Tag Archives: milk

Honey & Pink Peppercorn Brioche

Fact: writing recipes is hard. Perfecting them is even harder.

Not even the best of us kitchen people get it right the first time — I’ve read quotes from top chefs talking about how they’ve spent years developing and tweaking their signature dishes.

And recipes don’t happen in a vacuum, either — in the pastry industry, we walk a path that’s been largely paved for us, relying age-old techniques that allow us to experiment with new forms of presentation and flavours.

If you engross yourself in the work of others and you’re suddenly inspired, then that’s a gift meant to be shared and passed on, not horded and used to polish your own self image.

This issue is often on my mind, because I often see recipes online with no credit given to their original authors.

And it bothers me, because it’s ridiculously disrespectful.

I’m not going to finger-point, but I’m often disgusted by how some of the “big bloggers” out there fail to light the way for those ahead of them by dimming the lights on those behind.

You should never be ashamed to give credit or cite inspiration.

If a reader can flip through more than 5 recipes in a row on a pastry blog and not see a single “adapted from…”, then it’s likely you’ve been pilfering from somewhere (unless you’re David Lebovitz — but even he talks about his inspiration and the recipes picked up from colleagues).

In a nutshell: not giving credit — just don’t do it. Sheesh.

Anyways, with all that off my chest, I bring you an inspired recipe: honey and pink peppercorn brioche.

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Flan Parisian (Vanilla Custard Tart)

It’s a cheese wheel! It’s a moon! It’s a flan Parisian!

Yes, a flan Parisian — not Parisien. Why? Because I’ve Americanized it… err, anglicized it… err, you know, made it less French. Sorta.

It’s not entirely a bad thing — at least not in this case.

While authentic flan Parisien is rich in sweet vanilla and milk, it’s also loaded with cornstarch and has this texture that’s not amazingly appetizing.

The French like it well enough (you can buy it at nearly any coffee shop in Paris), but, unless you plan on building a bouncy ball empire out of rubbery custard, I think this whole chewy flan thing could use a few improvements.

My version of flan Parisian (adapted after following what seemed to be a fairly authentic recipe to the letter and not enjoying the results anymore than I enjoyed flan in Paris) is a little more creamy, a little more eggy, and a little less caramelized on top than the real thing, but, well… I like my version a lot better.

Oh, and I baked it in a fluted tart shell, but gimme a break here — some people don’t bake it in a shell at all!

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Upside-Down Hot Chocolate Pudding

First, a disclaimer: this isn’t really pudding (at least not in the “North American” sense).

This is a British-style pudding — the rich, gooey, and cakey kind.

The way you make this pudding is a little unusual — it starts as a stiff, doughy batter, then gets covered in a thick layer of loose sugar and cocoa powder, then drizzled with fresh coffee, and, as it bakes, it turns “upside-down”!

The moist cake bakes and puffs up and oozes with chocolate, while the bottom remains a sticky chocolate sauce.

It’s been ages since I’ve made this treat at home, but I decide that this Upside-Down Hot Chocolate Pudding was going to be the last dessert I would make for lunch service at school.

How bitter-sweet it was!

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Christmas Recipe Round-Up

I have to confess — while recipe round-ups are not normally my style, I felt like there was too much of a gap between my stöllen and my next post, so a wee bit of filler was in order.

Coming soon: cookies and big news!

So, I’m currently bogged down with cramming and exams — that just means that some of the delicious treats I made last Christmas get an extra minute in the spotlight — like these rich and velvety Mucho Mocha Shortbread.

That’s win-win, right?

Especially because I think some of these creative recipes, like Mandarin Cupcakes with Clove Buttercream, definitely deserve a second look.

I did crazy, mad, frantic, enthusiastic baking during my first few weeks of blogging, and it just so happened to be over the holidays!

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It’s bitter-sweet to think about the lovely Pear & Cranberry Cake with Orange Buttermilk Glaze that hardly anyone ever looked at, simply because I hadn’t yet learned about networking, making fellow blogging buddies, or the glories of photographing with natural light.

