Category: Cakes

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

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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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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Chocolate Cake Pops

I’ve mentioned this on more than a billion couple occasions: I am not a good baker. Honestly. I am routinely green with envy (and going ga-ga for self-explanatory reasons) when obsessively gawking at astounding works of art created with such passion, patience, and dexterity. I am awestruck, at an absolute loss for words. How, I ask myself repeatedly, are these wonderful works of sweet art even possible? and WHO, I demand, is capable of producing such beauty?! I, for one, have finally conceded that I am not skillfully worthy to be this type of imaginary (and uh, I secretly hope nonexistent) person in question.

I have tried the whole layered cake baking gig and I even got into the cupcake craze for a minute or two, but obviously such catastrophes works are not displayed here for very valid reasons. Baking is ostensibly not my vocation. But, as a true lover of baked goods and bread in all forms, I believe learning is still worth the embarrassment. Luckily (and unluckily) for me, this inept and outdated baker has finally jumped on the cake pop bandwagon, at least for the time being!

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Happy Halloween!

Sure, you may be sick of the sticky sugar-loaded treats that have been absolutely unavoidable over the past month, but in an attempt to bake or create something classically Halloween-worthy, I ended up making a dessert that isn’t limited to October 31st. It is a dessert to make for the rest of the festive season. Or in my case, all year long. Unfortunately for me, I already envision my desperate cravings for these on many more occasions. Geez, thanks a  lot, Paula.

Speaking of Paula Deen, our infamous Food Network Southern charm, I can’t help but to feel slightly conflicted. I realize there is a fair amount of controversy as to whether her recipes elicit unabashedly rich and delicious comfort foods or, well, heart attacks on a plate. Whenever we catch her on the television, Pat and I are unintentionally absorbed and captivated by her charisma, twang, and of course, food. We usually find ourselves at a loss for words. Do people really make things like that? It looks so good, but so bad. I want to eat it. NOW. Oh-em-gee, butter + mayo + sour cream + cheese and more butter?!  I can’t bare to watch. Do you think she’s healthy? How on earth is she still alive?! How on earth are the people who make her food still alive?! One of us breaks the silence with such remarks or questions. Most times, we’re just silently appalled – absolutely shocked. Is this heavenly food or utter blasphemy? I find it amusing that despite being deeply flabbergasted, we both find her extremely endearing.  Seriously. What can I say, she is the doting Southern grandma we never (but wish we always) had.

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Sweet Sweet Summer.

Sweet summer days are drawing to a sorrowful end as I refuse to relinquish my hold on these rapidly diminishing days of fun, sun, and yum – juicy summer fruits. Instead, I’m relishing the last fleeting moments I have with my beloved seasonal fruits before school resumes and holds me captive once again. It saddens me deeply to know that my quickly increasing agenda prevents me from satisfying my constant and obsessive need to  bake and cook anything and everything in sight. Fortunately enough, I’ve been able to produce relatively copious amounts of foods and baked goods in the wee hours of the morning and early afternoon that are currently and happily available for me to dedicate myself entirely to this endeavor. I couldn’t be more thankful or spiteful for this temporary time of freedom.

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