Green Tea, Lemon, & Pineapple Macarons

Macarons

The sweet life of macarons. They are stunning for photography and even more satisfying to eat. One bite leads to another and before you realize it, they have all disappeared. And once they have disappeared, you go back to craving them. And find yourself waiting innocently in line to choose wild, tangy, or fruity flavors to satisfy your needy stomach. And then the whole cycle happens again. With macarons costing about $3 each, there are only so many that you will be willing to buy. It’s a pretty clever technique as they price them so that you buy a few that invite you for a second visit in the near future.
Macarons
Ready to make your own Laduree style macarons at home? It is challenging for a first try, but going through that struggle will only make the success of your buttercream-filled green tea macarons that much more delicious. Some of my past attempts include Nutella (my first success), pistachio, and peppermint flavored macarons. My ultimate creation with these was making a macaron tree, which I made as a pre-wedding gift for my best friend. Today we can add matcha green tea, lemon, and pineapple to that list! Keep posted as I will be experimenting with more adventurous flavors such as popcorn and Milano.

General Macarons Recipe *Modifications to make the other flavors- green tea, pineapple, lemon- will follow the recipe*

Printable Recipe Here

Makes: 25 macarons

Ingredients:

  • 90 grams egg whites (about 3 eggs)
  • 55 grams white granulated sugar (~¼ cup)
  • 200 grams confectioner’s sugar (~ 1 2/3 cup)
  • 110 grams almond flour (~ 1 cup)
  • pinch salt
  • food coloring (optional)

Directions:

  1. Blend the almonds finely in a food processor. Add the confectioner’s sugar and blend until very fine.
  2. Sift the almond-sugar mixture about 2 times into a medium bowl and place on the side for use later. If you have any large pieces, food process them again until they are smooth.
  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl and whisk at medium speed, until foamy.
  4. Mix in the granulated sugar slowly until stiff peaks form. If you lift the whisk, the peaks should remain standing and will look shiny and smooth.
  5. Add food coloring at this point. I took a toothpick, dipped it in the gel food coloring, and then wiped it into the mix.
  6. Use a spoon to fold your almond-sugar mixture into the stiffened egg whites. About 60-70 strokes works. Be careful not to overmix it!! It should look like the consistency of lava. If you spoon up the batter and drop it back into the bowl, it will take about 10 seconds to incorporate itself back in. Watch a video here if you are unsure of how to complete this step; it will be well worth it.
  7. Put parchment paper on your baking sheets and draw your desired circle size. You can use a bottle cap or print out a template and trace it.
  8. Spoon your batter into a piping bag fitted with a large circle tip. Pipe the macarons onto your templates.
  9. Pick up the pan (about 12 inches high) and drop it onto the counter about 2-3 times to get rid of any air bubbles.
  10. Let the macarons dry for about 30 minutes-1 hour in an undisturbed area before baking them. You will know that they are ready when you touch the top of the macaron and it doesn’t stick to your finger.
  11. Bake the macarons at 300 F for about 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.
  12. Make your desired filling (recipes will follow).

Tips

  • use a measuring scale for all the ingredients for accuracy!! Baking is a science and with improper measurements, the macarons may not turn out to your standards.
  • for more help, visit SouthernFatty for step by step pictures and a printable template

Matcha Green Tea Macarons

  • Add 2 tsp of matcha green tea powder to the almonds after you have food processed them
  • Check out ThirstyforTea’s wonderful post on making green tea macarons for more pictures and tips

Matcha Green Tea Buttercream:

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions

  1. Beat the butter on high until fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar and matcha powder and beat until incorporated.
  3. Add milk while beating for another 3 minutes.

Adapted from OhSweetDay

Pineapple Macarons

  • Add orange food coloring at step 5

Pineapple Curd Filling

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup pineapple juice, canned
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

  1. Whisk all of the ingredients, other than the butter, together in a small pan over medium heat.
  2. Keep on whisking until it starts to simmer. It will start to thicken and you will start to see bubbles on the top.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let it cool and place in the refrigerator while you wait. Cover with plastic wrap that is touching the curd so that no skin forms on the top.

Adapted from MissHangryPants

Macarons

Lemon Macarons

  • Add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and yellow food coloring at step 5

Meyer Lemon Curd Filling 

*makes about 1 ¼ cups; double it to fill a 9 inch pie

Ingredients

  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks

Directions

  1. Zest the lemon over a medium sized bowl. Place a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
  2. In a medium pan, heat up the lemon juice, sugar, and butter. Still until the butter has melted.
  3. Stir together the eggs and egg yolks in another bowl.
  4. Once the lemon juice mix starts to warm up, pour it slowly into the eggs while whisking quickly.
  5. Pour it all back into the pan and cook it until it starts to thicken. Mix it with a wooden spoon frequently. If you see white bits floating, those are pieces of egg whites which you will strain out later.
  6. Once it has thickened, strain the mixture into the bowl with the zest.
  7. Stir the curd frequently to let the steam and heat out. Allow it to cool and then refrigerate it until ready for use.

