Tarte aux Fruits Rouges

Fall is here and even though I kept going on and on about how I love Summer, something is also magical about the beauty of Fall season. The leaves are turning from green to yellow or bright red, it is amazing. The weather has turn cold earlier in California this year and we also have a lot of rain, all this makes me long for a cozy couch in front of fireplace with a slice of brownie and a cup of milk (someday...
I just came back from a week trip in Louisiana, to visit M's family. It was quite a relaxing week, that I almost felt unproductive, but it was nice and enjoyable. We definitely got plenty of sleep for sure! I experienced an interesting Thanksgiving tradition in South. Apparently, it is very common to have the Thanksgiving feast in between lunch and dinner, we had ours at 3pm and football game is on all day long. Here in California, I am so used to having a feast during dinner time, so it was interesting to see something different.

A Pool Party for Joan's Birthday and A Strawberry Pistachio Mascarpone Mousse Cake

Wow, I completely missed the month of October and I've never missed a month before! How bad :(. Not that I did that on purpose but so many things have been going on.

There were so many birthdays, lots of cooking (everyday cooking), and other stuff, it is amazing how little time left you have after. In fact, we went to San Diego this past weekend just to getaway from everything and to celebrate M's birthday. Nothing fancy, in fact, we both got sick the day of our departure. He's holding up quite well, but I feel bad for sleeping all the 7-hour driving! San Diego was raining too, quite hard and COLD! It was definitely a getaway full of sleeping (about 11 hours average, we needed the rest) and eating. I can safely say that all 3 days were spent eating and eating and only tacos (plus cheese quesadillas).

Passionfruit Posset with Mango and Passionfruit Sorbet

Hmm.... nothing really interesting is happening lately. If you must now, I moved cube to a different building and environment, lots of birthday celebrations happening and coming (mean more cakes to make), work is not as crazy as it's used to, I guess everything is going pretty well.

Some downsides are that more of my friends are leaving the country to pursue their dreams somewhere else. More friends will be leaving in a few months, it is bittersweet really. I am sad that they are leaving but more importantly, it has been a real blessing to have known them. The other downside to life lately is that the bf is literally working day and night (dawn really) 7 days a week, leaving me feeling like a single woman sometimes, so I guess keeping busy with cakes helps too. Another thing I could do to distract myself is playing Wii!!! Mario Kart to be exact. I started playing Wii for the first time about a week ago and I'm loving it! A bit too late I know, but hey, as long as I'm having fun I think it is quite alright....

Tartelettes Croustillantes Abricots et Cerises (Apricot and Cherry Crumble Tartlets)

Some people like changes, and some don't. I am the second part of the group, I don't like changes. I recently move cube to a different building. I was in that previous building for about 4.5 years, I made friends and become close to a lot of them. Being in a completely new environment scared me. Although I have to say that my current work schedule is not as crazy as before, which is always good.

Speaking about changes, I don't know how many more weeks I can talk about summer here as we can definitely feel the change in the season here. The sun sets earlier, temperature drops to mid 70's (still gorgeous), more chilly at night and in the morning. But in the meantime, I will still talk and post about my summer dessert at least for a couple more weeks.

Popsicles Two Ways: White Peach and Raspberry Swirl Popsicle and Mango, Pineapple and Raspberry Popsicles

So, I am in the middle of a super frantic mode currently. My trusty computer got infected by a virus, which resulted in the performance being really slow, almost impossible to use. The first thing I did when that happened was to check my "Pictures" folder, and they're gone! Basically, all of my data was gone, what a nightmare! I am trying to find help and crossing my finger that the data can be recovered, but we'll see... :(

In the midst of all that this past weekend, I spent some time freezing raspberries, making fruit salad and yogurt sherbet for my niece's and nephew's dessert, and the last thing I did was making brandied cherries and raspberries! It wont be until 3 months from now that they will be ready to use, but I can't wait!

Putting the computer problem aside, I actually had a really good long weekend. We took a nice walk around Stanford mall and campus, which was really nice with the constantly perfect California weather. We took a drive to the Santa Cruz mountain on the mission to find the best taco place here in northern CA, dinner with friends, and I found white currants!! I've always wanted to use red currants for cake decoration but they are very rare around here. I was happily shocked when I saw the white version and even though not as pretty as the red sibling, I bought it anyway and thought I could really use it as a garnish for something. Now all I need to do is make something.

Before the computer crashes, I managed to type this draft of post. Here is another summer treat I made a while back, while we were still in "real" summer time. I've never made popsicles before, despite it being really fun and easy, but this year, I was always in the look for something quick and easy dessert to make.

