Lucky Charms Churros & Real Pistachio Pudding

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day and I’m part of a virtual St. Patrick’s Day Party! If there was one word to describe the holiday for me, it would be: green. When it comes to desserts there aren’t many green colored options, and I decided to do something with pistachios. I’ve made pistachio flavored cupcakes before but I used jello pudding mix which gave it an artificial taste. I’m not knocking on pistachio pudding mix; I’ve actually grown to like that artificial pistachio flavor. Much like how I’ve grown to love maraschino cherries.
The pistachio flavor of the pudding isn’t assertive. If I had to describe the flavor, I would say it’s very similar to the Häagen-Dazs pistachio ice cream only in pudding form, especially once it’s topped with a dollop of whipped cream. It’s dreamy and luscious, and pale green in color.
And because I wanted to add lucky charms into the whole thing, I made some lucky charms churros. Funny thing is they look entirely different from now I imagined them. I wanted them to have lots of marshmallows and cereal pieces stuck on them. Unfortunately, when I did put whole pieces of the cereal onto the churros, they looked chunky and unappealing. So I crushed them and stuck them on there, similar to sprinkles. A little more whimsical, but it doesn’t really scream “lucky charms”. Oh well.
The churros btw, are delicious. They’re crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Don’t get scared and take them out of the oil too early or you’ll end up with doughy insides. Now excuse me while I oogle at these awesome dishes that everyone else contributed to our party… You’re of course, welcome and encouraged to check them out too. 😉

Baileys Chocolate Caramel Tarts Sugarhero
Bangers and Mash with Guiness Onion GravyThe Beach House Kitchen
Black Lentil Roasted Broccoli Shepard’s Pie – Calizona
Boozy Irish Coffee Milkshake with Baileys Caramel DrizzleMeg is Well
Chocolate Stout No-Churn Ice Cream with Homemade Toffee CrumbleCiao Chow Bambina
Colcannon Irish Mashed PotatoesKeviniscooking
Get Charmed By Double Spice Chocolate CookiesThe Sweet Nerd
Guinness Irish Stew Mini Pot PiesThe Road to Honey
Irish Spice BagSeasons & Suppers
Pork Chops with an Irish Whiskey SauceSalt & Lavender
Raspberry Chocolate Milk Porter Pudding ShootersBeer Girl Cooks
Shepherd’s Pie {with Guinness Lamb & Horseradish Mash}Girl Heart Food
Sour Apple Tequila Cocktail – The Lucky Shamrock – No Spoon Necessary
St. Patrick’s Lemon Cucumber Martini With Fresh BasilBeyond Mere Sustenance
Traditional Irish Soda Bread with Orange ButterWhat Should I Make For…
Vegan Mint Chocolate BarkSalted Plains

Lucky Charms Churros & Real Pistachio Pudding

For the Pistachio Paste

Ingredients:
½ c salted pistachios, shelled
⅓ c. sugar
2 tbsp. water

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse pistachios until finely ground.
  2. Add sugar and water and continue to blend until smooth.

For the Pistachio Pudding
Makes about 4 ramekins

Ingredients:
1 batch pistachio paste (recipe above)
2 c. whole milk
2 egg yolks
⅓ c. sugar
2 tbsp. corn starch
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ c. heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. powdered sugar
a handful pistachios, chopped

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, whisk pistachio paste and milk together and heat until simmering.
  2. While the pistachio milk comes to a simmer, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl to form a smooth paste.
  3. Slowly whisk in the hot pistachio milk by the ladleful into the egg mixture until you use up half of the pistachio milk.
  4. Add the rest of the egg mixture back into the pot and whisk on medium heat until pudding is thickened.
  5. Remove pot from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla extract until smooth.
  6. Spoon pudding into ramekins, and wrap with plastic wrap and push the plastic onto the surface so it doesn’t form a skin.
  7. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  8. Before serving, whip heavy cream and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form, place a dollop of whipped cream on top and garnish with chopped pistachios.

