Baking for the holidays

I know I’m WAY overdue for a post. (And Adam- if you’re reading this, thank you for always reminding me to update my blog when you see me!!)  I actually have a few recipes and photos that need to go up, but I’ve been having trouble with editing the photos.

In the mean time, here are two recipes that I baked on Christmas that I’d like to share.  Sorry that they’re bad iPhone photos and that I didn’t even photograph the steps!

First up, Chocolate-Glazed Toffee Bars from Saveur.  Originally found here.

 

Chocolate-Glazed Toffee Bars

MAKES ABOUT 16 BARS

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE DOUGH:

  • ⅔ cup flour
  • 1½ tbsp. sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 2 tsp. milk

FOR THE TOFFEE AND CHOCOLATE LAYERS:

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1¾ cups finely chopped pecans, lightly toasted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Make the crust: Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add butter and using a dough blender, two forks, or your fingers, cut butter into flour mixture, forming pea-size crumbles; stir in milk until dough forms. Add more milk, if necessary, until dough holds together but is not wet. Press dough into a parchment paper-lined 8” square baking dish; chill 15 minutes.

2. Heat oven to 350°. Bake crust until golden, 25 minutes; let cool.

3. Make the toffee layer: Bring sugar, butter, honey, milk, and salt to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 1½ cups pecans and the vanilla. Spread toffee mixture evenly over the crust; bake until toffee is golden brown and bubbly, 17-20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack; let cool 5 minutes, then sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then, using a spatula, smooth chocolate into an even layer; sprinkle immediately with remaining pecans. Let cool completely, and then refrigerate until firm; cut into squares.

The second batch of goodies I baked were Lime Bars.  I adapted the recipe just a bit, but it was originally found here.

 

Lime Bars

MAKES ABOUT 24 BARS

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CRUST:

  • 18 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1¾ cup flour, plus more for dusting
  • ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 8 eggs, at room temperature
  • Zest of 9 limes, plus ½ cup of fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup flour

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Make the crust: Using an electric hand mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. With the motor running, slowly add flour and salt; mix until just combined. On a lightly floured surface; briefly knead dough until smooth. Using floured hands, press dough into a parchment paper-lined 9”x13” baking dish; chill 30 minutes.

2. Heat oven to 375°. Bake crust until golden, 15-20 minutes; let cool.

3. Make the filling: Whisk sugar, eggs, zest, plus the juice in a bowl until combined. Slowly whisk in flour until smooth; pour evenly over crust. Bake until the filling is set, about 30-45 minutes (original recipe said 30, but I needed much more time). Let cool completely, and then refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Enjoy! Hopefully I’ll post my pending recipes soon!

Tomato Tart

I found this recipe in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  I’ve owned this book for a few years and this was the first time I’ve made something from it!  If you love tomatoes, this is a great recipe to try.

First, make the dough for the crust.  Keep in mind that you have to chill this for an hour before using.

Butter!

 

Use a food processor to mix the dough.  Once the dough holds together, form it into a disc and chill it in the fridge.

 

My tomatoes were a tad on the sour side, but you’ll want tomatoes that are ripe but still firm.

I loved that an entire head of garlic goes into this tart. You roast it for 45 minutes with olive oil and then spread it over the tart dough.

After an hour, roll out the dough and place it over your tart pan.  I used a rolling pin to cut the edges of the dough.

Spread the roasted garlic over the dough and then sprinkle with cheese. I actually didn’t fontina cheese as the recipe called for but instead used parmesan because I have so much in my fridge that I didn’t want to waste.

Place the tomato slices in a circle pattern.

Sprinkle with cheese, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Then, stick it in the oven!

This is my basil plant.  Half of it was started from Safeway basil, and the other half I took from a pho restaurant.. haha.  The leaves are really small for some reason, but the flavor is still there!

Slice the basil. I need to slice them thinner next time.

All done!

I ate half of the entire thing in one sitting…

Recipe:

Pâte Brisée

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Directions

1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.

2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide in two. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten, and form two discs. Wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

Tomato Tart

Ingredients

1 head garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1/2 recipe Pate Brisee (Pie Dough)
2 ounces Italian fontina cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 pounds firm but ripe tomatoes (4 medium), cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Wrap to enclose garlic in foil, and place on a small baking sheet. Bake until soft and golden brown and the tip of a knife easily pierces the flesh, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside. Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees. When garlic is cool enough to handle, using either your hands or the dull end of a large knife, squeeze the cloves out of their skins and into a small bowl; mash with a fork, and set aside. Discard the papery skins.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 1/8-inch-thick circle, about 12 inches in diameter. With a dry pastry brush, brush off the excess flour; roll the dough around the rolling pin, and lift it over a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Line the pan with the dough, pressing it into the corners. Trim the dough so that it is flush with the edges; transfer to the refrigerator to chill, about 30 minutes.
3. Spread roasted garlic evenly on the chilled crust. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the cheese, in an overlapping circular pattern. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Transfer to oven. Reduce temperature to 400 degrees. and bake until crust is golden and tomatoes are soft but still retain their shape, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, and serve warm.

