Sunday, July 26, 2009


I found a really great tart recipe as I was doing some research for work.

It's Dorie Greenspan's recipe for Sweet Tart Dough:
1 1/2 cups AP Flour
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt

4 1/2 oz Unsalted Butter (Cold, Cubed)
Cut into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork

1 Egg Yolk
Loosen and add slowly

Bake at 350 degrees until edges are light golden brown.

The result is a very crumbly and tender crust. It's my new favorite.

I don't have a big tart pan.. and I didn't want to buy a bunch of mini tart molds so I took a look around my kitchen to improvise. And what did I find? Cupcake pans. Works for me.

So I took out my round cutters and found the sized closest to the diameter of the bottom of the cupcake mold. The closest one was 2 1/4".

After making about 50 or so I found that I got the best looking tart shells when I rolled out the dough (it's a little difficult to work with because it is so crumbly..) about 1/8" thick, cutting out circles and then chilling it for about 20 minutes, then working it into the bottom of the pans.

The "lip" on the tart shells stayed up during the baking process and therefore held the fillings in well.

Don't forget to "dock" (or poke holes in) the shells. Otherwise you'll get a big mound in the center.

Now, for the fillings.

I made some ganache using about 5oz of bittersweet chocolate and 3 1/2 oz of heavy cream and melting it together in the microwave in 30 second intervals stirring in between. The mixture sat out at room temp until it set up.

I took the stiffened ganache, whipped it up a bit in a mixer and then added about 5oz of chunky peanut butter.

Then I whipped up about 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream until stiff peaks.
Then I folded the cream into the chocolate PB mixture in 3 batches. It looked something like this:
It was SUPER rich but quite yummy. But.. the only bad thing is that if it sat in the fridge too long it hardened up and had to leave out at room temp for at least 30 minutes before being soft enough to eat.

Another one I made was a yogurute. I just subbed the lemon in the lemon cream I made in a previous post with the Korean version of yogurt. It comes in these small plastic bottles that come in a 5 pack roll.

I made this cream in a 1/2 batch and came out ok. When I went to make it again, I wanted to make the original size batch and intensify the flavor. I don't really know what I did differently but the result was a soupy mess.

So instead of throwing it away I whipped up some cream and added some of the soup to it. I was told it didn't taste like yogurute enough. And the white chocolate garnish I put on top (it was a Ghiradelli vanilla bean white chocolate bar that I shaved using a peeler) overpowered the subtle flavor. In the end it ended up tasting more like whipped cream. Oh well... Looked pretty.

The last one I made was a fruit tart. The custard on the bottom is a pastry cream. I used a new recipe that used whole eggs as opposed to the usual yolks. Thought it would be really good... but it had a sour tang to it that I didn't care too much for. Maybe I misread the directions.. I did get it online. This one looked pretty too.

Total results?

Just.. "eh". Or as the Yelp-ers like to say, "meh." Looked pretty though... haha.

Funny how things seem so ingenious in my mind.. and ends up NEVER living up to what I invisioned it to be.

I also made some strawberry shortcakes to help raise funds for the mission trip I'm going on next week. My next blog will be on that.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Lots of "baking" for me this past week.

I made some cannoli filling that didn't turn out so hot. Since the recipe wasn't such a success (I don't think executed the recipe correctly) I'll just show some pictures I took of the process.

Semi-sweet chocolate chips. This and citron, I learned, are the typical mix in items of cannoli fillings.

I went to this Italian market down the street from my house and bought this ricotta cheese for the filling. I had no idea this market existed. Pretty nifty indeed... but quite expensive. This 12oz container cost $5.49. There was another kind that was $1 cheaper but got this because it came in this really cool self draining tub.

Most of the recipes called for the BEST ricotta cheese and to drain it. I don't know much about ricotta but immediately I could tell the difference between the ones they have at Ralphs. Very smooth in texture and very firm. Quality of the ingredients ALWAYS makes a difference in cooking/baking.

I put way too much orange zest. Kind of overpowered the filling.

The ends can get a garnish of nuts or chocolate.. or just about anything you want.

I think I'll know what to do the next time I decide to make this...

I've been doing a lot of research for work and wanted to test some recipes out. One was a lemon tart and the other was a nectarine tart.

The lemon cream I made I found on Dorie Greenspan's website. She adapted it from her pastry hero, Pierre Herme. It's seriously, the best lemon cream I've ever tasted. Mind you, I haven't had too many but I love that it's not overwhelmingly tart. A great word to describe it is that it is
LUXURIOUS. Oh so very creamy... even though the only dairy in it is butter.

Here's the link for the recipe: Pierre Herme's Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart.

Some pictures I took as I made it:
Lemon zest with Sugar.

Mix in eggs.

Add lemon juice.

Cook over a pot of boiling water until it reaches 180 degrees whisking the entire time.

Strain into a food processor.

A few steps and an overnight chill in the fridge later..

I think what I love most is that when you cut into it, it the cream doesn't spill out all over the place. It holds its shape and has such a lovely texture in my mouth. Awesome.

Next is a nectarine tart. I didn't document any of this process.. only the final thing.

Normally, fruit tarts like this would have a glaze but.. I was going to eat it right after taking this picture so I didn't see a need for it. But.. if I were to keep it in this constructed state for a day or two, I definitely would have.

All in all.. pretty yummy despite the broken pastry cream for the fruit tart and an incredibly thick tart crust. There goes my diet for the week...

Monday, July 13, 2009

An Introspective Moment

So.. why post disasters and failed experiments?

Because even the best chefs have their moments of dropping entire sheet pans of cakes.. forgetting to add eggs... and burning things.

Because sometimes, perfection is boring and unrealistic.

