Friday, December 30, 2011

New York City!

Hi everyone, hope your holidays have been relaxing and filled with family, love, and food. I'm in New York right now, one of my many homes. The mundane, familiar sights are so comforting. Jimmy's Pizza, Cake Walk Terrace, the church where my parents were married. While I've done no cooking of my own, I've eaten some lovely things. And just seen some amazing things as well! Here are some of them.
Moussaka from Pera. Nom.

A super bizarre toucan window display?

Bergdorf Goodman has the best window displays.

Cereal milk soft serve at the Momofuku Milk Bar! You have no idea how happy this made me.

Just hanging out near Elmo.

I know the picture quality is lame, but in the city, there's no time or space to stop and wait. You'll get trampled. Anyway, just wanted to share this small moment of happiness with you!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas - 8 Textured Tiramisu

Merry Christmas, all of you. It's such a joyous season, I feel blessed just to be here. There are so many unique holiday traditions out there, I really appreciate the diversity. My family does the whole Italian seafood thing; it's the one time of year I eat baked clams and lobster - yum. 

I made an extra special dessert as well : 8 Textured Tiramisu from the sadly now defunct blog Almost Bourdain. It's based off of this amazing cake from the Australian restaurant Quay, and it's really a showstopper (you'll see). Oh, and if you're wondering, the 8 "textures" are ladyfingers, zabaglione, vanilla pastry cream, whipped cream, mascarpone, hazelnut praline, grated chocolate, and hot ganache. 

Okay. This tiramisu seems incredibly daunting at first. I promise you, it's not, if you're organized, and I will make sure my directions are. The work really pays off. When it finally came time to present this, I felt so accomplished. Mm. It's a nice feeling. Anyway, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Innocent enough...


Hehe. Cool, right? Merry Christmas guys, you're the coolest. 

8 Textured Tiramisu
from Almost Bourdain (the website has been deleted, aw man!)


Zabaglione Recipe
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled. 
Vanilla Pastry Cream Recipe
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled. 
Momofuku's Hazelnut Praline Paste
(Makes about 1 cup)
1/2 cup (70 g) whole hazelnuts
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
Tiny pinch of kosher salt

Heat the oven to 325F.
Spread out the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 7ish minutes, until they're warmed through and aromatic. Remove from the oven and let cool. Grind them up in the food processor until fine, but not a paste. Don't start making the caramel until this is done.
Put the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Leave it alone and let it start to caramelize around the edges of the pan before you begin to stir it with a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon. Patiently and attentively shepherd the sugar into a state of delicious caramelization: stir it slowly and constantly, until it's medium amber - like the color of Grade B maple syrup - and is very fluid. Working quickly, pour the caramel into the food processor with the nuts and salt and process until it is a well blended mush. Get it out of the food processor! Put your dishes in the sink and soak them in hot water immediately unless you want to be scrubbing pots for the rest of your life. 

Okay. You're going to need a springform pan, and a small food ring or can (I used a mandarin orange can and it was perfect) or something. My pan was 9.5 inches (the original was 20 cm, or close to 8 inches) and it turned out fine. Don't use anything bigger). 
To make a chocolate disk : Turn a 9 inch cake pan upside down and place a circle of wax paper on the bottom of the pan. Melt 100 g chocolate and spread it evenly over the wax paper. Put it in the fridge to set and take it out a bit before you're ready to serve the tiramisu.

Whipped Cream Recipe
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside. 
Mascarpone Cream Recipe
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese 
Vanilla pastry cream
Whipped cream
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Line the outside of the pan with ladyfingers (I ended up needing two packages in total). Take your can, food ring, whatever, and place it in the center of the bottom of the pan. Then line the bottom of the pan with ladyfingers brushed with the coffee or espresso. Sprinkle half the praline mixture and half the grated chocolate on the ladyfingers. Spread half the mascarpone cream on top of this, making sure it's smooth and even. Then repeat this process once more, layering brushed ladyfingers, praline, chocolate and cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 
Hot Chocolate Ganache Recipe
(Makes about 2/3 cups)


125 g good-quality dark chocolate, cut into small chunks
65 g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
25 ml water

Put the chocolate, butter and water into a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Let the chocolate and butter melt, stirring the mixture frequently, until the ganache is smooth. (I use a small flat sauce whisk for this, as it gets right into the corners of the pan where the chocolate tends to clump a bit.) The most important thing to keep in mind when you're making ganache is that it mustn't get too hot and boil; if it does, it becomes oily and grainy and there's not much chance of salvaging it. Once it's silky smooth, take it off the heat. Let it cool until it's barely warn and of a thick pouring consistency before using it.
Pour any leftover ganache into an airtight container, seal it tightly and store it in the fridge. When you're ready to use it, gently warm it over very low heat, then let it cool to the right consistency.

