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Happy Valentine’s Day!

15 Feb

I had the most romantical day ever – I was surrounded by chocolates, roses, champagne…

Well, to be exact, 350 raspberry rose macarons, 250 flourless chocolate cakes topped with cheesecake, and 185 blueberry shortcakes, not to mention the champagne granite, vegan caramel sauce, roasted berry sauce…and the list goes on after 12 hours. Ah, the life of a pastry chef. At least it smelled and tasted delicious! Hope you had a lovely day!

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New Year? New recipe!

23 Jan

My oh my, where has the time flown? I can’t believe it’s a new year! Things have been busy…I started working and am now the Sous Chef of Pastry at a local hotspot in Denver! Woohoo! Downside is I work at 5:30am. And say things like “hotspot”. Eek.

I’m loving being back in the kitchen though and am getting to experiment a bit. Which brings me to – Coconut and Red Bean cookies! Yum. I’ve been thinking about this recipe for our lunch takeaway dessert and I made them to try out with my family before I brought them to work. My mom hates coconut and my dad isn’t the most picky cookie eater, but I think they came out well. Want to try? Ok!

Here’s our cast of characters:

You’ll need:

12 oz. of room temp butter

8 oz. sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

1 lb flour

Pinch of salt

2 tblsp matcha powder

1 tblsp milk

Egg wash (2 eggs is about right…)

12 oz sweetened coconut flakes

Red bean paste

Your mom’s fancy silver mixer (any color works actually, I believe, though this theory is untested)

Its a super, super simple recipe. But yummy. So try it.

First off, pomade the butter in the mixer. Toss in the sugar. Well, pour it in nicely, tossing gets messy when you have to clean up.

Cream the two together. Add in the vanilla now too.

See? Creamed. Done.

Next, pour in the flour on low speed and mix until just combined. (Ready for this action shot? Exciting! You might not notice, but I’m pouring in flour on the left…AND taking a picture AND the machine is mixing! All at the same time! I’m impressed with me.)

The dough is pretty dry and crumbly. See? This is normal and totally ok. I promise.

So here’s where I experimented. I made half the batch plain, like this, and then made half the batch with matcha powder. The half with matcha was extra dry, so I added in about a tablespoon of milk to help the powder dissolve and help the dough not fall apart as I wrapped it around the red bean paste. I’ll get to that in a minute.

So, I used a size 50 scoop and this made 36 cookies. Not too shabby. I scooped all the dough out first. PS I love my scoop. Its super fun when you press the button and the dough pops out of the spoon. Love it. Little things, guys, little things…

These were the plain cookies above. And here are the matcha ones below. I love the green color, must say. Adds a little something when you get the coconut flake on there. And reminds me of Bob’s Kitchen in Paris and their matcha chocolate chip cookies…

And here’s a picture to show you they totally look different and that I’m not crazy or making things up.

Next up, grab a ball of dough and press it into your hand, leaving it in a cup-like form. That makes no sense, so here’s a visual.

My hands are really red, wow. Sorry.

So now, pop in about ½ teaspoon or so of red bean paste. Because its really yummy.

Then wrap the dough around the red bean paste. Since the dough is so crumbly, you have to be a bit careful. Basically you just tuck it in and make it all cozy in the dough.

Then roll it into a ball! Make sure you have some red bean paste on your big thumb if you decide to take a picture. Adds color and dimension.

When you’ve got all your dough wrapped around the yummy bean paste treat, set up your dipping station. Eggwash in one bowl, coconut flake in another.

Now you get messy. Grab the dough, dip it in the egg, then roll it around in the coconut flake and press gently. Your hand will also be coated in egg and coconut, so don’t touch other things unless you want them to be covered in that goo too. Its rather gross, but delicious when baked.

I like to press the ball down a bit before I bake it, to make it a disc, but you can leave it as a ball if you prefer. I will allow that, because I’m not a control freak about your cookies. Right now.

Here’s the matcha one – see? Especially pretty with the coconut! Yum! Ok, it actually kind of looks like flubber. But its good, I promise.

Place the parchment lined baking sheets with the cookies in a preheated 350°F oven (I mentioned all that before, right? Good, thanks, thought for a second I forgot to mention preheating and lining the sheets…), and bake for 15-20 minutes. The coconut will get browned and crispy and yummy.

