Archives for category: Desserts

Cake Truffles are an interesting concept. They are like regular truffles, except the filling is made with cake. Cake truffles are great for people who don’t want to commit to a whole slice of cake, offering just a perfect mouthful, although you’d be hard pressed to eat just one of these little suckers. Read the rest of this entry »

In my second try at a Momofuku Milk Bar Cake recipe, I made the Milk Bar Carrot Cake. I’m not usually big fan of carrot cakes, but this one involves some really interesting flavor combinations. Who has ever thought of making frosting out of Graham crackers? and what is a liquid cheesecake? all these questions were answered with my completion of this recipe. Read the rest of this entry »

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One of the few things I don’t like to make is homemade ice cream. My ice cream maker is not the best in the world, and the results are so unpredictable that 90 percent of the time, the ice cream is too watery or icy. Recently I’ve been a fan of buying store bought ice cream and enhancing it at home to make it “gourmet”.

The trick is to make a recipe that incorporates really simple favors such as coffee, vanilla, and chocolate, and you will find it’s quite simple to dress them up. Read the rest of this entry »

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I bought Christina Tosi’s recipe book for Momofuku Milk Bar a few weeks ago, and got it in the mail last week. Milk bar is the sweets branch of David Chang’s growing Momofuku empire. A few years ago when I went to NYC to visit a friend, we went to Milk Bar and got their compost cookie, which is a cookie that has everything but the kitchen sink in it : coffee grounds, potato chips, pretzels… It sounded like the most unlikely combination for a cookie, but was it tasty!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Finishing up our special Tuesday dinner, I made my boyfriend’s favorite dessert with a twist. Creme brûlée is not something you want to play around too much with because it’s such a classic dessert. The simple combination of egg yolk, sugar, cream, and vanilla makes the silky and creamy custard filling, and the ingenious sugar crust really elevates it as a sophisticated dessert.

This butterscotch creme brûlée substitutes brown sugar for white sugar, and adds milk chocolate to the cream mixture to give it a darker flavor. To make the filling, heavy whipping cream, brown sugar, salt, and milk are heated in a pot over medium low heat until the sugar completely dissolves and tiny bubbles starts to form on the edges of the pot. Melted chocolate and vanilla are whisked into the pot, and the hot cream mixture is slowly poured and whisked into egg yokes. The hot liquid will cook the egg yokes, which is why you need to whisk constantly as the cream is poured into the eggs.

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The liquid is strained to rid of any large bits of eggs that may have been formed during the whisking process. This will ensure the Creme brûlée is silky smooth and not gritty. The cream mixture is poured into ramekins, the ramekins placed in a roasting pan, and hot water poured into the pan until it reaches half way up the sides of the ramekins.

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The Creme brûlées are baked in a 300 degree oven until the edges of the custard sets and the centers are slightly jiggly, about 40 minutes.

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The custards are chilled for at least 5 hours in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, brown, turbinado, or Demerara sugar are sprinkled on top of the custards.

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You can brown the sugar in the oven with the broiler, or you can use a mini torch which is what I used. Either way, the custard should be placed in the freezer immediately after the sugar browns for the custard to stay chill, about 5 minutes.

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The butterscotch Creme brûlée are topped with a few caramel corns, and served with more on the side. The recipe includes instructions on how to make your own caramel corn, but I cheated and used store bought ones.

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Butterscotch Creme Brûlée with Caramel Corn : http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/butterscotch-creme-brulee-with-caramel-corn

Two of my favourite people were getting married, and the weekend before the wedding, they had the idea to hold a joint bachelor/bachelorette party with all their friends in Marfa, Texas. Marfa is a small artist commune way out in west Texas; it is also where the movies There Will Be Blood, and No Country for Old Men were filmed. To get to Marfa, it’s a 9 hour drive from Dallas, where the bride and groom to be are from, and a 6 hour drive from Austin, where we were heading out from. Around 25 people signed up for this trip, some coming from Austin like us, other from Corpus Christi and Fort Collins.

