2009-O-Rama

December 31st, 2009

Hi! I’ll have new content for you any day now, but considering the date, and the fact that I got home early from my internship, I figured I’d jump on the round-up bandwagon, especially considering how drastically this blog and my life have changed over the last year!

There were cupcakes…LOTS of cupcakes…

Vanilla bean-Chardonnay cupcakes with poached quince filling and rose buttercream.

My first intoxicating taste of quince and teaching myself to pipe buttercream roses.

Alexandra Cupcakes

Putting my mom's homemade liqueur to good use and making the most gorgeous buttercream ever, plus my first pastry cream.

cashew

My first foray into the wonderful world of salty-sweet desserts and still one of my favorite cupcakes.

pink

The pinkest cupcake I ever did make and my first taste of pink peppercorns.

Trying out polenta for the first time, though it would be months before I actually ate it in non-baked good form.

Trying out polenta for the first time, though it would be months before I actually ate it in non-baked good form.

Becoming addicted to the chewy, gluten-free and super easy treats that are mochi cupcakes,

Becoming addicted to the chewy, gluten-free and super easy treats that are mochi cupcakes.

Browning butter for the very first and certainly not the last time, and creating a cupcake that was so amazing I still catch myself thinking about it at random times.

Browning butter for the very first and certainly not the last time, and creating a cupcake that was so amazing I still catch myself thinking about it at random times.

Updating my old faithful pumpkin cupcake recipe with a decadent new filling.

Updating my old faithful pumpkin cupcake recipe with a decadent new filling.

Getting REALLY experimental with some funky freeze-dried astronaut food and a little help from a fellow cupcake enthusiast.

Getting REALLY experimental with some funky freeze-dried astronaut food and a little help from a fellow cupcake enthusiast.

Taking my love for salty-sweet to new extremes with fancy salts and one SERIOUSLY chocolatey cupcake.

Taking my love for salty-sweet to new extremes with fancy salts and one SERIOUSLY chocolatey cupcake.

Damn, cupcakes are great. I’m hoping I’ll have the time to get back into Cupcake Hero in the new year, and I’m eagerly awaiting the return of Iron Cupcake: Earth. I’d love for the theme of ICE to stay a little abstract, like it was in October with the music theme – I had SO MUCH FUN making both of my entries into successful, adorable, delicious realities.

Moving on…if you’re familiar with my blog at all, then you already know all about my slight addiction to making ice creams and other awesome frozen desserts. Let’s see some of the best inventions I came up with…

The sexiest ice cream photo ever...and my revelation on making successful ice cream without a machine.

The sexiest ice cream photo ever...and my revelation on making successful ice cream without a machine.

My first frozen yogurt, which was a semi-finalist in the first James Beard Foundation Twitter Recipe Contest!

My first frozen yogurt, which was a semi-finalist in the first James Beard Foundation Twitter Recipe Contest!

Ice cream for my boyfriend, inspired by the caffeinated awesomeness that is chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Ice cream for my boyfriend, inspired by the caffeinated awesomeness that is chocolate-covered espresso beans.

My answer to strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode...skip the pie, keep the a la mode...and a little crust, if you must.

My answer to strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode...skip the pie, keep the a la mode...and a little crust, if you must.

The most refreshing, semi-healthy ice cream...in my soy and tea-loving opinion.

The most refreshing, semi-healthy ice cream...in my soy and tea-loving opinion.

Another pie-inspired ice cream, this time with juicy peaches and creamy mascarpone cheese.

Another pie-inspired ice cream, this time with juicy peaches and creamy mascarpone cheese.

A vague concept becomes reality...ohhh hibiscus.

A vague concept becomes reality...ohhh hibiscus.

A spicy, warming drink becomes a chilly dessert when I get my hands on some Concord grapes.

A spicy, warming drink becomes a chilly dessert when I get my hands on some Concord grapes.

Ahhh…ice cream. I actually have to make some more soon, since Z and I just polished off my last batch last night. It got significantly easier to make after I got an ice cream maker for my birthday (thanks Mom and Dad!) but I’m still ok with making it by hand.

I also tried my hand at making macarons, several times over. Sometimes they come out great, sometimes not so much…but they’re generally delicious no matter what (and if they do fail, I can usually figure out what I did wrong).

Before I learned the correct way to pipe them...simple and wonderful, though, with a delicious honey-meringue filling.

Before I learned the correct way to pipe them...simple and wonderful, though, with a delicious honey-meringue filling.

Confusing Coconut Macarons...

Confusing Coconut Macarons...

It took me about five tries before I finally figured out what the problem was with these particular macarons, but they were worth all the trouble!

It took me about five tries before I finally figured out what the problem was with these particular macarons, but they were worth all the trouble!

Making macarons with the Daring Bakers...marshmallow filling? Oh yes.

Making macarons with the Daring Bakers...marshmallow filling? Oh yes.

