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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

panna cotta with raspberry red wine reduction

I don't know about you. . .
but to me, the word holiday is synonymous with dessert!
I am the type of person who will eat less turkey and mashed potatoes 
(at dinner that is - around midnight, a different story) 
the goal being to sample 
all of the various desserts. 
All of them.

That being said, 
most of the time people bring standards:  
pumpkin, squash, pecan pies, cookies-- 
sometimes mom will make rum baba 
or a special treat 
but generally everything is spiced and heavy. 
Wonderful, of course, but sometimes, don't you just want something of light richness with a bite of tanginess?
This dessert fits the bill 
and is elegant as well.
panna cotta with raspberry red wine reduction


for panna cotta

4 cups of heavy cream 
1/2 cup of sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons of cold water

for raspberry red wine reduction

1/2 cup (125ml) red wine
3 tablespoons (50g) sugar
small basket of raspberries

good quality dark chocolate, 
cut into 8 small triangle nibs for garnish

how to: 

1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

2.Lightly grease eight ramekins/custard cups. 

3. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl 
and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Pour the warm cream/sugar mixture 
over the gelatin and stir 
until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

5. Divide the panna cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them 
until firm, about 3-4 hours.

6. In a non-reactive skillet, cook the red wine, sugar, and raspberries over low-medium heat until the raspberries fall apart.

7. Strain all of the pulp/seeds out. 

8. After panna cotta has set, run a sharp knife around the edge of each 
and unmold onto individual serving plate.

9. When ready to serve, 
heat sauce slightly in a pan. 
Drizzle on the plate around/onto the 
panna cotta and garnish 
with a nib of the chocolate.

*Panna cotta recipe adapted 
from David Lebovitz' fabulous blog

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lemon cake pop

A cross between lemon cake and lemon fudge,
this was delicious!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

bagel grilled cheese  焼きチーズべーグル

In honor of the recent national grilled cheese day, 

The contrast of the crunchy-chewiness of the bagel with the melted cheese is simply heavenly!


one bagel
a melty kind of cheese (like mozzarella)
rock salt or a flavorful salt

A sandwich press works best if you have one. 
If not, use a fry pan and something heavy to weight the bagel down.

how to:
1.  cut bagel in half lengthwise
2.  toast the insides of the bagel halves first  (for ultimate chewy-crunchiness)
3. put cheese in between bagel halves, and toast both sides of the sandwich
4. cut and sprinkle with rock salt


スライスチーズ (とろけるタイプ)



Friday, April 6, 2012

sakura cupcakes

It's hanami in Japan, y'all!
That means lots of eating, sake drinking, and cupcake eating under the cherry blossoms with your friends.

It also may include, but is not limited to:

indulgent, bordering on obsessive picture taking
learning how to communicate in a (for some very drunken) communal language
finding previously unseen beauty in nature

But, for me, one of the best things about cherry blossom time in Japan is eating cake. 
Most notably cherry blossom-flavored cake.
(like this lovely sakura mont-blanc cake on the bottom-left hand side)

So, this year for hanami, I decided to make sakura cupcakes. 

sakura cupcakes

A tender and light cake topped with cherry buttercream icing and cherry blossom shaped marshmallows!
Luckily, if you aren't able to find sakura (cherry blossom) flavored extract, almond extract is very similar.

makes 12-15 cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond or sakura extract
1-2 tsp juice from maraschino cherries jar (optional)
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
cherry buttercream icing (see recipe below)
cherry blossom shaped marshmallows, or chopped maraschino or dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter cupcake tins or line with cupcake liners.
Stir baking powder and salt into flour.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Add the almond extract and cherry juice (if using).

Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with one the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of your cupcakes.

cherry buttercream icing

1/2 cup butter, softened 
11/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
a dash of salt
11/2 tsp sakura or almond extract
1-2 tablespoons milk
pink food coloring

Beat butter and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer until the color of the mixture lightens slightly. Add cherry or almond extract, salt, and 1 tbsp milk and beat until light and smooth. 
If the icing is too stiff, add remaining milk. 
Tint half of the icing with pink food coloring, and decorate cupcakes in pink and white, 
topped with a marshmallow or chopped cherries.

decorate simply

or more elaborately!
Most of all, I love that each cherry blossom is unique. 
(And tasty!)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Salted Almond Butter Bars

Recently, I've been in the mood for something sweet and salty. Something a little nutty. While reaching for the peanut butter, I remembered that I had bought some maple almond butter and forgotten all about it.

Now peanut butter is good, but almond butter is well, 

In other words, you can't go wrong here. 
A creamy base topped with melted white chocolate and lots of salty chopped almonds.

Salted Almond Butter Bars
For the Base:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup almond butter
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1/2 tbsp almond extract (or vanilla extract)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
For the topping:
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, or broken up white chocolate
2 tbsp heavy cream (adding a little more if necessary)
3/4 cup salted almonds, chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 Celcius).
Grease and flour a square baking pan or a jelly roll pan.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese, and the peanut butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat until very smooth. Add the egg and almond extract and mix well. Add flour and mix just until incorporated. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.  Be sure not to overbake. Let the bars cool to room temperature.
For the topping, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt the white chocolate chips with the cream, stirring constantly until smooth.  Drizzle the white chocolate mixture over the cooled blondies, then sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.
Cool to room temperature before cutting and serving.
That is, if you can wait that long.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The easy like Sunday morning cupcake

Recently, I teach several private English lessons at my house. I serve coffee or tea and always some kind of sweet. I enjoy baking, so I usually make something new every week.  
But sometimes, I just run out of time.  This is when I use:

The easy like Sunday morning cupcake!

I generally keep a batch of vanilla cupcakes in the freezer and sometimes icing as well---very handy!


vanilla cupcakes
strawberry jam
buttercream icing (or store-bought frosting)
colorful decorations

How to:

Split vanilla cupcake in half, bottom half slightly larger than the top. Generously spread a nice amount of strawberry jam (I recommend preserves with big chunks of fruit inside) on the bottom half and top with the upper half. If you are feeling creative, pipe miniature flowers with the buttercream icing using a pastry bag and star tip; alternatively spread icing on with a knife, swirling at the top. 
Top with colorful decor, nonpareils, or chopped nuts.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Coconut French Toast

Every once in a while, it's nice to have dessert in the morning.
That must have been the idea behind french toast, non?

It's freezing here in Kitakyushu and living in an old Japanese house with no insulation, I feel like I need to escape to somewhere tropical. Until I book my next trip to an island in Malaysia, this coconut french toast will have to satisfy my cravings.

Coconut French Toast

5 pieces of your favorite bread
2 eggs
1-2 tbsp condensed milk
2 tbsp butter
dash of milk or cream
shredded coconut
optional:  chopped nuts, cookie crumbs, whipped cream

Beat eggs lightly in a bowl, then add the condensed milk and dash of milk or cream. Melt a tbsp of the butter in a skillet (medium heat).  Dip bread on both sides into egg mixture and fry on both sides until toasty and lightly browned. Repeat with remaining butter/bread/egg mixture.  When ready to serve, cut bread into triangles, sprinkle generously with coconut, chopped nuts, cookie crumbs, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream.