I like classics, I don’t need fancy, for me the real beauty lies in doing the simple things right. But sometimes it needs the total extravaganza and this weekend called for it… For a birthday party on the weekend I combined the most delicious treats to this sugar rush: Chocolate Peanutbutter Caramel Cupcakes!
I don’t want to babble (I’ll do that in a separate post soon or later) so straigtht up to the recipe this time…
I managed to stay on track with my daily Bujo routine for exactly 66 days. It’s longer than I expected and shorter than I hoped for it to last. I know why this daily thing isn’t for me. I have adjusted my bujo to fit my schedule and I like the way I use it now much more. I really hoped the Bujo would help me with my writing motivation and to update my blog more often. Truth is I was looking for the answer literally in the wrong book. I suffered from a writer’s block, I have started on a few recipes, but for some reason I couldn’t publish them. Why? Because I didn’t get into the zone, I wasn’t happy with what I wrote and thought: „this isn’t me“! I started this blog to keep track of my baking endavours but also to share personal things with my readers, like why I like or made something, who I made it for or what it reminds me of. If readers just wanted a recipe they would rather check a database and not a blog. In my opinion blogs ARE personal. Not the journal kind of personal, but giving the reader a peak into the writer’s life. After reading a few blogs for a long time, I feel as if I know the writer and I can relate. This is what I want for my reader’s too. I don’t want this to be a soulless recipe database, I want this to be a living blog, reflecting my life and give you a peak into my life.
That is hard for me sometimes. In the past months I simply didn’t feel like sharing. Not that I had nothing to say, I simply did not want to. I tried to let it go, wait for it to come back to me, I forced myself and then even made a list post…! But nothing… And while I was looking for my voice to come back, it hit me: I should start with the people in my life. Because without the people around me, my life wouldn’t be as happy, rich, eventful and filled with laughter.
One of these people is Nadine. Along with some other bloggers we met at a fair last year and I liked her from the first second. She is a warm, welcoming, likable and energetic person. She is not only the girl with the complicated blogname (dipi..t..serenity), for some reason she and her style remind me of holidays. She is a go-getter, knows what she wants and is very creative. Nadine is someone to look up to, not just because she is tall 😉 I was honoured I had the chance to write a guest-post on her fantastic (German) Food- and Travelblog in June while she was on a roadtrip through Dixieland. The first 3 things that come to my mind when I think about Dixie are music, country and Mississippi mud pie. Perhaps because I am a chocoholic… And with all my fellow chocoholics out there I’d like to share this recipe.
Have you heard of bullet journals being the new buzz? I must say even though I see myself as a digital native there are still a lot of things I do with pen and paper. When it comes down to scribble something, cross off things from to do lists or to writerecipe notes, NOTHING beats pen and paper. I doodle mindlessly, I am somewhat into handlettering, I have a thing for stationery and I hate pages full of meaningless words. So bullet journaling seemed to be the perfect buzz for me.
Let me sum up for those of you who haven’t heard about it yet: A bullet journal is a mix of a journal and a planner, to give all your doodles, to do lists, events, notes or simply your thoughts a home, whatever you want to put in there you are free to do so. The only things that are advised to be in there is the key (your legend to categorise the things you put in there, like to do’s, dates, events, …) and an index (I know this sounds annoying but it helps you to find where you put things). You can customise the rest to fit to your needs. There is a nice video on bulletjournal.com that explains how the system itself works. After using mine for a month, I have some learnings and I am very eager to share them with you.
