Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hansel and Gretel got nothing on this....

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes. I chose to use the Good Housekeeping recipe. Let me tell you, this recipe was more than enough to make my gingerbread house. I so much dough left over, I made some gingerbread vertically challenged people.

There are many things that go into building a house. First you need the basic foundation...

Next you need to build your sides...

Then you "nail" your house together with royal icing. Don't forget your shingles!

Once its complete, inspect and make sure the new homeowner is happy about it.

I think Fido is quite happy about his home. Did you know this was my first gingerbread dog house ever? I remember in preschool someone's mom brought in a gingerbread house for us to devour. I recall the kids surrounding the house oohing and ahhing. I was crying because I kept getting pushed to the back as everyone was trying to get a good view of the house. I don't even remember if I even got to taste it? Well guess what?? I don't have to share this house. I get to have front row view of this home and I get to eat this house all by myself.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where's the beef?

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

The beef ain't here. So if you are looking for some, you will have to go looking for it elsewhere. Wait...don't leave! I was just kidding. At least take a moment to read my post. :)

Doesn't the salmon look yummy? For those of you who are not aware of a Salmon en Croute, its salmon wrapped in puff pastry baked until golden delicious. I think I might have gain a few too many pounds this month with all the holiday baking and this delcious Daring Kitchen challenge. You want to know what the biggest challege was for me? Finding watercress. I live in CA and to not find any watercress that just seems silly. I searched high and low, but no watercress. Instead, I made a homemade pesto sauce to go on top of my salmon. I hope I still get credit for the challenge.

Thank you Simone for this awesome challenge!
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Every dog has its day....birthday day that is!

Here is a sneak peek on a project that I am working on for a client of mine. It's a birthday theme. Stay tuned....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holy Cannoli!

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

If you follow my blog, you know that as much as I love fried foods. I am scared to actually fry foods in my house. The thought of the hot oil splattering all over the place. Don't get me started on trying to figure out what to do with the oil afterward.

Did you know that you can bake a cannoli? Yes, you read that right bake! My ears perked when I read the posting that cannoli. I actually complete the challenge two weeks ago, but my lazy butt only got around to posting the blog today.

I had to get all Macgyver for this challenge. This challenged required cannoli tubes. I decided to forgo purchasing cannoli tubes and used my mixing spoon and fondant roller as the tubes.

I filled the cannoli with mascarpone cheese flavored with pumpkin puree. Delicious. I love mascarpone cheese. I do not think I would ever go back to regular cream cheese again. The baked cannoli tasted like a cookie filled sandwich. When I get the guts to deep fry, I wouldn't mind giving this recipe a whirl.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Can you roll with me??

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

I had a feeling that Audax would do a sushi challenge because there were some previous challenges that Audax created that looked very sushi like. :)

This was a very fun challenge. I have been craving sushi and this fit the bill perfectly.

Preping the ahi tuna....

I heart my rice cooker....

Sushi rolled and ready to be sliced. Now take a look at the finished product.

I made some california rolls to accompany the dragon rolls.
The husband was quite pleased with dinner that night. I finished the sushi making with a twist of my own. Fried chicken sushi roll. Sushi and some Japanese beer=a great dinner.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MacaronsTake Two...

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Ahh...memories! If you follow my blog, you might remember my first go around with with macarons.

This time, no such luck. I think it might be the almond flour that I am using. Perhaps, its not fine enough? I wondering if its the egg whites. Maybe they weren't stiff enough?

My fellow daring bakers, have no fear. Linda will put her big girl pants on and try again. Keep your eyes glue for Macarons take three!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What the pho?

The October Daring Cooks' challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the Steamy Kitchen. The challenge was Vietnamese pho and fried dessert wantons. All these recipes you can find in her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

This was a perfect challenge as the last few weeks the weather is Northern California has been cold.If you live in Berekely, CA you can understand what I mean. Hot soup on a cold night. Perfection!

The husband was surprised when he got home to see a nice hot bowl of beef pho waiting for him. He claims that he can eat pho 365 days a year and still not be sick of it. Wow!

I heart any kind of noodle soups. I love adding slices of fish cakes or thinly sliced beef.

