Red Velvet Rose Pavlova

Red Velvet Rose PavlovaAs much as I love flowers, I’ve learned over the years that I have a black thumb. No matter how hard I try or how “low-maintenance” the plant is, I manage to kill it. I’ve even killed a cactus. Don’t ask me how I did it. But one day it started to shrivel up and before I knew it, it was dead.  These days, I run away from plants like the plague. The cute DIY terrariums that everyone talks about? Nope. Growing my own herbs? No way. So instead of growing my own plants, I prefer already cut plants because (not to sound morbid) they’re already dying. It gives me a little less stress.
Red Velvet Rose Pavlova 2In the food world, I think Valentine’s Day can be renamed as Red Velvet Everything Day. Is it just me or when February rolls around, everything is red velvet flavored? They come in forms of cake, brownies, whoopie pies, cupcakes and cookies. It is not their fault. There aren’t that many red cakes out there and that deep red hue is kind of perfect for the season.
Red Velvet Rose PavlovaRed Velvet Rose Pavlova Instead of doing the usual red velvet cake, I decided to make a red velvet pavlova. I dyed the layers of pavolva red (or as red as I could get them) and flavored them with a hint of cocoa. Then I made a cream cheese whipped cream (because how would you have anything red velvet without cream cheese) and flavored it with some rose water for a floral note. I finally decorated it with some tiny rose meringues and actual tiny roses. If you are using fresh flowers, make sure they’re pesticide-free and if you want to eat them, make sure they’re edible.
Red Velvet Rose PavlovaThis may be the most romantic cake I’ve made. (Followed closely by this one.)

Red Velvet Rose Pavlova
Makes one 4-layered mini cake

Ingredients
300 g. superfine sugar
150 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
red gel food color
1 batch of cream cheese rose whipped cream (recipe below)
mini red roses, organic pesticide-free (for decoration)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in an even layer over parchment.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar.
  4. Place sugar into the oven and bake until the edges of the sugar begins to melt but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the mixer onto high.
  6. Remove baking sheet from the oven and the eggs whites should be foamy.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium high and slowly pour the hot sugar from the parchment paper into egg whites.
  8. Once all the sugar is added, turn the mixer onto high and mix until stiff, shiny peaks form.
  9. Reserve ¼ c. of white meringue batter in a different bowl.
  10. Add cocoa powder and red gel food color to the rest of the batter and mix until desired color is reached.
  11. Reserve ¼ c. of red meringue batter in a separate bowl.
  12. Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
  13. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  14. On one baking sheet, spoon 4 five-inch circles of the red meringue.
  15. Fit a medium closed star piping tip into a piping bag and add ¼ c. each of reserved white and red meringue batter.
  16. On the second baking sheet, form small roses by making small circles with the piping tip.
  17. Bake the baking sheet with the five-inch circles for 1- 2 hours until they are crisp and hollow.
  18. Bake the baking sheet with the mini roses for 30 minutes to 1 hour until they are crisp and hollow.
  19. Turn off oven and let it dry out for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  20. When meringues are completely cool and dry, alternate a layer of the meringue with the layer of the whipped cream.
  21. Decorate the top with the mini meringue roses and mini roses.

Cream Cheese Rose Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

1 ½ c. heavy whipping cream, cold
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ c. powdered sugar
½ – 1 tsp. rose water (be careful with the rose water, too much of it will make the frosting taste like soap)

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. Set aside the whipped cream mixture into a different bowl.
  3. In the same bowl, add the cream cheese and powdered sugar and mix until light, fluffy and fully incorporated.
  4. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Add ½ tsp. rose water and taste. If you feel like it needs more, add ¼ tsp. at a time until desired flavor is reached.

