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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Strawberry Mascarpone Jelly Roll

I am starting off my Sunday morning with dessert.  You heard right!  I have been thinking about making a jelly roll for a while and adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School.  The building block for a jelly roll is genoise, a French sponge cake.  Genoise relies solely on eggs beaten with sugar until thick and doubled in volume instead of chemical leaveners.  To finish my roll, I spreaded a thin layer of strawberry jam and thick layer of mascarpone whipped cream over the sponge cake before rolling it.  I let the jelly roll sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so all the flavors have the chance to meld together.  This dessert was absolutely amazing, or shall I say breakfast!  The cake was light and fluffy while the sweetness of the jam balances with the richness of the mascarpone cream.  Sometimes, you gotta start the day with dessert!


2/3 cup sifted cake flour
A pinch of salt
3 large whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
½ cup of sugar
4 tbsps butter (1/2 stick) melted, room temp
1/3 cup of strawberry jam
1 cup of heavy cream, whipped
4 oz mascarpone cream
¼ cup of powdered sugar and more for dusting
Fresh strawberries for garnish


Preheat the oven to 375F.  Bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer in a small sauce pan.  Place the mixing bowl over the simmering water making sure the bottom is not touching the water.  Whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar until the sugar has melted, about 5 minutes.

Attach the bowl to mixer and beat on high speed until the mixture is pale and doubled in volume, about 5-7 minutes.  Sift flour and salt over egg mixture.  Use a spatula, fold in the flour.  Pour the melted butter down the side of the bowl and gently fold, making sure not to deflate the batter.

Pour the batter onto a baking sheet and smooth out. Transfer baking sheet to the oven and bake until golden brown and springy to touch, about 7 minutes.

Loosen the edges and turn the cake out onto a paper towel.  Fold the towel over the edge of the cake and roll up.  Let it cool at room temp.

Whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Add in the powdered sugar.  Add in the mascarpone and continue whisking.

Unroll the log and spread a thin layer of jam.  Layer the mascarpone cream mixture on top.  Reroll the cake and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Garnish with fresh strawberries and dust with powdered sugar when ready to serve.

85˚C Bakery Cafe

Today Vu planned a very nice excursion to Laguna Beach since we had the day off.  After lunch and hours of walking, we decided to stop by 85˚C Bakery Cafe in Irvine before heading home.  The first time I came to 85˚C Bakery Cafe was when my parents visited us for Christmas.  As soon as Vu drove in the parking lot, I ran to the back of the line.  There were about 20 people ahead of me waiting for their 85˚C fix.  The line moved relatively fast and within 10 minutes, an employee gave me the ok to enter.  I picked up a tray and tongs and made my way through the bakery knowing exactly what I wanted.  We were lucky enough to get two of their most popular items, taro swirl bread and brioche loaf, along with our other favorites.  Fresh out of the oven, the brioche loaf was light like a cloud with a hint of sweetness.  On the other hand, the taro swirl had a nice crunch and perfect balance of bread and taro.  Everything was ABSOLUTELY amazing!  Even the sea salt coffee!  Known for its excellent selection of pastries, cakes, drinks, and coffee and reasonable pricing, 85˚C Bakery Café has become quite popular among Southern Californians.  If you are in the area, give this bakery a try and it might end up being one of your favorite places.  85˚C Bakery Café has become a favorite stop for both Vu and me.

