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Showing posts from May, 2012

best cake I ever ate {mocha marble cake}

It was around 1 in the morning, and the pantry was a bit sparse: a box of instant coffee, half a bag of chocolate chips, and a tin full of Pirouette cookie crumbs. My friend Veda and I decided to bake a cake – and that’s how this mocha marble cake was born.  This was not just any old cake, this was the best cake I’ve ever eaten. Not that it’s surprising, as I love coffee in my desserts almost as much as I love cinnamon (tiramisu, affogato, coffee milkshakes… I could go on and on!).  But something about the combination of sleep deprivation, Nestle coffee granules, and a tin full of cookie crumbs made this cake absolutely magical. It is a buttery marble cake, with beautiful, billowing swirls of mocha (as opposed to traditional chocolate) slathered in a rich, fluffy icing with rich notes of both chocolate and coffee, and coated with crushed up Pirouette cookies (those delicate, pastry cookies filled with hazelnut crème). Everything from the moist, rich, buttery crumb, to the creamy, coffe…

lemon yogurt pound cake

This simple cake embodies summer -- from its energizing citrus-y aroma to its fabulous, vibrant yellow color. Unlike a traditional pound cake, this cake does not have butter -- but personally, I like the fruity, exotic notes of olive oil and the tang from Greek yogurt (although this might not be the cake for you pound cake purists!).

Just like a wheel of Gouda or a pair of jeans, this cake actually gets better with age. It is delicious straight from the oven, but it is out-of-this-world after sitting on the counter for a few days. Time really lets the succulent lemon syrup sink in, making the loaf super rich and super moist. So, if you can resist, keep this loaf on the counter for a day or two, and then indulge -- the wait is worth it!
This would be a perfect easy, elegant dessert for a brunch, served with berries and whipped cream -- or even better all by itself with a nice cup of tea. This loaf freezes up beautifully, so luscious, velvety lemon-y goodness can always be at your fing…

milk chocolate cupcakes

These are best chocolate cupcakes I've ever had. No tricks, no gimmicks, just really good chocolate cake. I have made many mediocre chocolate cupcakes (as well as a few fails here or there). This is my perfected recipe -- one that I love to have in my pocket for parties, bake sales and other events, because who doesn't love a perfect chocolate cupcake?
As much as I love to experiment with snazzy cupcake flavors, time will tell that these chocolate ones never fail to impress. In fact, at the cupcake tasting contest I hosted, these cupcakes disappeared way before their fancy counterparts such as strawberry cheesecake, or lemon blueberry. It goes to show that nothing beats a good chocolate cupcake.
However, I have to admit that plain chocolate cupcakes seem a bit boring to me. That's why I took these chocolate cupcakes to the next level by filling them with my favorite chocolate sauce, frosting them with rich cream cheese icing, and topping them off with a luxurious little tria…

lemon lavender cupcakes

Moist lemon cupcakes, filled with lemon curd, with a big swirl of lavender buttercream, topped off with a lemon-lavender shortbread cookie. These cupcakes came together beautifully with layers of these subtle, refreshing summer flavors.
In America, lavender is something more commonly found in a bar of soap than in a cupcake; however, the familiar taste of simple lemon cake pairs so beautifully with the slightly unfamiliar, yet pleasing taste of lavender (which is frequently used in French cooking).
These cupcakes were so much fun to bake, and my kitchen was filled with the sweet, calming aroma of lavender as well as the energizing aroma of lemon zest for hours after these finished baking- it was like free aromatherapy!
I brought these to my cupcake tasting contest, and they were a huge hit (although the lavender was a bit tricky to guess!)
With love,

lemon cupcakes
ingredients 1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour, sifted
1-1/4 cups  sugar
1-1/2 …

perfect cream puffs

My mom has a thing for cream puffs. That is why I chose to take on the challenge of making my own fresh cream puffs at home for Mother's Day.
Whenever we go to visit family in Hawaii, we always set aside a moment to share a delicious Beard Papa's puff together. When we were in New York City this past Spring, we savored some of the most delicious cream puffs ever -- made by a little Japanese woman behind at a tiny counter in a busy market. I guess you could say that sampling the world's cream puffs has become one of the special things that we do together.
When I took on this challenge of making these simple puffs at home, I realized that a lot of the recipes out there were quite complicated, with various rituals such as leaving the oven open to let the puffs dry out, or with complicated recipes for french pastry cream. However, cream puffs don't have to be this complicated -- with a good pate a choux recipe up my sleeve, and a fool-proof recipe for fresh whipped cream, I …

everyday apple upside down cake

There are few flavors I love more than cinnamon and apples. This weekend, the local farmer's market was full of fresh apples -- nearly every stand carrying bushels and bushels of crisp, juicy goodness.  This everyday cake is not overly sweet, nor overly fancy. It is perfect for a snack or tea with friends -- and is absolutely luscious with notes of olive oil (tinting the cake a rich yellow color), walnuts (adding a savory crunch) and Greek yogurt (giving it a nice tang). It has a rich aroma of cinnamon and vanilla, and a lovely light texture. I love the apple pattern on the top, and the surprise of popping it upside down out of the pan is so much fun. Plus, as an added bonus, this cake has absolutely no butter, but still tastes succulent and rich -- with the added health bonuses of good quality olive oil, walnuts (full of omega-3s!), and hunger-fighting Greek yogurt! Have your cake and eat it too! With love,

