Oh, I'm sorry, did I forget to mention that I spent 6 weeks in Bali earlier this year? Well, if I hadn't mentioned it, there you go. I'll give you a moment or two to be jealous.
Done being jealous? Good. Because I want to make you jealous again, with this collection of what I am going to deem the 15 tastiest experiences I had in Bali. Doesn't it make you long to be on a faraway Southeast Asian island?
Strawberry cake, Seeds of Life (pictured top)
Believe it or not, I didn't even have the whole slice. Just a few bites from my friend Deborah's plate. But it made a lasting impression. It was raw, vegan, all of that stuff. I don't know how they made this cake happen, but it was delicious and extremely beautiful. I wish I could be there right now so I could have my own full slice.
I would like to introduce you to the magic that is the Dosha balancing drink from Bali Buda. Bananas, dates, and almonds. I don't even know what a dosha is, but I felt supremely balanced after drinking this delicious and refreshing milkshake-y beverage.
Fruit and granola, Bali Buda
Yes, this is the second time this establishment is on the list, because I became thoroughly obsessed during the course of my stay. I was a regular yoga student across the side street at Radiantly Alive Yoga, and Bali Buda was the choice place to hang out after class and refuel. I have never been one to order fruit with yogurt or yogurt and granola, but this place changed my mind about it. Just look at that thing: packed with fruit so fresh it could practically sing folk songs to you (I don't even know what that means), and granola with fresh coconut, crispy oats, and crunchy peanuts. It was so, so, so good.
Look at that thing. Isn't it a work of art? Well, it was also edible, and tasted just as exquisite as it looks. This bakery was somewhat unlikely in that it was Frenchy as can be, with macarons, Napoleons, and other sweet treats including cupcakes and fancy desserts like the one pictured above...but it was located in Ubud, Bali. The tiramisu included a coffee-scented mascarpone cream, jellied coffee cubes, and crushed ladyfingers. Nom.
Cardamom chocolate from Kué
This was one of the most unassuming items on the menu at this full-service bakery, which had everything from fresh croissants to layer cakes, cookies, tarts, and bread. But the cardomom chocolate is the thing that remains crisp in my memory: dark as night chocolate, just this side of bitter in a good way. But no ordinary dark chocolate. This had been kissed...no, not even kissed, more like posessed with a soul of cardamom. Slightly gritty (again, in a good way) and warmly spicy, I did not want this flavor to fade from my tongue. It was exquisite.
"Cloud 9" cake, Alchemy
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. Read more here.
Rujak, Atman Kafe
This is another food that sounds way healthy, and it actually might be, but most importantly, it's way, way delicious. It's a weird but wonderful little fruit and vegetable salad which will differ depending on who makes it, but ingredients at Atman included apple, cucumber, papaya, pineapple, chili-tamarind dressing, and crushed peanuts on top. This was a perfect sweet-savory breakfast dish.
Brown rice soy ice cream, Warung Igelanca
When I saw a sign advertising "homemade brown rice soy ice cream", I was...intrigued. But when I ordered it and had a taste, I instantly became obsessed. Good gravy, did they secretly hide crack in it? Apparently no, only pumpkin (other options included ginger and green tea). It was definitely not ice cream--it melted differently, and had a texture more like a paleta, but wow, whatever it was, it was very good.
Coconut pancake, Seniman Coffee
Listen, it is no secret at all that I instantly fell in love with the fantastic even-better-than-a-cookie upgrade that you receive when you order a latte at Seniman. But it bears repeating. A coconut pancake sweetened with palm sugar. You are winning at life with this experience. It is an experience I have had in life, people!
I realize that corn is considered savory, and that makes it not-completely-eligible for full feature on this site. But you know, this bears mentioning.
Every so often you have a taste experience which, even as you're experiencing it, you realize is profound. When I tasted this corn from a street vendor parked outside of Radiantly Alive Yoga, I instantly felt a sense of place, and a sense of the amazingness of the fact that I was eating corn from a street vendor in Bali. How many people can say they've done that?? I'm pretty sure the corn, slathered with butter, squeezed with lime and seasoned with spices, was delicious. But it was largely the experience that made it memorable.
Mint spirulina bar, Kafe
Nope, that is not a Nanaimo bar. And on top of that...it was a hippie dessert! But in spite of the odds against it, this spirulina bar from Kafe was highly memorable and delicious. Rich as all get-out, nutty, minty, and chocolaty, it was a cooling dessert which made me feel like I was on a 2-minute vacation (because even going slow, that's how long it took to eat) from the sweltering sweet heat of Bali.
