Monday, September 12, 2011

Früute Tasting

Yuzu tart

Früute is a tart shop. They make mini tarts with organic ingredients: flavorful fillings in perfect flaky crusts. My good friend, Erin, and I purchased a Groupon for a private tasting at Früute in West Hollywood. For a mere $20 each we were able to sample 6 tarts and take home 4 with us. At $3 a tart, this was a steal. The tart case looked like this:

So many flavors, where do we start?

Snowball and Matcha tarts. I have yet to try these flavors!

Plenty of pecan tarts at the beginning of the evening.

Not so many Bailys Puff and Sea Salt Caramel tarts left at the end.

Erin and a Black Pepper tart.
The following flavor descriptions were taken right off the Früute website. If you'd like to see more photos and descriptions of their tarts, head on over!

Black Pepper: Pepper infused bittersweet chocolate with a forest berry center, layered with frangipane in a chocolate crust, topped with candied black pepper crisp and blueberries.

Wasabi: A rare blend of spicy Japanese and a blood orange center, layered with vanilla frangipane in a pistachio crust, garnished with mint leaf tempura.

Sea-Salt Caramel: A mosaic of macadamia, sea-salt caramel, dried berries and honey in a chocolate crust, topped with blackberry and sea-salt.

Pecan: Baked pecan with moscovado sugar and maple fudge in a vanilla crust, topped with a baby raspberry cream puff.

Bailys Puff: Irish cream with chocolate pearls in a vanilla crust, topped with airy profiteroles drizzled with  chocolate.

This was the 7th (surprise!) tart we got to taste in our tasting. Budino: comforting creamy butterscotch pudding in a chocolate crust, topped with a caramel filled macaron. 

Créme Brulee: madagascar vanilla cream custard in a vanilla crust, topped with torched sugar and apricot slice.

My absolute favorite tart was the passion fruit tart. There's no photo of this one because once it was in my hand, I forgot myself and immediately scarfed the tart without snapping a photo. 

The women hosting the tasting event informed us there would be Fall flavors coming out soon with fig, apple and pumpkin all being possible tart flavors. Pumpkin?! I would've jumped for joy at that news but I had a tummy ache from eating 7 tarts.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Too hot to bake!

Cupcake in a cone from Milk on Beverly Blvd.

It's been too hot to turn on the oven and bake anything. But that doesn't mean we've stopped eating goodies. (Well, Gina has and has even gone to boot camp in 100+ degree temps. But not I!)

Moon Pie from Milk.

Cute cupcake earrings my sister sent me for my birthday!

Monsieur Marcel is a little French import shop in the Grove's farmer's market.

If this is what Vienna tastes like, I'll eat that entire city!

Homemade Oreo from Milk.

Fall baking is just around the corner but right now... there's no rush.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Drunken Udder Ice Cream and The Platinum Blonde Chef's ice cream sandwich tasting!

Recently, I was invited to a tasting event at Ma'kai Lounge with Drunken Udder ice cream and the Platinum Blonde Chef. They'd combined forces to make some very incredible and unique ice cream sandwiches. The tasting was to help the chefs decide on the best flavor combinations with Drunken Udder's alcohol infused ice creams and The Platinum Blonde's gourmet cookies to be debuted at LA Times The Taste Desserts After Dark this weekend in Beverly Hills. 

The tasting event started at 6 pm and I don't believe in being fashionably late (plus I didn't want them to run out of ice cream and cookies before I got there) so I rolled up on Ma'kai Lounge in Santa Monica with my pal, Meredith right at 6 on the dot. We were pretty much the first ones there which meant that we got some great one-on-one attention with the two chefs, Nicci Piscitelli of Drunken Udder Ice Cream and The Platinum Blonde Chef (a.k.a. Red Velvet Stefanie.) The chefs told us they weren't quite ready to start yet but invited us to sit and chat. I'd never gotten to meet Stefanie before and had been a fan for quite a while so this was very exciting! 

The chefs gave us a sheet for scoring the different flavors of ice cream and cookies we were about to try. Also on the sheet was Tweeting information to use during the course of the tasting. I don't know how to Tweet! I tried to figure it out but eventually I settled for Facebooking it.

The hot chick in the purple dress next to me is named Cassie and has a blog called The Cupcake Diary that is incredible! The photos she has on that blog are pure artwork. 

