milkbar strawberry milk cake pocky fork to belly
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Fork to Belly is 3 years old!!! THREE WHOLE YEARS. I can’t imagine how much money I’ve spent on things like butter, flour, and sugar – fun fact: I originally dabbled with using the domain “flourbuttersugar” – or how different my life would feel without getting to connect with so many sweet and truly wonderful people through food and the internet. Who says internet friends can’t be some of the best friends? 🙂

This year’s cake is a version of the ever so wonderful Milkbar Birthday Cake. I’ve never had a slice of one myself, but this cake has been on my to-bake list since I first started this blog. It’s only fitting I’d share it here today in celebration of another year. I swapped the rainbow sprinkles for white and vanilla frosting for strawberry, but the recipe has stayed relatively unchanged after that. What I love so much about this cake is it’s so damn different than any other cake I’ve ever made. The frosting isn’t sweet but the cake itself is, and all the different textures going on? MMM MMM MMM. The crunch of the crumbs and incredible silkiness to the frosting… my mouth is watering just remembering how delicious this cake was! It’s not an easy recipe but if you break it up over 2-3 days it won’t seem so hard at all.

milkbar strawberry milk cake pocky fork to belly milkbar strawberry milk cake pocky fork to belly

milkbar strawberry milk cake pocky fork to belly

Last week I turned 25 and I am so happy and my heart so full from all the surprises I’ve had in the past few days. As a munchkin I always wanted my parents to throw me some elaborate surprise party. You know, the ones you see in movies where you think none of your friends can make it and you get home turn on the lights and everyone pops up with balloons and presents and a giant cake? That never happened, at least not to me – until this year’s birthday where I had three surprise parties over the course of three days. By the end of it, I was so filled with alcohol and cake I could barely move.

I knew my old college roommate was planning something the weekend before I left for Hawaii because she refused to let me know anything about it. Saturday night, I opened my front door to a small barrage of hugs from my dearest friends in LA, one of the most obnoxious balloons I’ve ever loved so much, a pizza, and a dozen cupcakes from my favorite shop in Downtown. I got to see an old friend from college who’d recently moved back to the city and we drank champagne and sipped whiskey from Roy’s fancy tumblers and played celebrity fish bowl. We made our way over to 7th and Grand where my now very intoxicated college roommate told the bartender it was my birthday and therefore I should get a drink on the house. We ended the night with a quick stop for tacos and I later dug into a cupcake or two or three before collapsing on my bed.

milkbar strawberry milk cake pocky fork to belly milkbar strawberry milk cake pocky fork to belly

milkbar strawberry milk cake pocky fork to belly

The next night, Roy and I headed over to my Aunt & Uncle’s for homemade Persian food where I ate my weight in tahdig and was later surprised with a tiramisu birthday cake served with the most amazing new Häagen-Dazs flavor that I’m ashamed to have forgotten the name of. I’ve been blaming the fact that I left my camera cord and curling iron at home on the fact that I had to pack with my mind all foggy from too much food. And if any of that wasn’t already special enough, a few hours off the plane I was whisked away to a dinner with one of my mom’s friend which turned out to be another surprise birthday dinner Roy had planned with my parents and a few of our best friends at home.

Within the last week since I’ve been home I’ve noticed so many things that I hadn’t realized I’d missed, like the way light shines between the trees in the hours before dusk, waking to the pitter patter of rain, cool winds and the warmth of the sun on my shoulders, the endless blue sky and all its big billowy clouds – so many things I was never too exceptionally amazed by growing up but now can’t seem to stop staring at. These days and moments in between have made me feel like the happiest girl and not just for the wonderful birthday surprises, but also to be able to be here on this little island that I hope to call home again for good someday.

milkbar strawberry milk cake pocky fork to belly

Strawberry Milk Cake
Adapted from Momofuku Milkbar. Recipe makes one 6-inch cake.