Maui

I know I’m overdue for a baking post, but in the mean time, here are photos from my recent trip to Maui. It was amazing to escape from the “cold” San Francisco winter and spend a week relaxing and exploring in 75-80 degree sunny weather.

Walked across the street from our airbnb to look at this beautiful sunset on our first day.  Wish I didn’t get water on my lens for this shot!

On our second day, we went to Big Beach. The water here was not ideal to swim in because of the intense shore break, but the beach was one of the most gorgeous ones we visited.

We woke up one morning at 4am to drive up to the Haelaleka volcano to catch the sunrise.  Being 9,000 feet above the ground and watching the sun rise over clouds and mountains was unforgettable.  The one drawback is that it’s FREEZING up there!

I was having a really hard time breathing at such a high altitude but my boyfriend somehow convince me to take a short hike.. in the 40 degree weather.  Even though I could barely take a few steps without having to stop to catch my breath, it was worth it because it truly felt like we were on a different planet!

On Mars.

Sunset across the street from our place again.

We spent a day on the Road to Hana. This is a must-do in Maui. Even though it’s a long and windy drive, it’s worth it to see all the stops. This is a natural pool that was really cold but we braved up and swam in it for a bit anyway!

One of my favorite scenes.

Black Sand Beach

Hike to Waikomu Falls

Bamboo forest on the hike to Waikomu Falls

Hamoa Beach

One of my favorite activities during the trip was snorkeling. I’m hoping to post some of my boyfriend’s GoPro photos of snorkeling and paddle boarding when I get the chance.

I’m already looking forward to my next tropical vacation- whenever that will be! (:

Mini heart cheesecakes

I’ve been using this Martha Stewart recipe for years, and it never fails to please.  The raspberry hearts add a bit of fruity flavor, and they’re just so cute and fun to make!

To make the crust: ground graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter.

1 tablespoon each of the crust mixture into muffin liners.  Press down to flatten.

After 10 minutes of baking, let the crust cool.

I used a toothpick and just followed the dots to create these hearts!

Also made some three heart ones.  The batter was mixed with my Kitchen Aid mixer, not with that whisk.

All done!

Recipe from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 12)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 container (6 ounces) fresh raspberries
  • 2 pounds (four 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Stir together crackers, butter, and 3 tablespoons sugar; press 1 tablespoon into bottom of each cup. Bake until set and beginning to color at edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer tins to rack to cool.
  2. Puree raspberries in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Press through a fine sieve; discard solids. Whisk in 2 tablespoons sugar.
  3. With mixer on medium-high, beat cream cheese until fluffy. On low, add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in a slow stream. Mix in salt and vanilla until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each (do not overmix) and scraping bowl.
  4. Spoon 3 tablespoons filling over crust in each cup. Drop two dots of raspberry puree about 1 inch apart in cupcake. Drag the tip of a toothpick or wooden skewer down through centers of dots to create a heart.
  5. To bake, set tins in oven in roasting pans filled halfway with hot water; bake until set, about 34 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer tins to racks to cool completely. Refrigerate in tins, uncovered, at least 4 hours; remove from tins. Refrigerate in air-tight containers up to 5 days.

Melting Chocolate Soufflé

Hot oozing chocolate in yo mouth. (With vanilla ice cream!)

Hot. Melting. Lava. Chocolate. Cake.  This was one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten. I’ve only had it two times at restaurants- once at Roy’s Hawaii Fusion, and once on a cruise and both times were extraordinarily delicious!  I didn’t realize it wasn’t too hard to make.  Roy’s actually posts the recipe on their website.  See below for the recipe.

Some of the ingredients

Sugar & cornstarch. 2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks.  Extra egg whites for my breakfast.  (I halved the recipe)

Ready to be refrigerated

After melting the butter and chocolate, combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate overnight.  I cheated and only kept it in there for four (maybe three..) hours.

F-stop too low. Preparing the ramekins.

I found a tip from this site that said to use ramekins if you don’t have soufflé rings.  Line the bottoms and sides with parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking spray.

Chilled batter --> Molds

Ready to be baked.

