custom cakes/cookies

Monday, December 3, 2012

Matcha Evergreens

I contribute recipes to the blog of my friends' tea company, Arbor Teas. Here is a recipe that uses one of their teas in a festive holiday cookie.  

Besides flavor, one of the best uses for matcha powder in baking is to take advantage of its deep green hue as a natural food colorant. Green-tinged cookies cutout in the shape of trees make a unique addition to a cookie plate with a woodland or festive holiday theme. Arbor Teas offers an organic cooking grade matcha green tea powder that is specially blended to retain its flavor and aroma when mixed with other ingredients. Its slightly bitter flavor tastes particularly nice when paired with  sweetened pistachio paste. Pistachio paste can be a hard-to-find ingredient that might not be shelved in your local grocery. Luckily you can find it online at any well-stocked baking store, or you can try your hand at making it yourself with either this recipe or that one.


Pistachio Sanding Sugar Sprinkles

¼ cup shelled pistachios 
¼ cup coarse sanding sugar

In the bowl of a food processor, coarsely chop pistachios into small pieces. Be careful not to grind into a powder. Stir in sanding sugar and set aside.

Matcha-Pistachio Cutout Cookies

⅔ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon pistachio paste
¼ cup confectioners' sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon salt
¼ cup finely chopped pistachios
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1. Combine butter, pistachio paste, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Beat mixture until light and fluffy, using an electric mixer at medium speed.
2. Sift together flour, matcha powder and salt in a medium bowl, then stir in the chopped pistachios. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed until combined.
3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 350º F.
5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a ⅛-inch thickness. Using a tree-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as possible, placing the cutters as close as possible to avoid waste. Place on prepared baking sheets approximately 1 inch apart. 
6. Brush trees with the egg white to moisten. Sprinkle evenly with pistachio-sanding sugar. Lightly press into dough with finger tips.
7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges of cookies are lightly golden.
8. Cool on pan for 1 minute, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
9. Re-roll scraps to make more.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Green Rooibus-Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I contribute recipes to the blog of my friends' tea company, Arbor Teas. Here is a recipe that uses one of their teas as a foundation for a soup broth.

If you enjoy drinking non-caffeinated and herbal teas, then surely by now you have experienced African rooibus. And perhaps you’ve even learned how to pronounce it properly too (hint: ROY-bus). But have you tried green rooibus, yet? It’s an unoxidized version of traditional (oxidized) rooibus that tastes lighter, less sweet and more herbal compared to its counterpart. These qualities also make green rooibus infusions a perfect foundation for soup broth. Here I blend green rooibus with roasted butternut squash, garlic, onions and cream for a wonderfully rich and herbal wintertime soup. It whips up without too much trouble and freezes nicely if you’d like to have a meal at the ready as the busy holiday months approach us.

Green Rooibus-Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

serves 4

4 cups water
3 TBS Organic green rooibus tea leaves
2 lb butternut squash, split in half lengthwise and seeds scooped
3 cloves garlic sliced
olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 cups heavy cream
salt, fresh ground pepper and fresh ground nutmeg to taste

1. Bring water and organic green rooibus to a boil in a small sauce pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, then top with a lid and remove from heat. Allow rooibus to infuse while you proceed to the next step.
2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
3. Place the halved butternut squash on a roasting pan, sprinkle with the sliced garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until slightly browned and soft, 45 minutes to an hour.
4. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion until translucent. Turn off heat and set aside. Reserve saucepan, without wiping clean for the final steps of simmering the soup.
5. Scoop roasted garlic slices and squash from its skin into the canister of a blender. Add the sautéed onions and then strain the rooibus broth into the canister. Blend until completely smooth.
6. Pour the soup back into the saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits left behind from sautéing the onions.
7. Add the cream, salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Bring to a simmer again and heat gently for 10 minutes more. Do not allow to boil.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Masala Chai-Spiced Donuts

I contribute recipes to the blog of my friends' tea company, Arbor Teas. Here are two donut recipes I adapted using their Masala Chai teas.

Chai Cider Donuts
Chai Glazed Donuts

Choose your own adventure! This post is filled with decisions... Fried or Baked? Caffeinated or Not? Doughnuts or Donuts? When the weather turns cool, I like to make donuts. At least that’s how I’ve settled on spelling it. As for fried or baked? Well, that’s a texture preference. Personally, I like the cake-like quality of a fried cider donut more so than the doughy-ness of a glazed. The caffeine question is a bit more mood related. Arbor Teas’ organic Masala Chai Black Tea has more prominent notes of spicy cardamom and a kick from black pepper, while the naturally decaffeinated Organic Masala Chai Rooibos has a flavor profile distinct with warm ginger. Indecisive? The Organic Decaf Masala Chai Black Tea is yet another option that probably doesn’t help break any ties. Here are two very different and customizable approaches to making chai-spiced donuts. Which do you prefer?