For the Lucky Charms Churros

For the churros

Ingredients:
½ c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 c. water
1 ½ tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. salt
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 qt. vegetable oil (for frying)
vanilla glaze (recipe below)
about 1 cup of crushed lucky charms cereal (with mostly marshmallows; less cereal)

Instructions:

  1. In a shallow bowl, combine ½ c. sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk water, sugar, 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, and salt together and bring to a boil.
  3. Once the mixture is boiling, turn off the heat, add in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough forms.
  4. In a large heavy pot clipped with a candy thermometer, heat the vegetable oil until 375 degrees.
  5. While the oil heats, transfer the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. The dough is dense and tough to push through the piping bag so use a heavy-duty bag.
  6. On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, pipe the length of the churros you would like and cut it off with either a sharp knife or scissors until you use up the dough.
  7. Once the oil is heated, slowly place the churro dough into the hot oil. Do not drop the dough into the oil for it will splatter. Place about 3-4 pieces and fry until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.
  8. Lightly shake off the excess oil, and place the cooked churros onto a plate lined with paper towels.
  9. Drain churros for two minutes and then toss in the cinnamon sugar.
  10. Repeat with the remaining churro dough.
  11. Once the churros are cool, drizzle the top half of the churros with the vanilla glaze and dip into the crushed marshmallows.

Vanilla Glaze

Ingredients:
1 c. powdered sugar
1 ½ tbsp. milk
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Whisk all three ingredients until smooth.
  2. Let stand for a few minutes to thicken.

Recipe for the pudding adapted from Joy the Baker.
Recipe for churros adapted from Just a Taste.
Recipe for glaze adapted from Taste of Home.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Macarons

Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsThere isn’t much that I remember about living in Seoul, South Korea as a little girl. But one memory that lingers after all these years is how the streets were perfumed with the scent of roasted sweet potatoes in the winter. I don’t know how it is now, but back then the streets were filled with carts that sold perfectly roasted sweet potatoes. Roasted Korean sweet potatoes are very different from their American counterpart. They are insanely sweet and the flavor is chestnut-like. And unlike American sweet potatoes, they don’t get watery. Instead, they are more fibrous and hold their shape when peeled. For many years, I’ve tried to recapture that memory by roasting Korean sweet potatoes in my oven. The smell was spot on, but I couldn’t get that same roasted taste that I remembered.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsThere is a Korean market that I stop by for snacks when I’m at my local Laundromat. If you stop by in the colder months, there is a small machine that churns out roasted sweet potatoes and the whole store smells has that warm roasty toasty smell. Anyways, after having one that was properly roasted, I became obsessed with trying to recreate it at home and scoured the internet on how to do it. I finally came upon a blog that featured this pot and after finding it in a Korean supermarket (It’s so much cheaper. I got it for less than $20 because it was on sale), I gave it a try and I finally reached sweet potato nirvana. Tip: The instructions say to roast on medium heat for 20-30 minutes but I found that roasting for about an hour on low heat produces the best results.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsArmed with my new roasting pot, I wanted to feature sweet potatoes differently and made these macarons. Purple sweet potatoes are just as sweet but not as flavorful as their yellow cousins. However, I couldn’t resist their beautiful purple flesh. I suppose I could’ve made the frosting a vibrant purple by adding a little food dye, but I wanted you to be able to see what it would look like without it. The best part about the frosting is that it takes just one stick of butter and about ¾ cup of powdered sugar (which just might be perfect for filling cakes for babies since you are using minimal sugar).
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsCan you tell that I originally made these for Valentine’s Day? The purple ombre effect is easy to achieve by using an edible food color spray can. They’re easy enough to find on amazon. You want to be careful to be light handed or you will end up spraying the entire macaron purple. This is especially true if your spray can is new. There are so many options out there, I feel like you have a rainbow at your fingertips and it’s an easy way to spruce up a plain macaron.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsEven if you don’t decorate it, they’re definitely worth giving a try and best eaten within two days. Since the frosting has low butter/sugar content, it will turn your macarons soggy as the days go by.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Macarons

For the macaron shells:

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
purple edible spray paint
heart sprinkles
white pearl sprinkles

