Monday, September 27, 2010

Ooey Gooey Caramel Apple Blackout Cake, and Happy Blorgthday! and a Giveaway!

This is it, folks! It's desserts for breakfast's one year blorgthday! (blog-iversary?) Woohoo! Even though the blog itself has been live for longer than one year, I posted my first recipe around this time one year ago, which marked the beginning of this wild food-blogging adventure that I've been on.  As you may know, I'm a huge believer in celebrating birthdays in a big way, and so that's exactly what I'm gonna do for the blog, starting with exciting news, a delicious cake, and a fun giveaway in this post!

So first off, the exciting news: desserts for breakfast is now!  That's right--the "" training wheels have now come off, so please make sure to update your bookmarks.  Your feed should transition automatically, but please double check and let me know if you experience any problems.  (And if you aren't subscribed, well--why aren't you?! --> subscribe at the top of that right hand sidebar.)

Now, onto dessert.  Birthdays, of course, necessitate cakes, and I really wanted to pay homage to my first recipe post ever: vegan chocolate pumpkin cupcakes.  I've also been itching to use the bushels of apples that have been populating every corner of every farmers' market, and so here it is--my way of saying "happy birthday" to this blog: ooey gooey caramel apple blackout cake.  (and yes, it's vegan, too!--I've included both vegan and non-vegan options in the recipe.)

Now, originally this cake was to be named the "caramel apple whole wheat chocolate cake," but the moment I turned the cake out of its pan and saw the caramel juices run down its sides and soak into the deep, dark, rich chocolate cake underneath, I knew that the only way to describe this cake was "ooey gooey."  And let me tell you, even though it might not look like the prettiest cake ever, what it lacks in good looks, it makes up for in incredible yum.  The chocolate cake is dense and textured from the whole wheat, and it's perfect for soaking up all of the juices and caramel sauce from the apples on top.  The caramel itself has a generous sprinkling of coarse sea salt in it, and it makes the dark cake underneath the perfect sweetness for devouring and never getting tired of.  (yes, it's quite dangerous for just that reason.)  Digging your fork into this cake is like eating ultra-moist and robust chocolate pudding with baked apples and just enough cinnamon spice inside.  And did I mention it might actually be, um, (somewhat) good for you?  After all, it has fruit and whole wheat in it!  *smiles innocently*

Lastly, for my blog's blorgthday, I wanted to do something to thank all of you wonderful readers and new foodie friends out there who have helped make this year amazing.  Before I started this blog, I was being torn apart at the seams in two directions.  On one side, I had my studies, which I absolutely love, but at the same time, I felt this incredible need and hunger coming from inside to express my creativity through food and photography (though not food photography--that came later).  Without a proper and regular outlet for my food and artistic interests, I was just constantly unhappy and unfocused and questioning what the right path for me was.  After all, every artist needs an audience, no?

So I am so, so incredibly thankful for this community that you all have provided me in my small corner of the world wide internets.  It's been wonderful to have a space I can come to and be able to actually share my creations and passions.  Food photography, even, has allowed me to blend both of my artistic interests into one.  I've had so much fun "meeting" all of you virtually (and in person for some!), and finding like-minded, food- and sugar- and art-obsessed people has been such a godsend.

All that said, here's a little giveaway that I put together to celebrate the blorgthday!  One of my favorite quotes that I try to live by comes from my academic great-great?-grandfather (that would be my advisor's advisor's advisor's advisor): "Life consists of the little things: the important matter is to see them largely."  This lesson is so perfect and applicable when it comes to food, so I've put together a small collection of a few of my favorite little things that make me happy to pass on to you!

