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Tempering chocolate used to make me quake in my shoes from intimidation. Not anymore. Like most skills, with enough practice, I finally master it well enough to do so reliably. At the beginning of the year, I set out to learn new techniques and tackle unfamiliar recipes. The parade of successes and failures came out of kitchen non-stop: baba au rhum, steamed barbecue pork buns, popovers, marshmallows, countless candies, many kinako treats, Swedish baked goods, kouign amann, croissant, French crullers, beef jerky, butter tarts, Princess cake, slab pies, baked Alaska, and of course, croquembouche. The biggest gain is my love affair with confectionary. Playing with sugar and chocolate become a large part of my repertoire. I marvel at the variations a few simple basic ingredients can turn out depending on how I manipulate them. It is as close to alchemy as it gets. It took me a long time to... Continue reading
Posted 11 hours ago at Dessert By Candy
Baking inspirations come in waves and recently I have more ideas than I can keep up. An interesting opportunity has come up recently and baking may take on a much bigger role in my life. It’s both scary and exciting at the same time. The scary part I need to face with unbiased analysis and determination. The exciting part is the reason behind this latest of burst of inspiration. I keep a notebook of ideas. Most of the time it is simply a bunch of words I jot down with little meaning without explanation. More mature ideas I like to include sketches to flesh out how I envision the dessert. Yesterday I went for a run around my neighbourhood and an idea came to me without warning. Obviously I did not have my notebook with me. As soon as I got home, I decided to keep the notebook and jumped... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
Last Sunday my cooking friends and I had another one of our famous themed gathering with ice cream being the feature star. With over 15 of us and many brought in more than one flavour of homemade ice cream, the selection was dazzling. Our host foodpr0n roughly divided the event into three segments. First, vanilla ice cream taste off. A bunch of us made our favourite vanilla ice cream recipe and we had a side by side taste test to determine the crowd favourite. The tasty contenders included recipes from Jeni’s, America’s Test Kitchen, Melissa Clark, David Lebovitz, Thomas Keller, Alton Brown, and Martha Stewart. After multiple rounds of tasting, our decision was deliciously split between David Lebovitz’s and Melissa Clark’s recipe. All seriousness aside, we then proceeded to make our most outrageous vanilla sundae creations with homemade sauces like bourbon caramel, chocolate magic shell, feuilletine, pie crust pieces, cookie... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
I baked many birthday cakes for family and friends. Some were greatly appreciated. Some we ate with indifference. Some instigated arguments that made irreparable damages to relationships. I never know what kind of reaction my homemade birthday cake would bring yet I never give up on this small gesture. I like to think that cake brings people together in delicious way. Last week I made a fancy four layer coconut cake for Dad’s birthday. The Cook’s Country recipe would yield a large 9-inch cake fit for a big party. I made a 6-inch and a 5-inch cake instead so it was not so daunting. The recipe was uncomplicated except for the use of cream of coconut (think Coco Lopez and pina colada). It took me a while to source this cocktail ingredient but it was effort well spent. It gave a huge boost of coconut taste in both the cake... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
We used La Caja China. So awesome. Cannot say enough good things about it. We bought the pig directly from a local farm. Are you also from the Southern Ontario area?