And to see the yumminess inside, here you go:

At this point, you’re probably thinking: she just made mooncakes. Well, I kind of did. So what.

They aren’t super sweet, but they are really interesting with the crispy coconut, butter cookie and red bean paste center. Try them out and let me know what you think! I’m off to eat another one, just to make sure…

The Spices of Life

26 Nov

Literally. They are all here, see? Signs don’t lie.

Recently, I visited a little spice shop in CO that reminded me of places in Paris, in the sense that it is dedicated to offering a wide selection of a specific item. An entire store dedicated to either just bread (yum), just cheese (double yum), just meat, just vegetables…oh Paris. So, I was excited to go check out a local spice shop that does exactly that – offer every spice known to man and only spices.

I ventured to this little place, Penzeys Spices. Walking in, you get overwhelmed with the smells. It was set up with wood boxes lining the walls and being scattered around the center of the store, showcasing all the seasonings they had. You can get various individual spices, or use one of the mixes/blends they create, or get real crazy and pick up a grouping of related spices.

Or you can be like me and be over-excited and start taking lots of pictures so that the people working there think you are quite strange for taking lots of pictures from all angles of the little glass jars. Not the first time I’ve gotten that look, won’t be the last, I’m afraid…

I loved all the names of the blends…especially this little guy.

Here was the baking section, dedicated to the classic baking flavors. I thought it was adorable that it was set up like a grandma’s kitchen. Kind of made me want to put on a checkered apron and make some oatmeal cookies. Normal response, right?

They had 5 different types of cinnamon. I was in love. They also had rather unnecessary but very pretty baking boxes. I was tempted, but I went with just some cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and vanilla instead. For now.

I’ve been on a salt kick lately too. I love all the flavors, colors, size of grains…everything. It was so fun to find a place that offers more than just plain table salt and kosher salt, after being spoiled with all the colors of the rainbow fleur de sel (though they did have plain table salt and kosher salt, too…).

A little décor to remind you why you are there in case your nose stops working. (These boxes reminded me of one of my friends from school who would adore them. It was one of the little touches they had that made it feel very welcoming and cozy inside.)

After I had smelled everything in the store and took a lot of pictures, I grabbed a few of the little jars to play with flavors back at home.

Fresh, high quality spices really do enhance the flavor of what you are baking. Plus, they had a variety of flavors not available everywhere! I had so much fun playing with my new ingredients. All in all, a very successful trip! Might have to return soon to get a few new tastes for Christmas…

Happy Thanksgiving!

26 Nov

Hope all my US friends and family had a great Thanksgiving. I certainly did!

My contributions: bourbon bread pudding, butterscotch and bourbon sauce, mi cuit with white chocolate ganache, peppermint macarons, orange and clove butter cookies, pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Lots of fun!

Happy holidays!

Carnivale!

11 Nov

With a squash!

What, not what you were thinking? Hold up, peeps, it’s a carnivale in your mouth…wait, that sounds wrong too. I’ll stop, and just say its just good, so try it out.

So, if you find a little guy like this at a grocer, market, field, whatever, grab it.

Then, grab a great big knife and attempt to cut it open. I do have to say, its kind of hard. Check it.

That one got stuck, so I had to use another…it worked!

Looked very similar to an acorn squash, to be honest. Just a lot tougher to cut up. Ehn, gots nothing on me…

Macro. You know the drill.

So scraped that nasty inside stuff out and gridded the inside.

From here, there were a few options. Some said, turn it upside down in a roasting pan and ¼ inch of water at 400°F for about an hour. Me, not enough flavor. So I rubbed it with butter (ok, a lot of butter), threw some sugar and cinnamon on…

…put it in a roasting pan, put a bit of water in the bottom and threw it in the oven to get yummy.

Every once in awhile, I basted the guys with the melted delicious butter and cinnamon/sugar mix. Keep it soft and yummy. And I like the stuff. Anyway, while that was baking, I toasted up some almond slivers in a skillet for about 5 minutes.

When the squash halves were done, I sprinkled (or doused, depending on your love of cheese) goat cheese and the toasted almond slivers on top.

Hmmm, spices…

Super simple and super delicious. For me, this was dinner. Add in some rice or meats or something, but I say, eat this with a spoon and love it. Regardless, carnival squash is super yummy. Woohoo, Carnivale!