Mini Peach-Almond Hand Pies

Hey y'all. Coming at ya with these Mini Peach-Almond Hand Pies made with Texas peaches. Truth be told, there are three kinds of nuts in these babies: almond, coconut, and pistachio—almond being the most prominent since it's used as the main ingredient in the crust. Coconut is used in the frosting and in the crust as well, and pistachio is sprinkled on top. These are gluten-free and almost (but not quite) vegan due to the egg-wash I used on top. I've been enjoying alternative baking quite a bit lately, along with the challenge of making pastries that taste delicious without the presence of animal fat or traditional flour—more satisfaction, less guilt. I almost forgot to mention that these are sweetened with maple syrup and coconut butter. 

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Vegan Strawberry-Oat Ice Cream Sandwich with Elderflower

Hello, the recipe for this dessert along with future ones I post on the site are available upon request. This one in particular is loaded with chia seeds, oats, coconut, almond flour, and other healthy and vegan ingredients. Thank you.

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Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

The little girl looked around in bewilderment

A treat too heavenly upon which to feast

She took a bite, then two, until her tummy was full

"How could it be that this is all for me?," she asked in disbelief,

taking in yet another spoonfull of bliss.

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Yellow cake with chocolate frosting is the first kind of American cake I remember having as a child. Basic and unpretentious, it's still one of my favorites. I have a vivid memory of walking into the school cafeteria as a 2nd-grader and seeing sheets upon sheets of yellow cake topped with chocolate and vanilla frosting being served by the line cooks. The world seemed so large and magical then. 

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Yes, the cake mix and frosting were surely from Betty Crocker, but really, who could be bothered with such thoughts back then? The worry-free, blooming version of me could care less. I hope you enjoy this homemade take on moist yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

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Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Makes one four-layered cake, about 8-10 servings. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Pre-Baking Notes:

- This recipe is offered in grams. Therefore, you will need a scale if you choose to follow the recipe.

- Please read recipe carefully before starting it to see what tools you'll need for the procedure.

- You can cut the recipe in half to end up with a double-layered cake as opposed to a four-layered cake, as shown in the last picture above. 

- Covering cake in ganache is optional. You can eliminate this step all-together if you rather cover the cake in more chocolate frosting instead of ganache, as shown in the last picture show above.

Cake:

  • 657 grams cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 226 grams butter, room temperature
  • 274 grams sugar
  • 92 grams light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 292 grams milk, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Set prepared cake pans aside for later use.

2. Sift flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add salt to dry ingredients and stir to combine.

3. Add softened butter, sugar, and light brown sugar into a large bowl. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar mixture until pale and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl once more. 

4. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until combined after each addition without over-mixing.

5. Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth the each top with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until tops are golden brown and a cake tester that has been inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean, about 30-32 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for about 20 minutes. Place cakes in the freezer for about 20 minutes, while you work on the chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 454 grams semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 40 grams cocoa powder
  • 104 grams boiling water
  • 408 grams butter, softened
  • 100 grams confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

1. Bring water to a boil in a small pot and set aside. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set bowl over pot of steaming water. Stir chocolate occasionally until completely melted, about 15-20 minutes. Remove bowl of melted chocolate from heat and place in the fridge. Let cool until chocolate reaches room temperature, about 25 minutes.  

2. Meanwhile, beat butter and confectioner's sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the electric mixer on low speed, add melted chocolate and beat until fully combined. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in cocoa mixture and scrape down sides of bowl once more. Continue beating until all ingredients are fully incorporated. 

Assembly:

  • two yellow cakes
  • chocolate frosting
  • 258 grams 65% dark chocolate, finely chopped (optional)
  • 258 grams heavy cream (optional)

1. Remove cakes from freezer. Run a small knife around the edges of cakes to loosen and turn cakes onto working surface, top sides up.

2. Place first cake on over a cake board and onto a cake stand. Using a serrated knife, trim top of cake (cake should be firm, but not frozen). Split cake horizontally to end up with two even layers total. Set cake layers aside and repeat cutting procedure with second cake to end up with a total of four even cake layers.

3. Place one of the bottom cake layers on the cake stand and spread about half a cup of chocolate frosting until it reaches the edges. Place another cake layer on top and spread with frosting. Repeat with another cake layer and more frosting. Place remaining cake layer on top. Spread entire cake with a thin layer of frosting and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

4. At this point you can either cover cake with one more layer of chocolate frosting or with chocolate ganache icing. If you want to cover it with chocolate frosting, spread a final layer of chocolate frosting in a swirling fashion. If covering the cake in chocolate ganache, place cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place finely chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until it comes to a simmer. Pour simmering cream over chocolate. Let heavy cream and chocolate stand for 3 minutes, then stir until smooth, starting in the center and working your way outwards until cream and chocolate fully emulsify. Pull cake out of the freezer and place over a rack that's placed over a large sheet tray. Pour ganache over the center of the cake, using a spatula to help guide the icing and cover all of the surface and sides of cake. (Optional: Collect all of the leftover ganache that has dripped onto the tray and place it into a bowl to chill. Chilled ganache can be placed into a piping bag and piped into swirls onto cake if desired. Decorate cake with flowers or additional chocolate if desired). Refrigerate cake for at least 1 hour before slicing it. Serve at room temperature. 

 

 

 

 

Rice Pudding (Arroz con Leche)

She craved the orange trees and orange blossoms

The smell of burning holy incense down the cobbled streets

While the young spring air kissed her face, gently,

Opening her eyes she realized once more, painfully,

that she was far away from that place.