Toggle Commented Sep 30, 2014 on Slab Pie For Everyone at Dessert By Candy
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Slab pie fascinated me. How can it not? It is an oversized pie that embraces the crust-and-filling characteristic of its circular brethren yet has the portable sensibility of fussy pop tarts. It is streamlined to feed a huge crowd without extra work for the baker. Seems to me slab pie is the ultimate dessert for a backyard barbecue bash with 80 of my closest friends. Yes, 80. My cooking friends and I gave ourselves the moniker Asian Food Mob. Last weekend, we hosted our first pig roast to great success. Roasting a whole pig was quite involved and handling the pig both in its raw and cooked state was inevitable. Kudos to my friends who took the initiative and gifted us with tender juicy roast pork and crispy crackling! Obviously the pig was the star of our party. I gladly played supportive role by providing many vegetarian sides and desserts.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
Thank you Mary! So very very French. :)
Toggle Commented Sep 22, 2014 on Croquembouche At Dîner En Blanc at Dessert By Candy
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Thank you! It was a fun culinary and logistic challenge. :)
Toggle Commented Sep 21, 2014 on Croquembouche At Dîner En Blanc at Dessert By Candy
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This year’s Dîner En Blanc Toronto was magical. I thoroughly enjoyed the fabulous location at Ontario Place waterfront. The live entertainment of ballet dancers and painting were classy. The DJ and band put the crowd into a festive mood. I was so happy to be a part of this experience, to share a special evening with 1400 revellers in elegant white outfits. From last year’s experience, my friends and I decided that group of four was the optimal set up. Each of us was in charge of one course of the menu so our preparation was streamlined. Last year I made main course for my group but this year I enthusiastically volunteered to prepare dessert. I had the crazy idea to make a croquembouche from scratch and bring it to the secret event location. I am always up for a good culinary challenge. Why my fascination with croquembouche? This traditional... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
I am excited about next week’s Dîner En Blanc in Toronto. After last year’s less-than-ideal feedback, they were searching for new organizers this year and the event was in jeopardy. A few weeks ago, news began circulating that invitations for this year would be sent out soon and I could not contain my excitement. With my whole kit already assembled, it would be a huge disappointment if this elegant pop-up picnic is a no-go. Based on last year’s experience, my friends and I have our routine down pat. Each person in our group of four would be responsible for one course so we can maximize on efficiency. I volunteered to contribute dessert this year and I have big plans. First, let me give you an update of my picnic basket to see some upgrades that I made. I got myself a smaller, more lightweight basket that is easier to tote... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
Baking a successful pie makes me feel accomplished like nothing else can. By that logic, baking ten little successful tarts ought to multiply my sense of accomplishment ten fold, right? Last weekend, I had the pleasure of experiencing both. I don’t know if I really felt ten times prouder of my effort. What I know for sure, sharing homemade pies and tarts certainly made many of my friends and family happy! Let’s face it, Canadian cuisine does not have a strong identity. The few dishes that we can say are uniquely Canadian, we are fiercely proud and protective about them. If you want to start a lively argument at any Canadian parties, I suggest you declare loudly “a real butter tart ought to be…” and watch the feathers fly. As a avid baker, I am amused that I had not try baking butter tarts at home until last weekend. And... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
A lost in appetite is my coping mechanism. For someone who enjoys cooking as much as I do, it is somewhat contradictory. The last long weekend of summer came and went opening up old wounds and slashing new ones. I retreated to my kitchen to cook and cook and cook in hopes of temporary relief. Relief did not come but I did end up with plenty of home cooked comfort food. I finally came to the last bits of leftover from Montreal 24 relay catering. While it was convenient to have ready-to-eat breakfast and dinner everyday of the week, I grew tired of eating the same few things. I bet Little Brother shared my sentiments too. My cooking mojo fluctuated wildly from brilliant to absolutely inedible. Let me share with you my meal of comfort food that could have been so much more. Congee Dinner Congee with Cured Duck Gizzards,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
I did not plan on taking up the role of team chef again for Montreal 24h Relay in 2014. It is a lot of hard work, sleepless nights, and logistical challenges. Although my experience in 2011, 2012, and 2013 were all positive, turmoil in my personal life sucked all motivation to do anything ambitious like feeding 25 people over the course of 24 hours in a city 5 hours away from home. However, when I found out that my friend would race with our team on condition that I take on the role of team chef once more, I said yes. Thus began three weeks of frantic preparation to feed members of Toronto Inline Skating Club. Planning is key to success but staring down my spreadsheet to lock down the menu, compile the shopping list, and inventory my supplies are not glamorous work. I decided to go easy on myself... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
Hi Felicia! I'm so happy that the recipe works well for you. You can try reducing the amount of tapioca to 80g so texture stays loose. I haven't personally tried this though but would love to hear how well it works for you.
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Thank you Sean for the invite! I just submitted my recipe. Love the great work you guys and girls do at Punk Domestics!
