Category: Dessert

Salted Caramel Shortbread

I’ve been on something of an extended “vacation” post-Guatemala. Seriously. Guatemala spoiled me – just a little bit. I’ve been m.i.a. from the kitchen and temporarily preoccupied with other interests and endeavors (like this). I can’t help it! I have a tendency of becoming completely and irrevocably consumed in spurts by the things I love.
But that isn’t to say I’ve forgotten about you, loyal and lovely readers, whoever you are. This is still my first baby, after all. Continue reading

Summer Fruit Bruschetta & Homemade Ricotta

Most of the time, I enjoy baking and cooking alone. This can typically be attributed to two things. The first being that, well, I’m Haein and I am the clumsiest girl I know. In other words, I like sparing myself the shame, so please continue to keep me on that culinary pedestal as I continue to make a mess masterpiece in my kitchen. The second being that having the kitchen all to my lonesome gives me a deep sense of serenity and control – and who doesn’t want complete and total control?! Oh, right, and peace.
But, every once in a while, I have the unexpected pleasure of friends willing to help or learn or just eat in my kitchen (as opposed to my dining room, I guess). My most recent catering event was one such instance of true camaraderie.

One of my best friends was here this past week from California and she’s just left, leaving me feeling bereft. She spent one of her first weekends home helping me prepare for the biggest baking extravaganza of my still-developing life. Not just her, but also several more of the most kindhearted and compassionate friends I have. They volunteered their time and energy to help create a success beyond my imagination. Success for me, of course, being all-inclusive of my ability to occasionally stuff their mouths with so-called mistakes or “extras” (though there really weren’t any) in addition to shoving extra jars of homemade strawberry jam or fresh ricotta cheese into their arms.

But enough about that.
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Biggest Project Yet: “Strawberry Spree”

Guys, I did it. It’s finally over. Mother’s Day 2012 at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar was a huge (and not to mention, all-consuming, body-exhausting, & mind-blowing) success! A widespread brunch/lunch buffet of Japanese fare was followed by “Strawberry Spree” Sweets buffet (by yours truly), where 460-something voracious, yet surprisingly pleasant, guests devoured 1800-something servings of 12 different types of strawberry-themed desserts within a span of 5 hours and 3 full-seating turnovers. Let’s not forget that this was, believe it or not, after these bottomless bellies were stuffed with mountains upon mountains of sushi, tempura, udon, salad, chicken, king crab, and God knows what else. All I really want to know is, who are these thoroughly inhuman people with such exigent appetites and where on earth did they come from? Because I have this ever-growing hunch that I must be related to them. After all, there is a most uncanny resemblance between my belly and theirs.Stomach resemblance aside, there may have been little else alike between these wonderful guests and I. Though the picture doesn’t show it (thank God), I slept for a very true-to-saying, painstakingly short-and-sweet 45 minutes. The grueling fun-filled hours leading up to that nap and the even more agonizing joyous hours that followed were wholeheartedly dedicated to baking and assembling a mass amount of the greatest (and most practical) homemade desserts I could muster up and create from scratch. Exhausted as I may have been, and trust me when I say exhausted is a euphemism for the physical state I was in at the time, this project was my absolute pride and joy from unshaped, prenatal beginning to expectant, postnatal forthcoming. It was Mother’s Day, for crying out loud, and this project was my beautifully overweight newborn. Continue reading

My Funny Valentine

I have a little confession to make. My name is Haein and I am a hopeless romantic.
I know, I know. Once upon a time (over Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Cream, maybe) I wrote off Valentine’s Day as a “commercial holiday disguised as a single-day celebration of ‘love,’ as defined by Hallmark,” or, you know, something like that. Being the so-called “serial monogamist” that I am, I viewed February 14th simply as yet another excuse to get dolled up and correspondingly wined and dined by the presumably ever-so-charming BF (whoever that may be). But, more importantly, as a girl who loves to bake and cook, I simply viewed the day as one to breathe, think, make, then give everything that is chocolate. To, well, everyone.
Surprisingly, this year, there was no “everyone.” There was most certainly chocolate. But, only a silky and decadent old-fashioned chocolate pudding for two.
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Green Tea Cheesecake

I’m not a believer in perfection, in life nor in the kitchen. Every endeavor we choose to undertake is an additional notch in our endless belts, a constant work in progress. That said, I present to you two things: my very first and very own Hungry to Happy recipe with all its dreaminess and tasty imperfections and a newly rejuvenated and more hopeful me, freshly graduated with a college degree and henceforth, thrust into the “real world.” Talk about accomplishments, these are huge notches for me!
Creamy, dreamy filling in-the-making!But alas, like all other works in progress, there’s always room for tapping, tweaking, and discovering. Case in point, this near-perfect Green Tea Cheesecake. After having baked more than a couple cheesecakes using a number of wonderfully decadent recipes in my not-so-lengthy lifetime, I decided to get experimental and forge my own. It was alluring with its creamy and earthy filling, rich and toasty crust, and tart and juicy raspberry, but it wasn’t perfect. To my utter horror and glee, it was baked for my first catering event (with the restaurant I represent) for an affluent group of socialites at an effulgent palace of a home. Despite the petrifying need for “perfection,” though imperative at that moment and in others, my minor shortcomings didn’t hinder my ability to learn, to succeed. Continue reading

