Living in Toronto, we experience erratic weather changes. Although Fall officially began last month, we had temperatures close to 15-20 degrees Celcius for the past several weeks and recently, temperatures have dipped to around 5 degrees! It’s like we just skipped Fall and went straight to Winter…
Anyways, I’m not quite ready for Fall to be over yet so I recently started baking some Fall recipes. One of the few recipes I wanted to try were these White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies. Whenever one hears of cranberries, I feel like they immediately think about Fall – probably due to its association with Thanksgiving dishes (i.e. cranberry sauce)?
Anyhow, I was excited to make these as I usually make the standard Chocolate Chip Cookies. Wanting to switch things up a bit, I leveraged one of our favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from Serious Eats to use as the base recipe for this cookie. What I like about the Serious Eats recipe is that instead of using regular butter, they use Brown Butter which lends a nuttier, butterscotch flavour than regular butter. Browning butter requires patience and a lot of attention as if you don’t watch it, you might end up burning the milk solids which will affect the overall taste of the brown butter. I cook the butter on medium heat for about 8 minutes, whisking occasionally until it turns golden brown and it starts smelling caramel-y. I aim for this color.
Then, I place an ice cube in there and whisk to facilitate the cooling down process and stick it in the fridge until it has fully cooled. You’ll know it’s cooled when it turns opaque and the sides are starting to solidify.
Yesterday, we celebrated our friend’s 30th birthday. Turning 30 is a pretty huge milestone for most people and I wanted to make her a birthday cake that represented her – a unicorn! Because she’s one of a kind 🙂
Originally, I was gonna make her a traditional 3 tiered 6 inch cake for her birthday but we typically stuff ourselves full during dinner and I had a feeling that the 4 of us would not be able to finish all that cake. So as a compromise, I decided to make a mini cake! I think this one is only 3 inches wide but I layered it so it is still 3 layers 🙂 This way, she still gets her unicorn cake but we will likely be able to finish it all!
For this cake, I used my favourite decadent chocolate cake recipe as the base but just halved it since this cake is almost half the size. She specifically requested this cake for her 30th so I couldn’t let her down! It’s definitely my go to cake recipe to date as everyone seems to love it! It’s a very moist cake that’s rich in chocolate flavour – if you haven’t checked it out already I highly encourage you to visit my Decadent Chocolate Coffee Cake recipe here on the blog.
I also previously made Unicorn cupcake which is where I drew the inspiration of the cake decoration from such as the fondant horns and ears. Visit the unicorn cupcake recipe for details on how to make those!
All in all I’m very happy with my creation! I highly encourage you all to try this and make it for your special someone 🙂
Sometimes the bf gets a random craving for a specific dessert late at night and he asks me to whip something up for him. Often times, he cannot make up his mind as to what he wants because he lists off 5 things he wants and I told him I’m not making all of that for him when I know he’ll only eat 2 pieces and there’s no way I can finish the rest.
I’m also very lazy – so I opt to pick the option that requires the least amount of effort while also taking advantage of what we already have in stock in our pantry. One of the options we considered was making donuts but I ran out of milk – he suggested I use whipping cream instead since we had that in stock but I am not planning on substituting 1 1/3 cup of milk with whipping cream!
So the alternative was to use pizza dough instead! Ya that is kinda random but recently we ordered some cinnamon stix from Domino’s Pizza and they were pretty good and guess what – made from pizza dough too! It was a good compromise and I thought it’d be interesting to try it out. Hence – Cinnamon Sugar Apple Donuts was born!
The effort to make this was minimal – what took the longest was really just waiting for the pizza dough to proof (which took minimum an hour).
So if you’re ever getting some cravings late at night – give this a try!
First, prepare your pizza dough. Activate the yeast by mixing it in the warm water and wait a few minutes until it starts to foam. Once it foams, you know your yeast is ready.
In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Slowly, add about half of the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and drizzle a bit of the extra virgin olive oil as well.
Continue mixing the dough until the wet ingredients are incorporated, and add in the rest of the yeast mixture and olive oil. Mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. If the mixture is still looking a bit dry, add a bit more water.
