Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’ve been on the search for a satisfying chocolate chip cookie that is irresistibly chewy, soft, and complete with a large glass of cold milk. A glass of milk with cookies is like eating cake with icing, so much so that I might as well include milk in my list of ingredients haha. I’ve made this recipe twice during Thanksgiving because it was that good and found myself making it again yesterday, despite having to study for an exam. I froze a few to stave off any cravings I may have during the next few weeks for these cookies, who I know will be calling my name.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you need to destress or procrastibake to avoid that monster of a exam that you’ll be facing in a week, then take a break. Give these cookies a chance, you’ll be delighted.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat: 350 Fº

Directions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cut the butter into slices and place in a medium skillet over medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, whisk constantly for several minutes until it starts to smell nutty and you see brown bits forming on the bottom. You now have browned butter. It will add a different dimension to the cookies with it’s nutty aroma.
  4. Remove from heat immediately and set aside in a separate bowl to cool.
  5. Beat together the cooled butter with the brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  6. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and greek yogurt on low speed, until incorporated for about 10-15 seconds. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. This will prevent you from over mixing the dough, which will cause a stiff cookie.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator. Don’t skip the chilling step, you’ve already made it this far.
  8. Roll the cookie dough in balls about 3 tablespoons of dough each and place on the prepped baking sheet.
  9. Sprinkle as much or as little sea salt as you like on the cookies before placing in the oven. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 Fº.
  10. Remove the cookies and place on a wire rack to finishing cooling.

Adapted from the Ambitious Kitchen

Tips

-For more variation, you can use both milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips, adding ¾ cup of each. Even better, you can use chunks, mini chips, or whatever type of chocolate you desire.

-The longer you refrigerate the dough, the better the flavor of the cookies.

-This recipe can be made without a mixer or electric beater for ease and convenience as well.

-Underbaked cookies are the secret to having soft and chewy cookies the next day so be careful not to go over the 9-11 minutes.

-You can freeze this dough for up to 3 months. Roll into balls and place into freezer friendly bags. To bake, simply place on a baking sheet and bake as directed adding a minute to the bake time.Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Floral Inspired Bridal Shower Cake

Floral Bridal Shower Cake

What a long break! Only back with an innocent looking floral cake filled with sinful chocolatey indulgence on the inside. A devil’s food cake with a rich chocolate buttercream fills the interior. A Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe would also be a nice option or any of your favorite go-to cake recipes. I made it for my best friend’s bridal shower and so can you! This design is easy to make and would even work wonderfully for an anniversary cake. Read the tips below for some inspiration:

-Use black edible paper (found at Michaels/Hobby Lobby) to cut out the large stripe going around the whole cake as well as for the ring shape on top

-I used a ring cookie cutter for the ring on top & hit the cookie cutter firmly a few times while it was on top of the edible paper in order for it to cut through

-A few dabs of water will get the edible paper to stick to the fondant. Be careful as once it goes on the fondant, you can’t take it off or you’ll risk having to remove all the fondant and start over… (yes that happened to me and I definitely learned from that)

-Look for the brightest bunch of flowers at your local shop or grocery store and cut the stems so that you have about an inch remaining to poke through the fondant

For any remaining unanswered questions, please comment below!Floral Bridal Shower Cake

Have you made any floral inspired cakes?

Eclairs (Pâte à Choux)

Eclairs

Hurray for the 100th post of SimplyDelicious! For this post, I chose a dessert that can be served at any occasion or celebration. Pierre Herme’s eclairs are something else. After seeing so many pins of them on Pinterest, I was inspired to make my own version of sophisticated and modern eclairs. The key I found was to use a different type of topping on each eclair so that the finished picture has a lot of variety and complexity to it. You can use whatever you have handy. I had a few blueberries and strawberries so I used those. I also had some green tea chocolate chips I had made and stored so I chopped a few and added those along with some chopped walnuts and chocolate for a complete colorful look overall. The first time I made these I was so surprised at how easy it was! Do not let the long recipe fool you, I just put detailed directions so that the first try is a success. The same eclair recipe can also be used for making cream puffs and filling them with whipped cream. The dough is one of the most versatile as other options include making gnocchi, churros, funnel cakes, or profiteroles.

Eclairs

Eclairs

Full Printable Recipe Here

Pate a Choux

Ratio: 2 parts water, 1 part butter, 1 part flour, and 2 parts egg

Preheat: 425 Fº

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces water (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces flour (a scant cup)
  • 8 ounces eggs (4 large eggs)

Directions

  1. Add the butter, water, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour. Stir quickly until the flour absorbs the water and begins to gel turning into a paste. The dough formed will start to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
  3. Take the pan off the stove and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. The dough has to be warm but not too hot.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until completely incorporated. It is better to transfer it to a standing mixer and use an electric beater, but they can also be mixed in using a wooden spoon.
  5. The dough will incorporate with the eggs and turn into a paste once the eggs are fully in.
  6. Using a large round tip, pipe out the eclairs, about 4 to 5 inches long.
  7. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 F for about 15-20 minutes. To test if they are done, remove one from the oven and wait for a few minutes. If it collapses, it still needs more time.
  8. Set aside to cool and prepare the pastry cream.

