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I’ve been excited to share this Coffee Tres Leches Cake recipe for a while now, but between the burnout I had to conquer and issues with my Internet, I decided to push it back and push it back… Until weeks turned into months! I finally sat down and edited the video of my making this though, and while it’s not one of my best videos for sure, my excitement won over.
If you want to skip all my blabber and go right to the recipe, scroll to the ‘Recipe notes’ section where the video is too. Otherwise, I’ll tell you a little more about how this Coffee Tres Leches Cake came to be.
My first Tres Leches Cake wasn’t particularly mind-blowing, so I had this idea of trying to make it again, but this time I wanted to make a flavored Tres Leches Cake. I had two flavors I was choosing from, but I decided to make this one first since ya’ll know I love coffee. When I checked the Internet, I couldn’t find one specific recipe that really called out to me, so I decided to mix and match a couple of recipes.
It took some time, but I somehow found a combination of components from different sources that felt right together. And like magic, this Coffee Tres Leches Cake turned out to be so much better than I imagined!
Let’s start with the cake base from Honestly Yum, because it is the star of this recipe, truly. It was so light and fluffy it was like a sponge that soaked in the three-kinds-of-milk-plus-coffee solution that I poured in. It held the liquid inside its crumb, releasing this coffee-tinged milky explosion every time you bite into the cake.
The literal icing on top that made this cake even better was the Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting from Tatyana’s Everyday Food. It added that savory tang that only a cream cheese frosting can, and somehow that helped to round out this Coffee Tres Leches Cake. All the components together helped turn this into a cake that packs a wallop despite how simple it looks.
Perhaps the biggest tip I can give you for this particular recipe is to allow the cake to soak overnight rather than the minimum of 3 hours. It really gives the cake some time to set and trap all the glorious liquid inside. That’s the entire point of a Tres Leches Cake anyway.
While all the components of this cake are fairly simple to make, I do want to give a gentle reminder that it’s imperative that your cake batter is nice and airy before you pour it into the pan for baking. Make sure to properly beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then avoid overmixing them into your egg yolk-based batter so that the batter stays aerated. You want a fluffy cake here that can suck in all the coffee-milk soak.
Also, I highly recommend using strong brewed coffee for the soak. If you want that coffee taste to shine through more than the milk, find yourself a good strong, dark brew. Check out the video below to see how to make this cake!
[RECIPE] Coffee Tres Leches Cake - YouTube
If you want a thick layer of frosting on top of your cake, I suppose you can add another half recipe of the frosting to the original measurements. For me, this is just the right amount so as not to overpower the rest of the cake. This Coffee Tres Leches Cake is such a glorious play of textures in the mouth. Somehow the fluffy but also “juicy” cake that explodes as you chew goes so well with that equally fluffy but also creamy coffee cream cheese frosting.
As for the taste, all I can say is, THIS THING IS REAL GOOD. Trust me!
Coffee Tres Leches Cake
The classic three-milk cake gets an upgrade with the addition of coffee in the soak and more coffee on the frosting!
Makes one 9x13-inch cake
For the Sponge Cake
2¼ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1¼ cups + ¼ cup sugar, divided use
¾ teaspoon salt
7 large eggs, separated
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cups water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoons cream of tartar or lemon juice (optional)
For the Coffee-Milk Soak
1-14 ounce (400 grams) can sweetened condensed milk
1-12 fluid ounce (355 mL) can evaporated milk
½ cup whole milk
½ cup very strong brewed coffee or espresso
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
For the Coffee-Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces (227 grams) softened cream cheese
½ cup white granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon instant coffee powder or espresso powder
2 Tablespoons boiling water
2 cups (473 mL) cold heavy cream
Make the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease a 9x13-inch cake pan with butter and evenly coat with flour, making sure to tap out the excess flour.
2. In a medium bowl, place the egg yolks. Add the oil, water, and vanilla. Whisk until well-combined.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the first 1¼ cups sugar and salt. Whisk to combine.
4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg yolk mixture. Mix quickly but thoroughly, about 1 minute, until just smooth.
5. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. (Using an electric mixer or stand mixer here will make things easier and quicker.) Add in the cream of tartar or lemon juice, if using, then beat on medium high until soft peaks start to form.
6. Continuing to beat the egg whites, slowly add in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Beat until the whites become shiny and hold stiff peaks. Do not overmix at this stage!
7. Using a rubber spatula, fold in 1/3 of the whites at normal speed to lighten the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined and the batter is aerated. Be careful not to overwork the batter or else you might deflate it.
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, tilting the pan around until the batter evens out. Bake about 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for a moment while you prepare the coffee-milk soak.
Make the soak
9. In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the soak.
10. Once the cake has cooled for at least 5 minutes, take a toothpick or skewer and poke as many holes as you can all over the cake, down to the bottom. Pour the coffee-milk soak over the warm cake gradually, as the cake will absorb the soak slowly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Make the frosting
11. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy. In a small glass, dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water, then pour into the cream cheese mixture. Beat everything together until completely smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.
12. Pour in the cold heavy cream and continue to whisk until the frosting is fluffy and is able to somewhat hold its shape. Spread the frosting all over the soaked cake. Serve immediately or refrigerate another 30 minutes before serving.
Since I’ve already started talking about one of my favorite things in the world in my previous post, I thought I’d continue with the theme for a few more posts, starting with these Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies.
These cookies, oh how do I even describe these? Let’s just say, I had a good feeling about them the moment I pulled them out of the oven. The glorious smell of coffee wafted and melded with the butter and sugar scent that is present in pretty much every baked good. I remember thinking: This is one of the most amazing-smelling cookies I’ve ever made!
Although these Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies are a dream cookie for coffee-lovers like myself, I have a hunch these would appeal to any other chewy chocolate chip cookie lover in general. If you obsess over trying every choco chip cookie recipe you come across (like me!), this recipe will add a nice variation to your choco chip cookie collection.
For something named Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies, you get exactly what you might expect. If you use good-quality espresso powder or instant coffee here, you get a coffee scent and flavor that is so gloriously apparent in the cookies. As you all know, coffee and chocolate are one of those ingredient combos that go super well together, and this cookie proves that to be true. The cookies also have this very nice caramel note to them. SO GOOD.
And just because we’re going all the way to make these awesome, I find that adding a pinch of sea salt on top makes all the other flavors shine even more. (Flaky sea salt is probably preferable.) If you don’t tend to enjoy salt on your cookies, you can omit it just fine. In any case, a good chewy chocolate chip cookie is hard to beat, salt or no salt!
This recipe makes use of melted butter, beaten together with brown and white sugar, some vanilla, and the coffee granules. It is very important that you incorporate the sugars really well with the butter here so that they don’t separate as you go through the recipe. Not doing this step properly will affect the outcome of your cookies. You can actually use a stand mixer to make the mixing process easier. By hand, it takes a bit of time. What you’re looking for is something akin to thick caramel.
This thick coffee-scented caramel-like base will loosen up a bit once the eggs are added in. It will be liquid enough for the flour to create a soft dough that’s almost like creamed butter. Not to worry though, the dough becomes easier to handle once you add the chocolate chips right in. (Not that you’ll need to roll these in your hands.)
You can make these cookies in advance and store the dough in the fridge if you want, but since it bakes up nicely without requiring refrigeration, I suggest you just go through to the end. I used a regular ice cream scoop to portion my dough and got 21 big cookies. They had crackly tops and baking them for 15 minutes produced perfectly chewy cookies for me. If you plan to use a smaller scoop, you may need to bake for a few minutes less. You can also bake them longer for firmer cookies.