Conversation Heart Macarons with Vanilla Elderflower Frosting

Conversation Heart Macarons I learned how stubborn I could be when I went to buy a bag of conversation hearts this past week. I was so convinced that the original conversation hearts were made by Brach’s, I stood in the candy aisle for 5 minutes debating whether Brach’s or Necco made the original conversation hearts with my sister. I guess the average person would’ve pulled out their phone right away and searched Google, but I felt like I was pretty darn sure I was right. Turns out I was wrong. It was originally made by Necco.
valentines day macaronsI was basing my fact on the memory of the boxes of conversation hearts I received during Valentine’s Day in elementary school. Many of my teachers would set up a big box for students to put in Valentine’s Day cards and hand them out on the big day. Some kids would bring a bag full of identical valentines to give out to everyone so no one felt left out. Some kids of course, received more valentines than others, but the usual stash would be a lip or heart shaped lollipop, Hershey’s kisses, and small boxes of conversation hearts. I never really liked the conversation hearts because (if memory serves me right) they tasted like chalk. But if I ever received a box from a crush I would read each heart wishing that it was a heartfelt message from them. SMH Boy crazy from such a young age I tell ya.
macaron batterSo I took a page from my childhood memory and turned them into macarons. I’ll tell you straight off the bat that these macarons are a labor of love. Perhaps it’s because my macarons are made with an Italian meringue or because I just plain stink at it, piping macaron batter into a heart shape is not easy. The batter wants to cling onto your piping tip and ruin the pointed ends that you want to achieve. Also, dividing the batter into 5 colors and changing the piping bag and washing the piping tip 5 times is tedious. And if you only have one spatula? You would have to clean that spatula every time you mix a different color for the batter and you would be dirtying 5 different bowls. This is FIVE times the work required people!

Not-So-Heart-Shaped-Macarons

Not-So-Heart-Shaped-Macarons

The frosting on the other hand is my favorite vanilla frosting flavored with Elderflower concentrate. If you’ve ever been to Ikea, you may have seen the boxed juices that they sell. Elderflower has a mild floral and tart flavor. Why did I add the elderflower concentrate? Because in my mind, flowers = romance = Valentine’s Day.
Conversation Heart Macarons The extra labor aside, these bite size macarons are super cute and would make a very thoughtful gift. Also, I know they’re delicious because the entire batch was gone in one night. :)
Conversation Heart Macaron

Conversation Heart Macarons with Vanilla Elderflower Frosting
Makes about 50 small macarons

*Here is a link to the heart template that I used for my macarons:
-Macaron heart template left
-Macaron heart template right

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
pink gel food coloring
yellow gel food coloring
green gel food coloring
purple gel food coloring
blue gel food coloring
1 batch vanilla elderflower frosting
red food color pen

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with heart template left and right and parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. Divide the almond mixture into 5 different bowls. Each fifth of the batter should weight 101g.
  5. Color each almond mixture with pink, yellow, green, purple and blue gel food coloring. Set aside.
  6. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  7. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  8. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  9. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  10. Place one fifth of the egg mixture into each bowl of the colored almond mixture. Fold the egg white mixture into the almond mixture until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  11. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, fill the piping bag with the pink macaron batter.
  12. Pipe one side of the heart, releasing pressure as you get to the pointy tip and repeat with the other side of the heart.
  13. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  14. Every time you change the batter color, remember to clean the piping tip and use a new bag.
  15. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  16. Preheat the oven to 325-350˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 325˚F, if not then 350˚F.
  17. Lower the heat to from 350˚F to 300˚F. (If starting from 325˚F, lower to 275˚F.)
  18. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macaron shell is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  19. Remove pan from oven and reheat oven to higher temperature for 10 minutes before baking the next tray, lowering the temperature when you start baking it.
  20. Continue until you bake all of the macaron shells.
  21. Once the macarons have cooled, pair each macaron shell to one of a similar size.
  22. Use the red food coloring pen to write out messages on one side of the macaron.
  23. Let dry and sandwich each macaron with vanilla elderflower frosting.

Vanilla Elderflower Frosting
Ingredients:
1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4-6 tbsp. elderflower concentrate

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add vanilla extract and 4 tbsp. of elderflower concentrate.
  8. Taste and if you want a stronger flavor, add another 2 tbsp. of elderflower concentrate.

 

Calcifer Meringues

howl's moving castle meringues

“May all your bacon burn.”