Adapted from DavidLebovitz

Macarons

Now sit back and enjoy your hard work, because you deserve to relax! You can choose to eat the macarons by themselves or pair them up with another dessert, such as vanilla bean ice-cream.

Macarons

What are some other ways that you have enjoyed your macarons?

Bakery Style French Bread

French Bread

I’ve been kneading to share this life-changing recipe with all of you! Nowadays with the mass production of bread, it’s rare that we get to taste an authentic baked loaf free of any preservatives. As a bread lover, I savor any piece of bread that is warm, chewy, and soft with a slightly crunchy crust. Pita bread. Bread bowls. Ciabatta. French bread. Breadsticks. Garlic Bread. The list could go on and on. It’s endless and lovely that we get to enjoy this food in so many different ways. The simplicity of this recipe along with some patience will lead to some fluffy and addicting bread. I’ve already made it twice and there will be many more to come haha.

Bakery Style French Bread

**Don’t forget to check out my tips below**

Printable Recipe Here  

Time Prep: 15 min; Kneading: 1 hr; Rising: 30 min; Baking: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tablespoons (2 packets) instant yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of honey (or sugar)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons oil (olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups of flour
  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Combine the yeast, warm water, and honey in a small bowl and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. You will notice that it will bubble up and start to foam.
  2. Add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and mix in the 2 cups of water, oil, salt, and flour until well incorporated.
  3. Mix in the last 3 cups of flour gradually.
  4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a well-floured surface.
  5. For the next hour, knead the dough 3-4 times every 10 minutes.
  6. Form into 2 large loaves or 4 medium loaves. To get a smooth shape, form a rectangular shape and fold in the sides to the middle a few times.
  7. Brush them with the beaten egg white. Slash a few diagonal lines into each of the loaves.
  8. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes or until double in size. Brush again with the remaining egg white before putting them into the oven.
  9. Bake at 400 F° for 10 minutes and then at 350 F° for 20 minutes.

French Bread

Tips:

-There are two types of yeast you will notice at the grocery store, instant (rapid-rise) yeast and active dry yeast. They function the same, but active dry yeast needs to be added to water to activate the yeast. The instant yeast, which I recommend for this recipe, can be added along with the rest of your ingredients without “activating” it first. I do it as a precaution to make sure that the yeast is good, because it is a live bacteria. If the yeast does not bubble or dissolve when mixed with the honey and water, then your yeast is too old or dead and then your bread will not rise.

-To keep track of how long you have been kneading your dough, you can write out the 10 minute intervals on a paper and check them off every time you knead.

-If you do not have a KitchenAid mixer, you can also make this recipe by hand by using a wooden spoon to mix it. It will just take longer to mix and knead, but you will have the same results.

-Kneading the dough every 10 minutes for an hour is what helps your dough become chewy. When you are kneading it, punch the dough down and fold the dough over a few times. It doesn’t have to be exact either at the 10 minute mark. As long as you knead it sometime before or after that mark , then you will be fine. A good goal to hit is coming back to the dough 6 times within the hour.

Troubleshooting

-If you notice that the dough is too sticky, in that it sticks to your hands and you are unable to knead it, then just add additional flour gradually (about 1/4 cup at a time). You can test out to see if the dough is right by taking a little piece and rolling it into a ball. If it is too sticky to roll into a ball, then you need more flour.

-Here is another good site for some great solutions to common problems at RedStar Yeast.

Recipe adapted from ItsAlwaysAutumn

Step By Step French Bread Guide

French Bread

Your initial ingredients for “proofing” the yeast. Proofing basically means that you are proving that the yeast is alive.

French Bread

When you add all of the ingredients together, the water will dissolve the coating around the yeast. Once this yeast is activated, it will work on the honey/sugar and start to foam up.

French Bread

You can notice here that the yeast has grown and is foamy. This is the proof that the yeast is active and we can now add it to our bread.

French Bread

The yeast after 10 minutes: active and foamy.

French Bread

All of the ingredients ready to mix together. (don’t worry about the shaker in the middle: yes those little pink granules are salt haha it’s just a different type-Himalayan salt) French Bread

Mixing together all of the ingredients in a large bowl.

French Bread

Your dough should be hanging off of your dough hook and not too sticky. If it is too sticky for you to knead, then add a 1/4 cup of flour or more as needed.

French Bread

Dough ready to be kneaded on a well-floured surface.

French Bread

Final step: shaping the dough and brushing it with the egg white. Don’t forget to make a couple slashes about ½ inch deep.

French Bread

The golden brown color that the egg whites give it just tops it off with a nice crunch.

French Bread

Yum! Sliced and ready to serve.

Samoa Cookies aka Caramel Delites

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: those famous Girl Scout ‘Caramel Delite’ cookies that most people scramble for whenever the Girl Scouts start selling cookies & then crave once the season is over. Why wait for one of these cookies when you can learn how to make them for whenever you please?

These have been on my Ultimate Food Bucket List for a long time and I’m very happy that I finally got to attempt them. Although the total time spent making these was around 3 hours, it was well worth it and I am planning to make them again soon. I have no doubt that you will love them as much as I did!

