EMOTIONAL EATS

Getting Through Life One Recipe at a Time

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)

Mochi Muffins

It’s rare – a sweet I’ve never heard of. Something I have to try and haven’t. It doesn’t happen often. I’ve been around the baked good block.

But when I went West to visit someone worth visiting, I kept hearing about the Mochi.

“Like the ice cream?”

No. Not at all.

He described it as a flat, burnt muffin. He said it was chewy and not very sweet, like something went wrong.

I’ll admit, with that description in mind, I wasn’t overly eager to try one; but, I’d take any excuse to sit outside and sip coffee with him.

The little bakery/café was very Berkeley or Oakland…it was very wherever we were. Clean lines, open-air feel, a friendly dude, who deeply embodied dude,  working the register and frothing what I assumed was hemp-seed milk.

And behind the glass – little burnt-looking muffins, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds for a face lift.

My guy ordered us two strong coffees and two mochis with a wink that said, “Trust me.” Of course. Always.

It took more than one bite for me to get it. But with half the muffin gone, I was sold. The texture unlike anything I’ve munched  before. A crispy outside and dense and chewy inside. Not very sweet but crazy tasty. His description was not inaccurate but definitely didn’t do the little treat justice.

And dipping the little brick into coffee…that’s heaven.

Back East, I find myself day dreaming of those way West weekends. Those little visits that were just the two of us.

Our secrets. Our things. Our shared experiences. Our little table in the sun where we munched mochis and fell in love.

Maybe you’ll fall in love too!

Here’s my recipe:

You’ll just need a few ingredients before you’re well on your way to Mochi-land. Full list below.

Place the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk them together.

Melt together the butter and coconut milk. Add it to the sweetened condensed milk. Whisk until smooth.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Next, add the rice flour, salt, and baking powder.

Add the milk a little at a time, incorporating it completely before adding the next splash.

The batter will be smooth like pancake batter.

Thoroughly butter two muffin tins. The batter will make about 24 mochi. Fill each cup 3/4 of the way. Place the Mochi into a 350°F oven.

Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until the Mochi are golden brown. Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack.

Brush a little melted butter on top of each mochi and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Enjoy with hot coffee or tea and DEFINITELY a special someone.


These mochi muffins are hard to describe. They are crispy and dense but also fluffy. They are sweet but not overly so. Just trust me, they’re great.

Mochi Muffins

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter
12 ounces of coconut milk
1 pound of glutinous rice flour (I use Mochiko)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of milk
black and white sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter two muffin pans

In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

In a small bowl, microwave the coconut milk and 1 stick of butter together until the butter is completely melted.

Add the coconut milk mixture to the sweetened condensed mixture.

Stir in the rice flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the milk a little at a time, stirring after each addition. When the batter is ready, it will be smooth and thin like pancake batter.

Pour the batter into the buttered muffin tins, filling them three quarters of the way.

Place the muffin tins into the preheated oven and bake for 45 – 55 minutes until the mochi are golden brown.

Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes before flipping out of muffin tins. Microwave the additional tablespoon of butter and brush it over top of the muffins. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

EAT!

I recommend you dunk them in coffee or tea – you won’t regret it!

 

 

San Francisco Cinnamon-Sugar Crepes

It was a particularly fine weekend. A blue-skied getaway. A long drive with him. The him-him.

My eyes widened as we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, taking in every inch of gleaming red. My heart filled as we walked hand-in-hand down the pier, sea lions posing for pictures to our right, endless pristine bay to our left and mountains all around. My cheeks hurt from laughing when we ventured to Japantown to find sushi and couldn’t.

Each minute more perfect than the last. Each memory a new favorite.

To top off our daylong date we decided on crepes. The smell caught us from across a courtyard of tourists and street performers.

As we stood in line in the cozy little shop, we decided to split one and considered the options – simple to complex.

Cinnamon-Sugar? Nutella Explosion? S’more Supreme? Strawberry and Cream?

Reading each other’s mind, as we sometimes do, we agreed. Cinnamon-Sugar. Simple it is.

And simple it always seems to be. He and I, me and him – in that crepe munching moment – that was all that mattered – one weekend in San Francisco.

Just a few ingredients and you are well on your way to Crepetown, USA.