It is not surprising that during summer time, my fridge is always full of different types of berries, different type of stone fruits, anything you can think of. Every weekend when I go to farmers' market, I just couldn't resist buying everything (and I mean everything), but they get forgotten really quickly once they're stored in the fridge due to my lack of visit to the refrigerator :(. As a matter of fact, I have 12 punnets of very fragrant raspberries, a big case full of strawberries, and a big bag of black cherries. They make the fridge smells so good everytime i open it up.
I am still working on summer desserts, still trying to grab on the last summer produce I can find. Not quite ready yet for the chocolate, coffee, caramel, chesnut, and the like, but I think I will be soon ;)

Popsicle is a fun treat, and not to mention healthy too for the kids after school or after an afternoon in the park under the sun. My nephew Tobias, which is only 1.5 years old (almost 2 now), couldn't get enough of it. He cried for more everytime he finished one portion.

I have a few events coming up, and that means I will be drown in sugar constantly, but in the meantime, at least for another week, I get to enjoy my day and make whatever I want in the kitchen. It is still going really slow for one easy dessert to make, but I'm trying my best.

White Peach and Raspberry Swirl Popsicles

Raspberry Swirl
125g fresh or frozen raspberries
40g sugar

Cook the raspberry and the sugar until boiling. Strain the mixture to get as much liquid as possible

White Peach Yogurt Layer
2 peaches (about 200g), cut up
175g whole milk yogurt
40g sugar

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
  • Prepare your popsicle molds
  • Pour a little of the raspberry mixture in the bottom of the mold, then add some peach yogurt mixture.
  • Continue layering until full
  • You can swirl it using a toothpick or a skewer if you want to create a swirl pattern
  • Put it in the freezer until solid.
Mango, Pineapple and Raspberry Popsicles

Raspberry layer - use the leftover from the white peach popsicles

Pineapple layer
175g pineapple puree
sugar (I forgot to measure it. Put enough sugar to sweetened it, the amount depends on the sweetness of the pineapple)

Blend the pineapple and the sugar until smooth. Strain.

Mango Yogurt Layer
175g whole milk yogurt
50g mango pulp
30g sugar

Blend all ingredients in the blender until smooth

  • Pour some mango yogurt layer in the bottom (that will become the top of the popsicles)
  • pour some pineapple layer
  • Freeze for a few minutes until the pineapple layer set for a bit
  • Pour a thin layer of raspberry layer
  • Freeze until solid

Enjoying Summer Bounty with Summer Fruit Crumble

Just when I am about to post about summer fruits, summer is officially over. While East Coast is hit by hurricane Irene, and Texas and other states are scorching hot, weather here in northern California is great as usual, about 80 F constantly during the day, and low 60's F at night. This is exactly why people love California, cool and gentle breeze, not humid and not dry. Perfect.

I am now in a week break from all the baking duties. I was really busy with quite a bit of cake stuff including 90th birthday cake, sorbet making frenzy (and still going), putting use of all the beautiful summer produce we have here in tarts, ice cream, and more cake.

There was my niece's first birthday party involving a full dessert table and a two-tiered cake. There was also a dessert table and wedding cake I made for a wedding 1.5 weeks ago. In between all this craziness, I also went for a few-day trip to Boston for a different wedding and very quick "vacation" (it ended up not being a vacation at all due to lack of sleep and food the whole time we're there, lots of walking too!). I was back mid week last week and immediately planning for my sis-in-law birthday. I feel dizzy just writing all these stuff, but just in case you're wondering where I have been, well... there you go.

I have no plan for this coming labor day weekend really, I am thinking of spending the time in the kitchen baking for my pleasure (not for any particular occasion), although I need to make more cakes for the following weekend (it never stops). Taking pictures is now a lower priority, as long as everything gets done, and most of the time, they're done in the nick of time, cutting it really close to the due timing. But I do have quite a bit of desserts I managed to squeeze in about 1-2 months ago and I will post them one post at a time.

Like this dessert for example, not planned at all. I opened my fridge one day and found a lot of different type of fruits, apricots from church friend, plums from my coworker, cherries I bought at farmers' market, peaches I bought when I passed through a fruit stand, you name it, it's there. I decided to make a quick summer fruit crumble with them, probably the easiest way to use up all of them all in one dessert.

I made the crumble first and refrigerate them until I was ready to use them. I made more in advance and keep the rest in an airtight container in the freezer and you can use them for other tarts, or even cake or parfait and ice cream topping.