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies Adapted from JustaTaste 

Printable Recipe Here

Makes: 60 cookies

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut Topping Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 15 ounces store bought soft caramel (or homemade)
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (can also substitute milk or semi-sweet)

Directions     

For the Cookies:

Preheat: 350 F

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a bowl with a mixer.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time to the creamed butter. Mix between each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the milk and vanilla extract, blending until combined and the dough starts to form larger pieces.
  5. Divide the dough in half, pressing it together to compact it into two disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).
  6. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Cut out as many cookies as you can using two different sized cookie cutters (or a doughnut shaped cookie cutter OR any circular shaped top).
  8. Place the cut-out cookies on a Silpat or parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the cookies are a light-golden color. Transfer to a wire-rack to cool.

For the Coconut Topping:

  1. Spread out the shredded coconut on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 F oven until toasted, stirring frequently to ensure even browning and so they do not burn.
  3. Remove the toasted coconut from the oven and set aside.
  4. Melt the caramels, milk, and salt in a double boiler by placing them into a heat safe bowl or saucepan set over a larger saucepan of simmering water.
  5. Stir until the caramels are completely melted and remove from the heat.
  6. Mix in ¾ of the caramel with the toasted coconut in a bowl.
  7. Carefully spread the remaining ¼ cup of caramel on top of the cooled cookies. Press on some of the coconut mixture and let the cookies cool for about 30 minutes. (If the caramel cookie mixture cools or hardens, just put it back on top of the double boiler and warm it until it is spreadable)
  8. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
  9. Dip the bottoms of the cookies in the chocolate and place onto parchment or waxed paper.
  10. Use a piping bag to drizzle the tops of the cookies with chocolate. Set aside to cool and then enjoy!

Tips:

-If you do not have a piping bag to pipe the chocolate, you can also use a ziploc bag and snip off a tiny piece of the corner

-When toasting the sweetened coconut in the oven, be sure to stir them frequently as they burn easily and quickly!

Samoa Cookies: Step by Step

samoa cookies

Cutting out the cookies using two different sized circle cookie cutters

samoa cookies

Cookies waiting to be covered in caramel!

samoa cookies

Caramel, milk, & sugar about to go onto the stove using the double boiler method (place pot over a larger pot of simmering water and also make sure that it does not touch the water)

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: Before (still delicious at this stage, be careful of who you allow to taste test haha)

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: After (definitely do not leave these out of your eyesight!)

samoa cookies

One Word: Yum!!!

 

Have you ever attempted to make any of the other Girl Scout cookies? Have you ever made samoa in a different baking style than cookies (such as cakes, ice-cream, etc)?

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

It all started with a tapioca drink. After a strong recommendation from a friend, I decided one day to finally order the green mystery frappe. The sweet, yet slight bitter taste of the matcha green tea with the combination of the chewy tapioca pearls instantly had me. Ever since, whenever I’d stop by a tapioca shop, I’d always hear myself respond “green tea frappe” when asked “what would you like to order?”. It wasn’t soon before I realized there was a whole world out there full of green tea flavored desserts for me to discover. Macarons. Cookies. Cake. Ribbon Ice. Chocolate. Buttercream. You name it, they’ve probably made it. And of course, ice cream! Which brings us to this post here which will satisfy any green tea cravings you may have. If you are curious as to how this would taste before making it, I suggest buying the Häagen-Dazs® Green Tea ice cream from your grocery store. It was the only brand that I found that sells the unique flavor of green tea. If you know of any others, feel free to share and comment below.

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream from OneInstantCookbook

Time Required: 30 minutes active time; 6 hours inactive time

Makes: 1 Quart

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of ice in a bowl
  • 2 cups half and half (OR 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (18 grams) matcha green tea powder
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
  • Optional toppings: sliced mangos/strawberries; condensed milk

Equipment: Ice cream maker

Directions

  1. Freeze the ice cream bowl for 24 hours.
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the half and half, sugar, and salt.
  3. Start heating up the mixture over medium heat and then add in sifted green tea powder. Stir until the mixture starts to foam and is hot to the touch, but not boiling.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer it to a bowl sitting in an ice bath. Once it is cool, refrigerate the bowl for 2-3 hours.
  5. Transfer to a pre-chilled ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions (around 20-25 minutes).
  6. Transfer to airtight container and freeze for 3 hours before serving.

Tips

  • If you are looking to buy green tea match powder, you can buy some from Amazon or from your local Japanese store.
  • Optional toppings that go great with green tea ice cream include fruits such as mangos or strawberries with a drizzle of condensed milk.

Step by Step Pictures Below

Matcha IngredientsClockwise: Green Tea Matcha; Half & Half; Granulated Sugar; Pinch of SaltMatcha Green Tea Ice CreamWhisk together the half and half, sugar, and salt over medium heat.Matcha Green Tea Ice CreamSift in the green tea powder and mix thoroughly. Matcha Green Tea Ice CreamChill your mixture in an ice bath and once cool, place into the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before churning in the ice cream maker. Enjoy!

What is your favorite way to eat/drink match green tea?

