EARL GREY CUPCAKES
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"Tea, Earl Grey, hot." Star Trek: The Next Generation, "All Good Things..."

Jean-Luc Picard may not be everyone's choice of captain, but you have to love a man who turns to tea in stressful situations. I wouldn't be surprised if tea were the only thing his ready room's replicator was capable of making. Tea, however, is a pretty boring thing to bring to a potluck.

For a less liquidy contribution, bake Jean-Luc's beverage of choice into a portable and crowd-pleasing dessert. I would, however, avoid serving them hot. Cupcakes are much simpler to frost when at room temperature, and what's a holiday cupcake sans frosting?

  • ½ cup milk, at room temperature (preferably 2%)
  • 4 Earl Grey teabags
  • 8 Tbs (1 stick) butter, unsalted, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbs sugar
  • ½ tsp. almond extract (this ingredient is optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup + 2 Tbs. self-rising flour
  • ¾ cup + 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil; promptly remove it from heat. Add the tea bags to the milk. Cover this, and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. (After this, discard the teabags.)

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth (should take about 3 to 5 minutes). Add almond extract, then add the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is mixed in before you add the next.

Sift the two flours together into a separate bowl. Add a third to the creamed mixture, then add a third of the infused milk to that. Repeat until all ingredients are combined.

Fill the cupcake cups about 2/3 full, then bake about 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. If frosting, wait until they're room temperature to frost.

FRUITY OATY BARS, AKA APPLE CRUMBLE
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"Fruity Oaty Bars/ Make a man out of a mouse/ Fruity Oaty Bars/ Make you bust out of your blouse/ Eat them all the time/ Let them blow your mind/ Fruity Oaty Bars!" Serenity

I hope no-one realized they were a sleeper agent after reading that. If you did, my apologies. I hope the property destruction was not too great, and that you didn't kill anyone. Fruity Oaty Bars play a surprisingly pivotal role in Serenity. These little taste sensations from Blue Sun serve as a catalyst for River Tam's character development, and in doing so, propel the rest of the crew along the way.

A word to the wise: I can make no assurances as to the strength- and/or bosom-enhancing qualities of this dessert. They might blow your mind, though.

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (try Granny Smiths)
  • ¾ cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375° F. Place sliced apples in a 9x9 baking dish.

Combine all other ingredients and spread over apples. Bake 35 minutes. Let cool before slicing.

AND FOR ALL THOSE THAT DON'T HAVE TIME TO COOK, BUT STILL HAVE TO CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING...
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"It's not 'Door to Heaven,' it's... 'Stargate.'" Stargate

If, like me, you find yourself with no time to cook, bring a box of doughnuts. Everyone loves them, they're easy to eat, and they look like little stargates. Done.

Bon geek appétit, all.

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