{Cookbook Review} I’m Back! With Apricot Lemon Hazelnut Bars

June 15th, 2011 · 18 Comments · Cookbooks, Cookies, Recipes, Reviews

Apricot Hazelnut Lemon Bars on dessertfirstgirl.com

Hello all! I’m back from a 12 day Mediterranean cruise – Rome to Venice, with a bunch of Greek isles in between. I finally got to tick quite a few places off my travel wish list; I’m eager to share a recap with you in the next few weeks!

But first, thanks for your patience during my absence and thanks to all who entered the contest for Alice Medrich’s newest cookbook. The winner of a copy of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy is:

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Hong Kong Eggettes (Daan Jai) for Mother’s Day

May 8th, 2011 · 28 Comments · Pastry, Personal, Recipes, Reviews, Tools

Eggettes (Daan Jai) trio

My first trip to Hong Kong that I remember happened when I was in fourth grade. (My very first time to Hong Kong, I was only a few months old, and therefore have no memories of that trip – a shame, as my maternal grandmother passed away shortly afterwards). When I went again as a fourth-grader, my mother took my sister and I down to the twisty streets of Yau Ma Tei and stopped at a streetside cart where a elderly man was spooning batter into what looked like a handheld waffle maker held over a charcoal grill. In a few seconds he turned out a golden, bubbly sheet into a paper cone and handed it to me.

Plain Eggettes

This was my introduction to eggettes, a classic Hong Kong street food. Like most street food, they taste best seconds after they’ve been handed to you by the vendor. Crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, it’s like bubble wrap made of cake, and pulling off the individual “eggs” affords a satisfaction akin to popping the little bubbles on bubble wrap. The Chinese name, daan jai or gai daan jai, literally translates to “little eggs”, which is what the treat resembles, although somewhere along the way someone came up with the much catchier name “eggettes.” Eggettes became one of my and my sisters’ favorite things to eat in Hong Kong, and every time we’ve returned, we keep one eye open for a eggette stall every time we step outside.

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{Chocolate Review} Sweet Treats for Easter

April 20th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Chocolate, Reviews, San Francisco, Sweet Spots, Sweet Spots

recchiutiforcenoirbox

Warning: There is going to be a lot of chocolate on this page for the next few posts. After all, it’s nearly Easter, the holidays that generates more candy sales than any other holiday save Halloween. Have you got your jellybeans and peeps ready for your Easter baskets?

Let me suggest a few other Easter treats you might not want to miss. Michael Recchiuti, one of my very favorite chocolatiers (and a great guy, to boot), has created some limited edition sweets for the holiday. I got a chance to sample a couple of them:

recchiutiforcenoireggs

These are the kind of Easter eggs I’m looking for now (sorry, candy-colored plastic eggs from the drugstore!) Recchiuti’s Force Noir Eggs, a shell of delicately painted dark chocolate enclosing his famous vanilla-laced chocolate ganache. You know how Reese’s comes out with their peanut butter eggs at Easter? I actually prefer them to the traditional peanut butter cups because I think the shape provides a better peanut butter to chocolate ratio. It’s the same concept here with the Force Noir Eggs – the plump curve of the chocolate shells is just the right amount of backdrop for the ganache filling to unfold in your mouth.

 
recchiutihoppeep

Another signature Recchiuti flavor, burnt caramel, gets the Easter treatment in the Peep & Hop Box – burnt caramel chocolates with spring-y Easter images printed on top. Although deep dark caramel is everywhere these days, Recchiuti was one of the first to really popularize the flavor. I got a box of eight of these chocolates and had to fight to hold on to even one to taste test! As delicious as ever.

These and other Easter treats can be found at Recchiuti’s website. Here’s hoping the Easter bunny brings you something sweet on Sunday!

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{Chocolate Review} Oliver Kita Fine Confections

April 19th, 2011 · 4 Comments · Chocolate, Reviews

studio collection 16pc 1 large

When a chocolatier lists L’Ecole Lenotre, L’Ecole du Grand Chocolate Valrhona, and Academy du Chocolat Barry-Callebaut on his résumé, you pay attention. Oliver Kita is thoroughly versed in the art of classic French chocolate, as illustrated by the eye-catching bon bons above. A few weeks ago I received a box of his sumptuously crafted Studio Collection for review.

A mixture of the very traditional (palets abound) and of-the-moment combinations (matcha, espresso, lavender, and blood orange make appearances). The craftsmanship is gorgeous, the presentation casual sophistication (luster dust and cocoa butter transfers mixed with slightly rough-hewn forms.

Some of my favorite flavors:

Marzipan Grand Marnier (top row, second from left): very smooth and elegant marzipan with a true, robust almond flavor.

Palet d’Argent (second row, first from left): my favorite pure chocolate of the selection. Very nice and smooth, with a long, dark finish.

Cognac Creme Brulee (third row, last from left): wonderful layering of flavors, from the first tang of cognac to the swirl of caramel and vanilla notes. I usually don’t like too many competing flavors in a chocolate but this was a very successful combination for me.

Trois Pretres (fourth row, second from left): The name means three priests, and you get three incredibly fragrant caramelized almonds enrobed in creamy dark chocolate – a hard combination to beat.

Palet d’Oliver (second row, third from left): His signature chocolate boasts an intense black currant filling. I have a deep fondness for anything black currant so this was an easy winner for me.

Head on over to his site to see some of his other collections, including some adorable chocolate Easter bunnies. If you’re looking for jewel-box-chocolates, Oliver Kita won’t disappoint.

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