1. Bulletjournaling doesn’t help you to get more shit done
I initially started because I felt a bit lost with all my to do’s. Besides a work and a private calendar I have several to do list’s and boards in various apps, on random pieces of paper for work, private stuff, blog, household etc. I kept forgetting things, from family birthdays to appointments or things to do. I thought when I consolidate at least the private part and put it all together in one bullet journal, I would finally be able to plan better and get more shit done. It may take you by surprise but:
2. Visualising to do’s doesn’t mean you actually complete them
I noticed in the first week already that something was off with my planning. I found it hard to complete my daily dose of tasks, it felt like 24 hours a day just weren’t enough. I simply had too much on my plate and not enough time/energy/motivation to get through with everything. I remember leaving the kitchen a complete mess after decorating a cake at 2 o’clock, just to get up at 6 to clean the mess and take pictures of the cake for the blog in daylight. I simply understimated the time I would need to complete the cake and after the first cake-attempt didn’t turn out okay, I had to redo unplanned. Things don’t always go according to plan and even though I now plan less into my freetime, I still find myself with a lot of open tasks at the end of the day. Which brings me to the next learning:
3. Prioritisation is hard, but it happens automatically
I find it hard to prioritise my private life. Sure it is important to have clean underwear, but if a friend is in need I won’t turn them down. There is no general rule for prioritisation and I find it especially hard to do those things I don’t like. In the end prioritisation happens automatically. So I either find myself making cake until 2 in the morning because I really want to do it or I postpone to some other day in the vague future to give my body the rest it needs.
4. A bullet journal makes it easier to rememeber things
There might be something about the saying that things go directly from hand to mind. I find it easier to remember things and dates without looking them up in the journal. I was tempted to use it as an external memory, to dump everything in there to get it off my mind. Actually the opposite happened which I am very grateful for: It does train my mind, my memory did get better. But still I battle with „out of sight, out of mind“ since it strikes on me all the time. Leftover to do’s hardly make it to my longterm list, which is also a form of prioritisation.
5. Habit trackers are actually helpful
As a part of your bullet journal, you can make a short list of things you want to keep track of for a certain period of time to make them become a habit. I for instance already set a goal for last year to bring a lunchbox to work at least 3 times a week. I also want to make sure I change my bedsheets every x weeks, exercise x times per week and wash my car regularly. You get the concept. For those things I have different habit trackers that look like a spreadsheet with a box for every day/month/period I want to track and a line for every habit/task. I fill out the day-/month-box every time I completed a task in the given time. It gives an easy overview on how often I instagramed, worked out, had a lunchbox, called my Mum, cleaned something, did laundry and so on.
6. But habit trackers require clear goals and objectives…
The habit trackers help to visualise your goals and habits you want to track. As much as filling out the box at the end of the day satisfies me, it doesn’t really help me to stay on track if I don’t punish or reward myself. That requires clear and measurable goals with rewards or punishment. It sure is nice to see how many times per month I have exercised, but I have to set myself a measurable goal to actually make things a habit. „I want to exercise as often as possible so I feel better“ is nice, but it is a poor goal as it is not measurable. „I want to exercise at least 3 times a week to be able to do 10 full pushups by the end of next month“ is good. A reward (a trip to the icecream parlour) or a punishment (50 extra pushups) added and here we go with goal setting.
7. A Bullet journal gets messy & unorganised very quickly
I saw all those neat and organised bullet journals. Colourful, artistic, bestrewn with beatuiful handlettering and inspirational quotes, I wanted the same. Truth is, it get’s messy very quickly. Paper is patient but also limited. If you use a filofax or something, you might be able to rearrange, but in a regular journal, you can’t just shift and move pages as you want. You start on something on a page, then a new thing comes and in the end you notice you didn’t leave enough space to finish up on the things… Then you have a colleciton of ideas interrupted by last weeks grocery list and I find that rather annoying. But that is just the way it is…
8. Size matters…
I got this cute little lined journal for my birthday from a friend. I found it very cute, with the cupcake design and also very handy since it is not too big and not too heavy to carry it around all the time. As I know my endurance is usually not that high and I give up things that cost time after a first phase of euphoria I figured I shouldn’t spend money on a nice journal but rather start with what I have and see where it takes me. My Bujo (short for Bullet Journal) is cute and handy, but I feel I need more space. I like to have everything at a glance and the DIN A6 book is just too tiny and my handwriting too big to come together. I think that the lined design of my current book paired with my large handwriting makes everything look even messier, cause leaving a whole line free in between is just such a waste of space. I already was gifted the original bullet journal by a thoughtful friend, so I can’t wait to start with it after the current one is full. I definitely have to work on my pushups and my shoulders to gain enough strength to carry it around in my Mary Poppins-like very heavy handbag 😉
9. It needs time, dedication, iteration and trial & error
I have read a lot of blogs, watched a shitload of youtube tutorials, went through what feels like a million inspirational pictures on Pinterest to start with the bullet journaling. I put a lot of time and effort in the first pages and compared to the beautiful things I have seen there , I felt mine wasn’t pretty enough. The first thing I noticed is how much time it needs. I started a few days into the month, set up an index, a key and a future log, a monthly planner, a habit tracker and so on. The monthly planner was rather empty at first but got filled very quickly. I started to break it down into a weekly planner so I can have more details filled in, added a section for my lunchbox-dish of the day, a colour scheme for events and appointments, added expenses and so on. Not all of it worked for me, I had to adapt. It is important to work in iterations, follow inspect & adapt pattern and go easy on yourself. I looked for further inspiration and felt bad about mine again. But in the end:
