Fun fact: I finally had a dream where my baby was in it. I guess it took a while for my subconscious to catch up, but I suppose now I’m a mommy through and through. One of my biggest fears when I was pregnant was that I would never have a free moment again. Would I never be able to do anything without thoughts of baby running through my head like a subliminal bassline?
Well, three months in, and now that I’m I’m surprised at the free time I’ve been able to find (I know, I know, you experienced parents are saying it’s because I only have one kid. I realize that and I’m relishing it as much as I can.) Of course, said free time comes in unexpected drips and drabbles. The challenge in trying to write, photograph, nay – think coherently at a moment’s notice, sort of becomes a do-or-die necessity when you become a parent.
So my main distraction for the last couple weeks has been organizing a little party for baby, while trying to take care of said baby. Since she’s only three months old and obviously will remember nothing of the event, it’s hard to explain to her why mommy needs some time to test recipes, make decorations, clean the house, etc. And she’s such a fun distraction now, not just a she’s-hungry-again? distraction or she’s-been-quiet-for-five-minutes-oh-god-what’s-wrong? distraction. She likes to have babbly “conversations” with me, or to be held in my lap and look around the house.
If all goes well I’m looking forward to writing a nice long post about Isabelle’s first party; in the meantime, I’d like to share one of the recipes I worked out for the event. For those of you who’ve been to Asia or Asian groceries, you probably know what Pocky is: little biscuit-y sticks dipped in all sorts of delicious flavored coatings. When I was little, Pocky only came in a couple flavors, like chocolate and strawberry. Now there’s about a billion different fancy varieties; making Pocky sort of Japan’s version of the macaron.
Although Pocky is near-ubiquitous in Asian supermarkets, I thought it would be fun to attempt a homemade version. I actually found a surprisingly straightforward recipe in Pichet Ong’s The Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts, which produces a sweet, pliable dough that bakes into crisp little sticks. It’s also very quick to whip up, easily made in between baby’s naps, which is key these days.
The most time-consuming part, of course, is forming the cookie sticks. You want them thin enough to be elegant, but not too thin or they’ll be too fragile and snap too easily. They will puff up slightly in the oven, so keep that in mind as you’re rolling them out.
Although the recipe makes a chocolate dipped version of Pocky, my favorite flavor has always been strawberry. To that end, I decided to dip mine in white chocolate and then coat them with bits of crushed freeze-dried strawberries. The result was better than I hoped: The lightly sweet, crisp cookie sticks were very reminiscent of Pocky sticks (actually, almost like sweet breadsticks), and the strawberries were intensely flavorful. Very addictively munchable, as all stick-like snacks should be.
I hope to be able to share the rest of the party desserts with you soon!
- adapted from Pichet Ong's The Sweet Spot
- 1/4 cup (80 g) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup (155 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg white, beaten
- 1/4 cup freeze dried strawberries
- 4 ounces (120 g) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
- Combine condensed milk with 2 tablespoons water in a bowl and set aside.
- Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in bowl of stand mixer. Mix with paddle attachment until combined.
- Add butter and mix until combined. Add in condensed milk in a stream while mixer is running on low speed. Mix until dough comes together, a couple of minutes.
- Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, form into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a couple of baking pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Divide dough into quarters, and then each part into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then into a thin stick about 6-8 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Place on prepared baking sheets about 1/2 inch apart. Chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- Brush sticks with egg white (just the exposed top and sides are fine, you don't need to flip them over). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Cool on wire rack.
- Crush the dried strawberries in a food processor or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin to small bits (if you're using a food processor, be careful not to completely pulverize them to dust).
- Melt white chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water. Transfer chocolate to a long, shallow dish.
- Dip cookie sticks in chocolate, leaving one end undipped. Sprinkle crushed strawberry bits over the chocolate. Place dipped sticks on parchment paper and place in refrigerate to set, about half an hour.