Maple Bacon Brittle Ice Cream

Maple Bacon Ice Cream

Do you ever walk past the chips aisle & wonder how some flavors are created? Waffles and Chicken. Cappuccino. Maple Bacon. These adventurous titles tend to stand out against the other generic BBQ or cheese flavors. While in the store one day, maple & bacon caught my eye and I soon started noticing it in other foods such as cookies, cake, and even ice-cream. When baking, I love experimenting with new flavors and tastes and before you know it, maple bacon brittle ice-cream was on my to-do list. I figured I would make an ice-cream, because I just got an ice-cream maker so it was a great opportunity to use it! Despite how strange it may sound as bacon is a savory item which we don’t associate with sweets, I loved it and so did my whole family. Now let’s just say, some dishes are made that way to stay that way. Cappuccino falls in that category. The cappuccino chips were definitely out there, and it was strange having a chocolatey aftertaste with a small hint of coffee after eating chips. Alright well on to the recipe below with a few step-by-step photos:

Maple Bacon Brittle Ice-Cream from WhipThisUp Blog

Makes: 1 Quart

Bacon Brittle 

Ingredients

  • 3 strips of turkey bacon
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Wrap a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Grease and set aside.
  2. Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and then chop to a fine mince.
  3. Cook sugar over medium-high heat, until it melts and turns golden (about 10 minutes or if lumps form, remove the pan from the heat and stir until melted). Immediately remove from heat when the sugar has completely melted and has turned a light amber color.
  4. Right away, stir in the butter, baking soda, and chopped bacon.
  5. Quickly pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and allow to cool until hardened (about 15 minutes).
  6. Break or cut into very small pieces with a skillet, knife, or other cooking utensil.
  7. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator while you make the ice-cream.

Maple Ice-Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Directions

  1. Heat the maple syrup over medium heat and allow it to simmer until it has reduced to ¾ cup, about 12 minutes (you can use a heat safe measuring cup to measure it’s volume every few minutes). Remove from heat.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and salt in a small bowl for several minutes until a pale yellow color. Transfer to a saucepan and mix in the whole milk.
  3. Cook the egg/milk mixture over medium heat, until almost simmering (the mixture should be thick enough to coat a spoon: when you run your finger through the custard a line should form and not run back into itself). Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a heat safe bowl and then stir in the reduced maple syrup and heavy cream.
  5. Cover the custard and refrigerate overnight.
  6. The following day, churn in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in the bacon brittle and allow to freeze for 2 hours before enjoying.

From Beginning to End: Journey of the Turkey Bacon 

Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon: Before

Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon: After. Golden brown and sizzling in perfection. Keep your eye on these, because you may lose a few from hungry bystanders!

Light Amber Brittle

The much awaited light amber color of the sugar. Patience is required.

Bacon Brittle

Bacon brittle all chopped up. Snacking: Optional.

Maple Bacon Ice Cream

The bowl that makes all your effort worth it. Make this Maple Bacon Brittle Ice-cream recipe for a bowl that you’ll never forget!

What’s the weirdest ice-cream flavor you have ever made or tasted?

Strawberry Shortcake for the New Year

New years cake

I’m about 5 days late but hey, that doesn’t change it being a new year packed with new resolutions, new blog posts, and new everything! I thought it would be perfect to start off the year with a clock themed cake & I tried to make it semi-healthy, hence the strawberries. A New Year sounds great to most as it is a physical reminder for a fresh start and a good chance for one to tackle their dreams and goals. It’s interesting, because only about 8% of people actually follow through with their New Year’s resolutions. Make sure you are one of those 8%. Who ever said you can’t be? It’s important to have attainable goals that you can slowly work towards so that you do follow through with results.

For the cake above, I followed the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Full recipe can be found here on Pittsburgh Eats Needed blog.

Recipe Tip:

  • To get the strawberries straight along the sides, use a 9 inch springform pan and line parchment paper around the inner circle. Once you release the springform pan and remove the parchment paper, the strawberries will remain in place.
  • Use cake flour as indicated in the recipe for a fluffier, and lighter cake. If you prefer it more dense, then use all-purpose flour although it may turn out drier than expected and you can try moistening it by spraying the cake with a 1 part sugar 2 parts water mix that has been boiled and cooled.

2015 will see a lot more of my Ultimate Food Bucket List being completed and more restaurant reviews as I explore the food scene. Keep posted for more exciting posts and news every week!

New years cake

Any recipes or cooking techniques you would like me to cover for 2015? Feel free to share :)

 

Little Black Dress Fondant Cake

little black dress cake

Yes. ANOTHER fondant cake. These cakes are just so much fun to plan and make. After my last holiday fondant creation, I was ready for more. My best friend was having a little black dress themed party a few days before her wedding and so I insisted on making her a surprise cake. I got to try out a few new techniques on this cake, which I will be using in the future as well. Enjoy the tips!

Few Tips for Fondant Cakes:

1) Stamps. These are the simplest items to have as a final touch on your cake and they are just so lovely. Make sure you are using a stamp that is new so that you do not get any paint or toxic residue onto the fondant. To use the stamp, take a brush and dip it in black gel food coloring. Paint the stamp and practice on scraps of fondant so you can get an idea of the amount of pressure that you would need to apply to get a crisp and clear image.