It was fairly quick and easy to make this dessert. I served it with vanilla bean ice cream that I made a while ago and fresh apricot slices.

Speaking of summer produce, my fridge is now full of pounds of fresh sweet raspberries and strawberries, a few pounds of cherries too. I am too excited (and a bit overwhelmed) just thinking of the possibilities of their destiny in a cake/dessert form. A suggestion of your favorite summer cake/dessert that includes berries and/or cherries is greatly appreciated :).


Summer Fruit Crumble

Crumble Topping
100g unsalted butter
100g flour
100g granulated sugar
75g almond flour
pinch of salt
  • Mix all of the ingredients in a mixer with a paddle attachment until crumbly, or mix by hand.
  • Crumble on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use
Fruit Filling

400g Summer fruits (apricot, peach, nectarine, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, plums, cherries, etc.)
10g flour (you can add more if you're using fruits that release a lot of juice like strawberry)
25 g sugar (you can adjust this too if your fruits are more on the tart or sweeter side)
lemon zest ( a bout 1/2 tsp-1 tsp or so)
1/2 pod of vanilla bean, scrape the seeds (optional)
  • Cut up the larger fruit into pieces and toss them together with the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds (if using)
  • Divide between ramekins
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until it's bubbly and the crumble topping is nicely browned.
  • Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or just plain sweetened whipped cream

Meyer Lemon Tart

Ah.. finally this post is up!!

Every year around Spring time (it is kinda late this year), I am always loaded with a whole bunch of meyer lemons, mostly coming from neighbor's tree, friends, and also from my coworker's too. The coworker has a meyer lemon tree that is producing all year around (yup, I now now where to get my source all year!).

Randomness: Blue Macaron Wedding Favor, Little Girl's Birthday Cake, and Sadaharu Aoki's Macarons

Just wanted to say a quick hi and to let you guys know that I am still alive here.

Summer has always been a really busy time for me (and everyone). I was in the middle of house-moving these past month, some weekend trips in between, and a-week-long vacation (it was GREAT!) and they're pretty much eating all of my time and I hardly have time to bake as weekend is pretty much the only time I could bake. Other than that, I have no internet connection at home for almost a full month, didn't realize how important internet is until it's gone.
I didn't realize how much baking stuff I have until I have to pack them, I have at least 15-20 big boxes easily for tools and ingredients!!!!

Anyways, I have been baking quite a bit lately, mostly involving stone fruits and I've also been churning some sorbets and making popsicles! There are still definitely a long list of things to make for me this summer and I am trying to get to them one at a time, whenever I have time. Currently, I am busy with my niece 1st birthday for this coming weekend. You will find out soon about that :)

Just thought to give you a quick peek of what I was up to before the moving and the vacations.

Image above is courtesy of Mey Saetern

One of the things that gets me excited about baking is when someone asked me to bake something for their special occasion, especially for a wedding. At first, the thought of baking hundreds of macarons with my schedule sounds really impossible and each time, I just can't say no for most of them. There is something about wedding that is just so magical and being asked to be a part of that is such an honor for me.

I have never met Corrine before, we were introduced to each other by a mutual friend and we started emailing each other back and forth about macarons and how she'd like to have macarons for her upcoming wedding for the favor. We didn't really have any trouble communicating to each other and everything seems like a breeze to decide. She is so easy to work with and sounded like a really nice person (we've never met before) and it was definitely a joy to work with her.

When it was the time for me to start making it, of course it didn't come easy. First off, I was on 10-day trip the two weeks before the wedding and I hadn't ordered all the necessary ingredients I needed for the macarons. So I hurried and ordered them online after I got back but they took so long to ship (very unusually long) that I had to call a few times and had to changed the shipping to 2-day shipping. Yup, it comes with a lot higher shipping cost too, possibly the most expensive shipping I've ever paid for. Secondly, it was raining non stop for more than a week and with my previous bad experience baking macaron in a humid weather, this was no exception either.

The first 5 batches failed miserably (yes, 5 batches! which equals to about 150 macarons or 300 individual shells), I had no idea what went wrong. Out of desperation, I switched to French Meringue method and see if it would make any difference and it came out perfect! Although the texture is somewhat different that IM method, but they've got to be done no matter what. It was a crazy time indeed and I still remember how everything was rushed in the middle of the night. The macarons were filled with rose-flavored buttercream.

