Tag Archives: bakery

Go big, or go home

15 May

New York

This weekend, after spending the past two weeks digging myself out of boxes and cleaning products, I ventured out in to my beloved NYC and actually explored.

With my camera.

Ground-breaking, right?

However, it felt… Amazing. Like I was back in business. After a really lonely winter and struggle with the blues, I’d like to think that I’m waking up again, which, coincidentally, matches the coming of summer. I’m not gonna sugarcoat things; the past few months have been rough. Real rough. I lose all enthusiasm for school and dealt with a copious amount of stress and dissatisfaction at work. Ask any of my friends and I was one negative nancy.

coffee

But, this weekend I felt like the old Amanda, er the new Amanda… The more lively Amanda, I guess.

What better way to celebrate the gorgeous weekend than a little excursion to get monster donuts. Donuts that have a loyal (albeit cultish) following. My friends and I made the trek to the Doughnut Plant, a Lower East Side doughnut shop that has a damn good reputation for delivering fatty, sweet doughnuts. The line was long, but not as bad as expected for a Saturday morning. However, I should warn you that the shop is teeny tiny. One man working the register, and at least a dozen customers excited to nosh their brains out.

While I love a good cake donut, this time I was all about the yeast kind. They had a range of flavors including Vanilla Bean, Coconut Cream, Valhrona Chocolate, Cashew, Fresh Mango, Creme Brulee, and so many more. Resisting the urge to get them all, I settled on a true winner: the Peanut Butter-glazed doughnut with Blackberry jam filling.

donut

Oh. my. god.

It was heavenly. No, seriously. I heard angels sing. The salty crunchy peanut butter glaze combined with the sweet blackberry jam was exactly what I wanted. Not to mention, the actual monster-sized donut was pretty stellar. Soft, with a fried outside, but moist inside. It is sad to see a donut fall flat and thankfully, the Doughnut Plant’s did the exact opposite.

Next time, I plan on trying the fresh mango flavor because I just can’t imagine what mango + donut actually tastes like.

Till then, I will dream about the epic donut I had.

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Going Gluten-Free at BabyCakes NYC

27 Mar

donuts, sweets, babycakes, bakery, breakfast

When I think of gluten-free pastries, I think of dry baked goods, stiff to the touch. Thankfully, going gluten-free isn’t my lifestyle however, after trying Babycakes NYC, I might change my tune. In the midst of the gritty Lower East Side lies this little bakery. The minute I walked in , I knew it was my kind of place. While it was tiny, the attitude was cheerful and contagious, with some 90s rap playing in the background and cute, retro girls serving up some pastries. I don’t know what made me laugh more, the guy behind the counter trying to dance to “Back That Thang Up” or the girls rapping along to the song…

I had my heart set on donuts so that was my obvious choice. Looking at their display case, I felt indecisive and overwhelmed, as if I was shoe-shopping. Which one do I get? What if it isn’t as good as I had hoped? Why are there so many options?

donuts, babycakes, sweets, bakery, nyc, vanilla, breakfast

donuts, bakery, breakfast, nyc, babycakes

After my quick nervous meltdown, I went with my gut: vanilla doughnut with pink sprinkles. My friend went with the Lemon Coconut, which, by her guttural response, was delicious. Soft inside with a crunchy sugary outside, my donut was the best I had eaten in a while. I can’t remember eating a donut that didn’t knock me over the head with sugar, but somehow Babycakes delivers a sweet but not coma-inducing baked good. As for the rest of the products, I plan on coming back if I am back in that neighborhood. I hear they deliver too which is awfully tempting.

Many loves for today

14 Feb

My current loves:
Cinnamon-spiced coffee with a touch of cream
the new Kings of Leon cd
My leopard-print ballet flats
Pink donuts with white sprinkles from the local donut shop
Nearby friends
Faraway friends
Pretzel M&M’s
My new gorgeous necklaces from this magical shop
Never Let Me Go
Romantic dresses from the Elie Saab Spring 2011 Couture show
This, always and forever

I don’t care if you are married, pregnant, single, divorced, dating, desperately single, or none of the above. I hope you take a minute on this overly pink/red holiday and know that you are loved.