Put all your ingredients in a blender. Pulse 10 times until the batter is smooth.

Store in an airtight container and chill for one hour.

When you are ready to fry, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium flame. Pour in about a quarter cup of batter. Lift the pan and swirl the batter in a circular motion until evenly spread. When the crepe batter is mostly set (this will take about two minutes) add three slivers of butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mix. Let butter melt.

When the butter is melted and bubbly and the cinnamon-sugar mix is partially dissolved, fold the crepe in half.

And fold in half one more time.

Eat!

Is my mouth really that big?

San Francisco Cinnamon-Sugar Crepes

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 cup of flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of water
3/4 cup of whole milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of melted butter, cooled

extra butter for crepe slathering
1/4 cup of sugar + 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (makes extra)

Directions: 

Place flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, water, milk, and melted butter in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Refrigerate the batter for one hour.

When you are ready to cook crepes, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium flame. Pour 1/4 cup of batter in the pan and swirl it around until it is evenly distributed.

Cook for two minutes.

When the crepe starts to set, add additional butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

Fold crepe in half, then in half again.

Serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar.

White Chocolate Cherry Scones

My basic Social Scone dough is given the old razzle-dazzle with the addition of white chocolate and dried cherries.

Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the grated butter.

Rub the butter and dry ingredients together with your fingers until the mixture is sandy.

Whisk together the egg and the heavy cream. Add to the dry ingredients. Incorporate using a spatula.

When the dough comes together, transfer dough to a generously floured surface. Roll it out to a large oval that is 1/4 an inch in thickness. Place half the dried cherries and half the white chocolate on one half of the dough. Fold the other side over, covering the chocolate and cherries.

Roll the dough out again and repeat with the remaining cherries and chocolate.

Work the dough into a circle and then cut into eight triangles.


Place the triangles on a cookie tray lined with parchment and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove from freezer and brush with heavy cream. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until lightly browned.

Serve immediately.

Hell yeah! Look at those scones!

White Chocolate Cherry Scones

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, frozen and grated (I freeze over night)
1/2 cup of heavy cream (additional for brushing)
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of dried cherries
1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
turbinado sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Add the frozen grated butter and toss in the dry ingredients to coat. Once the butter is coated, rub the butter into the flour with your fingers.

Whisk together the egg, cream, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spoon until it just comes together. If the dough seems a bit dry, add a little heavy cream. If the dough seems sticky, add a little flour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out to a large oval that is 1/4 an inch in thickness. Place half the dried cherries and half the white chocolate on one half of the dough. Fold the other side over, covering the chocolate and cherries.

Pat the dough into a circle and cut the circle into eight triangles.

Place the triangles on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Remove the scones from the freezer.  Using a pastry brush or your fingers, apply a thin layer of heavy cream to the top of each scone and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Transfer the scones to the oven and bake for 15 – 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The scones are finished baking when they are puffed and golden.

Let cool slightly and serve!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

This scone recipe is a twist on my classic Social Scones. The addition of oatmeal makes it hearty and the cinnamon gives a warmth perfect for a rainy day with a cup of tea and a good book. Make some today!

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oats.

Add grated butter and work into mixture with your hands, rubbing butter and dry ingredients together until the mixture looks sandy.

Whisk together the heavy cream and the egg. Pour over the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to incorporate the cream. The dough will be very sticky.

Work the dough until it comes together to form a ball. Turn out onto a generously floured surface.

Roll to 1/4 an inch in thickness. Place half of the chocolate chips on one half of the dough and fold the other half on top. Roll the dough out again and repeat the process with the remaining chocolate chips. Work the dough into a round shape.

Cut the dough round into eight triangles. Place on a cookie tray lined with parchment and transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove scones from freezer and brush with additional heavy cream.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 18 minutes. While the scones bake, make the glaze.

Whisk together heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar until you get a thick but pourable glaze.

Once the scones have baked, remove them from the oven and let cool slightly. Drizzle with glaze and serve.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of quick cooking oats
1 stick of unsalted butter, grated (easier to do with frozen butter)
1/2 cup of heavy cream (plus extra for brushing)
1 egg
1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips

For the Glaze:
1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar
2 – 3 tablespoons of heavy cream

Directions: 

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, oatmeal, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

Add the frozen grated butter and toss in the dry ingredients to coat. Once the butter is coated, rub the butter into the flour with your fingers.