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 degrees, 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 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 twice until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. Fill batter in a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Sprinkle the top of the macaron batter with the pearl and heart sprinkles. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  12. Once you place the macarons in the oven, reduce the heat to 300˚F. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macarons are done when you slightly wiggle them and they start to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  13. Once you remove the macarons, reheat the oven to 350˚F for ten minutes before baking another pan of macarons at 300˚F.
  14. Once the shells are cool, spray one side of the macarons lightly about 7 inches away from the surface. Fill with frosting.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Frosting

Ingredients:
1 ½ lb Okinawan sweet potatoes, roasted (about 3 medium potatoes)
4 oz. (one stick) unsalted butter
¾ – 1 c. powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Peel the outer skin of the sweet potatoes and put them the food processor.
  2. Puree the sweet potatoes until very smooth and silky. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in ¾ c. of the powdered sugar and the sweet potato puree and whip until a smooth frosting forms. If not sweet enough, add the remaining ¼ c. powdered sugar and whip until smooth. Fill the macarons.

The Best Mocha Cake

The Best Mocha CakeI rarely ever call anything the “best” because I know there is something out there that’s better. But I’m telling you, this cake is very, very good. Most of the cakes on this website are cakes that I’ve made for my family’s birthday celebrations, and they’ve tasted every single one of them. The good and bad thing about family members is that they are your biggest critics. They’re not too polite to say everything is good when it’s not, and aren’t afraid to tell you that your previous work was better. So when my brother said that it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever made and requested the same one for this next birthday, I knew it was a winner.
The Best Mocha CakeThis isn’t your average layer cake where you glue rounds of the same flavored cake with some frosting and call it a day. It’s complex and flavorful. With 5 different layers and a jelly glaze, it’s definitely a labor of love. I’m telling you, even I was worn out after putting this cake together, but oh man was it worth it. It’s rich, soft, buttery, light, crunchy and silky at the same time. You can’t mistake the coffee or the chocolate and one doesn’t overpower the other. They’re perfectly balanced.
The Best Mocha CakeFirst, you have a chocolate cookie crust, then a mocha cake: followed by a coffee ganache and then chocolate crunchies with a coffee mousse on top. The whole thing is covered in a coffee mirror glaze that’s very glossy and jelly-like. I’ve never made a mirror glaze before, but I have to say I’m not impressed by the flavor. Please, feel free to peel it off before consuming your cake.
The Best Mocha CakeYou want to make sure to use the very best white chocolate for the coffee ganache. I feel if you use the waxy cheap white chocolate, the balance of the cake will be off. This is the time to pull out the valrhona or the guittard and savor every bite of it.
The Best Mocha CakeThe Best Mocha Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake

*Because there are so many components to this cake, I’ll put the ingredients and the instructions for each layer. I don’t want you to have to keep scrolling up for each ingredient. Note that each layer is layered in the same 9-inch springform pan.

For the Oreo Crust:

Ingredients:
25 Oreo cookies, crushed
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Stir the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a bowl.
  4. Press the evenly crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan.
  5. Bake the crust for 8 minutes and cool completely before moving onto the next layer.

For the Mocha Cake:

Ingredients:
½ c. strong coffee, room temp
1 ½ tsp. espresso powder
½ c. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ⅓ c. all-purpose flour
⅓ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. unsalted butter, room temp
½ c. granulated sugar
⅓ c. light brown sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a measuring cup, whisk coffee, espresso powder, milk and vanilla extract together. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and the granulated and light brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
  5. Turn the mixer on low and add in a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the coffee mixture. Repeat with another third of the flour followed by the remaining coffee mixture. End with the last third of the coffee mixture.
  6. Pour about ¾ of the cake batter onto the cookie crust and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cake is set. Let cool.
  7. *You can bake a few cupcakes with the remaining cake batter to taste test.

For the Coffee Ganache:

Ingredients:
120 ml. heavy cream
180 g. white chocolate
2 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. coffee emulsion

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, heat heavy cream and white chocolate for one minute. Whisk mixture together until it becomes homogenous. If the white chocolate did not fully melt, microwave at intervals of 30 seconds until melted.
  2. Add in espresso powder and coffee emulsion and whisk.
  3. Pour onto the mocha cake layer and put cake in fridge to set the ganache. About 30 minutes to an hour.