Happy Valentines Day! Go eat some cake :)

Coming home

26 Oct

The best part about leaving your childhood home is visiting it again. Luckily, I live only 30 minutes away from my mom and my old house and I normally visit once a week. Sometimes, if I’m feeling stressed or in need of TLC, I will stay for a night or two. After living on your own, it’s nice to have someone take care of you. I never knew how solitary doing laundry and washing dishes could be until I did them all on my own in my quiet little house.

The other plus side about coming home is being able to eat real food. Not to say that I don’t eat food when I’m on my own, but let’s just say that most of my meals are built around eggs, soups, and frozen dishes. I know, sad, right? But, in my defense, every time I’ve made myself a big meal, I am forced to toss the leftovers away after day five. I hate wasting food so instead, I live on easy-to-prepare meals. Also, I snack like crazy. Fruit, yogurt, Larabars, toast. For instance, last night’s dinner consisted of a fried egg, and peanut butter toast. And it was damn delicious.

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Short and sweet

18 Oct

I had a whole post up here, finished and ready to be posted. It was a good one too, one I think alot of you would have found interesting. Sadly, when I tried to save it, stupid WordPress logged me out of my account. And when I came back, my post was gone. Talk about frustrating.

I don’t have the energy to retype everything so sorry for this short post. I made the famed Baked Brownie over the weekend and they were damn delicious. Alice Medrich’s New Bittersweet Brownie is my favorite brownie recipe but this one comes to a close second. I prefer a rich, bittersweet chocolate when baking but this recipe used dark chocolate, which is another love of mine. What I loved the most about this brownie was its texture. Soft but not moist, firm but not dry. They are even better the next day, although I doubt you will be able to resist them fresh out of the oven.

Warning: your house will smell like a chocolate heaven while baking them. It might render you senseless. And it seems that I am not the only one who has fallen victim to the Baked Brownie. Deb over at Smitten Kitchen has featured their recipe and so has Sassy Radish. Even Martha Stewart and Oprah have jumped on the Baked bandwagon! Congrats Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito! If you want more good stuff from the Baked bakery, try their Peanut Butter Pie I made a couple of months ago. And stay tuned because I’m going to get cracking on more of their recipes.

The Baked Brownie
Printable Recipe
Origin: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
Yield: 24 to 30 brownies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
● 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
● 1 tsp. salt
● 2 tbsp. dark unsweetened cocoa powder
● 11 oz. dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
● 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
● 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
● 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
● 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
● 5 large eggs, at room temperature
● 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 glass or light-colored metal baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.

Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.

Let the brownies cool completely on a wire rack, then cut them into squares and serve. Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

new kid on the block

25 Mar

I’m a self proclaimed Francophile and I have no shame in admitting it. As a slightly bored, young girl, I’d dream that if I ever visited the City of Lights, I’d meet some tall, dark, and handsome fellow who’d sweep me off in his Vespa with my hair blowing in the wind. We’d walk through the gardens, drinking champagne and savoring croissants. Yes, I had quite the imagination but what else was I to do while stuck in class?

I was lucky enough to visit Paris and I savored each and every day. Even though the traffic was ridiculous, student strikes plagued the Latin Quarter, and the weather was freezing, I look back with fond memories. I didn’t speak the language and my mom and I got lost every time we ventured out but that was the best part. I feel like I was able to discover Paris on my own terms. We ducked in to small cafes where people were extremely helpful and chatty, and roamed neighborhood blocks outside of the tourist venues. Of course we hit the big spots (Opera Garnier, Versailles, etc) but the daily Parisian life intrigued me more. Parisians take pleasure in the daily grind, and I believe that if we adopted this kind of motto, we’d all be better for it. Plus, any group of people who spend hours at lunch downing wine and cheese are my kind of folks, right?!

