Friday, March 18, 2011

Sugared Cinema: Casual: The Series

All I'm saying is if you really like this girl, don't let her go.  I've just watched you push away so many good things and I'd hate to see you keep doing it.  Sometimes there's shit that's worth it.

What initially started as a show of support for my friend Lauren has turned into a full-blown viewing addiction.  Just when I thought I couldn't possibly afford to add anymore vices to my sugar- and beer-filled existence, this little crack rock of a web series entered my life. 

Casual follows a Girl (Lauren Marini) and a Guy (Brian Thomas Smith) as they feel their way through the sweet aftermath of a one night stand.  There's no denying that these two really dig each other outside of the bedroom yet they remain somewhat guarded, in the event that one of them comes to the realization that their impromptu night of nookie was exactly that...a casual thing.

Jay Diaz, the writer and director of Casual, has created a series that is emotionally tangible (even if your sexual or romantical escapades are a thing of the past), sweet and engaging.  The chemistry and dialogue between Girl and Guy comes across as genuine and refreshingly unscripted.  There are also some seriously funny one-liners from the supporting talent (particularly in Casual 2.1) and the soundtrack is pretty money, too.  Broken Bells sealed the deal for me.

Go to and start with Episode 1.  While you're at it, "Like" Casual: The Series on Facebook for future show updates.  The next episode will be airing soon and stars Mary Jo Deschanel (you know, Zooey and Emily's mom.)  I'm predicting big things for these guys.

As it turns out, Lauren is also quite the little bakestress on the side.  She was awesome enough to send me some of her personal favorites, including her tried-and-true, classified cream cheese icing recipe (which I will not be giving up because I'm a total jerko) and a clone recipe of Levain Bakery's famously huge (in reputation and in size) chocolate chip cookies from the Vanilla Sugar blog, to name a few.

I had a tough time narrowing it down to one but once she mentioned that her friends almost started dishing out bitch slaps one bite into the chocolate chip cookies, my mind was made up.

  Levain Chocolate Chip Cookie Clone
Recipe by Vanilla Sugar

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted European butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup walnuts

Use a cheese grater to grate the butter into a bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the grated butter and both sugars just until combined.  Add egg and vanilla extra and beat again until just combined.  Don't get too crazy with the beatings.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and stir until blended.  Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and give it a good mix.  Since it's a drier dough, Vanilla Sugar suggests using your hands for this step.  It helps A LOT.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for a few hours or, even better, overnight.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll the dough into 12 large 4-ounce balls and place on ungreased baking sheets.

Chill the sheets in the fridge for 20 minutes while your oven is heating up.

Bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees then reduce the temperature to 325 and bake for another 8 minutes until set and light golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Make the cookies.  Watch the show.  Start working on that bitch slap.


  1. Oh, fancy buttah! Like! Although I can't find much fancy butter around these parts other than Kerrygold. I wonder if that would do the trick.

  2. What great looking cookies. I am getting my recipes all gathered for my shopping list, and I will have to give these cookies a try, they just look so good. Now I am going to go and check out this program.

  3. Oooo, nice. As for the web series, you've yet to steer me wrong so I'm on it. The Mouse and The Snake, yo.

  4. Breadandputter - Jennifer, this was my first time working with European butter. It's incredible! SO creamy and worth the extra few bucks.

    Medifast - you are so totally a spamb0t. Be gone.

    Margie - How funny is The Toad, the Turtle and the Duck? Poor trusting Mouse :'(

  5. More than the size of a watermelon funny. What about the motherless bear? :0

  6. Go Lauren!

    Now I am going to go check out this program.

  7. what is the purpose of grating the butter? just wondering if it does something special for the batter...

    thanks for the recco, this is something i will check out with the new boy toy.

  8. Liam - Make sure to get all your recipes gathered for your shopping list.

    Angry Asian - ever since I discovered the grating technique, I'm never going back to the two fork or pastry blender method again. It blends into the dough so easily and uniformly. Easily shaved a good 5 minutes off the prep time.

  9. The butter grating technique was such a revelation for me. I'll never look back. And breadandputter, I used Kerrigold and it works perfectly! As long as you have that high-butterfat content, you're good to go.

    Ali, this post really made my day! We are all so humbled to be featured on your blog. I look forward to the day when I can come visit you at your very famous bakery for free samples ;)

    (PS: I'm secretly tickled that you're keeping the cream cheese frosting recipe to yourself. I trust that information to very few people. Your induction ritual and ceremony will begin at midnight).

  10. Lauren - You know I had to spread the "Casual" and LM love! People need to know what's up. Like I said before, it's only a matter of time... <3

    P.S. Midnight in the ritual room.

    (The Skulls recently became one of my new "old" guilty pleasure movies.)

  11. Yes! I love this...I am definitely going to be checking out Casual.

  12. i've never had a levain cookie but it's at the top of my to-do list next time i'm in nyc. their reputation definitely precedes them. these look amazing--especially love the grated butter technique. def going to check out the show, too! hope you're enjoying your philly beer-cation :)

  13. Ali - I made these over the weekend and they were INSANE. Thank you so much for passing this recipe along!

  14. Erin - You must! (I was in your area on Saturday :D)

    Taylor - If these clone cookies taste even a 10th of what the real Levain cookies taste like, the bakery employees will have to carry me out of there on a stretcher.

    Breadandputter - Hahaha, you made them! YES. Wasn't the raw dough unreal? I consumed SO much of it in the process.

  15. they might be worth making for the dough alone!

  16. Wow I'm in awe with Lauren Marini. She's, gorgeous, talented, and bakes probably the most amazing looking cookies ever.... She has to be a catch. I bet she's already married.