses, and sins. At that moment, God showed me that He had a purpose for our deteriorating oven. He wanted me to experience baking messed up cakes and turning them into Cake Pops to remind me of the love, grace, second chance, and hope that we have in Him.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

It was encouraging because even though I wanted to throw the messed up cake layers when I got frustrated with them, God showed me that He can still make beautiful things out of them. And this reminded me to trust that God can also use the broken pieces in our lives, our past, and our struggles to make beautiful things for our good and for His glory.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

 

So, just in case you make a cake and it fails… Don’t get discouraged. MAKE CAKE POPS instead! :D

Hehehe.

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)