for the crumb
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp white sprinkles
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 tbsp clear vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the sugars, cake flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles until well combined.
3. With the mixer on low speed, stream in the oil and vanilla extract. The mixture should start to clump together. Once this happens, stop the mixer and transfer the crumbs to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake for 20 minutes. Break up any extra large clumps as needed. However, you will want a variety of sizes for the crumbs. Once baked, store in an airtight container if not using immediately. The crumbs will keep for 1 week at room temperature of 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

for the frosting
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp vegetable shortening
3 oz. cream cheese, cold
1 1/2 tbsp glucose
1 1/2 tbsp corn syrup
1 1/2 tbsp strawberry extract if available or strawberry jam
1 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (300g) powdered sugar
3/4 tsp salt
a pinch of baking powder
a pinch of citric acid

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and cream cheese on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl afterwards.
6. With the mixer on low, pour in the glucose, corn syrup, and strawberry extract or jam. Beat on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until the mixture turns silky smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
7. In a separate bowl, sift together the powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid. Add the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and beat on medium-high for another 2-3 minutes. The frosting should be very smooth and resemble the kind you can buy in a plastic tub at the grocery store. If making ahead of time, transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

for the cake
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 tsp clear vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp white sprinkles, separated

8. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a quarter sheet pan (10 x 15 in.) and line with parchment paper and set aside.
9. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugars on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the eggs and mix for another 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl again.
10. With the mixer on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Increase the mixer to medium-high speed for 4-6 minutes until the mixture doubles in size and is completely homogenous. Do not rush this step. Make sure that there are no uncombined streaks of fat or liquid in the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
11. On the mixer’s lowest speed, add in the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 cup of sprinkles. Mix for 45-60 seconds until the batter comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
12. Pour the batter into the sheet pan and use a spatula to spread the batter out evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sprinkles around the top of the batter.
13. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Check the cake at 30 minutes by poking the top with your finger. If the cake bounces back then it’s done baking. If not, leave it in for another 5 minutes and check again. Once ready, set on a wire rack to cool completely.

for the cake soak
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp clear vanilla extract

14. Whisk together the milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

Watch this video for visual reference!

vanilla crumbs
strawberry frosting, split into three even portions
one 10×15 in. layer of vanilla cake
1/4 cup of cake soak

1. Use a 6 inch cake ring to cut three rounds of cake from the single layer we baked in the sheet pan. My sheet pan was slightly larger and I was able to get four thinner layers in total. If using a 10 x 15 in. pan, you should get two full rounds and two half circles. Don’t throw away any cake scraps as that can be used to fill the gaps between the two half circles and act as another full layer of cake.
2. Cut a piece of acetate to fit flush against the sides of a 6 inch cake ring. Place the ring on a cake board or serving platter.
2. Gently slide a full round of cake down the acetate tube and tuck it into the bottom of the cake ring. Use a pastry brush and wet the bottom layer with the cake soak. Use a spoon to spread 1/3 of the frosting into an even layer on top the cake. Add crumbs.
3. Take the two half circles of cake and fit them over the top of the crumbs. Use extra cake scraps to fill any gaps between the two circles to form a cohesive layer. Add more cake soak, frosting, and crumbs, and repeat the same process for the last layer of cake. Decorate the top of the cake with as many crumbs as desired.
4. Transfer the cake to the freezer to firm up overnight. Let it defrost a little at room temperature before removing the acetate and cake ring the next day. One the frosting has become tacky, decorate with your favorite asian candies and serve!

sutamina natto fork to belly
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I tried natto for the first time at a friend’s house on a warm summer night in Hawaii. I heard laughter coming from the kitchen as his Mom came into the living room and asked if I had ever had natto before. I followed her into the kitchen and saw a giant container of what I could only describe as sticky brown beans. Before I could say anything, I was promptly given a spoonful and cautiously took a nibble. After everything I’d heard about natto, I expected to hate it. But despite the slight slimey-salty-stinkiness of it – I didn’t. I mean, I definitely didn’t like it enough to go out of my way to… but let’s just say I could if I had to. After finishing the spoonful, I swallowed hard and wrinkled my nose while my friends broke into laughter.