Adapted from Ratio (book)

Eclairs

Pastry Cream (will need half of this cream for the eclairs recipe)

Makes: 3 pounds

Ingredients

  • 1 quart milk (4 cups)
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 7.5 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 6 ounces egg yolks (10 yolks)
  • 2.5 ounces cornstarch (½ cup)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (½ stick)

Directions

  1. Bring the milk, vanilla bean, and 3 ounces (.40 cups) of sugar to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cornstarch. Whisk the sugar mixture into the egg yolks.
  3. Add ¼ of the boiling milk to the egg yolks and stir. Return this mixture to the pan and whisk rapidly until it starts to boil. Keep on whisking it for 2 minutes as it starts to thicken.
  4. Remove the pan from the stove and transfer the pastry cream to a clean mixing bowl.
  5. Fold in the butter until it is just melted taking care not to over mix.
  6. Place plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream so a skin does not form and place the bowl into an ice bath.

Eclairs

Chocolate Glaze 

Makes: 13 oz

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ounces light corn syrup (4 tsp)

Directions

  1. Melt all the ingredients using the double boiler (bain-marie method).
  2. Remove from heat and stir the glaze until it is slightly thickened.
  3. Use instantly, before it starts to dry.

Assembly

Take the cooled eclair shells and pipe in the pastry cream from one end using a piping bag fitted with a circle tip. Make sure the cream fills the whole shell. In a single, smooth stroke, drag the top of the eclair through the warm chocolate glaze. Refrigerate the eclairs and serve within 8-12 hours.

Eclairs

Be creative in your mix of toppings for the eclairs!

Eclairs

Simple eclairs in their purest form.

Eclairs

Finished product with the right pop of color!

 

 

What is the most unique twist on eclairs that you have made/tasted?

(could be flavor, filling, toppings, etc.)

Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon

Ever wanted to make a great looking dessert without putting in too much effort? If so (which I’m sure we’ve all had those thoughts at least once) then simply look to Puff Pastry sheets! I first tried this recipe from the back of a Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry box and have loved it ever since. This and the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe are the best two recipes that I have tried from boxes. I’ve made a few adaptations to make it easier to make and to add some variation to the original recipe. It’s nice to know that the longest time you’ll spend making this is probably waiting for the Puff Pastry to thaw and not kneading dough haha. Not to mention, it’s also the perfect recipe to make when having guests over for dinner or even for last minute Valentine’s Day desserts.

Strawberry Napoleon

Printable Recipe

Makes: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • ½ of 17.3 ounce package of Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed (1 sheet)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean or ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of strawberries
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Optional: mint leaves

Directions

Preheat: 400 F°

  1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Each pastry box comes with 2 sheets inside. Unfold your thawed pastry sheet and cut it into three long strips along the folded marks. Cut each long strip into 4 pieces.
  3. Brush the puff pastries with 1 egg white and place into the oven. They will take about 10-12 minutes, or until a golden brown color.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Split each puff pastry into 2 halves and set aside.
  6. Set aside 8 puff pastry tops and place 8 pastry bottoms on plates.
  7. Whip the heavy cream on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes or until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
  8. Start layering the puff pastry by spreading some of the whipped cream on the bottom layer. Cover with a few strawberries, almonds, and then another puff pastry. Repeat step 8 for two filled layers.
  9. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals while stirring in between.
  10. Drizzle melted chocolate across the pastries and sprinkle sliced almonds & powdered sugar over them. Top it off with mint leaves and enjoy!

Adapted from Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Box

Strawberry Napoleon

Tips:

*For the remaining egg yolk you can make some chocolate mousse which requires 1 egg yolk. To store it, place the egg yolk in an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of water. Do not keep it for longer than 2 days.

*Using parchment paper makes cleaning your baking sheets easier, not to mention, eliminating the risk of your pastry sticking to your baking sheet. You can also use cooking spray if parchment paper is not available, but keep an eye on your pastries to make sure that they do not brown too quickly.

*For serving more people, you can make double the servings by using the whole Puff Pastry package and doubling the amount of filling. For larger Napoleons, you can choose to cut the long strips into 3 instead of 4 pieces or you can make it longwise and not cut it into squares at all.

*Other filling variations: any pudding, add chocolate to the whipped cream, mix in pudding with the whipped cream, add various fruits such as raspberries or blackberries, etc.

*You can use a large pastry star tip for piping the whipped cream. Other options include using a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off or spooning it onto the pastry sheets.

 

Napoleon Pictures Along the Way

Strawberry Napoleon

This is ½ of a Puff Pastry box and you can see the folded lines where I cut horizontally. I choose to cut each strip into 4 pieces, but you can also cut it into 3 pieces or leave it longwise.

Strawberry Napoleon

The golden brown puff pastries ready to be split in half and filled. I have more puff pastry sheets here because I prepared the whole package (doubled the recipe). For one half, I cut the pastry strips into 4 and for the other half I cut them into 3 pieces. You can notice the size difference in the picture above. If you want larger Napoleons, I would go ahead and cut each strip into 3 rectangles. Rather than 8 servings, you will get 6.

