Liqueur


This is quite an embarrassing post… but instead of sweeping my mistake under the rug I will go ahead and come clean with you. After all we learn from our mistakes and no one is perfect, right?

It was Saturday afternoon and all was well. That is, until my nose caught a whiff of something burning in the oven. I opened the door, faced the disaster and ran to grab a sheet pan to catch any future brownie spillage. I closed the oven door and proceeded to run and grab my camera so I could capture this precious moment and share it with you.

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There are a number of reasons why food bloggers might plan a get together.

Perhaps it’s to finally meet long-time fellow food blogger friends in person.

Many times we get together for a worthy cause.

Since we love what we do, we are always looking for ways to learn and improve our craft; we’ll get together for that.

However, regardless of the circumstance that might bring us together there is one thing you can be certain of… rarely does one show up empty-handed.



Those who know me, know that I usually show up with a batch or two of french macarons. And, anyone who knows Rachael of La Fuji Mama knows without a doubt that she will most likely show up with a delicious batch of Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee.

Which, while we are on the subject I really think should be renamed to “Fuji Nana’s Dangerous Chocolate Almond Toffee” because:

a)You run the risk of not being able to control yourself once you have possession of said toffee.

b)You can end up with a chocolate dipped chin or a chocolate dipped lens.

c)You might turn your head at the bowl of oatmeal you had planned on having for breakfast, and have this instead.

So consider yourself warned…



Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Toffee
inspired from Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee

1 cup roasted unsalted hazelnuts
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped or ground walnuts

1. Line a baking sheet with foil or a Silpat, spinkle the hazelnuts in a single layer over the over baking sheet to cover an area of approx 9 X 12; set aside.

2. In a heavy saucepan or copper pan combine butter, sugar and salt. Cook over high heat stirring constantly until the candy reaches 300 degrees F (Hard Crack stage) this step takes between 5 – 7 minutes. Remove for heat, stir in hazelnut liqueur, and quickly pour candy over the hazelnuts; allow to cool completely.

3. Melt chocolate in the microwave oven in intervals of 40 seconds at 50% power and stirring inbetween until chocolate is soft enough to spread. Spread chocolate mixture over cooled toffee and sprinkle with your favorite ground nut. Allow chocolate to cool completely before breaking toffee into bite-size pieces.


Here’s a batch of Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee I made a couple of weeks ago. Mmm Mmm Mmm…

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Before you run off thinking someone has hacked into my blog… stop, wait, don’t leave. I promise there will be dessert, in fact, two types of dessert.

A few weeks ago I submitted a proposal to Foodbuzz for their monthly 24×24 event which Showcases posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, highlighting 24 unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period, and guess what? It got accepted!!

I happen to have a few soccer fans at home, one even asked if he could miss school to stay home and watch the very first game! The answer of course was no, we did make sure and record it for him. His response “It’s just not the same mom….”

So, I gathered a few other soccer fans and invited them over to watch USA play against Ghana all while enjoying a buffet consisting of a variety of dishes from a few select countries. Each dish of a given country was matched up with it’s opposing team’s country.

Let’s start off with cocktails shall we?

Cocktails Winner
Italy Negroni X
VS
New Zealand Kiwi Cocktail

Cocktails - Italy vs New Zealand
The Negroni is a very bold and traditional Italian apéritif traditionally made with Campari bitters. The Kiwi Cocktail was made with a traditional New Zealand favorite Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc infused with kiwi fruit and pears served with a splash of orange liqueur, lime juice, and club soda.

On to the appetizers…

Appetizers Winner
Argentina Empanadas X
VS
Mexico Quesadillas

Argentina - Empanadas
This savory filled pastry proved to be stiff competition for the Mexican quesadilla.

Mexico - Quesadillas
Surprisingly gooey melted Oaxaca cheese with a touch of mayonnaise wrapped in lovely corn tortillas was not good enough to win this match up.

Appetizers - Argentina vs Mexico

Main Course Winner
Uruguay Churrasco w/ Chimichurri Sauce
VS
South Korea Beef Galbi marinated in Bulgogi Sauce X

Main Course - Uruguay vs South Korea
Left - South Korea (Galbi) vs Right - Uruguay (Churrasco)
The bold flavors of the bulgogi marinade were no match for the Uruguayan churrasco.