Whisk together the egg and the cream. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spoon until it just comes together. If the dough seems a bit dry, add a little heavy cream. If the dough seems sticky, add a little flour.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface. Pat the dough into a round and cut the round into eight triangles.

Place the triangles on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Remove the scones from the freezer.  Using a pastry brush or your fingers, apply a thin layer of heavy cream to the top of each scone.

Place the scones in the oven and bake for 15 – 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The scones are finished baking when they are puffed and golden.

While the scones are cooling, make the glaze. Whisk together heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar until it makes a thick but pourable glaze.
Drizzle glaze over scones and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Lala’s Sweet Potato Cake

In high school, my brother’s girlfriend Lala was like the older sister I never had, never knew I wanted, but was so happy to find.

As we’ve grown our relationship has changed. Big sister/little sister. Peers. Best Friends. And sometimes something resembling employer/employee (I say that lovingly, of course). However, the one dynamic that hasn’t changed is the eater/feeder status.

I bake. Lala eats.

Years ago for her birthday, I brought her a huge Sweet Potato Cake from the bakery where I worked. Late into the evening, we sat at her kitchen table plunging our forks deep into this behemoth. We ate, we laughed and we ate some more. We munched so much that we had to crawl on all fours to her living room where we laid on the couch rubbing our bloated bellies.

I remember feeling warm and fuzzy in a way that only best friends and cake can accomplish.

Happy to be with Lala and share a slice (a couple of slices) of nicely spiced cake with velvety cream cheese frosting.

I hope you’ll make some for the Lala in your life too.

I know that you know that you need to measure out all your ingredients.

Cream together brown sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.

Add mashed sweet potato and crushed pineapple with juice.

Stir in dry ingredients.

Place in a 9×13 inch cake pan that has been greased and lined with parchment.

Bake at 350°F for 30 – 35 minutes until lightly browned around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

While the cake cools, make the frosting. Cream butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar. Add vanilla. Blend with a hand mixer or stand mixer until smooth.

Spread cream cheese frosting over cooled cake.

Decorate with pecans.

Eat!

Lala's Sweet Potato Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 large)*
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 rounded teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter, at room temperature
1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 large eggs
1 (8oz) can of crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Line the dish with parchment and grease the parchment.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Add the vanilla.

Add the mashed sweet potatoes* and pineapple with juice and beat with a hand mixer until combined.

Mix in the dry mixture until just combined.

Pour into the 9×13 inch baking dish.

Place in the preheated oven.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until browned around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing.

Frost the cake and decorate as you desire! I used pecans for natural flare!

Notes –

To make the sweet potatoes, wash and dry your potatoes, leaving the skin on. Prick them with a fork and microwave for 10 minutes, rotating them at the five minute mark. Scrape the meat out of the skins and mash it with a fork. Measure out 1 1/2 cups and allow to cool. You may have extra (eat it).

Needhams

I came across my first Needham in a wood-walled cafe/grocery in Maine. I was browsing the candy aisle when I stumbled upon, “The Needham: Maine Potato Candy.” They were in a glass jar with a handwritten label, a little homey looking, chocolate exterior and a mysterious filling….they couldn’t really have potato in them? Could they?

I bought two and asked the sweet old bird behind the counter what I was getting myself into.

“Oh yeah, Needhams, everyone makes them. Your grandmother at Christmas, your mom when you get home from school. They are given in tins as gifts. Everyone in Maine knows Needhams.”

As she fiddled with the label attempting to scan it, she squished the candy a little.

“Oh yeah, they melt real fast. Eat this right away, just when you get home.”

Needham in hand, I raced home to figure out exactly what a Needham was, where the heck did it come from and how on earth do I make one?

Here are my findings:

It’s backstory is…a little fuzzy. One of the first recorded references to the Needham comes from “As Maine as Lobster” an article by John Gould, published in 1986.

In it he writes: “Mr. Seavey was the candymaker, and he was already well-known throughout the state for his numerous confections. It happened that one of the candy cooks in his kitchen brought forth a chocolate-covered coconut cream and passed it about to see what Mr. Seavey, and others, thought of it. It is important to know that this new kind of candy was square in shape.”