If you still haven’t watched Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, then I’m pretty sure you are confused (or possibly amused) by today’s post. When I mentioned it to my sister, her reaction was, “That sounds like Lucifer, or a devil.” Actually, a very similar response was echoed by my friend. (They both did not watch the movie.)
Calcifer MeringuesCalcifer is a fire demon and in the English dubbed version of the movie, is voiced by Billy Crystal (aka. Mike Wazawoski from Monsters, Inc., Miracle Max from Princess Bride or Harry from When Harry Met Sally <= my favorite movie of all time!). Incredibly cute and boisterous at times, he is one of the most memorable characters of the movie.making meringuesThe meringue recipe I’m sharing is delicious and can be flavored with different extract or add-ins, but this time I chose to keep it simple by tinting it in different colors and shaping it so it has a flame-like body. Stirring the gel food coloring does deflate the meringue a bit and spooning it onto the parchment paper in layered dollops seems to produce a few cracks in the meringue. This is just a theory because I’ve made this recipe before and it produces very white, no-crack meringues when piped into little shapes.
inside meringue cookieI wanted the meringues to be super vibrant, but this is as bright as I could get them without compromising the structure of the meringue batter. As for the inside of the meringue, the color is much more vibrant on the inside and I am in love with it. Color and small crack issues aside, the meringues are melt-in-your-mouth crisp and has a wonderful marshmallow-y chewy interior. It’s love at
first bite.
calcifer cookies

Calcifer Meringues
Makes 7 Large Meringues

Ingredients
300 g. superfine sugar
150 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
yellow gel food color
orange gel food color
red gel food color
white candy melts
candy eyes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in an even layer over parchment.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar.
  4. Place sugar into the oven and bake until the edges of the sugar begins to melt but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the mixer onto high.
  6. Remove baking sheet from the oven and the eggs whites should be foamy.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium high and slowly pour the hot sugar from the parchment paper into egg whites.
  8. Once all the sugar is added, turn the mixer onto high and mix until stiff, shiny peaks form.
  9. Divide batter evenly into three separate bowls, coloring each portion red, yellow and orange.
  10. Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
  11. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  12. Taking two spoons, place a dollop of the yellow batter and layer it with the orange and then the red. Repeat until all the meringue batter is used.
  13. Bake about 2-3 hours until they are crisp and hollow.
  14. Turn off oven and let it dry out for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  15. When meringues are completely cool and dry, melt two white candy melt wafers and dot behind two eyes and place the eyes onto the bottom third of Calcifer’s face.
  16. Let candy melt set and you are now ready to enjoy your meringue.

Meringue recipe adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.

 

Peanut Brittle Coffee Fudge Cake

Peanut Brittle Coffee Fudge CakeI have a brother whose birthday is on the fourth of January. Every year, after all the New Year hoopla, we gather around for the first birthday celebration of the year. I tend to pay a little more attention to his cake than the ones that follow because my soul feels a slight breeze of refreshment when the new year rolls around. Plus, this year was his big 3-0 so I had to think of something more unique.
peanut butter chocolate cakeIf there is one thing I know about my brother, it is that his two favorite flavors of all time are peanut butter (or peanuts in general) and coffee. In fact coffee, peanuts and my brother are synced so closely together in my brain that every time I go out of town, I usually bring back something that has to do with those two things. Things like Virginia peanuts from the south or a giant espresso peanut butter cup made by the local craft chocolate shop are no brainers when it comes to souvenir gifts for him.
honey roasted peanut brittleSo I made a cake that combines both flavors. It features alternating layers of fudgy chocolate and coffee scented cake which are sandwiched by a light and fluffy peanut butter frosting. The whole thing is then covered by a vanilla – peanut butter Swiss meringue buttercream and topped with homemade honey roasted peanut brittle. honey roasted peanut brittleWhen looking at the recipe, you might wonder why I made two different types of frosting. After years of baking, I realized that as much as I love the texture and flavor of boiled frosting, it does not ice as smoothly as Swiss meringue buttercream. So, these days I make two types of frosting for one cake. Is it a pain in the butt? Yes, but the flavor and the presentation are so worth it.
Peanut Brittle Coffee Fudge Cake

Peanut Brittle Coffee Fudge Cake
Makes one very tall 8” cake

You will need:

2 – 8” buttermilk coffee cake layers, leveled (recipe below)
2 – 8” chocolate cake layers, leveled (recipe below)
1 batch coffee frosting (recipe below)
1 batch coffee and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream (recipe below)
1 batch honey roasted peanut brittle (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. On a cake board, place a chocolate cake layer and frost the top with coffee frosting.
  2. Top the chocolate cake layer with a coffee cake layer and frost the top with coffee frosting.
  3. Add another chocolate cake layer and frost the top with coffee frosting.
  4. Top the chocolate cake layer with the coffee cake layer.
  5. Use the remaining coffee frosting to crumb coat the cake.
  6. Place in freezer for 5-10 minutes to set.
  7. Fill an icing bag fitted with a very large round tip with the white swiss meringue buttercream.
  8. Remove the cake from the freezer.
  9. Ice the cake from the top with the white swiss meringue buttercream, moving slowly down.
  10. Once the white frosting runs out, add the light brown swiss meringue buttercream to the same bag and continue moving downwards.
  11. Once the light brown frosting runs out, add the deep brown swiss meringue buttercream to the same bag and continue frost down the cake until you get to the bottom of the cake. (The cake will look bulky and messy. This is normal.)
  12. Using a flat spatula, start going around the cake and smoothing out the sides.
  13. As you move around the cake and start removing frosting, an ombre pattern will appear.
  14. Frost the entire cake smooth and then top with shards of honey roasted peanut brittle.

