I’m very excited to feature a guest post today from my girl, Robin! Robin was one of my very first blog friends, and we quickly bonded over having daughters named Brynn, frugal lifestyles, and probes (inside joke).
Thank you to Kara for letting me post on The Daily Whisk today! I love this space because it combines two of my favorite things– finances and baking.
I love baking and anything to do with sugar. I have a serious problem with sweets, and with buying too many sweets, which is a problem for me since I’m all about saving money and living a frugal life.
I can’t stand to walk past a bakery, cupcakery, candy store, or even a cafe that has a dessert case without dropping in to check out the goods.
And don’t even get me started on a fudgery (they exist!)
Somehow in my rural town of 3,000 people, we manage to keep not one, but two bakeries in business.
Seriously– we don’t have a Walmart, but we can support two bakeries??! I can’t figure that one out.
The cost of a few baked goods may not seem like a big deal, but it basically became a habit, like some people have a coffee shop habit. A couple of cupcakes, a half pound of fudge, and a dozen thumbprint cookies can get pricey!
It became my latte factor, so it had to go.
In my quest to frugalize my entire life, I set about
giving up sweets altogether figuring out how to create my own pastry goodness with zero skills and no fancy tools. I am definitely not a master baker, chef, or cooker (as my 3 year old says) by any means. It’s merely my insatiable desire for baked goods that has lead me to take matters into my own thrifty hands.
I was blowing too much dough (get it?) on pricey bakery goods, so I set out to find recipes that match what bakeries sell so I could continue to indulge my sweet tooth while saving money. (Win, win!)
These days, whenever I find something delectable at a bakery, I go home and scour my recipe books and the interwebs to figure out how to make it on my own without buying any fancy ingredients.
That last part is key, because I don’t want to have to buy a bunch of odd ingredients that I might not ever use again. My favorite dessert recipes use ingredients that I regularly have available in my pantry or are items that I can purchase to use with multiple recipes.
It’s a hard job taste testing so many different sugary concoctions to get the right recipe, but someone’s gotta do it.
In the spirit of thriftiness, I wanted to share with you two of my favorite recipes. The best part is that these recipes are easy (I wouldn’t make them if they weren’t easy– I’m admittedly lazy), and there are no funky ingredients- just fresh,
good for you ingredients like cream, butter, and sugar. Using the real stuff really does make a difference in the finished product. I’ve also learned a few tricks along the way to make my baked goods seem like they truly came from a bakery.
Tricks of the trade
- For uniform cookies, use a cookie scoop. The one I use makes the perfect 3 bite cookies, which are great for toddler hands.
- A cupcake scoop is not necessary– you can make uniformly sized cupcakes by using a small measuring cup to divide the batter into your muffin tin.
- Using a pastry bag and tip to pipe on your cupcake frosting makes them look really fancy and gourmet. Don’t have any tips? Just cut the corner out of a sandwich Ziploc. It’s just as easy as frosting them with a knife, but people will think you bought them at a bakery.
- Use cake flour for your cupcakes and cakes for great bakery texture.
- When baking cookies, pull them out of the oven just before they look done. The cookies will continue to bake once you pull them out. Pulling them out early results in a deliciously soft, bakery-style cookie.
Now on to the recipes!
A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a tiny little cafe (the name of the cafe had “chocolate” in it– it was bound to happen), where I had the most delicious chocolate cobbler. I had never had chocolate cobbler before, so I found it to be a very delectable and exotic dish. (Turns out, it’s not exotic.) When I searched for a recipe, I only found one that gave me the same chocolate syrupy goodness that I was looking for, and I think what takes the cake (ha!) is the fresh whipped cream plopped on top. You could also put ice cream on it to make a delicious hot fudge sundae. Yum!
Easy Peasy Chocolate Cobbler* via AllRecipes.com
*This recipe seems a little odd with the hot water, but it works!
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Whipping cream (For delicious homemade whipped cream, which is much better than the bought kind, just whip it– whip it good.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in an 8×8 inch baking dish while the oven preheats.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth. Spoon this batter over the melted butter in the baking dish.
- Stir together the remaining cup of sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Sprinkle over the batter. Slowly pour boiling water over the top of the mixture.
- Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Serve warm with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
Who doesn’t love the fudge that you can buy at a fudgery? The problem is it always seems to cost $164 a pound! Ugh. This recipe uses real cream and butter, and that makes all the difference. You do need to use a thermometer for this to make sure you reach the correct heat for your sugar to fully melt.
Fudgery-Style Fudge from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup half and half or light cream
- 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, cut up
- 1 tsp corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
Line a loaf pan with buttered foil. Butter the sides of a heavy saucepan and combine sugar, cream, chocolate, corn syrup, and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue boiling at a steady rate, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reads 236 degrees. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla, but do not stir. Cool to 110 degrees (about an hour.) Beat mixture vigorously with a clean wooden spoon until fudge starts to lose its gloss. Spread fudge into prepared pan and cool.