Black rice pudding, Casa Luna
This is a famous restaurant in Bali, the cornerstone of an empire of restaurants, cooking schools, and hotels. And it's famous for a reason: everything is really, really good. My favorite dish was the traditional black rice pudding, lightly salted and served with coconut cream and dense, super-sweet banana slices. So simple; so good. Here's how to make black rice pudding at home.
Lattes with cookies, multiple locations.
I'm not going to say Bali is the only place you'll get a cookie with your latte. But so MANY places did it there, and I loved every moment of it. Click on the link above to read much more about my love.
Chocolate citrus tart, SOMA
You probably won't believe it, but this dessert was raw and vegan. I don't even care. Because most importantly, it was a delicious and decadent taste experience. Normally not a huge fan of the choco-citrus combo, this one was so delicate, and balanced with the nuttiness of coconut citrus cream and a nutty base, that I could at least see how I might someday become a believer. Read about more chilly desserts I ate in Bali here.
Magnum gold bar, by the beach in Uluwatu
Listen, I realize that it seems like a total cop-out to list an internationally available, commercially produced treat. But I am telling you, people, this is a taste experience that cannot be missed. Read more about my experience with the Magnum gold bar here.
BONUS: Cookies I made with my students!
You knew I was in Bali as a kindergarten teacher volunteer, right? On my last day, we decorated cookies with confectioners' sugar icing, candies, and sprinkles--and the kids were ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED. I felt like I brought a bit of CakeSpy to Bali! This was a sweet experience indeed, and one that I won't forget soon.
Melting white chocolate is a science, but decorating with it is an art. Here's a collection of inspiring ways to use white chocolate in your cake decorating!
I realize that I have something of a reputation for riding unicorns, wearing sparkles, and subsisting on a diet of mainly pink frosted treats. But the fact is this: I love a good hippie cookie every now and again. Whether it's the "Shazaam!" from my home base in New Jersey or a Power Cookie from Whole Foods, I enjoy these cookies with dessert-worthy delight. Something about the nuts, hearty hippie ingredients like nut or whole wheat flour, and a plethora of trail mix-esque mix ins just does it for me.
So the other day when I found a bunch of millet in my cabinet, I decided to see if I could make it into a tasty cookie creation. I'll tell you right now, so you don't stress about it, that the cookies tasted delicious.
I found a recipe for oatmeal millet cookies on Grateful Table, which I proceeded to so completely change that I wouldn't even feel comfortable saying I adapted it...more like used it as a springboard. Still, I do want to give the website a shout-out because these cookies also look highly delicious.
While I toasted some cashews and millet, I evaluated my ingredients. I realized I wanted to soften the butter which was totally cold, so I did something so forbidden: once the millet and nuts came out of the oven, I laid the cold butter on top of the millet. I turned the side every minute or so. Believe it or not, because it really seems like it shouldn't have worked, it did.
But I digress. Back to the cookies.
Toasty millet gives a fantastic crunch to the cookies, as well as a pleasingly nutty flavor that works in harmony with the flavor of the actual nuts and wheat flour. Perhaps because of all of the other ingredients, the wheat flour isn't as assertive tasting as it is in some recipes, and they maintain the identity of a cookie which happens to have healthy ingredients, rather than tasting like health food.
Of course, the chocolate morsels don't hurt. Don't even think about skipping them.
Nice and crispy on the outside, hearty and full flavored and slightly chewy on the inside. They may not be actual health food, but these cookies are awfully good.
Millet cookies (not actually health food) - Printable version here
Makes about 30 cookies
- 1 cup millet
- 1 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chocolate morsels
- First, preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Now, toast the nuts and millet on a baking sheet while the oven preheats. Because they toast at different rates, what I did was scatter the cashews on half of the tray and let them toast for about 5 minutes, then I took the sheet out, added the millet to the other side, then let the whole tray toast for five more minutes
- Remove the tray from the oven and put it somewhere so it can cool, so not on top of the oven (you don't want your mix-ins to be hot). Proceed with the rest of the steps as they cool.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set to the side.
- Cream the butter in a stand mixer until nice and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and continue to mix until it becomes fluffy again, 3 to 5 more minutes.
- Stop the mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, briefly mixing after each addition until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing as minimally as possible until everything is incorporated into a chocolate chip cookie-esque dough.
