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Wednesday
Mar192014

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.

Sunday
Mar162014

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).

Bali

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. 

Bali

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.

Bali

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

Bali

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?

Bali

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.

Bali

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,

CakeSpy

Saturday
Mar152014

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.

Thursday
Mar132014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

20110523-152525-potatotruffletop

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!

Tuesday
Mar112014

Bali Diary: Chilly and Raw Desserts

Bali

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.

Bali

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. 

Bali

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. 

Bali

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.

Bali

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. 

Bali

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. 

Bali

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.

Bali

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. 

Bali


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:

Alchemy

SOMA

Gelato Secrets

Clear Cafe

Atman Kafe

Love from Bali,

CakeSpy

Tuesday
Mar112014

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.

Monday
Mar102014

How to Make Gelatin Plastic

Gelatin plastic

If you like kitchen crafts, this is probably one of the cooler things I can tell you about: how to make gelatin plastic. View the whole easy tutorial on Craftsy! Once you're done, your kitchen might look like this:

Gelatin plastic

Highly magical! Have you ever made gelatin plastic?

Monday
Mar102014

How to Make Irish Potato Candy

Learn the scintillating art of making a Philadelphia St. Patrick's Day classic. No actual potatoes included. How to make Irish potato candy.

Saturday
Mar082014

Bali Diary: The Lattes Come With Cookies Here

Kopi desa latte

I have a latte love for a nice cup of coffee. And in Bali, they really take the cake. Well, more like the cookie.

Because, friends, I have something so wonderful to tell you. And it's not that I made a traditional flower offering, although I did do that, too: Bali

The thing I have to tell you is this: In Bali, they give you a cookie with your coffee. Coffee and cookies

It’s seriously the cutest and best thing ever.

I’ve had a latte almost every day I have been here; I’m not typically a latte drinker, but these small ones are more like a cafe au lait in New Orleans, and they’re really nice. And not every location does it, but certainly enough times that I have taken note, the latte has come with a cookie. Some other types of coffee too, but once again, inconsistent. The latte seems to reliably come with a cookie as opposed to a Bali coffee or espresso. 

Here are some of my favorites so far. 

Atman Kafe, Bali

At Atman Kafe, they deliver your latte with a cute little heart shaped cookie.

Cookie with latte, atman

It’s a crumbly, shortbread-y cookie with a salty-sweet flavor that crumbles in your mouth and makes you want to eat many, many more. 

At Kué, the cookies are tiny anisette biscotti. 

Bali

They’ll give you two of them.

Bali

Their crispy nature makes them well-suited to dipping in the pretty tricolor coffee (which mixes slowly as you drink it; it's quite amazing), or I like to use them like a chip and treat the foam on the latte as dip. It pleases me to do so and I will continue, no matter what you say. 

Kue, bali

At Kopi Desa, they give you a miniature crispy chocolate chip cookie. You can also note how prettily they wrap the napkin around the spoon. This also happens a lot here. Kopi desa latte

Once again, it’s a dipper, and turns the perfect texture for putting in your mouth when gently dipped in your latte. 

I know this is just a few samples, but I just need to tell you, I love that this is a thing in Bali.

Listen, USA. If Bali can make cookies with lattes a thing, can’t we? I hope that every coffee shop owner in the nation (and perhaps world) will view this post and take note.  

F.r.e.a.k. coffee

Places mentioned:

Atman Kafe

Kué

Kopi Desa

Latte love from Bali,

CakeSpy 

Friday
Mar072014

Peanut Butter Hamantaschen for Purim

Lucky you: there's a tasty recipe for peanut butter hamantaschen for Purim available on the Peanut Butter and Company site...a recipe courtesy of me! Enjoy, sweeties. 

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