Entries from January 30th, 2008

Death By Chocolate – Vote and Win!

January 30th, 2008 · 13 Comments · Personal

I’m excited to tell you about this contest I’ve entered, not just because I think it’s a fun competition, but because all of you can also have a chance to win just by helping me out!

Culinate is holding a Death By Chocolate contest, where everyone is invited to vote on their favorite blog post about chocolate. Right now the contest is still open to entries and voting doesn’t start until next Monday, but the exciting part is that there will be two winners: one will be the blogger with the best post, the other will be drawn from everyone who has voted in the contest. So just by voting, you have a chance to win a trip to Napa, California, and attend Copia’s annual Death by Chocolate Festival!

Chococoffeetart

I have submitted one of my favorite posts on chocolate, about a Chocolate and Vietnamese Coffee Tart.
I hope you enjoyed it, and if you did, I am going to shamelessly ask you to please vote for me. The top ten vote-getting blog posts will move on the final round, where the winner will be chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of culinary and chocolate experts.

So please, Dessert First readers, consider voting for me and get yourself a chance to win as well in the process!

To participate, go to the Culinate contest page and register on their site. This will automatically get you one chance to win.

Then, go back to the site on Monday, February 4th and vote for your favorite chocolate post. This will get you another chance to win in the drawing.

Thank you all so much! Your support means everything to me!!

I’ll end with a teaser image of my latest recipe in Baking911′s newsletter, coming out in February: Rosewater Meringues with Roasted Strawberries. Yes, I’ve been working a lot with whipped egg whites this month!

Rosewaterstrawberry

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Daring Bakers Challenge: Lemon Meringue Lovelies

January 28th, 2008 · 67 Comments · Custards, Fruit, Pastry, Recipes, Tarts

Lemonmeringue

It barely seems like the new year’s had time to settle in, and it’s time for Daring Bakers already! This month’s host is Jen of the lovely The Canadian Baker, and she picked a great classic for us to make: lemon meringue pie. When I think of lemon meringue I always think of those Strawberry Shortcake dolls I played with as a child; I had the Strawberry Shortcake doll (of course) and my sister had the Lemon Meringue doll. I remember she had a big poufy hat that looked just like a swirl of fluffy meringue. I never did understand why her pet was a little frog though; I guess they were running out of different animals to assign to each character!

(As a aside, maybe I’m showing my age, but I like classic Strawberry Shortcake. I’m not really too keen on the modernized trendy new Strawberry Shortcake dolls I’m seeing in stores. And it looks like they gave Lemon Meringue a new pet – a skunk! Wow, this girl just can’t catch a break, can she?)

I’m really glad Jen picked the lemon meringue pie, because I’m seeing some beautiful Meyer lemons at the market right now, little splashes of perky sunshine just begging to be used. I really love Meyer lemons, from their painter’s palette-bold yellow color to their elegant smooth skins to their subtle tang. I’m already hoarding a batch in my kitchen with eager ideas for them, and making lemon meringue pie fit right into the plans.

I have to give a real thumbs up to this recipe as well; easy to execute with fantastic results. I’m not really a pie person; long time readers will notice I’m more of a tart girl, but this pie crust recipe came together and rolled out like a dream. My only issue was that the crusts shrunk a little more than I anticipated during baking, so I didn’t get as deep-dish a pie as I wanted. Nevertheless, the baked crust was flaky, buttery, and a lovely container for the lemon curd filling.

Since I used Meyer lemons, the filling didn’t have the traditional zing of other lemon meringue pies, but a creamy, smooth, and wholly satisfying lemon flavor. I really liked the addition of butter to the filling, as it reminds me a great deal of my favorite lemon curd by Pierre Herme. As luck would have it, it’s been pouring buckets here in the Bay Area, and anyone who’s dealt with meringues knows that humidity is meringue’s worst enemy. And why does it always seem to turn humid the day you decide to whip up some egg whites? Nevertheless, the meringue whipped up as billowy and satin-shiny as you please, and baked up beautifully in the oven.

Playing around with piping the meringue made for great fun as well: I liked the little dots as shown in the first picture above.

Lemonmeringue2

Or you could go for some ruffly peaks.

Lemonmeringue3

Or perhaps just the classic swirly mounds.

These little darlings are really best eaten right out of the oven, though; especially on a rainy day, they just don’t hold up for very long. Altogether this was a great Daring Bakers exercise; the little pies were polished off quite handily. Thanks to Jen for another fun challenge!

