Life as a PhD student at MIT isn't easy. Endless problem sets, exams, sponsor visits and committee meetings result in many sleepless nights. Your research work becomes your life and you feel guilty for every moment spent not working.

One of my guilty pleasures is baking. Whenever I need to celebrate or drown my sorrows, which occurs frequently as a graduate student, I find a new recipe. Over the past couple of years, I have subjected many of my friends and neighbors to my concoctions. They haven't seen anything yet!

For Christmas, I received the Flour cookbook. For those of you who don't know what Flour is, I feel sorry for you. Flour is a fantastic bakery and cafe located close to MIT. I'll often stop off here on my way home after a bad day for a sweet, sugary pick-me-up.

After receiving the cookbook, I decided with all my copious free time (yeah right) that I was in need of another project. My mission is to bake every recipe from the Flour cookbook before I graduate. Now the race is on.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Monthly House Meeting - One Month Late

Melting delicious butter for the cupcakes
So, I have once again been very lazy about posting my latest baking adventures. It's finally spring break, not that graduate students get a spring break, but this should be my chance to finally catch up on posting and perhaps get some more baking done :).  Just don't tell my advisor, I should be catching up on my research.
So this post is for the February (yes February) house meeting. In addition to subjecting the house council members to my random rants during the meeting, I also subject them to my baking escapades after the meeting.  For the February house meeting, I decide to bake the Chocolate Cupcakes with Crispy Magic Frosting on page 186 and the Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies on page 103.   
Chocolate cupcakes cooling on the stove
So, I've learned a couple things already during this baking project:  1. It's actually really easy (and fun) to make everything from scratch.  2. If you knew exactly what went into these items, you would never eat them.  It's the buttery, sugary goodness that makes it delicious.  
The cookies and the cupcakes were no exception.  I was surprised when I was baking how fast everything actually was coming together, until I started icing with the crispy magic frosting.  Yes, that's right, magic frosting.  I set up my pastry bag and star tip with the goal of making a cupcake that looks as good as the ones in the cookbook.  They make it look so easy, surely I could do it to, right.  
Cookies fresh from the oven
Wrong.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't ice the perfect cupcake.  For some reason, the so called "magic" frosting would rather stick to itself than the cupcake.  After 1 hour, I finally iced a couple reasonable cupcakes and had several catastrophic failures.

I boxed up the cookies and cupcakes and took them down to the meeting.  The cookies and cupcakes all magically disappeared, even the cupcakes with the questionable frosting.  Gotta love graduate students.  I unfortunately didn't get a chance to sample the cupcakes, but the cookies were fantastic.   My favorite cookbook item so far!

The final cupcakes - some were more elegantly iced than others

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