Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tailored Tuesdays

If only I could afford such beauties... oh the dilemma! It's okay, a girl can always dream can't she?!? I absolutely adore this leather jacket!!! It's not too biker chic and looks uber soft and paired with those bubblegum pink Louboutin's... perfectly girly.

1. D&G "Leather biker jacket" 
2. Diane Von Furstenberg "Tedesca tiered dress"
3. Chloe "Paraty leather shoulder bag"
4. Christian Louboutin "New decoltissimo pointed pump"

all images can be found at net-a-porter.com

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mango Coconut Pancakes with Cardamom Cream

My favorite fruit of ALL time are mangos. They are sweet, juicy and oh so delicious! Out of the blue I had this sudden urge to make pancakes and my mom had just opened up some fresh coconut in the morning, and I couldn't resist making these. The recipe is so simple: just mix everything together and you are done! How did they taste you ask? Well... they were amazing. I recommend eating them after they have cooled which allows the flavors to meld a little. With the spiced whipped cream and even more fresh mango it was pure, blissful heaven!

Mango Coconut Pancakes with Cardamom Whipped Cream
Yields: About 15 - 20 5-inch pancakes
Slightly adapted from here and here.

For the pancakes:
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsn. sugar
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tbsn. melted butter
1 medium to large mango, seeded, skinned and finely diced
the flesh of 1 fresh coconut, finely diced (1/4 cup shredded coconut can be substituted)

For the whipped cream:
1 cup of heavy cream
2 - 3 tbsn. powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cardamom

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Then add the milks, egg, butter and fruit. Mix to combine. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Lightly grease with cooking spray or some butter. Using a small ladle, pour the batter onto the hot pan, making sure they are about 1 inch away from each other. Once the batter starts to darken at the edges and you see bubbles forming in the batter, about 4 -5 minutes, flip the pancakes over. Brown for about 2 more minutes and remove from the pan. Let cool. For the whipped cream, use a hand mixer or a stand up mixer to whip everything together until stiff peaks form, about 3 - 5 minutes. Serve the pancakes with the whipped cream, fresh mangos or whatever you'd like. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How to Make Candied Rose Petals

I made these to top some Ispahan cupcakes. But they are equally gorgeous on any other cake or cupcake. They are simple, easy to make, and pretty to look at. Edible too (not that they taste amazing though)!

What you will need:
Roses (about 2 large roses)
1 egg white
1 tsp. water
1 cup of sugar

1. First pick some pretty bloomed roses.
2. Remove the petals carefully, making sure to use the ones that are un-bruised and clean. Also, check for any bugs that have attached themselves to the petals. Lay the rose petals on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

3. Add 1 teaspoon of water to 1 large egg white, whisk well. Using a pastry brush, cover the rose petals lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar immediately.
4. Lay back on the parchment paper and allow the rose petals to dry completely overnight for 24 hours. The rose petals will harden overnight and can be stored and safely used for up to 3 weeks. Enjoy!

Here on the finished Ispahan cupcakes:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ispahan Cupcakes

When I got hired to make cupcakes for a birthday party, I offered a couple of different options to try. I threw out ideas all the way from lemon meringue cupcakes to raspberry white chocolate. She decided on Ispahan cupcakes and I was uber excited! Then a couple seconds later, a shot of fear ran through my veins... did I bite off more than I could chew?!?! I wanted something where the lychee flavor was really present and something that was of course beautiful.

I finally decided on a lychee butter cake from Dessert First and I planned to top it with a stabilized raspberry whipped cream and possibly fill it with a lychee mousse. No, no, no.... definitely did not work out! The stabilized whipped cream tasted fantastic but it must have been the mashed berries or something because it was hideous! So instead I decided to fill them with this instead which is kind of similar to a mousse (what I had planned to fill it with), so it worked out better this way! Yay I love it when things work out! For the frosting I wanted something that wasn't too sweet (as lychees are sweet by nature) and that I could pipe into stable shapes, so I decided to use a swiss meringue buttercream and it worked out perfectly! Topped with some candied rose petals (tutorial coming soon), fresh raspberries, some edible glitter and we are FINALLY done folks!

Yummy, creamy lychee batter:
Lychee Rosewater Butter Cake
Yields: 12 - 14 cupcakes
Original recipe from Dessert First, which can be found here.

1 14 oz. can of lychees, reserve the liquid
2 cups of cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 tbsn. rose water
2 tbsn. reserved lychee water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a cupcake pan with liners, set aside. Drain the lychees and cut into small pieces, set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl, set aside. In a mixer cream the butter and sugar until well blended and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to scape the sides of the bowl as you move along. Next add the vanilla, rose water, and lychee water. Mix to combine. Lastly, toss the diced lychees into the flour mixture and mix with the wet mixture, mix to combine. Pour into cupcake pans and bake about 15 - 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
They are waving 'Hello' to you!