the line


more pastries

taro swirl

brioche loaf

milk pudding


cinnamon rolls

chocolate chip

sea salt coffee

Thomas Keller’s Bite Sized Brownies

After 15 days of work, I asked my boss for a day off to relax and catch up on my sleep.  When I woke up, I was craving for chocolate, a rather unusual feeling.  Maybe it was the residual chocolate craving after that dinner at Ruth’s Chris.  I wanted something simple and flipped through Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller when the recipe for brownies caught my eyes.  Brownies remind me of comfort food, something so simple yet likeable by everyone, from little kids to the grandparents.  Brownie is a perfect pick me up after a long day of work or a lazy Sunday morning, something you can pair with a glass of cold milk, rich vanilla ice cream, or by itself.  I adapted the brownies recipe from Ad Hoc at Home but substituted applesauce for two thirds of the butter, a much healthier alternative!  It was my first time baking with applesauce so I was a bit nervous.  I was pleasantly surprised when I had the first bite.  The brownie was rich and retained all of its goodness even with the applesauce!  My husband could not taste the difference either!  I am happy to report that it was a successful batch of brownies filled with gooey goodness!


¾ cup all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 stick of butter, melted (save half the stick for buttering the muffin pan)
1 ½ cup of applesauce
3 large eggs
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup of chocolate chips
raspberries and powdered sugar for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Mix the eggs and sugar on medium speed, and then pour in the vanilla.  Add the applesauce and continue mixing.

On low speed, pour in half of the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the butter and continue beating.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients.

Add the chocolate chips and mix well.

Pour about 2 tbsps of batter into each buttered well of a mini muffing tray and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Let them cool at room temperature for 5 minutes and garnish with raspberries and powdered sugar.

Strawberry Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich

I have always admired Tartelette and wanted to try her macaron recipes but the ingredients are measured in metric and without a kitchen scale, I was sure to screw it up.  When we saw a digital kitchen scale for less than $20 at Costco today, I immediately grabbed it.  As soon as we came home, I prepared the macaron ingredients.  I used the exact ratio that Tartelette used for her raspberry mascarpone macarons.  Instead of making the mascarpone filling, I wanted to try something different, ice cream!  I used Wilton rose gel coloring to get the pink for the macarons and then I paired them with homemade strawberry ice cream.  It was a heavenly combination!

Macaron shells

90 gr egg whites (3 egg whites, aged in the fridge for 2 days if possible)
25 gr granulated sugar (2 tbsps)
200 gr powdered sugar (2 cups)
110 gr almonds (1 cup)
1/8 tsp Wilton rose gel food coloring

Strawberry ice cream filling

1 pint strawberries (puree)
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups cold heavy cream
1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice


Pulse powdered sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times which helps the macarons have smooth tops.

Beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy.  Add sugar gradually and beat on high speed until stiff (when you turn the bowl upside down, nothing falls).  Add the rose gel color and continue beating on high speed until well blended and stiff.

Sift flour over mixture, and fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites in three stages (don’t push down on eggs), continuing to fold until a ribbon forms.

Transfer batter to a ziplock bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Let them stand at room temperature for 45-60 minutes.

While you are waiting for the shells to harden, prepare the ice cream by combining strawberry, sugar, cream, and lemon juice in a food processor.  Pour the combination in an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instruction.

Once you are done with the ice cream, put it in the freezer while you continue working on the macarons.

Preheat oven 280˚F. Bake until macarons are crisp and firm, and you see feet forming.  This should take about 10-12 minutes.

Let macarons cool on for 2 to 3 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack.  If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.

Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 tbsp of ice cream.  Serve immediately.


“Che Chuoi” Banana with Coconut Milk and Tapioca Pearls Dessert

I have been craving “che chuoi” or banana with coconut milk and tapioca for a while.  Besides being one of my favorite desserts, che chuoi has 6 ingredients and takes less than an hour to make.  When I was little, my mom would pick me up after school, and we would stop by a street vendor for che chuoi before heading home.  Nowadays, I get my che chuoi fix from Che Hien Khanh in Westminster. Che chuoi originated from South Vietnam and has become a popular dessert.  The best banana for this dessert is “chuoi sap” which boasts a unique texture and retains its firmness after cooking instead of becoming mushy or falling apart.  I have not seen “chuoi sap” sold at the local Asian supermarkets so I substituted burro bananas for my recipe.  Che chuoi can be eaten hot, at room temperature, or chilled, but I like my right off the stove.  This dessert is perfect by itself or you can serve it at the end of your dinner party.


1 ½ tbsp tapioca pearls (bot bang)
3 burro bananas
1 can of coconut creme (Savoy brand)
¼ cup of water
3 tbsps granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
toasted peanuts


Soak the tapioca pearls in water for 30 minutes

Cut the bananas in small pieces

Bring the coconut cream, sugar, and salt to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the bananas and simmer for 15 minutes.  Then add the tapioca and let everything cook for another 10-15 minutes until you see the tapioca pearls become clear.

Garnish your dessert with toasted peanuts.

Raspberry Creme Brulee

Winter this year is a lot more cold and rainy compared to the usual San Diego sunshine.  I miss the summer weather and summer fruits like cherries and berries.  When I saw raspberries at Henry’s today, I grabbed them for my crème brulee.  I got my inspiration from an episode of Barefoot Contessa making raspberry crème brulee as a holiday dessert instead of the classic crème brulee.  Crème brulee is French for burnt crème, consisting of a rich custard base topped with caramelized sugar, but its origin is unknown.  The Brits claimed that the dish was invented in Trinity College in Cambridge while the earliest reference of crème brulee came from the 1691 release of Massialot’s cookbook in France.  I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten and it turned out wonderful, light, and creamy.  This recipe makes 4 servings but you can scale the ingredients to accommodate your guests.  The raspberries add a touch of red, making it a perfect dessert for your holiday dinner.


1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4-6 oz of raspberries


Preheat oven to 325°F.  Whisk sugar and egg yolks together.

In a saucepan, heat heavy cream and vanilla bean paste just to a boil. While cream heats, also begin heating a pot full of water for baking the crème brulee.

Gradually whisk hot cream into the egg mixture. Strain the egg mixture to remove any lumps.

Place a few raspberries in the ramekins and divide mixture evenly between them.

Pour enough water into the roasting pan to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully place the roasting pan in oven.

Bake until the custards are just set, about 30 minutes.  Remove the ramekins from oven and cool slightly at room temperature, then refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, sprinkle 1/2 tbsp of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and using a propane torch, hold it so the flame just touches the surface. Start at the center and spiral out toward the edges of the ramekins heat until the sugar caramelizes evenly.

Let the crème brulee cool for a few minutes before serving.

Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint.  Enjoy!

French Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling

I have waited months to reattempt this recipe.  The first time I had French macarons was at Cocola Bakery in San Jose when I was cake tasting for my wedding and saw how beautiful they look in the display.  Macarons in the U.S. pale in comparison to the ones in France.  While we were honeymooning in Paris, we stopped by the famous Laduree bakery and tried their macarons.  They were amazing.  Laduree had just about any combination you can think of.  We thought about bringing some back for our families but still had 5 days of travel before heading home.

Macarons are known as temperamental cookies and require a lot of patience.  I forgot how many failures I had.  The first time I made them, the mixture was runny and the macarons did not rise.  Another time, the oven was too hot and they all cracked.  My friend, Amy, came over for our poker party and gave me her macaron recipe and some awesome tips.  I followed Amy’s recommendation and did not age my egg whites.  Some recipes call for aging them in the fridge for up to 5 days, but I left my egg whites at room temp for a few hours.  After piping the macarons, I let them sit for 45-60 minutes to harden their shells.  I preheated the oven at 350˚F, and then turned the heat to 280˚F for baking to minimize overheating.  Everyone’s oven is different so you have to find your magic temperature.  I was so happy when I caught a glimpse of the macarons with their beautiful FEET through the oven.  FEET equal success.  I was jumping for joy!  Finally, after many attempts, the macarons came out perfect.  Hopefully, these tips will send you in the right direction on your macaron adventure.


1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup almond flour (just ground almond)
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate
½ cup heavy cream


Pulse powdered sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times which helps the macarons have smooth tops.

Beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy.  Add sugar gradually and beat on high speed until stiff (when you upside down the bowl, nothing falls).

Sift flour over mixture, and fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites in three stages (don’t push down on eggs), continuing to fold until a ribbon forms.

Transfer batter to a ziplock bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Let stand at room temperature for 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and reduce oven temperature to 280 degrees. Bake until macarons are crisp and firm, and you see feet forming.  This should take about 10-12 minutes.

Let macarons cool on for 2 to 3 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack.  If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.

For the chocolate ganache filling, melt the chocolate and heavy cream in a double broiler, stirring occasionally until well blended.  Let the ganache cool to room temp.

Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 tsp of chocolate ganache.  Serve immediately.


Red Velvet Cupcakes

It has been a week since I last blogged.  Work kept me quite busy, and I had to host a poker/potluck party on Saturday.  For desserts, I decided to make red velvet cupcakes and a pumpkin roll to add some holiday colors.  My friend brought a chocolate cake from Extraordinary Desserts, which was a perfect addition to the dessert table.  A year ago, I became obsessed with red velvet cupcakes after watching Paula Deen whipped up the divine dessert on Food Network.  Shortly after, Vu’s sister introduced me to Sprinkles Cupcakes in Palo Alto, and I was won over.  I love making red velvet cupcakes for potluck and parties.  I adapted the cake recipe from Paula Deen and made cupcakes which worked very well.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsps red food coloring
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a mixer.

Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.  Apply the frosting after the cupcakes are cooled.


Berkeley: Ici Ice Cream

After we walked off our lunch, we drove to Ici on College Avenue, a quaint ice cream shop known for fresh ice creams and sorbets with different flavors served daily.  The line was out the door despite the cold and rain.  There were 3 servers, each helping a group of people from tasting, to scooping, and ringing up the bill.  Definitely not very efficient!  I ended up trying 6 flavors: pumpkin candied oatmeal, hazelnut, malted vanilla amaretto cherries, honey pistachio, huckleberry, and passion fruit.  My favorite was the malted vanilla!  The ice cream was sweet but not overpowering and quite refreshing.  Their cones were also delicious, fresh and crunchy, with a hint of sugar.  For a single scoop costing $2.85 or double scoop at $3.85, it was worth it.  Besides ice cream and sorbet, they also serve other delightful sweets and baked goods.  I would definitely come back and try their other flavors.  It was a pleasant way to end our short adventure in Berkeley.

Enjoying my malted vanilla amaretto cherries.

Pumpkin and honey pistachio

These are definitely my favorite ice cream cones!

Other goodies

Poached Bartlett Pears with Raspberry Coulis

For my flight to San Jose over the weekend, I brought along Dessert by Williams-Sonoma to get ideas for Thanksgiving dinner.  As I flipped through the book, I saw an interesting recipe for poached pears with raspberry coulis.  Personally, I am not a huge fan of pears, let alone cooked pears.  The picture was so enticing that I decided to give it a try.  It was definitely a different type of dessert.


4 firm Bartlett pears, peeled leaving the stem intact
1/2 lemon
1 cup white wine (Riesling or Pinot Grigio)
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
3 orange zest strips
3 lemon zest strips
2 whole cloves
1 cup rasberries
1 tsps powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice


Peel the pears and generously rub with the lemon half to prevent discoloring.  Core the pears from the bottom using a melon scooper, leaving the stem intact.

In a deep sauce pan, combine the white wine, orange juice, water, sugar, lemon zests, orange zests, and clove and bring to a boil.  Reduce to low heat and add the peeled pears, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Remove the pears and place in the refrigerator. Heat the saucepan to high heat and reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

For the raspberry coulis, combine the raspberries, powdered sugar, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until the berries are pureed.  Pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve to extract all the juice.

Serve the pears slightly chilled in a pool of raspberry coulis and drizzled with a little syrup.


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