Hello! I'm here! I haven't disappeared. I've just been a bit quiet and taking things easy over the past few weeks. I think I'm just in need of a break of sorts. I'm not really even sure what I need, but having slowed down recently has been nice, I'll admit. I've been taking some time to think about this space I've carved myself online, and reflect on how I've spent the last four years (almost) of my life. The time really just flew by, and it's amazing to me how quickly it's gone. Over 300 posts, more photographs (both good and bad) than I would ever want to count, and so much time have gone into this. Creating content on such a regular basis and maintaining a site has been more work than I could have ever imagined, but it's been incredibly rewarding at the same time. Despite that, I'm starting to drive myself crazy.
I started my blog in the summer of 2011 with absolutely no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it. My cousin Gina has a little blog called Skinnytaste, which you may or may not have heard of, and she was always talking about how fun it was and how much she had learned about photography, something I'd always wanted to learn myself. It was around the same time that I started discovering sites like Smitten Kitchen and Joy the Baker, and I was so intrigued by what they were doing. Deb, Joy, and Gina all made blogging seem like so much fun, and I just wanted to be a part of it. I would bake delicious things all the time and share them with my friends, and take beautiful photos like they did, and write up great funny little blurbs and stories to accompany my recipes. It wouldn't be so bad. It was going to be a great way to spend my weekends! All I wanted when I started was to blog for myself. I wanted to see if I could do it, and to give myself a real hobby. After a series of incredibly frustrating photography sessions and so many rejected Foodgawker and Tastespotting submissions, I realized that I was not as good at this as I had been hoping to be. Creating the types of posts I envisioned in my head was actually much harder than I had anticipated.
I kept at it though, and slowly but surely, grew more confident in my abilities as both a baker and photographer. I took all my feedback and archived it and referred to it, every weekend I came home from college and set aside all of my school work and entire social life to tackle an ambitious list of 6-8 recipes and sets of photos that had to get done so that I'd have content to post for a month or so. It was grueling and a lot of work, but it forced me to become focused and plan ahead. I made all kind of lists, basing them on the changing seasons and new techniques to keep my posts varied and balanced. It worked for a while, but now that I'm out of college and attempting to make this blog feel like a real extension of my life, rather than something I just do on the weekends for the sake of doing, the way I did things back then isn't working for me anymore. Blogging is starting to feel like a chore, and just something I need to do and cross off my to-do list. I plan my weekends around it, feel guilty if I don't come up with two posts a week, and dread having to write another post because it's Tuesday or Thursday night and I have to post on Wednesdays and Fridays. I don't want this space to feel like that. It needs to feel real and genuine.
If that means that I need to post less often, then that's what I'll do. I don't want to post another berry-filled cake or tangy lemon square just because it's spring. It feels uninspired, and frankly, there's enough delicious recipes for those desserts out there. I want to be able to continue to use this space in a way that I can challenge myself like I once did, and really learn something again. Whether it comes in the form of baking something new, developing my own recipes, or really pushing my photography, I don't know. It's ok if I don't post my every move on Instagram or Facebook, or use that really popular washed out filter on all my photos. I shouldn't need to. It's ok if my posts aren't curated to promote this perfect life that isn't mine. I should share things whenever I'm genuinely excited about something I've seen, eaten, or made. Maybe I'm just burned out, and after a few weeks I'll be ready to tackle this blog again with full force, or maybe I'll need more time. For now though, I'm going to keep on thinking and searching for inspiration. I know it's out there, but I just need to feel confident in myself again. I'll definitely be back though. I think stepping away from the blog and posting recipes and my thoughts more sporadically, whenever I feel like I really have something to say, will make all the difference.
With all that being said, it's ironic that I finish off this post with a recipe. This simple chocolate cake is perfect for making on a weeknight to cap off a hectic day at work. This tiny cake is indulgent and rich, but not too rich, as most flourless chocolate cakes tend to be. Whipped egg whites are the secret to keeping it light and moist and with a texture that's almost a cross between a brownie and mousse. It's a cake you need to make for yourself to understand. This one is definitely for chocolate lovers, but since it's made with just regular semisweet chocolate chips, there's no excuse not to make it. I found the cake a bit on the sweet side when I made it, so I might reduce the brown sugar to 1/4 cup the next time I make it. Serve the cake with freshly whipped cream and berries for a truly wonderful dessert.
Tiny Chocolate Cake (GF)
recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
6 tablespoons butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a 6-inch or 7-inch round springform pan with parchment paper and grease with nonstick spray.
In a small saucepan, brown the butter, removing it from the heat as soon as the little brown bits begin to appear. Stir in the chocolate chips until they melt and are smooth. Set the saucepan aside and allow the chocolate to cool to lukewarm.
Add the egg yolks, brown sugar, and vanilla extract to a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until thick and combined. Pour in the warm chocolate mixture and beat until combined. It will be very thick.
Add the egg whites and salt to a separate bowl. Clean off the electric beaters, and beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and gently fold in the remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula. Do not overwork the batter once you begin folding the whites in. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the sides to ensure it didn't stick to the sides of the pan. Release the springform sides, and allow the cake to cool completely. Flip the cake over, remove the parchment paper, and flip the cake back onto a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar, and serve with softly whipped cream and fresh berries. Enjoy!
Makes 1 6-inch cake