I suppose with these darker hued choco chip cookies, it’s a little harder to tell if the edges have turned golden brown and are therefore ready to be taken out, but you will notice that the cookies look set all around while the tops are soft but have a crust-like surface.
The cookies will be a little puffy fresh from the oven, but settle as it cools down. They will certainly tempt you to eat them right away, but calm yourself! They will be too soft still. Give them at least 5 minutes to set once they’re at room temperature before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
The resulting Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies created by this recipe will smell and taste amazing depending on the type of coffee powder you use. I find that it is really hard to find espresso powder that’s in a small size where I’m from, so for recipes that call for espresso powder, I have been using Trader Joe’s Columbian blend instant coffee. It is one of the few instant black coffees I enjoy drinking, and so far, I get stellar results when I bake with it. (Anybody remember these awesome Coffee Buns?) I have to credit this coffee big-time for making my Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies amazing.
Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
One of my new favorite recipes for chocolate chips. The addition of the coffee component makes these not just smell amazing but taste so good too. Perfect for lovers of coffee and chocolate both.
Makes 21 to 24 big cookies
2 cups (320 grams) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 grams) salted butter, melted and cooled
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling (optional but good)
1. Preheat the oven to 330°F (165°C) and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer or whisk), beat the melted butter, both sugars, coffee granules, and vanilla. If using a mixer, beat for about 2 minutes until the sugars are incorporated into the butter. The mixture will look a bit like very thick caramel. (It will take longer if mixed by hand, but completely doable.)
4. Add the egg and yolk, then continue to beat until light and fluffy.
5. Switch to a spatula and add in the dry ingredients. Mix briefly until just combined and some streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chocolate chips just until distributed.
6. Using a scooper or a tablespoon, portion out the dough onto the baking sheets. You can make either big or small cookies, but make sure to allot at least 2 inches of space between each cookie to give them room to spread.
7. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with sea salt. (This step is optional but I find it a good habit to ALWAYS add a touch of sea salt to every chocolate chip cookie I make.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes for smaller cookies, or around 15 to 17 minutes for bigger cookies.*
8. Cool in the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes or until set enough to move, then allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy with milk!
*The cookies are more or less ready once golden and set around the edges, but you can add more baking time if you want crunchier cookies. I always prefer chewy ones so I take them out of the oven when the edges are set but the middle is still a bit soft.
To say that I’m one of those incredibly happy about the surging Filipino coffee scene would be an understatement. First it was chocolate and now it’s coffee– two of my favorite things in the world! Ever since my introduction to Figures of Beans, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for other local brands. It didn’t take long for more brands to sprout online, and my adventures in trying out the different Filipino coffee brands out there began to take shape.
Years ago, I had no idea that there were so many places that cultivated coffee in the country. Batangas barako was always famous, but it has been the Mountain Provinces that have been taking the spotlight in recent years. There are now a lot of farmers growing mostly arabica and robusta in the Cordilleras, specifically Benguet and Sagada. Mindanao also produces quite a bit of coffee, although I have yet to try any.
The best part about this growing coffee industry in the country is how much it helps the lives of Pinoy farmers. I have always wondered why the government gives too little attention to farmers, but somehow I am relieved that at least some private individuals recognize the importance of the local farming industry. Most of the Filipino coffee brands I will be sharing today have made it a mission to partner with local farmers, not just to keep their business going, but to give their partner farmers a consistent source of livelihood.
And that’s why I decided to write this little post here today. It’s my way of recognizing all the effort put into creating these products. I don’t know how much this will help in the grand scheme of things, but I want people to know that Filipino coffee can be just as good as those expensive imported coffees. Heck, I am so proud that we can make this kind of coffee actually. From the quality of beans down to the super swanky packaging, these Filipino coffee brands can absolutely stand their own against foreign brands.
Obviously there are tons of other Filipino coffee brands I have not yet tried so I only have a handful of them in this list, but I have tried enough to pick favorites. (Marked them with stars, I did!) I have in fact already repurchased several of them.
You will notice that a lot of the Filipino coffee brands in this list come in drip coffee form, just because it is such a convenient way to get a nice brew. I also do do not add any sugar or cream to my coffee, preferring it black and full-flavored. Just a little disclaimer however: Because I am not a coffee tasting expert, I can’t really give you super specific descriptions. (I would love to learn though!) However I do know what I like in a coffee and that’s how I’ve managed to choose my faves. Well, I’ve blabbered way too long. Let’s get on with the list, shall we?
Basilio’s coffee beans are sourced from different parts of the Philippines. The company teaches local farmers air roasting techniques to allow them to sell their coffee in their own communities, and not just to supply to Basilio. Their blends are made up of Philippine Arabica, Robusta, and Excelsa beans. At first, I only encountered Basilio coffee coming in big bags of coffee beans, but when they came out with drip bags I jumped on the chance to try this Filipino coffee. And I am so glad I did!
They have several available blends but I’ve only tried this one so far and I LOVE IT. I feel like the air-roasting adds an amazing scent and this toasty dark roasted taste to the coffee that is strong and deep. Maybe people who don’t enjoy strong coffee will want to drink this with lots of milk and sugar, but this is the kind of coffee I like drinking black. Dark and bold and nuanced, with a scent that makes any coffee-lover smile!
BrewsCo is a Filipino coffee brand that boasts an expertise in proper coffee bean roasting and coffee bean evaluation. Their in-house quality control person even happens to be a certified member of several coffee guilds in America. Their beans however do not exclusively come from Filipino farms, because they also source from abroad. All the processes to create the finished and packaged product are done locally though.
I bought myself BrewsCo’s assorted pack of drip coffees, and I just want to say the colorful packaging of these products are so nice to look at! I love that there are descriptions of the blends so people will know what to expect. The flavored ones aren’t my favorites from the pack although they smelled pleasant enough. My favorite here is the Moreno, which to me is their darkest and deepest blend.
This brand’s coffee comes from the municipality of Amadeo in Cavite, home of the Pahimis Festival from which one of the blends gets its namesake. It is proudly one of the suppliers of coffee beans to Nestle Philippines, Universal Robina Corp., and Figaro, to name a few. Of course, they also sell their beans under their own Amadeo name.
This is the first coffee I’ve tried that comes in a tea bag for steeping, and I think it’s a clever idea. Except the strings on these tea bags get detached so easily! I also want to mention that the teabags do not come individually packed inside the plastic. I suppose that’s how they keep this product super cheap.
If you don’t like strong coffee and prefer something on the light side, Cafe Amadeo’s blends will become your friend. You absolutely must use only a small amount of water in a teacup for best experience. This to me tastes like a drowned out Americano, with the Pahamis having maybe a bit more flavor than the Excelsa. It does not give me the satisfying hit or flavor profile I personally look for in coffee, so I am not a big fan of these blends. However, I thought it was worth a mention for those who like coffee lite.
From the packaging alone, it’s clear that Cafe-Te-Ria proudly highlights the local origins of their coffee. Seeing the potential of the rich mountain soil of the Philippines in producing quality coffee, this family-owned business was started in 2014. To this day, Cafe-Te-Ria continues to produce quality coffee while also engaging in the mission of empowering local farmers by teaching them modern farming methods. Their dream is to see the local coffee industry become great again. (A dream I share.)
I am always so grateful when brands make these kinds of sampler sets so that potential customers can get a little taste before committing to buy big bags. However, because Cafe-Te-Ria does not sell their coffees in drip bags, you will need some sort of brewing instrument to drink this. For the record, I enjoyed every blend available in this box, but my favorite is the Jacinto blend. I even bought a big bag of ground Jacinto blend coffee so that my family can try it out too.
