Persimmon Bourbon Cake

Persimmon Bourbon Cake
Maple Ice Cream // Candied Walnuts
Persimmon Shavings // Caramel Sauce

Merry Christmas!!!


New Lunch Desserts

 Top Left (clockwise):

Hazelnut Financier
Gianduja Cremeux // Milk Chocolate Feuilletine

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta 
Concord Grape Gelee // Sliced Grapes

Chocolate Chestnut Pot de Creme
Whip Cream // Honeycomb


A Time for Tradition

I've been friends with "Sweet" Sarah (the current Pastry Chef at The Wood Tavern) for some years now.  She's part Italian and ever since I can remember, when the holidays rolled around, she and the women of her family would get together and make a ton of ravioli for their Christmas celebration.  This year, when I was invited, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to join in on the tradition!

The kitchen was bustling Monday morning as 4 generations of Ballard women (thanks to the recent addition of baby Allia), extended family and close friends began to prep for ravioli making - while enjoying champagne and h'ordeurves of course.  Great-Grandma Anna Ballard and her cousin Anna Capurro oversaw the production. 

The first thing that needed to be done was to make the filling and dough.  The filling is made of ground pork and beef, spinach, swiss chard, onion, olive oil, day-old bread, parmesan, eggs, warm spices, salt and pepper.  The spices are what makes this recipe unique and let me tell you, the filling was quite delicious and full of flavor.  Below is a photo of Tara (a journalist) kneading the dough.  Last year Tara wrote an article "Make 1,000 Ravioli?  It Must Be the Holiday Season."  of this family tradition that was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle.

L to R: Anna C. overseeing the grinding of ingredients for filling, Mixing in cheese, eggs and spices, Tara kneading the dough
These family heirlooms have been passed down for generations - long rolling pin, a rolling pin to form ravioli and a 3'x6' wooden board to roll on

We're now ready to get started rolling out the dough by hand!  It takes a bit of time to get the elastic dough to stretch out, but it's not difficult.  Plenty of flour and some patience will get the job done.  Speaking of which, the dough is thin enough when you can see the board through it!  Also, rolling the dough into a square makes for less waste when forming the ravioli. 

Once the dough is thin enough, it's scooted toward the edge of the board and part of it is draped over the edge for easier workability.  Filling is then spread over half of the dough leaving a nice strip along the edge uncovered.  It is then sandwiched with the other half of the dough.

The rolling pin used to form the ravioli is then lined up with the fold of dough, again to make sure there is as little waste as possible.  It is slowly rolled over the dough with lessened pressure as you go along making sure not to push the filling out.  The ravioli is then cut along the scores left from the form.  They are then transferred to a sheet pan and frozen before being bagged a kept for Christmas. 

Anna B. usually runs a very tight ship keeping a count on all the ravioli made.  This year however, twice as many were made, so I was able to take some home.  I was truly honored to be able to join the Ballard family and take part in their rich family tradition, a tradition that according to Nancy was kept alive by her daughter Sarah and her passion for food.

Thanks so much to the Ballards for welcoming me into their home.  I had a great time and learned so much.  I also walked away with some great blackmail material on Sarah!  Now the only thing that's left is to EAT.  I will wait until my weekend so that I can go all out...


Cookies & Cocktails [FPP v2.0]

You might remember my post on our "Doughnut Making Party," now also dubbed Food Porn Party v1.0.  Cheryl, the 2 Sarahs and I just held the second installment - Cookies & Cocktails!  We decided to get in the holiday spirit, so each of us chose a cookie recipe and a cocktail recipe.  Again, we developed one shopping list and divided it among the 4 of us.

While compiling our recipes and shopping lists, I noticed something kind of funny.  By funny, I mean that something that only people who are consumed with good food would subconsciously do.  Each of our own Cookie & Cocktail recipes complimented each other.  So below is a photograph of our "pairings" and a few selected recipes. 