I am giving away to one awesomely lucky winner three things:
  1. a set of 4 mini latte bowls from anthropologie {because they're so adorable, and I love to use them for, like, everything!)
  2. a 12" stainless steel balloon whisk from Sur la Table {because I'm known around these parts as the whipping queen--I insist on whipping all creams and most meringues by hand because it builds the bubbles properly and because it, you know, builds character. :-P There's also something about the rhythmic clack-clacking from whisking that is just so therapeutic for me.}
  3. a set of 6 custom 4x6" prints--of your choice!--from the desserts for breakfast archives {because if I can't send you actual desserts, this will be the next best thing!}
The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for participating, and please check back soon for the announcement of the winner!  To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment with your name, a way for me to get in touch with you (anonymous entries will be disqualified), and the answer to this question:
What is one little thing in your daily life that makes you happy?
I'll also give you an extra entry in the drawing if you tweet about this post, but in your tweet, you must mention me (@shihbakes) and include a link to this giveaway ( so that I can track all of your entries!  You have until 23:59 PST, Sunday, October 3, 2010 to enter. I'll pick the winner at random that night and make the announcement in next week's post, so be sure to check back then!  This contest is open everywhere except where prohibited, but please note that I am not responsible for any import duties or taxes beyond shipping that may be charged by your country if you are overseas.  This giveaway is in no way affiliated or sponsored by anthropologie or Sur la Table.

So, thank you all so, so much for your loyal readership and friendship!  And, this is definitely *not* the end to all of the excitement--I have plenty of things planned for October and the coming months, so here's looking forward to another year of sugar highs and nom-licious desserts!

Read on for recipe....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Midweek Macarons: Strawberry + Red Wine + Mascarpone Cream

Sometimes, in the middle of a crazy week, you just need a little bit of a pick-me-up. Something small and sweet. So why not strawberry, red wine, and mascarpone cream macarons, a grown-up adaptation of strawberries'n'cream, with strawberry macaron shells spritzed with a bit of full-bodied, peppery wine, fluffy and tangy whipped mascarpone cream, and the optional wine gelee as the surprise candy center? Yes, I think that might do the trick.

What are your mid-week (or weekend) pick-me-ups?

[Edit: a Twitter friend (@zizikalandjai) named these "red tiny kisses." I like that. :-))

Read on for recipe...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

PotW: Chai Pancakes with Black Tea-Poached Plums

[last Pancake of the Week: Whole wheat rosemary pancakes with garlic-chive goat cheese and fresh peas]

I must apologize in advance if this post is short on words.  It's just been one of those days.  You know, one of those days where you're perpetually late for everything, get stuck at literally every single red light at every single intersection possible, and basically start off with too much to do and absolutely no hours in which to do it all.  Yeah, it's been one of those Mondays, and the rest of the week isn't looking much more promising....  *sigh*

Yet, it's nice to come to this space and write about pancakes.  Because pancakes conjure up images of leisurely weekend mornings, when one can just kick back with a bottomless cup of milky black tea, a stack of magazines or newspapers or a long-put-off novel, and breeeeeaaaatttthe.  These chai pancakes with black tea-poached plums are a spiced-up incarnation of one of my favorite type of pancakes: those with poached fruit.  There's just something about the combination of sweet, fork-tender poached fruit and fluffy pancakes that I love as a robust yet light way to start off a carefree day.

I've been really into spices lately, favoring chai teas and Mexican or spicy hot chocolates as my drinks of choice to nurse for caffeine.  I think that part of it has to do with the threat of the upcoming chills of autumn, despite the fact that the weather here has been wavering schizophrenically between humid summer heat and overcast, day-long fog.  That and, as I sit late into the night reading, studying, or writing, having that little kick of spice definitely helps get me through.  Thus, these spices that I've been craving, translated into pancake form, with just-tender-enough, melt-in-your-mouth poached plums, were a perfect breakfast for the weekend.  Now, if only that had meant a leisurely week ahead...

Read on for recipe...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the Raspberry Rhapsody, and a Summer-to-Autumn Menu

I hereby officially declare that this summer was "the Summer of the Raspberry."  After starting the summer off with a string of raspberry delights and then putting the blog on a bit of a raspberry diet, I just couldn't resist ending the summer returning to this wonderful berry and finishing with a big raspberry bang.

So when a good friend came over for dinner, I presented her with a trio of late-summer raspberry desserts, or something that I like to call the Raspberry Rhapsody.  Or, alternatively, what another friend perhaps more appropriately named it: "Everything Stephanie can think of to do with raspberries."  Yeah.  That one pretty much sums it up!  But first, before we get to the Raspberry Rhapsody, I have to tell you what the menu for dinner was, because I feel like you'll then fully savor the curation of this meal in its entirely, wrapping up with the trio of raspberry desserts.  The whole theme of the night was celebrating the summer-to-autumn transition, perhaps one of my favorite times of the year when the markets are bursting forth with the most succulent late-summer and crisp early-autumn produce.