For the Buttermilk Coffee Cake:

Ingredients:
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1 c. black coffee, divided
4 tbsp. powdered buttermilk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. coffee emulsion
270 g. cake flour
300 g. sugar
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease and line the bottom of two 8” cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In the mixing bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined.
  3. Mix powdered buttermilk to the cup of black coffee and whisk until combined.
  4. Add the butter and ¾ c. of the coffee mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low until combined.
  5. Scrape the bowl to mix everything evenly.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk, the remaining ¼ c. coffee mixture, and vanilla extract.
  7. With the mixer on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture slowly until combined.
  8. Divide batter evenly amongst the two cake pans and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the cake pans halfway.
  9. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out of cake pan and move onto wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Chocolate Cake:

Ingredients:
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
¼ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1. tsp. kosher salt
½ c. vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. strong, hot coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease and line the bottom of two 8” cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, both cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
  4. With the mixer speed on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Turn off the mixer. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the two mixtures.
  6. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot coffee to the batter. Once added, raise the speed to medium until completely homogenous.
  7. Divide batter evenly amongst the two cake pans and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the cake pans halfway.
  8. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out of cake pan and move onto wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Coffee Frosting (for the filling)

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. whole milk
⅓ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
12 oz. (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ c. sugar
1 – 1½ tbsp. coffee emulsion

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add 1 tbsp. coffee emulsion and mix until combined.
  8. Taste and if you want a stronger flavor, add another ½ tbsp. coffee emulsion.

Coffee and Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (for the outside)

Ingredients:

1 ¼ c. sugar
5 large egg whites
3 ½ sticks unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. coffee emulsion
brown food gel color

Instructions:

  1. Simmer an inch of water in a medium pot.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar together.
  3. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the egg white and sugar mixture continuously until the mixture becomes lighter and no longer grainy.
  4. Remove the bowl from the pot and transfer the bowl into the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  5. Mix on high until mixture becomes white and fluffy, and cool (check for this by seeing if the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch).
  6. Add in vanilla extract and butter one stick at a time until a silky smooth frosting forms.
  7. Remove a third of the vanilla frosting into a separate bowl.
  8. In the original mixing bowl, add 2 tsp. of the coffee emulsion and whip until light brown and homogenous.
  9. Remove half of the light brown frosting into a separate bowl.
  10. Add a few drops of brown food gel color and whip until the mixture becomes a deep brown.

Honey Roasted Peanut Brittle

¾ c. honey roasted peanuts
1 c. sugar
½ c. water

Instructions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.
  2. In a small pot, boil sugar and water together until the mixture turns amber.
  3. Once the mixture turns amber, stir in peanuts and quickly transfer mixture onto the silicone mat using a silicone spatula.
  4. Spread the brittle with the spatula so that the peanuts are all one layer.
  5. Let cool and break into shards.

Tiramisu Cinnamon Rolls

Tiramisu Cinnamon RollsIf I bottled the scent that came out of the oven while this baked, I would be a millionaire. It smells as if your house was smack dab in the middle of a Starbucks and a Cinnabon store. Er.. kind of like a mall. (I suppose living in the mall would be a nightmare for some people.) Everyone knows the best part about going to the mall is passing by a Cinnabon or a Weltzel’s Pretzels store. I’m always battling my inner fat kid every time I walk by.
Cinnamon RollsFilled with a cinnamon-coffee sugar, topped with a whipped mascarpone frosting and dusted with a generous dose of cocoa powder, it highlights the best parts of both worlds. I would suggest taking the buns out of the pan about 5-10 minutes after it comes out of the oven. The coffee cinnamon sugar creates a caramel when it bakes, and if you let it cool completely in the pan, it will become a type of glue which makes it nearly impossible to get clean cuts out of the pan. Also, don’t be like me and roll the dough out too thinly, I originally wanted just 8 cinnamon rolls, but I had to slice the dough more because it was too tall for the pan. Boo.

