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Monday
Apr212014

Millionaire's Shortbread Using Cookie Dough From a Tube

I know, I know--I'm amazing. I figured out a way to streamline the process of making Millionaire's shortbread by employing sugar cookie dough from the refrigerated tube. I win at life!

This easy Millionaire's shortbread recipe comes together quickly, and tastes awesome. How could it not--it has all of the major food groups: cookie, caramel, and chocolate! I strongly suggest you give it a try. Recipe here. 

Sunday
Apr202014

Six Fascinating Facts About Easter Candy

Happy Easter, my sweet friends! I thought you might like to take a break from all the family time to learn some interesting candy facts. Here are 6 fascinating facts about Easter candy!

  • Americans have strong opinions on the order in which chocolate bunnies ought to be eaten. According to one study, 76 percent of Americans think the ears should be eaten first, 5 percent say feet first. Does that mean the remaining 19 percent will bite off any part that isn’t hopping away?
  • When Marshmallow Peeps made their debut in 1953, it took 27 hours to create each Peep (including moments of stopping while they dried, etc). Today, they are made in 6 seconds, and produced out at a rate of 4 million per day.
  • Peeps are the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy: Americans buy more than 700 million per season.
  • Cadbury Creme eggs are smaller in the US than they are in the UK! They are distributed by different companies in both nations. In England, the eggs weigh 40 grams. In the USA, they’re 34 grams.
  • Each year, about 16 billion jelly beans are produced for Easter. In case you’re wondering...that’s about enough to circle the world three times over.
  • Easter is the #2 candy-eating holiday of the year, with an estimated consumption of 71 million pounds worldwide. Halloween takes the cake, though, with 90 million pounds of candy.

Hoppy--er, happy--Easter, sweeties!

Saturday
Apr192014

How to Make Homemade Jelly Beans with Peanut Butter

Seriously. You can make your own jelly beans! They're not as pretty as the commercial kind but they taste a million times better. And--importantly--learning how to make homemade jelly beans is easy.

I made mine with peanut butter for a post for the ever-lovely Peanut Butter and Company, but you could omit the pb and use other flavorings, too. Recipe and tutorial here

Friday
Apr182014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Awesome interview with me on Vanilla Sugar blog.

Did I mention that you can win my books via said interview post?

Tasty grilled cheese picks in LA!

This might be my last recipe post ever on Serious Eats as they are changing their website format. Luckily it's a good one.

A fantastic article about "where is she now" involving former Seattleite and current pastry superstar Dana Cree.

OMG even though they are savory they are still baked and highly awesome. Biscuit time!

Imploding honey cake!

OooooooOOOOooooOOOOooo Funfetti gooey butter cake!

A date with me...for charity!

The experience of visiting a marijuana bakery, plus a recipe. Involves baking with marijuana.

Actually, I don't care that St. Patrick's day is over. I want everything featured in this post about St. Patty's Day-friendly sweet fare.

Gluten-free tart crust! Yes.

Fun with Peeps. Starry Night included.

 

Thursday
Apr172014

Helpful Tutorial: How to Draw a Bunny

Get your Easter off to a hoppin' start with this sweet tutorial. Whether you're a kid or an adult, drawing bunnies is a ton of fun. Here's how to do it! If I did this correctly, you should be able to drag the image to your desktop and print it larger. Enjoy!

Wednesday
Apr162014

Cadbury Creme Egg in Hole Toast

Cadbury creme egg in hole toast

Yes, I went there, and it tasted glorious. Find the recipe here.

Cadbury creme egg in hole toast

Inspired by the use of Cadbury Creme Eggs in recipes? Be sure to check out my suite of Easter recipes using the creamy eggs, including Cadbury Creme Eggs BenedictDeviled Cadbury Creme EggsCadbury Creme Egg Foo Young, and Cadbury Creme Egg Salad Sandwiches.

Tuesday
Apr152014

Gluten-Free Tart Crust Recipe

I don't care if you need to be gluten-free or not. But I do care about you eating deliciously. Here's a delicious recipe for a tart crust using nut flour...which happens to be gluten-free. Check it out here. 

Sunday
Apr132014

Bali Diary: How to Make Black Rice Pudding

Homemade black rice pudding

During my time in Bali, it didn't take too long for me to become obsessed with black rice pudding.

So you can bet your bottom donut that as soon as I got back stateside, I set forth to recreating this bali magic in my own kitchen.

As it turned out, the most difficult part was sourcing the ingredients. I assumed (with a typical American sense of entitlement, I suppose!) that I could get all of the typical Balinese ingredients at my local grocery store or Asian grocer. Ultimately, I was able to find almost everything, but it took a number of stops.

Homemade black rice pudding

The coconut cream was easy; that was in the grocery store. The black rice, in theory, shouldn't have been difficult to locate, but they happened to be out of it at the Asian grocer, so I had to buy it at Whole Foods for a slightly more premium price. As for the bananas, I sought out firm, ripe ones that I felt could best replicate the dense and super-sweet variety I tasted in Bali. 

Homemade black rice pudding

The two hardest ingredients to find were the palm sugar and panadus. After searching a number of stores for dark palm sugar I still came up dry, so finally I settled on this more honey-toned version, which did work just fine. But keep in mind that if you shave it, don't shave too much, as the sugar will harden in a couple of hours. If you couldn't find palm sugar or just can't be bothered to go and seek it out, brown sugar would do.

The panadus leaves, often used as a flavoring, were tougher to source. After scouring the web for possible substitutes I couldn't find any that quite sounded right, so I just used vanilla extract for flavoring. Maybe not traditional, but highly delicious. 

Homemade black rice pudding

Whew! That having been said, this recipe is worth seeking out the ingredients. This lovely morning porridge is almost caramelly when the sugar meets the rich coconut cream; the bananas bring all of the flavors together into an earthy, creamy, caramelly form of edible bliss.

