Blueberry scones

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I enjoy a hot cup of green tea each morning.  So, I am constantly in search for a great pastry to pair with it.  Usually a scone or muffin would be a perfect match.  Yet, only the kind smothered with sugar or thick glaze are found in most coffee shops nowadays.

There is something irresistable about a scone or muffin filled with plumped fruits such as blueberries or dried cherries.  Sometimes, a chocolate chip scone can be be the right fix since the sweetness of the chocolate chip (especially with a warm scones) would complement a green tea.

Blueberry scones (source: Tyler florence)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.


Decorated sugar cookies

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What birthday girl would not want her first birthday to be all about her?  So, have these treats be monogrammed with her name or initials.  These delicious sugar cookies were iced with a glaze and detailed with royal icing.  I prefer the taste of glaze so I will use that primarily form here on.  But, royal icing does stay put so the detailing would stand out.  I also sprinkled on some disco dust with glimmer and sparkle.  After all, us girls love anything that sparkles (no matter what birthday we are celebrating…hint hint).

Sprinkle of disco dust is a red cherry on top of a great dessert!


Chicks cake pops

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The chicks are in the coop!  I had a fun time making these this second time around.  I figured out ways to improve my techniques.  One thing I learned is that using specific  brand of products can affect your results.  

For example, I usually use wilton candy melts but I find the colored melts to be too thick.  So, after some research, I stumbled upon a tip to use paramount cystals.  This product purpose is to thin out candy melts.  It worked!  I bought it at a local cake supply store but you can order it online. 

 


Blondie bar with dates and walnuts

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These are called food of the gods in the Philippines.  But I called them blondie bars since it has no chocolate.  Can you believe it? What?  a bar without chocolate?  Actually, dates are rather tasty by itself and you hardly missed the chocolate.  But combine them with walnuts, they are divine.  The soft chewy texture of dates really gives dessert a boost.  I suppose to could substitute the dates for cranberries or golden raisins.  Also, you can even make them a true blondie by using white chocolate as well.  Perhaps, for a holiday or festive theme, add dried cranberries or sour cherries for a splash of color.  Now, soft chewy dates are like a red cherry on top of a good dessert.

This recipe will be in Chef Joey Pratts upcoming  Signature desserts cookbook.

 


Fudgy brownies

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No dessert blog cannot exist without including everybody’s favorite chocolate dessert: brownies.  When I think of an ultimate brownie, I envision a thick rich fudgy brownie loaded with walnuts.  A good brownie must have one important ingredient: Good chocolate and real butter!  Usually, for a special treat I want a scoop of good ole plain vanilla ice cream.  There is just something about the juxaposition of a warm brownie along beside cold ice cream.

I am excited to announce that I will be a recipe tester for Chef Joey Pratts dessert cookbook coming out soon!  Check him out on facebook: Joey Pratts Signature desserts.  So, I will be posting my results from his recipes.  This brownie is one of the delicious recipe from his upcoming book.  This brownie is fudgy and has the crackling crust that is a sign of a good brownie.


Hello Kitty oreo pops

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Hello Kitty makes a little or big girl happy.  There is just something about her hair bow that makes it so girly.  I was inspired by bakerella’s blog.  These took a bit more time to make since you need to have your supplies and sprinkles ready before the candy melts dries.    I really should swap my wilton edible black pen for the americolor brand.  It just doesn’t work well on this surface but may be better on cookies.   I just have not yet to order them online.  If only supplies were more readily available at my local hobby lobby.  Guess I have to check out the cake supply store near me.  I know could spend a long time browsing in that store!

This is a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.  I just love anything with cream cheese.  I think red velvet would be a great contract to the white frosting.  So if you want a stunning contrast.. make it a red velvet cake.  Hello kitty with the infamous red bow is like a red cherry on top of a great dessert.

 


Banana Bread

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Going bananas for banana bread.. Yep, I gotta clean out my freezer and need to up a few black bananas that I felt bad throwing out.    Moreover, I even had some sour cream that’s about to reach its expiration as well.  Isn’t nice when you have the exact ingredients to make something so comforting?  I had my kids bring some of this bread to share with the neighbors.   How else you gonna teach them to share?  Actually, it gives me an excuse to try out another banana bread recipe.  I am not sure where this recipe came from but I written it down on a scrap piece of paper.  But, it is similar to Emerils recipe which i think is one of my favorite. Why is that so?  Well, it actually uses butter rather than oil.  Also, another moisture booster is sour cream.  Although next time, I may substitute the butter for some coconut oil.  I just found out that coconut oil is the healthier choice for oil use.  But, coconut flavor would complement bananas..kinda tropical.