2) Cookie Cutters. Long gone are the days when I only pulled out my cookie cutters for sugar cookies. There are just so many uses for cookie cutters and cutting fondant is only one of them.

Check out this fun post on Buzzfeed here about 47 different ways to use cookie cutters ranging from gift tags, ornaments, and even fruit salads!

3) Molds. These are super easy to use, because you just push the fondant in the mold and pop it out. The one I used on this little black dress cake could also be used for monograms or a small message. At 2 am in the morning, I had no time to make black icing and so I had to settle for no initials.

4) Ribbons. Any type of ribbon will look beautiful on your cake and will cover the bottom edges if the fondant happens to be uneven or messy there. What I learned with this cake is to use a ribbon that preferable has no sparkles or sprinkles on it that could fall off. I had to keep brushing off the sparkles from the ribbon and a satin ribbon in place would have made it much easier. Ribbons can be easily attached with a few drops of buttercream icing.

5) Fondant Pearls. The most trouble I always have with these is making them all the same size. I found a very helpful tip to help with this common problem, which is to use a very small circle cookie cutter (or a bottle cap, anything circular and small).

little black dress cake

Any tips of your own that you have found helpful for dealing with fondant cakes?

 

Holiday Themed Fondant Cake

holiday fondant cake

Whenever the holidays start to come around, signups begin for all the holiday potlucks to enjoy at work, school, or even amongst family and friends. Sometimes you get signed up for a dessert at a company you don’t even work at too. Yep, my mom signed me up for her potluck. I didn’t mind, because it was a great stress reliever for finals even though I had two papers to write on the same day. It was also the perfect opportunity too to use these gold edible sprinkles that I have. I ended up making a two-layer chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream icing in between.

The Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe can be found here  on a previous blog post of mine.

holiday fondant cake

Previous recipes where I have used this Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate recipe are below:

hershey's twizzler bites

Hershey Twizzler Bites 

mini chocolate bundt cakes

Chocolate Bundt Cakes: Mini and Normal Versions

Hershey's Chocolate Cakeballs

Hershey’s Winter Themed Cakeballs 

Batman Cake

Batman Fondant Cake 

 

 

 

 

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies

There are times when you see something and just have to buy it. Or you may stay thinking about it only to come back hours later to buy it. That was my case with my acorn cookie cutter. I saw it at World Market and figured I would just come back later for it. What happened instead was that I went to a few stores next door and ended up coming back for the cookie cutter before I went home. No regrets. Hakuna Matata.

I loved making these cookies because I didn’t have to use the royal icing, which always takes forever to dry. We were going to visit one of our neighbors before she left for the holidays and so I figured it would be the perfect occasion to use my acorn cookie cutter. Later on, while jogging around my neighborhood I noticed many acorns on the sidewalk and so I picked up a few to use as decor for when I would make these cookies. Enjoy these as they will be the perfect addition on your dessert table for Thanksgiving!

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies 

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups cups finely ground hazelnuts, divided
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces chocolate candy coating/ chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition
  3. Mix in the vanilla and hazelnut extract
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder
  5. Add 1 cup of hazelnuts to the flour mixture
  6. Gradually add this to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until smooth
  7. Add the cream and beat until well-incorporated
  8. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or up till overnight
  9. Preheat the oven to 350° F
  10. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside
  11. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut with your cookie cutter
  12. Place the cookies on the prepared sheets and bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned
  13. In a microwavable bowl, melt the chocolate candy coating and dip the top half of the cookies
  14. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of hazelnuts over the top half
  15. Add some chocolate coating to a plastic ziploc bag or piping bag and design as you wish
  16. Store in air-tight container for up to 5 days

Recipe from the All American Cooking magazine

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies

 

 

NY Style Cheesecake

This cheesecake almost didn’t happen. The night I had planned to make it for a lunch we were holding the next day, I conveniently forgot where the springform pan’s base was. I sat for a while on Pinterest trying to get inspirations for another dessert to make, but nothing was appealing to me. Once I had the idea to make this cheesecake, I just couldn’t forget it and that was the problem. I tried again, opening every cabinet and looking between pans that the springform base could be hidden in. Just when I was about to call it a night, my mom yelled over to me and there it was in her hand. Apparently it was in our outside refrigerator; an area that I never thought to check. Cheesecake is one of those desserts that is really worth making because the end product never fails to satisfy. Check below to enjoy your own home-made version as well!

new york cheesecake

New York Style Cheesecake

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups crushed graham wafers
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling

