Creme Brulee (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Creme Brulee
Creme Brulee!

Once again, Dorie Greenspan is my hero!

I thought creme brulee was a difficult dessert involving a water-bath, whisking a crazy custard together, and should be only ordered in a restaurant.

But thanks to Dorie, I can make it at home!!

Creme Brulee Creme Brulee
I made mine in little 2.5 ounce ramekins and got 12 ramekins from a full batch. Dorie's recipe calls for you to bake it at a low temperature (probably thus avoiding the water bath). After a nice chill overnight, I woke up and torched my dessert!

Creme Brulee
This week's delicious choice was selected by cool Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake! Mari, I love your blog and this is a wonderful pick! I can't wait to try it with some of Dorie's "Playing around" tips - such as lavender, ginger or tea brulee - oh my!

Creme Brulee
The middle was lovely and creamy. And the best part ever?! Cracking the brulee ceiling!

Be sure to check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers! And don't forget to buy Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours so you can make it yourself (page 393). Also, if you are interested in joining the group as we make our way through Dorie's book, you have until the end of October!
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Dimply Plum Cake (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dimply Plum Cake (Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan)
Itty-Bitty Dimply Plum Cake

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Michelle of Bake-en selected the Dimply Plum Cake (page 41) from Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. This came together in two parts...

Dimply Plum Cake (Round 1)

Dimply Plum Cake (Round 1) Dimply Plum Cake (Round 1)
Round One:
Lots of beautiful plums and a full size 8x8 pan.
Cut fruit, mix and bake.
After 40 minutes, the top was golden and the toothpick came out clean.
But when I cut into the cake, it was crazy raw. Like the raw food movement entered the center of my cake. Except for sashimi, I like my food above 115 degrees.

Dimply Plum Cake (Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan) Dimply Plum Cake (Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan)
Dimply Plum Cake (Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan)
Round Two:
This time, based on a few factors (including the sad state of plums at the Farmer's Market), I decided to make 1/4 of the recipe in a little 4-inch pan.

Even though it was a 4-inch pan, I baked it for 40-45 minutes (can't remember now...I just keep hitting "snooze" on the kitchen timer). At 30 minutes, I tented the pan with some aluminum foil.

Yippee! I held off the raw food movement (I just don't understand this, by the way - how can you give up hot soup in the winter??!??!) and it was nicely baked!

Dimply Plum Cake (Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan)
Whoo Hoo! My cake and Dorie!

Be sure to check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers! Next week, creme brulee - yes! more torched desserts! :)
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Kai's Tarts and Cookies - Fruit Tartlets, Lemon Meringue Tartlets and Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fruit Tartlets & Lemon Meringue Tarts
Little Kai is coming!

Chocolate Crackles (Martha Stewart)
Little Kai is coming!

Kai is mom-to-be Jennifer's first little one that will be arriving next month! This afternoon, work had a baby shower for her and her husband, Jay.

Awesome organizer and auntie-to-be Judy had a great spread that included a cake. I brought along some small bites. (Baby showers should have miniature food, no?)

Making Tart Shells Making Tart Shells
Making Tart Shells Making Tart Shells
This was my first time making tartlets! I used the crust recipe (miniature tartlet pastry) from Sweet Miniatures by Flo Braker (page 205). It's a simple recipe and doesn't require chilling. The first time, I didn't use enough dough and the edges came out a bit weak. The next time, they came out looking like, get this, real tart shells! I was shocked that it all worked out!! ;)

Fruit Tartlets
For the fresh fruit tart, I used the Barefoot Contessa's pastry cream recipe (online here). This was easy to make and tasted yummy! I used vanilla paste so it has small black vanilla bean flecks. I glazed the fruit with a diluted apricot preserve.

Lemon Meringue Tarts
Fruit Tartlets & Lemon Meringue Tarts
For the lemon meringue tart, I made a 1/2 recipe of Martha Stewart's lemon curd. Then, I made her swiss meringue and piped it onto the tartlets. The best part of my morning came when I got to torch the meringue at 6 am while listening to the morning news. Suddenly, the traffic jam caused by the jack-knifed truck just isn't so bad when you see pure white meringue turn golden in a millisecond! It's too cool.