As our first pair of side dishes we had two types of coleslaw, a traditional Dutch version and a Japanese version. Both were tasty, but the kimi zu dressing took these shredded vegies veggies to a whole new level.

Side Dish Winner
Japan Daikon root & cabbage salad X
VS
Holland Koolsla

Japan - Daikon Root & Cabbage Salad
Holland - Koolsla (Coleslaw)
Our second side dish pair was made up of the All American Corn on the Cobb and some Fried Plantains… I’m sure you can guess which team won in this case. I suppose our team would have had better luck if I had made corn fritters instead. :(

Side Dish Winner
USA Corn on the Cobb
VS
Ghana Kelewele (Fried Plantains) X

USA - Corn on the Cobb
Ghana - Fried Plantains
And finally we arrive to the last match of the day, dessert. Unfortunately as yummy as the Crema Catalana looks we had to sadly enforce the mercy rule because the Chocolate Fondue was way ahead of the game.

Dessert Winner
Spain Crema Catalana
VS
Switzerland Dark Chocolate Fondue X

Spain - Crema Catalana

Switzerland - Dark Chocolate Fondue
I should have called foul play, because the melted dark chocolate, fresh fruit, and pound cake started scoring points before the game even started.

World Cup 2010 - Cuisine Head-to-Head Buffet

Crema Catalana
adapted from 1080 Recipes by Simone and Ines Ortega

4 cups milk
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
8 egg yolks
2 tablespoons potato starch
demerara sugar, for caramelizing

Serves 6

Pour milk into a medium sauce pan with 4 tablespoons of sugar and lemon zest. Bring to a boil. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and the potato starch.

Temper the egg yolks by pouring a couple of small ladles (approx 1/4 cup) full of the hot milk into the bowl and whisking as it is being added. Gradually add the remaining hot milk into the bowl and whisk to combine.

Return contents of bowl back into the sauce pan and place over medium-low heat stir constantly until thickened, approx. 5 minutes.

Strain the custard before pouring it into the serving dish, or 6 individual dishes, let it cool, then place in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Once ready to serve sprinkle a little demerara sugar on top of the custard, and use a kitchen blow torch caramelize it.

Dark Chocolate Fondue
1 3.5 ounce toblerone
2 3.5 ounce hershey’s dark chocolate bar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 small sara lee pound cake
assorted fresh fruit (strawberries, grapes, pineapple)

Melt chocolate and heavy cream in a fondue pot, serve with assorted fruit and pound cake which has been cut into bite size pieces.

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Caffeine Spiked Tres Leches Cake

This past weekend we were invited to a surprise bithday party for a family member who is visitng from Australia.

Let me explain a little… the birthday boy who is a native Australian married my husbands niece a few years ago, they were living here in California until about six months ago, when he received a great job offer back in Australia, and he and his family decided to move back.

While here on vacation my niece decided to throw him a surprise birthday party and thanks to the Internet she was able to plan and organize the entire party while still in Austrlia.

Once she arrived in the US there were only a few loose strings she had to take care of. All in all the party was a HUGE success!

We weren’t planning on showing up to the party empty handed of course, and decided that dessert would be the perfect gift. Something he could enjoy right away and not worry about having to lugg back or pay excess luggage fees on.

OK, now take one good look at this pretty and innocent cake and be ready to experience it’s wrath. In it’s defense though, I will say it was SOOOOO worth it!

Here is a tiny glimps of what I had to clean up. It got so bad I had to stop whipping the eggs and cover my mixer with a towel until I finished beating them into submission.

Messy...
Coffee Three Milks Cake
from Dulce by Joseluis Flores

10 eggs
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons instant coffee
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup borghetti coffee liqueur

Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
10 egg shells

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the eggs on high speed until they are thick and light in color, about 5 minutes. Continue beating and carefully pour sugar and instant coffee into the mixture. Beat for an additional 8 minutes, until the mixture has tripled in volume.