Lemon Meringue Pie
(from "Wanda’s Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)
 
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the cr ust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

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Two Years, Too Sweet

January 23rd, 2008 · 62 Comments · Cakes, Recipes

Greenteacake

It came as a huge surprise when I looked at the calendar and realized that Dessert First was about to turn two years old. Has it already been so long? I still remember when I started this blog, several months out of pastry school, with no idea of what was out in either the pastry world or the blogosphere, only that I loved to bake and that I really wanted a space to share what I was baking with the rest of the world.

Well, it’s been two years later and I never would have imagined all the things that could have occurred to a girl with a kitchen, a camera, and a computer. First, and most importantly, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people ever through Dessert First: bloggers, readers, writers, photographers, cooks, bakers -  of course all them fellow dessert lovers. I’ve been introduced to some truly inspiring blogs out there and also received some wonderful compliments from virtual strangers. I still remember the first time I got a comment from someone I didn’t know; it was the most unexpected pleasure, like a butterfly landing on my shoulder, discovering that someone out there who didn’t know me was moved to reach out. Today I’m still surprised at the e-mails I get asking me for pastry advice. It’s truly amazing to me – a heartfelt thank you to all of you who’ve written in!

I’ve made desserts that I would have never dreamed of doing, especially with the Daring Bakers urging me on, I’ve discovered that no matter how hard I resisted the lure of food photography was too tempting, and I realized that creating a webpage was only opening the door to opportunities I’d never imagined.

I’ve gotten to work with professional food photographers and done my very own professional photo shoots. I’ve gotten to judge a baking contest. I’ve had articles published in magazines. I’m writing a monthly column for Baking911.

Greenteacake2_2

And finally, the top secret project that I’ve hinted at, the reason my online presence has been so sadly diminished these last few months…I’m writing a cookbook that’s coming out at the end of the year!!

Yes, this is a real book being released by an established publisher; I am collaborating with another co-author and we have been hard at work on the manuscript, which is due quite soon – that’s why I’ve been so quiet in the blogosphere! It’s been an intense, exhausting, and very fun project, one that I’m very proud to be a part of and I can’t wait to tell you all more about it as it unfolds! I can mention the subject of the book though, which is…cookies:)

With the book occupying the bulk of my free time, I haven’t been able to devote as much time to Dessert First as I would have liked. There’s so many things I’d love to do with this site: more recipes, more photos, more features. Many of you have written me with suggestions, and I’ve taken lots of them to heart: there are tons of ideas I’d really like to implement here, and hopefully they’ll occur in the not-too-far-future!

Greenteacake3_2

So thank you all again for your encouragement and support! To celebrate Dessert First’s 2nd birthday and all the other exciting news I’ve shared, here is a creation inspired again by my recent trip to Hong Kong (I’m on an Asian kick, can you tell?) It’s another classic combination, green tea cake layered with red bean filling, two of my favorite flavors. The green tea cake is same one I used in my matcha opera cake, a Macbook Air-thin layer of genoise flavored with the smoky intensity of green tea. The filling is simply whipped cream with sweetened red beans folded in; red beans are a staple of the Asian dessert repertoire with their earthy, distinctive sweetness. They give the whipped cream a deep, sensual flavor without the overpowering richness of a buttercream. Elegant, light, not overly sweet: all hallmarks of Asian patisserie, and a beautiful way to celebrate.

Greenteabirthday

Here’s a slice of cake surrounded by several of my Flickr cards, happy little reminders of all I’ve done. I look forward to ordering more sets with all new images of the desserts I’ll create in the year to come!

Green Tea Cake with Red Bean Filling

Green Tea Genoise

2 eggs, room temperature
2 ¼ oz confectioners’ sugar
2 ¼ oz ground almonds
about 1 tsp matcha powder (to taste)
1 oz all purpose flour
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 ounce sugar
½ ounce butter, melted

Red Bean Filling

1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces prepared red beans – I didn’t have time to prepare my own red beans so I bought a tin of prepared red beans at the Asian grocery – they are already cooked and sweetened and ready to use in desserts. Look for the word "Azuki" on the label; they should be individual beans and not red bean paste.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan (about 12"x16") with a sheet of parchment paper or a Silpat.

Combine the eggs with the confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds in a mixer until cream-colored and light.

Add in the matcha powder and combine. You can add more or less depending on your taste, but don‒t add more than 1 ½ tsp or it might affect the cake’€™s texture.