Tiramisu Cinnamon RollsCinnamon rolls are definitely not an on-the-whim kind of treat. But if you do decide to make it, I can imagine it being part of an awesome Christmas morning breakfast.
DSC_0579

Tiramisu Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

For the Cinnamon Rolls:
1 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
½ c. water, warm (110-120°F)
¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 large egg
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt

For the Filling:
¼ c. unsalted butter, softened
¾ c. light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 ½ tbsp. coffee emulsion
For the Frosting:
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, room temp
2 tbsp. butter, room temp
⅓ c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. heavy cream
cocoa powder, for dusting on top

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe cup, warm ½ c. water until 110°F-120°F or lukewarm. Stir in 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar until dissolved. Stir in dry yeast and let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. While the yeast is proofing, mix flour, buttermilk, 3 tbsp. sugar, egg, salt, and the melted butter into a bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Add the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir until a loose dough forms.
  4. Let stand for 8 minutes to hydrate flour.
  5. With the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on speed 2 for about 8 minutes until dough is pliable and stretchy.
  6. Move dough to an oiled bowl and cover the bowl and let the dough rise until double its size, about 1 to 2 hours.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, corn starch, butter, and coffee emulsion until combined. Set aside.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 9” x 12” rectangle. Spread the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly, except 1” along the bottom of the dough.
  9. Roll the dough tightly, using the uncovered border to seal the roll.
  10. Cut the roll into 8 even rolls.
  11. Grease a 9×13 inch pan, and evenly space out the rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 – 1 ½ hours until rolls have doubled in size.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  13. Bake for about 20 minutes until rolls are golden brown.
  14. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before turning out the rolls onto parchment paper or a nonstick surface.
  15. While the rolls cool. Make the mascarpone frosting.
  16. Using a handheld mixer, whip butter and powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
  17. Add mascarpone cheese and heavy cream and mix until light and fluffy. Do not overwhip.
  18. Spread frosting over cooled rolls and dust the top generously with cocoa powder using a fine meshed sieve.

Cinnamon roll recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian.

Green Tea White Chocolate Sugar Cookies

green tea white chocolate cookiesIt’s December! I can’t believe that it’s already more than a week into December and Christmas is fast approaching. No, I haven’t done my holiday shopping yet but I can already envision the empty bank account as I think about the things I have to buy. But the Christmas tree is up and I’m glad I got that done at least.
green tea cookiesWhen December rolls around, cookies seem to be extra popular to bake. I’ve never done cookie exchanges or made cookie platters but I think it’s always fun to see people enjoy the things you make in the kitchen. These green tea white chocolate sugar cookies are extra tender and soft. The white chocolate in the batter softens the taste of green tea, which can come across as bitter to some people. But the green tea flavor is still bold and you might not even notice the white chocolate.
green tea white chocolate sugar cookiesI put a dollop of royal icing on mine, because I made a whole batch to decorate the same cookies that were cut into Christmas tree shapes. But I didn’t realize that the royal icing wouldn’t stick onto the cookies because of the coating of green tea sugar. I had to force it onto the domed cookies by squeezing it straight onto the cookie and hoping it would stay. So, if you are planning on decorating these, you can skip the green tea sugar coating (ah, but that sugar is so delicious though!!).
matcha white chocolate sugar cookies

Here are a couple of past posts for more holiday baking:
Christmas Wreath Macarons
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows and Coconut White Hot Chocolate
Snowball Cookies

Green Tea White Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
¾ c. sugar, divided
½ tsp. plus 2 tbsp. matcha
2 c. flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. brown sugar, packed
1 ½ tbsp. honey
1 large egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. lemon zest
3 oz. white chocolate, melted