Sift the flour into the egg and sugar mixture, fold to combine making sure you don’t stir or beat, to prevent the eggs from deflating.

Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and pour batter into the pan. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes. Cake is done when the cake springs back when lightly pressed, and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool, with a toothpick or skewer pierce the cake over the entire surface, this will allow the milks to be soaked in throughout the cake.

Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Whisk the milks, heavy cream and coffee liqueur together. Pour slowly over the entire cake. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until the liquid has been completely absorbed. The cake will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

1 cup heavy cream
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
8 ounces mascarpone cheese

Warm heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once warm remove from stove and pour chocolate chips, whisk until chocolate chips have melted and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Whip mascarpone on medium until soft peaks form, be carefull not to overwhip. Carefully fold the chilled heavy cream and chocolate mixture into the mascarpone.

Coffee Whipped Cream

1 teaspoon gelatine
2 tablespoons hot water
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon coffee liquoure (such as Tia Maria)

Combine the hot water and gelatine, still well, and let it cool.

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Pour cooled gelatine into the heavy cream mixture and whip to combine, then add the instant coffe powder, powdered sugar and coffee liquore. Whip until stiff peaks form.

Cake Assembly

Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Carefully slice cake in half lengthwise place one slice over a serving platter. Pipe or with a spatula layer the chocolate mascarpone mousse over the top of the cake. Place the second layer of cake on top. With a spatula cover the cake with the coffee whipped cream.

Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Sorry I wasn’t able to take a better picture of the sliced cake, I quickly slid in to take the shot while it was being sliced.

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Today I am going to share a story with you.

This story is about an amazing couple Drew and Mikalle, and their beautiful baby boy Holden Milo, who you see in Mikalle’s arms.

Drew and Mikalle were made for one another, not only do they share many great qualities, they also share the same love and passion for the outdoors and adventure. Mikalle is a triathlete, she has over 20 marathons under her belt can you believe that? And Drew as you can see from the picture above loves to surf, he has practically traveled all over the world in search of the perfect barrel, and I’m not talking wine here.

Drew and I work together, and can I tell you… he’s one of the nicest guys in the office, always has a smile on his face and although I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mikalle yet, I can easily guess she is as kind, generous and genuine as Drew.


Drew grew up here in Southern California but attended the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) and Mikalle grew up in Longview, WA. They met here in So. Cal and got married August 12, 2006. In April 23, 2009 little baby Holden Milo was born and at the very tender age of only 8 months he passed away 12/31/2009.

Drew and Mikalle have setup a website to honor and remember baby Holden, as well as “Holden’s Fund” which will help raise funds for very worthy organizations that help families and children in need of medical care. To learn more about Holden’s Story or to donate please visit his website.

Celebrating Baby Holden Milo Weddle’s Life

These Pacific Northwest inspired cupcakes are dedicated to the memory of baby Holden…






Pear Hazelnut Cupcakes
adapted from Oregon Grower’s & Shippers

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter- room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 homemade pear hazelnut preserves (or Oregon Growers & Shippers Pear Hazelnut Fruit Spread)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a small mixing bowl sift flour, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand up mixer with a paddle attachment, cream room temperature butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add one egg at time, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula after adding both.

Add vanilla and the Pear Hazelnut Fruit Spread. Mix well.

Add half of the milk, and then alternate with the flour mixture. Repeat with the remaining milk, finishing with the flour. *Just blend until everything is incorporated, be careful not to over mix or your cupcake batter.

Divide batter evenly, filling each liner about 2/3 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in through the center of your cupcake until it comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin tin, then remove and cool on wire rack.



Hazelnut Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup ground hazelnuts
3 cups of powdered sugar – sifted
2 teaspoons frangelico liqueur

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix cream cheese and butter until smooth and incorporated.

Add Frangelico and slowly add the powdered sugar until well blended.


Homemade Pear & Hazelnut Preserves

2 ripe pears pealed and cored
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon zest
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 pod cardamom freshly ground
1/3 cup finely ground toasted hazelnuts

Add all ingredients to a medium heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat, and cook for 40-45 minutes, until thick and syrupy. Allow preserves to cool run through the food processor a few seconds


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