Being a small town, there are not many places to eat, and most people who go out there are campers, so food for 25 people was an issue we had to resolve. I volunteered to handled a cookout for everyone Friday night, and got to planning the menu a few weeks in advance. The place our party was staying at is this neat little compound called El Cosmico. At El Cosmico, there were Safari tents and Indian Teepees you can rent. There are also very nicely remodeled and roomy RV trailers that were available to rent as well. I called the El Cosmico people and found out that there was an outdoor kitchen area that had a few grills and a fridge, but I didn’t know how big, or how many of them worked.

Originally, I was thinking of doing a whole pig roast, but due to the burn ban at Marfa, it was not possible to set up a fire to roast a whole pig. I also was wary of how busy the camp site was going to be and how many other people may be using the grills available in the kitchen area. The last thing I want is to lug a bunch of food to Marfa and have no way to cook it.

After some research for the recipes, I found a recipe that seemed to be adaptable enough to guarantee that people will be able to get fed. Whole bone-in pork shoulders are slow cooked in a 275F oven for 12 hours, then finished off on a smoky grill for 2 hours. After the pork is removed from the oven, it can be cooled down and refrigerated over night until it’s ready to be smoked. Since we were headed to Marfa Thursday, I decided to start the pork Wednesday night at 8PM, then letting it cook until 8AM Thursday morning, then cooled for a few hours until it can be handled and wrapped in plastic wrap. It will stay in a cooler until we get to the camp site, and then the pork will be moved to a fridge until Friday evening time when it’s ready to be cooked.

To feed 25 people, I bought 18Lbs of bone-in pork shoulder. The recipe calls for skin-on, bone-in pork, but I was only able to find skinned bone-in pork shoulder, which worked out just as well.

The pork is covered in a Dijon mustard, paprika, onion powder, brown sugar, and pepper marinade.

The pork is slow roasted, fat side up, in a 275 oven for 12 hour depending on the weight of the Pork shoulder. I only roasted my pork shoudlers for 10 hours since they were 10 lbs and 8 lbs respectively. For a 12-14 lb single pork shoulder, it will probably take about 12 hours.

The pork is cooled for a few hours until it can be handled, and it is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, then a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil.

I placed it in a cooler filled with ice, and once we got to the camp site, the shoulders were placed in a fridge in one of my friend’s trailers. We got in around 9PM on Thursday night, so I did not get a chance to check out the kitchen in day light.

First thing Friday morning, I went to check out the outdoor kitchen, and it was possibly the best I could have hoped for. There was a full size fridge, 4 medium sized grills, a large prep table, 4 burners ( 3 of them worked), and a large sink.

Dinner was set at 7PM on Friday, so at 4PM I started building the fire for my grills. For the pork, I only needed enough charcoal to warm up the pork shoulders and keep the smoke going. While the fire is starting, I started to get the pork ready. I unwrapped the pork and placed them in a large disposable tin pan.

The pork is smoked for 2 hours on low heat in a pan on the grill. 2 hours was just enough time to allow the smoke to penetrate the meat, and the low heat allowed more fat to render off from the pork shoulder and keep the pork moist and juicy.

I unhusked the corn until 1 or 2 layers of husk still remained, and this is to keep the corn from burning on the grill. I built a medium fire on the grill, placed the corn on the grill, and closed the lid. Occasionally I came to turn the corn and move ones that are less cooked around the perimeter of the grill towards the center of the grill.

I also made a red and green cabbage coleslaw with apples and caraway seed dressing, but I didn’t have time to take pictures of it. I bought the cabbage a day in advance and kept it wrapped in plastic wrap. I also made the dressing a day in advance and kept it cold in either a cooler or a fridge. Once I started cooking, I sliced up all the cabbage and the apples, mixed in the dressing, covered the dish with plastic wrap, and kept it refridgerated until ready to be served.

The green apples and crunchy cabbage in the slaw made a great contrast against the smoky pulled pork, and it also help cut through the fattiness of the pork.

I also made one of my favourite desserts for cookouts: Smores Cheesecake. The cheesecake is composed of a graham cracker crust, chocolate cheese cake, and a marshmallow meringue topping. I made this cheesecake a day in advance and kept it chilled until it was ready to be served.

