Ramadiet 2017/1438

~ Hey blog fam, it’s been a minute! I’ve been putting together my latest food endeavor – Carmen’s Cookies! Follow me on the IG and stay tuned for details coming this summer ~

Ramadan, the month in the Islamic calendar where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, is quickly rolling through, which means that I’ll be monitoring what goes into my body more than normal. But this year, I’ve made a decision to take it one step further and go on a diet. Yes, the cursèd word that some say explains itself in its first three letters. My reasoning was that during Ramadan, I already strive (yes, this truly takes effort) to avoid things that give the false hope of energy and happiness, but only leave me with a sugar crash and sleepiness shortly after consumption. So in an attempt to heighten energy levels, and assess my regular eating choices, I will be removing sugar and refined/processed carbs from my diet.

I know. If you’ve read this far, then you know me, and you know this is going to be a serious challenge. But what better time to do it than the holy month of Ramadan, when I will be working on my “reflection and focus”, religious and otherwise. Every year, Ramadan creeps up on me and ever year I get stoked about the month I treat as a reset and reassessment, weeding out the negative vibes and bringing back the good ones. For example:

“Do I really need to curse out this terrible Brooklyn driver?”
“So the subway is super packed and I can’t reach my phone…it’s not that serious.”
“One more bite: good idea or nah?”
“I’m so #blessed and I’m grateful for living in a place with four seasons. This 95 degree humidity will pass…right…”

Now is as good a time as any to do a deep dive on my diet and see where I can improve. By the end of the experiment, I’m hoping I’ll have motivation to adjust some eating habits (will I survive without a cookie after lunch?) and get to know my body better.

Sooo, to make up for at least part of the month without sweets, I sprinted to some places I’ve wanted to check out for a while before my time ran out. Below are the highlights…

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetDu’s Donuts The latest fancy NYC doughnuts put themselves on the map in April, and I tried the Strawberries and Cream and, I think Grapefruit Chamomile? I honestly can’t remember. My favorite part was the attractiveness of all the doughnuts; beautifully piped lines of icing on many varieties. The doughnuts themselves were good, but Dough still ranks number one in my heart.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetI’d just happened to be walking by the small, seveeerely hyped cookie dough-scooping shop in Greenwich Village on my way to an appointment, when I noticed that there was no 3-hour long line wrapping the block. In fact, there was no line at all. I quickly attributed it to the early hour and having just opened for the day. Later, on my way back, there was still no line. Since I’m not usually in that part of the area, I figured I may as well finally see if Dō was worth these egregious NYC-trend lines. I left with a scoop of salty + sweet dough, with salted caramel and chocolate chips, at $4, and was promptly reminded of how weird I think it is to opt for raw cookie dough over fresh-baked cookies. I could not eat the small mound in one sitting, but it was not a terrible experience. 

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetBrownstone Pancake Factory I love this place as much as I love pancakes, and if my friends Rebecca and Shyla are up for it, and our amigo Tommy is also in town, I get to eat here when I visit them. As you can tell from the photo, this breakfast-all-day restaurant has more than pancakes, as I was the only one that got pancakes…I had to represent for the team. We also shared an Oreo Cake freakshake. Delicious? Yes. Fit for one? Noo.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetKith Ice Cream Not long after I moved to Brooklyn, this sneaker store by Barclays Center opened a cereal bar. Don’t ask questions; this is Brooklyn. The cereal bar also features soft serve ice cream with your choice of cereal add-ins and toppings. I meant to check it out but never got around to it. Luckily, they’ve since opened a location next to my office, and I tried it out on one of those super hot days last week…you can see my ice cream started melting as soon as I stepped outside. They whip the whole thing up DQ Blizzard-style, and the ice cream itself was very sweet. Overall, fun if overpriced spot for only the occasional visit.

Come back soon for my dispatches from the frontlines of Ramadiet 2017!

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5 Ways to Use Speculoos (video)

Hey y’all, happy August! I’ve been playing around with beach snacks and fast sweet treats. Cookie butter, also known as speculoos spread, is one of my favorite things that comes out of a jar. Check out the video I made about how to eat it!

If you have some cookie butter in the cupboard and you don’t know what to do with it, here are the five things:

1. Dip sliced apples into it like peanut butter. Quick, easy, sweet, kinda nutritious.

2. Spread onto toast. Really lets the speculoos flavor come through.

3. Put it on ice cream. If you microwave a small bowl of the spread until it liquefies, it will harden like a chocoalte shell once it hits the ice cream. Textury delight!

4. Make it a filling for cookies. If you’re making a batch of cookies, or even want to spice up some store-bought cookie dough, a speculoos filling will surprise friends and taste great.

