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Hi friends! Have any of you ever been to Turkey? My mom and I are planning a girls trip there this spring and I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off to get everything organized for it. It's so funny — when I worked a full-time corporate job, vacation planning seemed like a breeze. It seemed like everything came together fairly quickly and easily. In retrospect, I must have spent a lot of time actually planning for it at work (lol, as opposed to doing my real job, but shhhh don't tell my old bosses). Because now that I'm spending 80% of my week in the kitchen, I barely found the time to book all our hotels and flights. But no matter — it's done, and I got us a room in a cave hotel in Cappadocia where we will ride hot air balloons. So send me all your best recs pretty pleasssseee.


To prep for the trip, I watched that Turkish documentary about all the cats in Istanbul and got reallllly excited. I've also been spending a lot of time on Wikipedia reading about Turkish cuisine. I'm especially stoked about Turkish breakfasts (it seems their breakfast game is on point) and of course, Turkish desserts. Looks like there's going to be a lot of dope baklava, kanafeh, milk pudding, and Turkish delights. For savory food, I'm looking forward to some epic kebabs, meze, and hummus spreads.


Speaking of hummus, let's talk about these tahini cookies. I've been meaning to make Danielle's recipe for tahini chocolate chip cookies for ages, and was recently reminded of them when Sarah brought a batch of her own version for us to taste in Vermont. They were absolutely delightful and caused the wheels in my head to start spinning: what would happen if they were made with black tahini instead?

Because black tahini is made with black sesame seeds, it has a stronger and more ashy flavor than regular tahini (which is made with white sesame seeds). Regular chocolate was a little too heavy and bitter — I ended up swapping it out for Valrhona's dulcey white chocolate, which is sweeter and tastes a bit like dulce de leche. Valrhona makes some of the best chocolate in the world and are currently the only makers of dulcey chocolate; be sure to join my giveaway on Instagram to win a bundle of their chocolate!


A big thanks to Valrhona for providing me with the chocolate used in this recipe as well as the chocolate for the Instagram giveaway! I really do love Valrhona products and almost exclusively use their chocolate in my chocolate chip cookies — it makes a world of a difference. 

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Some baker's notes:
  • Black tahini is available online; in the past, I've also seen it available in the international section of Whole Foods. You can go ahead and make this recipe with regular tahini too, but your cookies will come out a completely different color and look more like regular chocolate chip cookies. Valrhona Dulcey feves are available online via their site or on Amazon; I occasionally see their feves in the bulk section of Whole Foods as well. In a pinch, you can substitute with white chocolate chips, but your cookies will taste different than mine — it's worth sourcing out the Valrhona feves! 

  • This recipe, which is adapted from a combination of Danielle's and Sarah's, produces a really soft dough that's a little hard to work with. Be sure to freeze the dough overnight, or it'll be a little bit of a mess and spread out way too much. Just be sure to pat down each dough ball before baking since the cookies don't actually spread that much on their own after they've been chilled. For extra big cookies like the ones you see in the photos, I used a 3 tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion out dough balls and smooshed two of them together to create a mega 6 tablespoon sized ball of dough. This method resulted in 8 extra-large cookies; if you just use a 3 tablespoon scoop without the smooshing part, you'll end up with 16 regular-sized cookies. 
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A few years ago, I realized that I'd told the same story about Valentine's Day almost every year since blogging. I won't go into much detail about it in this post (especially since you can read all about it in my posts from 2014 and 2015), but it was a story about how in seventh grade, I'd written an essay about how much I hated the holiday. I've switched it up in subsequent years (the story from 2016 about writing a failed Valentine to my last college crush is probably my favorite), but truthfully, every year, it's a struggle to come up with something new.

This year, I thought about telling you guys the story of how Erlend and I met, but honestly, it's kinda, sorta... boring? While we didn't meet online via OkCupid (look at me, showing my age) or Tinder (let's all stop for a hot second and think about the fact that, in the not so distant future, all the wedding stories will be about how the couple met online), it was still pretty unremarkable: we went to college together, were friends for a long time, and then eventually started dating. There was some drama around us getting together because he'd previously dated a mutual friend of ours, but it was honestly just the petty bullshit that you deal with when you're in your early twenties. And maybe that makes for a more interesting story, but I genuinely don't even remember most of it since it was so long ago and most of those folks are now completely gone from my life (which I am very, very thankful for). And there you have me and Erlend's Meet-Cute in a nutshell — I told you it was unremarkable, lol.