But what about the unusual name? Why not Seaveys? Or Maineys? Or Coconuttys?

I read on.

It turns out, most people agree that the candy is named for Reverend George C. Needham, a popular Irish evangelist who came to Boston in 1868. His story is almost as tasty as the treat. Rumor has it he was nearly eaten by cannibals in South America and (after escaping) preached unconventional ideas like – faith can make you beautiful.

As the story goes, at the time the candy was invented the name “Needham” was on every tongue and so should the sweet be – or at least that is what Mr. Seavey thought.

Mr. Gould claims, “There was a challenge as to what this new candy should be called. Mr. Seavey himself is credited with coming up with the right answer — let’s call ’em needhams, after the popular preacher!”

So the Needham is invented and named but how does it taste?

It’s like the best Mounds bar you’ve ever had. It’s rich and creamy, definitely no trace of potato in the flavor. The potato only serves to create the smooth texture of the filling which is contrasted with the delicate snap of the chocolate exterior. It is no wonder it is so “sacred and peculiar” to Mainahs.

Finally, as promised, how is this little bite of history made?

Here’s my recipe:

Place the confectioner’s sugar, butter, and mashed potatoes (yes, mashed potatoes) in a heatproof bowl over a sauce pan with an inch of simmering water.

Stir until the butter melts and the mixture is one smooth consistency, this will take about 5 minutes. Add vanilla.

Stir in the coconut.

Place in a small glass dish lined with parchment. Transfer to the fridge to chill until firm.

To make the toasted coconut, spread the coconut in a single layer in a pie dish. Place in a 400°F oven. Cook for about 10 minutes, tossing frequently, until browned.

To make the chocolate glaze, melt chocolate and coconut oil over a double boiler.

Coat the cut needhams in chocolate, tapping off the excess before transferring to a cookie tray lined with parchment.

Sprinkle with coconut before the chocolate sets. I added the toasted coconut to mine for a little extra jazz. I don’t know that Mr. Seavey or Rev. Needham would agree with the addition but I think you will.

Transfer to the fridge and chill for 20 minutes until the chocolate sets.

Eat them, give them, love them, NEEDHAM!

Needhams

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients: 
2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of unseasoned mashed potatoes
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of flaked coconut
2 cups of dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil

1/2 cup of coconut, toasted (optional)

Directions: 

Place the confectioner’s sugar in a heatproof bowl. Create a well in the center and add the butter and mashed potatoes in the well.

Place the bowl over a pot with an inch or two of simmering water.

Stir the butter and mashed potatoes until melted and gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar.

Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth. This will take about 5 minutes.

Add the vanilla.

Stir in the coconut.

Transfer to a small glass dish that has been lined with parchment paper.

Place in the fridge to set for 20 minutes.

While the coconut filling sets, make the toasted coconut and chocolate glaze.

To toast the coconut, place the coconut in a pie plate or cookie tray in one even layer. Place in a 400°F oven and bake for 10 minutes, tossing frequently. Once the coconut has browned, remove it from oven and let cool.

To make the chocolate glaze, put chocolate chips and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan with an inch or two of simmering water. Heat while stirring until smooth.

When the coconut mixture has set, cut it into 12 squares.

Use a fork to dip squares into melted chocolate. Tap off excess chocolate before placing needhams on a parchment-lined cookie tray and sprinkling with toasted coconut.

Return to the fridge to chill for another 20 minutes until the chocolate is set.

Enjoy!

*Note: These candies melt really easily. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll keep for a week.

References:

NPR: http://www.npr.org/2012/08/26/159998395/maines-needhams-a-sweet-treat-of-earthy-potatoes

New England Historical Society: http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/needhams-the-potato-candy-sacred-and-peculiar-to-maine/

John Gould’s Article, Reprinted: https://www.csmonitor.com/1986/1024/uham.html

 

Not-Birthday, Birthday Cake

It wasn’t his birthday but there we were – singing – and loudly I might add, with the whole restaurant accompanying us.

Honestly, I’d needed a non-reason reason to celebrate. It was another summer of unemployment, my guy had moved cross coast (but luckily was visiting), the blog, this blog, still struggling, and while all my blessings certainly aren’t lost on me, I couldn’t help but feeling a little lost again.

