I love reading your emails, and I enjoy responding to your questions. I’ve formed quite the friendship with many of you, solely through email. Because I receive similar questions, I compiled the frequently asked ones here. If your question is not answered here, send me an email at DessertForTwo @ GMAIL . com (remove spaces before sending), or leave a comment below.
Can I double or triple your recipe to increase servings?
First, let me be clear: I only test my recipes to serve two. That’s the point of this site, ya know? There are simply not enough hours in the day for me to test my recipes doubled and tripled. So, that said, I can not answer your question. I only test my recipes to serve two. My Mom frequently doubles my cupcake recipes and bakes it in a 6″ cake pan, but there is no guarantee it will work for you. In general, when you alter recipes from the way they are written, the results will differ. If you double or triple a recipe and it works great, please, let us all know in the comment section. Also, check the comment section–many others may have altered the recipe and found it worked for them.
Can I substitute ingredients in your recipes?
Great question. I have no idea. I only test my recipes as you see them written here on this site (see above question). So, I’m not sure what to substitute if you want to make a chocolate cake without chocolate. Or, if you want my pineapple cake to not have pineapple in it. Sorry. Try using the search function at the top of my site to find a recipe that has ingredients you like. If you’re looking to substitute ingredients to avoid gluten, you’re in luck! I have an entire gluten-free section.
Where do you buy your small pans?
I’m so flattered that you’re willing to buy special bakeware just to bake my desserts. My Mom groans when I ask her to buy another pan to test my recipes. (Hi Mom! Love you!)
I frequently buy my miniature pans at Sur La Table, Amazon.com, Hobby Lobby, or other craft stores. Any store that sells specialty bakeware or items for wedding cake decorating will often have unusual and small-sized pans.
If you’re a veteran reader of this site, you may remember my Amazon shop in which I linked to all of my bakeware. Unfortunately, I recently moved to a state in which the Amazon affiliate program is illegal. So, in order to avoid jail time, I no longer have an Amazon store. Sorry!
I made your recipe for _____, but it didn’t turn out right. What’s wrong with your recipe?
I’m so sorry! I test all of my recipes multiple times before posting them, but there are a few variables in the kitchen. The biggest variable is your oven. Is it calibrated? Beyond ovens, I see a few common missteps when it comes to baking:
1. Did you use a different type of chocolate than what was called for in the recipe? Bittersweet chocolate is not the same as unsweetened, unfortunately. Check the label on your chocolate.
2. Did you separate the egg? Commonly, folks will say they added the whole egg instead of what is called for in the recipe. One large egg consists of 1 tablespoon of fat (egg yolk) and 2 tablespoons of binding agent (egg white). It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when baking in such small quantities, it can make all the difference.
3. Finally, is your baking soda/baking powder is old and expired? When was the last time you bought a new box of that stuff? Buy a new box and try again :)
Will you come to my house and teach me how to bake?
Yes! I’m a private chef that also teaches baking classes! I would love to teach you and your friends how to make miniature romantic desserts for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day or your anniversary. I’ll bring the ingredients, miniature bakeware, recipes, and you provide the margaritas (frozen with salt, please). E-mail me with requests. Please note that I charge for my services, and you will have to cover my travel if I don’t live near you. (I live in
Northern California St. Louis!).
Where in the heck do you live?
Excellent question! I can see how you would be confused. When I started this blog in 2010, I was fresh out of graduate school and living in California. Then, I did a brief stint outside Kansas City for 18 months. Now, I live in St. Louis. I travel around quite a bit, and so you may see other states mentioned in my posts, too.
What part of Texas are you from?
I love getting this question from fellow Texans. I’m from ‘big D’…Dallas, if you don’t know. I grew up in the country outside of Dallas, and then my parents moved us to the big city when I was 11. I love Dallas, but I also adore Fort Worth.
How old are you?
You must not be from the South, because you never ask a lady her age. Nor do you ever ask someone how many acres they own or how many head of cattle they have. But since I’m nice, I’ll tell you: I’m 29, we own 1/3 an acre, and 0 cows.
What’s the status of you & Mr. Dessert For Two?
Well, here’s the thing. Ever since I shared that wildly personal post about my anti-marriage freak out, I’ve been fretting over it. I’m trying to make my peace with it, but some days, I think about deleting that post altogether. Be that as it may, I’m happy to report that after a year, the man who told me he wanted to marry me on our third date has finally won me over. He asked me to marry him at the end of that long dirt road behind my house in the photo above. Check out our wedding photos here.
You talk an awful lot about work. Do you work fulltime and blog? How do you do it?