Remove from the mixer. Sift the flour over the egg mixture.

Whip the egg whites in a clean bowl on a mixer at low speed until they start to froth. Then add the cream of tartar and increase mixer speed, whipping until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar and whip for a few seconds longer to incorporate.

Scoop about 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg mixture and fold in gently with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining egg whites and fold in until uniformly mixed. Pour the melted butter over the batter and fold in to incorporate.

Pour the batter into the half sheet pan and distribute it evenly with an offset spatula, making the layer as level and smooth as possible.

Bake in the oven for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the cake is just firm and lightly brown but not completely brown – this cake should not be overbaked.

Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Slide the cake off the sheet pan and onto a wire rack to cool. When the cake is no longer hot but still warm, place another rack or sheet pan on top of the cake and flip it over, then carefully peel the parchment paper from the cake to prevent it from sticking to the cake. You can place the parchment paper clean side down or a clean Silpat onto the cake, then flip it back over to finish cooling.

When you are ready to assemble the cake, trim off the edges and slice the cake in half along the short side, then cut each piece in half along the long side so you get four 6"x8" pieces.

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold in the red beans gently with a rubber spatula until they are evenly distributed; the cream may take on a light reddish tint.

Place cake layer on a covered cake round and frost the top with a quarter of the whipped cream. It’s ok if some of the cream goes over the sides; just try to keep the layer even.

Cover with a cake layer and frost the top with a third of the remaining whipped cream. Repeat until you have assembled all four layers of cake.

Cover the cake and refrigerate overnight.

When you are ready to serve, trim off the sides of the cake to make them nice and even.

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Mango Memories

January 16th, 2008 · 27 Comments · Custards, Fruit, Recipes

Mango3

One of my favorite treats to get while I was in Hong Kong was a cold mango drink from Hui Lau San. I particularly gravitated towards a concoction of mango juice mixed with coconut milk, tapioca balls and chunks of fresh mango – rich and refreshing tropical bliss.

I decided to create a dessert version of that drink when I returned home, and here’s the result: a parfait made of layers of mango cubes, rich coconut pastry cream, soft mango mousse, and a sprinkling of tapioca on top, like a dash of caviar.

Unfortunately the coconut pastry cream didn’t come out as white as I’d hoped due to the eggs in the recipe; although I lightened it with a bit of whipped cream the resulting hue is still fairly close to the color of the mango mousse. I didn’t get the tri-color layering that I wanted – but the flavors are still a sensual combination of creamy, fruity, velvety, chewy, fluffy: a sweet memory of Hong Kong.

Mango4_2 

It’s hard for me to imagine anyone not loving the mango, which embodies all the honeyed, voluptuous charms tropical fruits possess, from the rainbow-hued skin to its florid scent. Consuming a burstingly ripe mango by hand on a warm summer’s day is a gloriously heady exercise. Most likely mangoes will still be firm and unripe when you purchase them; let them sit in a paper bag for a few days until the flesh yields slightly under light pressure, and the fruit smells wonderfully sweet.

Of course, mangoes are also known for that annoyingly large pit in the center. I used to have to practice slicing and scoring halves off of mangoes to make those pretty "blossoms" to decorate fruit tarts; now I discover there’s a handy pitter that’s been invented to easily separate the mango flesh from the pit. Does it work? I don’t know, but it could be worth a try!

The sweet fruitiness of the mango makes a lovely partner to the lush creaminess of coconut. Using coconut milk in place of dairy milk to make pastry cream results in an even richer, thicker product; sinfully velvety on the tongue and a perfect foil to the airiness of the mango mousse.

The chilly winds of winter are still blowing here, but a bite of this dessert and I can almost feel the sunshine coming through the clouds.

Mango2

Mango Coconut Parfait

makes about 6-8 servings

Coconut Pastry Cream

1 cup (218 g) coconut milk

2 Tablespoons (30 g) + 3 Tablespoons (44 g) sugar

3 egg yolks

2 Tablespoons (14 g) cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup heavy cream

Fresh Mango and Mango Mousse

3 ripe mangos (about 600 g total)

1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar (plus more to taste)

1 cup heavy cream

To make the pastry cream, combine 3/4 cup (172g) of the coconut milk with 2 Tablespoons (30g) of sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on the stove over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and bubbles appear on the edge of the pan.

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and 3 Tablespoons (44g) sugar in a bowl.

Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup (46g) coconut milk in a small bowl and then add to the egg yolk mixture, whisking to combine.

Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking.

Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Stir in the vanilla.

Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface, and refrigerate until needed.

When you are ready to use the pastry cream, whip the cream in a mixer to soft peaks, and then fold gently into the pastry cream to lighten.

To prepare the bottom mango layer, peel the mangos and slice away the flesh from the pit. Cut the flesh into small cubes – you will need about 300g total. Save the rest of the mangoes for the mousse.

Puree about 100 g of the mango cubes with 1/4 cup (or more to taste) of sugar until smooth.

Combine the mango cubes with the puree and pour into individual serving glasses to make the first layer.

Top the mango layer with a layer of the coconut pastry cream. Refrigerate while you are making the mango mousse.

To make the mango mousse, puree the remaining mango flesh with about 1/4 cup (or more to taste) of sugar until smooth.

Place about a third of the puree in a saucepan with the gelatin and heat on low heat, stirring constantly until the gelatin is melted.

Pour the warm puree out into the rest of the puree and let it cool slightly until it thickens a bit, but don’t let the gelatin solidify.

Whip the cream in a mixer bowl until it holds soft peaks.

Carefully fold the whipped cream into the mango puree until it is combined. Divide it among the serving glasses. Refrigerate overnight to let the mousse set.

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And the Winner of Dessert First's Prize is…

January 11th, 2008 · 1 Comment · Giveaways

The winners of the Menu for Hope campaign have been drawn, and I’m happy to announce that Jessica Su is the lucky receipient of the Deluxe Boxed Assortment from Charles Chocolates!

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Thank you to all of you who helped make Menu for Hope IV wildly successful – over $91,000 was raised for the UN World Food Programme! Kudos to the food blogging community for pulling together to make this happen – I’m very proud to be a part of it!

I wasn’t quite able to pull together a dessert post for this week, but never fear, it’ll be up early next week! I’ll leave you with a small teaser to start off your weekend…stay warm and dry!

Mango

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Happy New Year – A Very Sweet Trip to Hong Kong

January 4th, 2008 · 22 Comments · Sweet Spots, Travel

Macau_2

Happy (belated) New Year – I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and are looking forward to 2008 (well, as much as I can – it’s raining cats and dogs in San Francisco today). Returning from sunny, tropical Hong Kong was quite a shock to the system!

This shock was due in no small part to the indulgences I partook in while on holiday: sleeping in, a parade of family activities (I saw some cousins I haven’t seen in almost 10 years – my gosh we’re all grown up!), shopping that easily tripled the contents of my suitcases (not that I’m a shopaholic – well, maybe a little – but it’s hard not to be when it seems like 50% of Hong Kong is retail space), and of course the eating (that would be the other 50%).

I get asked often, "How do not gain weight when you go to Hong Kong and eat so much?" Well, I actually think the answer lies in the preponderance of stores and restaurants in the city. You basically follow this routine:

1. Go to mall/downtown/outside your hotel/anywhere and start shopping. Keep shopping until you realized you’ve probably walked several miles and are exhausted.

2. Go to nearby restaurant/cafe/street stall and eat.

3. Go back to shopping.

4. Repeat cycle.

Essentially you will spend so much time walking around and shopping that you will burn up all those delicious calories you’ve ingested. A beautifully efficient system, really.

Skyline_3

In all honesty, there are many other wonderful things to do in Hong Kong besides shopping and eating – the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens are but a handful of steps from my parents’ flat in the Mid-Levels, giving us the unusual opportunity to be both close to the hyper-urban downtown Central district as well as a zoo. A little more strolling takes you to beautiful Hong Kong Park, which contains an amazing aviary and conservatory, as well as gorgeously landscaped grounds. As a bonus, it’s a popular spot for newlyweds to get pictures taken, as the marriage registry is just outside the park: go on the weekend and you’re likely to see a dozen beaming couples posing by the flowers or waterfalls.

Mandarin

You can also visit Macau, which is but a 45 minute hydrofoil ride away from Hong Kong. A former Portuguese colony, it maintains an old European charm in many parts of the islands that makes it an ideal getaway from the bustle of Hong Kong. However, it’s no secret that the gaming industry in Macau is rising faster than a soufflé in an oven – and it’s not likely to deflate anytime either. A walk down the Cotai Strip shows construction as far as the eye can see – construction of a Strip that will rival the one in Las Vegas (Macau’s gaming revenue has already surpassed that of Sin City). My suggestion? Explore old Macau during the day  – the colonial architecture and narrow cobblestone streets will transport you to Europe – then visit the gaming tables at night for glittery hedonism at its most exciting.