Chocolate "Aftershock" Cookies & Blood Orange Spritz

"Savory" Sarah
Cookie: Chocolate "Aftershock" Cookies
12.8 oz     Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1.6 oz       Butter

3               Eggs
9.6 oz       Sugar
1 t             Coffee Extract

1 t             Vanilla Extract
1.6 oz       AP
1 t             Baking Powder
1 t             Salt

4 oz           Milk Chocolate Chips
4 oz           White Chocolate Chips
4 oz           Peanut Butter Chips
6.5 oz        Walnuts, toasted & chopped
1.  Over a bain marie melt chocolate and butter, set aside
2.  Whip eggs, sugar and extracts on high in a mixer
3.  Once mixture has thickened, add AP, BP and Salt and mix until combined
4.  On a low speed, add melted chocolate/butter mixture
5.  Once incorporated, fold in chocolate and nuts
6.  Refrigerate batter for 1/2 hour, or until batter has hardened enough to scoop
Frosted Lime Wafers & Blackberry Sage Refresher
7.  Scoop and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes

Cocktail: Blackberry Sage Refresher
Sage Syrup
1 c         Sugar
1 c         Water
2 sprigs  Sage
1.  Bring all ingredients to a boil
2.  Steep for 15 minutes
3.  Discard sage and allow syrup to cool
2 oz       Blackberry Puree
1 oz       Vodka
1 oz       Sage Syrup
2 oz       Tonic
              Fresh Blackberries & Sage for garnish
1.  Combine first 4 ingredients, stir
2.  Add ice and garnish
Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies & Pomegranate Moscow Mule


 "Sweet" Sarah
Cookie: Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies
3/4 c    AP
1 t        BP
1 t        BS
1 1/4 t  Coarse Salt     
1 1/2 t  Ground Cinnamon
1 1/4 t  Ground Ginger
3/4 t     Ground Nutmeg
3/4 c     Butter, rt
2 1/4 c  Brown Sugar
2           Eggs
1 1/2 c  Pumpkin Puree
3/4 c     Evaporated Milk
1 t         Vanilla Extract
1.  Combine dries, set aside
2.  Paddle buttter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy
3.  Add wet ingredients, mixing until well combined
4.  Add dries and mix only until incorporated
5.  Pipe 1 1/2 in mounds onto sheet pans
6.  Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes
4 c               Powdered Sugar, sifter
10 T            Butter, browned
1/4 c + 1 T  Evaporated Milk
2 t               Vanilla Extract
1.  Once butter is browned, stir immediately into powdered sugar
2.  Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth
3. Using an offset spatula or piping bag, frost cooled cookies
Alfajores & Warm Apple Pie Spiced Cider
Cocktail: Warm Apple Pie Spiced Cider
1 1/4 qt   Apple Cider
3 T          Brown Sugar
7             Cinnamon Sticks (more for garnish)
1 t           Ground Allspice
1/2 t        Ground Ginger
Pinch      Ground Cloves
Pinch      Ground Nutmeg
Pinch      Salt
1/2 c       Calvados or other Brandy
1.  In a pot, combine all ingredients except Calvados
2.  Bring mixture to a boil and allow to steep for 15 minutes
3.  Stir in Calvados 
4.  Strain into glasses
5.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks

Although we weren't able to follow our cookie recipes to a "T" due to the libations, it was definitely a good time and everything came out quite delicious in the end.  Coming January 2012...FPP v3.0.  I can't wait!


White Chocolate Mousse

White Chocolate Mousse
Pomegranate Sorbet // Mint Gelée // Pomegranate Seeds
Pomegranate Sauce // Shortbread Crumbs // Micro Mint

(New Dinner Dessert 2 of 2)

Orange Creamsicle

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Mandarin Espuma // Dehydrated Milk Foam
Orange Blossom Kisses // Citrus in White Verjus

(New Dinner Dessert 1 of 2)



I almost forgot to write about Halloween.  Even though we're nearly halfway through November, I still want to share these sweets with you!

You may have seen these two pictures on my Facebook page - Halloween Macarons and Candy Corn Rice Krispy Treats.

The Macarons were for our diners at work.  
Flavors - Black Sesame & Orange

The Candy Corn Rice Krispy Treats were made by Annie and I for the Halloween Party in her 5th grade class.  I met a few of them after their party and I think they really liked them!  :)


♥ E & J Wedding ♥

Elizabeth & Jeffrey (photo by Dien)

I know, I've been MIA for a while.  The short story - I over-extended myself and then I paid the price by getting sick twice in one week.  I'm finally feeling better now, so here's a long-overdue post that I've been wanting to write. 