10. There is not one form of bullet journal that works for everyone!!!
The best thing about the bullet journal is: it’s yours. You can do whatever you want with it, you are the creator. It sure is good to look how others use it and try it out, but in the end it has to fit YOUR needs, therefor nobody can tell you how to use it. It is not about how pretty the other’s journals are, how lame your notes or thoughts are, it is about YOU and what works for you. If you want picture-perfect bullet journal porn everyday, invest the time and do it, but it’s perfectly fine if you don’t. Even after 1 month I have tried out a few things with my bujo, some things work, some things don’t. It is on me to decide what to keep and what to ditch, how to jazz it up and to make it work for me. All you need is a journal and a pen, a ruler and pagemarkers come in handy from times and everything else is up to you. Whether you like it fancy, colourful or plain, have it any way you want it!
I have problems with the journaling part, I use it more as a brain dump for all those things on my mind and to avoid the random pieces of paper. But that’s okay. It might not be as pretty and fancy as those I saw on Pinterest or Instagram. But that’s okay. It helps me to feel more organised, makes me realise all the things I would have totally forgotten about and it makes me feel less guilty about taking time for myself. I usually do a bit more fancy planning whenever I have time, during the week I just take notes and tasks together, sometimes doodling around it or highlighting afterwards to jazz it up. It has taken up a place in my weekend routine to plan my lunchmeals, grocery shopping and my weekly to do’s. And how can planning the week be done better than with a nice cup of coffee and some cookies?!
125 g butter at room temperature
100 g crunchy peanutbutter
100 g light brown sugar
75 g Muscovado sugar
1 egg at room temperature
200 g flour
1/2 spoon baking powder & a pinch of salt
100 g dark chocolate chips
100 g Reese’s Peanutbutter chips (or 100g chopped roasted peanuts)
Preheat the oven to 175° without fan and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Mix Butter and Peanutbutter until smoothly combined, then add the sugars and let come together. Add the egg and combine before sifting in flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Fold in gently, then add the chocolate and peanutbutter chips. If you want some more crunch you can replace the peanutbutter chips with the same amount of coarsley chopped roasted peanuts. You can as well take salted peanuts, if you like it salty-sweet.
Form walnut-sized balls of cookie dough and place them on the lined baking sheet with about 4 fingers wide space in between. I use an icecream scoop to measure and put out the dough to the sheet. Bake each sheet for 10-12 minutes until the cookies get golden on the edges. Remove from the oven, carefully pull the parchment sheets onto a wire rack and let cool completely. While the cookies are still warm, they should not be touched or moved around too much because they are still very soft in that stage. But they should be off the hot baking sheet to prevent overbaking.