If you’re looking for straightforward coffee blends, Daybreak Coffee is your go-to. Their blends are identified by source, making it easier for you to identify your coffee preference. There is liberica or barako from Batangas (medium roasted with a bold taste and strong aroma), Arabica from Benguet (full-bodied, balanced, with hints of citrus), and finally, Arabica from Sagada (dark-roasted with a smooth body).
This was one of the first few brands I tried since falling in love with coffee from the Mountain Provinces. Ironically, my favorite from the set is the Batangas Coffee, though the Sagada one does a great job of waking me up too! My only gripe with this brand is how frail its drip bag is. The handle sometimes breaks off from the bag even as I am just halfway through pouring the water in.
Dipbrew is a beautifully packaged brand that sources their beans from different regions in the Philippines. They make use of a wide range of recipes that infuse the best qualities of each coffee species to create their blends. Dipbrew comes in four blends: Classic, Morning Kick, Macadamia, and Hazelnut-Vanilla. They also come in both drip coffee and big-bag coffee sizes.
The grind this brand puts into their drip bags is coarser than most, and the mouth of their bag doesn’t quite open too big so you have to be careful with the hot water. I’ve also had handles break off from the bag occasionally. This used to be a favorite but I had to downgrade it when I noticed that the quality of the coffee on my second buy doesn’t seem to be as good as my first buy. However I still enjoy their Classic Blend the most. Just like with BrewsCo, I’m not terribly fond of the flavored blends.
Ah, the coffee brand that started my love affair with local coffee! I’m not going to write a long introduction about Figures of Beans because I already wrote an entire blog post about it. I am going to say however that this brand has a special place in my heart, not only for the reason I mentioned in the first sentence, but also because it makes damn good coffee.
They don’t pack their coffee in drip bags (yet?), but I absolutely love looking through the coffee sets they come up with! Their black packaging is super saucy and sleek. It’s export-ready, to be frank. I also love the names they assigned to their coffee blends.
This is probably the only brand I’ve tried so far where I enjoyed the flavored blends because it infuses more naturally with the coffee. The flavorings don’t stand out in a semi-sickly sweet way but blends in with the scent and flavor of the coffee ever so nicely. Most recently, we bought and finished up a bag of Metaphor (Caramel Coffee). When we’re in a more serious-coffee mode, we go for Irony (Sagada) or Paradox (Benguet).
This drip coffee is the Great Basket brand’s flagship product, so it follows that they have done extensive research- followed by a long search around the country for the best organic coffee- to be able to make a topnotch product. I can’t find a lot of info on this product online, which annoys me because I really like this coffee!
I was instantly in love with Great Basket the moment I took my first sip. The intensity of the roast and the blend of the beans were perfect for my tastebuds, and I find myself sipping ever so slowly so I can savor this coffee. Just like most black coffees, I find it pairs well with dessert hehehe… My only issue with this brand is that it is so elusive! I wish more online stores carried it because it deserves a wider fanbase!
And there you have it! My brain is currently not coming up with any words for an outro but I certainly hope this post introduced some new things to everyone. Which of these Filipino coffee brands have you tried? Which brands are you excited to try? Comment down below while I go and grab myself a cuppa!
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You know it’s summer when all the ants start coming out of their hiding places. It makes it a little difficult to bake when you’re always keeping watch for them, at the same time, it’s not really stopping me is it? I feel especially inclined to get in the kitchen when I’m prepping to try a recipe that has the word “Best” in the title, taunting me to taste to believe. And I must say, this recipe makes an Awesome Carrot Cake. Indeed, possibly one of the best I’ve made and eaten.
When I think of summer, for some reason, I think of carrot cake. I can’t explain why, but it could be the colors of the ingredients, or the way carrot cake evokes a sweet summery nostalgia. I mean, I like me a good carrot cake anytime of the year, but it just feels more particularly appealing in the summer.
Nonetheless, when I came across this particular recipe labeled as “Best Carrot Cake” from Style Sweet CA, I knew I had to give it a try. Labeling things as “best” is always tricky, and for me, it always arouses my curiosity. It makes me want to deliberately test the recipe for its level of “best-ness” compared to the other recipes I’ve made. And oh boy what a shock it was to me when I realized that the last time I made a carrot cake on this blog was on April 2016. My favorite version until today was this recipe I made in 2011, and I have to say, this one really makes a case for why it has received a “best” label.
You get all the goodness of carrots, pineapple, and raisins in every bite, plus a bit of that cinnamon-y warmth that is always welcome despite the summer heat. The flavors of this cake actually come out even more as the days pass, and whether you eat the cake cold or at room temperature, the experience is equally enjoyable.
Although I can vaguely remember making a carrot cake that has a slightly better flavor than this one, I can say without a doubt that this has the best texture among the carrot cakes I’ve made so far. It’s so freaking moist! There’s no other word to describe it. Especially once you frost between the layers (and I was kind of stingy with the frosting, I admit), the moist cake almost turns creamy when you eat it with the frosting.
A carrot cake is one of the easiest things you can make because the recipe is usually very forgiving. You literally just mix everything together, but of course you have to take care also not to overmix the batter. The frosting is pretty much the same thing, because it’s a dump and mix kind of thing too. While I used almond meal for my batter, you can easily sub it out for flour as mentioned in the recipe below.
The only thing that you have to make a “difficult” decision on with regards to this cake is how many layers you want to make it into. I made four layers, baking two pans of cake and then slicing each cake in half, but you can make a three-layer cake out of this one too. This way, each layer gets a more generous coat of frosting.
The cake layers themselves are impressive in their texture. I made these on a Sunday afternoon, refrigerated in a really cold fridge, then sliced through them and frosted them on Monday night. The layers stayed moist and did not dense up or harden in the fridge. I would not describe the crumb of this as tender or fluffy; it is straight down moist as a carrot cake should be, in my opinion.
For a person who is not big on frosting, I actually regret cutting down on it to make a very naked cake. (Now there’s a statement you don’t hear everyday!) I think a little more of that savory-sweet cream cheese can give the cake an even bigger boost. I guess I’m really partial to cream cheese frostings, or maybe I simply believe cream cheese frosting is a match made in heaven for carrot cake. Either way, I really love this combo.
I halved my frosting from the original recipe, thinking I would make a naked cake, but for the first time I feel that I should’ve made an entire batch of the frosting and went to town with it. At least if I decided to make it a naked cake anyway, I would’ve been able to frost between the layers more generously.
Another major charm of this cake is that it is not too sweet, and you can taste all the components present in the cake with every bite. If you’re not a fan of raisins, I feel like this cake isn’t overbearing in that aspect. To me, the occasional dots of raisin provide a touch of sweetness rather than annoyance. The cinnamon is just enough to cut through the light sweetness of the cake. The only thing that would’ve made it better was a tad more of that savory-sweet cream cheese between each layer.
An Amazing Carrot Cake
This easy carrot cake recipe yields a gloriously moist cake and is indeed one of the best I've ever made or tried!
Makes an 8- or 9-inch layer cake
For the cake
¾ cup almond meal, toasted (can be replaced with ground walnuts or 1/3 cup all-purpose flour)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1¼ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
Zest of one orange (optional)
¾ cup canola oil
3 cups shredded carrots
225 grams (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
For the frosting*
6 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons whole milk (or more as needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the cake
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch cake pans. (You can also use three cake pans if your oven will allow so you won't have to slice the cake into layers later on.) Set aside.
2. In a bowl, sift together almond meal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. (If using ground walnuts, do not add it in yet.) Whisk to combine and set aside.
