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Matcha and Chocolate Mochi Bundt CakeMar 10, 2012

If there's any world culture that knows how to translate the flavors of Spring into food, it has to be the Japanese. A few years ago, my family traveled to Japan to see the cherry blossom bloom and follow it from Kyoto on the southern end of Honshu island up to Tokyo farther North. In Japan, they not only recognize the changing of seasons, they celebrate it: we were lucky enough to be in Kyoto during the Spring festival, when the evenings are a-glow with paper lanterns, and Japanese nationals in traditional kimono show up in droves to write their prayers on little scrolls at the Buddhist temples. And everywhere you turn, they revel in the beautiful pink blossoms that shower the streets with food and pastries honoring the season that signals new beginnings.

We scarfed (yes, scarfed . . . because we're Japanese Americans without a clue about the social graces of those born in Japan) down delicate pink mochi treats and sweet rice wrapped in salt water-soaked cherry blossom leaves. Chirashi came sprinkled with fluffy pink denbu (sweetened cod flakes). Little flower-shaped senbei crackers were tinged green with matcha powder and strewn with shaved toasted nori. And despite it being a 40ºF and rainy March, we intensely felt the turning of a seasonal page and tasted it with nearly every meal.

We haven't quite hit the Spring Equinox, but thanks to some unseasonably warm weather here in San Francisco, my mind is already focused on starting anew. I rediscovered the bundt pan I inherited from my grandmother, and with some mochi flour and matcha powder, I set about recreating those flavors and feelings from our travels.

Ready to celebrate a new season? Check out the recipe at YumSugar.

[La Maison du Chocolat] All About ChocolateMay 22, 2012

mieko14 reblogged this from Sesame's World of Macarons and added:
My macaron-obsessed sister-in-law sure knows a thing or two about these delicate French pastries. She's on a mission to sample the best that NYC has to offer before she moves to Seoul next week, and I am more than happy to follow her adventures (and can't wait to see the amazing treats she finds in Korea!).


Just a couple of weeks ago, my friend got assigned to another flight to NYC, so we had a nice, long date. We started off the day by eating ramen at Menkui Tei, and after doing some shopping, we decided we needed something sweet. My friend told me that after our experience at Ladurée, she got hooked onto macarons. Of course, that meant we had to have macarons. I yelped the nearest macaron shop, and since I hadn't tried this place before, we began to walk to La Maison du Chocolat.

The one we went to was at the Rockefeller Plaza, although there is one at Wall Street and another in the Upper East Side.


Apparently, this store's specialty was chocolate, so I was curious as to what kind of macarons it would carry.

Rows of macarons!!! I couldn't resist this scenery and took a picture, but a lady came up and told everyone, "No photography please." Meh.


I bought a box of 6, which cost a total of $16.50. That's $2.75 per macaron.

I got passion fruit, coffee, caramel, pistachio, raspberry, and lighter dark chocolate.

The colors are really pretty! Earthy colors, fitting to a store whose specialty is in chocolates.

What's unique about these macarons is that the fillings are all chocolate. However, they have incorporated various extracts into the chocolate according to its flavor - for example, the chocolate filling for the caramel macaron tastes like caramel. Also, I don't know if this is because the filling has melded and seeped into the macaron hats, but the hats have a strong flavor too.

Well, here goes the tasting!

First off, the lighter dark chocolate. Wasn't too unique, so I don't have much to say.

Next, coffee!! This was one of my favorites, as it had a nice, rich coffee flavor that wasn't too bitter nor too sweet.

Rasberry. I love berry-flavored chocolate, so this was also pretty good.

Passion fruit. Not a big fan of passion fruit - it has a sort of bitterness that I can't get used to.

Pistachio. Didn't taste much like pistachio, so it was a bit of a disappointment, since I love pistachio macarons.

Caramel! This was pretty good. I loved how the chocolate filling tasted like caramel and had a sort of gooey texture that is unique to caramel.


The macarons of La Maison du Chocolat were nice quality and tasted good. However, the store doesn't carry a great selection of flavors. I'm not talking about HOW MANY flavors, but the VARIETY. But then again, this place specializes in chocolate, thus the flavors are centered around that and the macarons are all filled with chocolate.

Besides the whole texture of the macaron hats, which is key to a great-tasting/feeling macaron, the fillings are what essentially delivers the flavors. So in that sense, I've become an anti-fan of chocolate ganache, which, with its strong flavor and sweetness, covers up other flavors. While La Maison du Chocolat incorporates different flavored chocolates to fill their macarons, chocolate is what you taste the most. As much as I am a lover of chocolates and macarons, I sort of got tired of eating these macarons.

But still, these are good macarons to have if you are craving something chocolatey! The next review will be on the macarons from Cha-An!

Sneak preview:

Puerto Rican Dessert-Inspired Mini CupcakesJan 18, 2011

Nicole and her husband Chris treated a bunch of us to a wonderful Puerto Rican meal at their awesome new house on Saturday, and since I'm terrible at selecting housewarming gifts ("Here's a Jonathan Adler vase for your...er...clearly French Rococo-style home!"), I decided to put my free time to good use and bake up a selection of mini cupcakes inspired by various Puerto Rican desserts. I tried to create a balance of tastes, picking out a few tropical fruits as well as caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, and coffee flavors. So after shutting myself in the kitchen for several hours, the final list came down to (clockwise, from left):

Guava with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Dark Chocolate with Coffee-Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Dulce de Leche (brown sugar cupcakes with dulce de leche buttercream frosting)

Piña Colada (pineapple cupcakes with coconut cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut)

Happy baking!

Spiced Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Cinnamon-Coffee Buttercream FrostingJan 17, 2011

I looooooove Mexican chocolate. And Mexican chocolate in a cupcake? Divine! Mission Minis does a great Aztec Chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream (and their Cinnamon Horchata is to die for!), but when I think of a staple flavor of the tropics that melds well with chocolate and cinnamon, I think of coffee, so a coffee-infused frosting was a must. They key to both is making that cinnamon flavor really stand out, so I put it in both the cupcake and the frosting so it wouldn't get lost in the shuffle. These cupcakes came out a little dry and the frosting a little too soft for my liking, so I have adjusted a few ingredients accordingly. For the recipe, read on.


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