The second part of this challenge was to make dessert wantons. I love to eat fried foods, but I don't like cooking them at home. I get paranoid about all the leftover cooking oil and seeing the food cooked in the oil turns me off to actually eating the completed product.

I decided to bake my dessert wantons instead of frying them. I was on a apple/pear phase when I made these. I sauteed chopped apples/pears with a little butter and cinnamon. Filled them up in the wantons and baked them 10 mins on each side at 350 degrees.

These came out sooo yummy. Add some ice cream and it makes a great dessert. Hot soup for dinner and a cool dessert to cool you down.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My indian experience

Did I ever tell you that I never really liked indian food until I started interning in college. My internship was working at a software company owned and run by Indians. I learned a lot during my internship. Not only did I gain a lot of work experience, but I learned a lot about another culture especially their food.

My favorite indian dish? It has to be aloo gobi hands down. What's aloo gobi? Its curried potatoes and cauliflower. I think of it as comfort food. This month the daring kitchen presented us cooks with a special indian treat, Dosa!

Dosa are a Southern Indian pancake that you would eat with either chickpea or lentil curry. I decided to pair mine with aloo gobi. Yowza! This was tasty!!! What an awesome cooking challenge!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

I can be your hero baby.....

I can try, but I don't think I would be good at it. Unless being a hero consist of baking. :) Clara from Iheartcuppycakes is bringing CupcakeHero back. TOot Toot!

What? You do not familiar with CupcakeHero? Think of Iron Chef meets the wonderful world of cupcakes. Each month a new ingredient is thrown down and participants submit their recipes along with photos incorporating that secret ingredient.

This month its BANANAS. Now if you follow iheartcuppycakes, she has made it pretty clear that she does not particularly fond of bananas. When this was first announced, I had to double take to make sure that I was seeing things right. Ha ha!

Without further waiting...I present to you Banana Royale Sundae Cupcake!

Banana cupcake layered with strawberry and chocolate cake topped with whipped cream and sprinkles.

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana, about 1 large ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves warmed in microwave
  • red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup instant cocoa
  • 8 ounces of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup of powder sugar
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. Line cupcake pan with liners.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed until light, about 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In medium bowl, mash banana. Add sour cream, milk and vanilla; stir to combine. Add dry ingredients alternately with banana mixture to creamed mixture; beat well after each addition.

Reserve 2 cups batter in 2 bowls -- 1 cup of batter in each bowl. Stir strawberry preserves and food coloring into 1 cup of the reserved batter. Stir instant cocoa mix into the other cup of reserved batter. Spoon half of the plain banana batter into pan. Top with strawberry batter. Spoon more plain batter over this. Top with cocoa batter. Bake at 350° for approx 15-18 mins or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool cupcakes on a wire rack. Whip heavy whipping cream and powder sugar together until stiff. Pipe whipped cream on cooled cupcakes. Add sprinkles if desired.

I sent these cupcakes off to doggy day care along with the dog. I think my dog gets better treatment when the dog handlers are well fed. Wink wink. I saved a cupcake for my best friend. She loved it and was disappointed that there was only that one for her.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rice, Mushrooms, Cuttlefish, and Artichoke Oh My!

Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes was the host of the August Daring Cooks Challenge. She chose a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment.

All right blogger followers, I have a huge confession. The due date for this challenge was on August 14th. This challenge was not started until the 15th. I apologize my fellow Daring Cooks as all of you are so great and you get your challenges done. For me it has been a crazy month filled with numerous work project as well as various family visits.

So I present to you, my completed challenge

Wow! Can I tell you how delicious this dish was? I used arborio rice as that was what I had on hand. The rice was creamy and the cuttle fish was perfect. I even added some shrimp to the mix. A friend of mine is staying with me for a bit, so it was a great opportunity to share this dish among friends and family. Everyone had seconds and even thirds. Delicious!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lemony goodness

July's Cookie Carnival challenge was Lemon Ricotta Cookies by Giada De Laurentiis. Wow! these cookies were sooo light and cakey with a tinge of lemon! Sooooo tasty.

My mom brought over some lemons to exchange for some asian pears a few weeks ago. What great timing my mom has.

These cookies went pretty fast at the office. My boss was having a bad day and was looking for some mid afternoon, but came up empty. Any baked goods that are left in the communal kitchen never sits long. Unless its like a bran muffin. You can never diet at my company, it is not possible.

