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It’s been a long time since I’ve been this surprised by a recipe. When I decided to make two flavors of donut muffins this week for a holiday party at my office, I was pretty excited. Donuts are good. Muffins are good. These, I figured, should be good. But when I first took a bite of a vanilla one I ruined, bent over the sink so the butter dripping down my fingers didn’t make a mess on the floor, I was shocked.

Donut muffins are amazing. Just amazing. I can’t say it enough. When they’re warm from the oven, or from the microwave, they’re other-worldly. And aside from the thin coating of sugar decorating my floors and counters, I’ve never made something so easy to put together and clean up.

A simple cake batter is poured into greased muffin tins, and after 15 minutes in the oven and a few minutes of resting, the muffins are brushed with melted butter and rolled in sugar. The chocolate muffins are delicately flavored, and the vanilla muffins have just a hint of nutmeg. The cake is soft and moist, and the taste of butter combined with the crunch of sugar in each bite is what kills me.

The original recipe called for nutmeg and cinnamon to be added to the chocolate muffins, but I didn’t like the idea of a chocolate spice donut, and since my taste buds didn’t miss a thing, I will probably do the same next time.

I know saying “You must make these!” is not only a food blog cliché, but completely unnecessary because if I’m posting a recipe, I must be recommending it highly, right? But I really feel strongly about these, strongly enough that I will demand you make them, and tell me if you make them so I can come over and have one. I don’t think I’m going to make these again until I have a dozen people to eat them. It would be too dangerous.

Sugared Vanilla Donut Muffins

Adapted from gracessweetlife.com

Makes 10

3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease a standard muffin tin with cooking spray or using a pastry brush, coat muffin cups with vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and egg on medium-high speed until light in color.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  Pour flour mixture into egg mixture and beat to combine. Results will be a bit clumpy.  Pour in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract, and beat until smooth.

Divide batter evenly into 10 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

While muffins are baking, melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan, and pour remaining sugar into a small bowl.

Let muffins cool slightly in the pan for a minute, then carefully remove and place on wire rack. Lightly brush the top, sides and bottom of each muffin with melted butter and roll in sugar.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Sugared Chocolate Donut Muffins

Adapted from gracessweetlife.com

Makes 12

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
3/4 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
1 large egg
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease a standard muffin tin with cooking spray, or using a pastry brush, coat muffin cups with vegetable oil.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder and salt (and nutmeg and cinnamon if you decide to add them).

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and egg on medium-high speed until light in color.

Add the flour mixture in three batches, beating well after each addition. Final result will be clumpy. Add the vegetable oil, milk, cream and vanilla extract, beating to combine.

Divide batter evenly into 12 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

While muffins are baking, melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan, and pour remaining sugar into a small bowl.

Let muffins cool slightly in the pan for a minute, then carefully remove and place on wire rack. Lightly brush the top, sides and bottom of each muffin with melted butter and roll in sugar.  Cool completely on a wire rack.


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I’m happy to report that we not only had a fabulous time at the bake sale yesterday, but we raised over $3,700! Thank you to all the bloggers, bakers and buyers who came out and supported us. The LA Regional Foodbank will be getting a nice check, and I think we’re all eating cookies for breakfast this morning. See you next time!

Our third Eat My Blog bake sale is almost here! Join me and a crowd of fabulous food bloggers at Tender Greens from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturday, December 4. I’ll be baking my whoopie pies (drool), and they were gone in an hour at the last two bake sales, so come early! Check out the full menu and more info on the official Eat My Blog site.

See you there!

Love g-ma

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Vanilla Egg Custard

A reasonable portion of vanilla egg custard. My portions are never this reasonable.

When I’m in the mood for dessert, something easy to make, and I have no one to impress but myself, the first thing that comes to mind is vanilla custard. Really, honestly, it’s the first and only thing that comes to my mind. When I had food poisoning last week from tainted eggs, and I started to finally get my appetite back, what did I make? Vanilla custard with eggs, of course. My taste buds know no logic or reason.