So instead of focusing on Erlend, my past relationships and crushes, or re-telling my seventh grade story, I thought I'd try something different. Let's talk about my love for Portland, Oregon. For ease, I always just say that I'm from Portland, but if you saw my Instagram Stories the other day (or are a close reader of my blog), you'll know that's not technically true. I was actually born in the Philippines and lived in a number of different places both abroad and in the USA; I eventually wound up in Portland because of college and ended up settling here again after stints in San Francisco, Denver, and New York.

My relationship with Portland is a flawed one and an incredibly hard one to explain. When asked what I like best about Portland, I can't give a coherent or articulate answer. Instead, what sticks out are seemingly insignificant, maudlin details: the sound the trains make at night from my house; biking down Ladd on a quiet, misty morning; how the city seems to come alive on a lone, sunny day after many weeks of rain. It's not a perfect place by any means — it's far too white and homogenous, and is rife with the income equality, population growth, and limited infrastructure problems that seem to plague all the smaller cities that have come into fashion in the last few years. More and more, the things that make it special seem like relics of yesteryear too. But there must be something about it I really like, because cumulatively, I've lived in the city for about a decade. And whenever I leave, I always find a way to come back.


And although this isn't the sweetest Valentine — I did spend half of it pointing out Portland's flaws, after all — maybe it's more real this way? True love isn't a constant summit, but a valley of peaks and lows. You take the bad with the good, and the ability to recognize the bad and accept it anyway is one of the truest forms of love there is.

So Happy Valentine's Day, Portland! This one's for you.


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Some baker's notes:
  • Unlike traditional donuts that are shaped and raised with yeast, these are cake donuts! They taste more like cupcakes and you bake then in a special donut pan to get that classic donut shape. To fill the donut cavities in the pan, I've found it's easiest to use a piping bag (in a pinch, pour the batter into a Ziploc bag and snip off a corner — it doesn't need to be fancy). Be sure not to go overboard, or your donuts will be too big and rise too much, losing that classic hole. Most recipes call for you to fill the cavities two-thirds of the way up, but I've found that's still too much — halfway up should do the trick! 

  • Depending on how dry the temperature is that day, you might need more or less blood orange juice to get the glaze consistency right. You don't want it to runny, or it'll run down the sides of the donut and you'll lose that clean, freshly-dipped look. You want just enough liquid so that it almost seems a little dry; aim for a very thick paste texture as opposed to a runny one. Once you dip a donut, flip it over quickly to avoid any excess dripping and immediately sprinkle the toppings of your choice on the glaze. I used these cute sprinkles from India Tree, goat-themed candy hearts gifted from Vermont Creamery, and freeze dried raspberries, but go wild and use your favorites! 

  • Unfortunately, these cake donuts tend to go stale fairly quickly as the bottom half of each donut is basically just unfrosted cake. Make sure you enjoy them within 24 hours! 
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A few weeks ago, I started working on developing a lemon bar recipe for my book, Weeknight Baking. Do you know how many lemons it takes to make a batch of four recipes' worth of lemon bars? The answer: A LOT. I purchased a pound or so at my local grocery store, and was dismayed that I kept having to go back to buy more. Finally, I caved and just bought 10lbs worth at Costco and after doing so, and after about my eight batch from scratch, I eventually realized that I actually hate lemon bars (they're equal parts too sweet and too sour for me) and wound up scrapping the recipe from my book entirely. Now I have 10lbs worth of lemons in the kitchen, go me.


The sensible thing to do would be to make a dessert for this blog (like these really cute mini lemon pound cakes with beet glaze, or this ever-popular passionfruit and blueberry cream tart) with all those lemons, but then I got lured by all the other citrus on display and bought more of those instead. Specifically, the cute little kumquats and what I thought were blood oranges. Imagine my surprise when I cut into one at home and discovered I'd been tricked — I'd actually bought pink grapefruit instead! As I was placing them in my basket, I knew that they seemed too big to be blood oranges, but the sign behind them claimed otherwise. And who was I to question the supermarket gods?