After I figured out that I didn't know how to Tweet and probably never would, I ordered some garlic fries to snack on while I waited for the main event. Ma'kai Lounge had some drink and food deals to go along with the tasting event. These garlic fries were some of the best fries I've ever stuffed into my face and were only $3. 

Below, is a photo of the event and yes, that's the beautiful Platinum Blonde Chef there in the lower right hand corner. 

Hi, Stefanie!
Here is a photo of Nicci chatting to us after serving us our first choice of the evening. She's thought of flavor combinations and ideas I've never even dreamed of. I loved chatting with her. She's definitely a very creative woman!

My good friend, Erin, tries her first ice cream sammie.

My first choice was roasted banana ice cream, bruleed mini marshmallows, honey caramel swirl and bourbon. It was strong but oh so delicious.  

Dainty bites just for the photo.

Meredith enjoys a toasted coconut and rum ice cream on a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie.

Erin thinks she's found a winner.

I had to decide if the peanut butter ice cream with bananas and fluff swirl would go best with a chocolate chip cookie or a brownie cookie.
Or maybe it would go best on a peanut butter cookie.

I've nearly reached a decision.

No, wait just one more flavor combination.

Okay time to get off the fence.

My final decison. Finally.

Although these were my final choices, I just can't stop thinking about The Platinum Blonde's peanut butter cookies. They were so good! So perfect, full of peanut butter flavor, chewy. Probably better than my mom's peanut butter cookies.

After the tasting, Meredith and I walked across the street to look at the sunset over the ocean.

Santa Monica Pier

Hellz yeah, bitches!

I'd never done a tasting event before and I had a ball! Also, I know it looks like Meredith and I are drunk from all that boozy ice cream but we were totally safe to drive. For reals.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

French Dude chocolate chip cookies

Jacques Torres, you know your SHIZNET!

When I was a kid I didn't even like chocolate chip cookies. I think that's because my mom used semi-sweet chocolate chips. Or maybe it's just because I was a little weirdo. One day of my adult life, I decided I liked chocolate chip cookies and I started trying out different recipes on the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Welp, folks... this one is the winner. That French guy, Jacques Torres, put out this recipe and it just can't be beat. Now I realize some people will disagree with me but you guys can go to H-E-Double Hockey sticks.

Pros: Best chocolate chip cookie ever invented.

Cons: The chocolate is a little pricey but since it's the best chocolate chip cookie ever, who really cares?

I give to you Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip cookies as adapted by the New York Times (because the only French I know I just used).

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes.

FLeur de Sel AND some pink salt, the pink salt was pretty but the sea salt packed more of a punch.

Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Little sprinkling of sea salt on top. Don't overdo it. Don't underdo it either though.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.
Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

The cookies are less chocolate chip and more chocolate-infused, as my friend Steve pointed out. It's like layers of cookie and layers of chocolate.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Magnolia Bakery's PB Ice Box Pie


1 cup butter (melted)
4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

2 cups heavy cream
3 cups cream cheese
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar,10x
1 tbls + 1tsp pure vanilla extract
Caramel topping
2 cups Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped into 1/4" pieces
1/2 cup peanuts, finely chopped


Preheat convection oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine melted butter and wafer crumbs in a large bowl and mix by hand until a wet crumb forms. Shape the crust by pressing into the pie pan, making sure you form the crumb into the sides. Bake for 8 minutes and cool to room temperature. I used a premade double serving size graham cracker crust AND a box of premade shortbread mini tart shells and STILL had some filling leftover. 

While the crust is baking and cooling, make the filling. Beat the heavy cream in the mixer using a whisk attachment on medium until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Freeze your beaters and bowl beforehand for better results.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment on medium-high until smooth and creamy. Lower mixer speed to medium and add the peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla. 

Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until completely combined. Set aside.

Take the cooled crust and drizzle about 3 tablespoons of caramel onto the bottom. Next fill, spread and smooth the filling in the pie shell. Sprinkle the chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and peanuts all over the top of the pie. Store in a covered container and refrigerate for at least 5 hours before serving.

Baker's Note: Because I like smooth peanut butter I opted NOT to use chopped up peanuts for the topping and stuck with just chopped pb cups. Also, I did NOT think this had enough sugar in it. Some people thought it was perfect, others agreed with me. Next time I'll double the sugar at least. It tasted fine while I was going along but I was just tasting a little bit at a time and when I had a whole piece, I realized I wanted it to be sweeter.