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reminders of the far east

24 Aug

Chinatown in San Francisco

Watching these Olympics has rejuvenated my love for all things Chinese. Growing up, I was obsessed with learning about the culture. My mom, who was born in Indonesia but was Chinese, didn’t really talk about the cultural traditions or beliefs that she was taught as a kid, which now, looking back, is a little sad because I would’ve enjoyed learning about all those little tidbits you pass on to the next generation. I was the only little kid in class who got so excited whenever the teacher would motion the the “far east” on the globe, hoping that the teacher would instill some history about this place that seemed so close to my heart, but was still so very far away.

As I got older, and time lapsed in between trips to Indonesia, I basically forgot about my heritage. To me, I was as American as you could get. I wore the same clothes, had the same hair, drove the same car, and  in the same house. Nothing made me different. I even look more like my dad, which has always been a sticking point to me. Every time my mom would introduce me to one of her friends or co-workers, they’d look at me, then glance at my mom, then look back in disbelief. “Wow, she doesn’t look a thing like you!” they’d scream. Little did they know, every time I heard this, my little heart broke bit by by. Like most little girls, my goal was to be EXACTLY like mom, who looked lush and strong, with her jet black hair, strong cheekbones, and exotic eyes. Instead, I had this brown-auburn wavy hair, a round fair, long limbs, and a goofy smile. 

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lovestruck in San Francisco, part one

11 May

It’s been two weeks since I enjoyed a rather satisfying day in San Francisco, and I apologize for the wait on this post but birthdays popped up and pushed this post back. But the day trip was one of the best days ever, with the glorious sun shining and bright blue sky overhead. It’s no wonder that I am still lovestruck with the city by the bay.

San Francisco and I haven’t always been the best of friends. After numerous trips where I left feeling frazzled and disappointed, I thought the city was just not for me. Give me New York City or London or Paris, but my nearby big city was one I’d avoid. Until now, thankfully! I’ve always considered myself a big city girl so it made me sad to think that the big city just an hour away was one I’d rather stay away from. But I left two weeks ago with a newfound appreciation for this gorgeous and vibrant city.

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the good life

23 Mar

My idea of the good life consists of simple things: lots of laughter, fresh open spaces, endless forms of entertainment such as books, plays, music, etc, and of course delicious food. You can’t help but feel that you are living the good life when you enter the Napa county limits.

All the fresh air, sunny skies, and abundance of food and and drink is bound to get to your head. For the most part, Napa is almost too ritzy for me. All that opulence and wealth is in clear view, making envy a a natural and common feeling your entire stay. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy living the dream every now and then, right?

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craving some sweeties

8 Mar

This past week was what I like to refer to as “hell week” Meaning I had assignments/tests/quizzes due in every class in a span of two days. Definitely not fun. I also attempted to work 5 days of the week as well, rendering me useless, tired, and cranky.

One night I decided to call it quits for a few hours and tossed my research methods book off my bed (where I had been dozing off and on for about 2 hours). I headed out to Opa Opa! with a friend where we ate delicious hummus with warm pita, a creamy soup that shall remain nameless since I have forgotten it, and a welcoming bowl of tzatiki.

 

Despite being stuffed to the gills, we meandered next door to the Sweeties Bakery. Unlike my last visit there, I didn’t bother asking the staff for their thoughts and was determined to find a dessert that screamed “Eat Me!” After 10 minutes of critically analyzing each dish, we settled on splitting a Mocha Cream cake.

Words can’t express my love for this cake. It just might be my go-to cake. Bakery chocolate cakes always let me down with their extra dryness and nasty frosting but this was not the case.

The cake was sliced into thin layers and spread inside was a creamy coffee flavored filling. The cake was light, melting softly in your mouth. And the crushed chocolate and toffee bits on the side added a delightful crunch. The frosting was a light buttercream with a slight mocha flavor that didn’t overwhelm the cake but enhanced it. Even though the cake was slightly overpriced (about 5.50 for one slice) this cake won my heart.

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