Top the tiramisu with the chocolate disk, and slowly pour the ganache over the center until it caves in. Ooh and aah.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Turtle Pretzels

Being home is amazing, but also a little bit of a pain for one reason: doctor's appointments. Went to have a general medication checkup with my doctor and had a hepatitis shot sprung on me. Surprise! So I went home, pouty and sore, to make some delicious potstickers for dinner. Oho! Who has two thumbs and got a rash from peeling shrimp? This guy! But after a three hour benadryl induced sleep, I'm all good. 

Oh hey there, lil buddy.

I saw these turtle shaped pretzels on the interwebs and I knew I had to make them. My sister has a thing for turtles, so it was a good bonding activity. We forgot to boil the first batch in baking soda water, so they just turned into turtle shaped breads. I had no idea baking soda played such a large roll in pretzel making. Apparently it helps make the pretzel-y crust and flavor, and speeds along that process overall. And it made the water foam up all awesomelike.

D'aw, it's so cute! So maybe it isn't all that turtle looking with its little nub head and legs. But we had a good time making them, making fun of each other, and of course, eating together. And that's what counts, right?

Turtles Eating Things !

Turtle Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg
 salt for sprinkling on top

1. Combine the warm water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and butter and using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, and place the dough in a glass bowl oiled with vegetable oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
2. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 12 inch rope. Wrap the dough into a spiral shape. Pinch a large piece of the dough in the front to shape a head. Pinch little pieces where the feet and hands should be to form feet and hands and a small piece at the end for the tail.3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
4. Using a large sauce pan, fill with water and bring and the baking soda to a rolling boil.
5. Place the pretzels into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Place pretzels on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat mat.
6. Beat one large egg. Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg and sprinkle with salt (I used sea salt!). Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 6-7 minutes. After pretzels have cooled, add eyes to turtles. You can put drops of chocolate, or you can stick sprinkles or black sesame seeds in for eyes. I cut a poked a toothpick hole and stuck a seed inside.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Secret Recipe Club - Chocolate Almond Risotto

 (Don't forget to enter my cookie giveaway, which closes tonight! I really want to make you something )

Hi everyone! By the time this is posted, I'll almost be done with finals. And what a sweet, sweet day that will be. Though I must admit, college finals seem much less stressful this semester than they did last year, and definitely less than high school. Oh high school, I do not miss thee at all. 

So for this month's Secret Recipe Club I was assigned the blog From My Sweet Heart. Anne has so many awesome ideas, I really want to try some of her frozen desserts recipes. And I love that she always includes a quotation with her post. I would highly encourage all of you to take a peek and see what's happening over there ^_^

I decided to try out her recipe for Chocolate Risotto, just because it was such a novel idea. I love savory risotto, but I never thought to make it into a dessert. I modified it a little and used chocolate almond milk instead of normal milk. So now it's gluten free AND practically vegan, if you use something besides butter to melt in the pan. Woo!

Chocolate Almond Risotto
 adapted from From My Sweet Heart

2 TBSP unsalted butter
3/4 c arborio rice
3-4 c almond milk (warmed in the microwave)
1 c mini chocolate chips
slivered almonds for sprinkling

As is similar to the regular risotto making process, melt the butter in a hot pan.  Add the rice and stir for a minute or so, until the rice is translucent.  Pour 1 cup of milk into the pan and stir until the milk reduces.   As the milk evaporates, add more milk, 1/2 c at a time.  Continue stirring on med heat.  Continue to repeat, adding milk 1/2 c at a time until you have used all the milk and the rice reaches the al dente stage.
Add the chocolate to the rice, and stir until all the chocolate has melted.  Continue to stir until the milk the mixture is blended and creamy.   Garnish with slivered almonds.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Scottish Shortbread + Giveaway

Butterbutterbutterbutter.  It is wonderful. And a key component in shortbread. And apparently a healthy snack, haha.
Look guys! Only 100 calories per serving!
Anyway, shortbread is fantastic, if you make it right. Don't try and skimp on the butter, you'll end up with a crumbly mess that sticks in your throat and chokes you. I don't understand those recipe that don't cream the butter and sugar together. It'll never get solid if you're using a fork or something! So yeah, make this recipe. It won't fail you, I swear.