3. In another large mixing bowl, whisk together both sugars, and eggs. (Add in orange zest, if using.) Slowly stream in the oil and mix until combined.
4. Working in two batches, fold in the dry ingredients. (If using ground walnuts, fold it in at this point.) Fold in the shredded carrots and pineapple until combined.
5. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before turning out the cakes from their pans.
Make the frosting
6. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Mix in the remaining frosting ingredients and beat until frosting becomes fluffy. You can adjust the milk or sugar according to your desired frosting consistency.
Assemble the cake
7. Once the cakes have cooled, slice each cake in half to get four layers. Divide the frosting into four portions, then use a spatula to spread onto each layer. Finally, frost the top of the cake. (I tend to frost the top of the cake with more frosting than the layers.) Refrigerate briefly to set the frosting before slicing and enjoying.
*This amount of frosting is enough for a naked cake, but if you want to fully frost your cake, double the recipe of the frosting.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted about brownies on my blog, and now we’re going to rectify that with these awesome Flourless Almond Brownies. These are super moist, super fudgy, classic-tasting chocolatey brownies that I could not stop myself from munching on. I mean, I’m not exactly big on eating sweets as much as I love making them, but a good chocolate dessert can really capture my attention. And these sure did!
It’s funny how the moment I noticed I haven’t made brownies in, what, half a year? I immediately went into the kitchen and made two different kinds of brownies. Both are making it to the blog because they’ve passed the taste test with flying colors, but I wanted to write about these Flourless Almond Brownies first.
These fit my idea of a perfect brownie in terms of appearance: A shiny delicate, crackly top providing just the barest hint of “crisp”, plus a body that is super moist and fudgy without being too soft that it falls apart. As for the flavor, I hate a brownie that’s too sweet. It should have a deep chocolate taste that doesn’t overwhelm but makes you crave instead. And these are that!
For every chocolate-based dessert, it is important to use good chocolate. For this recipe, I used Auro Chocolate 55% Dark Chocolate Coins. Auro Chocolate is an internationally-recognized local brand I highly love and recommend. I’ve been a fan of their chocolate bars for a while now, so I asked them where I could buy their baking chocolate and they immediately replied to say that it’s available online through Karton.ph. It was a well-spent 820 pesos for this 1 kilogram bag. Sadly, I’ve spent more on chocolate that does not even come close!
I won’t be switching to another brand of baking chocolate any time soon because I am so happy with Auro Chocolate. The quality of their chocolate is topnotch, but the way they treat customers is equally topnotch. (For the record, this is not a sponsored post.) Read on to see why I’ve decided to stick to Auro Chocolate, if you’re interested. If not, just scroll right down to the recipe notes!
Lately I’ve been trying to find a baking chocolate that I could refer to as “the one”. Since Philippine chocolates have noticeably stepped up their game lately, I saw the perfect opportunity to support local brands in my own small way. The only problem is, among the brands I’ve inquired with regarding their baking chocolate, I am either told they would get back to me (and they never do) or I am downright ignored after being seen-zoned.
Let me get this rant out of my chest, because this little chocolate search of mine has made me realize how well the people from Auro Chocolate treat potential customers compared to other local brands. First of all, I realize I am but a small consumer compared to whatever big establishment/baker they are partnered with, but I don’t think I deserve to be ignored even if I am asking just a small question.
Secondly, I understand that certain brands are now wary about small-time bloggers because there has been an influx of them asking for freebies in exchange for a “feature”, but it is insulting to assume that of every blogger. Since I started The Tummy Train, I have never approached a brand to ask for anything, and I am proud of that fact. (I don’t even introduce myself as a blogger!) The brands you see on this blog have either asked to collaborate (and I am honored by that of course), or are brands that I myself feel strongly about (but they don’t know who I am).
So what I’m really trying to say here is: Blogger or not, all I want is to be treated as a proper customer, you know? And that is why I wanted to give Auro Chocolate a shout-out, because not only are their products legitimately good, they are also good with people. You can tell how much a brand values their customers by the way they answer even the smallest of inquiries, and I received a very warm and accommodating response from them really quickly. This multi-awarded brand is taking an effort to respond, and I really appreciate that.
And honestly you guys, I really think these Flourless Almond Brownies taste even better thanks to the Auro Chocolate I used.
To start, you want to melt your butter and chocolate together. You can use the microwave but I favor the double boiler method because I like to keep watch and have a bit more control over the melting.
I have to say, Auro Chocolate melts so beautifully. It melts so evenly and smoothly, and it has a beautiful gloss to it. The batter also gets a boost from coffee powder, which in my opinion should be a normal addition to chocolate desserts because it brings out chocolate notes even more. Cocoa powder also helps of course.
This chocolate-butter mixture gets poured into the egg and sugar mixture prepared in a separated bowl, and then finally we add in the dry ingredient.
This recipe does not use all-purpose flour, but it does use almond flour or almond meal, which you can buy locally. You will need a little less than 75 grams, so if you want to purchase almond flour just for this recipe, you can try this shop on Shopee. The almond meal gives these brownies some added fudginess and a really nice chewy moist texture.
At this point, you want to avoid overworking the flour into the batter. Fold from the bottom of the bowl and in big strokes to make sure you incorporate the almond meal with as few movements as possible. Once almost all the almond meal has disappeared into the chocolate, stop! A few bits of almond meal peeking out here and there won’t hurt.
Finally, pour the batter into your prepared pan. Make sure you have an excess portion of parchment or foil on top to make it easier for you to lift out the baked brownie. You can now top this with whatever you wish: peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, crushed peanut butter cups, or mini m&m’s as the original recipe uses. I had some leftover sea salt caramel chips that I bought out of curiosity, and to be honest I don’t like these caramel chips on their own (tastes so weird!) but they taste great in these brownies, delivering a bit of salty flavor that complements chocolate really well. Because the toppings sink in, I pressed more chips on the freshly-out-of-the-oven brownies to make them pretty.
As a final note, make sure you do not overbake the brownies so they don’t turn hard. You want them fudgy, trust me! I store these at room temp the first few days, but these are great cold too. (With vanilla ice cream!)
I wonder if I’ll ever find myself in a situation where I’ve run out of flour but have some almond meal left over again. That was really why I made these, but the recipe exceeded my expectations. I would gladly make these brownies again. It’s not often I buy almond meal to begin with, but it must be fate wanting me to discover these delicious chocolatey treats lol. I really hope you guys give these Flourless Almond Brownies a go!
Flourless Almond Brownies
These flourless brownies have that delicious classic chocolate taste. Ground almonds create a moist and fudgy base you can top with whatever you like to create the perfect brownies!
Makes one 8x8-inch pan or 12 to 16 bars
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold is fine
142 grams (5 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, in coins or chunks
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso or black coffee powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup almond flour*
¼ cup caramel chips or butterscotch chips or chocolate chips or mini M&M's**
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly spray an 8x8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, making sure to leave an overhang on opposite sides like handles. This will help you lift out the brownies from the pan easily once baked. Spray the parchment/foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a medium heatproof bowl, place the butter and chocolate. Using the double boiler method, melt and stir the butter and chocolate together until smooth. (You can also microwave in 30-second bursts on 50% power, stirring between each burst, until the mixture is melted and smooth. I tend to favor the double boiler method for more control.) Whisk in the cocoa powder and coffee powder until incorporated. Set the bowl aside to cool the mixture slightly.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Add in the warm chocolate mixture and whisk quickly to combine.
4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond flour just until incorporated. (Avoid overmixing!) Pour the batter into the prepared baking ban, spreading evenly with your spatula to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle your topping of choice evenly over the surface of the batter. (It will sink in.)