Toggle Commented Aug 18, 2014 on Joy Of Small Batch Preserving at Dessert By Candy
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Sweden holds a special place in my travel experiences. It is one of the few countries I never planned to visit yet I somehow ended up in more than one occasions. Back in 2007, I spent a few days in Stockholm, Kiruna, and Jukkasjärvi as part of a whirlwind destination wedding at the Ice Hotel. In 2012, my Danish host took me on a day trip to Helsingborg (home of IKEA headquarter) while he was in the city for business meeting. My exposure to this Scandinavian country may be brief but all of the experiences were most memorable. For this very same reason, all the Swedish dessert I managed to sample left strong impressions. Earlier this year I was on a Swedish baking streak experimenting with semlor, kanelbullar, lussekatter, and rye loaf. Prinsesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake) was high on my priority list except I felt intimidated by the technical challenge.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
A few weeks ago I drove to Chicago on my own for a weekend of racing at the Chicagoland Inline Marathon. I attended this race countless times before but always traveled with other skaters. The 9-hour drive was decidedly not fun but I did enjoy the freedom to explore Chicago on my own between races. My wallet had the misfortune of visiting the AllSaints outlet store in Rosemont Fashion Outlets. My belly, on the other hand, had the pleasure of finally brunching at Rick Bayless’ XOCO. Every time I connect through O’Hare Airport, I always stop at Torta Frontera for a quick meal. Oh XOCO’s churros and bean-to-cup chocolate were everything I hoped for and more! As always, I ordered too many things. My brunch consisted of eggs & chorizo empanada, sikil pak, Oaxacan chocolate biscocho, churros with dipping chocolate, and Aztec hot chocolate. It was a feast. The hot... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
For time crunch weeknight dinners, nothing pleases me more than having all my ingredients washed, cut, and ready to cook. This is especially true for dishes that require meticulous prep involving long list of ingredients. Last weekend I spent a leisurely afternoon slicing up a storm and the result was not one, but two different dinners that satisfied my cravings for Korean food. I never really thought about it but bibimbap and japchae are remarkably similar. One is rice bowl topped with rainbow of toppings and the other stir fried sweet potato noodles tossed with the same spectrum of colours. I think this is the best way to describe my streamlined dinners: Aside from cutting so many different ingredients to matchsticks, it is also time consuming to stir fry them all separately so nothing is overcooked. Some I season simply with toasted sesame oil and salt, others I like to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
Thank you Irena and welcome! The thickness of creme fraiche really made the custard easier to handle than heavy cream. I love the slight tang it adds. Hope you'll try it soon!
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2014 on Cherry Custard Tart at Dessert By Candy
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I agree that the boiling must help to reduce the bitterness. I only thought it would take much longer than 2 hours based on my marmalade-making experience. If you can't get figs and oranges both at the same time, I recommend that you try dried figs. There are some really tasty ones out there.
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Oh I totally loved the class. If you have a chance, I highly recommend that you try the hands-on classes in their Brooklyn kitchen!
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Thank you Liliana! Please let me know how it turns out for you.
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One of my most memorable pastry experiences in Sydney was Black Star Pastry in Newtown. The closet-size store was packed with customers at any given time and with good reasons. Never mind that I felt so out of place in hipster central. Everything was prepared with great care and absolutely delicious. I only wished I had stomach room to sample more from their creative selection of cakes, pastries, and cookies. It’s been over 10 months since I returned home and I still dream about their Orange Cake with Persian Fig. I did a bit of digging around and discovered to my surprise that the cake is gluten free. The incredibly moist crumb is result of using whole boiled oranges in the batter. Using whole boiled oranges is not a usual practice with cake baking. How curious! These two clues led me to Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Orange Cake recipe. It... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at Dessert By Candy
LOL Mardi, to be fair, I wouldn't trade a summer holiday in France for a baking class in Toronto. I did not notice a section on their website for Toronto classes. I only heard about it from Dave Chang's tweet. I guess we should keep our eyes on Twitter for future classes? The next one is Birthday Cake, hands on!!! I'm so going.
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Hi Carol! So glad you're motivated to give the recipe a try! According to chef Tosi, the mix has slightly different directions that simplify the process. Do keep a close eye on the baking. Turn down the heat after the surface browns and then use the jiggle test every 5 minutes until the pie is done. With my oven, it took way longer than the 15min initial bake. I think it was about 25min to brown and then perhaps about 20-25min to set. Trust the visual cues otherwise you end up with a liquidy filling.
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