Chocolate Crackles (Martha Stewart)
I also made some Martha Stewart's Chocolate Crackles Cookies. They are quite yummy!

To Little Kai: We are all excitedly awaiting your arrival in mid-October! You have the best mommy and daddy in the world!
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Musha Restaurant in Torrance, CA (Japanese Izakaya)

My friend Jessica and her brother Dominic have started to eat their way through Southern California's South Bay (it's the area between LAX Airport and Long Beach). The South Bay always has a nice ocean breeze and some good ethnic restaurants. Torrance has the headquarters of both American Honda and Toyota. Because of their many ex-pat Japanese staff and as well as a large Japanese-American population, there are numerous good Japanese places.

On Sunday, we went to Musha Restaurant in Torrance. This was my second visit but a first for J and D. And it won't be our last!!! Again, everything was soooo yummy.

Musha serves izakaya food - bar food, small plates or Japanese tapas. Whatever you call it, it's all delicious.

Musha, Torrance, CA - Harasume Salad
Harasume Salad
Glass noodle salad with sesame dressing so good I could just drink it.

Musha, Torrance, CA - Tuna Poke
Tuna Poke
Sashimi tuna with daikon strips and these super delicious senbei rice squares.

Musha, Torrance, CA - Musha Fried Chicken (MFC)
Musha Fried Chicken
Always a favorite - MFC is a tender piece of fried white meat chicken and a crazy yummy ponzu sauce. Be sure to add the shredded daikon radish and green onions to the sauce.

Musha, Torrance, CA - Takotama (Okonomiyaki)
This is an okonomiyaki dish - egg omelet with octopus, yakisoba noodles, ginger, bonito flakes, and sauces. Yummy! (Go to Gaja in Lomita, CA to make you own okonomiyaki dishes!)

Musha, Torrance, CA - Cheese Risotto Musha, Torrance, CA - Cheese Risotto
Cheese Risotto
Brought out to you in a big old block of cheese! Yes, do This at your next dinner party! Waiter mixes in extra cheese and it's all yum.

Musha, Torrance, CA - Green Tea Parfait
Green Tea Parfait
What a delicious way to finish! From the bottom: Corn flakes (brilliant!), whipped cream, sweet red bean ("an"), green tea ice cream, strawberries and those cigar cookies things.

Musha, Torrance, CA Musha, Torrance, CA - Green Tea Parfait
Yeah. That was good.

If you are in the South Bay or Santa Monica, visit one of Musha's restaurants for some izakaya.

Musha (near the Mitsuwa plaza)
1725 W Carson St @ Western, Ste B
Torrance, CA 90501 (310) 787-7344
Hint - Get there before they open for dinner at 6 pm!
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Third Anniversary Triple Layer Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake from Sky High Cakes

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

It's crazy good.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Today is my three year anniversary at public library job. After years of bean counting, I went back to UCLA and became a librarian!

To celebrate, I made a three layer cake. (Next year, the four-layer cake will be a monster! :)

And, of course, I turned to my favorite new book, Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman.

Smitten Kitchen has the recipe and a photo was on the Martha Stewart show (I'm soooo bummed I forgot to set my DVR for her show on bloggers!)

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
You know this cake is serious when you see how much batter it makes! I swear that could make 36 be sure to slice this cake thin, thin! This makes three 8" layers.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
The frosting is a delicious combination of cream cheese, butter, 5 cups of powdered sugar (I used 4 cups) and smooth peanut butter. After a chill, a ganache of chocolate, peanut butter and half and half is poured over the top of the cake.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
The cake is seriously moist and decadent. Smitten Kitchen calls it intense and I completely agree!

Making this cake could actually make you lose weight! Really.
See, the cake is sooo heavy. Like 15 pounds of cake heavy. If you just carry it around with you, you'll totally burn calories. I practically worked up a sweat bringing it into work! (And if you are planning to travel with it, you might want to throw in some dowels to keep it all together).

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Three for three!

So far, I've made the Chai cake and Strawberry shortcake from Alisa's up, the Ginger Mango Lime Curd cake.