Stabilized Raspberry Whipped Cream Filling
Yields: enough for 12 cupcakes
Slightly adapted from Art of Dessert, original recipe can be found here.

1 tbsn. water
1/4 envelope of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup of heavy cream, cold
2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/8 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup of mashed raspberries

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let the gelatin bloom/ absorb the water for a couple of minutes. Add a dash of the heavy cream and microwave for a minute to allow the gelatin to dissolve, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, on low, beat the cream cheese until nice and fluffy. Add the whipped cream, sugar, and salt. Whip everything till soft peaks form, then add the gelatin mixture and the vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form, then fold in the mashed raspberries. Refrigerate for 15 - 20 minutes. You can use the cone method or simply pipe these into the cooled cupcakes.

Pink raspberry cream stuffed inside the cupcakes:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yields: enough for 12 cupcakes
Original recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, which can be found here.

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tbsn.), cut into 12 pieces
1- 2 drops of food coloring (optional)

Put the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water making sure the bottom does not actually touch the water. Stir the egg whites until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and place into the mixer stand. Beat until it becomes white and doubles in size. Add the vanilla on low speed, then add the butter, one piece at a time, making sure it is well mixed after each addition. Do not worry if it looks curdled, it will take some time for it to come together. Continue beating for 5 - 10 minutes until everything comes together. Spread/ pipe/ smother onto your cupcakes and enjoy!!

If you don't want to make candied rose petals, you could also decorate them like this:
The final cupcake order, all packed and ready to go!

Monday, April 20, 2009

How to Make Cupcake Flags

Cupcake flags are cute little additions to cupcakes, cakes, etc. I like to make them to add personalized messages to things that I bake. They are super easy to make and instantly add something special.

What you will need:
Scrapbook paper/ Colored paper/ Patterned paper
Glue stick
Beads (optional)

1. First, gather your scrapbooking supplies such as glue sticks, printed papers, etc.
2. You will also need toothpicks and pretty beads, but beads are completely optional as I have made cupcake flags without beads, which can be seen here.
3. First, grab a bead and put it on one tip of the toothpick. The hole in the bead should not be big enough to go all the way down the toothpick. Mine stopped right at the top. Pushing down with enough pressure should set the bead so that it will not fall off.
4. Using scissors, cut 1 cm strips from your chosen paper. They should be about 3 - 4 inches in length. Apply your glue stick to the entire back of the paper strip and fold the paper around the toothpick just below the bead. Make sure the paper is well stuck together and run your fingers along the paper to remove any air bubbles.

5. Type up some cute messages on your computer and print them out. You can also hand write these.
6. Next, cut them out and paste them to your newly made flags. Top them on cakes, cupcakes, whatever! Enjoy!

And on the finished product:

My First Job & Red Velvet Cupcakes

Well you guys probably know that isn't right... right? I already have a job, a normal, whatever, pays-the-bills kind of job. What I really mean is... drumroll please... I got my first baking job, where someone actually pays for my cupcakes!! Yeppp, I was over the moon about the news and also a wee bit scared out of my mind. So many choices, so many ways to fail... ugh the tribulations.

Here's what was on the menu:
6 Red Velvet with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
6 Ispahan (Lychee-Rosewater Butter Cake filled with Raspberry Cream and topped with Swiss Meringue Buttercream)

Today, I'll show you the Red Velvet! It was a bit of a struggle to make the cupcakes in 6 serving sizes; measuring 1/8 cups and 1/8 tsp. weren't exactly fun haha. So the recipes here are in 12 serving sizes to make it a little easier on you guys! 

I've never made red velvet cake before and I spent hours upon hours searching for a recipe that was a no-fail, because I really couldn't afford messing up but I eventually stumbled upon a recipe that sounded just perfect! The cake turned out delicious! It was a deep crimson red, moist, and had just a tinge of cocoa flavor. But what really made this spectacular was the frosting. Oh my goshhhhh so good! I could easily eat it by the bucket and that's a big thing for me, because I usually tend to scrape off frostings when I eat a cupcake. That's the thing about cream cheese frosting, it's not too sweet and is tangy which goes perfectly with red velvet. The only strife is that it doesn't hold its shape too well but that okay... I'll forgive it. I topped these with some chocolate jimmies and cupcake flags, tutorial can be seen here.

Red Velvet Cake
Yields: 12 cupcakes
Original recipe from The Repressed Pastry Chef, which can be found here.