Masala Chai-Spiced Apple Cider Donuts

Makes 18 3-inch donuts
Adapted from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso

Masala chai-spiced, boiled apple cider:

1½ cups fresh apple cider
1 tablespoon organic Masala Chai Black Tea or organic Masala Chai Rooibos, loosely packed in a disposable filter and tied off with kitchen twine

To make masala chai-spiced, boiled apple cider for use in the recipe below, simmer 1½ cups apple cider with the chai tea in a small sauce pan. After 5 minutes or so remove the tea bag. Bring the cider to a strong boil and continue to cook, stirring frequently to prevent spill overs, until the liquid is syrup-like and reduced down to about ⅓ cup. This should take about 25 minutes.

Donut batter:

3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
1¼ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
⅓ cup masala chai-spiced, boiled apple cider, cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for frying

Masala chai-sugar for dipping:

1½ cups sugar 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom 
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoons ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom and set aside. With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute after each. Next, add the buttermilk, chai-spiced boiled cider, and vanilla and mix well. The batter may look curdled at this stage. Fold in the flour mixture until mostly incorporated. A few lumps are OK, so don’t over mix.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with flour. Turn the dough out onto the baking sheet and gently pat flat to about ¾-inch-thickness. Dust the top of dough with additional flour, cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up a bit. Remove the dough from the freezer and use a lightly floured 3-inch donut or a cookie cutter to cut out about 18 donuts with holes. Gather any scraps and re-roll, chilling the dough again if needed to firm it up. Place cut donuts on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then transfer to the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up again.
In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat about 3 inches of oil to 370° F degrees. Line a tray with several layers of paper towels. Slip 3 or 4 donuts at a time into the hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Fry until deep golden on one side, about 1 minute, then flip and continue to fry about one minute more or until thoroughly cooked. Using a slotted serving spoon, transfer donuts to the paper-towel-lined tray. Continue frying the remaining dough (transferring to the freezer again for 10 minutes if you find it getting too soft as you work). 

For the topping, mix 1½  cups sugar with the spices. While still warm yet cool enough to handle, dip the donuts into the masala chai-sugar mixture.

Eat immediately with a mug of warm cider steeped in masala chai tea!

Masala Chai-Glazed Donuts (Baked not Fried!)

makes 10-14 donuts
Adapted from Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni

1 egg
¼ cup sugar
1 cup whole milk, heated to 115° F
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2½  to 3½ cups all purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes

For the masala chai glaze:

2 teaspoons organic Masala Chai Black Tea or organic Masala Chai Rooibos
⅓ cup water
⅔ cup milk
1 cup powdered sugar

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and sugar on medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Add the milk, yeast, salt and vanilla, and stir until blended. With the machine on low speed, add 2 cups of flour, about ½ cup at a time, and mix until the dough is thick and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Switch to the dough hook. With the machine on medium speed, add the butter one cube at a time, and continue to knead until no large chunks of butter are left in the bottom of the bowl, 3-5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the additional flour until the dough gathers around the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. It will be soft and tacky, but not overly sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Lightly butter a large mixing bowl.

Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and roll out to ½-inch thick. With a 3-inch donut or a cookie cutter, cut out 10 to 14 donuts and holes.

Preheat the oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the donuts at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

Bake until the donuts are light golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a chai tea latte for the glaze. Steep 2 teaspoons of masala chai tea in ⅓ cup of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Heat ⅔ cup milk until steaming. Combine the hot milk with the steeped tea. Next sift one cup of powdered sugar into a separate bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the chai tea latte to the sugar and whisk until smooth. Dip the top side of each donut into the glaze and let drip on a wire rack set over a piece of parchment paper.

Best eaten when still warm and along side an extra chai tea latte!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Khanom Krok (grilled coconut rice cakes)

photo credit: D. Harrison

The grilled coconut rice cakes (Khanom Krok) from Marnee Thai were the most memorable thing I ate during my summer vacation in San Francisco. It's a seasonal appetizer (occasionally offered at the restaurant) that is delivered to your table with quite a lot of flair. The cakes arrive still sizzling in the special cast iron griddle in which they were cooked. You watch as the wait-person loosens each cake from the pan and divvies them among your plates. They're fluffy yet glutinous and sweet. I was completely curious (and baffled) about how the texture of the pancakes was achieved, so I asked for the recipe. A day later the chef, Chai Siriyarn, emailed me a word document with complete instructions! He mentioned that Khanom Krok is a favorite street food in Thailand that is normally served for breakfast or as a snack. It's quite sweet, like coconut pudding, and depending on how you decorate with toppings, could also be considered a dessert. I topped mine with a salad made from corn and okra in my farm share and the broccoli growing (and flowering) in my garden.