Dessert Table & Candy Bar
My friend Dien recommended me to her friend Liz earlier this year to make a Dessert Table/Candy Bar for her wedding to Jeff.  It was a big project, but I felt ready to take it on (with some help of course).  My friend Thip helped me to make the macarons, Liz herself did a lot of the shopping for the table and Annie, Dien and Alex helped me to set up. 

8-tier Macaron Tower
Liz and Jeff wanted a clean and simple Dessert Bar - white with splashes of red, purple and gold.

Here's a list of all the items:
  • Macarons
    • Purple - Passion Fruit
    • Red - Dark Chocolate Ganache
    • White - Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel
  • Rice Krispy Pops Dipped in White Chocolate
  • White Mini Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
  • Homemade Marshmallow S'mores Pops
  • Assorted Candies

Just as we were putting on the finishing touches, Liz and Jeff popped out from behind the scenes to check out the table.  Liz was absolutely gorgeous and had the most beautiful wedding dress - Jeff couldn't be a happier groom.  They were impressed with the table, but unfortunately didn't get a chance to enjoy any of it!  Thanks so much for letting me do my part for your special day - I'm glad to have met such a wonderful couple. 

Congratulations to Elizabeth & Jeffrey!  All the best as you embark on your lives together. ♥


Happy Birthday RoBEAR!

Although we planned to be away for my boyfriend's birthday, he mentioned to me that he likes how I make him a birthday cake each year.  So I ended up planning an early birthday party with his immediate family and my parents at a Korean BBQ restaurant that he likes.  Instead of embarrassing him at the restaurant, which he would not like, we cut the cake at home.

It's a malt flavored cake with chocolate frosting.  This looks like a total kids cake doesn't it?  :D


♥ J & J Wedding ♥

Last weekend my cousin Joleigh was married to James in Mill Valley, CA in a vintage themed wedding.  Unfortunately, I had already planned a weekend getaway and was not able to attend.  However, my family reported on all the dancing and merriment as well as shared some pictures with me of the special day - my cousin looked absolutely stunning!  And although I couldn't be there, I did make the happy couple a macaron tower for their dessert table with the help of my friend Thip from Bonbini!  Joleigh and her mother LOVE macarons and I'm sure it has to be rubbing off on James by now! 

Macaron Tower (Photo by Namthip Paine of Bonbini!)
 (L to R) Pistachio, Passion Fruit & Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel Macarons

The making of these macarons was the beginning of the most hectic 2 weeks ever for me.  Although Thip and I make macarons regularly, we have never made them in such a large quantity.  It was a bit of a challenge doing it at home, but I think we did a good job!  

Congratulations to Joleigh & James - Wishing you all the best! ♥


SoCAL Figs

Heart-Shaped Fig (photo by Dien Nguyen)

My friend Dien of I've Got Fashionitis was visiting her family in Orange County and she let it slip that her mom has a fig tree!  Dien and I have a common love for fresh produce, especially picking our own...but that's a story for another time.  

I put in a request for a few of these SoCAL figs and Dien delivered!  She even threw in a few wild guava (sorry no pics).  I was quite lucky that there were any figs for me because Dien's mom cuts the off the tree and throws them away so the crows don't come!  I almost died laughing when I heard that.

The flesh of these figs were a vibrant reddish pink.  I used a few to make a vanilla fig syrup and macerated the rest of the figs with it.  I served it over a Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta.  It was a creamy, yet refreshing treat.

Thanks again Dien for flying home some figs for me!


Chocolate Cremeux

Chocolate Cremeux
Malt Ice Cream
Chocolate Sauce // Cocoa Crumble // Chocolate Garnish


Congratulations Betty!

Photo by Betty Yu
I attended a celebratory dinner for one of my newest friends and I couldn't show up empty-handed!  Betty was making a big move from NYC to Miami to further her journalism career.  The girls and I were quite excited to catch up and celebrate with Betty on her visit home.

Macarons served in a bowl are a great idea.  It transforms this "fancy" treat into a fun pile of colorful sweetness.  Make sure you don't pile the macs up too high or use delicate macarons otherwise you'll have smashed macs on the bottom...still tasty, but not so pretty. 