Silky smooooth

Okay guys, so, I love you. I mean it. And I wish I could give you something fancy like a kitchenaid mixer or some special ingredient, but I can't really afford that. So...I would absolutely love to make you a batch of cookies as a sign of my appreciation. It's the least I can do. Here's the deal: while yes, in an ideal world I would send ALL of you cookies, I would get sucked into a cookie black hole never to be seen again. So I'm giving away cookies to TWO winners. Open to the US only, sorry international readers :c All you need to do is leave me a comment saying what your favorite kind of cookie is (or you can comment something else, whatever, haha). I'll keep the giveaway open through Monday, then announce the winners (who will be chosen randomly) here. Make sure you give me a way to contact you! Please leave comments. If I don't get any comments, I'll feel sad and neglected.

Scottish Shortbread

1 pound softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Cream butter and brown sugar. Add 3 to 3 3/4 cups flour. Mix well.
Sprinkle board with the remaining flour. Knead for 5 minutes, adding enough flour to make a soft dough. Roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into 3x1 inch strips. Prick with fork and place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until edges are browned.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

William Shatner's Cappuccino Muffins

Ahahaha. If the name of this post didn't make you giggle, or at least spark your interest, we might not be able to be friends anymore. Just kidding. But seriously, William Shatner makes muffins? Good muffins? He's so multi talented!

Look guys, I'm in an ornament!

I have no idea where this recipe originated. I can't trace it back to William Shatner directly, but I reeeally reeeeally hope this is his recipe. Apparently he also makes a mean Carrot Vichyssoise. I would eat soup with William Shatner. Dream come true right there. 


Texturally, these muffins were a little weird. The batter was more like a dough, and I had to end up using a bit more liquid. Also, I think I didn't cool my butter quite enough and may have scrambled the egg a tiiiiny bit. But they still tasted great. Omnom. 

Ohohoh, totally unrelated note, but I'm looking into buying a DSLR (finally). Does anyone have recommendations? I'm more of a Canon gal than Nikon. 

William Shatner's Cappuccino Muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tbsp instant coffee or 2 tsp espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg (room temp)
1 cup milk (room temp)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips or equivalent of other chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line or grease a muffin tin
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, coffee powder, cinnamon and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg lightly. Whisk in milk, melted butter and vanilla extract. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and pour in milk mixture. Stir just until evenly blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
Divide batter, bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nutcracker Cake

 (I have a facebook page! Check it out!)

I am tired as usual. Has anyone else found that naps are far better now than they were as a child? Adults totally need naptime more than kids. But soon enough it'll be Christmas break and I'll be slothlike.

This recipe is actually something I made while I was at home, enjoying my rest and relaxation. I wanted to do something ambitious. Something gustatorily complex. Something with TEN EGGS. Yep, that many. I chose the Nutcracker Cake from the Sky High cookbook (which is awesome, check it out) partly because the flavors sounded really nice together and party because I reeeeally wanted to make homemade graham crackers.

Hazelnut, graham, chocolate and rum are combined in a spongy cake (hence the number of eggs) and frosted with sweetened whipped cream. I had a lot of fun putting it together, but I was...a little disappointed with the final outcome. I mean, it was good, but it wasn't my favorite. BUT a). I'm a moist cake person and b). it did get better after a day or two in the fridge. The flavors seemed to develop more. 