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk ½ c. sugar and ½ tsp. matcha together.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt and 2 tbsp. matcha.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, brown sugar, honey and ¼ c. sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg, egg yolk, and lemon zest and mix until pale.
  5. On low speed, add flour mixture and white chocolate.
  6. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350˚F and scoop tablespoon sized dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. (I used a domed baking pan like the one here. I sprayed the pan with nonstick spray before putting the dough into the pan.)
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the bottom and the edges are barely golden and the tops no longer look wet.
  9. Immediately, toss cookies into reserved green tea sugar gently and let cool before eating.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash 2It’s officially fall. Only it’s too cold for fall. Last night it was 35 degrees outside and this morning there was a chance of snow for a couple of hours. As much as I love having four seasons, I feel like fall in New Jersey only lasts a few weeks. Whenever I’m on Pinterest or on Instagram I see posts of girls in short sweater dresses with ankle boots without tights or thick coats, I ask myself, “Just where do these girls live? And how can I get myself there?”
ingredientsAlthough it may not feel so much like fall, we can certainly eat like it is. The color orange seems to be the theme of fall food. Pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, acorn squash… all of these have orange flesh that not only taste great but are healthy too. If you’ve never tried Kabocha squash, it also has an orange flesh but is sweeter than a butternut squash. Mix that with the salty bacon and the delicate fruitiness of the Enoki mushroom, you have a winner. I added a dash of Unagi sauce on one of them and it was the perfect touch.
kabocha squash bacon enokiIt is incredibly easy to put together and you don’t even have to put in the Kabocha squash or the Unagi sauce. It can be as easy as wrapping the mushroom with the bacon and you’ll still have a crowd-pleasing appetizer that can be made on the fly.
kabocha squash baconI probably won’t be able to write another post before Thanksgiving. So, I hope you have the happiest of Thanksgivings with your loved ones this Thursday and I’m so thankful for all of you reading this. <3
Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash 3

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash

1 – 4 oz. package of Enoki mushrooms, split into 8 bundles
4 slices of bacon, halved vertically
8 slivers of Kabocha squash, raw
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, minced, for garnish
Unagi (eel) sauce, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
  2. Top a bundle of mushrooms with slice of squash and very lightly sprinkle salt on top of the squash.
  3. Wrap the vegetable bundle with a slice of bacon and secure with toothpick. Repeat for the rest of the bundles.
  4. Season the bundles with pepper and roast the bundles for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp.
  5. Drain bundles on paper towels and if using the unagi sauce, lightly drizzle sauce before serving.
  6. Garnish with minced parsley.

Coffee Macarons

coffee macaronsWhere in the world did the time go?? It’s a week before Thanksgiving! I always feel a little overwhelmed right before the week of Thanksgiving. Not so much the day of, because by then I have already planned and prepped for the big day. But the week before, I’m trying to figure out grocery lists, what dishes to remake from last year and try for this year, and the number of people coming while doing every day things like work, house chores and errands. This is the first time I ever felt like leaving Thanksgiving dinner to someone else (that says volumes since I’ve been doing Thanksgiving dinner since I was a junior in high school).
coffee macaron shellAs children of Korean immigrants, we didn’t celebrate American holidays like my non-Asian friends. Thanksgiving was just another day off of school (which we were more than grateful for) and we would maybe have a chicken for dinner. In hindsight, we didn’t even have chicken every year. I didn’t even care about having a Thanksgiving meal with turkey until my one friend said to me, “What?? You don’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving?? No mashed potatoes? No gravy or stuffing? What about sweet potatoes with marshmallows, you must have that at least.” Mind you this was over AIM (omg remember those days?? Being on AIM was the lifeline to having a social life) and it may have sounded harsher than he intended in my mind. Either way, that night (the night before Thanksgiving) I searched high and low for a turkey recipe and in the morning, I insisted that my dad buy us a turkey. (Now that I think about it, it was a miracle in itself to have found a fresh turkey the day of Thanksgiving.) So with a fresh 12-lb. turkey with no other fixings, we made our first Thanksgiving meal. It was just salted, peppered and basted with butter and it was the most delicious turkey I’ve ever had.
coffee macaronMy meals since then have evolved and developed. We have had a variation of every side dish you can think of (mashed and roasted potatoes and vegetables, stuffing, salads, cranberry sauce, gravy, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese…). I’ve tried about every method there is to making a turkey (brined, dry-brined, roasted upside down halfway and turned over, spatchcocked, blanketed with a weave of bacon strips…) with the exception of deep frying. But nothing ever tastes as good as that first turkey I made.