Knead the dough on a well floured surface until it's smooth and tacky to the touch, about 5 minutes. When you shape the dough into a round ball and it springs back to the touch after pressing on it gently, it's ready. Put it into a well greased bowl with olive oil and cover with saran wrap and allow to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare your apple filling. Toss the diced apples with the flour, cinnamon, brown & white sugar mixture. Set aside.
Prepare your cinnamon sugar mixture my whisking together cinnamon and sugar. Set aside until ready to use.
Once your dough has proofed/doubled in size, punch down the dough. Take pieces of dough and form them into round disks and fill with the apple filling. Cinch them up like you would a dumpling, twisting the opening close and reform them into round shape.
Prepare your oil for deep frying. In either a deep fryer or a sauce pot, fill it up with vegetable oil (enough for the donuts to float to the top) and heat it up until it reaches 350F. Drop each donut into the oil and flip occasionally to ensure even browning.
Once they float to the top, they are ready! Remove with slotted spoon to remove excess oil and quickly toss them in the cinnamon sugar mixture and set aside on wire rack to cool. Serve immediately!
I have not made macarons in YEARS!! So much so that the almond flour that I bought in bulk a year ago when it was on sale at bulk barn has gone stale and started smelling weird 🙁
I have been inspired to make macarons again this past weekend given I had spare time since I had no access to a car and was essentially house bound. I knew one of the items I’ve been struggling to succeed with is making macarons. They just never turn out right! They either look super flat because they spread too much, or they brown on top, or they stick to the tray and falls apart when I try to take them off. I made 3 batches this past weekend and only the last one was mildly successful. I decided to make matcha macarons since I had lots of matcha powder lying around and saves me from using food coloring
The results were meh. During my last batch, my shells did not spread so they kept their shape (thank goodness) but upon baking, I had a few burst on me and some were even lopsided.
Based on the several trials that I did, here’s what I learned based on the mistakes I made:
It’s better to slightly undermix than overmix because once the batter is overmixed, it gets really runny and you can’t control it from flowing out of your piping bag and spreading everywhere.
Stop folding the meringue into the mixture once you can start forming short ribbons with the batter that slowly sinks back in over time. It should look like thick goop and not have the consistency of runny cake batter.
Pipe macarons perpendicular to the cookie sheet (90 degrees). In other words, the piping bag should be straight and not at an angle. This will ensure a more even shape when it rises.
It’s better to bake the macarons at a lower temperature than at a higher temperature. Unless you really know your oven, try it on a slightly lower temperature setting. The recipe asks for 300F but realistically I should’ve done 275F because some of my macarons ended up bursting.
To this point, I have yet to master the macaron recipe but I feel like I’m getting closer. Mind you ingredients for macaron is not cheap – I bought a bunch of almond flour that’s probably only good for 2-3 batches and it ran me $15!! Luckily, although I did not achieve the perfect “Macaron shape”, at least the texture and taste was still good. It was slightly chewy and the shells weren’t hollow, yay!
So until next time… I have a bunch of macarons to give away now haha. See the recipe I used below – this is the Italian meringue method opposed to the French. Supposedly the Italian method tends to yield more consistent results so I may continue this route going forward.
60 grams egg whites (about 2 large eggs), room temperature
1 teaspoon matcha powder
180 grams white granulated sugar
45 grams water
60 grams egg whites (about 2 large eggs), room temperature
White Chocolate Ganache
1 cup white chocolate wafers/chips
5 tbsp whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300F. Make the almond flour paste by sifting together almond flour, icing sugar, and matcha powder. This ensures a smooth paste so the shells won't appear lumpy. Then, mix in the egg white until it is thoroughly combined. It will form a thick paste - kind of like dough like consistency. Cover with plastic wrap so it doesn't get dry.
Then, add water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Do not stir! Allow it to come up to a boil and with a digital or candy thermometer, wait until it comes to 220F.
In the meantime, put the remaining egg whites in a clean, stainless steel bowl and prep it in the stand mixer. Once the sugar syrup reaches 220F, start whisking the egg whites until it is very foamy. When the syrup reaches 240F, turn the stand mixer to a slower speed and immediately take the sugar syrup off the heat and pour it into your egg whites. Once the syrup starts to hit the egg whites, you can crank the stand mixer to high speed and continue whisking until the sides of the bowl cools and the meringue reaches stiff peak. It should be smooth and glossy, kind of like shaving cream.
