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Episode 1 of the Great Princeton Bake-Off (Quarantine Edition)

<h6>Courtesy of <a href="https://pxhere.com/en/photo/819873" target="_self">PxHere</a></h6>
Courtesy of PxHere

It is officially the fifth week of attending Zoom University, and I will admit that I’m not as big of a fan of the online platform as I thought I would be. For some reason, I find that I am more tired, more stressed, and less motivated than when actually at Princeton. Attending classes from the comfort of my bed is turning into my academic Achilles heel.

When I’m not in class, I’ve found this time has given me plenty of opportunities to explore hobbies, both old and new. What have I spent all my free time doing? Baking.

Having spent hours in the kitchen procrastinating on my real responsibilities, I’m now convinced that at the end of this pandemic, I will be ready to enter into any number of televised baking shows. Having said that, I figured I should share some of my passion with anyone who may have a similar dream of one day opening a bakery and devoting your retirement years to baking wedding cakes in a small town somewhere in Maine. Or if you’re just craving something sweet, I have done my diligent duty as an avid baker and have compiled a top three list of the best things you could possibly bake.

At number three are these four-ingredient peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I’m always curious to see how recipes that only have “x number of ingredients” turn out, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by these cookies. I am biased to a chewier, soft cookie than I am a thin, crunchy cookie (though I will never say no to a Tate’s chocolate chip cookie), so these are cookies that definitely fit my criteria of soft, chewy, and chocolatey. 

The recipe is as follows:

-1 cup brown sugar

-1 cup peanut butter

-1 large egg

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-1/2 cup chocolate chips

-Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, adding chocolate chips after everything else is incorporated

-Bake at 350˚ for 10–12 minutes

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On to number two: as it has apparently become the season of banana bread, I wanted to shake things up a bit and introduce: the banana bread bar. In the same way you may feel about a blondie as compared to a chocolate chip cookie, baking banana bread in a bar form somehow just makes it taste better. Now, I don’t like my banana bread too sweet, so instead of sugar, this recipe uses honey — you can also substitute maple syrup. I also use olive oil rather than butter because, as I have said before, I like my baked goods moist, and olive oil always guarantees that there will be no crumbly dryness. There are also chocolate chips involved because, well,  why not?

Lastly, coming in at number one is my all-time favorite brownie recipe. I originally found it on BuzzFeed’s Tasty, and I will tell you, it never fails. While there are typically two schools of thought when it comes to brownies, specifically, cakey brownies vs. fudgy brownies, I tend to prefer my brownies gooier than not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made these brownies, and I truly believe they are a showstopper with a glass of milk or any of your favorite milk alternatives.

As a bonus, I also love this gluten-free option for brownies. Although I am not gluten-free, I have plenty of friends who are, and I’ve found this recipe for when I want to bake birthday brownies or just a fun treat for them. Sometimes I make them for myself if I’m really craving a super-fudgy brownie, and they definitely do not have that “gluten-free taste” that some gluten-free treats have.

Finally, if you too have a baking obsession, feel free to reach out. I’d love to share recipes, and I’d love to hear your opinion on any of the four recipes I’ve shared here.  

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