To make the crust, graham crackers, butter, and sugar are processed together, pressed on the bottom of a springform pan, and baked until firm.

To make the filling, room temperature cream cheese, sugar, and a pinch of salt is blended in a stand mixer until smooth.

Heavy whipping cream is added to the mixer, then cooled melted chocolate, then the eggs are added to the mixer, one at a time, until well combined.

The filling is poured into the crust, and smoothed out with a offset spatula.

The cheesecake is baked in a 325 degree oven until set and slightly puffed on the edges and jiggly in the center, then it cooled until room temperature, then placed in the fridge to chill for at least 6 to 8 hours.

To make the marshmallow topping, egg whites are whisked together with sugar in a metal bowl set on top of simmering water until the sugar have completely dissolved.

Large Marshmallow pieces are mixed into the hot egg white mixture, set aside for a few minutes.

Then everything is beaten together along with some cream of tartar with a hand held mixer, until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

The marshmallow cream is spread on top of the chilled cheese cake.

You can place the cheese cake in the oven on the top rack with the broiler on until the marshmallow begins to brown. Alternatively if you have a hand held mini torch, brown the marshmallow topping to your own liking.

The cheesecake can be covered and chilled until ready to serve. I doubled up the recipe and was able to serve 25 people, with still some extras to spare.

Cooking the pork early ensured that I had food to serve, and also I didn’t have to spend all day in Marfa cooking instead of relaxing and enjoying until 2 hours before the food is served. I brought Mexican Bolillo rolls to serve with the pulled pork, and I also made a ketchup vinegar and a mustard vinegar sauce to go with the pork.

Overall it was a success, we had some pork left over that we made into pulled pork breakfast tostadas.

12 Hour Carolina Style Pulled Pork: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/carolina-pulled-pork
Coleslaw with Granny Smith Apples and Caraway Seed Dressing: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/crunchy-coleslaw-with-cayenne-and-toasted-caraway-seeds
S’Mores Cheesecake: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Smores-Cheesecake-with-Summer-Berries-242718

My boyfriend bought me a siphon for valentines day, and up until Thursday dinner, I have yet to use it. In fact, the reason why I went with Ferran Adria’s recipes is because he is an avid user of specialty cooking tools, and in his home cook book, there are a few dessert recipes were a siphon is used. If you don’t have a siphon, you can use hand mixer or stand mixer for this recipe. The siphon would give you much lighter and airier Yogurt foam, but I think the other options are a good substitute. This dessert is also relatively simple to make, and very healthy.

First, yogurt (I used greek style) and heavy whipping cream are stirred together in a bowl. I added a bit of honey to sweeten the foam.

The mixture is then poured through a sieve. This step is very important if you are using a siphon, since large pieces of food will clog up the siphon during dispense.

The yogurt and heavy whipping cream mixture is poured into the siphon, and chilled in the fridge for 1 hour before serving. If you are not using a siphon, you can just chill the yogurt cream in a large bowl until almost ready to serve.

When it’s time to serve, dispense the yogurt foam through the siphon, and top with sliced fresh strawberries. If not using a siphon, beat the yogurt cream with a hand mixer or stand mixer until firm peaks form, then divide into bowls and top with sliced fresh strawberries.

To cap off the dinner, I chose a homemade Nutella Chocolate Tart recipe from Joanne Chang, who is a chemistry major turned baker based out of Boston. This is the first time I’ve tried making this tart, and I loved the contrast between the velvety creamy nutella and crunchy roasted hazelnuts. The crust is also very good, but the tart does take a little time to make .

To make the crust, butter and sugar are whipped in a stand mixer until fluffy and light.

Flour is added to the mixer and beaten well with the paddle attachment.

Once the dough comes together, it is formed into a ball, wrapped in plastic, and set in the fridge to relax for 1 hour.

The dough is taken out of the fridge and left to soften for about 30 minutes, then beaten with a rolling pin to flatten and rolled out between two sheets of plastic wrap until about 12 inches in diameter.

The dough is very carefully transferred to a metal tart pan with a removable bottom.

The dough may break in places, but they are easily patch-able. The edges are folded in so it’s flush with the edge of the pan.