Macarons in Miami Colors
Raspberry with Crystallized Rose
Mango with Cayenne Pepper

Congratulations Betty and Best of Luck on Your New Miami Adventure!


Fall Lunch Desserts

Top Left (clockwise):

Mango Parfait
Passion Fruit Gelee // Passion Fruit Seeds

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse
Candied Peanuts // Whip Cream // Chocolate Sauce

Spiced Pumpkin Creme Brulee
Whip Cream // Brown Butter Sage Crumble

Caramel Panna Cotta
Chocolate Cremeux // Chocolate Covered Feuilletine


Green Cardamom Creme Brulee

Green Cardamom Creme Brulee
Roasted Plum Sorbet // Cardamom Infused Plums // Plum Gastrique
Almond Tuile // Almond Crumble

My Favorite!!!
(New Dinner Dessert 4 of 4)


Chocolate Espresso Decadence

Chocolate Espresso Decadence
Coffee Chicory Ice Cream // Chicory Foam
Chocolate Caramel Tuile // Cocoa Crumble // Chocolate Sauce

(New Dinner Dessert 3 of 4)


Caramelized Squash Mousse

Caramelized Squash Mousse
Gingerbread // Apple Cider Sorbet //Squash Chips
Caramel Sauce // Graham Cracker Crumble

(New Dinner Dessert 2 of 4)


Lemon Meringue Chiffon

Lemon Chiffon Cake
Buttermilk Sherbet // Lemon Curd
Toasted Swiss Meringue // Lemon Zest Meringue Shards
Lemon Powder // Graham Cracker Crumble

(New Dinner Dessert 1 of 4)


Lady :: Camila :: Red

After our doughnut making session about a week and a half ago, Cheryl sent me home with half a dozen of her "farm fresh" eggs on the condition that I eat them and not bake with them of course!  If you enlarge the pictures above, you'll notice 3 different colored eggs and some numbers penciled on them.  That's the number egg each chicken has produced and the date it was laid - a pretty organized system I would say.  Cheryl and her boyfriend actually have 3 chickens in the backyard of their San Francisco home:
Lady Gaga (One FUNKY Chicken) - White Leghorn with White Eggs
Camila - Araucana with Beige Eggs
Red - Rhode Island Red with Brown Eggs

These chickens provide them with about a dozen eggs a week - isn't that awesome!?  My boyfriend thought that was so cool and said that it would be perfect for me with all the baking that I do.  But, I'm terrified of birds, so I would have nothing to do with their care if we ever had chickens of our own. 

Now, I've cracked a lot of eggs in my career, but it doesn't take away any of the excitement when I have home grown eggs.  So the next morning, I was ready to dig in to them and decided to make a nice breakfast .  I wanted to enjoy my eggs as a Benedict and my boyfriend wanted the usual sunny-side up eggs.  So I cracked open two eggs revealing fresh, beautiful and extremely yellow yolks.  I made a small batch of Hollandaise Sauce from that.  (Don't worry, I didn't waste the whites - Crease enjoyed them later with his lunch.)  

Two more eggs went on a frying pan and the last two were to be poached.  I honestly have never poached an egg before, so I was a little scared of over cooking it, but it actually came out well - a nice runny yolk!  Since this was a "special" breakfast,  I went all out and made Hash Browns too.  I use a technique I learned from Irving Street Cafe to make my Hash Browns.

Thanks so much for the delicious eggs Matt & Cheryl - we really enjoyed our breakfast!  Can't wait to out next food adventure!


Doughnut Making Party! [FPP v1.0]

Cheryl w/ a Mini Choco Honey Glazed Doughnut
This has to be my quickest post in terms of the time I left the kitchen to the time I hit the keyboard.  But, I couldn't help myself - I had an absolute blast making doughnuts today with three fellow [PB] alumni!

Top Left (clockwise): Measuring Utensils, Donna Hay, Farm Fresh Eggs, Apple Fritters Proofing, Mise en Place
It all started when Sarah of S&S Brand picked up a copy of the Donna Hay autumn issue on doughnuts.  She figured that she couldn't stay at home and make a variety of doughnuts by herself, well she could, but that wouldn't be much fun.  So instead, she contacted two Pastry Chefs and our very own "Donna Hay."  After the hurdle of finding a day that we could all participate, the two Sarahs and I showed up with ingredients and bubbly ready to fry in the kitchen of our gracious host Cheryl.