For the Espresso Chocolate Crunchies:

Ingredients:
10 Oreo cookies
¾ bottle of magic shell
2 tsp. espresso powder

Instructions:

  1. Pulse the oreo cookies in a processor until fine crumbs form.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ¾ of a bottle of magic shell with the oreo crumbs until thoroughly combined.
  3. Smooth on a layer of crunchies over the chilled coffee ganache.
  4. Evenly sprinkle the 2 tsp of espresso powder over the crunchies.
  5. Chill until the crunchies set, about 15-20 minutes in the freezer or an hour in the refrigerator.

For the Espresso Mousse:

Ingredients:
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 tbsp. water
1 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
2 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. coffee emulsion

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix gelatin with water and set aside to hydrate.
  2. Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  3. Heat the gelatin mixture in the microwave in 10 second increments until melted.
  4. Add in the powdered sugar to the heavy cream and once it is mixed in, add in the gelatin slowly.
  5. Whip until semi-stiff peaks form. Add in the espresso powder and the coffee emulsion.
  6. Whip until stiff peaks form.
  7. Lay a smooth layer of the espresso cream on top of the crunchies using an offset spatula.
  8. If desired, you may use the remaining ¼ of the magic shell from the above recipe and smooth it over on top of the mousse to create a smoother top for the cake.
  9. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about an hour.

For the Espresso Mirror Glaze:

Ingredients:
1 ¼ c. water, divided
3 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 ¾ c. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. coffee emulsion
white chocolate (for decoration)
gold leaf/ gold flakes (for decoration)
gold sanding sugar (for decoration)
silver dragees (for decoration)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix ¼ c. water with 3 tsp. gelatin and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1 cup of hot water to the gelatin mixture and whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
  3. Add in sugar, espresso powder and coffee emulsion and whisk until smooth.
  4. Once mixture is thickened and cooled, about 20-25 minutes (it should be viscous, I didn’t wait long enough and it wasn’t as thick as I would’ve liked), remove the cake from the refrigerator and unmold from the springpan.
  5. Place cake on top of wire rack with a sheet pan on the bottom.
  6. Pour the gelatin mixture evenly over the cake and let it set. This is a messy move, you will have leftover gelatin all over the bottom of the sheet pan. There is no saving it, just let it go.
  7. While the cake sets, melt about ¼ c. white chocolate in piping bag with a tiny hole cut at the end. Drizzle over one side of the cake in straight lines.
  8. Sprinkle the gold sanding sugar and silver dragees over the same side.
  9. Add the gold leaf.
  10. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Oreo crust recipe adapted from Crazy For Crust.
Mocha cake recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit MousseI’m feeling the post-holiday blues. I can’t motivate myself to go to the gym. I don’t want to leave the house and face the cold. Now that I finally put the Christmas tree away, there is a sizeable vacant spot in my apartment. The cats loved to spend time on the tree skirt and when it was gone, they sat on the bare floor with a confused look wondering why their butts were so cold. In my heart, I know that this is just one step towards warmer weather and one month closer to Disney World/Universal. (I’m going in May! I’ve never been! I’m excited to wear the Minnie headband, eat a dole whip, take a photo in front of the castle, have all the butterbeer, and visit Hogwarts.) But that seems forever away. Bah humbug.
Grapefruit MousseThere is something about the bright hues of citruses that lifts the spirits. Are there any types of fruit that are more refreshing? I think it’s ironic that they are at their peak season when the weather is so cold. I crave citrus fruits the most in the summer when the weather is hot and humid. The sharp acidity and mellow sweetness is the perfect answer to beat the weather. But I can’t argue that they’re the juiciest during the winter and I wanted to make the most of it when I saw the recipe for a grapefruit mousse in a magazine.
baked pavlovaGrapefruit MousseThe truth is whipped cream and any type of fruit will guarantee you a win and this recipe doesn’t disappoint. The lightly sweetened whipped cream goes well with the tart juiciness of the grapefruit. I love the contrast of the dark pink against the white.
Grapefruit PavlovaAs for the meringues, I took a cue from use real butter, and boiled down the grapefruit juice until it became syrupy. Then I brushed the syrup onto the baked meringues and let them sit in warm oven until completely dry. This way you get sparks of citrusy tartness with each bite of the sweet meringue. It’s delightful.
Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit MousseLooking back on the pictures makes my heart a little lighter. After all, how can we enjoy the warmth without having braved the cold? (Meh. In hindsight, I still think I could go without the cold, but I definitely appreciate it more after winter.)Grapefruit Mousse