So here we are today — what was supposed to be a blood orange creamsicle tart is now... a grapefruit cream tart. My supermarket flub actually worked out fairly well in the end! I think blood oranges would have been too sweet for the cream recipe (which is adapted from this lemon blackberry tart recipe from yesteryear and also makes an appearance in these lime meringue tartlets and the previously mentioned passionfruit tart), since I literally just swapped out lemon juice for grapefruit juice instead. Because grapefruits are sweeter than lemons and I didn't reduce the original recipe's sugar quantity, the grapefruit cream is a just a touch on the sweet side (I mean, I like it, but I have a pretty big sweet tooth so it works well for me). I ended up topping the tart with sliced kumquats, which adds a tart flavor to each bite to temper the sweetness. Enjoy!


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Some baker's notes:
  • This recipe requires a handful of special equipment: a digital candy thermometer, an oven-safe glass bowl, and a blender. You'll need to cook the curd to specific temperatures to get it to set properly; you can probably wing it without one and cook the curd until it thickens enough for a whisk to leave a trail behind, but it can be touch-and-go so I really recommend sourcing a thermometer instead. The glass bowl will be baking in the oven at a relatively high temperature, so be sure to source a high-quality brand like Pyrex for the task. As for the blender, it's not actually necessary, but it'll make your life a lot easier and your filling a lot smoother. You'll need the blender to help incorporate the butter into the grapefruit curd; in a pinch, you can use an immersion blender (which is what I always used in the past iterations of this recipe, until I realized the filling came out much smoother in my high-powered blender) or manually whisk (but your arms will probably get reallyyyy tired). 

  • Although the crust is relatively simple to put together, it does have a tendency to crack here and there. Using European style butter (I recommend Vermont Creamery's) will prevent cracks since European butter has more fat than American butter. If you don't want to bother with sourcing European butter, simply reserve a pinch's worth of raw dough to spackle into any cracks when the tart is fresh out of the oven and cooling on a wire rack. There's no need to bake again — the residual heat from the tart will bake the new dough.

  • I was disappointed to find that, after adding eggs to my pink grapefruit juice, the mixture turned into a dark yellow color instead of a pink one. I used a few drops of red food coloring to get it back to its pinker state. If you're opposed to food coloring, go ahead and omit it, but know that your tart will come out yellow rather than pinkish-orange like mine. 
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Not a whole lot of folks in this space know this about me, but I actually was born abroad in the Philippines. I spent the first part of my childhood growing up in Manila and visit at least once a year since both my parents retired there. Filipino food has a special place in my heart, and in some ways, shaped my diet today. My staple grain of choice is white rice, my vegetables of choice are usually stir fried Asian-style in some sort of soy sauce/fish sauce situation, and there is nothing more comforting to me than a bowl of Filipino adobo.

That being said, Filipino desserts were never really my jam. With the exception of leche flan (of course, my grandmother made the best one from scratch, without a formal recipe or even measuring any ingredients), I was never really fond of any Filipino desserts. There are a lot of different kinds of Filipino desserts and sweets, but the ones I most vividly remember were rice-based and too gelatinous, dense, and sticky for my childhood self. Most Filipino desserts are also flavored with tropical fruits and roots like coconut, ube, cassava, jackfruit, and mango. Maybe it was just a case of the grass being greener on the other side, but my childhood self instead wanted the exact opposite: Western desserts. Airy cakes made with vanilla and chocolate, crumbly shelf-stable cookies, and super artificial candy like Fruit by the Foot.


I thought that as I grew older, I would become more fond of Filipino desserts. But it never happened. My feelings towards Filipino desserts remained neutral at best, indifferent at worst. What did happen though, was a gradual but burgeoning interest in the flavors often used in Filipino sweets. Like ube. Ube is a purple yam frequently used in Southeast Asian desserts; a lot of folks get it confused with taro or purple sweet potatoes, but it's actually its own variety of root vegetable. It has a mild, sweet flavor, but a vivid purple color to make baked goods stand out a mile away.