We attempted 5 different recipes, but a typo on one recipe messed up our Little Custard (Lemon Curd) Doughnuts.  Unfortunately, those ended up in the compost bin.  The Little Custard Doughnuts recipe on Donna Hay's website however is correct and works well as a base doughnut that can be cut to the shape of your choosing, filled with whatever you like and dusted with your sugar of choice. 

The Final Products:

Apple Fritters & Caramel Filled Chocolate Doughnuts
Strawberry Jam Doughnuts
Mini Chocolate Honey Glazed Doughnuts
My favorite was the Strawberry Jam Doughnuts followed by the Minis (they're just so cute!) and the Caramel Filled ones.  The dough itself is not very sweet, so the addition of jams, glazes and caramel won't make your teeth tingle.  That being said, the apple fritters were quite sour since we used Granny Smith Apples - perhaps a sweeter apple next time.  After the sugar rush, we had some much needed and much deserved tacos for dinner - the perfect end for our perfect day. 

Like I said, I had an amazing time and so did the other lovely ladies!  Thank you Cheryl and the Sarahs for such a fun-filled day in the kitchen!  We already have our next event on the calendar, so you'll have to stay tuned to see what the next theme is...trust me, you'll love it!


Poking Fun at pastrypixels

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies [08.22.2011]
This all started when my boyfriend asked me to make some cookies, or anything sweet since I haven't really baked anything at home since starting my new job about a month ago.  Of course I whined and about being tired and that I get to make whatever I want at work, so I don't feel the urge to do it at home anymore.  He went on to say that he was "craving some sugar" and that I "could blog about it on pastrypixels because I have to update [his] blog more often."  (Yes, he owns the domain.)  So, I agreed to make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but it didn't stop there... 

He went on to gesture as if he were typing and in the voice he uses to make fun of me went on to say the following:

"My boyfriend asked me to make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but of course I put my own twist on them.  I used BROWN SUGAR instead of regular sugar, added EXTRA CINNAMON and instead of using raisins, I used CRASINS!  They came out really good, moist, chewy and soft.  Most of all my boyfriend loved them [exclamation mark] [exclamation mark] [exclamation mark]"

I nearly died laughing after that and decided I had to share with my readers.  So, the first chance I got I made the cookies.  Here goes MY actual post:

I used Martha Stewart's Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe with the following adjustments.

I had steel cut oats at home, so I used those instead of rolled oats.  I didn't have Wheat Germ at home, so I omitted that and added an extra 1/2 c of Oats.  I also love raisins in baked goods, so I added an extra 1/2 c and "re-hydrated" them with 1/3 c of Spiced Rum on the stove top before adding them to my batter.  

In the end, I must say that these aren't the prettiest of Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but they aren't overly sweet like many are.  They almost tasted healthy...I said almost.  I attribute that to the type of oats I used, since steel cut oats are chewier and take a longer time to cook.  I'd like to try the recipe with rolled oats next time, but my boyfriend didn't complain.  Goal accomplished...until he has another sweet tooth outbreak.

P.S.  Sorry if I sound exactly the way my boyfriend portrays me.  But hey, at least I can laugh at myself [exclamation mark]


Dessert First 2011

Peach & Yogurt Parfait 
Yellow Peaches // Basil Gelée // Basil Meringue Sticks  

Chocolate Macarons 
Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel Filling

So the same weekend as the ♥ K&R Wedding ♥, I had a huge event at my new job called Dessert First to prepare for.  It's actually an annual event that raises money for San Francisco's Project Open Hand and it is definitely a Sweet Tooth's Paradise!  Some of the Bay Area's top Pastry Chefs donate their time and sweets for the attending patrons to indulge.  I've participated the three years prior with my former employer, but this year I got to make my own desserts.  The only downside - I literally just started at my new position and I had to make 400 portions of each!

My sweets appeared to be well received - the 450 macarons flew off the shelves and bunch of people came back for 2nds and 3rds of my parfait.  Call me bias, but my favorite item at the event was definitely the Corn Bonet (an Italian Custard) from Suzanne LaFleur of Perbacco.  Sweet, savory, rich and creamy - everything I LOVE!