Why yes, thanks, I do. At first, it was really overwhelming. I’ll admit, I’ve had a few breakdowns. Sometimes, I’m so frustrated that I console myself by eating the most photogenic cupcake in the batch.
I noticed that all of my breakdowns were in the winter months when the sun sets at 5pm and I didn’t have enough natural light to finish my shoot after work. So, at the insistence of Bev, I dedicated an entire work space in my house to food photography. I have natural light bulbs, diffusion screens, and white reflector boards. This makes the process of shooting much faster, and therefore, much less frustrating.
My best time management tip: kill your TV.
What do you do for a living?
I feel like I talk about this a lot, but I don’t mind answering it again. I work in agricultural research. I grow crops in the field or greenhouse and support research that aims to increase crop yield, increase resistance to insect and weed pressure, and develop new crop varieties that require less water, less fertilizers, etc. The world population is exponentially increasing and we have a lot of mouths to feed. Plus, resources are becoming more limited daily. The goal of all modern agriculture is to produce more with less inputs. I’m so damn proud to be a part of the effort, and I really, really love my job.
Update 2014: Oh, I guess this should be updated. I’m a full time private chef, cookbook author (February 2015 release date!), recipe developer, and food photographer. I work SO many more hours than my previous job in agriculture, but you know what? I’ve never been happier. Plus, I still grow a lot of the food we eat, so I still consider myself a part-time farmer.
What kind of camera do you use?
Food photography is something I struggle with on a daily basis.
I used to use a point-and-shoot Canon, and I thought I would be fine with it. I thought my delicious recipes and my overly-revealing writing style would speak for themselves and I would be wildly successful without good photos. Boy, was I wrong. So, I finally invested in a Canon EOS Rebel T1i and bought a 50mm f/1.8 mm lens. I’m fond of a New York company that sells new and used camera parts called B&H photo. I bought my 500D body used, and my lens new. Never had a problem. I recently purchased the 18-55mm lens and love it. I also couldn’t live without my tripod for creating sharp photos.
Update: I bit the bullet, and upgraded to a fancy lens. I went with Sigma, which fits a Canon, it’s just cheaper. Here’s a link to the exact lens I use.
Update again: Starting in April 2014, I upgraded to a Canon 6D. I’m shooting with the kit lens (24-105mm) EF. There’s, um, quite a steep learning curve when switching to a full-frame camera from a cropped sensor camera, so please bear with me until I get the hang of it.
Bad photo, great recipe:
Great photo, great recipe:
It gets easier, and you will improve. The difference in the photos above is 2 years. Hang in there. Photography is frustrating; fun, but frustrating.
What’s the best way to increase your blog following?
The best resource I’ve found for discovering ALL the information you need to know about food blogging is Food Blogger Pro. The videos cover every topic in detail, and I highly recommend this program if you’re new to blogging or if you’re looking to increase your online presence. Click on the banner below to learn more:
Besides the points above, my best advice is to attend blog conferences. Networking is a big deal in the business world, and blogging is no different. Attend the ones in your area, or save up for the ones that are out-of-town. Besides, if you make blogging your business, conferences can be a tax write-off. Be smart like that: have a financial advisor (see the next question for more on this).
The best part of blogging is friendships. Leave meaningful comments on blogs you like and a friendship will ensue. Stephie and I became friends because she leaves me hilarious comments. After a few months of emails, I just had to meet this girl! One deep dish pizza in Chicago later, and we were fast-friends. Love that girl! Erin is another girl that I would have never met without blogging, and I can’t imagine my life without her. And while I’m doing shout-outs, I want to say how much I love Jessica for answering all of my crazy questions any time of day.
Any other advice?
Frequently, I include lists of wisdom in my posts, and y’all eagerly await more tidbits, don’t you? It’s not that I’m wise; it’s just that I’m a highly opinionated Southern woman with a big mouth. Here goes:
-Get an education and be independent before letting anyone else depend on you.
-Start saving for your retirement in your 20s.
-Hire a financial advisor (or take advantage of free financial planning services).
-Keep your head down and work hard. Every single day.
-Love what you do. Spend the majority of your short life doing the things you enjoy. You know, the things that make your heart smile.
-Be charitable. Give anything you can to anyone that needs it. If you ever you need anything from me, just ask. Seriously.
-Ask advice from your elders. The older, the better.
-Calm down. It’s not the end of the world, ever.
-Cut people slack.
-Never indulge in a pity party for yourself.
-Your parents know best. Yes, really.
The days are long, but the years are short. Live life to the fullest!