Khanom Krok (Grilled Coconut Rice Cakes) 


8 oz. rice flour (½ pound)
2 teaspoons tempura flour or all purpose flour
½ cup steamed rice (cooked very soggy until clumped)
1¼ cups coconut milk 
1½ cups water 
½ teaspoons salt
oil for brushing the griddle 

For the topping 

1¼ cups coconut milk 
¼ cup honey (or less depending on your sweetness preference) 
½ teaspoon salt 

Combine rice flour, tempura flour and water, stir to mix and let soak overnight. Soaking the flour for the rice batter overnight is recommended in order to allow it to ferment a little. This is what makes the cake texture  soft and fluffy. 

The next day, purée cooked rice with salt and coconut milk in a blender until the texture is smooth. Add the soaked flour and pulse a few times to mix well. If you'd like some texture to your cakes stir in a bit of extra  steamed rice. Set aside. 

Combine the ingredients for the topping in a sauce pan over medium heat and stir to dissolve honey and salt.

photo credit: D. Harrison
Heat a well-seasoned khanom krok griddle on the stove over medium heat. Test that the griddle is hot enough by flicking a bit of water onto the pan. It should instantly sizzle. When the griddle is hot, lightly but thoroughly brush each dimple in the griddle with a little oil. Pour the rice batter directly from the blender canister into each dimple to about ⅔rds full. The batter should sizzle when it hits the hot metal otherwise the cake will not be fluffy. Swirl the rice batter by rotating the grill with your hands. This will coat the rim of each dimple to form a crispy edge. Then add a dab (about 1-1½ teaspoons) of the topping mixture over top each cake. Cover with a domed lid and cook for a few minutes over medium low heat or until the cakes are firm and crispy brown on the bottom. When the hotcakes are firm and a little crispy, remove gently with a butter knife or a spoon and transfer to a plate or serving platter. 

Re-grease the griddle before making the next batch. Stir the batter well each time before making each batch because the batter tends to settle. Repeat the process until all the rice batter is finished. Decorate with finely sliced green onions or chives or cooked match-stick size slices of pumpkin or cooked corn-kernels or cooked taro. 

Coconut Corn and Broccoli Salad 

adapted from 101cookbooks 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
2 ears of corn, shucked 
2 okra, sliced 
fine grain sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste 
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves cut into thin strips 
1 cup coconut flakes, toasted 
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted 
one half of a red onion, chopped 
2 cups broccoli florets 

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn and okra, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat the corn kernels evenly. Cook for a few minutes, until the corn looses its raw edge, and then transfer to a large serving bowl. Stir in the coconut flakes, almonds, onion, and broccoli florets.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thai Tea Parfait

I contribute recipes to the blog of my friends' tea company, Arbor Teas. Here is another recipe I created using their new blend for Thai iced tea.

I’ve had a steady interest in coconuts this hot, hot spring and summer--mostly in the form of cold, refreshing coconut water. It’s an extremely good source of potassium. After sampling a variety of different brands (some are so much better than others), my eating local sensibilities felt a little disheartened. Reading the labels, most all the coconuts are sourced from Thailand--of course! This makes Thailand my top travel desire of late. It also makes me grateful for my friends at Arbor Teas, who just introduced an organic and fair trade certifed Thai Iced Tea Blend to kick off National Iced Tea month. Jeremy and Aubrey worked pretty diligently to find the perfect blend of strong black tea, vanilla bean, cardamom, and anise. Best of all, their tea blend does not contain artificial dyes, unlike most commercial Thai Tea blends, which are shockingly orange. 

Feeling lucky to find a young green Thai coconut at my food Co-Op and remembering a Thai Tea recipe in Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar, I was inspired to make this parfait with Arbor Teas newest blend. The parfait base is a creamy gelatin, cloud-like mix of Thai tea, dulce de leche and tamarind, which is layered with fresh coconut curd and a crispy almond topping. It’s a fairly decadent dessert, but still light and not overly filling.