Now, onto the sweet thing. When the bf came back from 5-week business trip in Taipei, he came back bringing back this.. Sadaharu Aoki's macarons!

When he told me that he was leaving for Taipei, these macarons were the first that came to mind, hehehe... been wanting to try them for ages, well..Pierre Herme's, Laduree's and a lot more in Paris too, but the is more accessible... for now.

Other than that, here is also a cake I made for little girl's birthday cake, Olivia. I feel privileged to be able to bake her birthday cakes for the three years of her life so far, even though I have never met her. The theme for the cake is "Olivia" the pig, first time I've heard the character that I had to google it to know what it is :).

Now that I have my internet back, I have quite a bit of typing and photo editing to do. Stay tuned!

I used Aran's recipe for the macarons:

French Meringue Macarons
taken from Aran at Canelle-vanille

140 gr egg whites
3 gr egg white powder
80 gr sugar
180 gr almond flour
240 gr powdered sugar
  • Make sure that the egg whites have been separated from the egg yolks at least the night before. This bit of aging really makes a difference in the macarons.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar. Set aside.
  • Whip the egg whites with the egg white powder until very fluffy, almost fully whipped. Start adding the sugar slowly and whip to stiff peaks.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the meringue and fold with a spatula until a shiny mass forms. We want to achieve a batter that makes ribbons. You might have to test it to see if it's done. Pipe a small amount on your sheetpan. If it keeps a little bit of a top when piped, then you have to mix it a bit further, if it spreads really fast, you have gone too far and your macarons will turn out flat.
  • When you have the right consistency, place the mass in a pastry bag with a number 5 tip and pipe small rounds onto sheetpans lined with parchment or silpat. Let them dry at room temperature for at least 45 minutes to an hour. The tops must be dry when you touch them.
  • Have the oven preheated to 350F degrees. Place one sheetpan in the oven at a time and reduce the temperature to 300F degrees. Bake for 8 minutes and rotate sheetpan and bake for another 5 minutes.
  • Let the macarons cool on the sheetpan.

Spring Cleaning Part 1: Cassis Chocolate Cake

I opened my freezer a few weeks ago and started listed out what pastry "leftovers" I have in there. You can bet that I have different flavors of joconde, baked cheesecake, mousses, some sponge cake layers among other common things such as frozen berries that I froze last year (red and yellow raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries), as well as frozen purees (passion fruit, guava, apricot, cassis, mango, etc), cherries. That's a whole lot of stuff! I can make half a year worth of desserts without having to buy most of the ingredients. And now that Summer is here, I have to start "cleaning" them up so that I would have space for a new stash of every fruit I can find in farmers' market.

If you follow this blog, you might know that I hate wasting stuff away. I am a firm believer that you can make something completely extraordinary with leftovers and maybe with a bit of extra work. So the spreadsheet planning began. So many things I could make with them that I am almost overwhelmed with excitement, can't decide which one to make first and when I will actually have time to do them.

Like this cake for example. Most of the components in this cake are leftovers from this cake. I had some leftovers for most of the layers from previous cake, so I partly assembled them and put them in the freezer until I can figure out what I can make with them. So here are the dissected components for this cake:
  • chocolate joconde
  • raspberry soaking syrup (to moisten the joconde)
  • dark chocolate mousse
  • chocolate joconde that has been moistened with raspberry syrup
  • thin layer of raspberry garniture
  • cassis mousse
  • decoration: mini chocolate macarons, blueberries, and chocolate decoration

The only thing I needed to make for this cake is the cassis mousse, which was a very quick and easy mousse. Even the macaron shells were available in my freezer, I just needed to make a quick chocolate ganache (not even a real measurement) and I was all set.

Fortunately, chocolate and cassis mousse is one combination I'd like to try in my list, so I can cross that off now, killing two birds with one stone. Smart.

This is just an idea of how you can transform leftovers to something completely different, tasted great and a lot quicker too! I have been feeding this cake to my nephews and niece every night and they always asks for more, a good sign! Although I think they are a bit spoiled with non-kid desserts they have been getting these past few years :). So please don't throw anything away as you'd never know what you can turn it into someday :).

Old-Fashioned Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins

I might not have blogged about this one particularly simple cake (I might have posted some pictures in the past though) but that doesn't mean that this cake doesn't deserve a highlight and its own blog post. This humble banana muffin in particular is very special to me and it goes back to my early college days in TX.