sutamina natto fork to belly sutamina natto fork to belly

sutamina natto fork to belly

For those who aren’t familiar, natto is a traditional Japanese dish made of fermented soybeans. It’s commonly eaten for breakfast in Japan. The taste of natto is an acquired one (kind of like beer but on a whole ‘nother level). In the years to come, I’d try natto again every so often. Always curious to see if I’d finally start to love it as much as my friend Steph does – but then again, she’ll eat just about anything. It wasn’t until Roy started ordering something called Sutamina Natto at a Japanese restaurant we frequent in Little Tokyo that my tastebuds finally fell in love with natto.

sutamina natto fork to belly

There are many ways to serve natto. It can be eaten as is with a bit of hot mustard and soy sauce, served over a bed of warm rice, or in sushi. In Japanese, sutamina means energy or stamina. Hence, Sutamina Natto essentially means energy natto, which is a very fitting name considering all the ingredients in the dish. There’s a bunch of healthy protein from the tuna, natto, and egg yolk as well as all the added health benefits from the mountain yam and even fiber from the okra. I love the taste and I love that it’s good for the body. Fermented foods are great for gut health! Just a little disclaimer: if you’re not too familiar with natto or mountain yam or don’t enjoy the consistency of okra or runny egg yolk, the texture might be a little off putting the first time you try it. I did nickname this dish the “slimey bowl” the first time trying it. It took several months of sneaking bites from Roy, but now I finally do enjoy eating natto!!! I think it’s delicious, and I hope this recipe inspires some of you to try natto if you haven’t already 🙂

sutamina natto fork to belly

sutamina natto fork to belly

Sutamina Nattō
1/3 cup of sashimi grade tuna, cut into chunks
1 packet of natto, store-bought
3 okra pods, sliced and boiled for about 30 seconds
2 stalks fresh green onion, chopped
1/4 cup grated nagaimo, mountain yam (about 2 inches worth)
1 yolk from a quail egg
2 small pieces of nori seaweed
soy sauce to taste

special tools
ceramic grater

1. After prepping all ingredients, choose a shallow bowl for serving.
2. In a counter clock-wise order, add the okra, sashimi, and natto. Leave room for the mountain yam between the natto and okra. Carefully pour in the mountain yam. Add a heaping tablespoon of green onion to one side of the natto. Carefully place the yolk near the center of the dish so it rests on the mountain yam.
3. To garnish, slide the two pieces of nori underneath the natto and sahimi. Add a dash of soy sauce to the mountain yam and place a bit of wasabi on the natto. Serve immediately. *Pro tip: Use chopsticks to stir everything together and season with a little more soy sauce if desired!

korean fried chicken cake fork to belly
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I‘ve been laughing to myself all week – so excited to share this with you guys because look at this absolutely ridiculous cake. Roy’s Birthday has so far been one of my greatest baking challenges on the blog each year. How do you make a birthday cake for someone who doesn’t like dessert? That’s honestly almost like trying to recommend a book to someone who hates reading. The funny thing is that at certain points in the year, he’ll crave donuts or ice cream for a week and I’ll come home to a half eaten box of Krispy Kreme on the counter and pints of Häagen-Dazs taking up precious space in the freezer. Last year I thought I could get away with making a mint chocolate chip ice cream cake. It was one of my favorite ice creams I’d ever made, but a rather failed attempt in my book because he only ever asked for one slice. It obviously was not ice cream week.

korean fried chicken cake fork to belly korean fried chicken cake fork to belly

korean fried chicken cake fork to belly

So this year I took a different approach. Inspired by the Fried Chicken Cake by Bree’s Cakes that took over the internet a year or so ago, I tried my own hand at this savory cake and oh whoa has it changed my perspective on the definition of a *birthday cake*. If there’s one thing in this world Roy loves to eat, it’s fried chicken. His favorite spot lately has been Kyochon and their honey wings, which is where I got the kfc style chicken wings sitting atop this cake. They’ve got that typical Korean-style thickly battered and uber crunchy exterior, but made a million times amazing by it’s sweet and salty flavor.