Nutcracker Cake

Makes one 9inch triple layer cake
Ingredients – for the cake layers
1 cup skinned hazelnuts (about 4 ounces)
10 whole graham crackers (5½ ounces), broken into pieces (I made my own! I'll give the recipe below)
1¼ cups sugar
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely grated
10 eggs, separated
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup all purpose flour
1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
Dark chocolate curls for decoration

(Notes: For easy grating, freeze your chocolate beforehand. Way less messy. Skinning hazelnuts is kind of a pain, but it's not that hard. Through your hazelnuts into a pot of water with a couple teaspoons of baking powder and boil them until the water gets really dark. Then, gather them up in a rag or some paper towels and rub them together. The skins should come right off. Watch out - they stain.) 
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of 3 9inch cake tins. Line the base with parchment paper and dust the sides with flour, tap out any excess.
2. Spread the nuts onto a baking tray and toast for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Leave to cool completely. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
3. In a food processor, grind the graham crackers to crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the toasted nuts to the processor (no need to wash) and add ¼ cup of sugar. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground, but do not blitz too much or else it will form a paste. Add the nuts, graham cracker crumbs and grated chocolate together in the bowl and mix.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and ½ cup of sugar using an electric mixer until well blended. Add the oil and vanilla slowly, beating until ribbons begin to form on the surface of the mixture. Then, fold in the chocolate nut crumbs.
5. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and beat until thick and foamy. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup of sugar, continuing to beat until the whites form stiff peaks. Fold a third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture and mix well to slacken the mix. Sift over the flour, spice and baking powder and fold in. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites until no streaks remain but do not over mix.
6. Divide the batter between the three pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool completely.
7. To assemble the cake, place a layer on a cake stand, flat side up. Sprinkle it with a third of the rum syrup and let it all soak in for 1-2 minutes. Spread ¾ cup of crème Chantilly over the top, right to the edge. Repeat with the remaining layers, letting the syrup soak in before adding the crème.
Use the rest of the crème to cover the sides of the cake. Decorate the top with dark chocolate curls.

Rum Syrup
¼ cup sugar
¼ water
¼ cup dark rum
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the rum. Allow to cool before using.

Crème Chantilly
2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp confectioners sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla in a chilled bowl and whip until the cream is stiff but not too thick or buttery.

Graham Crackers
(this'll make more than you need, but that's okay!)

1/3 cup honey
2 Tbspn molasses
4 Tbspn whole milk
2 Tbspn vanilla
2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbspn AP flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tspn baking soda
3/4 tspn salt
7 Tbspn butter, cold

1. Whisk together the honey, molasses, milk, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
2. Place the flour, light brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined.
3. Cut the butter into the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
4. Add the pre-mixed liquid ingredients to the food processor and pulse just until a dough begins to form.
5. Dump the contents of the food processor out onto a lightly-floured surface and form into a rectangle. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until firm, preferably overnight.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside.
7. Once chilled, work with the dough in two batches, keeping a batch in the refrigerator while working with the other. Roll the dough out thinly on a lightly-floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Cut eight 3-inch rounds of dough out and shape the rest as rectangles. Place the cut-out dough on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about one inch between each cracker.  Prick the surface of each cracker a few times with a fork.  Chill the baking sheet for 25-30 minutes.
8. Bake the crackers in the oven for about 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheet half-way through to promote even baking. Remove from the oven when the crackers have turned brown and are slightly firm to the touch. Let cool completely.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chocolate Chip Crispy Cookies

I have the recipe for Toll House chocolate chip cookies memorized, and if there's one baked good I will gorge myself on, it's that. Resistance is futile. Call me lowbrow, tell me how amazing the 36 hour recipe is, I do not care. I love my Toll House.

My junior year of high school, my chemistry class had a cookie bake off (cause that's totally chemistry related, right?) and I was the victor with my old standby. My winnings consisted of an outdated, poster size periodic table and a large 3 Musketeers bar. So I don't do much messing around with the recipe. 

But I had this dang, half finished box of panko in my room, and by golly, I was going to put it into cookies. Lacking in the chocolate chip department, I chopped up some fun size Hershey brand crunch bars I had leftover from Halloween. The more crunchiness the better, right? They turned out pretty well, but nothing like the chocolate chip cookie I know and love. For some reason all the cookies I bake at school turn out weirdly puffy, and I can't figure out why. Let me know if you have a logical explanation. 

Chocolate Chip Crispy Cookies 

2 sticks softened butter
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tsp pure vanilla exract
2  1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 Cups Panko
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate with crispy rice or something like that in it)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place butter and sugars into electric or stand mixer and beat until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
2.  Place flour, panko, baking soda into a large bowl.  Mix to combine.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips on low speed until just combined.  Scoop onto cookie sheets (mine didn't spread or stick to the sheets much)   Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges just start to turn brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.