5. Bake the brownies for about 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. (Do not over-bake, or the brownies will dry out! If you want, you can immediately dot more toppings on the still-warm surface to make the brownies prettier.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan. Use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan and slice before serving.
*Almond flour is also called almond meal. If you are using it for the first time to try this recipe specifically, you will want to buy about 72 grams of almond flour for a 3/4 cup equivalent. (Philippine readers, there are some sellers in Shopee!) You can sift before you measure to make sure there aren't any lumps. I actually did not and found there were some big bits of almond flour as I folded it into the chocolate mix. Just crush the lumps with your spatula but do not overmix the batter!
**Basically, you can use whatever you have or desire to top this with. Even lightly crushed peanut butter cups would work!
I must be the last person on the blogosphere to eat at Providore. Granted, I am not really often in SM Aura, but those few times I was I would often walk past this inviting restaurant and wonder what’s inside. The front has a totally different feel. I took the opportunity to finally eat here with the family when I saw that they were part of the Zomato Gold lineup, with a 1+1 promo on food. And whoa! Now I understand why this restaurant is so consistently highly rated.
Providore is part of the Raintree Group of restaurants, and it certainly has that same feel as their other restaurants such as Chelsea Garden. The interiors are classy without being intimidating, and you can see that the décor is also carefully curated. It’s the sort of place that makes you want to stay, but maybe not during the peak meal hours because there will be people waiting for their turn to eat. I can certainly imagine myself spending an entire afternoon here with a good burger and cup of coffee. (Weird combo?)
Providore’s menu isn’t one thing or another in terms of cuisine, so I can only classify it as a place that serves comforting food that fills up not just the belly but the soul as well. They have a lot of Filipino dishes, but they also have a lot of Western dishes. There is something for every mood and every palate, including a wide array of desserts. It literally does provide something for everyone, it seems.
Apart from being a full-fledged restaurant, Providore is also a bakery and deli, but somehow it also manages to be a grocery store for your local product needs. Tall shelves are lined from end to end with Filipino products– from coffee to bottled fish to condiments. Many of the brands were unfamiliar to me so I browsed in wonder and in awe, but ended up deciding not to buy anything yet. After all, we came here to eat.
When our starters arrived, I was totally smitten by the Zucchini Pecorino Fries (Php 195). You squeeze a bit of lemon on top, but the flavors also come from the Malagos pecorino, buttermilk, and a tasty ranch dip. We’ve been making a copycat version here at home and enjoying it immensely. Their Providore Salad (Php 475) is also a fresh and savory meal opener. You get avocado, crispy bacon, bleu cheese, cranberries and walnuts, arugula, market greens, and grilled bits of Japanese corn, all bound together by a zesty buttermilk ranch dressing.
Zucchini Pecorino Fries
The Salmon Belly Guava Sinigang (Php 375) tickled my sour-loving tastebuds in a wonderful way. The guava broth really brought on the asim, as well as the anghang. I loved it! Textures are abundant thanks to the mix of mustasa leaves, radish, French beans, and cherry tomatoes. The salmon belly slices were tender and melt in the mouth delightful. Somehow we managed to divide this small pot among six people, and I even got to have a second serving. (I love sinigang!)
Salmon Belly Guava Sinigang
Carnivores may want to try the Providore Callos (Php 420), with homemade chorizo, tripe, garbanzos, and roasted pimientos, served with rice pilaf on the side. The pilaf was oily and had a bite to it rather than the fluffiness I was expecting, but it pairs well with the callos. The scene-stealer was certainly the Steel Plate-Cooked Garlic Butter “Salpicao” Steak (Php 420), which I kept wishing came in a bigger serving. It was so juicy and delicious! It is basically sizzled medium rare US beef, flavored with chili, garlic, native onions, and drizzled with olive oil. Recommended!
My favorite for the day was certainly the Spicy Crab Laing (Php 250). Though I love almost every dish involving coconut cream, laing has a special place in my heart. This was probably one of my favorite versions. Lots of chili involved, but the spiciness complemented the umami or linamnam of the coconut cream sauce very well. I wish we had more than that bit of crab sprinkled on top though. Nonetheless, the laing made me eat more Java Rice (Php 95) than I was intending. It’s that sort of dish!
Spicy Crab Laing
I made my way to the cake display at the front of Providore to find some dessert, and the Miso Caramel Chocolate Cake (Php 195) immediately caught my attention. Clear caramel notes ring through the decadent dark chocolate, and every moist mouthful makes you want to reach for the miso notes too.
Miso Caramel Chocolate Cake
To be completely honest, my expectations upon eating at Providore were sky high thanks to the ratings I’ve seen on the interwebs for this restaurant. I can’t say I was disappointed. I can’t say all those people were wrong in their opinions. They make great food here, but mostly I feel that the servings are a bit small for the price. There is no shortage in quality and variety however. We all gladly had a memorable meal. There are still so many interesting things on the menu of Providore I would like to try, and the annoying thing is, SM Aura is too out of the way!
Ground Floor, SM Aura Premier,
8 McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig Hours: 08:00 AM to 10:00 PM Contact No.: 0917 833 8277 Facebook | Instagram | Group Website
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way. I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions stated above are my own.
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There are three things I love about these Peanut Butter Blossoms. First of all, it has peanut butter, which is about the only spread I am willing to eat out of a jar everyday. Second, it has chocolate involved, and that is something I actually do eat a bit of everyday. The last thing I like about this recipe is its name, which is one of the most dainty names ever.
I think these are actually kind of a contrast to how one might imagine a cookie with the word “blossom” might look. To anyone unfamiliar with Peanut Butter Blossoms, the first thing that comes to mind upon hearing the name is probably not a cookie with a piece of chocolate Kiss stuck in the center. But to anyone who likes the peanut butter and chocolate combo, this brings out as big a smile as the first blooms of spring. Is that why these are called Peanut Butter Blossoms?
Whether you call them Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies or Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies, these cookies are probably one of the most giftable because they offer quite a classic pairing. They are kind of hard to turn down, and they also look really cute inside a box! Then again, what’s not to love in a cookie that is packed with peanut butter taste, firm on the outside but chewy on the inside, with a nice hit of chocolate when you bite into the middle?
I already imagined myself eating these cookies the moment I came across them on Simply Recipes. Especially now that the weather here in the Philippines is hot, the Kisses will tend to get just a little melty at room temp. Somehow, it makes the eating experience even better.
These cookies are on the sweet side, because you have to roll the peanut butter dough in sugar before baking. To keep things in control, I highly recommend using the dark chocolate variant of Hershey’s Kisses. I personally also enjoy munching on dark chocolate more so milk chocolate Kisses will probably never find their way into my mouth and my baking, but in this case, I really think going dark will keep the sweetness in check.
There isn’t really that many things to say about this recipe because it is super easy. The trickiest part is maybe the placing of the Kisses on each cookie, but it’s not really difficult per se. You just want to be fast at the step at the end is all. The recipe starts off just like any other cookie recipe, having you cream the butter with the sugars and egg. Make sure to incorporate the sugar into the butter well so that your cookies will bake up nicely.
The 1.5 Tablespoon-scoop is just the perfect size for these cookies. You don’t want to make it too big and you don’t want it to be too small either. You want to have just enough chubby cookie surface around the Hershey’s Kiss so that neither component overpowers the other. As I mentioned, the cookies will be on the sweet side because you have to roll them into sugar before baking, so just make sure you don’t roll the dough any more than you have to! If you want very visible sugar crystals on the surface of your cookies, use a sugar that is less fine.
