Cupcakes and Sunshine: April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

World's BEST BROWNIES: Truffle S'more Brownies



It’s starting to feel like summer! And during the summer, I crave s’mores 24/7. Growing up, s’mores were a must at every summertime bonfire at the lake. My cousins would look forward to jumping in the water and swinging on the rope swing…and I would dream about those hot, marshmallowy s’mores every year. During the wintertime, my grandfather ignites the fireplace and we roast marshmallows in the comfort of a warm, cozy home. But in the summer, I need s’mores right away. Without a fire. And preferably with brownies!   
Ohhh my word. 

  
These brownies…
Are not your regular brownies. 
And they are not your regular S’mores brownies either. 



These are special.
Quite special. 




I would like to owe some of the greatness from these moist, delicious brownies to Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie Mix. This mix yields a moist, delicious brownie that seriously melts. In. Your. Mouth. The rich chocolate chip pieces and chewy, cake-like texture provide the perfect base for the s’mores toppings.  I’ve made a lot of brownies in my life. And Joe the Trader….you, my dear friend, have outdone yourself with this mix. 


I’m sure any other brownie mix would work with these treats. But if a Trader Joe’s is convenient, hop on over there and purchase the Truffle Mix as soon as possible. Your anxious tastebuds will thank you.
The Truffle mix calls for one stick of butter, but for these S’mores brownies, I used ¼ cup of applesauce and ¼ cup of Coconut Oil instead of the butter. The applesauce made these delights moist and sweet while the Coconut Oil gave the brownies a slight German Chocolate-like taste. 

The coconutty undertones…Mwahahaha. So good. Like summer in your mouth.  I’m not even a huge coconut fan, but the coconut oil works a kind-of-sort-of magic.You know what else works a kind-of-sort-of magic? Cinnamon. A sprinkle of cinnamon in your brownie batter brings out so much chocolatey richness. It is unbelievable. You won’t be able to taste the cinnamon, but man oh man! Does it do so much to the flavor composition! Just do it! Again, your tastebuds will thank you. 


Melt your coconut oil and applesauce together for a few seconds in a double broiler or in  the microwave. Mix 2 eggs and the melted oil and applesauce together in a large mixing bowl. Add your truffle brownie mix and 1 tsp. of Cinnamon. Mix just until incorporated. Spread the batter in a coconut-oiled 8x8 baking dish (You can also spray Pam or butter the pan here). I laid parchment paper in the 8x8 pan and then coated it to prevent sticking. This makes taking the cooled brownies out of the pan a lot easier once they are finished baking.


Next, toss some mini marshmallows across the top of the batter. You can get creative here with the amount of marshmallowy goodness you would like to add. I didn’t add too many mallows because I wanted the moist brownie mix flavors to be the center of attention. Next, break up your Hershey Bar pieces and distribute them on top of the marshmallows. Finally, sprinkle your grahamcracker crumbs on top of the Hershey pieces.



Slide these gems into the oven and bake for exactly 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Immediately remove the brownies and set them in a pan of ice and cold water. This will keep the brownies moist and scrumptious and prevent them from drying out and overbaking. This step is optional but by setting the brownie pan in the ice water, the baking  process stops and your brownies will remain gooey and melty.


Now, you must wait an hour before trying these jewels. I know…it’s ridiculously hard. Especially when the sweet marshmallow s’more scent is swirling and wafting its wonderfulness throughout the kitchen and you just want to dig your face into the gooey chocolate pan. Withhold. I have faith in you. Paint your nails, watch Friends re-runs, lick the brownie batter out of the mixing bowl while you clean the kitchen. It’s rough, but worth it. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. And you will be so fond of these by the end of the hour, you will be begging for s’more and s’more.



Once you have waited the full hour, you are free to devour these brownies as you wish. I usually like ice-cream with my brownies, but these need absolutely nothin’. The wonderful s’more layer on top of the moist, rich, brownie cushion is just so sweet and soft and summery. Bring these to your next barbecue. Or surprise your neighbors with a summer s’more treat.  These are summer perfection.  


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Clothes and Media and Cupcakes and Donuts and Such


Hello, hello, hello!