korean fried chicken cake fork to belly

I have always been about desserts, and sweet birthday cakes – decorated in marzipan, fondant, drizzled with ganache, topped with light and airy meringues – are what I know best. Naturally, I was really intimidated when it came to obstacles like using mashed potatoes in place of buttercream. There are so many ways to make mashed potatoes and the key part of a successfully iced cake is the consistency of the frosting. You can’t exactly Google “mashed potato frosting recipe”. I was also worried about getting the mac & cheese layers to hold together when removed from the pan. There were so many things I wasn’t sure about as I started getting to work in the kitchen, but the craziest thing about this cake is that it might just be the easiest cake I’ve ever made. Sometimes dessert recipes can be so challenging, but mac & cheese? Cornbread? Mashed potatoes? All so incredibly simple! PS did I mention that every component is even more delicious than I had hoped for??

korean fried chicken cake fork to belly

korean fried chicken cake fork to belly

korean fried chicken cake fork to belly

The KFC Cake works like this: one layer of mac & cheese, one layer of cornbread, and another layer of mac & cheese, frosted with mashed potatoes, topped with Korean fried chicken wings, and drizzled with honey. Those problems I was worried about initially were solved with a little basic cooking knowledge. The mashed potatoes require a lot of butter and some warm milk to make the consistency extra smooth and spreadable. For the mac & cheese, I added eggs to the mixture to bind everything together (think quiche). It worked perfectly. Plus, I’ve discovered some new go-to recipes when it comes to making some all-American dinner classics.

We had a bunch of friends over this past weekend to celebrate Roy’s birthday. The cake was a hit! And the fact that I can pack Roy and I a slice of leftover *cake* for lunch is just the cherry on top.

korean fried chicken cake fork to belly

(not sponsored by Absolut Vodka…)

The KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) Cake

for the macaroni & cheese layers
16 oz. box elbow macaroni
2 cups whole milk
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
4 oz. cream cheese, melted
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve 1 cup for sprinkling)
salt and pepper
4 large eggs, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line the bottom of two 8-inch pans with parchment rounds and set aside.
2. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Once cooked, drain the water and return the macaroni back to the pot.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the milk with the melted butter and cream cheese. Whisk lightly until evenly combined.
4. With the burner on a low heat, add the milk mixture and shredded cheddar to the pot with the macaroni. Stir together gently until the shredded cheese has also started to melt. Remove the pot from the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once seasoned, fold in the beaten eggs until evenly distributed throughout the macaroni.
5. Split the macaroni evenly between the two 8-inch pans. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheddar cheese on top of the macaroni. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Halfway through baking, the pans may need to be rotated so the top of the macaroni is evenly browned. The macaroni may rise quite a bit towards the end of baking. As soon as it is removed from the oven, it should settle down into an even layer. Make sure both layers have cooled completely before moving onto the assembly.

for the cornbread layer
Adapted from Life Made Simple Bakes
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill medium grind cornmeal, which gave the cornbread a great gritty texture)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

6. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and line the bottom of one 8-inch pan with a parchment round and set aside.
7. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
8. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, and honey. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Stir in the buttermilk. Taking the flour mixture, add the dry ingredients to the wet in three additions. Mix well with a spatula until there are only a few lumps left.
9. Pour the cornbread batter into the prepared pan. Let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before baking. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the top is golden brown and a cake skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before assembling the cake.

for the mashed potato icing
1200g starchy potatoes (I used yukon gold)
2 sticks (16 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, warm
salt and pepper

10. Wash and peel each potato, then quarter into even pieces. Rinse well with cold water and place in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes. Set on the stove over medium-high heat until the potatoes are so tender they almost fall apart (about 20-30 minutes).
11. Drain the potatoes and place back in the pot. Cook again over medium-high heat for a few minutes until any excess water evaporates from the pan. Transfer to a large bowl.
12. Use a potato ricer or potato masher to mash up the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
13. Add the butter to the mashed potatoes about a tablespoon at a time, using the potato masher to mix the butter and potatoes together. Once all the butter has been incorporated, begin adding in the milk. You may not have to use all of the milk so try adding a little at a time until you reach a smooth and creamy consistency. Season again with salt and pepper as needed.