I was a spoiled kid, although that’s not an earth-shattering revelation. Among other wonderful desserts, I grew up eating my mom’s homemade chocolate éclairs—fluffy white pastry filled with vanilla custard and topped with chocolate. It was only a few years ago that I began to crave the custard element of the dessert more than anything else. In the beginning, it was just the novelty of it—my mom only made custard when she made éclairs, and other than what was dolloped inside the pastry (which was never enough for me), the only custard I could get my hands on was the warm scrapes left in the sauce pan before it was dunked in a sink of soapy water. I could never get enough. There’s just something about a spoonful of cool, creamy goodness that gets into my head. The egg flavor makes it rich, but the vanilla keeps it light. It’s simple enough that I could eat it every day for weeks without getting tired of it. And it’s a wonderful base for fresh fruit, but mine never makes it that far.

For the vanilla, I’ve tried using both vanilla extract and a vanilla bean, when I happen to have one left in the cupboard. The beans are expensive, and I’m cheap, so I usually use extract, but I have to say the vanilla bean works better. The custard takes a few hours to cool, and cool is the best way to eat it, so plan ahead. And if you’re recovering from food poisoning and not in your right mind, and you leave the custard on the stove too long like I did last week, a trip through a fine mesh sieve will get rid of those annoying little granules of corn starch/egg, good as new.

Mmmmm...just look at the vanilla bean!

Vanilla Egg Custard

3 cups milk (I like to use 2 cups whole, 1 cup skim—makes me feel like a better person)
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean, split, seeds removed)

Combine milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy saucepan. If using a vanilla bean, add the seeds to this mixture. Bring to boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, and I mean constantly. This will take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Once it begins to boil and thicken, remove immediately from heat, and stir in butter, and if you’re using extract, the vanilla goes in at this point as well. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly down onto the surface of the custard to prevent the dreaded custard skin, unless you’re one of those people who actually likes custard skins. Try to think of something else for a few hours while it cools, then enjoy!

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The first and probably only professional photos of my whoopie pies, taken at Eat My Blog 2010 on Saturday. Photos by Steven Lam Photography.

Thanks to a great group of bakers and volunteers, Eat My Blog raised over $5,400 for the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank yesterday! A special shout-out to my fellow committee members Cathy, Anjali and Diana. You gals are amazing!

Look out for Eat My Blog 2011 after we’ve all recovered from our sugar-induced comas. In the meantime, check out the fantastic photos of the bake sale by Steven Lam Photography.

It’s baaack! Angelenos with a penchant for gourmet sweets and savories are invited to attend the second annual Eat My Blog bake sale on Saturday, June 19th, organized by Cathy, Diana, Anjali and yours truly. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tender Greens in West Hollywood (8759 Santa Monica Blvd) will host this event on their outdoor patio where Eat My Blog will feature literally thousands of baked goods from 70+ home and professional bakers, including carrot cake cookie sandwiches, bacon chocolate chip cookies, homemade salted caramels and strawberry balsamic cake. All items will be priced between $1 to $4.

Check out eatmyblogla.wordpress.com for the menu and more details. I’m making my chocolate whoopie pies and my grandmother’s famous blueberry buckle. You know you want some. Come early! Last year, we sold out by 1 p.m.

See you there!

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Rice Krispies treats: easy bake sale treat, or gourmet dessert? The answer: both!

It’s a sad but true fact: until recently, I’d never made Rice Krispies treats. Crazy, right? They’re so easy, and so good. They’re always the first item I head for at bake sales. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to mess them up, so they’re always consistent, and always full of crunchy, chewy goodness. Except if the person holding the bake sale serves you the Rice Krispies treat in a napkin, and therefore you end up eating little bits of flimsy paper that adhere to the marshmallow (this happened to me, sadly)…then they’re not so good. But otherwise, I love them.

Marshmallows melting in motion...mmmm....

When my friend Emily came out to visit in the spring, we decided that her California trip wouldn’t be complete without making something full of sugar and butter. This recipe, which I found on Smitten Kitchen, fit the bill, so we dove into the realm of bake sales feet first. I say feet first because this recipe involves browning butter, which I’m always nervous about. Burned butter is a terrible, terrible thing, and since we only had one box of Rice Krispies, I didn’t want to mess this up. But like I said before, it’s almost impossible to mess these things up, and as expected, they were easier than pie.

The best stirrer EVER. Thanks, Emily!

I was in charge of worrying about the browned butter, and Emily, for her part, stirred and stirred like crazy. Emily, can I hire you to come cook with me? Please? You are the world’s best stirrer.