I’d needed a break from my long break. It was nice to lose myself in the soft glow of birthday candles in a dimly lit restaurant versus the blinding blast of computer screen with too many tabs to count displaying job applications I’ll never hear back from and plane tickets I can’t afford.

Thankfully, all that was pushed from my mind, even if only briefly.

My friends have a way of doing that. The spontaneity, the silliness, the pursuit of embarrassment, the lack of shame. It’s difficult to feel too down in their presence.

We were together for another round of beach week and celebrating our friend’s not-birthday, birthday with chocolate cake, sprinkles and smiling faces.

Moist chocolate cake, creamy white frosting – a classic I don’t see that often anymore.

A perfectly timed pick-me-up and a profoundly tasty slice.

Just what I needed.

Maybe you need it too.

As always, ingredients. Couple dry, couple wet. You know what to do – measure!

Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.

Combine 1/2 cup of freshly brewed coffee with 1/2 cup of boiling water. Add to batter.

Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line them with parchment and then butter and flour them. Distribute the batter evenly between the two pans. Place in a 350°F oven. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the cakes have pulled away from the sides.

Let the cakes cool completely then frost with Vanilla Buttercream. 

Decorate as you see fit.

Birthday, not-birthday, Wednesday, Sunday, whatever – make this cake and eat it. You won’t regret it.

Not-Birthday, Birthday Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
2 cups of all purpose flour
2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of buttermilk
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of brewed coffee
1/2 cup of boiling water

A double recipe of Vanilla Buttercream

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Butter and flour over the parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the milk, vegetable oil, and eggs to the dry ingredients. Whisk to combine.

Mix 1/2 cup of freshly brewed coffee and 1/2 cup of boiling water.

Add to the cake batter, mix to combine.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Set aside to cool.

While the cakes cool, make the buttercream.

Once the cakes are cool, decorate!

Enjoy!

Will Miss You Cake

I rarely have trouble writing a story. I eat something, I remember it, I write about it.

You know me, no topic off limits. Nothing left un-shared. You’ve read it all.

But I am having particular difficulty describing an event that was both happy and sad, exciting and scary. A memory that despite the amount of alcohol I consumed, I will always remember.

Anyways, I’ll try.

His going away party.

We knew for months he’d be leaving. He took a job in San Francisco and the countdown began.

Two months, one week, one weekend.

Before he left, I was determined to do something special. A gesture to express the things I can never word exactly as I want so end up not saying. To tell him how loved and special he is and how missed he will  be.

A surprise party.

I set to work sending invitations, assigning tasks to my unbelievably helpful friends and family, buying much needed alcohol, making party favors, baking cakes, and weaving my web of lies to throw him off the scent.

At the diversion dinner with my parents, my punctual pop subtly and repeatedly displayed his watch to me, to ensure we would be on time for the big reveal, just as my friends setting up the venue texted me many variations of “Stall!” “Delay!” “Don’t return!” I can’t remember if I ordered a ladies room and excused myself to the coffee, or vice versa; but there I was looking in the restaurant’s bathroom mirror, starting to feel the Bourbon Ginger and mumbling, “It’s gonna be okay.”

It wasn’t the party I was worried about, I trusted my friends and I had made a crazy tasty cake, it was the knowledge that going to the party meant he was really leaving and I’d have to face all the emotions that would follow.

If I had hours of your time, I’d tell you how difficult it was to get him up to the roof but when I did, there they were – his friends, our friends, my family, all there to support our favorite person.

Seeking emotional support, I beelined for my cousins and, of course, a nice slab of cake while he did the rounds greeting his friends.

Oh yeah, the cake – fluffy vanilla, packed with maraschino cherries (one of his favorites), slathered with white chocolate buttercream.

On the top I piped, “Will Miss You.” A guarantee. An inevitability. A promise.

It was sad and happy. Lovely to be surrounded by our people, to pass out cake to smiling faces, and to have my favorite person, the best guy, feel loved and appreciated and surprised.

I hope that this party, this cake, this story, indicate just how much he means to me.

Ingredients!

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla.

Add dry in three parts alternating with milk.

Mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the junk out of your egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into batter, delicately, don’t want to deflate them!

Fold in chopped cherries.

Spread into a large rectangular cake pan that has been floured and buttered.