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

Last Thursday evening (and admittedly every Thursday since Halloween okay, okay, early to mid-October), I jumped up, wide-eyed with a toothy grin that stretched from ear to ear, shrieking hysterically to anyone nearby that would listen or pretend to listen (including our periwinkle-colored beta fish that swims ever-so-carelessly in his newly-purchased and attractively-decorated tank next to the kitchen): “Oh my god, oh my god! It’s almost Thanksgiving!”
Do we really even need to wonder why?! I love Thanksgiving: the never ending grocery list and wish list for the subsequent Black Friday, the utter madness of stiff, over-sized metal shopping carts running into each other at Costco, Sam’s Club, and any other supermarket imaginable, the mindless snatching of every possible thing in sight paired with the constant little voice of reassurance inside your head telling you “you’re definitely going to need this for Thanksgiving dinner and if not, you’ll definitely use it later” even when you pretty much already know you won’t, and the frenzy and mess involved in prepping and cooking everything from appetizers to sides and main courses to how can we possibly forget, desserts (notice the plural). I can even candidly say I kind of enjoy the all-consuming, I-can’t-breathe-nor-take-another-bite kind of food coma that is imminently self-inflicted by every participant. Seriously though, is that wrong? I love Thanksgiving. The whole sha-bang.
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The Pig and the Lady

Sometimes, a hiatus is in order.
Life can be much too hectic at times, even for your average 22-year old, college student who loves to bake, cook, and write. The truth is, everyone needs a break, even when it means peeling yourself away from the things you love to do.
These last few months have been both immensely taxing and astonishing to me. I caught a most severe case of Senioritis leading into my first month of my last semester as an undergrad student. Classes were ditched, assignments missed, and I played hooky left and right to no end (until now, that is). Meanwhile, I found love in an unfamiliarly familiar, irrationally justified, and imperfectly perfect person.  And like all other great loves in life, it was completely unexpected. More untimely and unexpected is the fact that I am currently in job-limbo after having made a bold (and admittedly a little impetuous) decision to leave my precious hostessing job at a restaurant that I have come to cherish as my home over the last 3 years. With all that said and done, a hiatus was and still is undoubtedly in order so that I may refresh, venture forth, and excel in the perpetually uncharted future.
And though my future (post-hiatus) may not be as discernible (nor brilliant, dare I say) as that of The Pig and the Lady’s, I still find myself extremely lucky to have experienced this pop-up restaurant phenomenon prior to their break and my own.

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Almond Lemon Birthday Cake

As I’ve been gathering up the mismatched and hitherto disregarded pieces of my scattered brain, one thing has been steadfast which has allowed me to maintain my sanity (a little) and keep me from feeling completely incomplete. I’m talking about friends, the mere existence of them.
Some friends you make in kindergarten over chocolate-covered fingers and faces during the ever-anticipated recess. Some you happen to meet in playgrounds and day cares, instantly making you mischievous partners-in-crime. Others you grow up with, remembering everything about them from their first bicycle to their first heartbreak. Then there are those that you meet in between and along the way, that fit into and fill the deepest crevices of your heart – making you feel whole, unbroken. The ones that aren’t afraid to tell you the truth, even if it isn’t what you want to hear – for your sake and not theirs. The ones that transcend the constraints of both distance and time. The ones that you can call at practically any hour on a whim to have a drink or some ice cream, just because. I am blessed to have met these friends, amongst whom I have made a family of. And today happens to be one such friend’s birthday. Happy birthday, Joanne!
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Salt

I’m not a bad daughter. In fact, I fancy myself as quite the opposite. Despite the distance and years between us, my parents and family in Korea are constantly in my thoughts and everyday actions. I am, for lack of better way to put this, my father’s daughter. As a child, I cringed and pouted when people would tell me I either was or looked exactly like my dad. “I want to be like umma, not appa,” I’d repeatedly whine. With this, my younger sister followed in my footsteps and we’d compete to claim inheritance of mom’s svelte and gorgeous physical features. As we’ve grown older, however, we’ve come to realize that while my sister may look more like my dad than I do, she acts more like my mom. Me? I am exactly like my dad.
From our stubby toes and absent-mindedness to our love for foreign languages and moments of silence, we are one and alike. My dad similarly bestowed upon me an appreciation for food in all forms. At the young age of 4 or 5, I had my first taste of gourmet cheese. I will never forget my dad in the kitchen, gingerly cutting the wrapped lump of German Butter cheese (Butterkäse) into generous slivers and placing each over slices of apple with his stumpy, callused hands. The first bite is one I will always remember, soft and buttery flawlessly paired with crisp and subtly-sweet. This flavor was only to be sharply, beautifully contrasted with the various salumi, or cured meats, he then allowed me to try. In addition to the more simplistic joys I grew up eating (instant mac & cheese, spaghetti with meat sauce, or spam, eggs, kimchi, and rice), the more complex and matured flavors of cheese and meats also have the ability to take me back to my not-so-distant, treasured childhood. And though it is always an honor and pleasure cooking for you, appa, if you were here for this upcoming Father’s Day, I wouldn’t think twice about taking you to Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar. For memories sake. Continue reading

Buttermilk Creams with Strawberries

It is no secret that summer has finally arrived. (Well, it never really is in Hawaii, now is it?) The sun is blazing making it impossible to look directly at, azure skies are smeared ever so delicately with wispy clouds, lithe (and not-so-lithe) bodies glisten on planes of white sand in nothing but stringy bikinis and man-thongs (more often than not, to my utter disgust and dismay), and best of all: school is out, meaning I get to bask in all the world’s pleasures (except for when I am planted behind a desk and a laptop to do work or to provide you with other worldly (specifically gustatory) pleasures, like so.
Now, if the aforementioned characteristics of summer are not so readily available to you as it is to me causing you to now loathe my guts with burning envy, hate not! I bring a peace offering in the form of bright, sweet, and zesty strawberries over a soft, supple, and surprisingly light buttermilk cream; the purest flavors of summer and heaven. Love me now? If not yet, you will.

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