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse
Makes about 6-8 mini pavlovas

For the Grapefruit Pavlova:

Ingredients:

300 g. superfine sugar
150 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
3 large grapefruit
1 tbsp. sugar
grapefruit mousse
mint, for garnish (optional)

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. Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
  11. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a pencil, draw 4 inch circles on the parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch border on each side. Flip the parchment paper over. The circles will be your guide lines for the meringues.
  12. Fit a medium open star piping tip into a piping bag and pipe little meringue cups starting from the center onto the edge of the circle. Once you get to the edge of the drawn circle, pipe one more layer of meringue on the outer edge, forming a bowl shape.
  13. Once you piped all the meringues, take a spoon and make an indentation in the center of each circle, deepening the bow.
  14. Bake the baking sheet with the 4-inch circles for 1- 1.5 hours until they are crisp and sound hollow when tapped.
  15. While the meringue is baking, peel and section the grapefruit.
  16. Reserve the sectioned grapefruit for the grapefruit mousse.
  17. Squeeze the juice of the remaining grapefruit husk to get approximately 1 cup of grapefruit juice.
  18. In a small pot on medium heat, simmer the grapefruit juice until about ¼ cup of the grapefruit juice remains. Set aside.
  19. Remove the baked meringues from the oven and using a basting brush, brush specks of grapefruit concentrate all over the meringues making sure not to over saturate the meringues (as in, do not paint it too generously or you it will lose its crispness).
  20. Place the meringues back into the oven.
  21. Turn off the oven and let it dry out for about an hour until the grapefruit concentrate is dried onto the meringue.
  22. If you are not yet ready to decorate the meringues, places the meringues into a zip lock bag until ready for use.
  23. If you are ready to fill the meringues, use a medium or large disher to scoop out round mounds of the grapefruit mousse into the meringue cups.
  24. Garnish with the smallest mint leaves if desired.

Grapefruit Mousse

Ingredients:

Sectioned grapefruit reserved from the grapefruit pavlova (above)
3 tbsp. turbinado sugar
1 c. cold heavy cream
1 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
Instructions:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Line the sectioned grapefruit on the parchment paper in rows.
  2. Take a paper towel and dab the grapefruit to get rid of excess juices.
  3. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on the grapefruit.
  4. Take a kitchen torch and caramelize the sugar on each grapefruit section. (Alternatively, you can broil the grapefruit for 5 minutes in the oven.)
  5. Whip the heavy cream and sugar together until you reach firm peaks.
  6. Fold in the caramelized grapefruit.

Grapefruit meringue recipe adapted from Use Real Butter.
Grapefruit mousse recipe adapted from The Family Circle.

2016: A Year Recap

This was my #1 post this year.

This was my #1 post this year.

I’m not sorry to see 2016 go. I kind of felt like it could be salvaged until Carrie Fisher died. That kind of gave it the nail in the coffin. It was as if 2016 was saying, “Sayonara, sucker!” while waving a rude gesture. I’m not quite looking forward to 2017 either, the exception being that I am looking forward to creating more projects for you and sharing this and that about my life (hopefully good news, and not bad). By the way, I did finish the holiday cake I was raving about in my last post. Unfortunately, I came down with a severe case of sinusitis and I couldn’t work on the actual post. I think I will save it for 2017. (Side note: I hope unicorns are still relevant by this point next year.)

top posts 2016

Here are the top 10 posts from this year:

  1. Lucky Charms Cake (featured in beginning of post)
  2. Blueberry Cruffins (Croissant + Muffin)
  3. Paw Patrol Cake
  4. Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze
  5. Red Velvet Rose Pavlova
  6. Strawberry Ombre Cake
  7. Conversation Heart Macarons with Vanilla Elderflower Frosting
  8. Croquembouche with Vanilla Orange Blossom Pastry Cream
  9. Star Wars Mini Doughnuts – Part 1 & 2
  10. Calcifer Meringues

As always, thank you for sticking with me. I mean every word of it.