I started baking at the last year of my college days I think. I was more of a cooking type of girl, Indonesian home-cooked meals, Chinese, American, Italian, a little French, and for a student, that was something. I never really interested in baking world until I met this little sweet cake. I was at my friend's house for a bible study and she just made this cake. She served it right out of the oven and it was love at first bite, I immediately asked for the recipe. She got the recipe from a missionary and she's been using the recipe ever since.

I adapted the recipe to adjust the sweetness to my liking and adding chocolate chips to it. This recipe has become favorite in my baking repertoire and it is the most baked cake in my kitchen, not to mention very easy to make, it will take me 30 minutes probably from start to finish (and I mean, cake out of the oven). Everyone from little to old loves this and this is also the first and possibly the only cake I think of whenever I see over-ripe bananas. It is easy to make but the reward is great, even my non-baking brother asked for the recipe. Once, a good friend of mine asked for a dozen of this for her birthday present, it was that special. It is more special for me because it has some nostalgic value I think. I baked a lot of different banana cakes in the past but I always go back to this one, and I've been sharing the recipe with friends. I can't believe I haven't shared with you guys.

I made this particular one for my baby nephew, Tobias, with the help of my niece's (Tobias' big sister) help. He's just gone through a very painful throat surgery and wouldn't eat or drink for days cuz of the pain. He is a really energetic 1.5 year old boy and it broke my heart to see him lying in the hospital bed with tubes and everything on his body for a week. I baked this as soon as he came home from the hospital and hoping that he would eat it, he liked it when I made it before.

I jumped with joy when he actually ate the whole thing! He refused to eat anything else, even the milk he loved so much but he'd eat this. I baked it in two different molds, standard and small and he could eat 2 small ones in one sitting, yay! He is doing so much better now but poor thing, he had to go through the same surgery again in a few weeks, and I am hoping to make these again for him.

You can add anything you fancy to this recipe, it is so versatile. I usually just add chocolate chip muffins, sometime walnut too and the amount is really up to you. It makes the whole house smells really nice and I hope this will be your favorite too. This is the only recipe that I would make using cup measurement. I usually will convert everything to metric, but this one will stay :)

On a completely different topic, San Jose is finally starting to show some warmth. Today, I drove to work and lunch with a clear blue sky with no single white streaks, gentle and cool breeze and warm sunny sun, a fine California day. Farmers' market is one of my favorite place to visit, I saw lots of cherries yesterday and stone fruits are beginning to appear everywhere. I am excited!

Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yield: 12 standard muffin cups

Wet Ingredients:
3 overripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter/vegetable oil

Dry Ingredients:
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt

Semi-sweet chocolate chips and/or toasted nuts
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F (325 F for the mini version)
  • Combine the dry and wet ingredients into separate bowl (don't forget to sift the dry ingredients)
  • Mix the dry into the wet and mix until just combined, do not overmix
  • Fold in the topping (chocolate chips and/or nuts)
  • Divide the batter into 12 standard muffin cups
  • Put it into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top

Celebrating Friendship

I have known my friend, N, for no less than 9 years I think. We went to the same college in Cupertino, we go to the same church, we hung out and laughed together, we stayed up late together, usually it's me making a cake, and her helping me making little fondant figurines, we get very excited over food, and many many more. She is the type of person who can bright up your day instantly, she's always full of smile in any circumstances, always willing to help, very kind-hearted, there is no single negative thing I can think of when I think of her.

I was surprised and very sad when I heard that she's going back to Indonesia for good, but I was glad at the same time too. I knew that Indonesia is her long-term plan, and I am glad that she's finally stepping to the next level of her life. I guess being sad is inevitable when it's a real good friend that's leaving.

Instead of being all tears, we decided to throw her a party to celebrate the friendship we've shared over the years. With everyone talked about Prince William's and Kate's fairy tale wedding, the theme for N's party is "Royal Ball", with blue and silver as the color theme, as N is too a fan of anything magical (can you imagine she's been to Disneyland in LA for 10x?!!)

I wanted to make something for her before she left and I only had a few days (workdays) after my previous trip to plan, shop and to make it, so there wasn't much I could do. I decided to make a display cake with the blue/silver theme to get that "fairy tale" feeling and make verrines for the dessert. N loves the rose-lychee combination, and so I decided to make a verrine that incorporates raspberry, rose, and lychee. You might think that I make this combination too often, but I do love it that much, the combination of flavors and the appearance, again, Pierre Herme is a genius for coming up with this combo among many others.

