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Bali Diary: Seniman Coffee is Amazing

Seniman coffee, Bali

I really need to tell you about this experience I had in Bali. I mean, I've had a lot of experiences that have been great here, but one of my favorite things day to day has been the fact that they give you cookies with your lattes. It starts every day out right.

Of course, that was until now. Seniman Coffee has raised the bar, and I don't know if cookies will be enough anymore. Because they give you the thing pictured above with your coffee. Please, allow me to explain.

Seniman coffee, Bali

So, I go to Seniman Coffee, a popular spot with expats and a place that every person in Portland would probably faint from happiness if they saw it, and order a latte.

A few minutes later, a little tray is delivered to me with three separate segments. One contains a latte (duh). One contains a cup of water (nice touch). The third contains what looks like a cigar or thin, mini burrito. I'm intrigued.

Seniman coffee, Bali

What's this? I wonder.

Seniman coffee, Bali

I take a bite.

Seniman coffee, Bali

Holy crap! It's delicious! It's like a pancake, wrapped burrito style, and it contains a coconutty mixture. Oh my god! I love this thing. I actually had the willpower to put it back on its tray so that I could take a photo to show you all.

Seniman coffee, Bali

I grab the closest server. "What is this?" I ask.

As it turns out, it's a traditional sweet called jaje dadar, which is said to be frequently doled out with coffee (though this was the first I'd ever seen it).

It's simply a crepe-like pancake prettily wrapped around a mix of coconut and palm sugar. But it is so, so good. I want this experience to happen every time I order coffee. Also every time I visit an ATM. Actually, I would like someone to follow me around and dole these out at regular intervals.

Seniman coffee, Bali

It's a fantastic two-bite treat, and I am so delighted that I've had it. This is definitely the best coffee accessory sweet that has been delivered to me in Bali. 

Seniman coffee, Bali

Oh, and the latte was pretty good, too. The theme at Seniman is "Imagine you know what you are doing", and when I'm there, I don't imagine, I know--I'm eating something awesome.

Love from Bali,


Mentioned: Seniman Coffee, Ubud. Online here.



Bali Diary: Black Rice Pudding is a Thing Here

Black rice pudding

I'll be straight up with you: I'm not really a cereal person. On a restaurant menu, I totally glaze over the cereal or grain section in favor of more exciting choices such as pancakes or eggs or French toast. Or a vanilla kreme filled donut. You know.

But I have discovered a treat in Bali that really revs my engine in the morning (yes, I just said that), and its name is Black Rice Pudding. It's wonderful, sweet, and provides me with ample energy for doing tons of yoga. This is actually me:

Yoga in bali


I know, I totally rule, right??

But back to the rice pudding. Actually, it doesn’t have to be a beginning of the day treat. The pudding can be eaten as a porridge-like morning food, or as a more rice pudding-y dessert. Black rice sweetened with palm sugar and wrapped in banana leaves can also be found at the markets for a traditional treat.

But to keep things fairly simple, I'm going to stick with the breakfast version, because it's my favorite time to enjoy this sweet treat. Plus, if it's technically breakfast, then it's ok to order dessert, too.

Black rice pudding

So what should you expect when you order black rice pudding?

The black rice is lightly boiled and then served in any number of slight variations on this basic method: with palm sugar-soaked coconut milk and bananas on top. I don't know how these fairly virtuous ingredients do it, but when they come together, they will make you want to keep eating until you burst open in some sort of carbohydratey explosion.

Black rice pudding

One of my favorites so far was from famed restaurant Casa Luna (home of a literary festival and a bakery--I felt very at home), where they serve it in a big bowl, made in the exact way detailed above. The rice itself is sort of al dente textured, but it softens as you eat it--almost like how Grape Nuts start out gravelly but then turn nice and soft in the milk. As the rice became soaked with the sweet coconut sugar mixture, each kernel became a vessel for transporting a mini burst of awesome in my mouth. There were just enough bananas to keep things interesting, but not too many so as to be distracting. This was a thoroughly happy food to eat. 

But you don't have to limit yourself to Casa Luna for consuming this delicious treat. It's a common item on menus, and can typically be made any time of day. 

Black rice pudding

I found a good-looking black rice pudding recipe in case you're intrigued. And I found another one that is like a tricked out version. It sounds about right to me, and I am going to give it a try when I am back home. Although more and more, Bali is starting to seem like home!

Love from Bali,


Mentioned: Casa Luna, Jalan Raya Ubud, Bali. Online here.


