Crème de la Crème

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I always ask for a dessert menu. No matter how stuffed or full or chewed out I am, there is always room for dessert. And when that menu comes around, subconsciously I always want crème brûlée to be on it. If it’s on there, I’ll get it. If not, the closest runner up is a brownie sundae (I’m addicted to sweet things, as you well know). If both of those are missing, I will make a pouty face and slowly push back the menu. So when we got invited to a dinner party last week, the first thing that popped into my head to make was the dessert I am always looking for on the menu (and in true LHC fashion I made them in mini tart tins).

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This famously delicious dessert has only four ingredients; cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla. And how just those four things can come together to make something so tasty I will never understand, but it’s good every time and it isn’t too hard to make.

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I followed this recipe and added a couple of modifications of my own. The first being I halved the recipe because of my little tins, I only had twelve, and it worked beautifully.

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I also couldn’t find vanilla sugar (and didn’t have time to make it) so I used regular sugar in the crème and on top.

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And I don’t know about you but I don’t keep a blowtorch on hand (I kind of wish I did), so I threw the tins under the broiler for a minute to get that signature sugar crust. My last tidbit, is that I would urge you to use a real vanilla bean, even though they are a little bit pricey. The bean flavor is just so much better, and you get the pretty black specks in the crème.

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And there you have your deliciously creamy, custardy dessert that tastes just as good as any restaurant dessert menu.

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Tres Leches

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My friend is moving to Amsterdam, I know, it’s terribly far away, I think so too. And he is going for at least six months (probably more) so to ‘whatever the opposite of celebrate’ is, we had that type of dinner party for him last night. He requested Mexican food  – because apparently Amsterdam doesn’t do that food genre very well (I wouldn’t last a second) – and everyone brought their favorite taco topping.

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Me having the sweet tooth that I do, and my love of themes led me to these adorable (and seriously delicious) tres leches cupcakes. You know me and my bite sized obsession, so instead of a cake, or regular sized cupcakes I made mini ones.

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Tres Leches literally means three milks and there are literally (not figuratively) three different milks needed for this recipe. You mix them together to create the glaze that soaks into the cake and then top it off with more milk in the form of whipped cream frosting.

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I used this recipe and they were really tasty. There are so many recipes out there that it is hard to pick, but I whichever one you do go with I would recommend two things. 1 – Sift all of your ingredients first to make the batter extra smooth, mine was a little lumpy and 2 – definitely refrigerate overnight.

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If you dont have time to refrigerate these overnight then I wouldn’t go with this dessert. It’s time consuming but well worth the wait. The overnight helps the glaze seep into the fluffy cake and the result is the most moist cupcake I have ever tried!

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Sad to see my friend go, but glad I tried these little cakes. They are my new mexican themed dessert! What are you go-to dessert recipes?

Red, White and Blue

Remember when I said stay tuned for the festive snacks – well here they are (I don’t disappoint)! Red white and blue snacks for any backyard Fourth of July BBQ or party. These little morsels are a perfect sweet treat to eat under the fireworks, and they are a breeze to make.

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Strawberry biscuits, with clotted cream and blueberries on top – you can’t get more American than that!

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I used this recipe, which actually calls them scones – the only modification I made was that I smushed up the strawberries (to make the batter more red) and in doing so there was way too much liquid in the batter.

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But instead of freaking out (ok, I was worried for a second) I just went with it (American style), and instead of rolling them flat and cutting them out I just scooped them onto a cookie tray. The result was like a little drop biscuit. So embrace the mistakes, sometimes they work out for the best, or stick with the recipe if you want more scone-like snacks – either way.

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They were soft and moist, with a dollop of this faux-clotted cream on top that was sweet and just sour enough to bring all of the flavors together.

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Topped with some navy blue and you have a patriotic dessert to wow your friends and comrades (wanted to say bros, but let’s not get carried away with the American-ness).

Sticky Toffee Pudding

In honor of the World Cup (hope you all have been watching) and my love of themed anything, I made an English themed snack for the game last weekend. It turned out to be a not so bonnie football match for the Brits, but the dog’s bollocks snacks made up for it (that means delicious, apparently. I’ll stop using British phrases now), who knew sticky toffee pudding was so grand.

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It was a breeze to make – the only difficult part was getting the ingredients (which you would think is the easy part). It calls for a cup of coffee and dates. Now, I don’t drink coffee (I know ridiculous) and buying a cup just for this recipe seemed weird to me. So (genius that I am, yes full pat on the back) I used a free cup of coffee from Trader Joes! It worked perfectly, and I also couldn’t find dates so I used prunes. But don’t be alarmed, it was still delicious (can I say double genius now, or is that too much?).

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I used this Martha recipe (the only substitution was the prunes) and made them into mini cakes, because everything tastes better when it’s mini.

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Add all the ingredients to the mixer and go to town, be sure to not over mix, or the cake will be tough. You want light little fluffy morsels so they can soak up the sticky toffee part.

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While the little buns were baking, I made the toffee sauce. No pictures, sorry I think I got side tracked, but it did take a little bit longer than the recipe says.

