Although I do love getting up early on a Saturday morning and making pancakes or baking muffins or biscuits in a quiet kitchen by myself, some of my fondest memories over the last few years have been in the kitchen with friends. In college, I have found cooking or baking with friends to be a bonding experience that is always very fun and relaxing! Besides, it is totally a justifiable study break since everyone has to eat. Yet there is something that bonds people through making something, just as stirring together raw ingredients like eggs, milk, flour, and sugar and then baking them transforms these staples into delicious baked goods. Here are just a few recent experiences this semester, with hopefully many more to come over the years.
Near the beginning of the semester my friend Alexandra and I made hot chocolate. Me, a proclaimed hot chocolate lover, had lived my whole life drinking the powdered Swiss Miss kind 99% of the time. However, this definitely does not compare to hot chocolate after I had the real thing, especially coupled with the experience of making it myself.
However, even though the results were stellar, it was a very simple process. We put some good quality dark chocolate chips in our mugs and then warmed up milk (this is not the time to use skim!) mixed with a little bit of vanilla extract and sugar. Then, we poured the hot milk over the chocolate chips and stirred. The hot chocolate was never totally homogenous but that made it even more beautiful. The texture was thicker than most hot chocolates that I have tried but not overly rich, I easily finished mine while we were watching the documentary about bottled water (for class, although I would admittedly watch it just for fun too). We both had so much fun and I think it was at this time that we decided we absolutely must go back to Asheville to try French Broad Chocolate Lounge’s “liquid truffles” (similar to the European sipping chocolate).
Check out the recipe here!
It had been one of those weeks where I had a million things to do, it had been my birthday and I was going home for Saturday night (which meant that nothing productive would be done) so I had literally worked Friday. I am talking one spot on the Eco-House couch, switching between different books, my laptop, and notes. It was seriously a marathon. So I really needed something to look forward to that Friday night and this baking time with friends was just the thing. Some of my friends that came didn’t know each other very well but the conversation flowed easily nonetheless. We talked about things we had baked before and lots of other random subjects. Our work was rewarded with very rich, gooey and hot blondies studded with melty chocolate chips. You could definitely taste the butter, but the good thing about the richness is that you can cut the bars smaller and make the pan of blondies last even longer. The blueberry pound cake was delicious too! I was skeptical about using out-of-season blueberries, but it turned out like a delicious hybrid between a blueberry quick bread and pound cake. I took a loaf of this home to share with my family and it was a real hit. Afterwards I even made granola with two of my friends, although I kind of led them astray. I am generally hopeless without a recipe! (Way too much honey and salt!)
Other Fun Times
Making and eating a whole box of pancakes (from the mix) with friends from InterVarsity, baking with friends last year for Valentine’s Day (and almost burning down Duke kitchen), impromptu baking with Kaitlyn, making cottage cheese and baking sweet potato bread with Claire (simultaneously), and cooking community dinner with my roommate, Rebecca.