keurig macaronsEither way, yes, for once in my life I feel overwhelmed with Thanksgiving. Last year, when my brother asked, “Are we having a Thanksgiving dinner with everyone?” I replied, “As long as I’m living and breathing, there is always Thanksgiving dinner.” I think I forget what we started with and it’s so easy to see the tough part of the task that it’s even easier to dismiss the highlights of the fruit of the labor. So this year, I’m so incredibly thankful for every opportunity and task that I’ve been given. Not because I’m so gung ho about the work, but because I’ve been blessed with the ability and the environment to accomplish it and that is more than enough to be thankful for.
DSC_0484*Somehow I ended up with this soliloquy about Thanksgiving. But this macaron would be the perfect ending to a meal. Thanks to the coffee emulsion (which is more potent than an extract) and a sprinkling of coffee grounds (I just opened up a fresh Keurig pod), it is bursting with coffee flavor. Also, I’m kinda macaron-ed out. Hahaha So it may be a while before you see another macaron post. But I’m looking forward to bringing different things for the blog. :)

Coffee Macarons

For the macaron shell:

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
fresh ground coffee (for garnish)
brown gel food coloring (for decorating the macaron)
vodka (for diluting the food coloring)

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  11. Sprinkle coffee grounds on only 1/3 of the macaron shell.
  12. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  13. Preheat the oven to 325-350˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 325˚F, if not then 350˚F.
  14. Lower the heat to from 350˚F to 300˚F. (If starting from 325˚F, lower to 275˚F.)
  15. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macaron shell is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  16. Remove pan from oven and reheat oven to higher temperature for 10 minutes before baking the next tray, lowering the temperature when you start baking it.
  17. Continue until you bake all of the macaron shells.
  18. Once the macarons have cooled, dilute brown food coloring in some vodka to make it paint-like.
  19. With a flat brush (food-only use), draw a thick line down the middle of the macaron.
  20. Once all the macarons have been drawn, dilute food coloring with a drop or two of vodka for a stronger color and turning the flat brush to the side, draw a thin stripe down the thick light brown stripe.
  21. Let dry and fill with coffee frosting.

For the coffee frosting:

Ingredients:
1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
1 – 1½ tbsp. coffee emulsion  

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add 1 tbsp. coffee emulsion and mix until combined.
  8. Taste and if you want a stronger flavor, add another ½ tbsp. coffee emulsion.

Pumpkin Crème Brulee

pumpkin creme brulee 3My favorite holiday EVER is Thanksgiving. Christmas is a close second. My argument for Thanksgiving trumping Christmas is that it is all about family time. No holiday shopping stress, crazy decorations, party obligations or unhappy people not getting what they wanted, it’s all about spending time together and relaxing and eating. I honestly think sharing a meal brings people closer together and the Thanksgiving table is a prime example. Perfectly roasted turkey, savory stuffing, crisp salads, fluffy mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce and luscious gravy come together for the perfect meal. But after that perfect meal comes the pans of pumpkin, pecan and apple pies, there is probably something with chocolate on the table (because what kind of dessert menu lacks chocolate) and this pumpkin crème brulee.
egg yolkspumpkin creme brulee 4Something about crème brulee makes everyone happy. It’s sophisticated enough for the adults but is also kid-friendly because it’s pretty much a fancy pudding cup. I love the contrast of the crisp crunch of the caramelized sugar and the perfectly smooth custard. Plus that ever so slightly bitter burnt taste of the sugar pairs well with the sweetness underneath. pumpkin creme brulee 2pumpkin creme brulee 6I’ve made this recipe two Thanksgivings in a row because it’s so good, like people-are-scraping-the-bottom-of-the-ramekin good. It’s super easy but it always has that “oo la la” factor when it shows up on the table. Plus, you make it a day before so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. You just sprinkle the top with sugar and torch it before serving. I know that it’s proper for the caramelized sugar layer to be thin, but I like mine extra thick so that I get more substantial shards of sugar in my crème brulee.
pumpkin creme bruleePumpkin Crème Brulee

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. heavy cream
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
5 egg yolks
½ c. sugar, plus extra for torching
¾ c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Boil a kettle full of water for the water bath.
2. In a medium pot, heat heavy cream, cinnamon and nutmeg together until it simmers.
3. In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks and ½ c. sugar until combined.
4. Slowly stream a ladleful of heavy cream mixture into the egg yolks, while whisking the egg yolks to avoid curdling your egg mixture.
5. Continue to slowly add the rest of the heavy cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture until completely mixed.
6. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a separate bowl.
7. Whisk in pumpkin puree and vanilla into the custard mixture.
8. In a large roasting or baking pan, arrange five 7 oz. ramekins. Split the custard mixture evenly amongst the ramekins.
9. Place the pan into the oven and pour hot water into the baking pan until it comes at least half way up the ramekins. Avoid getting water into the ramekins.
10. Bake about 30-40 minutes until the center of the custard is just set. You will know this when you jiggle the ramekin and the custard jiggles just in the center.
11. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool and cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating the ramekins for at least 4 hours or overnight.
12. When ready to serve, remove ramekins from the fridge and add a spoonful of sugar in to the ramekin, rotating it for even coverage. Use a butane torch to caramelize the sugar until dark brown and even. Serve immediately.