Although ube is frequently used in desserts in Asian restaurants and snack shops, I was really inspired to see my friend Autumn use it in more Western desserts at the establishments that she and her husband owned in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. Her husband would serve ube kolaches (a Czech pastry popular in Texas, where Autumn is from and I went to high school) at his bar and her bakery, and her cookie delivery service featured ube crinkle cookies on its menu. Autumn inspired me to make a blog-related resolution for this year: to use more Filipino flavors in Western desserts. By the end of the year, I'm hoping to have more dessert baked goods featuring some of the flavors of my childhood. And I'm starting with these ube cinnamon rolls — the ube not only gives them a beautiful, vibrant look, but also pairs wonderfully with the cinnamon for a unique, fusion baked good. Enjoy!


featured:

Some baker's notes:
  • To make these rolls, you'll need two sources of ube: ube halaya jam and ube extract. Ube halaya jam is available online, and can usually be found in the Filipino/Hawaiian aisles of an Asian supermarket (Portlanders — I bought the Monika brand at Fubonn, but I also saw some available at Uwajimaya). Ube extract is trickier to source in real life, but can easily be purchased online (I used the McCormick brand). You can always substitute ube extract with vanilla extract, but note that your rolls won't be as vibrantly purple as mine (since the extract contains purple food coloring). It won't likely be as flavorful either since ube halaya jam has a pretty subtle taste. 

  • Speaking of which, because ube is such a subtle taste, some folks who've tried the cinnamon rolls suggested omitting the cinnamon for a stronger ube flavor. I made these rolls a handful of times, omitting the cinnamon during one trial. It's good! But definitely less fusion-y. So if you want a true cinnamon roll, stick with the cinnamon. But for ube lovers, go wild and commit fully to the ube and omit the spice. 

  • Depending on how you roll the dough, it's likely that you'll end up with more rolls than can fit in the pan. If you're baking the rolls in a 10-inch cast iron pan like I did, I recommend only placing 5 buns in the pan — it makes for a more attractive mega-bun, and crowding too many rolls in a pan might cause them to expand upwards rather than sideways. You can bake any additional rolls on a sheet pan; just be sure to leave enough space between them to allow them to expand properly when baking.
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Because I've been working on classic desserts for Weeknight Baking (ya know, the stuff you crave on a weeknight — brownies, chocolate chip cookies, that sorta thing), I find myself more drawn to the more unusual and exciting flavors for my blog. Sumac creme caramel. Black sesame layer cake. This matcha and pistachio milk tiramisu.

Now, I am not a tiramisu person. I'm a baby about caffeine; if I have any after 12PM exactly, I'll be up until 5AM in the morning. It always baffles me when people have a night time coffee or espresso after dinner — how do they sleep? I get offended when I'm out to dinner and the only desserts on the menu have caffeine in them. Is the chef trying to rob me of my precious sleep or something?

So no, I've never been a tiramisu person. With one exception — in the seventh grade, I went to school with an Italian kid named Francesco Straddiotti (I wasn't joking when I said he was Italian). I've written about this before, but for special occasions, his mom would make us tiramisu from scratch. It was light as air, incredibly fresh and creamy — nothing like the heavy, overly sweet versions I'd had before. As a seventh grader, I still hadn't developed the taste for coffee, but Francesco's mom's tiramisu was so well balanced that I barely noticed the espresso. I ate bowl after bowl, and bounced off the walls all day along with the rest of my class. Because pro-tip: you probably shouldn't feed a bunch of twelve and thirteen year olds a coffee-based dessert.


Now I'm not going to lie — making it from scratch is a bit of a pain in the butt. Traditional tiramisu is frequently made with raw egg yolks, but that freaks me out a little bit so I opted for a slightly more complicated version: making a zabaglione to fold into the cream and mascarpone. Zabaglione is a type of Italian custard made primarily of egg yolks and sugar; it's gently cooked for a few minutes and thickens into wonderful creaminess.

And because I'm averse to coffee these days and getting more lactose intolerant by the second (see: old age), I swapped out the espresso traditionally used with matcha and some of the dairy used in the recipe with pistachio milk. The matcha and pistachio milk play well together, with the nutty flavor from pistachio balancing out matcha's sometimes bitter, seaweedy taste. All of those umami, savory flavors are tempered with the addition of white chocolate.


The matcha is from my friend Erica and her tea shop, Tea Bar. Erica is one of the baddest boss ladies that I know. She opened the first Tea Bar in Portland at the ripe old age of 23, and has since expanded to more locations throughout the city. Tea Bar's menu is small but mighty; Erica lovingly sources the tea from family farms around the world, curating a wonderful collection of tea and exciting drink menu. You can now try some of them with her new line for drinking Tea Bar at home — be sure to check out my Instagram account, where I'm doing a giveaway of my personal favorite flavors, including the matcha used in this recipe.