Have a great weekend!
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Chocolate Chunkers (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chocolate Chunkers (Dorie Greenspan recipe)
Chocolate Chunkers

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Claudia of Fool for Food picked Chocolate Chunkers on page 70 of Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Chocolate Chunkers (Dorie Greenspan recipe)
The cross-section. This is a dense (unsweetened) chocolate, (bittersweet) chocolate, (semi-sweet) chocolate, (cocoa powder) chocolate, (white) chocolate, nut and fruit cookie.

Chocolate Chunkers (Dorie Greenspan recipe) Chocolate Chunkers (Dorie Greenspan recipe)
Chocolate Chunkers (Dorie Greenspan recipe) Chocolate Chunkers (Dorie Greenspan recipe)
I used lotsa chocolate, pecans and golden raisins and dried cranberries. The raisins and cranberries rocked the cookie.

Chocolate Chunkers (Dorie Greenspan recipe) Chocolate Chunkers (Dorie Greenspan recipe)
Lots of bakers mentioned that their cookies, while tasty, looked like, well, something outta the GI track. You know, #2 or as many said, 'turd cookies'.
So I decided to drizzle some melted white chocolate over the top to pretty things up a bit. I made half the recipe and made my cookies small - I got 24 out of half a batch (the full batch makes 24 larger cookies). I think that helped make them petite and less dung looking.

Chocolate Chunkers (Dorie Greenspan recipe)
Check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers!

Have a good week everyone! I know my friend Shannon will be having a GREAT week! Her husband, Mike is returning from serving in Iraq! He's heading straight to the doctors to see the ultrasound of his first child! Best wishes and cheer to you, Shannon & Mike (and growing baby girl!!)
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Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake
Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake
It's like eating a cloud of summer

I'm sad that summer is ending.

Okay, let me say that I live in LOS ANGELES. Yes, the land of beaches, Hollywood, too much Botox, and Disneyland. I'm a native and love it. I've seen snow about 15 times in my entire life. I went years without owning an umbrella because it rains only a few days a year. I think the average year-round temp here is 70 degrees. Thus, Summer moving into Fall doesn't really make much difference.

But my summer fruits, the ultimate symbol of summer, are going away and that makes me sad.

No more apricots around, and the peaches are getting a bit mealy. Last month, every stand had only two. I know the whole Lion King circle of life fruit thing, but I'm still sad.

Here is probably one of the last California summer strawberry desserts of the year...(and, omg, the most delicious and beautiful!!!)

Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake
Earlier, I made that awesome Chai Tea three layer cake. Today, I made the Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake from Alisa Huntsman's book, Sky High Cakes: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes (page 89). This book is so amazing. The Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake is on the cover - I mean, this is totally a cover girl cake, no?

Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake
My organic California strawberries were hulled, sliced and macerated in sugar, rosewater and vanilla for 1 hour before assembly. I love rose water and I especially like going to my local Halal store to buy it - I love the saffron ice cream and many guava and mango juices available at the market.

At first, I thought the vanilla was a bit too much when I ate a strawberry, but after it sits on the cake for a bit, it mellows out.

Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake
This is a 6" cake. I had one 6x3 MagicLine pan but this recipe sent me (very, very happily) back to Surfas for two 6x2 pans. This is an adorable size for cakes!

Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake
The cake uses cake flour and buttermilk for a nice vanilla cake. Next time, I might use vanilla paste so I can get those little flecks of vanilla bean in the batter. Filled with strawberries and fresh whipped cream (with sugar and vanilla), it is heaven on a plate.

Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake
My new Tupperware cake taker (whew, bought one of the last aqua ones - Tupperware has switched to an alarming yellow product) was too short for this literally sky-high cake. I had to dig out my old Rubbermaid carrier to hold this sky scraper of a cake.

The only problem happened 100 feet from work. I made a quick right-turn and then come upon a front of the Sheriff station. I'm extra cautious and, not wanting to sit in traffic school again, I break for the yellow. And I look down at my little cake..and it is a study in fractions. 1/3 is on the plate and 2/3 is not. Ugh. But I got to work and pushed all back together!

Sky-High Strawberry Shortcake
Say farewell to summer!

Last time, the author actually commented on my blog! Her blog says "To see it for sale in stores and on the internet is incredible; to see it in use by other bakers, now that is a thrill."
So...Buy Alisa's book and thrill her with some cakes!
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