As these cookies bake, they spread a little and crack on top, but not to worry because we will be putting the Hershey’s Kiss right at the very center to make them very pretty. The moment your cookies are ready to come out of the oven, you have to make sure you already have the Hershey’s Kisses unwrapped and ready to stick into the yet-soft cookie centers.
The cookies will firm up on the inside as it cools (but it stays chewy), so you want to take advantage of its softness while it’s still fresh from the oven. Gently press down the chocolate Kiss about halfway through and just let the heat melt the bottom of the chocolate to help it stick. The look of these just uplifts the mood!
Peanut Butter Blossoms are one of those things that seem to be made for taking places. They transport well, not to mention the name brings to mind spring picnics. The best part is that these pair well with milk or black coffee, which also make these a great sugary pick-me-up. I hope you give these a go and enjoy them!
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Chewy peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's dark chocolate Kiss heart! These cookies are as tasty as they look, especially if you're a fan of the peanut butter-chocolate combo!
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (129 grams) peanut butter
½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
½ cup (110 grams) packed brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1½ cups (187 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
24 Hershey's Dark Chocolate Kiss candies, unwrapped
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, and both sugars until smooth. (You can use an electric or stand mixer, or you can do it by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula.) Add in the egg and mix until well-combined and smooth.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture in three additions, mixing until the cookie dough is formed.
5. In a small bowl, add about 2 tablespoons of sugar. Using a 1.5-Tablespoon measure, scoop the dough and form into balls by rolling between your hands. Drop into the sugar to coat.
6. Place the formed and sugared dough balls on the prepared baking sheet, making sure to space them a couple of inches apart to allow room to spread.
7. Bake the cookies on the middle rack in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, until cookies are slightly spread out, domed on the top, and golden on the bottom. Take out from the oven and immediately press a chocolate Kiss in the center of each cookie halfway in. (The heat from the cookies will melt the bottom of the chocolate Kiss and help it adhere.)
8. Let the cookies cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
Cookies will keep fresh for 3 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Nagasaki Champon [長崎ちゃんぽん] to me is a bit like a warm comforting hug. It’s the kind of noodle soup you’d probably want on a day when you’re not feeling too good and you want something warm to slurp on. It’s not spicy, and it’s not extra flavorful. It’s got a light milky taste, and it is packed with nutritious veggies and tasty seafood (plus some protein).
I will say that champon isn’t my favorite Japanese noodle dish. (Miso Ramen is hard to beat.) However I found myself enjoying this nonetheless. It’s rather different from most noodle dishes I’ve tried in Japan; different in the sense that it’s very Chinese.
Japan has always had a very identifiable cuisine, but here in Nagasaki, the rest of the world has managed to add bits and pieces of influence to the cuisine. Back when this port city was a busy hub to foreigners, a lot of Chinese, Portuguese, and other Europeans sailed onto its shores. This part of Nagasaki’s history is very much apparent in the architecture and the food you will find here. In one meal, you can have Chinese sweet and sour pork plus champon as your mains, then Portuguese egg tarts for dessert.
I hadn’t expected that I would be able to cook champon at home after the trip, but during one of my scrolling sessions through Shopee (lol) I found a shop selling champon noodles! Who would’ve thought?
Getting the noodles pretty much sealed the deal and I went ahead and tried the recipe from Just One Cookbook that I had bookmarked just in case. Making champon is not as complicated or time-consuming as making ramen is, or at least not this particular recipe. It’s not fussy, and true to most Chinese recipes it just has you stir-frying the ingredients.
The best part about champon is that you can mix and match the toppings. The picture on the noodle package gives you some pretty good ideas. I wish I added some corn kernels in mine too since I love corn.
This recipe works best when you use champon noodles, which are a fatter version of your typical ramen noodles. It almost looks like fat spaghetti although it doesn’t have the same sort of eggy taste. Traditionally I think the noodles are boiled in the soup, but we’re boiling them separately today and then transferring the noodles to individual serving bowls right after.
The broth in this recipe is a combination of chicken stock and dashi. Typically it’s a combo of chicken stock and broth from pig bones, but this version is a bit lighter on the palate. I especially love that little milky taste the soup imparts.
As for the toppings, I decided to make it all seafood by omitting the pork belly because I was too lazy to got out and buy some lol. But if you don’t tend to like pork, you can use chicken instead. I did forget to add in some wood ear mushroom which is a shame, but the champon I made had plenty enough toppings and was so filling!
You can switch up the topping ingredients to what suits your palate, but somehow, to me champon has to have shrimp and squid and fish cake (I used naruto), otherwise it isn’t quite champon. The cabbage also has to be there alongside the carrots and bean sprouts. I’d be fine without the snow peas, but next time I’m going to throw in some corn. It’s really up to you!
Cooking this dish couldn’t be easier because you really just throw everything in to stir-fry before adding the broth. Once everything comes together, it’s only a matter of transferring the soup and toppings on top of the waiting noodles. Since I served this as a side, I was able to divide it into 6 servings. As a main, this serves 2 very generously.
It’s going to be hard not to compare champon with the more popular ramen, but if you’re hankering for a lighter and less rich kind of noodle soup dish, try this one out. It’s an easy recipe to have in your repertoire for those colder days when you want a good bowl of something warm and packed with toppings.
Nagasaki Champon 長崎ちゃんぽん
An easy and hearty noodle dish with a slew of yummy toppings and a milky broth. This dish is a specialty from Nagasaki, Japan.
Serves 2 as a main dish and 4 to 6 as a side.
For the soup
2 cups (500mL) chicken stock
1 cup dashi*
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup whole milk
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
Salt, as needed
For the toppings and noodles
60 grams pork belly, sliced into 1-inch pieces**
75 grams shrimp
60 grams squid, scored with crisscross patterns
1 teaspoon soy sauce
6 pieces dried wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated in water and sliced into smaller pieces***
1 small carrot, sliced into thin 2-inch long pieces
¼ of a yellow onion, sliced
145 grams cabbage, sliced into strips
30 grams snow peas
10 to 12 slices of fish cake
115 grams bean sprouts
1 tablespoon sesame oil (for cooking)
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt, as needed
311 grams (11 oz) champon noodles
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over low heat for the noodles. Cook the noodles according to package instructions, but remove from heat 15 to 20 seconds before what the package states. Make sure to separate the noodles before adding to the boiling water so they don't stay clumped together. Drain the noodles well and transfer to serving bowls. (Or one big bowl for sharing.)
2. Prepare the soup: In a medium pot, combine the chicken stock, dashi, sake, soy sauce, sugar. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, mix in the milk and white pepper. Taste the soup and see if you need to season with the salt as it might be salty enough with just the chicken stock and the dashi.
3. Prepare the topping: Heat a wok on medium high and add in the sesame oil. Cook the pork belly until no longer pink. Add the shrimp and squid and cook until no longer opaque.
4. Add the onion and carrot and stir fry for 1 minute. Stir fry the wood ear mushrooms and cabbage for 1 minute. Finally, add the fish cake, bean sprouts, and snow peas and stir fry for another minute. Season with freshly ground black pepper and toss to combine.
5. Add the prepared soup into the wok. Taste the soup and see if you need to adjust the salt.
6. Add the toppings and soup into the bowls with the noodles. Serve immediately.
*I used 1/2 teaspoon of dashi powder mixed with 1 cup of water for the dashi broth.
**I decided not to add any pork this time around.
***I forgot to add this in but it will provide some added texture to the dish so I highly recommend it.
Stepping into the area where Glover Garden is located is a bit like stepping into another country. European-style architecture line the streets, leading up to a sprawling open-air museum located up a hill. I hadn’t been able to read up about Glover Garden beforehand so I didn’t know what to expect, but certainly not a little Western garden paradise that is perfect for a springtime stroll.
