Dark vs Light Brown Sugar – Does it Matter?

We’ve all had this moment – the recipe calls for light brown sugar, and you open your cupboard and only find dark. What to do? Does it really matter? What’s really the difference anyways? When I first started baking, I always followed recipes exactly because I didn’t have a good idea about how the individual ingredients come together to create the final product. As I’ve baked more, I’ve developed more of an instinct about how changing specific ingredients in a recipe will change the outcome of the bake.

This past weekend, I baked my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (they are SO GOOD) but instead of using dark brown sugar as usual, I decided to try it with light brown sugar. The results were markedly different but was one really better than the other?

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Chocolate Drizzled Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread is such a simple and delicious cookie. You mix some sugar, flour, and a whole bunch of butter to get a perfectly decadent and rich treat. But the first few times I’ve made it, like for these Earl grey shortbread cookies, the dough would never come together and it would just keep crumbling over and over! It was a discouraging process and a sad waste of butter. Luckily my roommates aren’t too picky about eating cookie crumbles 🙂

Now, I finally feel like I’ve mastered the recipe for making perfect shortbread that is buttery and light but doesn’t crumble. And for a cookie that’s a little fancier, this recipe is so easy to dress up with a few drizzles of dark chocolate

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Forgiveness and the Best Apple Pie

With Pi day right around the corner, I was eager to bake a pie this weekend and share my favorite apple pie recipe. I’d had a long, tiring week of work and I just wanted to unwind with a good book, hot tea, and a fresh slice of fragrant pie. Baking this pie became the One Big Thing I was looking forward to over the weekend. The fact that I wanted to smash my face into my laptop for most of the week made it seem even more exciting. I couldn’t wait for my weekend and my pie!

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A Guide to Planning a Magic Trip to Disneyland

When I think of Disney, I dream of childhood nostalgia wrapped in the form of princesses and castles and giant turkey legs. Ever since moving to California six years ago, Disneyland has been on my bucket list, but I’ve never quite made it there. But for the past few weeks, I’ve been working in driving distance of Disneyland and there were no more excuses to be made – I had to spend a weekend at the happiest place on Earth.

The weekend was truly magical. Every minute detail of Disneyland is orchestrated so you feel like you’re in a different world, and very little is overdone or tacky. The rides are a wonderful mix of nostalgic, old-style Disney cartoons and high-tech, immersive experiences. Even though I have grown into a cynical adult, Disneyland still managed to captivate my imagination and transport me to a place of magic.

But a lot of different variables can make your trip less magical – long lines, rain, and expensive ticket prices. I wanted to share some of my tips to help minimize the pain and help all your Disney dreams come true!

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DIY Girl Scout Cookies: How to Make Tagalongs

Tagalongs (known as Peanut Butter Patties in some parts of the US), are my absolute favorite type of Girl Scout cookie. Buttery shortbread cookie, cream peanut butter, and rich chocolate is a combination that is hard to resist. Often overshadowed by Samoas or Thin Mints, Tagalongs are a highly underrated cookie. So around this time of year, when I see a Girl Scout with outside a grocery store selling their delicious cookies, I simply have to grab a box of Tagalongs. After all, there was a time when I was a Girl Scout whose life mission was to sell as many cookies as possible (my record was 189 boxes).

But eventually Girl Scout cookie season will end, and there will be no more Tagalongs to be had – unless, you learn how to make your own! My homemade Tagalongs start with a crisp butter cookie base that is topped with a swirl of peanut butter and then dipped in warm, melty dark chocolate.  They are a little time-consuming to make, but I’m proud to say that they taste like the delicious, less hydrogenated older sister to the Girl Scout Tagalong.

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Sunday Brunch for One

If you’ve read my favorite SF brunch places list, you know that I love brunch. I love the decadent breakfast foods served around lunch time, and the long, leisurely time spent eating, but I especially love the good company. Eating my favorite foods with my favorite people is key to my weekend morning experience. In fact, if I eat brunch alone on a weekend, I won’t go through the trouble of making anything fancy at all. Maybe I’ll have some quick oatmeal if I’m up to it, but normally I’ll just have a snack bar. Somehow, the care I put into cooking up a delicious meal only seems worth it when I can share with other people.

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Syrup Alternative: Healthy Berry Compote

I love lazy Sundays that start by lying sleepily in your warm bed and then continue with a big stack of fluffy pancakes. And of course, there’s nothing better with pancakes than a warm drizzle of sugary syrup – except this warm berry compote made with frozen berries and a bit of honey 🙂

It’s a bit bold to say that I’ve found a better match than pancakes + syrup, but to me, the combination of sweet berries with just a bit of tartness is the perfect topping for my homemade pancakes.  And if you’re not a huge pancake person, you can pile it on crepes, French toast, biscuits, omelettes, whatever makes your heart sing.  While still quite sweet, the berry compote will have less processed sugar and more nutrients to be a healthier part of your lazy weekend morning. It’s also quick and easy to throw together using ingredients you can easily store. Frozen berries are some of my favorite ingredients because they add great flavor and never go bad – they’re also featured in my Healthy Chocolate Berry Oatmeal!

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