Take 1/3 of the meringue mixture and whisk it into the almond paste. Then, add in the remaining meringue mixture and fold to combine. Continue folding until there are no more dry lumps. When you life the spatula and you can form small ribbons with the batter and you see it sink right back in, it's ready. Do not overmix! Batter should not be runny but more like thick goop.
Put batter into a large piping bag with large round piping tip and pipe onto a parchment paper at 90 degrees from the baking sheet. In other words, pipe straight down and when you achieve the desired size, doing a quick flick to minimize the pointy tip of the cookie.
Once fully piped, allow to dry until a "skin" is formed. When the shells look matte, gently touch the shells and if they don't stick to your finger, it's ready to go in the oven.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the shells look hardened and firm to the touch. Allow to cool.
In the meantime, prepare the white chocolate ganache. Bring whipping cream and vanilla extra to a simmer and pour over the white chocolate wafers/chips. Stir continuously until all chocolate has been melted. Allow to cool so that it thickens to a piping consistency. You may put this in the fridge to speed up the process but don't forget about it or it will harden all the way!
Once ganache is ready, put it into a piping bag and pipe onto the macaron cookies. Squish and repeat until done. Store in an airtight container in the fridge to maximize freshness 🙂
Chinese New Years may have passed but that doesn’t mean we still can’t celebrate with Chinese Turnip Cake! I love ordering these at the restaurants and with our never ending obsession with buying daikon to make pickled daikon or Japanese dishes, it seemed to make sense to make turnip cake with any extra daikon that we can’t finish.
However, as some of you may know, finding Chinese recipes on the internet isn’t exactly the easiest thing and even when I do find one, I’m skeptical as to how credible the source is how ‘authentic’ the recipe is. Lucky for us, we’ve stumbled across the blog WoksOfLife and tried a few of their recipes and found them to be quite authentic and delicious. And thus, they became our default go to site for any Chinese recipes. When we decided to make Chinese Turnip Cake, lo and behold, we checked their site first and luckily, they had it (yay!)
The ingredients aren’t too hard to find – in fact, we would say most of them are staples in a Chinese household.
In our previous post, we talked about how we made steamed buns. Well, it’s time to put it all together! As part of our Momofuku week, we made a variety of dishes from the Momofuku cookbook including the Compost cookie, Roasted Sweet Summer Corn, and now this! Pork Buns 🙂
These little buns were so much fun to make and realistically, you can put whatever the heck you want inside as fillings. The original cookbook suggested this to be served with pickled cucumbers but we ran out so we used pickled carrots and daikon instead which was just as good! It could also be served with lettuce or any greens of your choice.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a pork bun without the pork. We purchased thick cut pork belly for this at our local grocery store (which was surprisingly hard to find in our area!). I personally found that the thicker the cut, the better.
In order to maximize flavour of the pork belly, it needs to be brined first. So, liberally coat both sides of the pork belly with equal parts sugar and salt. One they’re both fully covered, leave it to sit overnight in the fridge for at least a day.
When you’re ready to cook them, rinse off the extra sugar and salt – otherwise, it’ll be overly salty when you cook them. Pat them dry and bake the pork belly at 250F in a baking tray for approximately an hour and a half. Be sure to flip them halfway into the cooking time to ensure even cooking. Then turn up the oven to 400F and roast for another 10 minutes or so or until golden brown as shown below.
Cut the pork belly into smaller pieces and insert in steamed buns along with pickled veggies and serve with other accompaniments such as Hoisin sauce and rice!
There is nothing I love more than steamed buns. If I had to choose between artisanal bread and steamed buns, I will choose steamed buns. For the longest time, I’ve put off making steamed buns because I was a bit intimidated by the process – and also because I didn’t have a steamer.
I’ve made steamed buns in the past but mostly it was used in the form of a traditional steamed bun where there’s filling inside and you can’t see it until you bite into it. See my Nikuman – Chinese Steamed Pork Buns recipe I made in the past to better understand what I’m talking about.