1 cup cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 oz./ 2 tbsn. red food coloring
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pan with liners, set aside. Whisk flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer, beat until well blended. Beat in egg. On the low setting add the food coloring and vanilla extract. Add flour alternately with the buttermilk making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you move along. Place baking soda in a small dish and stir with the vinegar. Add to the batter and beat for 10 seconds. Divide among the pan filling the cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields: about 12 cupcakes
Original recipe from Chaos in the Kitchen, which can be found here.

4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod
1 - 2 cups of powdered sugar

Slit vanilla bean in half and use knife to scrape out the beans from the pod, set aside. Whip the cream cheese in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add the butter and beat to combine. Add the vanilla and vanilla beans. Slowly add the powdered sugar to your preference in consistency and sweetness

The finalized product with their flags hoisted high!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Favorite Video of the Week

Do I really need words for this one?!??! OMG his/her eyes, I dieeee!

And now... at last - Sonya!!!!(slow loris) from Dmitry Sergeyev on Vimeo.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cupcake Experimentation: Horchata

Sometimes working with a box cake mix can lead to great things. Examples: cake cookies (yes I've seen it), cupcake bites, and even Horchata cupcakes! I recently bought horchata mix from the mexican market near my house but I've also bought it from Whole Foods, which is probably easier to find for most people. It just a powdered mix that you can add to water or milk to make a quick cup of Horchata. Anyway, it inspired me to make these cupcakes but I didn't want to whip up a whole batch of homemade cupcakes on an experiment, so I used a cake mix as a base and added things to it. I'm not going to provide the recipe because they still aren't perfected to a tee yet, but I will provide descriptions as to what I did to give them their flavor.

Horchata Cupakes: For these cupcakes, I used started off with a white cake batter and mixed in the horchata mix powder, extra cinnamon and some ground almonds (to add texture and because almonds are traditionally served in horchata). I topped the cake with cinnamon whipped cream, clear sprinkles, and extra cinnamon. 

The verdict?
Horchata: B -
The cake turned out a little dry for my taste. It wasn't parched per say, but I just love, love, love super moist cakes. I think this was due to the almond meal. I did love the texture that the almond meal added but next time I should add less flour if I plan on adding meal. The cinnamon flavor was definitely present but horchata flavor itself was not. Maybe I should try actually using real horchata like chockylit did here.

FFF (Friday Flickr Favorites)

Oh, pretty, pretty Tartlette: the queen of beautiful food and beautiful photography. I always wonder how she does it... hopefully it won't remain a mystery for too long!

You can check out the rest of my favorites here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Easiest Vanilla Custard EVER + Fruit Tart

For Easter, my sister, my mom and I decided to make a fruit tart for the family. Usually my small family is always in charge of the larger family get-togethers. Our family is ridiculously enormous; I have two aunts, five uncles, plus ALL of their kids (and there are a lot, trust me)... and that's just my mother's side of the family! But I wouldn't have it any other way, I love being surrounded by aunts and uncles that treat me like their own and joke around with me about random things. Our family is so tight knit that we try and see each other every Sunday of the week. Can you believe that? A huge family gathering once a week? Most families I know only meet once a year! I love my family more than anything in this world.

Anyway, my mom makes the lunch while my sister and I make the dessert. Fruit tart. It's a classic dessert that we, Vietnamese eat on special occasions such as birthdays and such. We decided to take a stab at it and it turned out pretty well! The pastry didn't crisp up as much as we would have liked but fresh fruit is always delicious and pairing it with a light cream didn't hurt either. It was definitely beautiful, at the very least! 

An assortment of fruit, prepped and ready to be arranged:
Glazing the fruit tart:
Fruit Tart with French Vanilla Custard
Yields: Enough for a crowd
Recipe slightly adapted from here

1 package of puff pastry, thawed
1 - 2 tbsn. sugar
2 large boxes of french vanilla pudding
2 1/2 cups of whole milk ONLY, no substitutions!
1 1/2 cup of heavy cream
4 kiwi, peeled and sliced
2 mango, peeled and sliced
1 package of strawberries, washed and hulled
1 package of blueberries, washed
1 can of longan or lychee, drained
1 can of mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup apricot jelly

Remove the puff pastry from the package and lay out. Brush water on the edges of the pastry and fold each side 1/2 an inch forward to create sort of a crust. Brush the "crust" with a little more water and sprinkle with sugar. Use a fork to dock holes into the bottom to allow the steam to pass while baking. Bake according to the directions on the package and let it cool completely before assembling the tart. For the custard, mix the 2 packages of pudding, the milk and heavy cream together until it begins to thicken, about 8 - 10 minutes. Let refrigerate for about 10 - 15 minutes. Spread this mixture on the puff pastry and then top with the fruit. Bring the jelly to a boil in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After it is completely melted use a pastry brush to dab it over all of the fruit. If it gets too thick to spread again, add 1 tbsn. of water and re-boil. Enjoy!

