Starting with a BANG! And a Cheeseburger?

Check, one, two? Is this thing on? Better yet, am I actually doing this? Yes…I think I am.

You see, I’ve done a lot of “joking” this year. The kind of joking where I laugh and say I’m “going to do something”, and then I actually do it. Run a half marathon? Check. Get a second job in a bakery instead of waiting until retirement? Check. Last week, I quipped about blogging my foodie obsession instead of just overwhelming my Facebook feed with photos of my experiments. So, why stop now? Let’s check this bad boy off the list.

Why am I doing this? Well, a few reasons. First, I’m doing this to remind myself to do more for me. At this point, it’s probably too obvious of a statement to say that I love to bake. But, that’s the truth. Therefore, I find any excuse to bake for holidays, family and friends, and my class (even when they’re nowhere close to earning it). But, ironically, I never bake for me. Ever. Second, my Pinterest is getting WAY too full with ideas that go untried. Third, I like to write…not as much as I like chocolate, but still. It’s a time I can tell my corny jokes, and be completely okay with the fact that I’m the only one laughing. Finally, I’m looking for balance. Balance between busyness and boredom, balance between health and indulgence…just balance.

So, by starting this today, and documenting this here and now, I hope to avoid the following excuses that I KNOW I’ll come up with this summer:
“Are you kidding, I can’t make that fancy (insert name of not-so-fancy dish here)…who do you think I am? The queen herself, Ree Drummond?”
“Wah, it should be illegal what they charge for butter these days.”
“Nah, I’d rather just pin my 4000th foodie dream on Pinterest instead…”
“It’s clearly way too hot in this air conditioned home to turn on the oven.”
…and many, many, more.

Anyways, back to the present, more motivated me. This summer is a long one. Thanks to a lack of snow days, we have 12 glorious weeks of freedom. My goal is to put 12 conquests on my baking bucket list and document them here. One a week. That’s doable right? Who knows, maybe I’ll go crazy (and get rich) and add more!
But for now, here is the list, in no particular order. This summer, I WILL make:

– a multi-layer berry cake with LEMON CURD (the 80 year old in me is more than a little excited for that one…)
– a tart
– baked donuts (I’ve only had my brand new Sur La Table pan for 3 months now…)
– fried filled yeast donuts
– chocolate babka OR pains au chocolate (depending how fancy I’m feeling…)
– homemade monkey bread
– zucchini bread (because, summer.)
– a dessert impostor (because the one below was so fun!)
– ice cream
– macarons (yes, I am saying that word out loud with a thick French accent while laughing like Julia Child)
– eclairs/cream puffs
– sugar cookies with fancy Royal icing OR homemade girl scout cookies
*Bonus: maybe I’ll try to learn more about photography and move past my iPhone 5 quality documentation*

To start my summer, yesterday, I made a “warm-up” baked good for the last day of school. Ever since I watched (and re-watched again) this season of the Kid’s Baking Championship, I’ve LOVED the idea of dessert impostors. I mean who doesn’t love a sugar cookie pizza? Or chocolate nachos? Or…cupcake brownie cheeseburgers?! That’s right, turn your grills off, because this turned out to be better than any piece of meat you could burn on one of those things.

I decided that for my warm up experiment, I should play it safe. I mean, why risk talking myself out of this thing before it actually started? Therefore, I made my burger components from three pre-written, foolproof recipes. My fudgy brownies, yellow cupcakes, and vanilla buttercream all pretty closely follow Sally’s recipes from Sally’s Baking Addiction. LOVE. HER.

Since I’ve been looking forward to this project for weeks, I practically ran home from school to start. I made the cupcakes first, then the brownies. I had a few near accidents like almost forgetting to spray my cupcake pan, and almost forgetting to multiply the sugar by one and a half batches and not the flour, BUT alas, they turned out.

After waiting for only half the time I was supposed to, I impatiently released them from their pans. Let me tell you, this was STRESSFUL. Because I couldn’t line the cavities, releasing these things was super tedious. I must have held my breath for the entire time time it took to dismantle these 24 little bombs. Some bottoms crumbled a bit in the process, but hey, we can’t all be McDonalds factory made hamburgers, can we? On the brighter side, however, it turns out that my brownie recipe made more than I needed! (I won’t tell you what happened to those extra scraps…)

Cupcakes

Brownie Cutouts

Now for the fun part…assembly! I started with my basic vanilla buttercream, and dyed half yellow/orange for the cheese and half red for the ketchup. A little coconut got some green dye added to it for the lettuce.

Toppings

The rest turned out to be simpler than I thought! Just cut the cupcakes in half, squish the sides of the brownies a bit to “hamburger-ize” them, and then layer up your toppings.  Ta-da!

Close up burgers

Today, I revealed my product to the kids, and let me tell you how much I love 4th graders. They are impressed by pretty much anything. I should have taken a picture of the jaws on the floor. One or two of them might still be there.

And, there you have it, my very first blog post and a cute summer BBQ idea to boot! Join me in the coming weeks while I spend a summer experimenting, setting off a few too many smoke alarms, learning without taking a million dollar class, and hopefully eating some amazing grub along the way.