Happy humpday! A lot of things have happened lately including a Seven experiment update, (read more about it HERE) cupcakes, donuts, birthday celebrations, more spring cleaning, and a bit of studying here and there.

First of all, we have concluded our month of the Seven experiment with clothes. The Seven experiment is based off of the book Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker that shows how we can eliminate excess from our lives and become closer to the Lord by ridding ourselves of those distractions.

The first month of the seven experiment, we each chose seven food items that we had to stick with the entire month. The second month of the Seven experiment, the month we just concluded, we only wore seven articles of clothing for the entire month. Of course we could wash our clothes, but I never imagined how challenging this part of the experiment would be. By the end of the month, I think we could all agree that we felt frumpy, sick, and tired of our clothing items. Which is a bit wild! Our clothes do not define us. I constantly found myself comparing my 7 clothing items to others around me and I prayed that my insecurities wouldn't rob me of my identity in Christ during this month. I have noticed that every time a month of Seven is complete, I truly realize how blessed I am for all I have. So many food options, clothing options, and more!

This month of the Seven experiment is a big one: MEDIA. I definitely had to capitalize that word because right now media is a big thing in my life. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, tv, Pinterest, texting, movies, Snapchat. I love it all. And I spend waaaay too much time on social media than I probably should. Thankfully, this month, we are taking a break from it all.

It is Day 2 of the no-media month and I already feel like I have soooo much time on my hands. Yesterday morning I woke up having Instagram withdrawals. And then after having a teenytiny pity party I began working on homework, organizing, making breakfast, reading...all before classes...I realized that HEY! Media month isn't too bad! I checked so many things off of my to-do list yesterday it was a bit cuh-razy. Then, instead of watching tv or movies last night, we went to our first yoga class at the gym. It was great. And I can NOT wait to do another class this week.

After dinner, one of my bestfriends- Joni- surprised me by baking a recipe from my  favorite cookbook by Sally's Baking Addiction. She made delicious Sunshine Lemon Cupcakes which made me SO SO happy because sunshine and cupcakes are my two favorite things. (Hence the blog name) Thank you, thank you Joni! You are the sweetest!



There are so many things we can do without media and I can't wait to share all of our media-less adventures. One thing I have in mind is to bake more donuts. I recently won a copy of Baked Donuts for Everyone from the Edible Perspective and I can't wait to try out so many new donut recipes. I've also recently made Averie Cooks chocolate donuts



and my favorite favorite faaaavorite Baked Lemonade donuts again. YOU HAVE TO TRY THESE. 



I'm off to register for classes. (I can NOT believe it's time to do this already again) Have a super, super day, friends! :) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bunny Bum Pancakes for #MakeitPinterestingMonday


It's been a while since I've done a #MakeitPinterestingMonday post, but after seeing bunny bum pancakes on Pinterest, I had to make them! Are these not THE cutest? Just two tiny pancakes, one regular pancake, strawberry feet, and a fluffy whipped cream tail.



Happy, happy Monday friends! :)


Saturday, April 5, 2014

April Goals


It's finally spring cleaning time! We have been clearing out clothes for our clothing swap, cleaning our cars, and getting organized. It has felt so fantastic to distress and get rid of excess. Except for the excessive pollen that attempted to interrupt our super car-cleaning-spree with lots of sneezes and eye itching that we can't get rid of. Thank goodness for Zyrtec.

It's time for April goals as well. So far, I've already knocked not one...but TWO items off of my April goals list.


This morning we got up bright and early and headed straight to Athen's farmers market. Because it was opening day, we made sure to get there first before everything sold out.


My market haul included a breakfast bun, a loaf of bread, and some baba ghanoush- a delicious eggplant dip. We also got to try some great juices and granola.


After the market, we took an iced drink break and then headed out to clean our cars.


and then we picked up some frozen yogurt at Racetrac, paint at Home Depot, paper towels at Kroger, and a couple of items at Trader Joe's.

Today, I'm hoping to get outside a bit more. Even though my goal for last month was to run outside, I really want to run outside more this month as well. We ran a 5K last weekend, but it was tough!


The whole Disney Princess half-marathon idea is going to take a bit more training than I thought. But by next year, I think I can be ready. Plus with great friends and Disney magic I think we can make it through. Hope you are having a happy, happy Saturday!

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