14. Place one layer of mac and cheese on desired serving dish. While the mashed potatoes are still warm, ice the first layer. Add the cornbread layer, ice, and add the final mac and cheese layer on top. Crumb coat the entire cake and let chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
15. Use the rest of the mashed potato to finish icing the entire cake. I placed the last bit of mashed potatoes in a piping bag fitted with a star piping tip to create the swirly dollops crowning the top of the cake. Finish off with either homemade or your favorite store-bought fried chicken (I used the honey wings from Kyochon in Koreatown – it’s Roy’s FAVORITE) and drizzle honey down the sides just before serving. ENJOY, FRIENDS!!!!

spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles
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I am so excited about all the things right now!!! I’m just going to sneak this in here but Game of Thrones last week?? Amiright? Dead. Ok but most importantly, guys, it’s #PopsicleWeek! A whopping 46 bloggers have already participated so far in Billy’s annual post party (100+ are expected!). 46 BLOGGERS AND COUNTING. How outrageous is that? I am such a huge fan of Billy’s unique photography style and his way of writing that makes you need to get a handle on your laughter if you’re reading his blog in a public setting. It’s so exciting to be joining in on the fun this year. Head over to Wit and Vinegar to check out the other amazing popsicle recipes!!!

spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles

spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles

Why do we all love food on sticks? Skewers, cake pops, marshmallows, corndogs, dango, spiraled potatoes, they’re the quintessential fair and night market food. First of all, they’re fun. But for me, a huge bonus is you don’t have to get your hands all oily/sticky. I was so excited when I set out planning something to make for Popsicle Week. But when I broke out my popsicle mold, I was met with an ugly little crack in it :(. But before rushing to the store to pick up a new one, I realized there are only two specific things that define a popsicle for me: it’s frozen and it’s served on a stick. Maybe I could make this work. One thing led to another and soon I was making cookie dough ice cream sandwiches, inserting popsicle sticks and absolutely loving not having to get ice cream all over my fingers – because that’s the reason we invented popsicles right? Someone please tell me.

spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles

spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles

Cookie dough ice cream sandwiches have been circling the internet for the past few months and I was very, very intrigued about this. I love cookie dough and I love ice cream and I love cookie dough ice cream, but do cookie dough ice cream sandwiches work? Yes. Yes they do. So I got busy with some egg-free cookie dough and Jeni’s ice cream base and this is what happened.

I gotta say, this ice cream recipe is a winner. I’ve made ice cream a whole bunch of times with egg yolks, and sometimes it’s a pain because you have to temper the eggs and stir forever and ever and then after all that work sometimes you get a bit of an eggy taste in your ice cream. I don’t really mind it, but I know some people definitely do. But what’s a girl to do when you want the richness of egg yolks but hope to skip out on that eggy taste? Well, you use Jeni’s ice cream base, that’s what ya do. Because it’s one of the best (I’ve officially been converted) and can be tweaked to suit virtually any flavor combo you’re going for!

spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles

Here I stuck with Jeni’s original recipe for good ol’ vanilla bean ice cream. It’s velvety, rich, and even has this amazing tangy bite to it that I’m assuming comes from the dollop of cream cheese in it. Best part, you don’t even have to refrigerate the base over night before churning it in your ice cream maker. Just set it down in an ice bath for 20 minutes and churn baby churn!

By now, if you’ve been wondering why I turned Spiderman into a cookie dough ice cream sandwich, it’s because this happened: Stan Lee signed my Dad’s original Amazing Spiderman comic.


spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles

My Dad was a huge Marvel fan as a kid and has been collecting comics since the 60’s. In Hawaii, his father owned a mom & pop grocery story where he told me about how he’d buy his comics for 12¢ a piece. The Amazing Spiderman was his favorite series. When one of my teachers mentioned he’d be working with Stan Lee in a few weeks, I asked if he could have one of Dad’s old comics signed. He said he’d try but couldn’t make any promises. Somehow thing’s worked out and I was able to go home one weekend to surprise my Mom for her birthday, I snuck my Dad’s favorite comic out of his collection and brought it back to LA with me. I gave it to my teacher and he so so so amazingly was able to get it signed by the man himself. I sent my Dad a photo of it just in time for Father’s Day. The Marvel Universe has always been an interest point that I’ve loved sharing with my Dad. We’d watch the films and he’d let me go through the comics (though I was forced to wear gloves). I’ve always felt like comic books are kind of our thing together, and I was so happy to be able to give my Dad something so meaningful for Father’s Day.

spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles

spiderman cookie dough ice cream popsicles

Spiderman Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich Pops
Recipe makes 9 sandwiches. Ice cream base adapted from Jeni Britton-Bauer.

for the cookie dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 tbsp whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
red food coloring (for desired color)

1. In a large bowl, microwave the butter and sugars on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Stir until everything is melted and combined. The sugar will begin to dissolve into the butter. Add in the milk, vanilla, salt, and red food coloring. Mix in the flour until everything is evenly incorporated. Transfer to the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
2. Line an 8×8 square pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave a few inches of the parchment hanging over the edge of the pan. Use your hands to press half of the cookie dough into the bottom of the pan. Try to make it as smooth and even as possible. Pull the first layer of dough out of the pan by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper and transfer to a baking tray. Line the square pan with parchment paper again and press out the remaining cookie dough into a second layer. Keep this layer in the pan and place both the baking tray with the first half of the dough and the pan with the second portion in the freezer. Freeze for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

for the vanilla ice cream:
2 cups whole milk
1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 oz. (3 tbsp) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
3 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
blue food coloring

3. While the dough is chilling, fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix a few tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.
4. In a large pan, combine the rest of the milk, heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has completely dissolved (about 4 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and cornstarch mixture. Return the pan to the stove top and bring to a boil again. Cook on medium-high heat until the mixture has slightly thickened (about 1 minute).
5. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese, making sure to whisk until smooth. Whisk in the salt and blue food coloring. Transfer the bowl to the waterbath prepared earlier and let the ice cream base cool down for about 20 minutes. Make sure to stir it occasionally during this time.
6. Transfer the ice cream base to your ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
7. Remove the cookie dough layers from the freezer. In the pan, spread the ice cream out over the cookie dough. Place the second layer of cookie dough on top and press it down lightly to secure it to the ice cream. Return the pan to the freezer. Freeze for at least 4 hours.
8. Fill a small piping bag with melted dark chocolate. Pipe out 9 spiders, evenly placed, onto the surface of the ice cream sandwiches while they are still in the pan. Return to the freezer for another hour or two to firm up again. When ready to cut, place the pan in a shallow dish filled with warm water. After a few seconds, lift the ice cream sandwiches out of the pan by pulling on the overhanging parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut the sandwiches into 9 equal pieces. Insert a popsicle stick into the center of each. Serve and enjoy!

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

fork to belly LINE cupcakes fork to belly LINE cupcakes

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

Hi! I feel like it’s been a while. Summer has been really confusing in LA with warm days and cold nights, which even further confuses me when I emerge from the dark and chilly cave I spend 6 days out of the week in. I’ve been busy, real busy, with school and I don’t want to complain about it and take away from what you’re really here to read about – but it’s my little note to you on why the blog has been a little quieter lately. But isn’t that how summer sort of feels? Small businesses closed for holiday, uncanny bouts of quiet, and a lazy summer heat beating down on the city.

I’m not sure if it keeps me sane or just drives me a little crazier, but I always have a tendency to future vacation plan during the summer months. Some girls have wedding Pinterest boards, I have ones dedicated to vacation ideas. Recently, I was doing a little internet snooping and discovered that a LINE Cafe has recently opened in Seoul – something that’s now on my list if we ever head back to Korea. LINE characters have been v accurately conveying my reactions over text since 2011. I downloaded the app so I could text Steph while she was in Taiwan and China over the summer (you can message + make phone calls from anywhere, for FREE, as long as both parties have a wifi connection!), and it somehow turned into our main method of text communication between us and our friends. It’s the stickers. Before Facebook adopted the sticker fad, there was LINE and their cast of hilarious original characters: James, Cony, Brown, Jessica. I’m including a little photoset of a few of my favorite stickers below for any of you who have no clue what I’m talking about.