As I type this I currently have some egg whites aging on the windowsill behind me (I don’t have a lot of counter space) so watch for another flavor coming up soon!

It wasn’t all sweet, sugary concoctions, though – I’ve done quite a few savory original recipe here as well.

I learned how to make risotto and learned of the magic that is fried sage.

I learned how to make risotto and learned of the magic that is fried sage.

I made my first ever homemade noodles - spinach, even! - in the Daring Bakers lasagna challenge.

I made my first ever homemade noodles - spinach, even! - in the Daring Bakers lasagna challenge.

I made my first and only (so far) batch of homemade noodles, which were incredibly awesome and well worth the time and effort.

I made a batch of fat egg noodles, which were incredibly awesome and well worth the time and effort...and went great with the cheesy, zesty accompaniments I added.

I got my hands on some excellent coconut oil and went to town, frying everything from plantains to chicken.

I got my hands on some excellent coconut oil and went to town, frying everything from plantains to chicken.

I succeeded in making gnocchi on my second try, and good thing, too, since I used pretty purple potatoes!

I succeeded in making gnocchi on my second try, and good thing, too, since I used pretty purple potatoes!

Just looking at those makes me hungry. I definitely need to take an afternoon and make homemade pasta again soon. Yum yum! Maybe ravioli next time?

I know you’re probably getting tired of this but I’ve got a few more to go! There were a lot of other tasty treats coming out of my kitchen (both in Maine and New York) in 2009. Here are my other non-cupcake, ice cream, macaron or savory favorites…

Rainbow carrots made a gorgeous gradiated gift for a friend.

Rainbow carrots made a gorgeous gradiated gift for a friend.

Marshmallows became a regular part of my repertoire.

Marshmallows became a regular part of my repertoire.

I overcame a ridiculously long, cold power outage with my first ever crepes, hand-whipped cream and fresh fruit.

I overcame a ridiculously long, cold power outage with my first ever crepes, hand-whipped cream and fresh fruit.

I topped cake with cookies.

I topped cake with cookies.

I made the BEST CUSTARD EVER.

I made the BEST CUSTARD EVER.

I tried my hand at whoopie pies, which were wildly popular for about 5 minutes.

I tried my hand at whoopie pies, which were wildly popular for about 5 minutes.

I made my first cheesecake, complete with homemade graham cracker crust.

I made my first cheesecake, complete with homemade graham cracker crust.

I made my own yogurt.

I made my own yogurt.

Panna cotta wobbled its way into my life.

Panna cotta wobbled its way into my life.

I made the most magical cookies ever.

I made the most magical cookies ever.

I got pretty good at making my own jams.

I got pretty good at making my own jams.

I invented tasty morsels upon request from friends and family.

I invented tasty morsels upon request from friends and family.

Finally - a socially acceptable way to drink molasses!

Finally - a socially acceptable way to drink molasses!

I got pretty darn good at making Madeleines.

I got pretty darn good at making Madeleines.

I impressed a chef at school with my twist on a Daring Bakers challenge, shortly after learning to make these in class.

I impressed a chef at school with my twist on a Daring Bakers challenge, shortly after learning to make these in class.

Agar agar is neato stuff and Muscat grapes are way tasty!

Agar agar is neato stuff and Muscat grapes are way tasty!

I can’t agree with those of you who are saying good riddance to 2009 – it has been one of the best years of my life. One of the hardest in many ways, but overall I am probably the happiest I have ever been. I am in a place I have always wanted to be, learning about something that I am obviously VERY interested in, interning at an excellent restaurant and loving every minute of it (even the tedious, hand-cramping piping and messy dishwashing!) and best of all? Z moved down just a few weeks ago so now we don’t even have to miss each other anymore.

What will 2010 bring? For me, a frantic final month of school, filled with projects and exams. Some I’m looking forward to (I’ll be finishing my plated dessert menu project this weekend), others I dread (ugh, WEDDING CAKE). After that, I hope to find a good job fairly quickly and continue learning, practicing and having a great time. As for this blog, I am still very interested in posting some how-to videos, which will hopefully become reality soon since I now have someone here to hold the camera for me! But first up will be some posts about the goodies I made for, uh, Christmas…which I STILL haven’t mailed because half of them didn’t work out the first time. They’ll be accompanied by a note that reads “screw your resolution – eat more sweets.”

Happy New Year, guys. :)

One Response to “2009-O-Rama”

  1. jenny says:

    Happy New Year Anna! Its great to see the progression of your work over the year, I’m sure you’ll be too busy being a rockstar pastry chef to talk to the likes of us lowly regular folk next year! Congratulations and it looks like being an even more exciting 2010!

    Good luck with the wedding cake, I quite enjoyed doing ours, specially since it was styrofoam, so it was more of a fun art project than a cake, although my team hated me for choosing square!

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