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Earl Grey Chocolate Lavender Banana Muffins with Caramel Gloss

  I've just finished up the latest series of the Great British Bake Off and having watched the last episode today after getting virtually no sleep last night, I gotta say--I bawled like a baby. Every single one of them was so endearing to me and even though I was vying for someone else most of the time (don't worry, no spoilers here!), the winner really did earn their spot. God I love that show.

  It was only fitting that I had a proper cup of Early Grey tea to cry into, along with 3 or 4 (who's counting?) of these decadent little muffins. They're an easy enough treat in themselves, but with a little extra finesse when it comes to flavoring and glossing. Yep, not glazing, glossing. I made that up for these specifically because all I wanted was the barest sheen of dark, dark caramel.

  Paul Hollywood keeps talking about flavors, so I obviously couldn't make just muffins.

 The batter for this starts off strong by steeping some coconut milk (or cow's, your preference) with lavender for about 10 minutes. Then in go the Earl Grey tea bags for about 5 minutes, then you cool it all down before adding to your banana muffin batter. I recommend preparing the caramel while these bake so you can get the right consistency to gloss these muffins (i.e. it needs to cool a bit, caramel is hot!). 

  These are some slightly more involved muffins, so feel free to cut out the caramel gloss if you're not feeling too ambitious, these are still delicious without it!

  So, grab yourself a cuppa and a muffin and have a smashing week <3

Earl Grey Chocolate Lavender Banana Muffins with Caramel Gloss
Yield: a dozen muffins

For the muffins:
  • 3/4 cup coconut or cow's milk
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried culinary lavender
  • 3 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large bananas, either roasted or extremely ripe
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped (or dark chocolate chips) 

For the gloss:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. coconut or cow's milk

In a small saucepan, heat milk and lavender over high heat until it just begins to bubble. Reduce heat to the lowest you can and allow to gently simmer/steam for 10-15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve to remove lavender and place the milk back into the pan. Heat again until just bubbling then remove pan from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing excess liquid back into the pan. Return pan to medium heat, add butter and heat until butter is melted. Allow tea mixture to cool to room temperature. 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper or foil muffin liners. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Remove bananas from peels and place in a small bowl. Mash bananas well, leaving very few chunks. Add tea mixture and egg. Whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Mix in chocolate chunks. Portion batter into prepared muffin tins, filling a little over 3/4 full. 

Bake 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until a toothpick comes out clean. While the muffins bake, prepare your caramel gloss.

In a medium saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat, swirling the pan every so often to make sure that the sugar is melting evenly, until the sugar is a deep golden brown color. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter until melted. Whisking constantly--gradually add the milk. Pour the caramel into a heat proof container to cool down to room temperature.

Transfer muffins to a wire rack set over a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Poke a few holes in the muffins with a toothpick/skewer/small blade (this lets the caramel seep in a bit), and begin to spoon about 1 teaspoon or so of the caramel mixture onto the muffins, spreading it as you go.

Consume as you so desire!

Sources: adapted from The Whole Bite and Food Faith Fitness


Simple Mini Ice Cream Cake

For a long time in high school I prided myself on making just about everything I could from scratch. Whether it was pizza dough, ice cream, or even freaking chicken alfredo (noodles and all), I was pretty determined.

 Alas, adulthood is a cruel thing. Once you're removed from your parents' resources and handy kitchen supplies, making everything isn't always feasible. Much of me still believes in making what I can when I can, but there's also a large part of me that loves nothing more than a frozen corn dog or some instant pad thai. Another guilty pleasure I've had for such a long time is Dairy Queen's ice cream cake. I've wanted to make one for some time, but I wanted to put my own twist on it.

 A couple weeks ago I finally got my chance to throw together a somewhat hodge-podge, but still very heartfelt birthday cake for my boo. In an effort to keep it somewhat real, I made a from-scratch vanilla cake to hide amongst the various layers of very much pre-made ingredients.

  Each layer is vanilla cake and cookie dough ice cream topped with a mixture of crushed Oreos and Magic Shell to mimic those magic "crunchies" that DQ does so well. Everything is frosted with Cool Whip, because homemade whipped cream is dank but doesn't hold up too well to long periods of freezing. And the whole thing is a three layer 6-inch cake cuz I don't need 8 inches of this in my freezer staring at my every darn day.

  Also, in keeping with the laid-back theme, all of these photos were taken on my phone. When you split your home life into two different apartments sometimes your DSLR is tucked away in a drawer somewhere else...so you just gotta make do.

  It definitely does the job, even if (and possibly because) it's not entirelyyyy from scratch. Nomz.

Mini Ice Cream Cake
Yield: one 6-inch cake

Ingredients for the cake:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 6 tbsp whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Other Ingredients:
  • one pint of your favorite ice cream, softened (I used Ben & Jerry's cookie dough ice cream)
  • about 15-20 Oreo cookies
  • Magic Shell
  • Cool Whip, to frost
  • Sprinkles/other decorations as desired

For the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line a 6-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Combine milk and vinegar. Add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on low speed, until just combined. Add half of the milk/vinegar mixture, until just combined. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients, and then the rest of the milk.

Pour into prepared pan, and bake on a small sheet pan in the oven for 37-39 minutes. Until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan to cool completely. Once the cake is cool, slice into three equal layers with a cake separator or serrated bread knife. Wrap well in plastic wrap and place in freezer overnight (or at least 2 hours).

When ready, soften your ice cream at room temperature for about 30-45 minutes. Once softened (not melted), place into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer so it is spreadable. With a plastic bag and rolling pin or a food processor, crush your Oreos. Then pour into a bowl and mix in about 1 bottle of Magic Shell, so the crumbs are all well-moistened. Remove your cake layers from the freezer, and working quickly, spread about 1/2 of your softened ice cream onto the bottom layer and top with some Oreo crumbs. Repeat for the next layer. Place your top layer on top and immediately wrap the sides of the cake in plastic wrap to keep ice cream from leaking out too much, and place in the freezer to firm up for at least 4 hours.

When you're ready to frost, use an offset spatula to make a crumb coat of whipped cream on your cake. Freeze for 15 minutes and add your final layer of whipped cream. Decorate as desired, and freeze until ready to slice and eat!

Inspirations: vanilla cake adapted from Dessert for Two, otherwise an Indigo Scones original y'all