These came out like traditional treats, but with a toasty, rich flavor from the browned butter, and a hint of salt to balance the sweetness. The only thing I would do differently next time I make this recipe is sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top of the treats while they’re cooling. I love slightly salty desserts, and I could use a bit more in these, but maybe that’s just me.

Emily dishing out the treats. I need a new camera. Sigh....

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats
from Smitten Kitchen

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box)

Butter an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. I liked to use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that I’ve sprayed with oil to Press mixture firmly and evenly into the edges and corners with a silicon spatula or a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

Let cool, cut into squares and enjoy! Makes 16 2-inch square bars.

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Ah, there's nothing better than the aroma of a fresh bacon whoopie pie in the early morning.

Ah, there's nothing better than the aroma of a bacon whoopie pie in the early morning. This morning, apparently, was a very bright and red morning.

Let me just start off by saying I’m mad about bacon.

No, you don’t understand, like, mad-as-a-hatter mad about bacon. I’ve always loved bacon, but what started the actual madness was, during senior year of college, my lovely roommates and I received a gift of ten free pizzas, toppings unlimited, from Domino’s after I complained about some crappy service. Once we realized we could put anything, (anything!) on the pizzas and not get charged, we started asking for bacon with extra bacon on top. Which somehow morphed into me screaming BACON! from the bottom of my soul whenever we were in the mood for some pork-fat topped pizza.

Four years later, I’ve been through the bacon world and back again—bacon on burgers is a “duh”, but bacon brittle? I’ve tried it. Bacon jelly beans? Yep, thank you Tiki Chick! Bacon donut? Correct, and Nickel Diner provided. Bacon chocolate bar with pop rocks? Indeed, thanks to the Gastronomer. Bacon in almost every meal I eat out? Yes, sir. (I don’t eat out that often, so when I do, it has to be part of the meal, I mean really, COMON).

BACON!! Seriously. How could you not love it?

BACON!! Seriously. How could you not love it?

So I was asking myself the other day what I could possibly do to whoopie pies, one of my other favorite foods in this world, to make them more original, more…me. And low and behold, bacon whoopie pies were born.

I took my basic whoopie pie recipe—chocolate cookies, vanilla filling—and added crumbled bacon to the top. Yeah, it falls off a bit if you shake the whoopie pies, but I’m working on a solution. My hubby wanted the bacon actually in the filling, but I vetoed that for another day. Would it get soggy? Dunno, but you know for sure I’ll try it next time I makes these, which may be for an LA blogger bake sale. But more on that later…

I feel kinda weird giving a recipe for this, since I already posted my recipe for the whoopie pies, and hey, isn’t this just adding bacon on top before baking? The answer is yes, but since I only post once a month (if I posted more often, and therefore baked more often, I wouldn’t fit in my desk chair), I have to make this worthwhile.

Chocolate Bacon Whoopie Pies


3 slices bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg


1/3 cup marshmallow fluff
1 tsp. vanilla
2 T. flour
2 T. milk
1 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup vegetable shortening

Make bacon (yay!):

Over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy, but not burned or brown, flipping once to cook evenly. Remove and cool on paper towels. Once cool, finely dice into bacon-bit size, or whatever size you deem appropriate. (One inch squares? Sounds good to me!)

Make cookies:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.

Spoon 1/4-cup mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 buttered large baking sheets, or baking sheets lined with your favorite non-stick surface (Silpat is my fave). Sprinkle bacon bits over top of cookies, pressing them into the batter lightly. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool completely.

Make filling:

Combine all ingredients and beat very hard for several minutes at high speed.


To make the whoopie pies, spread a generous amount of filling on a completely cooled cookie. Top with another cookie. Wrap each pie individually in plastic wrap.

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Welcome to G-ma’s Bakery!

Hello blogosphere! My name is Laurie, aka G-ma. “G-ma” was my nickname at my last job, where I baked for and coddled my coworkers whenever they were sad or stressed. Apparently, that’s what grandmas do, so the name stuck.

I’m a Central Pennsylvania native and a recent SoCal transplant, and whenever I miss home (and home cookin!) I bake. My grandmother and mother are sultanas of sweet, buttery goodness, and I will share some of their recipes (and my own concoctions) here. West-Coasters are seriously missing out on PA Dutch treats, so come, read, bake, and share your thoughts (and your own home recipes).


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