Batter Chatter with Ruth Clemens, Author of Creative Eclairs

As a blogger who has made the jump to published author, I am always happy to welcome others to the club. So I was super excited to hear that Ruth Clemens, baker extraordinaire who blogs at The Pink Whisk, had published a book. And oh, what a book: entitled Creative Eclairs: Over 30 Fabulous Flavours and Easy Cake Decorating Ideas for Eclairs and Other Choux Pastry Creations, this is a necessary volume for eclair lovers. Everyone loves eclairs, therefore you must buy the book. See? Science.

I interviewed Ruth as part of her book tour blog hop; to see the other entries, click here

And now, on to the interview. Let's get some clarity on the world of an eclair book writer! This interview may be of great interest to bloggers who are interested in writing a book, too!

Why are eclairs better than doughnuts?

I can’t tell you that they are (especially as I know your love for doughnuts!) but they are just as good. They share the same good traits in that treating yourself to one or two (or 3, or 4 - who am I kidding?) is thoroughly utterly lovely. You can dress them up to the nines with sprinkles, decorations or glitz, you can keep them simple and understated but they are always packed with mind blowing flavours, filling combinations and textures. There is something for everyone and every occasion, I’ll have one of each please!

Writing a cookbook is a serious process. Here is a two part question regarding that.

a. What was the most difficult part of the process for you?

The hardest part I find is to decide what makes it into the book and what gets cut out – which recipes to develop from an idea into reality. I still go over in my mind the recipes that I didn’t put in and wonder if I made the right decision. I always try to cover recipes for lots of different tastes and not just my own preference so that there’s something to tempt everyone.

b. What was the most fun part of the process for you and why?

The most fun part has got to be getting in the kitchen and turning the ideas on paper into a reality. I love the creativity of playing around with something until it’s just the way you want it. Of course I get frustrated when things won’t do what I want but I tend to park an idea and then come back to it again later. I lose whole days when I get to play in the kitchen, no email, no phone and I just thoroughly enjoy creating a mountain of washing up, before I know it it’s school pick up time, I’ve got flour in my hair and I have to fly to the playground in a mad dash to meet the kids!

What happened to the eclairs after the photo shoots?

Everyone at the shoot was sent home with treat boxes full of all sorts of flavours. The rest (and we were probably dealing with over 100 eclairs each day of the shoot) were boxed up and taken to my boys lacrosse training groups – they soon disappeared and none of them went to waste!

Which recipe from your book would you suggest for the beginning French pastry-maker and why?

It has to be Classic Chocolate Eclairs as a first foray into choux pastry. A simple choux, crème patissiere and a ganache and you have something utterly wonderful. It’s a confidence builder and from there on in EVERYTHING else is achievable.

Not everybody knows that choux is for more than just making eclair shells. What is one of your favorite non-eclair items from the book which uses choux pastry and why?

I love the Pecan Streusel Buns and I have to admit I fear for those buns! They are plain and simple looking and for that I worry that they’ll be overlooked. They are however one of the loveliest tasting buns I’ve ever had and have to admit I make them here time and time again. Now you’re probably thinking that I’m a little bit mad worrying about buns and going over the poor recipes that didn’t make the cut, actually it’s most likely true but I do put my heart and soul into the recipes and my books and can only hope when they make it onto book shelves in bakers homes that they enjoy the recipes and put them to good use. The ultimate accolade is for books to be so well used that the pages are sticking together.

Tell me three things about you that we might not expect if all we knew of you was this book.

1. I’m a normal Mum, running round after the kids, nagging them to do homework/spellings/chores, walking the dog, doing the washing (or getting behind with it more like), shopping, nattering at the school gates all the usual Mum and family stuff with a bit of baking thrown in for good measure.

2. I get things wrong in the kitchen all the time. It’s only through practice and ten tons of it, doing the same thing over and over that I I’ve taught myself to get better and more successful in my baking.

3. You might not expect that in fact my kitchen at home, where all the recipes come to life is in fact the size of a miniature peanut. The longest length of continuous worksurface I have is approx. 60cm long and I share that working space with the kettle, tea, coffee and sugar. I am the master at balancing and impromptu resting spots, creative baking (and juggling) at its finest!

Did you have to go on an eclair diet after writing the book?

