Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chocolate scotcheroos

To be honest, I had no idea what a scotcheroo is. Maybe a kangeroo with a penchant for double malt? It just looked so tasty on David Lebovitz's blog, that I had to give this rice krispy treat on steroids a whirl. Its made up of a tasty arsenal of artery clogging ingredients: peanut butter, chocolate, butterscotch, and nutella. Throw nutella into any dessert recipe and you can't go wrong.

Though to be fair, his recipe is for "Triple Chocolate Scotcheroos" whereas mine are a measly double. I figured having regular rice krispies, instead of the chocolate variety, would be more versatile in the kitchen.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Though the movie came out on DVD a few months ago, we decided to have a Twilight viewing party. With a menu of apples, mushroom ravioli, salads, garlic bread, and bloody meatballs in marinara, no Twilight party would be complete without some vampire themed desserts.

I whipped up some red velvet cupcakes with an Italian buttercream frosting. Red food coloring and corn syrup added the perfect touch. I still like the chocolate velvet better. You can never have too much chocolate. Regardless, these were moist and quite frighteningly tasty though.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chocolate velvet?

Tomorrow is the twilight party, and I planned to make red velvet cupcakes. However, Trader Joes only sells buttermilk in quart containers. I've been too busy on the weekend to make myself a decent breakfast, such as buttermilk pancakes, so I had to figure out something to do with the rest of the buttermilk.

A coworker had a bbq at his house today, so I decided to make some cupcakes. My version of red velvet, but kicked up a notch. I guess they're chocolate velvet? Its the Waldorf-Astoria recipe, minus the red food coloring, with less flour and more cocoa powder, and of course since that's not enough, I baked it with some chocolate ganache/glaze in the center. To top it off, I made some pink tinted Italian meringue. It had the same texture as the red velvet cupcake from Sugar Butter Flour, but I do enjoy the lightness of the meringue frosting. I'm definitely keeping this altered recipe in my arsenal.

Cross section of the cupcake:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Red velvety goodness

I do not like red velvet cake. I repeat. I DO NOT LIKE RED VELVET CAKE. Perhaps its the acidity due to the buttermilk, or the unnatural reddish hue? Or maybe because every time I've had it, it has failed to wow me. The cake too dense, the cream cheese frosting overwhelmingly sweet, whatever the reason, I usually don't order it. Bake it? Ha.

Today Victor treated me to sushi, so in return I decided to introduce him to one of my favorite local bakeries, Sugar Butter Flour. It was opened by Irit Ishai who worked at Fleur de Cocoa in Los Gatos and alongside David Kinch at Manresa. Originally baking out of Mission College, SBF now has two locations in Sunnyvale and Campbell. Lucky us! Victor decided to get the red velvet cupcake, I got the marble cupcake, and convinced him to go share. Since we all know, sharing is caring.

I bit into the red velvet cupcake and instantly regretted getting the marble cupcake. Mind you, I didn't even try that one yet. The crumb on the red velvet was perfect light, fluffy, and everything you would dream of in a cupcake. Or at least what I would dream of. It wasn't too acidic either. The cream cheese frosting was satiny smooth and not heavy at all, as if they whipped a lot of whipping cream into it. They also sprinkled some crushed walnuts on top, which added a nice contrast in texture. Wow. All I can say is... Wow. I think this cupcake has changed my opinion about red velvet. Well, then again, Sugar Butter Flour never disappoints.

I can't post a picture of the cupcake, but here's the link on their website: Linky

Sugar Butter Flour
669 S. Bernardo Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Tel: 408 732 8597

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Its getting hot in here...

Its been way too hot to bake lately. I don't want to be in my apartment, let alone look at the oven. However, I still felt compelled to bring something to knitting. Its always nice to have sweet treats with our coffee or tea. I flipped through some of my cookbooks in search of a no bake dessert, and came across these chocolate peanut butter bars from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess. You can't eat too many of them though. Well you can try, but I don't recommend it; they're super rich.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A warm weekend for biking and baking

It has warmed up the last couple of days. Though the heat makes it a bit difficult to bake, as I don't really have the desire to turn my entire apartment into an oven, its perfect weather for going out and spending some time in the sun.

On Saturday, Chino, Cindy, and I went for a bike ride down the Stevens Creek trail and up to Palo Alto for a nice lunch.

Michela surprised us with a visit from SF and we spent part of the afternoon shopping. Here is Chino and me acting a bit silly.

On Sunday I decided to bake a cake for a coworker who has sponsored me a few times for the Tour de Cure bike ride in Napa. But what cake to make? A sponge? Cheesecake? Layered cake? I got a bit lazy and just decided to do another version of the Elvis Pound Cake. I'm getting a tad bit tired of seeing pictures of bundt cakes, but it really is quite an awesome yet simple recipe!