Bake in a 325°F oven for 30 – 35 minutes until the cake begins to pull away from the sides and springs back to the touch.

Make the White Chocolate Frosting and spread an even layer across the top. Use the remaining to decorate as you see fit.

I can confirm he is deeply missed. Though, depending on when you are reading this, I am on my way to see him! California here I come!

Will Miss You Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients: 
2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of cake flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of buttermilk
10 oz jar of maraschino cherries, juiced drained, stems removed, roughly chopped

1 recipe of my Basic Butter Cream (see chocolate note).

Directions: 

Preheat your oven to 325°F

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Cream until smooth.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the flour to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Set aside.

In another bowl, whip egg whites until they are glossy, opaque and hold firm peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the batter.

Fold in the maraschino cherries.

Spread into a floured and buttered cake pan (I used a 9 x 13 inch). Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until puffed and lightly browned.

Let cool.

While cake cools, make the frosting.

Decorate cake as you please!

Serve!

 

Poor Girl’s Not So Peking Duck

You could say my time in New York wasn’t necessarily easy street. My job status was always changing. I was dumped and kicked out of the city, only to return. I’d done more unpaid internships than I care to remember, and I once called a stranger on the subway “dad” after getting drunk off one glass of wine at 4pm, somewhere near Union Square. Ouch.

Maybe not the picture of success… However, as I slowly come into my own, I celebrate the small wins in life. I moved to Washington. I have a job…three, actually. I have a steadyish income that just covers my rent, I have Obamacare… That’s the mark of maturity right? I am living on my own, making it happen, and glad to be out of the financially and emotionally oppressive Big Apple.

Though, one thing I do miss about the NYC hustle is the rare break from the eating cheap diet (including, but not limited to, microwave ramen and bodega bagel sandwiches), when my now very ex-boyfriend’s mom would have us out to her fancy pants restaurant in Long Island.

My favorite dish? Peking Duck. I have no idea what went on it or in it. There was essence of orange, big hit of salt, and the skin, that crispy blackened skin.

akdjhsljdkajdl90976543w45erytfkjhksajdioqeuoiqejdkajsjjsj78902748fjadkls82 –

Oh, sorry, I was cleaning the drool off the keyboard.

No longer on Mama H’s meal plan and unable to afford a monthly Peking indulgence on my own, I decided to make a much cheaper but no less delicious version: A Poor Girl’s Not So Peking Duck. I use chicken thighs because they are inexpensive but so tasty. I marinate them in orange juice, soy sauce, left-over miso soup or miso paste if I’ve got it, ginger, five spice, and a few other razzle-dazzles. I roast the chicken at high heat until the skin is crispy and the meat is juicy and tender. Serve alongside some rice or with little scallion pancake wrappers, and you’ll think your at a deliciously fancy Chinese restaurant eating an all expenses paid meal. Instead, you’re home, in your pajamas, watching Space Jam, and saving money. At least that’s where I’ll be. Isn’t that better anyway?

Enjoy!

These are some ingredients – use them.

Mix together soy sauce, orange juice, miso, honey, and spices together.

Pour over chicken and stuff scallions in there artfully. Or whatever. Marinate for at least 4 hours.

After marinating place on a rack and put into an oven that has been preheated to 425°F.

Roast for 35 – 45 minutes until really, very, quite dark brown. The internal temp of the chicken should be 160°F.

Eat!!!! And remember it’s okay if you are nearing 30 and still have no money, you’ve got cheap chicken or something like that.

Poor Girl's Not So Peking Duck

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
juice of 1 large orange
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon  of miso paste
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of Chinese five spice
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of salt
1 bunch of scallions (white ends)

toasted sesame seeds, scallions (green ends) for garnish

Directions:

Whisk together orange juice, honey, miso, soy sauce, and space together.

Place chicken thighs in a shallow baking dish. Pour marinade over chicken and tuck in scallions.

Place in the fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425°F.

Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off, and place on a roasting rack over a baking tray lined with foil.

Place in the oven, bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the thighs are really dark mahogany and the internal temperature is 160°F.

Serve over rice, garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

Enjoy!