Summer to Autumn Menu

Tomato crostini
heirloom tomato, garlic, oil-packed anchovies atop toasted sweet baguette

Caramelized onion corn soup
rosemary, cave-aged hand-made raw milk blue cheese, 
caramelized onion jam, fresh local yellow corn

Prosciutto-wrapped roasted potato salad
roasted baby purple, red, and yellow potatoes wrapped in crispy prosciutto 
atop wild arugula with honey mustard balsamic vinaigrette

Fig and carrot pitsa
black mission figs, colored carrots, feta, mozzarella, leek, and green onion

"Raspberry Rhapsody"
Fresh raspberries in paradise green tea jelly
Lemon-rose scented pavlova with raspberry-caramel, 
lemon mascarpone cream, and rosy raspberries
Espresso dark chocolate pots de creme with raspberries and raspberry coulis

Okay, got that?  Now, to dessert.  The Raspberry Rhapsody was an exploration of the amazing versatility of the wonderful raspberry, with its sweet tartness encapsulating the range of tastes from sharp to soft more so than perhaps any other berry.  I really wanted to play on the balance that you can use the raspberry to achieve in desserts.

The fresh raspberries in paradise green tea jelly offers the unadulterated raspberry experience.  It's simply raspberries at the peak of their late summer season (they peak twice, so I hear, once at the beginning of the summer and once at the end) suspended in delicately light green tea jelly.  I used Lupicia's paradise green tea, which I absolutely love in desserts because it's this wonderfully fragrant blend of green tea, rose, safflower, marigold, and cornflowers without being perfume-y at all.  The subtle flavors of the tea were the perfect accompaniment to the raspberries magically floating in the jelly.

Then we have the antithesis of the light jelly dessert: espresso dark chocolate pots de creme with raspberries and raspberry coulis.  While the jelly was supposed to be delicate and airy and reminiscent of light summer breezes, these pots de creme were meant to be a forecast of the dark, broody, and let's-huddle-up-under-a-mass-of-blankets-beside-the-fire-and-drink-hot-chocolate days that are ahead of us.  The incredibly rich and bitter 80% dark chocolate and espresso custard--with raspberries baked inside!--is set off by the tartness of fresh raspberry coulis.  And trust me, if you want something terrifically sinful, this. is. it.

Finally, to round off the trio was the perfect balance between creamy and rich and light and airy: a lemon and rose-scented pavlova with raspberry caramel, lemon mascarpone cream, and fresh rosy raspberries.

Oh, its name is a mouthful, for sure, but you won't be able to get enough mouthfuls of the actual dessert!  (trust me, I could barely keep my hands off this one long enough to photograph it!)

(see?)  The hints of lemon and rose flavors are quite subtle in this one, but it really allows the raspberries to shine through in the sweetened raspberry caramel and unperturbed fresh raspberries layered between the crunchy meringue and lusciously thick mascarpone whipped cream.  It doesn't matter how many words I use in the attempt to describe this dessert.  All I need is one: NOM.

Anyways, this is been quite the epically long post, but before I end (and get to the recipes, darn it!), I hope you'll humor me for a tiny bit longer, because I wanted to share how incredibly perfect this dessert was, in a completely nerdy way.  You see, the definitions of rhapsody in the Oxford English Dictionary are as follows (a tad edited in length by me):
rhapsody, n.
  1. An epic poem, or a part of one, of a suitable length for recitation at one time.
  2. The joining together of miscellaneous unconnected literary pieces, esp. poems
  3. An enthusiastic of ecstatic expression of feeling; an instance of this.
  4. A free musical composition, usually emotional or exuberant in character and in one extended movement
Now, as you will notice, my Raspberry Rhapsody was quite (1) epically raspberry; (2) a joining together of several raspberry desserts; and (3) an enthusiastic expression of an exuberant love for raspberries.  To top it all off, the friend I had over for dinner studies poetry and music (making her the perfect audience for a rhapsodic dessert), so when I finally looked up the etymology for rhapsody (something that, as a linguist, I'm quite prone to do), I couldn't help but smile to know that I'd put together not only a tribute to the Summer of the Raspberry but also a completely aptly named one!  Ah, now both the linguist and the dessert lover in me can rest in peace in raspberry heaven.