I jazzed this pound cake up by adding a cup of miniature chocolate chips, a chocolate glaze made out of Guittard semi-sweet chocolate and condensed milk (yes time to reach for the defibrillator), and topped with more chocolate chips. Yikes.

It looks like a ginormous glazed donut. I love it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

J'ai été accepté: ESCF Ferrandi!

Yesterday I received a form from the US Postal Service notifying me that they attempted to drop off an envelope. It was a certified envelope. I figured that maybe it was something important to do with my job, taxes, etc. The usual administrative stuff.

Today I drove to the post office to pick up my letter. When the postal worker handed it over to me, I noticed there was a return receipt... in French. It was an envelope. An envelope from Ferrandi. A skinny envelope from Ferrandi. I felt the little hair/peach fuzz that I have on the back of my neck prickle. I didn't get in. They didn't have enough room. I'll have to wait until February, meaning two winters in Paris. Fabulous.

I ripped open the envelope. It read: "I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted for the 2009-2010 Bilingual Pastry and Bread Baking Program of the the Ecole Supérieure de Cuisine Français - Ferrandi."

A simple dream got the ball rolling. The ball is really rolling now... like an out of control zorb with me in it, about to launch across the Atlantic. I'm excited...I'm terrified...this is it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ooey gooey nutella goodness

Sometimes I think that cupcakes are on their way out. They seem to be everywhere these days...yet perhaps a passing fad like frozen yogurt? I say that the cupcake should step aside and make way for the french macaron. I'm waiting for someone to inspire that culinary revolution.

Quite frankly I'm not that impressed with Sprinkles or Kara's or even the famed Magnolia cupcake; they're waaaay too dense for my liking. The only cupcakes I'm quite gaga over are from Sugar Sweet Sunshine in the LES in NYC. Why? They're soft and moist and they don't cost $2.50.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lemon pound cake... deja vu?

Today the family was gathering at my brothers house for dinner, and of course I had to bring dessert. I had another go at the buttery Elvis Presley pound cake that I made last week. This time I added freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon extract, and lemon zest to the batter and the frosting. It ended up being a little bit more moist than the previous one. I think the glaze prevented the cake from drying out. The lemon flavor was refreshing and helped to break up the monotony of the buttery flavors I've been tasting all week in my pastries.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Chocolate chunk cookies

Inspired yet again by Pim, I decided to try out a chocolate chip cookie recipe featured in the New York Times. Similar to the no-knead bread recipe, this cookie dough required sitting. 36 hours to be exact.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Apricot honey financiers

I've been on quite the baking binge lately. Today I made some chocolate chip cookie dough, but since the recipe required that it sit for 24-36 hours in the fridge, I decided to stray from my baking queue.

I decided to attempt some honey financiers from Clotilde Dusoulier's book Chocolate and Zucchini. I was a bit curious about adding honey to a financier, and her recipe didn't require 6 egg whites, so I was sold. I couldn't quite bring myself to make some pots de creme, pastry cream, or something yolk heavy in addition to the financiers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Salty and sweet

So on Sunday I tackled the third line item on my baking list. Salted butter and honey caramels. When I was in Paris I tried some awesome fleur de sel caramels at Fouquet and Jacques Genin. Of course I make no claims that my caramels are even CLOSE to being as melt-in-your-mouth tasty. There's just something about the even balance between the salty and sweet flavors and the sticky yet smooth texture that makes you reach for another tasty tidbit before you're even done chewing on the first one.

After some research, I decided to go with Pim's recipe for Salted Butter and Honey Caramels.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

No loafing matter

There's nothing quite like bread baking to make you feel all domestic, but unfortunately most people would rather buy their bread at the grocery store, farmers market, etc than try their hand at shaping a loaf. I must admit, bread baking is one of those things I haven't quite gotten down. It could be a lack of skill, but I'd rather blame it on the countless variables that I don't have too much control over: yeast, humidity, temperature, steam (or lack thereof), etc.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Culinary therapy

So I've been a bit down lately. Maybe its being sick, or back to the daily grind, or maybe I left a part of me in Europe and now I've got to find a way to fill that void. So it's into the kitchen for this girl.

I have all these neat recipes that I want to try out, need to raise some more money for Tour de Cure, and just love feeding people. So pretty much three birds with one stone. Or maybe five birds if you're being picky and counting recipes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


And no, I don't mean jet lag. I've been lagging on the blog posts lately. To be honest I've been under the weather since I left Miami. I think next time I'll bring a SARS mask with me on the plane.

With this persistent cough that for the life of me won't go away, yesterday I went to see the doc. The verdict? Bronchitis... oh and I'm running a fever. Joy of all joys. Antibiotics, cough syrup, and lozenges may keep me from blogging this week. I just need to get back on the trail or on the bike. In the meantime, I'll just pout and eat French chocolates.