Sad, but true!

I mean, these Cranberry-Pecan Sandies are the type of cookie that my coworkers pestered me to make again over and over (I just indulged them this last weekend — and they’re good as ever), but I just didn’t know how to make them shine in front of a camera.

Especially since I didn’t know anything about food styling or adding props to photos either.

The gold star embossed tissue paper behind these Toasted Coconut Icebox Cookies was about as complicated and intricate as it got with me.

Maybe a sad piece of shriveled holly bush managed to sneak itself into the frame when I photographed these Chocolate-Dipped Marzipan Cookies — but adding props like that didn’t happen very often!

Behold — a whole dish, napkin, and spoon! I had started to branch out!

A bowl full of nutmeg-dusted Cranberry Syllabub aside, the last year has been a serious learning experience for me — there’s more to making a blog work, to making food work, making writing work, than just churning out recipe after recipe.

You’ve gotta have a story to tell, a life to share, and a love of food to impart to the world!

This funny-looking Rum-Spiked Brownie Bits with Candy Cane Frosting has a story to tell, too — one about how half my coworkers wouldn’t touch these chocolately morsels because of the sluggish, speckled grey frosting on top.

That is, until someone had the guts to try this odd-coloured creation and declared it delicious!

Sometimes food blogging can be made pretty and easy and neat, like these Perfect Gingersnaps, and sometimes it’s so much stress that you want to tear all your hair out and sleep for an entire month!

I know that in my last post I said I fear the impending holiday rush — and, well, it’s still true.

But all your kind comments (and some like-minded facebook statuses from my friends) made me realize that it’s best to meet things head on!

Here’s to the holidays — the stress, the joy, the festive food, the amazing baked treats — and keeping your head screwed on as tightly as possible from now until the new year!

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Stöllen

Oh, god — December. Just get out already!

Now, normally I try to write about something light-hearted or historical for my blog, but lately I’ve just been sitting at my computer, anxiously blanking out at the screen, or wasting my time on memebase sites.

While most people wait in anticipation of December and relish in the Christmas season, I fear it.

Like, literally fear it.

Worrying about the Christmas season keeps me up at night — December offers me nothing in terms of relaxation and happiness.

Time off from work? Not with two jobs!

Time off from school? Not unless you count the two weeks off that I will spend working!

Buying presents that I seriously don’t want to buy and getting stuff that I seriously don’t need? Not constructive — I’d rather keep my money for bills and have my friends and family do the same!

Family dinners? Seriously awkwaaaaard.

Not to mention that there’s almost always snarkiness or fighting that breaks out.

My ideal December would involve a month of hibernation and intermittent waking periods for baking cookies and drinking wine and eating stöllen. For reals.

Anyways, enough complaining. I try not to complain, because, seriously — all I’ve got are first world problems.

If this is a season to love and be thankful, then I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

Like rum spiked nog and stöllen!

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Earl Grey Battenburg

Well, it’s almost the end of November.

Almost the end of cake cake cake! month around here.

Almost, just because I’ve got one more seasonally appropriate cakey hybrid for you lovely people coming up in December, and then I promise to stop riding the crazy kicking cake horse for at least a month.

Maybe three weeks. We’ll see! I still want to make blue velvet cupcakes soon.

So, fair warning about this Earl Grey Battenburg — this is a two-day cake.

You can’t complete it in a day because it needs time to bake, to cool, to slice, to freeze, to trim, to wrap, to finish.

But don’t let that discourage you! Good things, worthwhile things, delicious things, always take a little time and patience.

I’ve had the inspiration for this tea and lemon fusion knocking around my head for a while — ever since my good friend gave me A World of Cake as gift some time ago.

If you love cake, it’s an awesome book to have.

Even if you never get around to making any recipes and just look at all the pretty photos and read about the history of cake and drool on the pages a little, it’s still an awesome book to have.

Anyways, about this Battenburg: it’s good to look at and good to eat!

While a little on the sweet side, I think it’s well-balanced by the checkerboard of moist and light lemon cake and delicately floral Earl Grey cake.

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