Recipe adapted from Use Real Butter.

Soot Sprite Macarons (Pumpkin Cookie Butter Macarons)

susuwatari macaronI’m a huge Hayao Miyazaki fan. I love the stories and character development in his films. What I appreciate the most are his strong feminine characters that often save themselves unlike so many of the Disney films I grew up with. Of course there are male protagonists, but they neither dominate nor undermine the heroine. Instead, they work in tandem with each other and both characters evolve and progress their personalities. One of my favorite films from Studio Ghibli is Spirited Away. Susuwatari (also known as Soot Sprites) are the minions of Kamaji, the boiler man. Small and furry looking, they are adorable in clusters and eat Konpeitō, which are star-shaped colorful Japanese candy. The plush with the mask is No Face who my sister deemed creepy and suggested I throw out. I think it’s adorable and I would never. Like I’ve mentioned before, we are two very different people.
soot sprite macaronThe black shells and the orange pumpkin cookie butter filling just beg these macarons to be made for Halloween. I’ve wanted to make these for October but I just ran out of time. You can always omit the black food coloring, colored sugar sprinkles and candy eyes and you would have a perfect pumpkin macaron for Thanksgiving. (As shown in the last photo of the post.) By the way, the pumpkin cookie butter filling is made with Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie spice cookie butter. (Can you tell I love Trader Joe’s yet? Hahaha Anyways…) It tastes exactly what the title says except I found that it wasn’t pumpkin-y enough. So I added pumpkin puree to the frosting base to up the pumpkin factor.
soot sprite macaronsIf you do decide to make it with the black food coloring and sugar sprinkles, I should warn you that these macarons WILL turn your mouth and teeth black. And if you have several of them, (this may be TMI but) you may or may not have green stool. Kind of like that black burger bun situation that Burger King had a month ago. It’s not harmful to your body, but I didn’t want to give anyone a surprise scare. Hahaha
pumpkin cookie butter macaronsIn other news, my favorite holiday of the year is creeping up on us. Thanksgiving is the absolute ultimate holiday for me and I’m looking forward to sharing some of my all-star recipes with you during this month!

Soot Sprite Macarons (Susuwatari Macarons)

You will need:
Black Sprinkle Macaron Shells (recipe below)
Pumpkin Cookie Butter Frosting (recipe below)
Candy Eyes
Black candy melts

Instructions:

  1. Sandwich two black macaron shells with pumpkin cookie butter frosting.
  2. Melt two black candy wafers in the microwave and use a toothpick to dab a small amount on the back of a candy eye to adhere to the macaron shell. (Before adhering the eyes, make sure that the pupils of the candy eyes are identical. Some pupils tend to be larger than others, giving your macarons an odd mismatched look if you are not careful.)
  3. Repeat the steps with the second candy eye.

Black Sprinkle Macaron Shells

212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
black gel food coloring (if you want regular pumpkin macarons, do not use this.)
black sugar crystals (if you want regular pumpkin macarons, do not use this.)

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Add in a drops of black gel food coloring until desired shade is achieved. (Skip this step if you want white macarons.)
  9. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  10. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  11. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  12. On half of the macaron shells, generously sprinkle on black sugar crystals. (Skip this step if you want white macarons.)
  13. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  14. Preheat the oven to 325-350˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 325˚F, if not then 350˚F.
  15. Lower the heat to from 350˚F to 300˚F. (If starting from 325˚F, lower to 275˚F.)
  16. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macaron shell is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  17. Remove pan from oven and reheat oven to higher temperature for 10 minutes before baking the next tray, lowering the temperature when you start baking it.
  18. Continue until you bake all of the macaron shells.

Pumpkin Cookie Butter Frosting

Ingredients:

½ c. pumpkin puree
¾ c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
½ c. pumpkin pie spice cookie butter

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk pumpkin puree, milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the pumpkin pie spice cookie butter and mix until combined.
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