Enjoy!


A big thanks to Erica and the Tea Bar team for providing me with the matcha featured in this post and the tea for the Instagram giveaway! You can read all about Erica and Tea bar in her recent interview for Paper magazine

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Some maker's notes:
  • This recipe uses a handful of fussy ingredients, like pistachio milk and pistachio extract. Pistachio extract is easy enough to find online (specifically, I used the Watkins brand), but pistachio milk is a bit trickier. I actually used a homemade version from my friend Molly's blog, but there are a ton of recipes available online. Real talk — I've only ever seen pistachio milk at the farmer's market and I don't know if pistachio milk is available commercially. For this recipe, you can either make your own or substitute with another commercially available nut milk of your choice — almond would work particularly well, as would cashew or coconut milk. You can also just go the janky route and use regular milk with pistachio extract stirred in — it won't be the same, sure, but it sorta captures the whole spirit of the recipe anyway. Similarly, if you don't want to source pistachio extract, vanilla extract works wonderfully too. 

  • I wasn't kidding when I said that this recipe is fussy. To make the matcha mascarpone filling, you'll need to first make a white chocolate ganache, then the zabaglione, then whipped cream, then another batch of whipped cream for the topping. And that's not even counting the dipping sauce and the assembly. And pistachio milk, if you decided to make that from scratch. SORRY. You can break it up over a few days — the zabaglione and ganache keep perfectly well in the refrigerator. Just be sure to make the whipped cream the day of serving, since that's the component that tends to lose its integrity fast. 
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When I moved to New York a few summers ago, I did nothing but complain about the incessant heat. Erlend often rolled his eyes at me. "Wait until winter arrives," he would say. "You'll be wishing for this heat." I would then point out that having lived in places like London, The Hague, and Portland, I was no stranger to the cold. He then shook his head. "Yeah, none of those places get as cold as New York."

So I took his warning to heart. I went to Paragon Sports and almost shelled out $900 for one of those fancy AF Canada Goose parkas, before I realized that I don't live somewhere that cold and that they trap wolves and kill geese in scary ways and that $900 is way too much money to spend on a seasonal jacket (I ended up with one of those cheaper, heat-reflective, and wolf-friendly puffers from Columbia Sportswear instead). I spent a considerable sum on waterproof leather boots that were nice enough to rock at a corporate office environment and a cashmere wool hat from Madewell. I was ready.


And then the winter of 2016 came and it was, well, NOT COLD. It snowed a grand total of two times; both days weren't cold enough for the snow to stick to the ground. I used my pricey leather boots so infrequently that they still haven't broken in properly over a year later. My high-tech puffer jacket was too hot and bulky to wear on the subway; I switched back to the thinner wool coat I wore in Portland. And before I could even get sick of the cold weather, summer arrived early (skipping spring all together, because honestly, there are only two seasons in New York now — summer and winter) along with the brutal humidity I hated.

Erlend jokes that I'm New York's warm weather lucky charm. I missed the polar vortex in 2015; I missed the bomb cyclone at the start of this year. I'm sure at this point, a handful of you guys are wondering: why on earth is this psycho girl complaining about missing the freezing cold weather? Truth be told, I probably wouldn't really enjoy it that much if I actually was in New York during the bomb cyclone (especially since the folks who ended up renting our apartment after us apparently lost all heat and hot water since our landlord was the absolute worst). It's more FOMO than anything. Because let's face it — while the photos of the snow dappled brownstones in Brooklyn and frosted trees in the park outside my old office building are very, very pretty, you know that shit would hurt IRL.


So my East Coast friends — this cake is for you. I know the bomb cyclone ended a few weeks ago, but I wanted to commemorate (and maybe commiserate) the occasion with a bomb cyclone layer cake. The frosting is partially inspired by this Wikipedia photo of a bomb cyclone hovering over Japan in 2013, but also this STORMBORN frosting design from Buttercream Bakery and this monochromatic beauty from Cake Ink (REAL TALK: why are Australians such talented pastry makers? How? Should I just move there already and learn all the skills?). The inside is just as dramatic too: an all-natural, all-black-erythang black sesame cake. And folks, you're in for a treat — this is the first recipe I'm sharing from my upcoming cookbook, Weeknight Baking, as it's actually a variation of one of the book's foundational cake recipes (White Wedding Cake, for those interested).

