Thursday, May 31, 2012

Espresso French Macarons with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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The word "macaron," here in southern California, seems to be met with "Oh I like those!" or "What is that??" A while ago I sampled this strangely textured meringue delicacy and decided that it just wasn't a treat into which I'd likely delve. It was crispy on its outside, soft just below its shell, and contained a creamy filling that varied from each of the ones selected. Unique yes, but it was just another cookie - until I thought a bit more. I was sipping a coffee one morning, whilst thinking of macarons, and noshing on a few spoonfuls of peanut butter. It hit me - this combination...this may actually make me like a macaron, but how could I do it? Well, here goes...
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

ChikaLicious Dessert Bar

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New York, NY. Greeted by a few warm and friendly faces with a passion for pastry was how it all began at this deliciously sweet restaurant concept in New York City. My friend brought me to one of his favorite dessert stops that made his acquaintance shortly after his arrival in NYC in the early 2000s. Drawn to the refined taste and elegant approach, ChikaLicious Dessert Bar became a favorite of his - among friends, loved ones, and his newfound comfort in the city itself.
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Angel Food Cupcakes with Cinnamon Whip

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Baking was one of the childhood activities that, luckily, my parents promoted - and the result was a mix of delicious treats and baking disasters. I have learned a few lessons...but I still dabble, stir, whip, and frost and hope for the best. Lately, my gauge of quality are the friends that light up when I have the newest treat readied for consumption. This dessert is a very light rendition of the cupcake genre coupled with an even lighter 'frosting'. It was easy to eat in 1 to 3 bites, and a shame that I ran out so quickly!
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Creamy Avocado Soup

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When I think of avocado, I fondly think of an ice cream I had back in college, and a smoothie I had in Shanghai, or I think of some of my favorite Latin-American restaurants across Southern California. However, of a different note, I wanted to introduce this creamy concoction of the avocado persuasion. The smooth texture enhances to warmth the dish already provides and it can be varied for personal taste - a dollop of sour cream, a spoonful of crema, or a few leaves of cilantro, all add a nice finish to this Creamy Avocado Soup that is quickly made and quickly eaten!
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homemade Yellow Cake

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Admittedly, I can never seem to make a boxed cake; said to be easy and heard to be true, yet for some reason I just can't seem to make it work in the kitchen. In my attempt to make a homemade version of a childhood favorite I came to this: a simple yellow cake. In the recipe I utilized the Rich Chocolate Ganache from a previous post whipped with a little cream to fluff. Yes, I was tempted to add in a little extra and did to some degree, but simply put, the cake served its memory; baked and layered, chilled and served, the cake yielded reactions of "Yummy!" "Sooooo goooood" "I want more cake!" I'm glad it's not still sitting in my kitchen, or I'd have some difficulty keeping away!
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Rich Chocolate Ganache

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"Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate..." One of those 'single' words that can perk up the ears around and bring a smile to quite a number of people's faces. To be honest, chocolate isn't my natural go-to but to make an impressive side to present to some of my closest chocolate lovers - this one takes the cake. I made this particular ganache chocolate heavy to increase density and I added butter to weave in some gloss. The chocolate chosen can vary by taste, but for simplicity I used a common baking item: milk chocolate chips. The result is quite the decadent little treat.
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Jam

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My newest of neighbors kindly brought over a large batch of strawberries that she admittedly couldn't finish between her and her husband. Several recipes came to mind as I thought about using the fruit before it went to spoil. A very simple and longer-lasting item was jam; if using a sterilized bottling process, it can last to about one year on the shelf! The simple jam could be used in a later recipe and for my own enjoyment on breakfast toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, etc. so it was clear that making this was a win-win. The recipe contains minimal ingredients and is something I've made since I was a kid for fruit pies and toppings. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Alta Coffee and Restaurant

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Newport Beach, CA. My friend and I wandered up to this little coffee shop in Newport Beach and a queue had already formed. Hope that was telling! This place is known as a coastal spot for coffee and sweets, with a taste almost like mama’s very home cookin’. With some recommendations already under our belt, we decided to add Alta Coffee for a nice cup of coffee and a breakfast staple: Coffee Cake.
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Monday, May 07, 2012

Marzipan

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A friend and I were talking about the varying uses of marzipan and it left me inspired to make a home version for a later recipe. The little decorative confection has multiple uses across dessert dishes with its pliability and unique texture. It can be a very dense 'dough' of sorts, and the taste may or may not be sweet to any individual's liking. For pairings with sweeter items, I prefer to let it be as it is, though kneading it further with confectioners sugar will up the sweet ante.


Ingredients
Servings: 6 oz
Prep Time: 10 min

1c Almond Flour
3 Tbsp Light Corn Syrup
1/2 Tsp Vanilla OR Almond Extract
Confectioners Sugar, as desired

Ready-to-Use Marzipan

To make the marzipan, draw a hot water bath in a sink and rest a mixing bowl inside. Stir the syrup and vanilla until combined and syrup is thin. Fold in flour until fully mixed and knead for a few minutes. The dough will be sticky at first. Use a small amount of confectioners sugar when kneading to aid. Set aside in a covered container for a few hours before first use. 

Shortcuts: 
  • Almond flour is pretty simple to make: process blanched almonds in short intervals and sift out the fats. Repeat the process a few times for a finer flour. 
  • Almond meal is just as easy: replace blanched with raw almonds and do the same process for a grittier texture. 
  • Note: process for short intervals only or the heat from the blades will draw out the fat and the result will be a paste or clay versus flour.

Nutrition Info (0.5 oz - without confectioners sugar)
Calories 72, Total Fat 4.8g, Sat. Fat 0.4g, Cholest. 0mg, Sodium 3.5mg, Carb. 6.4g, Fiber 1.2g, Sugars 1.9g, Protein 2.1g

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Crunchy Roasted Almond Butter

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Oh...almonds...what am I going to do with you?? Well here's an idea: deviate from another recipe and delve into something new. I've started using roasted almond oil a lot in my cooking at home, adding a mild nutty flavor to the food. In the midst of making almond flour for another dish and separating out the fat, I decided to use the oil to enhance the nuts' potential. This homemade almond butter, made from slivered almonds, is a fast and easy alternative to the store-bought brands, and in my opinion a bit 'cleaner' in flavor. Enjoy!


Ingredients
Servings: 2/3 Cup (approx.)
Prep Time: 5 min

1c Slivered Almonds
1 1/2 Tbsp Roasted Almond Oil
1 1/2 Tbsp Amber Honey
1/4c Slivered Almonds, Crushed

Spoonful of Crunchy Roasted Almond Butter
Process all the ingredients together in a food processor. Done!! Alright, well to expand the recipe just a bit: process slivered almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Continue to process and slowly add in roasted almond oil, followed by honey, scraping any remaining dry powder from the container's sides. A few minutes and voila: roasted almond butter.

Granulated sugar can be used instead of honey, but I found the honey to allow the butter to spread quite well. If a smoother texture is desired, leave out the crushed almonds. Also, almonds in the raw can be used instead of slivered almonds to create a grittier texture (butter will take on a much darker tone).

Nutrition Info (1 Tbsp):
Calories 91, Total Fat 7.6g, Sat. Fat 0.6g, Cholest. 0mg, Sodium 0.2mg, Carb. 4.9g, Fiber 1.4g, Sugars 2.9g, Protein 2.4g
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