The tart shell is baked for 30 minutes until golden brown, then removed from the oven until cooled to room temperature. To make the nutella filling, toasted hazelnuts are processed until finely ground.

Heavy whipping cream is heated on the stove top until bubbles form on the edges of the pot, the ground hazelnut is added to the heavy whipping cream, the pot removed from the heat, and the cream is set to infused for an hour.

While the cream is infusing, milk and bittersweet chocolate is melted in a metal bowl set atop a simmering pot of water until smooth.

The whipping cream is strained and set aside until the chocolate is completely melted.

The cream is stirred into the melted chocolate until thoroughly mixed.

Crushed toasted hazelnuts are stirred into the chocolate, and the chocolate is ready to be used for the filling.

The tart is filled with the chocolate hazelnut mixture and placed in the fridge to chill.

I topped the tart with some extra toasted whole hazelnuts.

After the previous heavy short rib course, I served a refreshing concord grape granita, which is basically homemade shaved ice. I also made this a day in advance, and all I had to do to serve was scoop the ice into serving cups.

It’s important to get concord grapes for this recipe, since the grapes have a distinct flavour, and the skin lends a nice bright purple color to the ice.

The grapes are washed and pureed in a blender, and the remnants set over a mesh sieve to remove seeds and left over grape skin.

The grape juice is then mixed with simple syrup to taste. Remember that the grape juice is already pretty sweet, so be aware of how sweet you want the granita to be.

The grape juice/simple syrup mixture is placed in the freezer for a few hours until a thin layer of ice forms on the top of the liquid. The recipe says to check it every 30 minutes, but I think it depends on how strong your freezer is and mine took longer than 30 minutes to set.

Using a fork, the top layer of the ice is scrapped and fluffed up. It doesn’t take that much effort at this point since the juice is only half frozen.

The mixture is placed back in the freezer for the bottom parts of the juice to freeze, and the same scraping process is repeated until the entire mixture is scraped up and frozen.

The bowl is covered and placed in the freezer until ready to serve. I would’ve like to have topped the granita with a leaf or two of mint, but unfortunately I didn’t have any at the time. This was an incredibly easy recipe to make, and it was a great break for our dinner so far.

Concord Grape Granita: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/concord-grape-granita

For the vegetarian dinner dessert, I made a Apple Tart with Almond Cream filling. The name is a little bit misleading, as the almond filling is a lot more textured than what you usually think of a cream filling should be like. This tart takes a little bit of work, but can be made a day ahead of time and kept at room temperature.

To make the tart shell, flour, eggs, cold butter, and ice water are processed together, until little pea size shaped dough are formed.

The flour mixture is dumped on to a floured surface and kneaded a few times until the dough forms. For a extra crispy crust, you want to knead the dough as little as possible. The dough should be formed into a ball, and wrapped in plastic wrap, and chilled in the fridge for about 1 hour.

After the dough has rested, it is rolled between two sheets of plastic wrap until about 12 inches in diameter. The dough is carefully moved into a 9 inch fluted baking pan with a removable bottom.

The edges of the pastry shell are either trimmed or folded inwards, the bottom pricked all over with a fork.

The shell is lined with tin foil, and dry beans placed in the pan on top of the tin foil as pie weights.

The shell is baked at 400F for 25 minutes until the edges are lightly browned, then the beans and the tin foil removed, and the pastry shell is baked for another 10 minutes. The shell is removed and cooled.

To make the almond cream, slivered almonds are processed with some flour, and mixed with granulated sugar and salt.

4 tablespoons of room temperature butter is creamed with a hand held blender, and the almond flour mixture, eggs, and rum added to the butter and mixed thoroughly.

The almond cream is spread on the bottom of the pastry shell, and thinly sliced pieces of apple placed on top of the almond cream.

Butter is brushed and brown sugar is sprinkled on top of the sliced apples.

The tart is baked for 1 hour, transferred to a rack and cooled slightly, and carefully removed from it’s pan.

The tart is sliced, and I served it with coffee ice cream.

Apple Tart with Almond Cream: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/apple-tart-with-almond-cream