I baked these for 21 minutes and probably could have taken them out a minute or two sooner, but wait until the tops are just set and the inside is still runny.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I think this goes really well with vanilla ice-cream. Mine obviously was too melted but delicious nonetheless.

You know you wanted to see this again

Recipe: Roy’s Classic Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 eggs plus 4 egg yolks
12 tbsp. butter
8 oz. semisweet dark chocolate (make sure to use a good quality)

PREPARATION:
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch. In a separate bowl, mix eggs and yolks together. In a saucepan, bring butter to a simmer, then add the chocolate. Mix until the chocolate is smooth and begins to simmer along the edges. Combine this chocolate mixture with the sugar and cornstarch and mix thoroughly. Add eggs and mix at low speed until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Refrigerate overnight in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 375º. Line 4 metal soufflé rings with parchment paper and coat with non-stick spray. On a baking sheet, place each ring on a square of parchment paper. Fill 2/3 of each ring with the filling. Bake for 28-30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet. While holding each mold with tongs, slide a metal spatula underneath and transfer to a plate. Gently lift the mold off, remove the paper and serve with ice cream.

My notes:

I bought my ramekins from Crate & Barrel and these smaller sizes only needed half of the above recipe to make two.  I probably could have made one more with the batter.  Again, since these are smaller than regular soufflé rings, bake them for around 20 minutes instead of the suggested 28-30.  I started checking up on them at 18 minutes and left them in until about 21 minutes.

Enjoy!

Fall Baking- Apple Galette

Apple Galette

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to try a new baking recipe.  My mom made this apple galette a while back and after devouring four slices in one sitting, I had to ask her for the recipe.  She had seen a clip on PBS from America’s Test Kitchen.  Trustworthy source!

Golden Delicious apples

The recipe (below) suggests using Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, or Empire apples.  My mom told me she chose Golden Delicious because they’re softer and not as tart as Granny Smith.

I love metal baking equipment

The first step is to prepare the dough for the crust.  I didn’t want to buy instant flour, so I went with the 2 cups of flour+2 tablespoons of cornstarch. You just need to use a little more ice water if you do this.

Butter cubes

Butter cubes

I’m terrible at cutting things into uniform sizes.

Chunky dough

Crumbly dough

One new thing I learned with this recipe was fraisage.  One quick google searched showed me this.  Apparently it’s a technique of rolling the butter into the flour but not overworking the dough to create a flaky crust.  Before the fraisage method, the dough is crumbly like above.

Cute lil cube of dough

4×4 cube, then chill in the fridge for a bit.

Core the apples

While the dough is chilling, prepare the apples. I used a melon baller to core the apples and got overly excited about how cute they look with the little round holes.

Slicing the apples

This is where I failed.  You’re supposed to peel the skin off the apples! Totally forgot that step.  Also, it’s hard for me to cut uniform thin slices even with an extremely sharp knife. I want one of those vegetable/fruit slicers.

I cut 5 apples but probably only used 3.5.

Roll out the dough and create a wall on the sides.  I need to make the corners prettier next time.

Ready to bake!

More butter cubes (but smaller this time). Sprinkle with sugar, and it’s ready to go into the oven!

Brush the apricot glaze on.  The second thing I messed up on was that somehow two bubbles formed in the dough so it burned a little.

Need some vanilla ice cream!

Apple Galette  (from here)
from the America’s Test Kitchen Episode: French Apple Tart

The galette can be made without instant flour, using 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. However, you might have to increase the amount of ice water. Although any apple will work in this recipe, we prefer Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Empire. If you don’t have an apple corer, halve the peeled apples and then use a melon baller or paring knife to remove the core from each half. Make sure to cut the apples as thinly as possible. If they are cut thicker than 1/8 inch, they will be hard to shingle. If the dough has chilled longer than 1 hour, let it stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes to soften. If the dough becomes soft and sticky while being rolled, transfer it to a baking sheet and refrigerate it for 10 to 15 minutes. Check the bottom of the galette halfway through baking-it should be a light golden brown. If it is darker, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Serve with vanilla ice cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream, or creme fraiche.

Serves 8 to 10

Dough
1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup Wondra flour or Pillsbury Shake and Blend instant flour (2 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter , cut into 5/8-inch cubes (1 1/2 sticks)
7-9 tablespoons ice water
Apple Filling
1.5 pounds apples (3-4 medium or 4-5 small), see note above
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon water

See Illustrations: Preparing Apple Galette

1. CUT IN BUTTER: Combine flours, salt, and sugar in food processor with three 1-second pulses. Scatter butter pieces over flour, pulse to cut butter into flour until butter pieces are size of large pebbles, about 1/2 inch, about six 1-second pulses.