Yes, I’m trying to be punny here. But this is as good as it gets right now. I have been troubled with baking and writing reluctance for a while. I tried a lot of things, all those pieces of advice you get from fellow bloggers, friends, family and professional writers. It seems that nothing could help me, neither letting it be, taking a break nor just forcing myself. I have had a lot of those phases before, where I couldn’t bring up the time or the energy to write. It simply wasn’t my priority then. But this time it’s different. I know I want to go on with this blog, but don’t really know what to say any more. Writing mostly came easy to me as soon as I sat down to do it, with every recipe there was already a story on my mind. A memory, a person, something I wanted to share with the world, to explain why I did what I did, to make my readers see and feel what I felt. Baking was some sort of therapy for me, a way to cope with stress and demotivation. When in the kitchen and whipping up some bake, I could live out my creativity, not just follow a recipe, rather give them my own twist and create something. It seems that this vibe is gone on most of the days, things don’t come easy and even when I put much effort it doesn’t feel right. But on rare occasions like today, my mind is open to be touched by the muse… Continue reading »
March 20th marks not only the beginning of Spring, it is also Macaron Day and I am honoured that today’s recipe is featured on my favourite blog and one & only fandom: Der Kuchenbäcker. The frequent readers may know that I already sang a hymn or two on him, all others are duly invited to check him out.
Macaron Day or Jour du Macaron was initiated 2005 by Pierre Hermé, the godfather of Macarons and Patissiers around the world sell Macarons on this day to fundraise for local charities. I like the concept but unfortunately there is no Patisserie around that takes part. Instead I want to bake some easter cookies again to donate them for a local group here in my town that meets every Sunday to help homeless and other people in need. It’s not just about supplying the people with food and warm beverages, it is also a communication plattform and a meeting point for people in need. None of the people organising it gets paid, everything they give out is donated and they organise via a facebook group. I have been there a few times, mostly to bring some clothes or cake, and stayed there for a while to watch and listen to the people. Most of them have been through a lot and it always reminds me of how small my own problems are. I am very thankful that those people have somewhere to go, normal people to talk to that don’t judge and give them back at least a bit of their dignity. It reminds me of how important it is to give back and to change the perspective on your own live from time to time.
Burger Macarons on Foodbloggercamp in Reutlingen 2016
But let’s get back to Macarons, because that’s what you came here for, right? I intended to host a Macaron session at Foodbloggercamp in Reutlingen because I think sharing ones knowledge is also a way of giving back. Even though I am not a master myself, a barcamp is a good plattfrom to share what I know and exchange with others. When preparing my session a bit I stumbled over a Macaron inspiration book I bought and wanted to bring to show how diversely decoration of Macarons can be. I don’t like the recipes in there but the decoration ideas are truly great. Thinking about last years cam in Reultingen to be very meaty and since I found my sister-in-meat in last years burger session, I felt I had to burger again. So I spontaneously decided to pack some sesame seeds and a packet of fresh mint I still had at home to pimp my Macarons to be Macaron burgers. Talking about my session at Foodbloggercamp, I still don’t feel good about the chaotic session I held. I really want to apologise to all attendees and thank you for your patience. I can do better than this, I hope you guys at least learned something and if you have any questions just drop me a line! Some special thanks go to Diana, for spontaneously co-hosting the session and sharing her experience, Jana & Isabel for jumping in to help me finish the Macarons, Natalie, for being super flexible and letting me block ‚her‘ kitchen throughout most of her Session and Gyöngyi for putting me back together after I was really upset about my chaotic session.
What I have learned about hosting a session on the barcamp:
It’s a barcamp, so expect the unexpected!
Plan more time! After Berlin I thought doing one recipe in 45 minutes with proper preparation would be a walk in the park. Well… it wasn’t!
Team up and ask for help! Taking care of hot sugar syrup while talking is a bit of a gamble. Even though I had a spontaneous co-host, I suck at delegating, the sugar syrup got too hot and lumped which resulted in a very hard meringue mass that comes out flaky and makes ugly Macarons.
Bring a handout! It’s not the recipe, it’s all the little tips and tricks you have to share from your experience that attendees want. 45 minutes pass so fast and it’s just one of 6-8 sessions a day, so a handout helps to remember what you have shared. It also is a good preparation for the host, cause it makes you think about what you want to share in your session.
