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Thursday
Jun052014

Bali Memories: 15 of My Favorite Food Moments in Ubud

Bali

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.

Bali

Dosha balancing drink, Bali Buda

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. 

Bali buda

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. 


Deconstructed tiramisu from Caramel Patisserie

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.

Kue


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. 

Bali

"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

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 ice cream, warung igelanca

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.

Seniman coffee, Bali

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!

Corn from a street vendor

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 chocolate spirulina slice

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

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.

Kopi desa latte

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.

Bali

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.

Uluwatu and Padang Padang

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. 

Bali


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. 

Bali

Places mentioned:

Seeds of Life

Bali Buda

Caramel Patisserie

Kué

Alchemy

Atman Kafe

Seniman Coffee

Kafe

Casa Luna

Soma

Thursday
Jun052014

Creative Cake Decorating with White Chocolate

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! 

Tuesday
Jun032014

Best Health Food Ever: Millet Cookies

Millet cookies

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.

Millet cookies

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. 

Millet cookies

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. 

Millet cookies

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

Millet cookies (not actually health food) - Printable version here

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 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

Procedure

  1. First, preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. 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
  3. Millet cookies
  4. 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.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set to the side.
  6. 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. 
  7. Stop the mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, briefly mixing after each addition until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. 
  8. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing as minimally as possible until everything is incorporated into a chocolate chip cookie-esque dough. 
  9. Now, add the toasted millet and cashews and the chocolate morsels. Fold gently into the dough until evenly incorporated. 
  10. Millet cookies
  11. Place the cookie dough with an inch or two of space around on all sides on the cookie sheet. Millet cookiesI made pretty fat cookies, a heaping tablespoon, but you make them however big you want them. 
  12. 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. 

Millet cookies

Enjoy!

Monday
Jun022014

Cake it, Don't Fake It: How to Make Marquesote

Marquesote

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. 

Marquesote

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? 

Marquesote

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. 

Marquesote

Marquesote

Adapted from What to Cook Today? - Makes 1 cake

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cups cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease and flour a loaf pan or 9-inch cake pan.
  2. 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.
  3. Marquesote
  4. 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.
  5. Marquesote
    Marquesote
  6. 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.
  7. Marquesote
  8. 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"?
  9. Marquesote

 

Enjoy!

Saturday
May312014

Sweet Art: Latte Love

Salvador dali latte art via Pinterest

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


Starry night via Deviant Art

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. 

Edward Munch

The Scream Latte art via Global Gallery

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.

Keith Haring

Keith Haring Latte Art via Messynessychic.com

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. 

Hey, do you have any fine art lattes to add to this collection? Send 'em my way! Til next time... Thanks a Latte, You Mocha My Day

Friday
May302014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Butter ice cream

In case you missed it: ice cream made with butter instead of cream.

Update: I am revising my recipe page to include index pictures. Isn't it looking good so far?

Burmese semolina cake! Reminds me of the Basbousa we sold at the restaurant I worked at in college.

According to Time Out London, old fashioned desserts are big (again).

How to stamp designs on cookies! Cool!

What is cream of tartar and what does it do?

SOMEONE PLEASE BUY ME THIS BATHING SUIT RIGHT NOW.

My hipster unicorns are news! Thank you, Albuquerque Journal, for recognizing my genius.

Instagram sensation "You Did Not Eat That". How do you feel about this, readers?

"Eating dessert does not mean you have less self-control." Great blog post.

Sweet sleuthing into the history of Brownstone Front Cake.

Sweet tips for making "surprise inside" cakes!

Today is National Mint Julep Day. Enjoy it by making mint julep mousse, ok?

Book of the week: The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax. Do you think we just wake up craving chia seeds or pomegranate juice one day? Well, you're wrong. Food trends are complex and interesting beasts. David Sax takes a fascinating tour of food trends, from cupcakes to bacon and even delves into what happens when a food trend dies--fondue, anyone?--in this engaging book. Plus, my friend Java Cupcake is mentioned!

Thursday
May292014

Tips for Plating Restaurant-Quality Desserts

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.

Read 10 tips for perfect plating here.

Wednesday
May282014

Magical Unicorn Cloud Mousse

Hovering dessert

Picture a unicorn, surrounded by rainbows and munching on a cloud in the sky. Don't you want to know what that cloud tastes like?