- Now, add the toasted millet and cashews and the chocolate morsels. Fold gently into the dough until evenly incorporated.
- Place the cookie dough with an inch or two of space around on all sides on the cookie sheet. I made pretty fat cookies, a heaping tablespoon, but you make them however big you want them.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until toasty on the edges and set in the center. Remove from the oven. Let cool on the baking sheet for a minute or so before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
When I say the word "marquesote", what pops up in your mind?
Maybe you think of quasi-royalty, like a marquise, or it calls to mind matinees, like marquee. All of these associations are wrong.
Because what marquesote should conjure up in your mind is this: Mexican cake bread.
What is this marquesote-Mexican-cake-bread-thing, exactly? It's an interesting little morning bread, very light and not too sweet, somewhat dry, but perfect with a sprinkle of confectioners' sugar and a strong coffee.
I came across the term "marquesote" while poring over New Mexico literature in the history museum. Turns out, because of the proximity to (old) Mexico, you'll see marquesote every now and again. In searching for recipes I found a number of them, so it was difficult to discern which was "authentic"--with or without yeast? With cake flour, all purpose flour, or, like the one I settled on, made with cornstarch?
This version, which I adapted from a version on What to Cook Today?, makes a weird little cake. It's light as air, and highly delicious, but it goes stale so, so fast. This is not such a terrible thing if you're smart about it: enjoy it plain, or with confectioners' sugar or a smear of sweet butter, OR BOTH, right after you make it, but if it's more than a few hours old, resign yourself: you're going to have to enjoy it with ice cream, whipped cream, or some other tasty thing that will add moisture. Poor you.
As a bonus, if it's up your alley, as far as my googling expertise goes, the fact that this recipe employs cornstarch instead of flour makes it gluten-free.
I tend to think it would taste great as a base for strawberry shortcake: more interesting than mere sponge cake, and perfect for soaking up all the tasty flavors.
Give it a try and see which way you like it best. It's easy to make, and smells like heaven whilst it bakes.
Adapted from What to Cook Today? - Makes 1 cake
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 cups cornstarch
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease and flour a loaf pan or 9-inch cake pan.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold in the yolks one at a time, beating on low speed.
- In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder and starch. Mix thoroughly. Fold this mixture gently into the eggs and add the melted and cooled butter and vanilla extract. Mix just until combined.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until it is golden brown. It may begin to slightly shrink from the sides of the pan.
- Immediately after removing from the oven, run a sharp knife along the perimeter of the pan to loosen the sides. Let cool for about 15 minutes, then invert the pan onto a serving platter. I served my cake upside-down like this, dusted with confectioners' sugar. Actually, more than dusted. What's the word for "dump a whole ton of sugar on top, but delicately so it looks like snow"?
Ever since my time in Bali, I have been obsessed with lattes. Well, mostly about the possibility of receiving a cookie with my latte.
But this love has expanded to an interest in latte art. So after a little pinterest and image search binge, I have come up with some wonderful images of fine art inspired lattes which I thought might inspire, and possibly make you smile as I did when I found them. (Click on each image to go to its source.)
The only thing wrong with these lattes is that there appears to be no cookie alongside any of them. Well, there's always room for improvement, ey?
Salvador Dali Latte (pictured top)
I love this quirky and clever interpretation of Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory. A foam clock perilously perched on the edge is sweetly surreal.
Van Gogh latte
The swoops and whirls of the classic impressionist painting Starry Night are perfectly translated into lovely latte form. I'm especially impressed by the levels of depth which are attained with just a few shades of milk and coffee.
This latte makes me want to scream, but not out of alarm. I'm overcome with the awesome artistic ability that went into creating this perfectly rendered latte which beautifully captures and plays homage to the original painting.
I'll finish with my personal favorite. Keith Haring is one of my artistic heroes, and has been ever since I saw a sped-up video of him painting a mural. His absolute focus and oneness with the art completely awed me, and it's an escape I have been able to find in my art, too. This latte brings his lively line art to life in some lovingly rendered foam.
We eat with our eyes first, so it’s important to learn how to plate desserts properly. Prettily presenting your desserts is a cooking technique that makes for a pleasing visual feast before the spoon or fork is even picked up.
Creating plated desserts with a pleasing palette can be tricky; it’s not simply a matter of tossing on an artful drizzle of chocolate ganache. Pastry chefs in restaurants take great pains to plate desserts so that they look as good as they taste, considering their composition much as master painters would consider how to arrange their canvas.