Kouign Amann Krazy

Yes, it's official - I can't get enough of these unassumingly prefect little pastries.  A Kouign Amann (pronounced ) may look like a simple variation of the standard croissant, but it is oh so much more.  It does start as a typical laminated dough, but layers of sugar are also added.  Still, this may not sound like something spectacular, but the magic happens in the oven.  The chewy caramelization of butter and sugar, the flaky layers of dough and the crunch of the crystalized sugary crust make this sweet treat to die for!

I first became obsessed with these when I had one at Dominique Ansel in NYC - they're one of his specialties.  Some might find them a little pricey, but they are worth every penny and perhaps even a bargain after making my own.  I did some reading up on the subject and decided to dive in and try my hand at making them with a recipe from Ramon Morato's book Chocolate.  (Email me if you would like the recipe, but I think that this is more about technique than recipe.)  I'm a little embarrassed to say, but this was my first time making a laminated dough since culinary school, so I made a bit of a mess.

This is definitely a decadent treat - if you only knew how much butter and sugar went into them!  In my defense however, I left out a good amount of the sugar (about 1/3-1/2) because I got a little scared.  They came out perfectly sweet, so that was a good call.  I formed half with a chocolate truffle filling as suggested in the book and the other half I left in it's classic form.

After a few long and laborious hours filled will anticipation, my Kouign Amann were finally ready!  Mine weren't quite as good as Chef Ansel's, but I think I came in a close second and I'm quite proud of my first attempt.  I can't even decide which I like better.  The classic ones are somehow beautifully simple and complex at the same time, while the chocolate ones are amazing in their own right with a truffle center that keeps it's perfectly creamy texture at room temperature.  Decisions.


Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream Book Giveaway!!!

Silly silly me.  I happen to have 2 copies of this awesome book by one of San Francisco's deliciously famous ice creameries.  So guess what, I'm giving my extra copy away for free!  Yes, you can make these tasty treats in your very own home.  There are numerous ways to enter and multiple entries allowed.  The winner will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter and contacted on Saturday, August 4, 2012.  The book will be mailed to a winner within the United States.  Check out the raffle below and spread the word to your friends!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Presidential M&Ms

Yes, you heard me... Red, White and Blue M&Ms President Barack Obama Edition in Plain or Peanut.
Just had to share...


Fried Food Heaven or Hell...

depends how you look at it.

I visited the California State Fair in Sacramento this weekend with BFF and our boyfriends.  We all wanted to try the "Tornado Potato" after seeing it on one of those food shows a few years ago.  We ordered ours with a garlic and parmesan topping - it was quite the novelty, but delicious nonetheless!  This was just the tip of the iceberg of the fair's fried food offerings.  Anything that could be fried and even things you would never in your wildest dreams or nightmares imagine were being offered in a fried form - deep-fried Cheeseburgers, deep-fried Mac & Cheese on a Stick and deep-fried Cinnamon Rolls just to name a few!  Unfortunately, the heat in Sacramento got the best of us seasoned eaters and the only other thing we tried was the deep-fried Grilled Cheese.  It was actually really good, but enough for the 4 of us to share!

Besides the artery-clogging carnival food, the fair had a good number of rides, games and expositions to keep you entertained.  We gravitated to the grandstand to bet on some horses and the display of farm animals.  I was super excited to try my hand on milking a cow!  I mean, with my occupation, I should get to know the source of my ingredients, right?


Jamming 2012

For the last few years, I've been making preserves each summer.  This year I stuck to the two most popular flavors - Cherry Amaretto and Apricot Cardamom.  After making the two jams, I still had a few empty jars left, so why not preserve one of my favorite sweet condiments - Hot Fudge Sauce!

My friend Bonbini! has always enjoyed the jams I've made each year and wanted to try her hand at it, so we made the Apricot Cardamom batch together!

I designed the labels using Adobe Illustrator and some old photographs as a background.  My friend at PrettyPlease suggested that I use raffia to tie the onto the jars.  Aren't they just too cute!?

The preserves are in 4 oz. jars and sold for $5 each.  With 50 bottles made in total, I am nearly sold out thanks to all my amazing friends and family!  There are just a handful left, so contact me ASAP if you are interested.


Raspberry Mojito Float

Raspberry Mojito Float
Raspberry Soda // Mojito Sorbet
Raspberry & Lime Tuile
Fresh Raspberries // Lavender Mint 

There was an excess of mint at work the other day, so I was designated to figure out what to do with all of it.  A summer cocktail dessert, why not!?  It's perfectly refreshing for a hot day.  Although there is only a little bit of rum in the sorbet, it's also great with a little extra mixed into the soda!