Well, finding out is not all that difficult. Because this vanilla marshmallow fluff mousse tastes exactly like that imaginary magic cloud. In fact, so much that I'm going to dub this recipe Magical Unicorn Cloud Mousse.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May272014

Sweet Art: Hipster Unicorns Invade Santa Fe

I've had the craziest day in Santa Fe.

It started in the morning when I went to BODY for a yoga class. It was a dreamy class, but when I exited...there was a veritable sea of unicorns outside!

Well, I rubbed my eyes, shook my head, and chalked it up to a lack of caffeine so I headed over to the Betterday coffee shop, a known hipster hangout and fine purveyor of coffee.

But you wouldn't believe what I saw there... More unicorns! And these ones looked suspiciously like hipsters.

Starting to think that perhaps I was going crazy, I thought I would escape for a while in the soothing dark of a matinee. So I headed over to the Cocteau theater, which happens to be owned by George Martin of Game of Thrones fame.

But I wasn't alone... The Jean Cocteau appeared to have been taken over by yet more fashionable unicorns, and these ones were reading the Santa Fe Reporter, using iPhones, and even name-dropping.

Sensing that I was experiencing some sort of unicorn-induced hysteria, I decided to seek sanctuary at the Cowgirl BBQ nearby, where I figured I would at least see some people in cowboy hats acting southwest-y, and the horses on the wall would not have horns.

Well. I'm sure that you saw this coming, but the hipster unicorns had infiltrated the Cowgirl, too!

Maybe to those who have spent more time in Santa Fe than me, this type of thing is commonplace. But for me, it was a pivotal moment: I felt like I finally understood why they call New Mexico the "land of enchantment".

Saturday
May242014

How To Write Letters Like a Unicorn: A Tutorial

Unicorn letter

Have you ever wondered how a unicorn writes a letter?

Well, I was hanging out with my pet unicorn, Sprinkle, who helps me with many things, from headstands...

to everyday advice like how to make rainbow jell-o cups or what time of day I'm most likely to see a shooting star with a rainbow trail.

So, me and Sprinkle were having a nice gossip sesh over frosting shots one day, and after maybe one shot too many, she told me the secret way in which unicorns write letters.

Writing letters like unicorns

Because unicorns do not have hands, they do something really special to send their buddies messages. They whisper messages into rainbow rays, and then they wish them over to their friends, who are not only greeted with a rainbow but good tidings.

Listen, I'm not going to lie: humans do not have the magic ability to do this.

But we can co-opt the idea and send a friend a bouquet of rainbows and sweetness by stuffing balloons with little notes and gifts. It basically guarantees a magical day for the recipient. 

Here's how you, as a human without magical abilities, can make it happen.

How to write a letter like a unicorn

You need:

  • a variety of rainbow colored balloons
  • messages or small gifts to put in the balloons
  • tissue paper and packing material
  • a shipping box
  • love

Step 1: Start by preparing a bunch of small notes, like so:

Writing letters like unicorns

You can also grab some other things, like candy or marbles or small things that will make nice little gifts.

Writing letters like unicorns

You can also draw some unicorn horns and includes some of those, too: Writing letters like unicorns

because then the recipient can hold them up to ponies and make them instant unicorns, like so:

A pony no longer!

Step 2: Place the notes or gifties in the balloons. One or two things per balloon. Roll up notes to get them inside of the balloons with ease. 

Writing letters like unicornsWriting letters like unicorns

Step 3: Blow up the balloons. Blow them kind of small, about the size of a large apple or so. 

Writing letters like unicorns

Step 4: Once you have a number assembled, place them in a box lined with tissue paper. Line the sides and top with packing material before sealing and addressing the box.

Writing letters like unicorns

Step 5: Send it on its way! Unlike unicorns, you can't wish your package to its recipient, so you'll have to hit up the USPS or UPS or Fedex. For best results, use a fairly rapid shipping method (such as priority mailing). Be happy in knowing that you will have a very delighted recipient when it's received!

Although this is definitely an adapted version of the unicorn method, it's a highly delightful method of making someone's day brighter. And any unicorn would deem that magical. 

So there we go! And now you know...

Writing letters like unicorns

Who in your life deserves a magical letter? 

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