All right, on to the part I’m sure you’re most excited to read about – sweets in Hong Kong. What I love most about pastry in Hong Kong is the variety and innovation. You can buy a bag of eggettes (a kind of waffle) from a streetside vendor for a dollar or have high tea at the Peninsula Hong Kong. You can sample perfect French pastries or have classic Chinese dessert soups, perhaps on the same street. I also think that Hong Kong, like all major cosmopolitan cities, has a sort of ADD – the citizens are always on the lookout for the new and exciting, so stores constantly have to come up with new items to retain customers’ interest. See some of the items I saw in the bakeries there:

Maxim

Holiday cakes from Maxim’s, a popular bakery chain. The snowman was lovely – vanilla sponge cake on crispy feuilletine over a chocolate cake base. Surprisingly sophisticated and well done for a chain shop.

Cocoteddy

The variety of breads in even the humblest of bakeries is staggering. See the "Coco Teddy" bear shaped bun filled with chocolate. Coco Teddy, you were delicious – I love you!

I will also note that Beard Papa’s and Krispy Kreme are part of the culinary landscape now as well – and even these chain shops were offering special holiday items like black sesame cream puffs and tree-shaped donuts – I really wish they would do things like that here in the U.S.!

My list of great places to get a sweet bite in Hong Kong:

Honeymoon

Hui Lau San

I’ve rhapsodized about this place before; the red-and-gold festooned shops are ubiquitous, which makes them the stop of choice when your feet are tired and you’re thirsty. They are sort of like Starbucks, only everything is made from fruit so it’s much healthier (and tastier, in my opinion). You can get anything from a bowl of fruit mixed with sago to aloe jelly with coconut juice. I always get something from the Mango Mania section, because Hong Kong residents can’t seem to get enough of mango and neither can I. The mango jelly in mango and coconut juice is a favorite. The Hui Lau San I seem to frequent the most is the one in Causeway Bay, just across from Sogo and a block away from the Times Square mall – the height of convenience.

Honeymoon Dessert

Another popular series of dessert shops, this one centered around traditional Chinese desserts like walnut and black sesame soups, almond tea with tapioca, or thin crepes filled with red bean or mango. They also have items with durian, that olfactory menace of a fruit – try it but be prepared for your table companions to make a hasty departure! Honeymoon Dessert shops are scattered around Hong Kong; there’s one in the ifc mall in Central and at the apm mall in Kwun Tong.

Petits

Dessert at Elements

I made a visit to Elements, the highly touted new mall in Tsim Sha Tsui (I am always amazed that they are always building new malls – the Hong Kong appetite for shopping is truly insatiable). It is elegant, modern, and occupied by every high end luxury brand you can imagine, from Armani to Versace. If your pocketbook is feeling a little light after your stops at Cartier, Fendi, and Valentino, you can get a little pick me up at PETiTs by Deschamps, offering the most couture of cupcakes, or at La Création De Gute, a swank little patisserie.

Dessert Buffet at the Tiffin, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Remember my dreamy experience there? Desserts with a French pedigree and an Asian flair – chestnut seemed to be the theme ingredient (I loved a chestnut and chocolate mousse) but there were many other delights to sample, from fruit tarts to cream cakes, homemade ice creams and sorbets, Belgian waffles made to order, chocolate fondue with skewers of marshmallows and fruit lined up like ornaments, sweet soups and fresh fruit. You can nibble on your plate of sweets while gazing out the floor to ceiling windows at the panorama that is the Hong Kong skyline – a true feast for all the senses.

Bambu

Bambu

I’ll also mention a few favorite experiences in Macao: The Bambu at the Venetian offers an excellent Asian-themed buffet with an impressive selection of desserts, including homemade ice cream.

Almond

Pasteleria Koi Kei

Go to the old districts in Macau and you’ll likely find shop selling Macau sweet specialties like peanut candy, seaweed wrapped wafers, and almond cookies. You can see the baker above making them; many pastry shops have demonstrations like this outside the shop and give samples away liberally, encouraging lookers to stay and buy. Koi Kei has some of the tastiest almond cookies, especially hot and freshly made.

That just about scratches the surface of what’s available in Hong Kong. I look forward to my next visit…and discovering what has changed in my absence. Meanwhile, I’m excited to back home in my kitchen baking again!

Macau2

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