Mojito Sorbet

1 c           Sugar
2 c           Water
1              Lime Zest
5 sprigs   Mint 
1/4 c        Lime Juice
1/3 c        Rum

Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil, turn off heat
Add mint, steep for 15 minutes
Strain and cool over ice
Stir in lime juice and rum
Churn in ice cream maker, freeze 

Raspberry & Lime Tuile [No artificial coloring!]


Elderflower Mousse

Elderflower Mousse
Bellini Ice // Compressed White Peaches
White Peach Fluid Gel // Almond Tuile
Brown Butter Shortbread Crumble // Confetti Flowers


Chocolate Kirsch Fudge Cake

Chocolate Kirsch Fudge Cake
Chocolate Kirsch Cake // Kirsch Fudge
Cherry Mousse // Cherry Sorbet 
Stewed Cherries // Toasted Vanilla Fluff // Cocoa Meringue
Cherry Jus // Chocolate Crumb


Fromage Blanc Panna Cotta

Fromage Blanc Panna Cotta
Melon Compressed with Wildflower Honey and Mint
Melon Consomme // Mint Oil // Fromage Blanc Espuma
Honeyed Glass // Wild Flower Bee Pollen // Micro Mint


Olive Oil Roasted Stone Fruit

Olive Oil Roasted Stone Fruit
Amaretti Custard // Almond Sponge
Apricot Sorbet // Red Wine Reduction // Amaretti Crumbs


Hand Pies & Bloody Marys [FPP v3.0]

Whoops!  I've been slacking a bit.  Well no, I take that back.  Actually, life has been quite full with so many projects, events and trips that I have endless blog material!  I kept putting this one off because I knew it would take a while to organize the photos and get all the words on the screen.  The girls and I met up in May for the third installment of FPP - Hand Pies & Bloody Marys!  As usual, we split up the shopping list.  This time however, we also had to stock up the self-serve bloody bar.

The ULTIMATE Bloody Mary Bar
We decided that we would do 2 savory pies and 2 sweet pies.  The twist - "Sweet" Sarah and I were in charge of savory while Cheryl and "Savory" Sarah were in charge of sweet.  The girls requested that I make my family's traditional Chinese New Year Hom Gok - a glutinous rice dough filled with ground pork, BBQ pork, mushrooms and scallions that is sprinkled with sesame seeds and fried.  Sarah made a delicious Spinach & Feta hand pie that was surprisingly refreshing with the addition of some fresh mint!

The making of Savory Hand Pies
For our sweets, Cheryl made a Mixed Berry and Apple hand pie and Sarah made a Cherry pie.  For both, after egg-washing them, they were sprinkled with some demerara sugar for a little extra crunch!  Both were to die for and the leftovers that I took home were devoured within minutes.  This was definitely a successful FPP party!  And, for once we actually ate our savory before eating our sweet! 
The making of Sweet Hand Pies
As you may or may not have noticed, we used the same amazing pie dough for all the hand pies except for mine.  And yes, here is the recipe:

Super Flaky Pie Dough 
(yield: 4 x 9" Pie Crusts)

1 1/2 lb     Butter
1 lb           Lard
8 c            AP
2 c            Cake Flour
1 T + 1 t   Salt
1 t             Baking Powder
2 c            Ice Water 

Ahead of time, cut fats into small pieces (about 1/2" cubes), freeze
In a mixer, combine fats and dry ingredients
Paddle on low until mixture resembles a coarse meal
Slowly add water while continuing to paddle on low
Mix until just combined
Split dough into manageable pieces, wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using

Special thanks to Matt! [Co-host, Resident Taste-Tester & Part-Time Photographer]


Cherry Cheesecake

Late in May, I got my first taste of the year's stone fruit.  It was just in time for Robert's brother's birthday.  He's super healthy, but has 2 weaknesses - Cherry Cheesecake and Oreos!  I made a regular sized cheesecake to cut and a bunch of mini individual sized cheesecakes as well.  They are topped with cherries I pitted and cooked with a touch of sugar and a vanilla bean just until tender.



Shades of yellow that is.  Michelle, friend to Bonbini! & I hired us to make some sweets for her sister and brother-in-law's wedding shower this past weekend.

Mini Lemon Cupcakes

Macaron Tower
Light Yellow with Pink Sprinkles - Raspberry
Yellow with Cocoa Nibs - Chocolate Banana
Bright Yellow - Passion Fruit

Best wished to the happy couple Maureen & Frank!