Tag Archives: sweets

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.


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.


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.


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.

Coffee Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce

1 Mar

Sometimes I crave cheese. In a major way. Which wouldn’t be so out-of-the ordinary if I wasn’t lactose-intolerant. Yes, my little stomach can’t process those cheesy enzymes. I blame my asian DNA since it is pretty common for Asian people to have some form of lactose intolerance. While everyone runs for milk when eating warm cookies, I shudder at the thought.

However, once in a blue moon, I get a craving for something rich, decadent, and cheesy. Case in point, last week I went with a friend to S’Mac, a small Mac and Cheese hotspot that serves the main dish anyway you like it. Tummy ache be damned, I said, I want a skillet of hot mac and cheese and I want it now. Cut to me, rolling in a ball on my bead, quivering in pain. Not my finest moment but it was worth every bite. Today, I have another craving, but for that sinfully delicious dessert known as Cheesecake. Not just any cheesecake but one right up my alley: Coffee Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce.

I’d like to eat this everyday. I’d like to eat this everyday with maybe a side of mac and cheese.

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What meets the eye…

22 Feb

Raised in the buckle-down-and-bear-it environment, I am a fighter at heart. Trust me, I’ve got the battle scars to prove it. However, in some situations, I’ve learned that it is perfectly appropriate to throw in the towel. Sometimes, fighting is too hard and takes too much effort. Stubborn and prideful, it kills me to have to walk away from something because it means I’ve given up. But there are some aspects in my current life that leave me in tears some days. Ripped to shreds. Because I am a fighter. Because I am a vocal, passionate person.

With all this commotion going on, I’ve left this little space quiet. A tad bit preoccupied and uninspired, I apologize for my silence. I have some great ideas and posts in the works but getting down to business can be tedious. Especially when your heart is somewhere else and your mind is focused on a challenge that might swallow you whole.

Instead of showing you a perfectly pleasing recipe, I’m going to show you these disastrous cookies. Why?  Because, despite the fact that the recipe was utterly flawed, they sure looked pretty. Plus, not everything goes right in my kitchen and I like to show my mistakes as they happen more frequently than one can guess.

To anyone else they might have been a success. But I knew better. The shortbread was unevenly baked, and lacked flavor. Cutting the actual cookies was a test of my patience since they started crumbling the minute I touched them. I’m providing you the link to the basic shortbread recipe. Maybe you will have better luck than me? I added two cups of reduced-sugar raspberry preserves and baked them according to the regular instructions.

If you have a better recipe for shortbread cookies, leave them in the comment section. I am looking for a real winner!

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 :)

Devil’s Food Cake with Angel Frosting

31 Jan

When I think of moving in to my dream apartment, I imagine hosting intimate, cozy dinner parties. The kind of dinner parties where the wine is flowing, the food is delicious, and the laughs can be heard down the hallway. When I lived in my own little abode, I didn’t have enough room to host these kinds of dinner parties, which was unfortunate because my friends and I were eager and willing to have those kinds of parties.

Menu-planning is a skill I don’t really have and I tend to just throw things together. I know how different flavors and ingredients work together but I am not an expert here. A summer menu would obviously rotate around a hot grill, but dinner requires more thought. I would serve a colorful salad, some fresh dinner rolls, and a hearty, warm main dish. As for dessert, I can imagine all kinds of delicious cakes and cookies. However, nothing stuns a crowd like a glorious chocolate cake.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies, yet again

11 Jan

chocolate chip cookies

If there is one thing that I could bake over and over again, it would be the chocolate chip cookie. You’d think after four posted recipes, I’d be over these little morsels. However, you are mistaken.

chocolate chip cookies

chocolate chip cookies

chocolate chip cookies

It’s a simple mix- chocolate, butter, sugar, and flour. Yet the results are so satisfying, so perfect in their simple nature that I can’t help but keep trying recipes from different authors. First, there was the classic from Martha Stewart, which I swore by when I was younger. Then, I added some liqueur to the mix a la Giada de Laurentiis. Finally, I settled on the most amazing recipe from my mother of another brother… Wait that didn’t make sense. Anyways, it was from Dorie Greenspan and it sill hails as the best cookie recipe around. But I had to try just one more.

I know, bear with me.

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Grand Raspberry Trifle

5 Jan

I’m all for resolutions but some of these diet-oriented ones make me depressed. Pre-packaged meals filled with god knows what? No thanks. No carbs? SERIOUSLY? Have you gone a day without carbs? let me tell you, you become a cranky mess. My daily food habits stay on the pretty healthy side with my plate full of whole grains and vegetables. But if anyone tried to tell me to live 12 months sans dessert I might go postal.