Nabisco got nothing on these!

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

When I saw two choices of cookies I was too excited! When I first saw the post I was soo gun ho about making both of these cookies. Where did the month go folks? Does anyone feel the same as me? Does the months seem to breeze by? How did I end up making only one type of cookie? Sigh!

I decided to make the "Mallowmar" cookies. It looked like a very interesting challenge. Plus I have never made marshmallows before. I stumbled upon a recipe for agave nectar marshmallows. Don't know what agave nectar is?

Agave is
a natural sweetener with a low glycemic index that is made from the wild agave plant; an excellent substitute for honey.

Instead of using refined sugar, I used agave instead to make my marshmallows. It was so easy and super tasty. The best part? Its natural.

I dipped the marshmallows/cookies in melted grain sweetened chocolate chips. The result? Heaven in a cookie format. Nabisco makes these, but they definitely cannot top these!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Molecular gastronomy?

Bill Nye the Science guy would be proud of this month's daring cooks challenge. This month's challenge takes us to the world of Molecular Cuisine. What is that you ask? From what I can gather from Wikipedia the definition is as follows:

"Molecular gastronomy is a scientific discipline involving the study of physical and chemical processes that occur in cooking.[3] It pertains to the mechanisms behind the transformation of ingredients in cooking and the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general (from a scientific point of view)."

Still lost? Basically you take foods that you love, but you change the cooking methods that produce different texture than normal.

Our challenge was to take a traditional dish of skate and put a molecular cuisine twist to it.
Skate is a type of fish. I was unable to find it, but I substituted orange roughy instead.

Cilantro and parsley was blanched it hot then ice cold water. The herbs were then placed in a oven along with some red chili peppers to dry. Once they were dry, the herbs went into a coffee grinder and blended till it was a powdery.

It was an interesting dish to make. My slight issue was working on the herb powders. I kept sneezing when I was blending these herbs. Don't worry! I did not sneeze into the herbs nor was the fish contaminated in anyway. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gardeney cupcakes...

About a week ago I got a phone call on my cellphone from someone who had some of my cupcakes at a friends birthday party. She called to see if I would be interested in creating some special cupcakes for her friend Hilary. I was definitely excited as this would be my first non family/friend related project. I asked what kind of theme/color did she want. Norvella (the woman who order the cupcakes) indicated pink/green colors and a gardeney type feel. Butterflies, flowers, and green grass. Those words were music to my ears.

Norvella: Thank you so much for letting me make these cupcakes. The butterflies were on my to do list for awhile.

Hilary: We've never met, but I do hope you enjoy your birthday and the cupcakes.

Without further ado, I present to you gardeney theme cupcakes!

Butterflies are made with chocolate! The birthday greeting was written out on a fondant chip by the hubs. :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Welcome to the jungle...

Welcome to the jungle
We got fun 'n' games
We got everything you want
Honey we know the names
We are the people that can find
Whatever you may need
If you got the money honey
We got your disease

You know I had to put that in there for ya. Yes, its GNR. The whole time while I was creating these special cupcakes, this song kept looping in my head. The sound of Axl Rose belting out the chorus reminds me of a person taking their fingernails to a chalkboard.

I digress! A co-worker is having a baby in soon. Our company threw him a party. I pimped myself out and asked if I could bring cupcakes. Can you guess what their response was? This idea has been on my to do list since I first laid eyes on the cover of the magazine that showed this cupcake idea.

Bears, zebras, and lions oh my!

This was a really time consuming project from start to finish, but the end result is so darn cute. I woke Papa Bear to ask what he thought of my little creations. His response was, "uh..okay...I to you later." I think that translates to "Honey, these are some damn hot cupcakes." I hope my co-workers think so too.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Shen!! this posting is soo late, but it better than never blogging right? About a week ago, my BFF Shenny had a very special birthday. It was a rock theme birthday party and everyone was to dress up. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not dress up. However, I decided why the heck not.
Yes, I know the photo is blurry. I think the birthday girl had one too many drinks before taking this photo.Check out my rainbow socks? Did you notice that my tshirt say "rebel?" I am soo the opposite.