French Onion Mashed Potato Soup

French Onion Mashed Potato SoupOh, hello. It’s been a while. It’s been a whirlwind of a month since my last post. During the time I was away, I made a wedding cake, 200 cupcakes and threw an engagement party for my brother. There was a dessert bar, which I’ve wanted to do forever and a beautiful mini cake filled with flowers. I need to share photos with you guys asap as possible (<=the office).
French Onion SoupI almost called this soup, a shepherd’s pie French onion soup because of the mashed potato. But, as shepherd’s pie usually has beef and this does not, I felt like I would be misleading you. It has a ring of mashed potato that floats around the crouton, like a delicious moat around a castle of bread and cheese. The mashed potatoes meld into the soup once you dig into it giving it a velvety finish similar to potato soup.
French Onion Mashed Potato SoupI didn’t even plan on making it this way until I realized that I had some mashed potatoes left over from dinner the other night and thought that it was a great way to use up the rest of it. Because in the world of food math: potatoes + onions = winning. But really, you don’t have to go out of your way to make mashed potatoes because even without it, it’s a pretty darn awesome French onion soup.
French Onion Mashed Potato SoupFrench Onion Mashed Potato SoupI know it’s customary to put either gruyère or mozzarella on top of French onion soup, but I had some sliced Muenster cheese in my fridge and it melted beautifully. Insert heart eyes emoji .
French Onion Mashed Potato SoupP.S. I have this really awesome Christmas cake coming your way. Like my-mind-can’t-handle-it-cute. I can’t wait to share it with you as soon as I put it together. Hopefully, by next week!

French Onion Mashed Potato Soup

Makes about 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ c. red wine
1 ½ tbsp. flour
1 qt. beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
2 slices muenster cheese
mashed potatoes (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and cook until the wine evaporates and the onions are dry.
  3. Discard the bay leaf and thyme spring. Stir in flour.
  4. Cook the flour over low heat for about 2-3 minutes (do not burn the flour).
  5. Slowly add in the beef broth while stirring.
  6. Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Preheat your broiler. Fill your soup bowl or crock bowls with the soup.
  8. Place a large baguette slice in the center of the soup.
  9. Fill a piping bag fitted with large frosting tip with the mashed potato. (I used one with a lot of teeth hoping that it would make a pretty presentation with the toasted edges, but once the cheese covered it, it didn’t matter. So, any large cake tip will work.)
  10. Pipe around the floating slice of baguette.
  11. Place a slice of cheese on each bowl and broil until the cheese gets nice and toasty.
  12. Serve hot.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
1 stick butter, melted
1 c. heavy cream, divided
about ½ c. low-sodium chicken stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook potatoes until tender and easily pierced with a fork.
  2. Drain and peel potatoes under cool running water.
  3. Pass potatoes through a ricer into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  4. Add the melted butter and half of cream.
  5. Whip on low speed until cream and butter are incorporated. Move to a higher speed and whip until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
  6. Adjust the taste and consistency with more heavy cream or chicken stock.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve warm.

French onion soup recipe adapted from The Food Network.
Mashed potato recipe adapted from Serious Eats.

Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge CookiesIt seems like Friendsgiving is kind of a big deal this year, which makes me kind of wish I thought of hosting one. I used to have a Thanksgiving potluck with my church members after Thanksgiving and it was always such a great time. And giving thanks for what we have…twice? It makes you appreciate it even more. Even if you aren’t going to a Friendsgiving, holiday potlucks/parties are just around the corner and these cookies fit the bill.
Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge CookiesI know these cookies aren’t much in terms of looks. But I’m telling you, every single time I’ve made these cookies (for home or for other people to bring to potlucks) they always get a hit review. Super fudgy with a crisp edge and the sweetness is toned down by the tart dried cranberries, which makes it a perfect holiday cookie. Oh, and you can make it in one bowl for easy clean up.
Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge CookiesCan’t believe Thanksgiving is in a few days! Uh… I still haven’t done my shopping yet (except for my two 12 pound turkeys). I’ll probably do the rest today. Wish me luck!

Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Makes about 24 large cookies

Ingredients:
8 oz. (two sticks) butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 egg, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
⅓ c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
⅓ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. white chocolate chips (or chunks)
1 ½ c. dried cranberries

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until lighter in color and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla on medium speed and mix until glossy.
  3. Add cocoa and mix until homogeneous.
  4. Change the speed to low and add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in white chocolate and cranberries.
  6. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Dose 1 tablespoon of cookie dough onto parchment paper. Spacing each ball 2 inches from each other.
  8. Bake about 9 minutes, until the edges just set. (Rotating the baking sheet halfway if your oven heats unevenly.)
  9. Let cool and enjoy.

Weekday Update

elephant baby boy cake

  • I made this elephant baby boy cake for a baby shower. The elephant is from the invitation. I just love putting personal touches on a cake.

elephant fondant

  • I got this beautiful chunky infinity scarf in marble. Super warm AND it benefits Haitian orphans. Win-Win.
  • Please, please tell me you’ve registered to vote and will vote on or before November 8th. This video of President Obama is hilarious. “You know how you beat LeBron James one on one? Get there 45 minutes early. Then it’s one-on-none.”

Gold Pineapple Cake with (Real) Pineapple Buttercream

gold pineappleThis year of blogging seems to be a year of making things that are out of my comfort zone, like the blueberry cruffins or the croquembouche. I used to steer away from projects that looked too difficult or time consuming, but this year I feel like the challenge just spurs me on. When I first saw this gold pineapple cake from adorn cakes, I thought it would be just something I would bookmark and never look back on. But when someone special to you loves pineapples, you make the prettiest pineapple cake that you can. (Seriously, he loves pineapples. One of the first things he ever said to me was, ” I love pineapples.” Kinda strange, I know.)
gold gum paste leavespineapple leavesI would gladly sit here and name off all the steps on the how-to on making this cake, but Aleta already did such a great job, that I’m just going to share the links with you.
YouTube link on how to build the outside of the cake.
Facebook link on how she made the top of the pineapple.gold leavestiny cakeHere are some things I’ve noted while making this cake:

  1. It is time consuming. You need at least two days for this project. You will need one full day to shape, cut, wire, dry out and paint the leaves. It is probably a safe bet to bake the cake the day before too.
  2. Aleta uses modeling chocolate for her cake and so I ordered some. I’ve never worked with modeling chocolate before, and now I understand that it is a very soft medium. If I were to ever tackle this project again, I would use 50% (maybe even 25%) modeling chocolate and the rest fondant.
  3. I made a very small cake. A cake size that I usually use to make smash cakes and I nearly used the entire 2 g. jar of gold powder.
  4. A manicure scissor is really useful for cutting the tiny triangles on the cake.
  5. If you don’t have the green molding tool that is used on the video, just take your bladed molding tool and make three small lines in each pineapple diamond. It will mimic the effect pretty well

modeling chocolate cakegolden pineappleYes, the outside of the cake is important but what about the inside? I couldn’t have a pineapple cake that didn’t have a pineapple filling, so I filled it with a pineapple frosting. I’m a firm believer in using real fruit in all of my fruit flavored frosting so, the pineapple was a challenge. As you know, pineapples are juicy and I could not risk a runny frosting for a cake that required a lot of time sitting at room temperature. So, I solved my problem by using freeze dried pineapples.
golden pineapple cakegold pineappleFreeze dried fruit is an ingenious way to incorporate real fruit into your frosting without increasing the liquid content. I ordered my bag off of amazon and used the whole thing for the 4 inch cake. The resulting frosting had a pineapple tang and complemented the vanilla cake well. It was an expensive cake to make with the modeling chocolate, pineapples, gumpaste, and some extra tools I needed to buy, but well worth the effort. I mean look at it, it’s SO. GOLD.
gold pineapple fondant cakeReal Pineapple Buttercream
For a 4-in. cake