2. ADD WATER: Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over mixture and pulse once quickly to combine; repeat, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulsing, until dough begins to form small curds that hold together when pinched with fingers (dough should look crumbly and should not form cohesive ball).

3. FORM MOUND: Empty dough onto work surface and gather into rough rectangular mound about 12 inches long and 5 inches wide.

4. FRAISAGE AND CHILL: Starting at farthest end, use heel of hand to smear small amount of dough against counter, pushing firmly down and away from you, to create separate pile of dough (flattened pieces of dough should look shaggy). Continue process until all dough has been worked. Gather dough into rough 12 by 5-inch mound and repeat smearing process. Dough will not have to be smeared as much as first time and should form cohesive ball once entire portion is worked. Form dough into 4-inch square, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm but still malleable, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

5. CUT APPLES: About 15 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel, core, and halve apples. Cut apple halves lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

6. ROLL AND TRIM DOUGH: Place dough on floured 16 by 12-inch piece of parchment paper and dust with more flour. Roll dough until it just overhangs all four sides of parchment and is about 1/8 inch thick, dusting top and bottom of dough and rolling pin with flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Trim dough so edges are even with parchment paper.

7. FORM BORDER: Roll up 1 inch of each edge and pinch firmly to create 1/2-inch-thick border. Transfer dough and parchment to rimmed baking sheet.

8. LAYER APPLES AND BAKE: Starting in one corner, shingle sliced apples to form even row across bottom of dough, overlapping each slice by about one-half. Continue to layer apples in rows, overlapping each row by half. Dot apples with butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake until bottom of tart is deep golden brown and apples have caramelized, 45 to 60 minutes.

9. GLAZE: While galette is cooking, combine apricot preserves and water in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power until mixture begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Pass through fine-mesh strainer to remove any large apricot pieces. Brush baked galette with glaze and cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise into individual portions; serve.

Ici

I finally got to explore some of Berkeley for the first time last weekend.  I mainly wanted to try the famous Cheeseboard pizza, but happily got to taste this delicious ice-cream at Ici and do some shopping as well!

Yums

Pear quince sorbet

Such cute decorations

Instagramming Europe

I recently went on a backpacking trip through London, Paris, Cinque Terre, Florence, and Rome.  It was my first overseas trip (not counting Hawaii!) and I had the most amazing time.  While I took quite a few photos on my Nikon1, here are the Instragam photos I managed to snap along the way.  Who knows when I’ll be able to get around editing the Nikon1 pictures!

Can’t remember the street name, but this was where the huge Topshop was

High tea at The Chesterfield

Airbnb in Paris

Bad cropping of the Eiffel Tower

Notre Dame

Crepes and coffee with the Pantheon on the background

My favorite view- on the Arc de Triomphe

L’arc de Triomphe

Versailles

Gorgeous Versailles

The Louvre at night

I saw so many cute bikes in Florence. Can’t wait to edit those photos!

Trevi Fountain

Colloseum

Colloseum

Cappuccinos from Tazza D’oro

Rome airport. I was sad to go home

Product shoot

A while back, I saw a craigslist posting for a parttime position photographing products for some new start-up site. I was asked to photograph some jewelry as well as a jar of sauce or something similar I had lying around the house. I never got a follow-up, but thought I’d share them here anyway!

Random jar I found in the apartment

Gift from Ms. Lacey K from a while back (:

Another gift from Ms. Lacey K from a while back!

Turquoise Amrita Singh ring

Red Amrita Singh ring

I was definitely a noob when it came to these, but it was fun and I’d love to learn how to do better product photography!

my room

So I was supposed to spend time baking on Sunday.. but when I found out that my weak blender could not replace a food processor as called for in the recipe, I had to put it off.  Instead, I decided to take pictures of my bedroom because the lighting was so great in the afternoon!

Flea market finds with the exception of the calendar and candle.

Vintage alarm clock. I don’t ever crank it because the ticks are too annoying.

This is one of my favorite vintage camera finds. Found at a flea market in NYC!

Found this lovely calendar from fab.com.

Some reading

Nylon magazine

Cookbooks+food photography book

Magazines

Another favorite vintage camera find.

I found my bedframe at the antiques fair. Only cost me $60!

I’m a sucker for reusable tote bags

Picked out the fabric and sewed the blue pillowcases

Comfy

My favorite shirt from Madewell and Zara dress

My desk facing town hall and downtown. Yes, that is Hello Kitty champagne..

These were all taken with my Nikon D90, 35mm lens.

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