  • 32 ounces (4 of the 8 ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest  (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Put the wafers in a food processor and blend until they are small crumbs
  2. Pour the crumbs in a bowl and add the 1/4 cup of sugar and melted butter
  3. Spray the springform pan with cooking spray and press the crumbs on the bottom and halfway up the pan
  4. Refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling
  5. Put the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and flour in a mixing bowl and beat until well incorporated (1 minute)
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are blended in
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix so that you do not have any lumps of cream cheese remaining
  8. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and beat for a minute or until well mixed
  9. Before you pour the filling into your crust, cover the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil (so no water gets in)
  10. Pour the filling into the aluminum wrapped springform pan
  11. Put the springform pan in a large baking dish and fill the dish with water (so the water is halfway up the pan)
  12. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes
  13. Reduce to 250 F and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until only the center is a little wobbly when you shake the pan
  14. Cool and refrigerate overnight and decorate/serve the following day

Tips

  • For the design, I melted semi-sweet chocolate and dipped strawberries in it. For some strawberries, I covered them with chopped almonds and for the others, I dipped them in a ready made strawberry glaze.
  • If you do not have graham wafers (as I did not), be creative and improvise with ANYTHING that you have. I used waffle cones that we had and just put those in the food processor. I have also used animal crackers in the past so anything will work.
  • Baking the cheesecake in a water bath will prevent it cracking because then the outer edge will not bake faster than the center (the hottest the water bath can get is 100 C).
  • Short 1 minute video for how to assemble a water bath here

Recipe modified from ZoomYummy

new york cheesecake

new york cheesecake

 

For more ideas check out some of my past cheesecakes below:

reeses cheesecake

 

pecan cheesecake

 

cheesecake

 

 

Houston Bites: Cedar’s Bakery

Houston Bites is back!!!

Driving back home with a colossal stack of white boxes, I knew that my brunch with my mom had gone successful. A planned brunch date quickly turned into stocking up a week’s supply for the family which was quite successful, although it disappeared without a trace. The effect after my first visit was similar as this is one place that is definitely hard to leave. I will have to warn you: you need to eat at least one of the mana’eesh (flatbread pies) in the store before heading home with a load, or else you may find yourself driving with one hand because your other fingers (that are now covered in olive oil and sesame) could not resist the temptations driven by the aroma of Middle Eastern herbs.

Cedar’s Bakery, a Lebanese family-owned business, may not have an extensive menu of breakfast or lunch items to order, but why have that when you have a range of quality mana’eesh, pita sandwiches, and assorted mini pastries? Watching your mana’eesh come out on long wooden paddles from the authentic twin brick ovens only adds to the experience as compared to simply picking up a pizza in a box from Domino’s. One of my favorites is sojok, a beef crumbly sausage flavored with cumin, garlic, and red pepper that is also mixed with a crumbly cheese. The sweet cheese and savory sausage complement each other on the soft, chewy pita flatbread. Other favorites of mine include the zaa’tar (a spice blend of sumac, thyme, oregano, sesame, & marjoram) and the parsley with akkawi cheese. If you are looking for a flatbread that is not so savory, I would go for the labne bread (a popular Middle Eastern cheese topped with tomatoes, olives, & a spice blend). Other than the famous mana’eesh, I have also tried their crunchy spinach and onion pies which are great to-go items for a quick snack. You can pair up some coffee or tea with your steaming baked good or you can be a bit more adventurous and go for the fragrant rose-flavored drink.

Quick “Must Order Bites” List

  1. Sojok Mana’eesh (my favorite although I am fan of their whole menu)
  2. Half Zaa’tar/ Half Cheese Mana’eesh
  3. Parsley & Cheese Mana’eesh
  4. Labne Mana’eesh
  5. Spinach Pies
  6. Rose Flavored Drink

Take a look at their menu here , complete with mouthwatering pictures to make your decision even harder on what to order haha.

Newsworthy Tidbit: Cedar’s has been rated as 42 out of the top 100 Houston restaurants for the Houston Chronicle in 2014 so come grab a quick bite here!

ADDRESS

8619 Richmond Ave

Houston, TX 77063

HOURS OF OPERATION

MONDAY-FRIDAY: 7am – 6pm

SATURDAY: 7am – 5pm

SUNDAY: 7am – 4pm

CONTACT INFO

EMAIL ADDRESS:info@cedarsbakeryhouston.com

TELEPHONE: (713)706-4141

 

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Sojok Mana’eesh

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Parsley & Cheese Mana’eesh

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Labne Bread

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Rose Flavored Drink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Daring Baker’s Challenge- Sachertorte

Success! I’ve joined the Daring Baker’s community and completed this month’s challenge: Sachertorte- a classic Austrian dessert.

This October’s Daring Baker’s Challenge was brought to us by Korena from Korena in the Kitchen. Sachertorte is a rich chocolate cake filled with an apricot glaze,  topped with chocolate ganache, and served with a dollop of whipped cream on the side. The history behind the making of the Sachertorte is pretty interesting. It originates back to 1832 when Prince Metternich requested a dessert for his dinner guests. His pastry chefs were ill at the time and so his apprentice, Franz Sacher, concocted this fancy dessert that is now famous internationally. His son, Eduard, later opened the Sacher Hotel in Vienna where the cake is made with its closely guarded recipe. The cake is so well known that it can be ordered online and shipped worldwide too.