Strawberry Napoleon

Here, it’ll be hard to resist the temptation to snack on your strawberries for the Napoleon…

Strawberry Napoleon

Time to dig in!

 

What are your favorite desserts using Puff Pastry?

 

 

 

10 Delicious Ways to Enjoy a Rainy Day

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Who said rainy days have to be all gloomy and sad? I figured I would help those in need of a little brightening today with 10 delicious ways to make the most of your rainy day! These are perfect days to have an excuse to stay inside, cozy up with comfort food, and watch your favorite shows on Netflix. Unless this day happens to fall on a weekday in which you end up driving to work, school, or run errands (in that case, you’ll be glad you bought those rain boots you never thought you would wear). Nevertheless, it’s a great feeling to come home and cook up some soup to enjoy. It’s probably even greater to come home to it already made haha.

Every type of weather has its ups and downs & surprisingly, rainy days do come with some perks. Why not use this chance to practice your skills in the kitchen whipping up hot chocolate drinks, blending together smoothies, and grilling cheese sandwiches. Check out the wide array of recipes from some of my favorite blogs below & enjoy (#4 may look a little familiar to some of you):

1.  Loaded Baked Potato Soup  from Damn Delicious

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

2.  Frozen Hot Chocolate  from Handmade Mood

Frozen Hot Chocolate

3.  Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate  from The Cookie Writer

Salted-Caramel-Hot-Cocoa-5

4.  Classic French Toast from yours truly- SimplyDelicious

French Toast

5.  Cookies & Cream Parfait from The Cozy Apron

choc-silk_04-22-12_1_ca

 6.  Stovetop White Mac and Cheese from Jehan Can Cook

Mac and Cheese

7. The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich  from Closet Cooking

The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich 500 4401

8.  Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Cooking with a Wallflower

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9.  Chicken Noodle Soup from BudgetBytes

Chicken Noodle Soup above

10.  Strawberry Basil & Roasted Beet Smoothie Bowl from a New Life Wandering

beet-smoothie-bowl12

What is your favorite rainy day food?

 

Treat Yo’ Self Thursdays: Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

There’s always that one ingredient that you’ve been wanting to use in a recipe, but have been putting it off for a long time. In my case, it was Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses. I bought them, because they were a unique flavor of the Hershey’s Kisses yet I didn’t know what to make with them! Last weekend, I finally decided to check them off my list and make thumbprint cookies. These buttery cookies are essentially a shortbread made with butter, sugar, and flour. The egg yolks and baking powder add to the chewiness, while the salt and vanilla/almond extracts enhance the flavor.

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

If you are looking for a quick yet great looking cookie recipe, then you are in the right place! Within less than an hour, you can be sitting down and relaxing with a glass of milk and of course, these wonderful Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies.

After making this recipe, I was inspired to make a detailed post with explanations on making the perfect shortbread cookie with the ratio and different variations that you can make use of. Keep an eye out for this upcoming post in the future!

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Printable Recipe Here

Total Time: 40 minutes    Makes: 20-24 cookies

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • red food coloring, 3-4 drops
  • 20-24 Peppermint Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

Directions

Preheat: 350 F°

  1. Prepare your baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
  3. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until well incorporated. If the dough is to sticky to roll into balls, add another ¼ cup of flour and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  6. Roll dough into 1 inch balls (about the size of a tablespoon) and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  7. Use your thumb or  the end of a cap to make a well about ½ inch deep in the top of each dough ball.
  8. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then reform the wells in each of the cookies by pressing down on them again.
  9. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate chips and the heavy cream. Stir every 20 seconds until the mixture is smooth.
  10. Add 3 drops of red gel food coloring to the chocolate and mix well.
  11. Fill each cookie with about a teaspoon of the red chocolate using a piping bag or a spoon.
  12. With the remaining chocolate, drizzle it onto the cookies using a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off.
  13. Press one peppermint kiss into the center of each cookie. Allow it to cool for an hour until set and hardened. You can also put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes for quicker results.

Recipe Adapted from Lecremdelacrumb

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Tips

*For some more pictures you can visit Sally’sBakingAddiction recipe to see the process in action.

*To form the indentation in each cookie, you can be creative in what you use whether it be a cap of chapstick or the end of a teaspoon measuring spoon.

*You can change this recipe by replacing the peppermint kiss with a chocolate one or even eliminating the Hershey’s kiss altogether. Other variations include filling the cookies with caramel, jam, or brownies.

*Your dough should not be sticky like toothpaste when forming the 1 inch balls. Refrigerate it for about an hour if it is.

*If the dough cracks when you are making the indent, try to smooth it out. A few cracks are fine, because they will later be covered with the drizzled icing.

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

What is your favorite thumbprint cookie recipe?

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:

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

**Highly recommended to invest in a scale and measure out the ingredients in grams**

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 40-50 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?

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?

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?

 

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

 

 

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

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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?