I must say that a achieving a great bread is almost like finding the perfect relationship: the key is balance.  I have been reading the science of baking from a Shirley’s corriher Bakewise book.  I have taken some lessons from a baking book and applied it to my relationships.

There are several key factors or elements in baked goods such as the fat, flour, eggs, and liquid.  All of these have different roles to make it good in the end.  As in any relationship, you have to constantly experiment and not give up.  Flour and eggs gives structure to a cake. Sort of like honesty and trust as foundation in a strong relationship.  Also, not having enough fat will not produce a tender cake.  But the type of fat is important consideration:  butter for that great taste or oil for extra moisture.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice one baking ingredients for the sake of principle.  So, why not compromise by using half butter and half oil.  The butter will give you taste and aeration while the oil gives tenderness and moisture.  Now that is harmony.

As in this particular bread,  try using half butter and half oil.  Also, the sour cream will make it more moist and a tang ( any relationship needs a tang).  Keep experimenting and learn from your mistakes in the kitchen.  Afterall, you can never stop learning. But when you do find that light bulb moment, it is like a red cherry on top of a great dessert.

BANANA BREAD

1/2 c butter ( 1 stick, softened)

1 c sugar

1/4 c sour cream

2 eggs

1 & 1/2 c  all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1 c ripe mashed bananas ( I used 2 large ones)

Mix the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add  sour cream and vanilla  fold in the dry ingredients (flour, baking, soda, pinch of salt).  Mix until combined.  Pour into a loaf pan that has been sprayed or oiled.  Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.


French almond macarons

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Almond macarons: These little babies droved me nuts!  My first attempt failed miserably.  I adored the dainty frill (or foot) around the edge of the cookie and the colorful display is perfect for joyful celebrations.  The time and effort put forth in baking them makes them truly special for gift-giving. Pictures will follow.  But I bought a book and watch several tutorials… frustration, ranting, and finally.. a chorus of ALLEUIA.  Every bakers hopes and dreams was to see the little “foot” forming on the bottom of these babies.  I cannot recall if I ever looked for feet on my actual children much less these little pastries.  The formation of the feet is dependent on so many factors: egg white whipped to peak, sufficient drying time of the piped meringue,  rapping of the baking sheet,  humidity, proper oven temperature, and so on. Perhaps it was divine intervention…going to sunday mass last week.  Hey, macaron are a mystery in itself.

Here are some pictures of my successful and failed attempts:

Here is the chocolate ganache filling:

  

Notes & Tips:

  • Your egg whites need to be room temperature, and some say aged. Mine were aged 3 days inside the eggshell.
  • I did not make my own almond flour. I used the almond meal at the bulk section of central market.
  • Follow the recipe very carefully and exercise each step very deliberately.
  • At first, use short strokes to fold in the almond flour mixture to the egg whites. Your batter will be very thick. (thicker than I expected!) Use bigger folds once incorporated.  Your mixture will begin to loosen.
  • Once mixed and in a pastry bag, your batter should just start to slowly come out of the tip. If it doesn’t, squeeze it back into your bowl and fold a few more times.  If it runs then I’m sorry to say… back to square 1.  (This valuable tip courtesy of Giver’s Log

I used the recipe from the book called: I love macaron but many bloggers have claimed martha stewart recipe to be pretty good.


cookie bouquet

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Deliver these edible treats to me any day!  I would take these tulips over fresh flowers..at least I can share them..with a few buds missing or bitten off here and there.

These are made in several processes.  First of all, the cookies were bakes and cooled overnight.  Then the decorating  and messy parts began the following day.  If you wanted to add another color, then they need to be dried completely before applying a second color.  I am so glad that these cookie lollipops stayed on the sticks!  But the spiral ones are kind of heavy so I may use a smaller cutter next time.  I used a glaze for this since I did not like the taste of royal icing much.  However, I may only use royal icing sparingly next time for the details.   Now, how else are you gonna get tulips that smelled and tasted good enough to eat!  Almond sugar cookie with edible pearls is like a red cherry on top of a good dessert.


Snickerdoodles cookies

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Say it again?  I have stumbled upon these cookies recently and thought the name was kinda peculiar.  It does not contain any snicker candy or anything.  It is basically a sugar cookie sprinkled  with a mixture of cinnamon and white sugar.  Generally, I am not fond of cinnamon, but the taste is subtle with these cookies.  Another distinctive flavor of snickerdoodle cookies is due to the cream of tartar that give a tangy bite.  I like these cookies since it is slight crispy on the outside yet soft in the middle.  Moreover, these were not too sweet even for a sugar cookie base.  Now, add some colorful sprinkles on top of the cinnamon is a red cherry on top of a great dessert.

  

 

Snickerdoodles

(source: Martha Stewart)

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pure vegetable shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small (1 1/4-ounce) ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.