Enjoy!


featured:

Some baker's notes:
  • You'll first need to roast the black sesame seeds before throwing them into the cake batter. You can also use un-roasted seeds, but your cake won't be as flavorful or colorful. Roasting the black sesame seeds takes about 15 minutes of active work (you'll need to toss them every five minutes or so to prevent them from burning), and then they'll need to cool to room temperature before you can use them in the batter. You can roast the seeds up to a week in advance before making the recipe though; just keep the roasted seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. The sesame sugar mixture as a whole will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. 

  • For this recipe, it's especially important that all your eggs, butter, and milk are at the same temperature — the batter is especially finnicky and tends to curdle if some of the ingredients are colder than others. You're also going to be using the reverse-creaming method to make the cakes, which means that you'll be mixing all the dry ingredients in together with the butter, and then adding the liquids later. This method, while a little weird, tends to result in a more tender crumb that's perfect for more delicate cakes like the wedding cake recipe this recipe is based on. Note that once you pull these cakes out of the oven, there's a good chance that they'll pull away dramatically from the sides of the pan as they cool — don't worry about that too much! It tends to happen with reverse-creamed cakes (I have no idea why, but I'm working on finding out) and won't affect your flavor at all. 

  • The buttercream frosting recipe is adapted from super star blogger Sarah Kieffer's cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. The ratios will seem off at first because it's a lot of butter, not a whole lot of sugar, and zero liquid. But trust the recipe! It works. You just have to cream it for longer than what's typical for a traditional American buttercream recipe. The frosting is intensely buttery — I wouldn't recommend it with a butter cake, or really, any delicately flavored cake since it's basically just pure butter. That being said, it works beautifully with "strong-flavored" cakes like this black sesame one, since it sorta offsets the toasted, nutty (and almost slightly bitter) taste of black sesame. 

  • To decorate the cake, I used first created a base frosting layer using an ombre frosting techinique, coloring the bottom half of the cake with buttercream gray buttercream. This tutorial from my incredibly talented friend Tessa is great and has step-by-step photos. I then put random dollops of white buttercream and random, teeny drops of navy blue and black food coloring throughout the cake before frosting it smooth. I think this is called the watercolor technique? I don't really know. One day I'll do a video of it so you can see, but for now, check out Tessa's tutorial on how to do the watercolor technique — it's great, it has GIFs!  
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Is everybody settling into the new year okay? Personally, I'm doing okay, just okay. I got hit with a nasty bout of food poisoning right before Christmas that lasted all throughout the holiday week up until now. It was the sickest I'd been in a while — between the stomachaches and bathroom trips and my stupid broken toe (oh, yeah, I complained about this a lot on my Instagram Stories but never actually mentioned it here — I broke my toe, lol), I confined myself to the couch alternating my time between napping with my cat and half-heartedly watching The Walking Dead. I'm not usually one for resolutions, but now I have two for 2018: avoid shellfish (I have this new theory that the more fancy the restaurant is, the more dangerous the shellfish is) and find new, less grim TV shows to watch. Recommendations welcome.


I'm only now just getting back into the kitchen to work on Weeknight Baking and develop recipes for this blog. The good news is, I have a bunch of recipes that I've been working on from last year that I never got around to posting. Like this sumac creme caramel!

Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that tastes a little like dried lemon zest, except a little more flavorful and a touch funkier (in a good way). Although it's frequently used in savory dishes to add a citrusy kick to meats and hummus and salad, I've been using it in sweet dishes like donuts and pie as of late.


This sumac creme caramel, as simple as it seems, actually took me a few tries to get right. The first time I used my grandma's Filipino leche flan recipe, but found that the custard was too dense and creamy for the sumac. The second time around, I used the ginger creme caramel recipe from Ottolenghi's SWEET cookbook as a base. Their recipe has a higher ratio of milk to cream than most creme caramel recipes, leading to a lighter custard that works wonderfully with the sumac.

Enjoy!