Because often times the best of lessons learned are through failures.

Because it feels so good when you've succeeded after failing so many times.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Scream for Ice Cream?

I sure did after making this disaster...

well, maybe not so much after as it was while I was making it.. in my head.. with a bit of cursing.

It's an individual ice cream cake that I made for my brother's birthday. He loves ice cream cake so I thought it would be great to combine the convenience of a cupcake with his love of ice cream cake.

What I had pictured in my head was much more elegant and chic than what had been produced. I imagined a perfect truncated cone (just imagine a cone with the pointy end cut off) with a thin coating of chocolate ganache. It would have been garnished with a thin border of a crumb mix made from the remnants of cake. But.. no such luck.

The end product looked like more like what Korean's call "Joo Muk Bap," which literally means, "Fist Rice/Food" because it's a ball of riced shaped with your hands. It's then coated with crumbs of dried seaweed and/or toasted sesame seeds.

The following pictures are a result of my attempt at this individual ice cream cakes.


I used 2 pints of Starucks ice cream: Java Chip and Caramel Macchiato. Both quite yummy.. but only because I love ice cream and coffee. 2 Pints made exactly 12 individual cakes.

For the cupcakes I just buttered and dusted the pans instead of using muffin cups.

I added caramel to the batter in hopes to create lovely swirls to the cake.

Yeah, didn't quite work. It all ended up sinking to the bottom. =(
I think it'll work if I mix it into a small batch of the batter and do the same thing. The caramel alone is too heavy to hold up in the baking process.

I over filled just a little bit so I trimmed the tops with a round cutter.

I cut the cupcakes in half but I think maybe it might have been ok to leave it too.

Unmolded.. but not as pretty as I had hoped.

Then.. the disastrous ganache glazing. The ice cream was way too soft and I think the glaze was the result of my laziness. I used Nestle semi-sweet chocolate and half and half. When I poured it over the ice cream.. it started breaking. Don't really know what exactly made it do that.

Left over cake crumbled and baked again to get it crispy.

With coffee ice cream I thought coffee grounds might be a cool twist to add to the crumb.

The result?

Tasted fine but looked a hot mess.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I See Stars... with Sugar

Happy Fourth!

I made these decorated sugar cookies for my church. Some of my friends and I were in charge of providing food this week so I thought it would be a nice treat to have some yummy, not to mention really cute, cookies.

Here's a bit of "How To" for cheap, but VERY time consuming and VERY rewarding decorated sugar cookies.

Take your favorite sugar cookie recipe and cut out your desired shape and size. In general, I'd suggest using about 1/4" thickness for about a 3" cookie. If you'd like a good recipe, I use The Confetti Cakes Vanilla Sugar Cookie.
11oz AP Flour
1tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder

6oz Unsalted Butter
4oz Sugar

I Large Egg
1tsp Vanilla (or desired) Extract
(add to sugar and butter)

The first thing to do is to make ROYAL ICING.

Royal icing is a type of icing that is mainly for decorating purposes. It's made with egg whites, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and cream of tartar so the flavor isn't necessarily the star (haha!) in it. When it dries it dries hard.


These are one of the few things I can wing without adhering to a specific recipe. All I do is use one egg white, roughly 1/2 pound of SIFTED powdered sugar, a few drops of lemon juice and cream of tartar. Start with a little and just keep adding powdered sugar until it's stiff. Let the mixer mix on med-high for a good 20 seconds before adding more sugar. It should look something like this:

I use a standing mixer with a PADDLE attachment. The key thing with royal icing is AIR. Let the mixer run for a good 2 minutes so that enough air is incorporated and turns bright white. If there isn't enough air the icing will have a dull yellowish tint to it when it dries.

Now... I've seen pretty much everyone else I know make royal icing with a WHIP attachment. You can do whatever you want as long as the end result is the same. I like the paddle attachment because I can get the icing super thick and thin it down a little at a time with water until I get the consistency I want.

The thicker the icing... the faster it will dry.

Back to the cookie...
Take some icing in a smaller bowl (little goes a long way with outlining) and thin down the icing with little bits of water until it's runny enough to pipe but stiff enough where it won't run right off the cookie. When you pick some up with the spoon and let it fall on itself it should take a good 30 seconds or so for it to settle into the rest of the icing.

Hold open a pastry bag (or a thick zip lock bag) by folding over the top over your hand. Fill about HALF WAY (it's easier to refill than to hold a ginormous bag in your hand) like this:

That way all the icing stays in the bag and not all over your hands.

Cut the hole of the bag relatively small. The thinner the line, the cleaner it looks.

Steady the hand holding the bag with your other hand and pipe all the borders before flooding.
It always saves time doing similar jobs all at once before moving onto a different task.

Take more icing and thin it down a little more than what it looked like for the borders. When spooning and letting it fall, it should settle into the rest of the icing within 5 seconds.

Cut the hole a little bigger and fill the bag as before over the bowl of icing. Start flooding the cookies within the borders that were piped.

Don't be afraid to be aggressive with it. The borders will hold the icing in place. Let it dry... pretty much overnight or whenever it's FULLY dried.


My general rule of thumb is to ALWAYS use a combination of colors. Colors found in nature are never purely the color that come in bottles.

For blue I used the Wilton color "Royal Blue" and this is what it looked like:

That's some bright neon looking blue. I didn't like it. Too bright for the blue I was trying to go for. I added some black, brown, and violet and it turned out like...

Much better. When colored royal icing dries the color intensifies. So, keep that in mind.

For the finishing touch, outline the star one more time (after the flooding has COMPLETELY dried) and sprinkle some coarse sugar.

Shake off the excess and viola!