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Arroz con leche is a humble dessert that's traditional of Spanish Holy Week (Semana Santa), but people tend to feast on it during the rest of the year as well. Different countries and people have their different take and version of rice pudding. I offer you my simple rendition and hope that you enjoy it.

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Arroz Con Leche (Rice Pudding)

Makes about 5-6 servings. Refrigerate for up to a week.

Pre-Baking Notes:

- This recipe is offered in grams. Therefore, you will need a scale if you choose to follow the recipe.

- Please read recipe carefully before starting it to see what tools you'll need for the procedure.

- Be sure to remove the white pith from the lemon peel with a pairing knife. This will remove the bitter taste from the peel. Failing to do so can make your rice pudding overly bitter. 

- Whenever heating up the milk, be sure to stir often to prevent milk from burning at the bottom of the saucepan. If burning were to happen, transfer milk to another saucepan immediately to prevent milk from obtaining a smoky flavor. 

  • 1, 060 grams milk, plus an additional 200 grams 
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon (3 sticks if they're small ones)
  • the peel of 1 lemon, pith removed
  • 104 grams sushi rice or bomba rice
  • 60 grams sugar
  • 22 grams butter
  • pinch of salt
  • ground cinnamon to taste

1. Place 1,003 grams of milk in a medium saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Once the milk has come to a gentle boil, place cinnamon sticks and lemon peel in the milk. Cover pot and infuse for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, rinse rice in several changes of cold water until water runs clear and drain in a colander.

3. Once infusion time is over, strain the liquid into a medium-sized bowl. Reweigh milk and add more of it as needed to make the total weight of the milk be 1,060 grams again. Return milk to the pot along with the cinnamon sticks and the lemon peel. (Note: if you like a completely smooth pudding without finding an occasional solid, feel free to remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon peel at this time. Keep in mind that the lemon and cinnamon taste may not be as strong. Plus, both can easily be removed at a later time if desired. I suggest leaving them for better flavor).

4. Heat milk once more over low heat until it comes to a simmer, stirring often with a spatula so that the milk solids don't burn at the bottom of the saucepan. Once milk comes to a simmer, pour rice into the saucepan and continue cooking until rice becomes completely tender to the bite, about 16-20 minutes, stirring very frequently. 

5. Add sugar, butter, and salt to the mixture and continue cooking on low heat until butter and sugar dissolve completely, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. At this point taste the rice pudding and add more sugar if desired. (I don't like my desserts to be overly sweet, but feel free to add more sugar to taste if you want extra sweetness). 

6. Pour rice pudding into a large serving bowl or platter and place in the fridge, uncovered for about 2 hours to chill. Remove rice pudding from the fridge and dust its surface with some ground cinnamon to taste. To serve, spoon rice pudding into a small bowl and add additional ground cinnamon if desired. If some rice pudding still remains in the large serving platter, cover it and refrigerate for up to a week. Always serve cold. 

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Kumquat Marmalade

Nothing came close to the kumquat tree.

She basked in its essence and life.

She witnessed its solitude time and time again through the foggy window.

Still, constant, remaining alive through it all

when she lacked life of her own. 

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I intended to share this kumquat marmalade recipe sooner, back when I first made it in the cold and wet month of January from my childhood home in southern Spain. My family has two kumquat trees in our backyard and two other ones in the front garden; a sight I never take for granted.

I know that spring has sprung and citrus is mainly a thing of winter's past. We're all excited to move forward to a more blooming spring season. My heart though remains stuck in the past thinking of this delicious kumquat marmalade. Hopefully you'll give it a try soon or at least save it for colder winter days ahead. 

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Kumquat Marmalade

Makes about 3 cups. Refrigerate for 2-3 weeks

Pre-Baking Notes:

This recipe is offered in grams. Therefore, you will need a scale if you choose to follow the recipe.

Please read recipe carefully before starting it to see what tools you'll need for the procedure. 

Slicing the kumquats is easily done with the use of a small serrated knife.

  • 2 lemons stemmed, halved lengthwise, and seeded
  • 500 grams kumquats, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced 
  • 1,270 grams water
  • 520 grams sugar
  • pinch of salt

1. Place the halved lemons on a cutting board and cut down the middle of each halved lemon length-wise to end up 8 lemon quarters. Cut each quarter into thin slices.

2. Put the lemon slices in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce heat so that water comes to medium simmer. Simmer until the lemons are translucent, about 5 minutes. Drain and discard the water.

3. Place the blanched lemons along with the sliced kumquats back in the pot, along with the water. Bring to a boil and remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let it stand for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 48 hours.

4. After the resting time has passed, place a small plate in the freezer. (You can also use candy thermometer and clip it to the side of the pot).

5. Add sugar and salt to the pot and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to bring mixture to a simmer and cook for about 45-60 minutes or until mixture has reached jelling point, about 220ºF (104ºC) degrees, if using a candy thermometer, or until it has the consistency of jelly after being tested. (To test the marmalade, put a small amount of marmalade on the small chilled plate you placed in the freezer and briefly return it to the freezer. Check it in a minute to see that marmalade is slightly jelled. If marmalade is still runny, continue cooking it until it has reached the desired a more jelled consistency). At this point taste for sugar. If marmalade is too bitter for you, feel free to add more sugar, but be sure that it dissolves completely before considering it done or else you run the risk of crystallizing to occur. 

6.  Remove from heat and ladle marmalade into clean glass jars.

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