Strangely no! I have subjected my family to overdose on various different bakes throughout the past couple of years cake and bread included, just through the repetition that’s required when writing a book. Eclairs they will still hoover up instantly without any complaint and only the odd physical fight over the last one left. When there’s choux being made no-one runs to hide. I was also pretty well organised at squirrelling the testers out to friends and family quick sharp so there was never enough to overface my boys! Fortunately eclairs are now interspersed with other treats otherwise we’d all be ending up the sizes of houses here.

What's next?

For me it’s back to my blog, The Pink Whisk (and the cooking, cleaning washing), writing recipes to share with the baking mad masses and beyond that really who knows! I’d love to get to work on a new book and have some ideas in the pipeline but in the meantime I’m off to make some more washing up…

Buy the book here: Creative Eclairs: Over 30 Fabulous Flavours and Easy Cake Decorating Ideas for Eclairs and Other Choux Pastry Creations. We'll share a recipe from the book next week, too!


Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Remember this Easter candy dessert taco plate I made?

How to make sugar flowers. Helpful!

The history of Peeps.

I made something savory: how to make Scotch eggs.

Scented cupcake warmer. Cute.

Chocolate cake with creamy caramel frosting. YES!

How a tattooed, bodybuilding ex soldier became a cupcake baker.

Cheesecake brownies.

The history of jelly beans.

Unicorn pops!

An awful and terrible Easter Candy pie.

I want to make these Spring flower sugar cookies.

I'm ready for March to be over, and to go out like a lamb-ington!


How to Make Almond Croissants

How could you not love the French? After all, they're the ones who took the concept of the croissant and made it an International Thing. 

Take your croissants a step further by almond-ifying them. You'll love it, I guarantee it. Well, unless you don't like almond. In that case, go to another website. Here's the recipe.


Bali Diary: There Are No Ovens Here

Bali oven

In just about every way, Bali is heaven on earth. They have gelato-filled chocolate shells, fresh fruit everywhere, $5 an hour massages. Adorable kids to work with (here's a pic of me and my kindergarteners decorating cookies, btw).


But I think I’ve found the chink in its armor of heavenly perfection: people in Bali don’t have ovens. 

It’s true, people. Upon arriving in Bali, my volunteer group had a Balinese cultural orientation, which included a simple cooking lesson by the volunteer house cooks. Something prominent was not in the kitchen: an oven.

When I asked where the oven was, the response was surprise:  “we don’t have that. Only businesses.” 

Wh-WHAT? I must have looked aghast, because they went on to say that in Bali, an oven isn’t a typical home amenity. Most cooking is done on a stovetop—in fact, from my observation, on a heated coil surface. 


In  turn, they  were absolutely gobsmacked when I said that in America—and many other western countries, for that matter—an oven is not only standard, but a given—like, of course your apartment or home has an oven. It would be deeply strange to rent an apartment in the US that didn’t have an oven. 

I thought initially maybe they were pulling my leg, and that most people actually did secretly have ovens but just didn't talk about it. But it's seriously not a thing to have an oven here. It would be the exception rather than the rule, and is considered a luxury item, as opposed to the absolute necessity it is in the United States.


It's not something that I feel I need to revolutionize, but it is a cultural difference that seriously amazed me.


Considering the lack of ovens, it makes the country’s cuisine even more incredible, and it explains why many places offer flatbreads such as tortillas or roti: they’re made on the griddle and don’t require an oven to cook. It also explains why most Balinese desserts are puddings, ice creams, or cakes or pancakes cooked on a hot surface or griddle. In general, they are not baked in the oven.

Of course, this is not to say that having an oven in Bali is out of the question, but as previously mentioned, it’s not a standard part of the deal. 

But what if you want cake?


Don't panic: baking does happen in Bali, where you can find delightful baked goods…but it's mostly done at commercial locations. Restaurants and bakeries will have ovens, which they use to make anything from pizza to banana bread to American style and French style pastries. In fact, an adorable cafe called Kué is so Frenchy it seems out of place in Bali, but adorably so.


At home, sweets like black rice pudding with shredded coconut or fresh fruit with yogurt or dessert pancakes with ice cream will be favored. Hey, as long as there's dessert, I'm happy.

Love from Bali,



Everybody's Irish: How to Make Irish Soda Bread

It's a classic this time of year, but delicious at any moment: easy Irish soda bread. Find the recipe here.


Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!


Here's a candy that has actual potatoes.

And one that doesn't, but sounds like it does. Everybody's Irish...when they have Irish potato candy!

Everything's OK, you guys. Cupcakes and doughnuts can co-exist in Dallas.

Hey! On this day last year, I was in Pie Town, NM.