As party favors, I decided to make something that was different. I saw some sheep pops on Bakerella's website. However, I put my own little twist to it. Yes, those are black sheep. There is always one in the group Get it?

Here the cake pops are wrapped and ready to go.

Happy birthday my sweet Shen. You are my rock. We were both DDs that night. She was the designated drunk while I was the designated driver. :)

Attention! Polar ice caps are melting....

We interrupt your normal blogging to bring you this very important message. It appears that the ice caps have been melting and our friends from the north have stop by my house. To delivery a very special message.

Wait? No luggage? I guess if you are in a hurry, luggage is the last thing on your mind. Oh that's right, you came to deliver a message.
Oh Happy 12th Birthday Claudia! Now that is service. Will you guys come back for my birthday?


If you follow my blog, you might have witnessed a catastrophe with french macrons in May. I was about to throw in the towel for baking all together. Just kidding. Kate from The Clean Plate Club picked me up from off the floor by presenting us with Strawberry Short-Cake Cookies by my homegirl Martha Stewart. I aspire to be Martha minus the insider trading/jail time bit.

I made these for my BFF Shen @Girly spazms, and other randomness... I brought these over for her birthday. What great timing! Plenty of people to test my cookies. It was unanimous that these cookies were tasty. I do not believe that there were any left.

The Verdict

Papa Bear: He's a fan of the strawberry. He ate a ton of the cookies

The other bears: I think birthday girl ate some. I was too buzzed from my beer to notice if she ate any. I did hear from some other party goers that those were some tasty cookies.

Myself: Soo yummy. I would definitely like to see this in the rotation again.

You are such a tart...

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Let me first say that I had a senior moment and totally forgot the day to post my completed challenge. It seems like this has been happening alot to me lately as work has taken over my life. So to all the Daring Baker participants, I apologize and hope that you forgive me for my late posting.

This month's challenge was a tasty one. I love shortbread and lately I am loving all things flavored with a hint of almond. I was afraid of this month's challenge as the May challenge I feel did not come out as I wanted it to. June's challenge was my redemption!
Straight out of the oven

A peek of what it looks like when its cut.

Tart a la mode. Drool

The Verdict

Papa Bear: When Papa Bear tweets about eating dessert, you know it good.

The other bears: NA

Knowing how much butter went into this, I had to go run after I ate a piece of this tart. Heaven on the lips forever on the hips. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pot Stoickers?

When I was a wee little one, my family and I would pile up in the Ford LTD and head out on our weekly SF trip to see Grandma. One of the fondest memories is this chinese resturant that we would always pass by. It was the most dingy place every and I bet they city would have shut it down, but it has the most tasty food ever. One of their menu they have tasty pot stoickers. Pot stoickers? Yes, someone missed spelled pot stoickers on the menu. I chuckle to myself when I come across pot stickers, I even mumble pot stoickers for the memories.

For the May Daring Cooks challenge, I bring you home made pot stickers. Tada!
These are Chinese yellow chive with baked tofu bits. These were tasty, but of course not as good as Mom's home cooking.
The Verdict

Papa Bear:
All I heard from Papa Bear was "nom nom nom nom." I think that might be a good thing.

The other bears
: These two brats were passed out from a long hike from earlier that morning.

Good, but not quite like my mommy's pot stickers. One of these days I need to lure the recipe out of her.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You are the apple of my eye....

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

My work has been keeping me busy and I kept putting this challenge off till the 11th hour. This baking challenge was fun, but for some reason I was not excited or as motivated as I usually am to do it. I had to attempt this challenge twice as the dough was giving me a bit of problem. I kept rolling, and stretching the dough, but it did not stretch as far as I hoped nor was as flaky as I wanted it to.

It was a tasty challenge as usual. Even though if it did not come out as well, Papa Bear ate half the strudel.

The Verdict

Papa Bear:
Papa bear ate half the strudel. He suggested making it with strawberries and cream cheese. Ooh..that does sound mighty tasty.

The other bears
: I let my two little bears have a taste. The boy dog could careless about the apple and left it on the ground. My little princess was very eager to eat the apples so she took it upon herself to clean the floor for me.

It was very nice. Very tasty with coffee. With coffee, I had two pieces.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Can you hear that????