Glover Garden is name after a Scottish merchant named Thomas Blake Glover. In 1863, he built his home on the Minami-Yamate Hill. Nagasaki as a port town had become a center of commerce and new ideas brought in by the many foreigners that landed on its shores. It had become a hub where foreigners who wanted to share their knowledge for innovation would meet with Japanese students and patriots who dreamed of using the said knowledge to make a brighter future for Japan.
When Thomas Blake Glover first arrived in Japan in 1859, his focus was really on trading Japanese green tea. Eventually though, Glover used his resources to aid the Meiji Restoration government in toppling the Tokugawa Shogunate by providing them with weapons and warships. However it was after the war that his contributions are considered to have a lasting effect. His contributions were in fact big enough to have a whole place named after him. Glover Garden is the proof.
[TRAVEL] Nagasaki Spring 2018: Glover Garden - YouTube
In 1865, Thomas Blake Glover brought in Japan’s first steam locomotive, alongside several cars which he proceeded to demonstrate in the nearby Oura district in Nagasaki. This was the first time Japan became aware of the magic of railway transportation. After that, he commissioned the building of several naval ships. By this time, Glover had become a key figure in the industrialization of Japan. He was actually one of the original founders of what we now know as Mitsubishi Corporation, as well as the brewery company we now know as Kirin Brewery Company, Ltd.
Before his death, Glover was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun for his contributions to the development of Japan. Although he died in Tokyo, he was buried in Nagasaki, a place he had considered his home and where he had built his European manor.
The picturesque Mitsubishi house, with its French windows.
Because Glover Garden is situated on a hill, it gives one a stunning view of Nagasaki Harbor on one side, and the cityscape on the other. Standing at the veranda on the second floor of the manor, the views are absolutely gorgeous. The Manor itself is well-maintained and houses a gallery retelling the story of Japan’s industrialization and Glover’s participation in it. There are also some bits and bobs of old things that belonged to the Glover family inside. (He married a Japanese woman and had a child.)
The entire Glover Garden is a romantic and picturesque place to stroll. What’s interesting to me is the fact that the Glover house was believed to have inspired Giacomo Puccini’s famous opera ‘Madame Butterfly‘. There are even statues of Puccini and the award-winning diva who played Cio-Cio-san from 1915 to 1920, Miura Tamaki, within the garden grounds as a sort of homage. The story of ‘Madame Butterfly‘ is a tragic one, and yet it is one of the most iconic operas that has ever been made. The other name of the Glover house is actually ‘Madame Butterfly House‘.
Statue of Miura Tamaki from the last scene of ‘Madame Butterfly’.
Even without knowing the history of Glover Garden, it is possible to enjoy exploring this place just taking in all the beauty of nature, the cherry blossoms, and just the general loveliness of the place. However, knowing even just the basics about why Glover Garden is significant to Nagasaki as a tourist spot in the first place makes the experience more meaningful. That’s what I think anyway.
I personally wish I had researched a little bit before coming here. I feel like I would’ve seen this place in a different light. So many interesting stories are attached to Glover Garden! And what a gorgeous place it is, truly.
Why it’s Mr. Glover!
Glover’s house at the Glover Garden.
Before you fully exit Glover Garden proper and arrive at the Glover Garden Street, you pass by this audiovisual area located right before the gift shop. This is the Museum of Traditional Performing Arts where you get to see displays of different traditional costumes and things used in the annual Kunchi Festival. You are encouraged to learn about it through the video shown here, although the festival is actually held in October.
Glover Garden Street & Seifudo
Stepping out of Glover Garden, you will feel like you’ve stepped into yet another European village, this time filled with eateries standing side by side. We spent a good amount of time here trying out different things, from pumpkin-flavored soft-serve ice cream to steamed buns filled with juicy chashu. Every purchase funnily comes with a disclaimer: If a seagull snatches up your food, then sorry! Remember that this place is near a port/wharf, so there are many food-grabbing seagulls flying around. Proceed eating out on the street with caution!
One thing that I highly recommend having in Nagasaki is the castella cake. It was first introduced to Nagasaki by Portuguese settlers (thus you will find Portuguese egg tarts also quite popular here) but it has since been embraced by Japan and is now widely associated with Nagasaki.
Normally, I am not a fan of that super sweet cake, but Nagasaki does castella really well. You can actually buy castella ice cream sandwiches, which are pretty dang good because the creamy ice cream does a great job cutting through the sweetness of the cake, but if you only have time to hit up one place, make it Seifudo.
Seifudo is an old shop that specializes in castella cake. You can literally go crazy with their flavor options. You can taste as much of the different flavors as you want, and then make a decision which to buy. OR you can buy the assorted set that comes in a very pretty box with a drawing of Madame Butterfly on it.
It’s the perfect souvenir gift, though you will probably want to keep most to yourself. That’s what we ended up doing. We popped the castella cakes in the freezer to keep them for longer and enjoyed them for many months after our trip to Nagasaki!
All the flavors- from classic, chocolate, orange, to matcha- are in that box. Unfortunately, my favorite flavor does not come in the set for some strange reason. I suppose because it’s a more expensive one? It’s actually their Earl Grey Castella Cake. My second favorite would be the matcha. The best thing about these cakes is that they are nuanced. The sweetness does not overpower the flavors of the cakes, and the crumb is super soft and fluffy and delicious. Frankly, Seifudo have the best castella cake I have tried on all my trips to Japan. They pair well with hot tea, but really, as a coffee addict, I eat their castella cake with coffee.
My favorite: Earl Grey Castella from Seifudo.
I don’t really have too many photos from Nagasaki to make dedicated posts for each location we went to, but I could not resist writing this one for Glover Garden. It’s too pretty there not to snap photos, and I would have felt bad keeping said photos to myself. I hope you guys enjoyed this post. I didn’t want to make it too wordy because I wanted to highlight the photos and the feeling of being there through them. Until my next travel diary!
8-１ Minamiyamatemachi, Nagasaki, 850-0931,
Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM Contact No.: +81 95-822-8223 Tickets: Adult- 610 yen / Children- 180 yen Website
2-6 Minamiyamatemachi, Nagasaki 850-093,
Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan Hours: 9 AM to 6 PM Contact No.: +81 95-825-8541 Website
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It’s always nice when you get to travel to a place like Japan, where all the different prefectures and cities are interconnected by trains. It pushes you to explore more because it almost becomes too easy. Without a doubt, this convenience in traveling is one of the things I love most about Japan. You can go to places on a whim if you wanted to! Our day-trip to catch spring in Nagasaki was sort of on a whim too. Being there felt totally different compared to the places we visited in Fukuoka.
Nagasaki is famous for being the last city in the world to experience an atomic bombing during World War II. While I believe that this part of its history is something that is important to learn, there is also so much more to Nagasaki than this label. Spring in Nagasaki also means gorgeous cherry blossoms in various parks and gardens, albeit in a more solemn setting than anywhere else I’ve ever visited in Japan.
Cherry blossoms aside, I will now share with you some other highly recommended things to do on a day-trip to Nagasaki. We’re not going to stray too far from Nagasaki Station with this one, but not to worry, there are still lots to see and appreciate, as you can probably tell from the video below. Keep scrolling for more information about the different activities I mentioned in the video!
[TRAVEL] Nagasaki Spring 2018: 6 Things to do during a daytrip - YouTube
Nagasaki is just a little over 150 kilometers away from Fukuoka, which makes it a very feasible option for a little day-trip from Fukuoka City.