Sachertorte

Sachertorte

 Printable Recipe Here (with step by step pictures too)

Sachertorte

Servings: 12-16

Cake Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (4 ½ oz) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% Lindt Smooth Dark)
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
  • pinch fine grain salt

Lindt Chocolate

Directions

Preheat: 375 F

  1. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by spraying it with cooking spray and dusting it with flour. Line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Fill a saucepan with an inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put it on top of the saucepan (make sure that the bowl is not touching the water). Stir occasionally until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium until light and creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar on low speed, then increase to medium speed and beat again until light and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until well-mixed.
  6. In a separate bowl, add the egg whites and one tablespoon of granulated sugar and beat on high until foamy. Gradually add the remaining granulated sugar and continue beating until you form soft, shiny peaks.
  7. Add about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites and whip vigorously into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Be sure to be gentle so that the egg whites are not deflated.
  8. In another bowl, combine together the flour and salt and mix until combined. Sift half of it over the chocolate mixture and fold in with a spatula until almost incorporated. Sift the remaining flour over the chocolate and fold until combined.
  9. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Place into the oven and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake will crack and dome as it bakes, but will flatten as it cools.
  10. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Remove the bottom pan and parchment paper. Turn the cake right-side up and allow to cool completely.

Apricot Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity (about 1 cup)

Ingredients
1¼ cup (14 oz) apricot jam or preserves
2 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Boil the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. You should have about 1 cup of glaze. Use warm.

Cake Assembly

Directions

  1. Turn the cake upside-down so that the perfectly flat bottom of the cake is now the top. Cut the cake horizontally into 2 even layers.
  2. Place 1 cake layer on the 8½-inch (22 cm) cardboard cake round and spread it generously with about half of the apricot glaze. Allow it to soak in.
  3. Place the second cake layer on top and spread the top and sides with the remaining apricot glaze. Work quickly before the glaze has a chance to set and use a metal offset spatula to smooth the top.
  4. Place the cake on a rack set over a plate or baking sheet lined with waxed paper and allow the apricot glaze to set.

Chocolate Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity

Ingredients
1 cup  granulated sugar
½ cup water
4 0z good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook while stirring for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. It might thicken up quite a bit. If it does, return it to low heat and add a few drops of water if necessary to thin it out to a runny, pourable consistency. The glaze should be smooth and shiny.
  4. Off the heat, stir the glaze for 30-60 seconds to cool it slightly. Immediately pour it over the top of the cake, first around the edge (allowing the glaze to spill down the sides) and then in the middle. Spread the excess glaze over any bare spots using a spatula. Before the glaze has a chance to set, move the cake to a serving platter. Note: Any excess glaze can be stored in a container in the fridge and added to a mug of hot milk to make hot chocolate.

Writing Chocolate

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (1.8 oz) chopped good quality chocolate
  • ½ – 1 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Heat the chocolate until just melted, then stir in enough vegetable oil to get a pipeable consistency. If necessary, let the chocolate mixture cool slightly to thicken so that it is not too runny.
  2. Place the chocolate in a disposable piping bag or small Ziplock bag and snip off the tip to make a small hole. It might pay to do a practice run on waxed paper before writing on the cake.
  3. With the writing chocolate, pipe the word ‘Sacher’ in the middle of the cake and add any decorative flourishes you wish. Chill the cake until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour.

Final Assembly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

Directions

  1. Let the cake come to room temperature for about 1 hour before serving. Whip the cream to soft peaks (this is best done in a cold bowl with cold beaters). If desired, sweeten it with icing sugar to taste.
  2. Cut the Sachertorte into wedges with a large sharp knife dipped in hot water and wipe off the blade between cuts. Serve each wedge of cake with a large dollop of whipped cream.

Tips:

*Store up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature

*Highly recommended to check out the great series of videos found on Epicurious of a pastry chef making this Sachertorte recipe from start to finish, with some very useful tips on technique

Sachertorte

Stay posted for more recipes and next months Daring Baker’s Challenge!

 

Surviving Midterms: Foodie Style

It’s that time of the year again. I wish it could have been Thanksgiving but no, it’s midterms time where any form of joy is killed. It’s when you really appreciate the carefree time you had last week where you had the luxury to choose whether to watch a new episode of American Horror Story or go grab a quick bite at Panera Bread. This is all up to you of course. Midterms or not, we always have food so why not use it as a stress reliever and motivator? Step away from living off vending machine snacks and camping out at a single cubicle to learning simple tips to making your studying experience a bit more enjoyable.

  1. Find a few great studying spots and alternate. Studies show that alternating your study area improves retention compared to studying in one location. Try studying anywhere and everywhere to find out what works for you, even if it’s while flipping pancakes.

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2. Sometimes we all need a little motivation and it doesn’t hurt if it comes in the form of a gummy bear.

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3. Studying with a furry (or not so furry) friend nearby can lend for some company. Not when they steal your chair though haha.

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4. Next time you grab for a snack, go for berries and fruits. They are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants which helps your memory and improves brain performance.

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5. Go for a change and try out coconut water: it’s high in potassium and low in sodium and calories. A diet low in potassium can cause fatigue which is a bad combo for studying. A high potassium and low sodium diet helps lower blood pressure, therefore lowering your stress levels.