In Vermont, a bakery bans tablets and laptops.

The world's best chocolate?

Speaking of chocolate...how is it made?

A collection of magical unicorn cakes. Yum, sweet, magical.

TastyKake turns 100!

A pie for pi day that looks like a pi. Whoa.

In case you missed it: Peanut butter hamantaschen.

Cool decorative pie crust ideas.

In case you missed it: a few chilly desserts (and raw) that I ate in Bali.

A fellow volunteer in Bali weighs in on a memorable dinner...and of course, dessert.

Pie Fries!


Bali Diary: Chilly and Raw Desserts


Listen. Teaching kindergarten in Bali is tough work. It's very rewarding, but it's also exhausting--you have to be "on" the entire time, and you definitely have language barriers. But it is so special when you can break through, and I have found that the best way (for me) is through visual arts.

But don't worry about my work load too much, because my life is also punctuated by dessert after delicious dessert. I guess now would be a good time to tell you about a few of the desserts I’ve been eating in Bali. Today I’ll focus on a couple chilled, and a couple of raw desserts. No particular order: you’re just freewheeling, Bali-style, with me.


First up, we will talk about the “Cloud 9” from Alchemy (remember, I told you about them last week). That's the pretty bit pictured at the top of the post. This raw cake or, as I would call it, pie, was a most interesting specimen. Made from cashews, irish sea moss, and citrus, it had a lovely berry topping. The taste wasn’t what I expected, which was cheesecake-esque, but once my taste buds acclimated it was quite a subtle and lovely cake. 


We’ll take a break from raw and talk about a chilly dessert I had, from Funny Monkey (an outpost of Clear Cafe). Bali It was a kind of milkshake-y smoothie thing. I’d been passing this place every day for a week or so and was oddly fascinated by their vacuum-packed sweets (containing healthy and/or raw desserts of every type, packed as if they were salami in the refrigerated aisle) in their "to go" section.

But when push came to shove I settled for the free samples of the vacuum packed stuff and invested in the “Coconut Dream” which had coconut cream, frozen yogurt, and pineapple. I know—it really sounds like health food. But the coconut was creamy and rich enough that it passed for a really pleasant (if somewhat healthy) dessert. Plus, it was cooling on a very balmy bali evening. 


Back to raw. I need to tell you about this choco-citrus tart I had at SOMA. I had ended up here after an event called “Ecstatic Dance”, which is basically a yoga dance party at the nearby Yoga Barn, where I have been spending a fair amount of time in Bali. My friend got flatbread or something boring, and I got this splendid thing.


It made me reconsider my personal dislike of chocolate and citrus, because it was like a fancier, more refined version of lemon meringue pie in a chocolate crust. 


OK, now, back to chilly. Gelato Secrets was certainly part of my destiny—I knew it from the moment I saw the cute pink sign. When I went, they had a lovely selection of little chilled pastries, including mini baked alaskas and gelato sandwiched between gingerbread men cookies. Of course, they also gelato and sorbetto, including the prettiest of the batch, the rich purple dragonfruit. Did I go for the prettiest? No, I went for the creamiest. I got the panna cotta flavor, because I have fond memories of just such a flavor from Bottega Italiano in Seattle. This was just as good—so creamy. No gritty texture, no milky or low-fat flavor. This tasted like licking sweet caramelly cream. 


On a return trip to Gelato Secrets, I got their gelato cupcake, which was chocolate and vanilla gelato in an edible chocolate cup. I didn't realize the cup was chocolate until they gave it to me in a container. I loved life, and Bali, so much at that moment.

I don’t know if this one was raw, but I do know it was vegan. It was a sorbet from Atman, a cafe with a couple of gelato/sorbetto stands flanking the main restaurant, where they serve their lattes with tiny heart-shaped cookies.


The girl behind the counter saw me looking at her display and drew me in. I opted for the soursop, which I was told was made like so: mash the fruit, add a little sugar, and chill it. That’s it. It tasted way better than the hippie food it sounds like. It tasted like eating the sweet essence of fresh fruit. 


OK, that’s it for now. If it’s cold where you are, then maybe the desserts matched your weather; if it’s hot, I hope reading about them refreshed you.

Places mentioned:



Gelato Secrets

Clear Cafe

Atman Kafe

Love from Bali,



DIY Yogurt: You Can Do It!

Did you know that you can make your own yogurt? I'm for real here. Smoothies and breakfast just got a whole lot better. Learn several easy ways of how to make yogurt at home, here.

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