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The finished product was a cute spongy cake (poked some holes so the toffee could get inside) and a really delicious sauce on top. Like so delicious, I was scraping the plate clean by the end…

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Have you had any World Cup themed parties yet, any country themed snacks?

Cinco de Mayo

I love that Cinco de Mayo is a real holiday in the US. Well maybe not real, but that people are all about celebrating it. Bars and restaurants have special menus and drinks, people bring in Mexican themed snacks to work, I’ve saw someone wearing a sombrero today – the fifth of May has such a celebratory spirit. In honor of that spirit, I made some Latin inspired treats for tonight!

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Margaritas are festive in nature, they are perfect for warm summer nights and celebratory brunches. I love them on the rocks and blended, with strawberries or straight lime agave. I have never had them with pineapple though, and boy have I been missing out.

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I used this recipe and the proportions are perfect. Not too limey with a great punch of pineapple flavor. Tequila adds the kick and you have a pretty perfect drink on your hands.

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I also made a mini snack – not intended to be mini but I only had a small star shaped piping tip so they turned miniature.

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Churros are surprisingly easy to make, they just take a very close eye when frying. This recipe made it really simple, but watch the temperature of your oil so they don’t burn or smoke up your kitchen (I might be speaking from experience experience).

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IMG_5930The dough came out light and fluffy and the sugary cinnamony (should be a word) coating made them taste just like they do at the country fair.

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Festive drinks and snacks are muy bueno! Happy Cinco de Mayo Amigos! Do you guys have any special fiesta plans?

Pretzel Knots

Breads are not my forte. I love to bake, but for some reason I have always been afraid of breads. Maybe its because I thought you needed a bread machine (amateur move) or the idea that my loaf would never look as perfect as the pain de mie in the window of Acme Breads. Whatever my weird hesitations were, they are gone now. I made dough, boiled it and baked it – my fears are gone!

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Pretzel knots you guys, pretzel knots. Ridiculously delicious, easy, fun to make and did I say delicious? These are a perfect snack for the Super Bowl, especially with the jalapeno cheese sauce (not pictured here, but included in recipe here). You can make them into whatever shape you want. I did knots for easy bite-sized pieces (and I love everything in mini form) but you can do the whole pretzel shape or bunnies or theme it up with football shapes.

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The process is fairly painless, you just need to exercise a little patience when letting the dough rise (another not forte of mine).

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Once the dough doubles (took about an hour for mine) then you can shape them however you like.

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Boil ‘em, bake ‘em – mark ‘em with a C, and put them in the oven for you and me!

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And TA-DA, tastey bite sized pretzels that will wow any crowd.

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Make Eat Easy – Part II

December is full of ugly sweater parties, work parties and secret santa and white elephant exchanges, let’s just say it’s the season of parties, and eating (which describes it perfectly). I love making treats and appetizers to bring to the parties and I had a great idea to use Make Eat Easy again!.

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Remember my friends at Make Eat Easy, the guys who deliver your fresh ingredients to you in perfectly measured packets so all you need to do is mix and bake? Well I ordered an appetizer from them, and it was just as delicious and easy to make as the dessert! I made the Shrimp Avocado Toast which looks fancy enough for any Christmas or New Years appetizer party.

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This would also be a great one to bring to parties because it doesn’t get cold! And you can make the shrimp avocado mixture ahead of time and assemble right before the party.

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You can order enough to make for a party on their website —- and just bring in a plate of these and you will definitely get a kiss under the mistletoe!

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My favorite thing about this recipe is that it looks so fancy! When really its just shrimp and avocado with some egg on toast! It’s great! And it tastes really simple and delicious.

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Macaroon Making Class

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Two things you should know about me –  1.) I’m addicted to sweet things, 2.) I love to bake – they go hand in hand. I like to cook too, but baking is really where it’s at. I like to consider myself as a pretty adventurous and advanced baker but when it came to macaroons I was a little afraid to try it. All of the recipes have such specific temperature and timing rules, and add in  the fact that I don’t have a convection oven (which apparently is where most people go wrong) I just stayed away from them all together.

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So while looking for patisserie school classes (always in the back of my mind) I found this great workshop. Baking Arts is a single class workshop that teaches you how to bake various things. You can choose from so many classes like cake decorating, or pie making or fondant rolling – I chose macaroons, to get over my fear.

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The class was amazing! Richard, the instructor, took us through all the meticulous steps before we went to do it on our own. The process is very temperature and time sensitive so it requires a lot of attention to detail.

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The class size is small, there were only six of us so he could walk around and help us with each step and with recognizing when the folding was done or when the temperature and texture were just right.

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You could fill these things with anything and make so many different colors and flavors. In Paris they literally have every shade of every color in every size and crazy flavor. We filled ours with chocolate, or caramel or coconut or a combination of the three.

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I forgot to mention that they were DELICIOUS too! If you are looking for a fun baking class try one of these, it was so great, I want to go back again! Cheers to a sweet weekend!

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