Macaron Madness

Close your eyes for a moment and let me set the scene. Rockefeller Plaza, 3:38am, July. The air is heavy and hot, it is still pitch dark. The damp street glistens. The square, usually brimming with tourists, is abandoned, except for maybe a stray cop or passing cab. Tall buildings loom over head as I shuffle to work rubbing my sleepless eyes.

I once worked the opening shift at Bouchon Bakery which allowed me to experience New York in a way many don’t – totally empty. Strolling the streets, cloaked in darkness, with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me company would help me prepare for the brutal day ahead.

The bakery was known for its French macarons and for six months, as an intern, they dominated my days and occupied my nightmares.

Everyday, I baked, cooled, flipped, filled, sandwiched and packed, thousands of macarons. Mini macarons, big macarons, chocolate macaroons, lemon macarons. All day macarons. I lived macarons, I breathed macarons – frankly I thought I’d die in a pile of macarons.

As I worked, my bosses spit orders and insults at me, customers pressed their ugly faces in, and the stack of macs seemed to multiply versus diminish.

Their cute little rounded tops mocked me as 4:00am crawled to 4:01am and escaping seemed hopeless. As my back began to ache and exhaustion started to play tricks with my mind, I could swear those petite cookie SOBs were giggling at me.

“Hey, shut up vanilla!”

“Yeah, I see you chocolate! Just cool already. UGH!”

Was I going mad?

500 more to bake, 1,000 more to sandwich, 2,000 more to box – 4:00pm couldn’t come fast enough.

And then it did.

I’d exit quietly, head to the park, find a patch of grass to collapse on, exhale for the first time in 12 hours, and hope to goodness I’d never see one of those little devils again…

But hey, here they are.

I always associated macarons with stress (obviously) not only because I used to make thousands of them as an (ahem) unpaid intern but also because they can be tricky for any level cook.

But don’t be intimidated! My homemade version is WAYHEY easier than the ones I used to make at the bakery but still damn delicious. They are tender and gooey on the inside, crisp on the outside and filled with the simplest filling you can imagine – JAM!

Make my Almond Raspberry Macarons and just be glad you aren’t an overworked, underpaid, living off of old pasta, hallucinating about macarons intern like I once was.

Here’s what you’ll need. Eggs, powdered sugar, almond flour, granulated sugar, cream of tartar, salt, a piping bag with a plain tip, a cookie tray, and a silpat. Not bad, right?

Many recipes say “sift confectioners’ sugar and almond flour one million times.” Or you could do what I did and place the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor and blend it until both are very fine. Then, sift once. Voila!

Place the eggs, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a mixer. With a whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy.

Turn the speed up to high and gradually add the granulated sugar. Beat for 5 – 8 minutes until the mixture holds stiff peaks – like above. ^^^^

Add a little bit of the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour mixture to the eggs and fold in gently.

Add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold in very gently. You don’t want to deflate all the air you just beat into the eggs.

Keep folding until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter, when scooped, falls back on itself in thick ribbons.

Preheat your oven to 300°F on the convection setting.

Pipe 1 inch circles of batter on a cookie tray lined with a silpat. Smack the cookie tray against the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 15 – 30 minutes until it is no longer sticky when touched. You can add sprinkles at this point if you want.

Bake for 13 minutes until puffed and lightly browned. The macarons should have little “feet.”

Let cool completely before carefully releasing from the silpat and filling with jam.

EAT!

Raspberry Almond Macarons

  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1 cup of almond flour
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of granulated sugar

Raspberry jam

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F on convection setting.

In the bowl of a food processor, blend confectioners’ sugar and almond flour until finely ground.

Sift into a bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat eggs, cream of tartar, and salt on medium speed until frothy.

Turn the speed up to high and beat for 5 – 8 minutes  while gradually adding the sugar. Beat until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks.

Gently fold 1/4 of the dry ingredients into the eggs.

Fold the rest of the dry ingredients into the eggs. Continue to gently fold until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter is thick like lava. When lifted, it should fall back on itself in thick ribbons.

Pipe the batter in 1 inch circles onto a cookie sheet lined with a silpat. Smack the cookie tray against the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the batter sit a room temperature for 15 – 30 minutes until the batter is no longer sticky when touched. Add sprinkles and any decorations you want at this point.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 13 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned.

Remove from oven and cool completely before filling and sandwiching with jam or filling of your choice.

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