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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Better than Pina Coladas Cake

Better Than Pina Coladas Cake
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Last weekend, I visited my sister at school in LA. I'm still having trouble processing the fact that she is a senior, and in the middle of her LAST semester of college - because I feel like that makes me old. I've definitely been feeling old as of late. A couple weeks ago, the perfect storm of work stress, not sleeping, and winter weather combined into an overwhelming maelstrom and prompted me to get online and buy plane tickets. I think it was about 2 a.m. - I realized I really just needed a change of scenery - ASAP! As I clicked through travel blogs, gazing at pictures of palm trees and and singing to myself ("bring me two pina coladas - I want one for each hand. Let's set sail with Captain Morgan, though we'll never leave dry land") my plan came together: I definitely needed a change of scenery, fast. Preferably, beachy scenery accompanied by warmer weather and good company, and what better company than my sister??!

Troubles? I forgot 'em. I buried them in the sand.
We didn't have any pina coladas, but I had a great time touring her campus, seeing her college friends and meeting some new ones (not to mention completely freaking out a few that I'd never met before, who weren't quite sure for a minute which girl was their friend, and which one was the creepy clone/pod person...we kinda look alike), swapping funny stories about dorm life and sleepwalking, enjoying wonderful food, and soaking up sun on the beach. So much better than pina coladas! I think Ellen would agree :-)

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bourbon Butterscotch Cashew Bars {with RaveReviews! Culinary Spirits}



Hello BIWB Posse and welcome back for National Bourbon Heritage Month!  It's been far too long since my last post.  Let's just say, life has been full.  Fuller than full, actually.  Ever had a to-do-list that keeps growing and growing?  Well, welcome to my world.  Great news, though, is that I can see the end in sight.  What better way to celebrate that "end-in-sight feeling" than to make some luscious buttery bourbon bars!  


These bars are so good and not really that sweet, yet very rich and buttery.  I changed up the butterscotch caramel layer by adding a little butter and RaveReview! Bourbon Blend.  Really, a bar that is the perfect combination of browned sugar, bourbon and butter.  Easy to pull together and, because butterscotch chips are used as the base, not as scary a making caramel from scratch.  I love how these bars were soft and not runny, yet held their crust with a good crumb.  All around, a keeper!

Have we talked about RaveReviews! Culinary Spirits...Well, keep reading.  

I found this recipe on a baking blog that, I have to admit, I've rightly obsessed over this year.  The blog is Bake or Break, created by Jennifer in NYC, where everything is so well photographed and baked that I just couldn't stop searching, post-after-post.  I appreciate a baking blog where I know that the recipes will work AND that the finished goodies will be thoroughly baked and NOT RAW.  Jennifer has wonderful recipes and great baking book reviews, so I highly recommend checking out her blog.

A huge THANK YOU to the wonderful folks over at RaveReview! for providing us with a complete sampler pack of their culinary spirits.  After careful research RaveReview! has developed spirits that are formulated just for baking and cooking.  Genius!  We here at BIWB have learned over the last 3 years that baking with booze is not as easy as it might look.  Often times, the alcohol content of a particular spirit is too high for what we'd like to achieve in flavor and texture.  With higher alcohol contents (40% and above), it's super hard to bring out the real flavors of the spirits.  Too little booze often results in no flavor.   Too much booze and the result can be an overpowered boozy finish.  

The way I see it, RaveReview! Culinary Spirits are like the Goldilocks of the Bake It With Booze World: not too boozy, not too weak on flavor, but just right!  We have 3 others culinary blends to give it a go, so you'll be seeing more of these again in the months to come.  



Yes, it tastes as good as it looks.  
Trust me.


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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dirty Shirley Cupcakes

Hello, my boozey baker friends! How I have missed you, and baking, and blogging. It's been a very long time since I've posted anything on the blog; Ellen has been keeping things going while I've been MIA. The last thing I posted was the Spiced Rum Pumpkin Poppers, last fall. Wow, that feels like forever and a day ago.

I won't go into detail about the reasons for my baking and blogging hiatus, as I don't want to rain doom and gloom all over a post that I intend to be positive and hopeful. I made these cupcakes over a year ago, intending to do a post corresponding with cherry blossom season. But then spring didn't come for me.

Suffice it to say that it was a very, very long, dark winter.

What's the saying - April showers bring May flowers? Well, after a long winter full of showers (thunderstorms, monsoons, hurricanes, maelstroms, etc.), May brought me some good things - especially hope. I'm finally seeing the sunshine breaking through the clouds, and the flowers are starting to bloom. So, while it's not exactly cherry blossom season in California, this seemed an appropriately-timed post.  



Since we're celebrating a belated spring, full of sunshine, cherry blossoms, and hope for new possibilities, let's start with the recipe for the cocktail that inspired these cupcakes, shall we?


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