Go easy on yourself! It isn’t just you in your kitchen at home all on your own, so don’t expect perfection. This is a tough one for me because I always strive for perfection, especially with Macarons. In my session I talked about how to make perfect Macarons every time and then I deliver lumpy and bumpy Macarons?! Though ugly the Macarons tasted superb, the flavour combination was amazing and the attendees learned a bit too (at least I hope).
Last weekend was foodblogger camp time again. After I had such a fantastic time in Reutlingen beginning of the year, I couldn’t wait for the ticket sale for Foodblogger Camp Berlin (#fbcb15) to start. In Reutlingen I had a box of Blueberry and White Chocolate Macarons with me and when someone said the magic word I posted on social media, I opened my box for them. It was hella fun. Saturday night in Reutlingen over a bottle of whatever-beverage-it-was and some Macarons, Johanna of „My tasty little beauties“ and I discussed about how we both don’t dare to host a Macaron Session on a barcamp, because we both have experienced Macarons bitch on us when it counts. But it seems that over the year Johanna has grown some balls and decided to offer a Macaron session at #fbcb15 and I couldn’t be happier to tag along together with my Blogsister Wienerbroed. Continue reading »
In my 2015 Forecast I promised to give you more of dark chocolate, so now you get served. I really love the dark chocolate callets from Callebaut I bought in a wholesale market. Luckily I don’t get there too often, otherwise I’d probably have investend a large amount of money in that very dark, rich and handsome… chocolate! I fell for quality dark chocolate a few years back and believe me or not, it really makes a difference in taste even in a plain chocolate cake, not to mention ganache filling for macarons… So mark my words, an investment in good quality chocolate is always a reasonable investment.
Melt the chocolate and let it cool until lukewarm. In a mixing bowl cream the butter until paler in colour before sifting in the sugar and adding the vanilla extract. Beat for several minutes until well combined and smooth. Last add the melted chocolate and keep beating until the icing is creamy, thick and has a spreadable consistency.
Now I tell you a little secret: If you want to step it up a notch chocolate wise, you can core the cupcakes (with a cupcake corer, with the back of a decorating tip or simply with a teaspoon) and fill in some Nutella before you ice the cupcakes. Top off with chocolate sprinkles and intoduce as „death by chocolate“.
I am a summer kid, born in June and being in love with the season is in my DNA. I don’t like it particularly hot, so the beginning of summer is the best time of the year for me. It’s when you can get regional asparagus and strawberries on every corner around where I live and I can’t think of anything better. Strawberries have always been my favourite fruit and I could never ever overeat on them. Technically strawberries are not fruits. But they are high in fibre and contain a lot of antioxidants that presumably help against inflammation & cancer, and nonetheless they are simply delicious! When it comes to strawberry cake I prefer the simple option: sponge, generously topped with strawberries and a touch of glaze. I don’t turn down some fresh whipped cream on top, who could deny that?! But unlike pure strawberries I can’t eat all the same cake all the time. Sometimes I need a little twist, so I came up with the idea of a dark chocolate tarte to accompany my favourite fruits. I especially like the combination of the slightly bitter chocolate with the sweet fruitiness of the berries, a combination to win a spot in my heart! Continue reading »
My new friend & long lost soul-sister Katharina celebrated the 2nd birthday of her Wienerbroed-Blog and invited me to make something for her birthday coffee table. Katharina is one of those few people you meet in your life that you feel instantly connected with. There might be a significant number of parallels in our lives and it feels like I’ve been knowing her forever. Denmark is to her what Ireland is to me. And she has a serious thing for blueberries and also white chocolate. When she asked me to contribute I knew it had to be Macarons with blueberries and chocolate. And the cute little Hoptimist cheering for Denmark sneaked into the picture to grab one of these delicious little things. I made them just the day before the Foodblogger Camp and again posted a Codeword on Instagram and Twitter for free Macarons. It kind of went viral (yay!) and fellow foodbloggers started to yell „Smaland“ at me all day. Why I chose the codeword „Smaland“…? Where else can you jump into blueberries?! All of you IKEA-visitors may now understand 🙂
You can also check out the full German post over on Katharina’s blog or read the English recipe here.