Read on for recipe....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spicy Curry Chocolate Fudgesicles

Yes, yes.  I am well aware that popsicle season is likely well behind us, but I just had to share this recipe, because it's one of my absolute favorite flavors that I made this summer.  First off, you *didn't* read the title wrong.  These are spicy curry chocolate fudgesicles.  Yes.  Curry.  It sounds crazy, but trust me--it's just crazy good.  I started out making just plain old spicy chocolate fudgesicles, which pack a decent kick and potency in and of themselves.  But, as I leaned over to taste the mix, suddenly, I couldn't shake the feeling that curry would go so well with the dark chocolate, cream, and the spiciness.  And, since I've learned to always trust my instincts when it comes to food no matter how crazy they may seem, I went with it--and the results were fantastic!  The flavor is unexpected but strangely familiar, with the flavor of the curry playing off really nicely against the creaminess and rich chocolatety-ness of the fudgesicle.  The recipe below uses spicy fudgesicles as the base for the curry fudgesicles, but I highly recommend trying the curry ones--you won't regret it!

Here's wishing everyone a happy weekend and warm weather suitable for curry chocolate fudgesicles!

Read on for recipe...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mango Lassi and Strawberry-Honey Yogurt Popsicles

All summer, we've been kicking back here on the West Coast in our mild 70-degree weather, watching blithely as the rest of the country roasts in some of the hottest heat waves ever to hit the States.  Until now, of course--right after school starts!  (Thanks, Mother Nature.)  Suddenly, we've had soaring temperatures for days on end, where by 11pm at night, it's still 90 degrees Fahrenheit out.  Can you say "ice me, please"???

Thankfully, I went on that popsicle-making craze a while ago, and our freezer has been stocked full of all assortment of flavors of popsicles, including these mango-lassi ice pops.  I mean, do I really need to convince you of the wonderfulness that is blended, super-sweet fresh mango, thick, creamy yogurt, and a dash of spicy ground cardamom?  In icicle form?  I thought not.  Then, there's the lovely variation on the mango lassi popsicles: strawberry-honey yogurt ice pops, which swaps out the mango and cardamom for sweet, end-of-season strawberries from your favorite grower and a mild flower honey.  *Lick.*  I also highly recommend layering the flavors--they go excellently together, especially for those indecisive people like me!  (Or, like my friend-- when we had her over for an Indian dinner night, she alternated between a mango lassi popsicle in one hand and my roommate's yummy homemade naan in the other! hey, girl knows the definition of a balanced diet, apparently.  :-))

Anyways, as long as I have these popsicles in my freezer, I say, bring it on! to the heat.  (Okay, not really--I do like the mild cold better.  I *am* a Bay Area native, after all.)  Plus, it allows us to have lovely nighttime, roof-top, Christmas lights-and-candle-lit picnic parties at my house whilst blasting bad "nostalgic" nineties pop tunes and Joni Mitchell, so we're hoping for at least a few more Indian summer nights in the coming months for more midnight jollity--and popsicles!

Brace yourselves--more popsicles coming later this week!

Read on for recipe...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pre-Fall at the Ferry Building

A few weeks ago, I met up with twiend (twitter + friend) and fellow food blogger Rene from Epic Baker to check out the SF Ferry Building Farmers' Market for the first time.  I have to say, I was blown away by the size of the market and the number of people there--by the end, my head was spinning and I could barely remember what stands were where and from which I'd seen what.  I'll definitely have to go back a few more times before I'll be able to keep everything straight!

Isn't the color on these carrots amazing?

I hope you all are enjoying the summer-to-fall transitions at your farmers' markets as much as I am!  the colors!  the abundance of late summer fruits and early autumn root vegetables!  the sunshine and the people!   ~ Have a wonderful weekend!  You can bet that I'll be farmers' market hopping when I'm not working.  ;-P