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6. If you are in the mood for an actual meal then Chipotle is the way to go! It’s an easy to-go meal that you can save for later if you get full. The best part about October is that you can get $3 Burritos if you come in a costume for Halloween.

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7. Need an actual break from studying? Whip up these 3-ingredient Nutella brownies or make yourself an easy mug cake.

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8. We all know what’s not good for us, yet we tend to buy it anyways. Treat yourself every now and then, because you know you deserve it.

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9. When studying gets dull, you can always light a candle or candles. Candles can help reduce your stress, improve your productivity, and help you stay more focused on your studies.

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10. Pack a healthy snack like a salad or some pumpkin spice scones to the library so you aren’t stuck living off of vending machine food, because all the real food is way too far away.

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Boston Creme Donuts

bostoncremedonuts

Looking for a dessert that won’t turn your whole kitchen upside down? How about one that transforms a seemingly simple can of Pillsbury Grands into a delectable dessert that is indeed grand? If you have an appreciation for this golden halo of fried pastry, then you will love when you learn just how easy it is to satisfy your donut desires.

Within 30 minutes, you can have a plate in front of yourself with a chocolate ganache glazed donut filled with a french vanilla creme. And the best thing about it, you don’t have to leave your house to enjoy warm, fluffy homemade donuts! Perfect for a light morning breakfast with coffee or even as a midnight snack for those late cravings, you definitely do not want to miss out on these delights.

Boston Creme Donuts

Makes: 8 donuts

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

For the donuts

  • 1 package Pillsbury Grand biscuits (contains 8 biscuits)
  • Canola oil

For the filling

  • 1 box JELL-O instant french vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)
  • 1 cup whole milk  (can use fat free for a healthier alternative)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

For the ganache

  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Filling

  1. Whisk together the pudding mix with the milk for about 2 minutes and then set aside
  2. In a separate bowl, beat on high the heavy cream with powdered sugar for about 3 minutes until soft peaks form
  3. Fold in the pudding mix and refrigerate until ready to use

Donuts

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet (should be about an inch high)
  2. Separate biscuits and fry each side for 2-3 minutes
  3. Set on a plate covered with a few paper towels to dry and cool

Ganache

  1. Add heavy cream, milk, butter, vanilla, and corn syrup in a medium pot
  2. Over medium heat, wait until the butter is melted
  3. Change to low heat and add in the semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips
  4. Whisk until smooth and remove quickly from heat to avoid overheating the chocolate
  5. Whisk the powdered sugar in until you have a smooth ganache and set aside
  6. Add a few drops of milk if the ganache seems too thick to coat the donuts when you are ready

Assembly

  1. Spoon the filling into a large pastry bag (or ziploc bag) with any tip
  2. Press the tip into the side of the donut and squeeze until the donut appears full
  3. Dip the donuts in the ganache or use a spoon to spread the ganache over it

Recipe Adapted from ShugarySweets

Tips:

-For variations you can also use a chocolate pudding, if you prefer a chocolate filling

-Add toppings such as shredded coconut, slivered almonds, sprinkles, or more

-Use fat-free milk for a healthier alternative

ingredbc

Ingredients for the French Vanilla Creme Filling

bc2

Making the French Vanilla Pudding Mix

step2bostoncreme

Adding in the heavy cream and powdered sugar whipped mixture to the French Vanilla pudding

bostoncremee

How the consistency should look for your French Vanilla Creme Filling once mixed

frieddonuts

Golden brown fried Pillsbury Grands biscuits

bostoncreme

Your final dish: Boston Creme Donuts

 

What is the most interesting donut that you have ever made or tasted?

Vanilla Bean Poached Pears

poached pears

If you always fall in love with that perfectly spiced apple pie drenched in a sweet, cinnamon syrup that just keeps you coming for more, then you are sure to find this recipe a hit! Why? It’s super easy and you don’t have to worry about baking a crust that is too hard or under-baked. After making this recipe, I didn’t have mounds of measuring cups, bowls, and spoons to wash so it was a relief. Mind you, I’m not usually the pears type of person. I will go straight for the apples if given both to choose from. This dish though presents pears in a simple yet enjoyable way. It almost tastes like an apple pie, because of how juicy and tender the pears are.

Vanilla Bean Poached Pears

Printable Recipe here

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (can also use actual vanilla bean or vanilla extract)
  • 7 medium sized pears (peeled, cored, and split in half)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat: 375 F

  1. Place sugar in a small bowl and mix in the vanilla bean paste
  2. Arrange the pears in a large baking dish (cut side up) and then pour the lemon juice and sprinkle the sugar evenly over them
  3. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the pears and pour the water into the dish
  4. Divide the butter amongst each of the pears, placing a small amount onto each one
  5. Roast the pears for 30 minutes
  6. Turn the pears over and roast for another 25-30 minutes, or until tender and caramelized

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Tips:

– If you are unable to finish the pears, refrigerate and warm up before eating the next time

– Vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream will go great paired with this dessert

poached pears