Friday, September 16, 2011

Be right back...

Apple Cake

I'm taking a little vacation. If I feel motivated, I may put up a post or two but in the meantime, I leave you with this delicious apple cake, which is part of my endeavor to use up as much of my produce as possible. (The other 20 apples were turned into applesauce--pears became pear sauce. You get the picture.)

With any luck I won't come home to any sentient life forms in my refrigerator...Have a great weekend, everyone! If you're in NYC this weekend, you might consider checking out the Dumpling Festival at Sara D. Roosevelt park on Saturday. I am very sad that I will miss the dumpling eating contest (I'm so gonna enter next year).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival

Tea & bunnies

It's been mooncake season for weeks, if not months now, and the stores have been overflowing with more types of mooncakes than you could shake a stick at (and the packaging gets fancier and fancier every year, although the selection here is still nothing compared to what you can get in Asia!) I, however, have not had a single mooncake (and no, my mooncake-molded fish cookies don't count) yet this year! Which is okay, because I'm not really a fan of the traditional type--too sweet, too oily, and too rich. Fortunately during my food blog browsing, I kept running into photos of the gorgeous, spiralled Teochew style mooncakes and decided I might as well try making my own mooncakes this year! I really liked the instructions at House of Annie's blog, so I went with her recipe, omitting the pandan flavoring. Anyway, enough babbling, on to the process!

Okinawan sweet potato

The first thing I did was to make the filling. In this case, I used Okinawan sweet potatoes which I microwaved and then pushed through a sieve (you could use a ricer, or just mash it with a fork) and mixed with butter, a splash of milk, and a bit of sugar. Make sure you taste your filling and adjust because mine definitely needed more sugar. Next time, I might actually mix some condensed milk into this, that sounds pretty delicious actually. And I think steamed and mashed kabocha squash would also be a great filling. Roll into 20 balls and set aside.


The key to making the flaky, layered pastry is the two different kinds of dough. The un-colored ball of dough on the left is made with butter (and kind of with the techniques you would use to make a pie crust), while the dough on the right is made with oil and simply stirred together. Oh, I used a few drops of food coloring to tint the oil-based dough.

Combining the doughs

Wrap the oil-based dough in the butter dough, and pinch to seal. Then roll out into a rectangle (or an oblong, if you are incapable of rolling things into rectangles, like me). Then roll it up, like a jelly roll, and turn it 90 degrees:

Second roll

Roll into a rectangle/oblong again.

First roll

I really like how you can see the colored dough sealed inside. Roll this up again into a jelly roll, and then cut in half.


And you'll see this! You can see all the layers that have magically formed. I thought this was really cool! And I don't think it's because I'm easily impressed--this is really kind of like magic, if you ask me! You then flatten and roll this into a round, and if you can, make the edges a bit thinner than the center (like when you are making dumplings!).


Flip the round over, and put a ball of filling in the center, then gather and pinch the edges to seal. I found the dough a bit stiff and had problems getting it to stick together occasionally, but that was easily fixed with a dab of water to moisten the dough.

Before baking

This is what you'll end up with. You'll be able to see the rings/layers of pastry, and this dough seems to be able to stand up a fair amount of handling, so it's not quite as fiddly as I would have expected. Repeat with the remaining dough, and place your shaped mooncakes on a parchment lined baking sheet. They'll need to be baked at 350F for about 30 minutes, or until set and lightly browned on the bottom.

After baking

After baking, the layers will separate a bit so that they're more defined. Isn't it gorgeous? I am best pleased, even if the filling isn't sweet enough!

Purple innards!

I will leave you with a shot of the innards--I'm so happy that the sweet potato kept its purple color. Can't wait until tomorrow night when I can hang my head out of my apartment window and hopefully gaze at the moon while I munch on one of these!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Woohoo, Laduree Finally Opened!!!


(Warning--this post has a lot of exclamation points in it!)

Laduree finally opened in NYC!!! It's actually been confusing--they were supposed to open the 22nd, then it got pushed back to the 26th (which was when the hurricane was coming through), then their website said the date was actually the 29th while their Facebook page still said the 26th...anyway, they are finally open!! Woohoo! Now, the Upper East Side is not my usual stomping grounds (Tom Ford and Lanvin being somewhat out of my price range) but for macarons, I am totally willing to traipse across town!


Of course, once I got to the other side of town I was greeted by this--a massive line that ran all the way down the block. Geez, LOOK AT THIS LINE!!! 20 minutes later, we had moved maybe 5 feet and then someone from further up the line said something about the wait being an additional 30 minutes once you actually got inside the store...which made at least five people in front of me give up. Woohoo! The waiting was made easier by the friendly folks standing in front of and behind me, and it was nice to meet other crazy people who are willing to stand in line for food.


An hour in and we finally were standing in front of the display windows! So close and yet so far away! Oh also, at this point we could see that there was in fact another line inside that snaked back and forth, and all those people were blocking my view of the macaron counter--I think I had a mild fit at the possibility that there might not be any salted butter caramel macs left! (Although the nice man in suit-who-was-not-the-president-but-was-obvs-important assured me there were plenty left.) Another 20 minutes of waiting once we were inside, a quick selection, and I was out the door (actually the hardest part, because I had to dodge around the line!)

Macarons, woohoo!

And YAY, MY HAUL!! Oh, I should just point out that this is the standard box; they have all kinds of gorgeous gift boxes but you do pay a bit extra for those. My precious, precious salted caramel macarons are in the bottom right corner. Also, years ago when we went to Paris, we picked up a box of macarons at Laduree and then stupidly put them in our bike basket, so that by the time I got to eating them, they looked like this. I am so very pleased to have undamaged macaron photos now. (Also, apparently they are currently flying all of their macarons in from Paris, not baking them on-site.)

Macaron innards

And a bonus shot of the insides! Mmm, sweet sweet goodness....I can report the salted caramel is still my absolute favorite. The green apple tastes exactly like a green apple Jolly Rancher, which I am not 100% sold on. Anyway, don't worry, I haven't eaten these all in one shot, because I am not THAT crazy! I've still got a bunch left for later today...and tomorrow...and maybe even the day after that. YAY!!

Ladurée New York
864 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021