By train: From Fukuoka’s JR Hakata Station, take the JR Limited Express Train to Nagasaki Station. The trip will take about 2 hours, with 1 to 2 trains available every hour. Regular tickets cost 4,190 yen one-way (unreserved seating). You can also avail the group tickets which cost around 6,180 yen for 2 travelers and 11,000 yen for groups of 4 (one-way).
By bus: From Fukuoka’s Hakata Station Tenjin Bus Center, take the Nishitetsu Highway Bus to Nagasaki Station. The trip will take about 2.5 hours, but is a little cheaper at 2,570 yen one-way. Buses run every 15 minutes.
By arranged tour: You can also take an arranged tour like this one from KKDay. Tours like these will transport you to and from Fukuoka, although you obviously have no control over the amount of time spent in each location of your trip. (Usually starts and ends at Hakata Station.)
1. Visit solemn Nagasaki Peace Park
The first place to hit up on your day-trip would be the Nagasaki Peace Park to see the iconic Peace Statue. This memorial park is dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb explosion. Apart from the most iconic one, it is filled with may other statues donated by different countries as a symbol of solidarity and peace.
The main sculpture at the park’s northern end is a 10-meter-tall work created by Seibo Kitamura from Nagasaki. The statue’s right hand is pointed up to refer to the threat of nuclear weaponry, while his left extended in this way symbolizes eternal peace. His closed eyes mean he is in prayer for the souls of the bomb victims. His folded leg represents meditation, while the extended leg represents his desire to stand and protect the people. He is sitting atop a stone platform where a black marble vault containing the names of the atomic bomb victims may be seen.
The rest of the park is filled with peace symbols, mostly of statues lined up like in a museum. Here you may see beautiful works of art from Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Germany, The Netherlands, and so on. It’s always nice when people come together despite their differences in the name of world peace. You can spend a good amount of time looking through all the sculptures carefully. While many of the bigger statues are concentrated in one area, there are monuments in other areas of the park as well. My favorite sculpture is ‘The Maiden of Peace’ from China.
‘The Maiden of Peace’
One of the most interesting and dreadful things here is the Fountain of Peace. Although we see it now as a beautiful fountain dedicated to the victims of the bombings who died searching for water, the engraving at the front is what hits the hardest. It says: “I was thirsty beyond endurance. There was something oily on the surface of the water, but I wanted water so badly that I drank it just as it was.” These words were taken from the poem written by a young survivor of the bombing, who had been so thirsty she settled for drinking the oil that sprouted from the ground in this very area because it was all she could find.
If there is one very important thing this trip to Nagasaki has done to me, it’s that it grounded me very much.
Location: Can be easily accessed from JR Nagasaki Station via Tram lines 1 or 3. Closest tram stop is Peace Park or Heiwa Koen.
2. Learn history at the Atomic Bomb Museum
The hypocenter of the explosion.
If you are not the type of person who is able to handle horrific images of war, it might be very difficult for you to see the photographs in this museum. This city does not make itself forget. It remembers the exact time and it remembers all the lives that were lost during that terrible atomic bombing that saw over 200,000 people dead. I’m not here to argue about whose fault it was and whether it was responsible to drop that missile for the greater good or whatever, because I firmly believe, whichever side you are on, there is no arguing that this bomb ruined the lives of so many civilians— these people, these… women, these children, who were simply trying to go on with their lives despite the war.
This museum, to me, exists as a reminder that war brings nothing but grief and destruction. Whichever side you are on. Whether you were the victor or the loser, war is death. Any time I have to be in a place like this I can’t help but feel heartbroken. Until now, looking at the photographs and sifting through my memories of being here, I get chills. Learning about the aftereffects, it’s not hard to understand that World War II was one of the darker ages in human history. And yet, I still think that learning about the past, though depressing, will help us shape a better future– hopefully one that does not see a repeat of this.
I felt really weird taking pictures inside the museum so I don’t have many to share, but I was really struck by this little collection of student artworks about peace and love.
Location: The Atomic Bomb Museum is located at the top of the hill above the Hypocenter Park, across the street from the Nagasaki Peace Park.
3. Stroll around Glover Garden
The Glover Garden compound is made up of a series of buildings and gardens that are obviously influenced by Western architecture. Sitting atop a hill, it offers a gorgeous view of Nagasaki Bay, as well as of the city itself. Named after Scottish businessman Thomas Blake Glover, the structures here in Glover Garden were built around his house. It is the same house that is believed to be the inspiration for the opera Madame Butterfly. Regardless of whether you come here knowing about Glover Garden’s history, it is a stunning place to be.
Believe it or not, we actually met a man claiming to be a descendant of Thomas Blake Glover right by his bust.
Location: Closest tram stop is Ouratenshudo, via Tram line 5.
4. Enjoy snacking along Glover Street
Glover Street, or Glover Garden Street, is a long stretch of shops situated right along the main street leading to Glover Garden. Although there are some souvenirs being sold along this road, the highlight for me was definitely the food shops. You get options for both sweet and savory snacks here. Funny thing the shopkeepers remind you about if you choose to eat your snacks outside: BEWARE OF SEAGULLS! They apparently have a habit of snatching up unsuspecting tourists’ snacks!
One of the specialties not to be missed, especially if you have a sweet tooth, is Nagasaki’s castella cake. It’s a sweet and fluffy chiffon cake that comes in various flavors. The best that I tried here in Nagasaki is from a shop called Sei-fu-do. The classic isn’t quite my favorite because I find it a bit too sweet, but their matcha and earl grey castella cakes are fabulous!
If you’re in the mood for ice cream, there are also shops beside Sei-fu-do that sell castella ice cream sandwiches! Yum!
Location: Right outside Glover Garden
5. Bask in the evening views at Inasayama
Mount Inasa or Inasayama is probably the closest mountain to the Nagasaki city center you can visit for an evening view. Actually, the view from up here has been ranked among the top three in Japan, so I do think it’s worth a visit especially if you enjoy watching the sun set over a cityscape. One by one, the twinkling lights of the city turn on until it’s all that you can see. I’m a bit of a sucker for these kinds of views admittedly, so I quite enjoyed my time here. There is also a short light show up here that was fairly enjoyable.
You can get to Inasayama by ropeway, bus, or car. We came up here by bus and were dropped off pretty close to the observatory building. It’s not a long climb to the top actually.
Location: The closest bus stop to Insayama is Insayama Station. Buses run 1 to 2 times per hour from Nagasaki Station.
6. Enjoy Nagasaki specialties like Champon
Even though Nagasaki had been occupied by the Portuguese, its status as a major Japanese port city allowed it to have open contact with many different trading countries all over the world. Specifically, Nagasaki became a hub for Chinese traders and Chinese students who came to Japan for education. Restaurants started serving Chinese dishes and Nagasaki eventually became known as the home of the Nagasaki champon, a noodle dish said to have originated in Fujian, China.
The champon is actually quite a filling dish, mostly because it is made up of a large assortment of things aside from the noodles. It can be any mixture of chicken, pork, seafood, and vegetables, in a broth that is lighter than that of ramen noodles. The soup is even milk actually.
It’s not very rare to see restaurants serving up some Portuguese egg tarts either. You can certainly see the jumble of influences in the regional cuisine offered by Nagasaki!
I hope this post was helpful in convincing you to pay a little visit to Nagasaki should you find yourself in Fukuoka one day. I actually made a little sample 4-day Fukuoka itinerary that includes a day allotted for Nagasaki. It’s just to give you an idea of what you could do in the area. Nagasaki has its own unique charms, and I definitely learned a lot more than I expected after a trip here.
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