A life without dessert is simply a life not worth living.

That being said, dessert has its time and place. Moderation plays a big role and downing ice cream sundaes and cookies every day will probably not do your heart a whole heck of a lot. Instead, make a gorgeous dessert weekly, one that makes you smile and swoon at the same time. You’ll feel better physically AND mentally.

For this past Christmas, I decided to make a simple, fruit dessert. Enter Martha Stewart’s Grand Raspberry Trifle. Can you hear the angels singing? Because this dessert is truly heavenly. Pound cake soaked with lemon syrup, raspberry jelly, and soft whipped peaks of cream. AMEN.

You could buy the pound cake from the store but if you ask me, the store-bought pound cakes taste dry and dull. Since everyone AND their mom has a favorite pound cake recipe, I’ll leave you to it. I made my pound cake a the night before, wrapped it tight, and then sliced it as I was assembling the trifle. I ended up having some cake leftover but that wasn’t a problem since I had some family members who love scraps.

The only problem with this recipe is that it is not leftover-friendly. The cream gets clumpy and the cakes get soggy. But, if you have a trifle-loving family like mine, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Grand Raspberry Trifle
Attribution: MarthaStewart.com
Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Inactive Prep Time: At least one hour to chill

½ cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Sugar
¼ cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1 cup Seedless Raspberry Jam
4 cups Raspberries
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 ½ pounds Favorite Pound Cake

In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup water, and lemon juice to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool.

In a small bowl, combine jam with 3 cups of raspberries, stirring until mostly combined. It’s okay if the raspberries are mashed slightly.

In a large bowl, whip cream and 2 tablespoons sugar to stiff peaks, about 4-5 minutes. (Optional: I added ½ tsp of vanilla to sweeten the cream.)

Slice pound cake ¾ inch thick; brush both sides of slices with lemon syrup.

Fit ⅓ of slices snugly in the bottom of a 4-quart trifle dish or other glass bowl, trimming edges if necessary. Gently spread top of layer with ⅓ of raspberry mixture, and then ⅓ of whipped cream. Repeat to make two more layers; garnish with remaining cup raspberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours.

The First Day

3 Jan

When planning my trip home, I decided to stay in town to ring in the new year. I couldn’t imagine a better way to start of 2011 than with my friends and family.

2011 started in the best way possible:

  • Tiramisu Cake & coffee with my loveliest friend at a Sacramento hotspot
  • A thrilling movie that had the best costumes and acting I’ve seen in a while
  • The sweet taste of a Champagne Cocktail in a dark bar
  • Some light shopping from my favorite jewelry store
  • A quick cuddle from my furry boyfriend

I leave for NYC in 4 days and while I’m sad to leave, I am ready to get back to my NYC routine. The cafes, bars, museums, parks.

Christmas Treats

16 Dec

In the past, this little space of mine becomes decked out with the Christmas sweets. Cookies in every shape and flavor are featured on every page. Pies, oh the pies! Let’s not forget about the cakes too. Sadly, as you can see, I’ve posted NADA on Christmas sweets. However, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane and maybe give you some ideas for your holiday parties.

Chocolate bread pudding.

This would be a smart dish to make for a party since it can be made the night before hand and requires almost no day-of prepping. Use old eggy bread, soak it in the chocolate custard overnight, and bake it the day off.

Mini Lemon Curd Cheesecakes

For that big party you have planned, give these mini cheesecakes a shot. You can make them the night before, chill them overnight, and bring them to room temperature before your party starts. Plus, I guarantee your partygoers will be happy to see some citrus on the overly chocolate buffet table.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Dark chocolate, sweet condensed milk, and lots of butter. From the geniuses behind the famed Baked bakery, I present to you an addicting bar cookie.

Triple Chocolate Scones

Scones are a lovely way to start your morning. Why not kick it up a notch by adding in three different kinds of chocolate? I totally just made you drool, didn’t I?

Icebox Butter Cookies

Nothing says Merry Christmas like butter cookies, especially those dipped in festive sprinkles. What I love the most about this recipe is how easy it is. Slice and bake. It can’t be any easier, right?

Hope these Christmas treats help you out! They are some of my favorite recipes and have helped me in a pinch. Are there other recipes that you turn to annually? I’m curious to hear about your holiday staples.

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