That is the sounds of all French bakers cursing at me or shaking their finger at me. Welcome to May's cookie carnival challenge! I present to you hazelnut macaroon sandwich cookie.

Kate at The Clean Plate Club really threw down the challenge this month. This has been on my "to bake" list for ages. A friend told me, these are the very difficult since the ingredients consist of egg whites and beating them until stiff. She also indicated that they are very expensive about $3 bucks a piece. Yowza! I didn't believe her. Come on how hard can making a cookie be. I was sooo wrong. This cookie challenge kicked tush really hard. Here is a picture of the anatomy of a perfect macaroon.

Picture from:

See how its suppose to have the foot. Notice how its flat and smooth. That is a perfect macaroon. Are you ready to see mine? I am so embarrassed. I am even getting all red as I write this post.

None of the cookie had that foot at the bottom, nor did they have that egg shell like crust. I decided to tweak the recipe a bit. I added cocoa powder to give it a chocolaty taste. I was unable to locate hazelnuts, so I used the traditional almond flour. Instead of regular ganache that the recipe asked for, I used nutella. If you have not had nutella, you must have been living under a rock. Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut spread. It is great on just about anything.

Practice does make perfect. I think the French pastry chefs out there would pick me up and dust the poweder sugar off me. They would tell me to get my tush back into that kitchen and try again. I might just do that.

The Verdict

Papa Bear:
He ate a couple cookies. He had nothing much to say as this was his first time eating a macaroon. I might have to splurge and buy him a real one to taste.

The other bears
: Sorry babies. Chocolate and nutella do not mix in your diet.

It was very nice. I was on the same boat as Papa Bear. I never had one. I think I need to make a trip to the local bakery for the real deal.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Holy gnocchi!

The crew at the daring bakers decided to roll out a new adventure called the "Daring Cooks Challenge." I immediately signed up since I love to explore new foods. The first ever challenge was gnocchi.

When I first the challenge, I thought oh cool its gnocchi made with potatoes. Oh no my friend, this gnocchi is made with ricotta cheese. I am going to share some of my wisdom with everyone. Before starting a challenge, read through the whole posting. I mean read everything. The ricotta cheese was suppose to be dry so that it easily forms into a dumpling. My ricotta cheese was still a bit moist. So the first batch was cheese bit soup. I finally read through the posting and found a remedy to fix soggy dumplings. Add egg whites. The light bulb turned on.

Once the gnocchi hit the boiling pot of water and began to float to the top. I starting doing my happy dance. Even the two hungry bears joined in on my dance. Sorry I didn't take any pictures of us dancing.

I decided to do a little twist to this gnocchi. Normally, gnocchi is suppose to be boiled like pasta. I decided to pan fry my a little bit so that its crispy. What person does not love some fried cheese?
The gnocchi was pared with a chicken, mushroom, onions, and tomato sauce.

The Verdict

Papa Bear:
Papa bear had two servings. I guess I got the green light from him.

The other bears
: Sorry babies. It has onions in it. Onions and doggies do not mix.

It was very nice. I kept sampling the pan fried ones to make sure they were in quality condition.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thank You Tom!

My dear friend Ada is part of a wonderful not for profit organization called The Forgotten International (TFL). TFL focus is to develop programs that alleviate poverty and suffering both in the US and through out the world. TFL held a fundraiser about a week ago. Their special guest was the Dalai Lama.

As a "Thank you" for helping pull off a fabulous event, all the volu
nteers were treated to a special dinner. My contribution, cupcakes of course! Ada threw in a surprise challenge for me. She wanted a cake for the founder of TFL, Tom to cut. If you know me, I am not the greatest when it comes to decorating cake. I didn't let fear stop me. I decide to put my big girl pants on and take the challenge.

Lucky me, I just recently purchased a printer that allows me to print on edible paper. I thought to myself since TFL is an international organization, why not say "Thank you" in many languages. I present to you my creation.

I was jumping up and down when I saw the finished. I was all smiles.

You can't forget the cupcakes!

I am happy to report that the cake and cuppies were a hit. Tom was very surprised and pleased with everything. Thank you Tom!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Who let the dogs out??

Can you tell that I love dogs? Did my two furry ones give it away? Maybe a majority of the pictures that I have on the page include a dog in it?