Thai Tea Parfait

adapted from Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar

Parfait Base

½ cup boiling water (100 g)
1 gelatin sheet (½ tsp powdered gelatin can be substituted for the sheet gelatin)
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk (75 g)
1 TBS dulce de leche (16 g)
1 tsp tamarind paste ( g)
¼ tsp kosher salt (1 g)
⅓ cup heavy cream (75 g)
2 TBS sour cream (35 g)

1. Steep the tea leaves in ½ cup hot water for 5 minutes. You’ll want a fairly strong steep since the flavors will get somewhat muted with addition of the cream and by serving chilled. 

2. Meanwhile bloom the gelatin sheet by soaking it in a bowl of cold water for about 2 minutes, or until softened. Gently squeeze excess water from softened gelatin sheet. (If using powdered gelatin, bloom by sprinkling it evenly onto the surface of 2 TBS cold water. Let rest for 3-5 minutes until dissolved.) 

3. Once tea has steeped, strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a medium bowl and while the tea is still hot, add the bloomed gelatin, stirring until fully dissolved. Whisk in the condensed milk, dulce de leche, tamarind paste, and salt until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. 

4. Chill this bowl by placing it in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Whisk every 5 minutes or so (for about 20-30 minutes) until the gelatin just starts to become rather thick. Don't allow the 

mixture to set fully, but allow it to get thick enough to be able to fold in the whipped cream from the next step below and still have it hold its shape a bit. 

5. While the base is setting, lightly oil 4 (2-ounce) silicone molds or, if not using molds, set out 4 ramekins or jelly jars. 

6. In a mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and sour cream until it holds medium-soft peaks. If the whipped cream is ready before the parfait base has set, put it in the fridge until ready to use. 

7. Once the ideal consistency of the parfait base is achieved, use a spatula to fold in the whipped cream until completely smooth and no white streaks remain. Pour into the prepared molds (or jars), and carefully tap on the countertop a few times to remove excess air bubbles. Freeze for at least 3 hours, or overnight. 

9. Pop the frozen parfait base out of their molds (if using, or skip this step if using jars). Thaw before serving, either overnight in the fridge or for 3 hours at room temperature. 

10. To serve, dollop and sprinkle alternating layers the coconut curd and almond crisp over the parfait base.

Coconut Curd

makes 2 cups
1 young Thai green coconut (¾ cup commercially prepared coconut cream can be substituted in a pinch)
1 cup sugar
¼ vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
½ cup unsalted butter, cold
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1 gelatin sheet

1. Cut the top off the coconut and drain the water into a blender. Use a spoon to scoop all of the white coconut meat from the inside and add this to the blender. Blend on high speed until homogenous. 

2. Add ¾ cup of this fresh coconut cream to a small saucepan along with the sugar and vanilla bean. Reserve the remainder of the coconut cream for another use. Set the blender canister aside, without washing, as you’ll need it again in the final steps below. 

3. Turn heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally until sugar is melted and steam starts to rise off the surface, as it comes to a simmer. 

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the whole eggs and egg whites. Add a bit of the warm coconut cream mixture to the eggs and stir to temper. Keep adding more coconut cream to the eggs, a bit at a time, stirring all the while, until all of it is fully incorporated. Return the mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking until it thickens and registers 180°F, approximately 12 minutes. 

5. Meanwhile bloom the gelatin sheet by soaking it in a bowl of cold water for about 2 minutes, or until softened. Gently squeeze excess water from softened gelatin sheet. (If using powdered gelatin, bloom by sprinkling it evenly onto the surface of 2 TBS cold water. Let rest for 3-5 minutes until dissolved.) 

6. Once the coconut cream mixture has thickened, remove the vanilla bean pod and pour it into the canister of a blender. Blend on high tossing in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Once all of the butter is incorporated, add the bloomed gelatin. Blend a few seconds more until it dissolves. 

Pour the coconut curd into a jar and let cool in fridge for several hours (or overnight) to allow it to thicken before using.

Almond Crisp

makes about 2 cups
2 TBS slivered almonds (15 g)
¼ cup almond butter (55 g)
½ cup feuilletine (40 g) (though not nearly comparable, crisp rice or corn flake cereal could be substituted, if need be)
3 TBS confectioners' sugar (30 g)
½ tsp kosher salt (2 g)
scant pinch of citric acid (0.25 g)

1. Heat the oven to 325°F. 

2. Spread the almonds evenly in a pie plate (or similar oven-safe dish) and toast in the oven for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. 

3. Roughly chop the nuts and combine with the almond butter, feuilletine, confectioners' sugar, salt, organic Thai black tea leaves, citric acid, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed for about 1 minute, until evenly distributed. 

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.