We made my dad a small chocolate custard fruit tart because he's picky! I just melted about 2 tsp. of chocolate and whisked it into about 1/2 cup of the vanilla custard. Easy as that, and tasty too!

Tailored Tuesdays

Hello gorgeous!

1. Moschino "Bow neck trench"
2. Stella Mccartney "Sequin tank dress"
3. Miu Miu "Python shoulder bag"
4. Giuseppe Zanotti "Gladiator platform sandals"
5. Alex Monroe "Twisted twig hoop earrings"

all images can be found at net-a-porter.com

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Lunch

What did you eat for Easter? Well, this is what we ate: spring rolls. We had little burners all throughout our long tables and filled them with thin cut beef, sliced onions, squid, and shrimp. Then we took our moist rice paper and filled them with the mixture, fresh mint, lettuce, and rice noodles. And to top it off, dipped them in some fresh Vietnamese pineapple sauce. I love my sauce with a little hot sauce (Siracha), yummy! Oh yeah... and my grandma made her famous egg rolls too! These are a must at all of our family get-togethers.

For dessert, my mom made this absolutely DEEEEE-licious "tat" or jello. The night before, she opened up 9 whole coconuts and took their juice, mixed it with sugar and this special gelatin that she bought from Vietnam from her recent trip. Then on the top she added a layer of fresh coconut mixed in with coconut milk! The jello was soft and super jiggly, unlike most traditional "tat" which is more firm and hard. I could just imagine eating this every day for the rest of my life! So fresh and perfect on a hot day. My mom has already asked her friend to express ship more of this special gelatin to us ASAP!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wat Thai New Years Festival {Los Angeles, CA}

The Wat Thai New Years Festival is an awesome place to get your hands on some authentic Thai food, if not the best! Be sure to go here if you are around the area. My favorite is the beef salad, tangy, fresh and delicious!
The best thing about this festival though, has to, has to be the sticky rice with mango. It's one of my all time favorite desserts, but here, it's especially good. One, because it's authentic, from Thai ladies themselves, and two, because it's fresh! You can see the ladies cutting the mango right in front of you and the rice is just perfect, sweet but not overly so.

Choux Pastry/ Cream Puffs

For Easter, me and my sister decided to make something different than our usual chocolate chunk and banana bread pudding. Although it's totally delicious and our family always begs for it, we felt like making a new tradition. Finally, after much recipe searching, we decided on a simple fruit tart with vanilla custard. Using the leftover custard from the tart, I decided to make cream puffs too. They are incredibly simple, way more simple than I ever could have imagined. Making them happens very quickly so you have to prepare yourself for some quick movements and have everything mise en place (or "put in place").

Fresh vanilla cream ready to be filled into lovely cream puffs:

For some reason my cream puffs came out kind of flattened, but I realized that I read somewhere in some recipe that you should prick the cream puffs in the middle of their baking time to allow steam to escape. Oops... no matter how flat they turned to be, they were still incredibly delicious!

Choux Pastry/ Cream Puffs
Yields: about 16 - 18 large puffs
Original recipe from Closet Cooking, which can be found here.

For the pastry:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup all purpose flour
5 large eggs, room temperature

For the vanilla custard:
2 large boxes of french vanilla pudding
2 1/2 cups of whole milk ONLY, no substitutions!
1 1/2 cup of heavy cream

Fresh out of the oven:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a rolling boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to medium and mix in the flour, stirring constantly with a spoon until the dough starts to come together. Continue stirring the dough in the pan for another 2 - 3 minutes. The dough should be smooth and soft now. Pour the dough into a bowl and begin to add the eggs, one at a time. At first, the dough will begin to separate but as you keep mixing it should come back together. Immediately shape/ pipe the dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake for about 5 - 7 minutes (depending on you oven, mine tends to over bake). Then, quickly use a toothpick to prick each cream puff to allow the steam to escape. Next,  slip the handle of a wooden spoon between the oven and its door to keep the door ajar and bake for another 5 - 7 minutes. Next, rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back then continue baking for another 6 - 8 minutes until they are puffed, golden, and firm. Let them cool completely before filling them. For the custard, whip everything together until pudding has become thick, about 8 - 10 minutes.

* Once you pipe the dough it can be frozen for later use. Just pipe the dough and slide the baking sheet into a freezer. Once frozen, you can re-pack them into freezer bags. They can be kept in a freezer for up to a month. They will be baked in the same way, just add a couple more minutes to the baking time. 
* Cooked choux pastry (unfilled) can keep in an air tight container for 3 days and can be frozen for up to three weeks