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

Aren’t they absolutely hilarious?!
You can’t get this level of emotion across with emojis, that’s for sure.
fork to belly LINE cupcakes

fork to belly LINE cupcakes fork to belly LINE cupcakes

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

I think we can all agree that cupcakes are awesome – and if not for the taste or the bite-size cakeness or that swirly dollop of frosting on top, then definitely because they are so simple to make. The red velvet and vanilla bean cupcake recipes I’m using here are from another one of my favorite FoodTubers, Nick from The Scran Line! I absolutely love watching his videos. Nick is adorable and has such a talent for decorating his cupcakes in new and exciting ways with each video. Best of all, both of his red velvet and vanilla bean cupcake recipes use only one or two bowls, which is kind of the greatest thing about baking at home. No one likes a pile of dirty dishes in the sink when you just wanna rest your feet and finish that episode of Game of Thrones you missed last night, amiright?

Can I let you in on a little secret? Invest in an ice cream scoop. It is absolutely best way to make perfect scoops of cookie dough, red bean filling, and to portion out cupcake batter evenly. My biggest issue with cupcakes is I always have the hardest time getting them filled just right. Sometimes I use too little batter and the domes don’t make it past the top of the liner, while other times I use just a little too much and the cupcake spills out a little around the rim of the pan and I’m left with flat and slightly lopsided looking mini cakes. My ice cream scoop makes life a million times easier for portioning because you get consistent results and that little latch that snaps back and forth releases the batter neatly into the liner. If you’ve run into the same problem as I have, bake a lot of cookies, or just love eating ice cream, then you need to get yourself one!

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

I know, I know, I know. There are so many steps in this recipe! But, pleeeease don’t be wary of it! There are a lot of different elements, but every single part can be made in advance and stored in the freezer until ready to use. Plus, all the ingredients themselves are very simple to bring together! I split up the process into three days by focusing on the sugar cookies on day one, then baking all the cupcakes and icing the cookies on day two, then whipping up both frostings and putting everything together on day three. All the work felt well worth it seeing everyone’s faces when I brought them to class!

Notes: Once you’ve piped the icing onto your cupcakes, make sure to add the sprinkles as soon as possible! I waited a tad too long and the sprinkles wouldn’t stick onto some of the cupcakes. Another thing to note is make sure to stick the cookies on as soon as possible too! You might have noticed but the pink frosting has a few cracks in it because the surface had already started to dry before I added the Cony cookies at the end.

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

fork to belly LINE cupcakes

LINE Cupcakes!
Recipes adapted from The Scran Line and Cupcake Jemma, makes two dozen red velvet and two dozen vanilla cupcakes.

for the sugar cookies
• 3 cups all purpose flour
• 3 tbsp cocoa powder* (for chocolate sugar cookies, eliminate if making regular sugar cookies)
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 egg, room temperature
• 1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg and vanilla extract.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl when needed. Add in the egg mixture slowly, beating for 30 seconds to 1 minute until full incorporated.
4. Add the flour to the wet ingredients in three additions, mix on low speed. Beat until just combined but the dough has not come together yet.
5. Dump the dough out onto a work surface, making sure to get any left over bits still in the bowl. Use your hands to lightly knead the dough until it comes together.
6. Split the dough in half. Shape both into a round disk and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate one half of the dough overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours. Store the other half in the freezer until needed.
7. The following day, let the chilled dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes until workable. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
8. Separate the cookie dough in half. Between two sheets of parchment, roll one half of the dough to about 1/4 inch of thickness. I used a circle cookie cutter about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter, a large round piping tip, and a mini gingerbread man’s arm to cut out the bear and bunny faces and their ears. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone, then attach the ears on by lightly pressing the dough together and using a toothpick to score the two together. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more cookies.
9. Freeze the uncooked cookies for 10-15 minutes. Bake for 9 minutes. Let the cookies cool to room temperature. They will harden and be ready to decorate.

for the royal icing:
• 1 lb powdered sugar (453g), sifted
• 2 1/4 tbsp meringue powder
• 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
• 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 c warm water
• brown, black, and pink food coloring

10. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the meringue powder and warm water together until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and vanilla and mix until combined.
11. Add in all of the powdered sugar at once. Use the paddle attachment for the mixer and beat on the lowest setting for 3-5 minutes. The icing will be on the thicker side. You can loosen the consistency by adding a tiny bit of water at a time as needed. You don’t want it to be so thick that it will hold a stiff peak or too thin to where it’s liquidy.
12. Transfer half of the icing to an air tight container. Make sure to cover the top with a layer of plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. You will only need half to decorate all the cookies. I store my icing in the refrigerator until needed.
13. Portion the remaining half of the icing into 6 small bowls. Use food coloring to create two shades of brown (one slightly darker than the other), two shades of pink (one darker than the other), and black icing. Leave one bowl of icing white. Transfer the colored icings into separate piping bags. Decorate the cookies, then let them dry completely before handling. This should take a few hours.

for the red velvet cupcake batter
• 400g all purpose flour
• 2 tbsp natural cocoa powder
• 320g caster sugar
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 190ml vegetable oil
• 3 eggs
• 250ml buttermilk
• red food coloring
• 2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 320°F. Line two cupcake trays with cupcake liners and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine the oil, eggs, buttermilk, food coloring, and vanilla extract. Make sure to whisk together until well combined. To get that deep red velvet color, make sure to use a lot of the red food coloring as the color will fade after baking.
4. With your stand mixer, switch out the whisk attachment for a paddle attachment. Add in the wet mixture to the dry in a slow and steady stream with the mixer on a low speed. Mix until just combined and there are no longer any dry bits. Do not over mix. Scrape down the bowl and beat the batter for a few more seconds again.
*Tip: Use a large ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake liners with batter. The cupcakes will rise quite a bit so fill them about 1/2 way to overspilling. Bake cupcakes for 30 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the middle of one comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

for the vanilla cupcake batter
• 430g all purpose flour
• 3 tsp baking powder
• 265g granulated sugar
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 375ml whole milk
• 125ml vegetable oil
• 2 tbsp yogurt or sour cream
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 125g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 320°F. Line two cupcake trays with cupcake liners and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt on low for a few minutes to aerate the dry ingredients.
3. In a bowl, combine the milk, oil, yogurt, vanilla extract, and eggs. Whisk together until well combined. Set aside.
4. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until the mixture becomes grainy, almost like sand. Add in the wet ingredients in a slow and steady stream with the mixer on low. Combine until there are no dry ingredients left. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for another few seconds.
5. Use an ice cream scoop to fill each cupcake liner with batter. Fill them about 3/4 full and bake for 30 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

for the pink cream cheese frosting
• 100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
• 160g cream cheese
• 560g powdered sugar, sifted

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened butter and cream cheese on med-high speed. Beat for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
2. Add in half of the sifted powdered sugar and beat for another couple of minutes, starting on a low speed and increasing to med-high. Add in the second half and beat again.
3. Add in a few drops of pink food coloring and beat until the color is evenly incorporated. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to get any extra bits, then give the frosting another quick mix. When done, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
4. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe big swirls onto the red velvet cupcakes. Sprinkle with white non-pareil sprinkles and add a Cony (the bunny) cookie.

for the chocolate frosting
• 300g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
• 540g powdered sugar, sifted
• 4 tbsp whole milk
• 180g dark chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
optional: 1 tsp instant coffee granules

1. Melt the chocolate in microwave or over a stove top in a double boiler. Don’t use until it has cooled to room temperature but is still liquid.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed for a few minutes until very pale and fluffy.
3. Add half of the sifted powdered sugar and beat for 3 minutes. Add in the second half of the powdered sugar and beat again for 3 minutes.
4. Portion the milk into a small bowl and add a teaspoon of instant coffee. Mix together until the coffee has dissolved. With the mixer on low, add in the milk until combined. Next, add in the cooled chocolate and beat for about 2 minutes until the chocolate has been completely incorporated.
5. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe big swirls onto the vanilla cupcakes. Sprinkle with rainbow non-pareil sprinkles and add a Brown (the bear) cookie.