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Some baker's notes:
  • Plan ahead for this one! This recipe has you infuse the milk and cream with sumac and vanilla overnight. After you've made the custard and poured it into its mold, it will need another 24 hours to set. In a pinch, you can skip the infusion, but your custard won't be as flavorful as mine was. 

  • To get the fluted edges on the creme caramel, I poured the custard into this fluted porcelain baking dish from Staub. I had a little extra custard leftover that I then poured into two ramekins. If you want to just use one dish for the caramel, use a 10-inch pan instead.

  • To bake the creme caramel, you'll need to create a water bath. You'll need a pan wide enough to fit a 10-inch pan comfortably; it also will need to have high sides to contain enough water to go at least halfway up the sides of the creme caramel pan. I don't have any baking dishes that big and wide, so I ended up using a turkey roasting pan with the wire rack removed (this is the kind I have). It worked well enough, though if you don't want to be janky like me, you can probably source a large disposable aluminum roasting pan from your grocery store. 
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So... similar to my last recipe for champagne glazed shortbread cookies, today's post was supposed to be a completely different post. I tend to plan my editorial calendar for my blog months in advance, and for my first recipe in 2018, I was going to cater to the New Year's Resolution masses and develop a recipe for grapefruit detox popsicles. Whatever that means (Because a detox popsicle? Really? Who am I kidding?).

But because I've been working slowly and steadily on my book, Weeknight Baking, I always have a ton of ingredients leftover from the recipe testing. Leftover doughs, good-but-not-quite-perfect cakes, 1/4-cup of some ingredient here or there. The worst was when I was working on the white cake recipe. There was about a week in which I always had about a dozen egg yolks leftover at the end of the day that I didn't know what to do with.


At first, I was using the egg yolks in custards: a key lime pie requires four, this egg yolk chocolate chip cookie recipe can be adapted to use another four. But that still left me with another four. And repeating the tests the next day would leave me with another 12, leading to 16 yolks total. Four per recipe wasn't enough to keep up with the volume of egg whites I was using. I needed to find the heavy hitters — my grandma's leche flan recipe used 12 egg yolks, Miette's yellow cake recipe used another 10 (for a six-inch cake; crazy huh?). Thomas Keller's vanilla ice cream recipe in the Ad Hoc At Home cookbook? Calls for 10 yolks.


I've had that recipe bookmarked for ages, but of course, never actually made because well, ya know, it required 10 egg yolks. And guess what? My version uses 12. If I'm being honest, I'll be very surprised if any of you guys make this recipe, because, well, 12 egg yolks. I get it. But it's good, and 100% worth making if you ever find yourself in a situation with 12 leftover egg yolks. All those yolks lead to a thick, creamy, hearty custard base that's unparalleled by most other ice creams. And for good measure, I threw in some leftover dulce de leche and Stella Parks' cookie dough nuggets.

So much for detox popsicles. This ice cream is pretty much the opposite of all that. It's vice cream.


featured:
scallop plate || enamel dishes || ice cream bowl || tulip jar

Some maker's notes:
  • To make this recipe, you'll need some special equipment: an ice cream maker (I love Breville's ice cream makeryou don't need to freeze the bowl beforehand to use it!), and a set of medium and large bowls that can nest inside each other. The nesting bowls are used to create an ice bath that will help cool the custard down quickly and prevent it from cooking further. 

  • This recipe uses egg-free cookie dough nuggets made with corn syrup to bind the ingredients together; corn syrup is used instead of egg to prevent illnesses and help keep the dough a sticky, biteable texture (because regular frozen cookie dough would actually probably chip your teeth if you tried to bite into it. The recipe is adapted from Stella Parks' book, Bravetart; her original recipe instructs you to scoop the dough with a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon, but I found it was too sticky and hard to work with. I ended up freezing the dough instead and using a sharp knife to cut it up into nuggets instead. But if you're pressed for time, definitely go for the scooping method! 

  • Other ingredients of note in this recipe include vanilla bean powder and dulce de leche. Vanilla bean powder is made from pulverized vanilla bean pods, and is basically a cheaper version of the real stuff — find it online and in specialty stores. In a pinch, use a real vanilla bean pod! As for the dulce de leche, I used homemade dulce de leche left over from these brownies; you can find the canned variety at any Latino supermarket or use your favorite caramel sauce instead.
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