My co-worker bday was today. Someone suggested that I bake cupcakes for her. I was jumping up and down because I knew that this co-worker loves loves loves dogs. So I present to you my creation!

One large cupcake for the birthday girl

It looks like the Pt. Isabel dog park. Look at all the dogs running around.

Everyone loved the cupcakes. Birthday girl was very happy too. I took back my fondant dogs as some people were only interested in eating the cupcake. Does this mean they are considered "rescue" dogs? Ha ha! I crack myself up.

Monday, April 27, 2009

On an island in the sun.... this mic on? Oh it is... um.. let me first get this first part off my plate.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Now that we got that checked off our list. Let me give you a bit of background information. This month's challenge required us to put our thinking caps on. We are to take a basic cheesecake recipe and be creative. So I ponder what I could make.

My dear friend Shenny gave me the idea of doing something tropical islandy. At first I was not too keen on the idea and was leaning towards something chocolately, but decided tropical was the way to go.

Are you ready? You sure? Here it goes... I present to you guava/coconut cheese cake with a shredded coconut/macadamia nut shortbread crust. It is topped with a guava puree gelee.

Holy cheesecakes batman! ( I got that from Cassie at HTEAC) This recipe was soooo delicious. Creamy, fluffy, and very rich. I heart shortbread cookies so having it as a crust made me a happy woman. I took the rest of the cheesecake to work. I received mixed reviews as my office has a high ratio of chocolate lovers. They would have preferred if I made a cheesecake with chocolate. Don't mess with people and their chocolate.

The Verdict

Papa Bear: His tummy was growling for more. He loved it. He is a cheesecake man.

The other bears: They were busy running up and down the stairs chasing each other to be bothered. Oh is there loss.

And now I present to you...the recipe.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake. Items in red are my edits to this recipe

crust:2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
(I used a shortbread recipe found here I just doubled the recipe.)

cheesecake:3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature

1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs1 cup /
8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice

At this point I split my batter in half so I can make it half guava and half coconut.1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean) I used 1 tbsp of coconut extract and 1/3 cup of guava nectar.

Guava Gelee

2 C Guava juice

1/2 C Sugar

1/4 C Cornstarch

DIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into a springform pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

I baked my shortbread for 15 mins so I would not get a soggy yucky crust.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Cover the bottom of the pan with foil. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter.

While the cheesecake is cooling, make your gel.

In a medium sauce pan, bring the 2 cups guava juice and sugar to a boil. Make a paste out of the cornstarch and a small amount of water. Remove guava juice from heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Return to heat and bring back to a boil and boil for one minute. Cool in refrigerator.

Pour the gel on top of cheesecake. Use a spatula to spread if needed. Place is the refrigerator overnight.

Once cheesecake is cool, cut and serve.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mellow Yellow....

A friend of mine brought me some lemons from her tree about a week ago. I was racking my brain on what to do with them. Its like the gmail gods were listening. I get an email from Kate from The Clean Plate Club announcing April's challenge. April's challenge is brought to you by Holly of Phemomenon.

Without further ado, I present to you Toasted Almond Lemon Bar (tarts in my case)

Yes, I know..the carnival challenge was to be bars, but I found these cute mini quiche tarts at Bed Bath & Beyond on sale with a 20% coupon. Toot Toot. I hope my fellow Cookie Carnival buddies aren't upset that they are not bars, but tarts. :)

The only concern I had about the lemon bars was the lemony filling is white on top.
When you cut into the lemony fillings, its yellow delish. Did anyone else who participated in this challenge have the same issue? Did I miss something?

So last month's challenge, I pimped out my little girl Mei Mei. This month, I give you Ozzy! Mei Mei's brother. Ozzy really wanted to eat this lemon tart, but I think the hubs (Papa Bear) got to it before he did.

The Verdict:

Papa Bear: Refreshing. Tasted better the next day out from the fridge. Yep, he ate two tarts.

Me: Very yummy. I love citrus baked goods. Shortbread crust was kick ass to die for. I bet it would be super yummy alone with a nice cup of tea. Yum!

Other Bears: As you can see Ozzy really wanted a taste of it. Sorry Ozzy, not this time. He did get a milkbone biscuit.