Here's how you make this traditional Balinese treat. 

Black Rice Pudding (printable version here)

adapted from Indonesian Cakes and Desserts, a Periplus Mini Cookbook

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups uncooked black glutinous rice (or Asian black rice)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 panadus leaves, tied into a knot (I used 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 cup (or more, to taste) shaved palm sugar
  • 1 can coconut cream (14 ounces or so) 
  • pinch of salt

Procedure

  1. Rinse the rice in two to three changes of water, or until the water runs clear. Once clear, place the rice in a bowl and cover with clean water. Let it soak overnight (I did this on the countertop).
  2. Homemade black rice pudding
  3. In a saucepan, bring the rice, along with 6 cups of water and the panadus leaves (if using vanilla extract don't add it yet, though), to a boil over medium heat, and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rice is softened to a slightly al dente consistency. Discard the panadus leaves, if using. Add the sugar and vanilla (if using) and let the mixture continue to simmer on low heat for about 5 more minutes. 
  4. Homemade black rice pudding
  5. Remove from heat. Set to the side for the moment.
  6. In a bowl, combine the coconut cream with a pinch of salt and mix well.
  7. Homemade black rice pudding
  8. To serve, place a healthy spoonful of the rice mixture into a bowl. Homemade black rice pudding
  9. Spoon coconut cream on top to taste. Enjoy immediately. 
  10. Homemade black rice pudding

If storing, keep the coconut cream and the rice separate, and combine before serving.

Have you ever tried black rice?

Friday
Apr112014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

bunny and peanut butter

A history of chocolate bunnies.

Interesting Easter insights.

Much ado about muffin: a sweet video game.

I love this collection of trompe l'oeil cakes that look like food.

Interview with a Cadbury Creme Egg.

Blueberry muffins from pancake mix! Interesting.

Take a tour of regional and seasonal US pies with the wonderful new book Teeny's Tour of Pie: A Cookbook.

The best homemade marshmallows...ever!

Lemon meringue angel food cake.

Olive oil cake.

Pineapple orange layer cake. Yum.

In case you missed it: what is palm sugar?

Also in case you missed it: rainbow dessert bowls made of candy.

The question that really matters: which girl scout cookie makes the best milkshake?

Tuesday
Apr082014

Bali Diary: What is Palm Sugar?

Bali

When you go to Bali, you'll probably notice pretty quickly that the sugar is different there. 

Personally, I noticed it the first time that I was brought a coffee in a cafe. They delivered it with a small dish of what looked like the darkest brown sugar I'd ever seen. 

As I was looking at it, fascinated and slightly confused, someone who had been in Bali longer than me looked over knowingly. "Palm sugar," she said. "I never use refined sugar at home, but this doesn't seem to affect my blood sugar as much." (People in Bali, usually tourists, talk like this).

Palm sugar. Interesting. I started to notice that it was everywhere. See it behind that lovely (cookie-included) latte?

Bali

At some cafes, palm sugar was served as a simple syrup, which resembled pancake syrup. At others, in a dish, like my first experience. Interestingly, in stores and at open air markets, it was sold in thick, fat little cakes, sometimes dome-shaped, sometimes in cones. It was shaved or cut into portions, which reminded me of a story I'd heard about the early United States, wherein Colonial ladies of the house would have special shears specifically designed to cut sugar, which was at the time purchased as large cones. 

So what is palm sugar, exactly?

Palm sugar is derived from the palmyra or sugar palm (and has a relative, coconut palm sugar, which is made from the coconut palm--so if you look it up, you may come across this term, too). Once cut, the flower buds produce a sweet yet very liquid sap; this sap is collected and boiled until it has reduced to a sticky sugar consistency. From that point, it can be either bottled as a liquid, or whipped and then dropped into molds so that it will solidify. Sound familiar? In my opinion, this process has quite a similarity to the process of making maple syrup or sugar.

Taste-wise, palm sugar is slightly mellower than granulated sugar, and in my opinion, has a flavor that is like molasses-meets-honey. It's very flavorful, and is a singular flavor when used simply, as in the coconut pancakes served at Seniman Coffee, where only a few ingredients allow every flavor to shine.

Photo via Wikipedia commons

Why are there so many variances in color?

Another thing I noticed is that palm sugar can have quite a large variance in color, from honey yellow to a deep, dark brown. Basically, this boils down to (ha ha) how long and how high the temperature was when the sap was reduced. As I observed, even the same brand or vendor would have no two portions of sugar that were completely "cookie cutter"--because this isn't a highly processed sugar, there is a little bit more variation from batch to batch. 

At home, I found it easier to find the lighter colored palm sugar. Personally, I found the difference in flavor subtle; when using it in a dish that employs the sugar for sweetness in addition to other flavors, the type wasn't important. However, when using it in coffee or in a recipe where it is a primary flavor, the difference from light to dark palm sugar would be like the difference between light and dark brown sugar; the darker the sugar, the more caramelly and intense the flavor. 

Seniman coffee, Bali

How to use palm sugar

To the best of my research, you can swap equal amounts of palm sugar for granulated or brown sugar. Because of its different density, however, for best results you will probably want to weigh your ingredients rather than packing in a cup. This is for baking, however; if you're using the palm sugar in coffee or to sweeten your oatmeal, say, just use to taste. Consider the recipe you're using, as the palm sugar will impart a flavor. 

Is palm sugar healthier?

In Bali, a whole lot of people seemed to think so. Here's an article about it, if it interests you. I'll be honest, it only interests me marginally, as I don't necessarily think people eat sugar of any sort for its health benefits, anyway!

Have you ever used palm sugar in baking? I'd love to hear what you made and how it came out. 

Love from Bali, 

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