 Inspired by La Tartine Gourmande

1/3 cup walnuts3 apples…

baked donuts

Baked donuts -- I've attempted them before, and they have always been a disappointment compared to their deep fried counterpart... until now! These are moist and dense-- with a cake-like texture that comes pretty close to that of an old fashioned donut, and absolutely delicious no matter how you  decide to top them.
The glazed varieties looked absolutely adorable -- but my personal favorite was the "cinnamon toast crunch" donut (although I may be a bit biased due to my cinnamon obsession!). I dipped the soft donut in melted butter, and then quickly rolled it in a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, and crushed up Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. Really the possibilities for toppings are endless -- I'd love to see what some of you all dream up! (and now that I'm officially a baked donut convert, expect to see more posts... things are gonna get crazy!)
The dance ensemble at my school had performances this weekend, and I brought these to sell at the bake sale that they hold at i…

caprese breakfast tartines and zucchini fries

These caprese breakfast tartines speak for themselves: crunchy herb bread from the local bakery, slathered with homemade herb butter, fresh basil, juicy tomatoes, golden, bubbly melted cheese, and topped with a perfect sunny-side-down egg. I like to serve them with a side of perfectly crunchy, herb-y, Parmesan-y baked zucchini fries (one of the French-fries classier cousins...). Instead of explaining to you all how good these are, I'll let the pictures do the talking.
With love,

caprese breakfast tartines
ingredients: good bread (I used herb)herb butter (this is my favorite recipe)basiltomatoessundried tomatoescheese (I used white cheddar, but mozzarella or Gouda would be very yummy too!)eggs Heat the broiler to 500 degrees. Slice the bread into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch slices. Butter the bread and place on a baking sheet. Bake until butter melts (2-3 minutes).
On the non-buttered side, assemble the basil, tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes.
Grate the cheese and sprinkle on the tart…

tropical hawaiian granola

All of this delicious Spring weather has put me in the mood for a vacation! Luckily, I have family in Oahu who always bring us bags full of delicious, macadamia nuts and dried tropical fruits when they visit. One of my favorite things to do with these nuts (besides eating them plain) is throwing them into this luxurious granola recipe. I absolutely love fresh granola. Making homemade granola is a lot healthier and a lot tastier than any store-bought variety because it can be made without all of the scary preservatives used even high-quality store bought granola, not to mention its a whole lot cheaper! This granola is nutty, hearty, sweet, and tangy -- filled to the brim with the flavors and nutritional benefits of tropical fruits and nuts. This recipe could not be easier and the results could not be more satisfying. I love to eat it with my favorite Greek yogurt, some cold milk, or even just straight from the jar.
With love, Erica
   Erica 's Tropical Hawaiian GranolaIngredie…

erica's lemon herb pasta

This recipe is so simple, yet so perfect in every way. All you need to prepare this heavenly dish is a box of pasta, some lemons, and a few handfuls of fresh herbs. The butter melts onto the noodles perfectly, and the lemon and fresh herbs give it that extra special zing. You can use any type of long pasta noodle to make this dish -- I decided to make it extra lemon-y with Trader Joe's lemon pepper infused pappardelle pasta, but any variety will do. It's easy to make a meal out of this dish with a nice piece of grilled fish (I love the succulent combination of fish and citrus), or some sauteed mushrooms and onions to add a little bit of earthy meatiness. This pasta is a sure crowd-pleaser, perfect for kids and grown-ups alike. My dad even deemed this his favorite pasta dish ever. Sometimes the simplest things really are the best.
With love,

1 package pappardelle pasta (I used Trader Joe's Lemon Pepper Pappardelle)1 cup basil leavesa few sprigs of thymea f…

churro cupcakes (the perfect cinco de mayo treat!)

Cinco de Mayo, or "Fifth of May", is right around the corner! Ay Dios Mio! Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday we celebrate here in the United States. What better way to celebrate than with my favorite Mexican treat: churros.
Churros are deep fried dough rolled in cinnamon sugar. What's not to love? I have never met anyone who doesn't like churros.
When I was little and we lived in San Diego, my dad and I would go to Sea World almost every weekend to walk around and see the animals. One of my favorite memories of these trips was getting a big, fresh cinnamon churro at one of the little snack stands around the park. As you can imagine, I was obsessed with cinnamon even back then!  They were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. What made these churros super delicious though, was the fresh, warm dulce de leche that the churro man would pipe into to fried doughnut. Perfection.
Alas, the thing about real churros is they are only good fresh, right out of the fry…