However, while I was making my Momofuku themed dinner, I stumbled across David Chang’s Pork Buns recipe which used the traditional steamed buns recipe but instead of stuffing it with filling, it was used almost like a taco wrap.
This recipe was really easy to make – it took about the same amount of time as making any standard bread recipe. Plus, I also found the bun a bit sweet which I like! The buns turned out really well – it was super soft and fluffy 🙂 I think I might use this recipe as the foundation of my other steamed buns recipe moving forward.
From an aesthetics point of view, this style of bun was great because you get to see exactly what you eat and it can be more visually appealing. It also lends a different texture than a crunchy lettuce wrap if you were to have pork belly ssam for example.
To learn how to make this steamed buns recipe, see below! To learn more about the Momofuku Pork Buns that I made using this steamed buns recipe (see photo above), click here.
As mentioned in our previous blog post, we recently purchased the Momofuku cookbook by David Chang. As part of our Valentine’s day dinner, I tried a few of his recipes and decided to blog about my experience and how the dishes turned out. Spoiler alert – it turned out surprisingly well!
One of the dishes that I was compelled to was the Roasted Sweet Summer Corn recipe. I was compelled for several reasons:
I already had all the ingredients on hand though I did make a substitution for one of the ingredients
It had miso butter – the two things we love!
BACON (need I say more?)
Roasted Onions. MM sweet and savoury 🙂
I didn’t have fresh corn on hand but frozen corn did the trick. I personally found this dish to be quite rich on its own so I tend to pair it with some carbs to cut the richness such as rice. I presume it would also taste great with potatoes (whether baked, mashed, or roasted). This dish was a great accompaniment to the steamed pork buns that I made, along with the cherry tomato salad and compost cookie for dessert.
Find out how to make this dish using the recipe below, adapted from the Momofuku cookbook. I substituted ramen broth with dashi simply because I don’t have the time or resource to make it and I felt it turned out just as well.
Recently we bought the Momofuku cookbooks – both the original and the milk bar one.
To be honest, both books have been gathering dust since we bought it a couple months ago – mostly because we were too lazy to get around reading it and most importantly, attempting the recipes. I did quickly glance over the recipes and I felt that quite a few of them were labour intensive but given Valentine’s Day was coming up, I felt now was a good time to put the book to good use. I planned everything out – I was going to make him a Momofuku themed dinner with this Compost Cookie being the final dessert. I’ll link to the other recipes I made once I post them 🙂
Now I’ve had the real compost cookie before and it was really good. I believe it is called the Compost Cookie because it has an assortment of mix-ins to the cookie. It’s not your standard singular flavour chocolate chip cookie. This cookie has ingredients such as potato chips, coffee grounds, rolled oats, chocolate chips just to name a few. Mind you I did leave out a couple of ingredients (mostly because I didn’t have them on hand but I was also desperately craving these cookies) but in my opinion, they turned out really well! In fact, we felt it taste very close to the cookies we got at the Milk Bar.
I did encounter some problems when baking it and that was the issue with spreading. The first time I baked these cookies, I followed the instructions to the T including the baking temperature and my cookies almost turned out like chips because they spread so thin. I tried it again but this time baking it at a much lower temperature and it turned out much better! It’s also important to bake the cookie dough when it’s cold and not room temperature.
Continuing with our holiday baking are these snowflake sugar cookies! The thing I love about sugar cookies is that they are so versatile. Sure… they may look and taste plain at first, but they are essentially a blank canvas for you to decorate! This christmas, I decided to make snowflake sugar cookies because quite frankly… my cookie cutter selection is quite limited so I worked with what I had.. I definitely want to stock up on more cookie cutter shapes next year!
Decorating sugar cookies is quite the art – one I have yet to perfect. Just recently did I get the consistency of the royal icing just right so that it doesn’t run all over the cookie upon piping it. What I still currently struggle with is having the right control when piping the outline. In essence, I have trouble staying inside the lines when coloring -_- Luckily, there were enough cookies that by the time I decorated the last few, I finally started to get the hang of it!
This sugar cookie recipe is my go to. It usually makes a pretty large batch but I try to either halve it or just freeze the rest for another occasion. These sugar cookies are not only perfect for the holidays, but can be great for bake sales or any other occasion where you have an excuse to be creative. For instructions, see below.