5. Eat with a spoon. Why not? Fewer calories, right?

Looking for more ways? Check out my speculoos rice crispy treats here!

Chocolate Chip. Cookie Dough. CUPCAKES.

     What happens when you bring a cookie chef and a cupcake pro together? Something like this. Two months in the planning, Jake and I finally made our chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes yesterday. Far from healthy, the combination of cookie dough balls (egg-less, y’all), chocolate cake batter and cookie dough frosting (ohh yeah) is something I wish we’d thought up first. But apparently this already existed, with different versions and varying degrees of doughy-ness and cupcake presence. Clearly, the correct combination includes cookie dough, in the center of a chocolate cupcake, topped with cookie dough frosting. Take it from the real pros, and the may-as-well-be-pros when we say you must experience this.

If you want the dough to stay dough in the cupcake,
leave them in the freezer while you run to the store to get
baking soda…and make the cupcake batter.
If you think they might be too big when you round them, they are.

    So first you make the cookie dough, which is egg free, so fret not about your salmonella poisoning odds. Though you probably weren’t…sigh. Then you stick the bowl in the fridge, take it out after 15 minutes and roll the dough into little balls. While you’re waiting you can make the cupcake batter. The whole half cup (or 1 if you’re doubling) is not necessary, as we discovered.

We do not condone eating this raw, as it does have egg in it.

But sometimes you just have to test it, right?

     The best part was probably dropping the cookie dough into the batter-filled cupcake liners. If you’re only skimming the recipe you may not notice what Jake saw about keeping the dough afloat – if the dough sticks out of the batter and it’s touching the bottom of the liner, cover the dough anyway, even if it sticks out a bit. We tried rolling/turning/flipping the dough balls with toothpicks. This way, they won’t cook as much.

Leave some space for the dough balls when you’re filling the liners;
a full 1/4 cup worked well.
Like so, previous to awkward rolling

      While these are baking, you can make the frosting – don’t skip it if you want the full experience! Use of an electric mixer/stand mixer is necessary so you can whip the butter properly for a true frosting texture.

We don’t exactly not condone eating this one out of the bowl…
SO GOOD P:

     The hardest part of it all may be waiting for the cupcakes to cool before you put the frosting on. But you know what happens if you don’t – melted mess everywhere.

Technically they’re fine without the frosting…

     And you’re done! Depending on what you were expecting, you may be surprised once one hits your mouth. I think it takes some practice/diligence to perceive the distinct flavor of each part, but maybe that’s not the point.

     I’m glad we stuck to the raw dough, and that it mostly worked, apart from the occasional cooked crust at the bottom. Play around with different versions and recipes; they’re definitely out there for consumption. Happy baking!

You should probably hire us for your next party.
Quick note: we doubled the filling & cupcake recipe, and not the frosting: ended up with three or four cupcakes that weren’t frosted. Also, we added the chocolate chips into the frosting as you can see…thought it looked more like cookie dough.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes
Prep Time: 45 min + freeze time
Cook Time: 25 min

Ingredients:
COOKIE DOUGH FILLING:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda (not necessary, so we found)
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
CUPCAKES:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (a little more necessary)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
COOKIE DOUGH FROSTING:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (<–makes all the difference in the cookie taste!)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
GARNISH:
additional mini chocolate chips
12 mini Chips Ahoy cookies (lol nahh)

Directions:

1. Prepare the cookie dough filling (see *Tips below): In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to stir together the butter, sugars, milk and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the cookie dough is firm. Scoop out dough in 2 tablespoon scoops and place it on a cookie sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes.
2. Prepare the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners. Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt in a blender. Blend to combine. Add the water, oil, egg and vanilla. Blend to combine, scraping down the sides as needed a couple of times until all is well mixed. Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake liners. Drop a ball of frozen chocolate chip cookie dough into the center of each cupcake. If you would like the cookie dough to bake up slightly, keep the top visible as pictured in the post. If you’d like to keep the cookie dough somewhat raw, push it to the bottom of the cupcake wrapper, making sure that the batter comes up and over the dough.
3. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake portion of the cupcake (not tested through the center where the dough is), comes out fairly clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before adding the frosting.
4. Prepare the frosting: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. Mix in the flour, milk and vanilla and continue to mix until all is well combined.
5. Assemble: Frost cupcakes with a knife or scoop the frosting into a piping bag and pipe it on decoratively. Sprinkle mini chips on top and garnish with a small chocolate chip cookie.

TIPS:*You don’t necessarily have to melt the butter and refrigerate the dough before scooping. The melted butter just helps the sugar dissolve a bit more so you don’t have that grainy texture in the cookie dough. It is necessary to freeze it though.
Recipe from Recipe Girl 

Check out a first ever homemade cupcake attempt hither!