Ingredients:

¼ c. sugar
1 large egg white
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1.5 oz. freeze dried pineapple

Instructions:

  1. Put dried pineapple chunks into a dry blender, and blend until a very fine powder forms. Set aside.
  2. Bring a small pot filled with about 1 inch of water to a simmer.
  3. Whisk egg white and sugar together in the bowl of your standing mixer.
  4. Place the bowl on top of the small pot and continue whisking the egg whites until you cannot feel the granules between your fingers.
  5. Move the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip until the mixture becomes fluffy and doubles in size.
  6. Add the butter and continue whipping until a smooth buttercream forms.
  7. Add in ¾ of the pineapple powder and mix until well combined.
  8. Taste and add the rest of the powder if desired.

Buttercream recipe adapted from smitten kitchen.

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze

bacon wrapped meatloaf with brown sugar ketchup glazeTiming is everything, isn’t it? In film and TV, it’s what makes a scene funny, scary or romantic. I guess you can say it also applies to real life, but the timing is rarely perfect. I set out to make this meatloaf on a cloudy Wednesday to get over the hump day blues. But about 15 minutes before the meatloaf was done, the power went out on my block. I was very much annoyed because not only was I borderline hangry (anger caused by hunger), there was a power outage the Sunday before. They’re usually very good about restoring power where I live because I live on a busy street in my town so I figured that I would wait until the power came back on. My resolve lasted about an hour and a half until I gave up and decided to order Papa John’s. It took another 50 minutes for the pizza to arrive and when I brought the pizza in, my cousin said, “Wouldn’t it be really funny if the lights came on right now?” and just like a sitcom, the lights came back on.
bacon wrapped meatloafbacon wrapped meatloaf with brown sugar ketchup glaze
Honestly, I was too hangry to find humor in the situation at the time but now that I look back on it, I can see that the timing was spot on. I reheated the meatloaf the next day, and as usual it was delicious. It is one of my favorite weekday meals to put together. Even better because it’s wrapped with bacon, and it is never dry. The original recipe states to use three kinds of meat but I simplify it and use just beef and pork which is just easier since they usually sell meat by the pound. I would say that the only downside to this recipe in comparison to others is that you have to cook the garlic and onion in a separate pan, which disqualifies it as a one-bowl recipe.
bacon meatloaf
Remember to line the sheet pan with aluminum foil to make clean up easier. Also, don’t forget to line the cooling rack with aluminum foil and poke holes in it for the fat to drain, because we don’t like greasy meatloaves, no sir. 

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze

For the Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze

Ingredients:
½  c. ketchup
4 tbsp.  brown sugar
4 tsp. cider or white vinegar

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar together until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

For the Meat Loaf

Ingredients:

2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black paper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
¼ tsp. hot red pepper sauce
½  c. milk, buttermilk or low-fat plain yogurt
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground beef
⅔ c. crushed saltine crackers (about 16) or quick oatmeal or 1⅓ c. fresh bread crumbs
⅓ c. minced parsley
8 oz. thin-sliced bacon

Instructions:

  1. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
  2. Line a metal cooling rack with aluminum foil (shiny side down), poking holes with a chopstick where the meatloaf will be, a little larger than a 9 x 5 inch rectangle (to drain the fat).
  3. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  4. In a medium skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened and translucent.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, and milk (or yogurt) together.
  6. Add in the pork, beef, crackers (or oatmeal or breadcrumbs), parsley and the cooked onion and garlic.
  7. Using your hands, mix everything together until it just comes together. Do not squish the meat between your fingers, use light hands.
  8. Shape the meat into a 9 x 5 inch rectangle on top of the cooling rack where the holes are.
  9. Using a silicone basting  brush, brush the loaf liberally with the ketchup glaze.
  10. Cover the loaf with the strips of bacon, tucking the ends under the loaf and slightly overlapping.
  11. Bake loaf until the center of the loaf registers 160°F, about an hour. About five minutes before the loaf is done, brush the entire loaf with the remaining ketchup glaze.
  12. Once out of the oven, let the loaf rest for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

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