Here's a list of the components that go inside the verrine:
  • Raspberry gelee
  • Pistachio joconde (I used pistachio joconde leftover from this cake)
  • Raspberry soaking syrup
  • Rose bavarian cream
  • Repeat the layering twice, ended with a thin raspberry layer on top

I was originally planning to make mini pink macarons with rose filling, but unfortunately I didn't have time for it, maybe next time as I think it would look very pretty.

The party was indeed filled with fun and good food. Our friend, Y, made some very tasty Indonesian meal for us, and most importantly, people got to spend one last time with N. I know this won't be the last time we meet, but until next time, I will miss her dearly and everything about her.

Me and my little niece

Some game we played at the party :)

It is "unofficially" Summer already and surprisingly, CA is taking its time to get summery. It feels more like early Spring with the rain and cloudy weather in mid 60's. Really cannot wait now for warm weather.

Have a blessed week!

Rose, Raspberry, and Lychee Verrine

Lychee pieces
Pistachio joconde (or lady fingers), cut a bit smaller than the size of the glass

30 Baume Syrup
50 ml water
65 g sugar

30 ml water
30 ml framboise eau-de-vie
  • Bring the water (50 ml) and the sugar to a boil. Let cool
  • Measure about 60 g of the syrup and mix with the water and eau-de-vie
Raspberry Gelee
500 graspberry puree
sugar (I didn't measure how much sugar I used, but start with probably 100 g and keep adding until the desired sweetness)
2 tsp. powdered gelatin (mixed with about 1 Tbs. of water)
  • Mix raspberry puree and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil
  • Melt the gelatin mixture (in a microwave for a few seconds) and add it to the raspberry mixture
  • Stir well and take it off the heat
  • Let cool to room temperature (ice bath would make it much faster)
Rose Bavarian
500 ml milk
6 egg yolks
150 g sugar
4 tsp. powdered gelatin (mixed with some water)
600 g heavy cream, whipped to soft peak
4-6 Tbs. rose water
  • Pour the milk in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer
  • Meanwhile, whisk the yolk and the sugar without introducing any air
  • Once the milk is ready, temper the yolk with the milk and pour the mixture back on the heat
  • Keep stirring the mixture on a low heat until it reaches about 82 degree C
  • Meanwhile, melt the gelatin in a microwave and add to the milk mixture
  • Take it off the heat and cool on an icebath and strain it to remove any lumps
  • Keep stirring until it reached room temperature, then fold the whipped cream in and the rose water
To Assemble
  • Pour a thin layer of raspberry gelee in the bottom of a verrine glass (or any glass) and freeze for about 10 minutes until it's almost set
  • Place a thin layer of the pistachio joconde (or lady finger) that has been moistened with the syrup
  • Put some lychee pieces in the center
  • Pour some bavarian cream and again, let it set in the freezer for about 10 minutes (the top should not be liquid before you pour anything on top of it)
  • Repeat the layering


It all started when I went on a snowshoeing trip back in mid February with a couple of coworkers. I promised my friend, Elaine, that I would bake her kids some cake if she'd go with us (the plan was that she was supposed to go anyway without my cake offer), so that she wouldn't feel so bad leaving the family for the weekend. Long story short, she had been "reminding" me about it a few times a week for 2.5 months! Yeah, she is not the shy kind or anything, she would definitely do anything to get her way to the cake. She even made request that it has to be chocolate, chocolate, and chocolate, and no alcohol please (demanding, I know). I had persuaded her to opt for the fruity one, but she was firm on chocolate. While the rest of the world (or US) is putting their best effort to showcase the summer jewels (read: strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, lemon), here I am making a chocolate cake in the middle of Spring. But if I'm making a chocolate cake, there's no way that I would make a plain chocolate cake without putting some twist to it.

It "only" took me a few months to finally get to it, and I didn't pick the easy one either. I have been in love with Hidemi Sugino's creations for the longest time, along with Pierre Herme, Sadaharu Aoki, and a few others. One of his most popular dessert, which is also the cover of the book is Ambroisie, a chocolate mousse cake layered with two different kinds of joconde (chocolate and pistachio), raspberry garniture, pistachio mousse, and covered in shiny chocolate glaze. It sounded pretty intimidating looking at the many components, given the fact that I haven't been making much entremets lately due to time constraint, and indeed it took me no less than two weeks to finish the whole thing! No, it is not that hard really, but since time is so difficult to find lately, I was just proud to be able to even finish this cake. I would say the difficult part was trying to figure out the how-to's since the instruction is in Japanese and my skill level in that department is pretty much negative, I can only rely on my very-limited-to-baking-ingredients French, but if you know the basic preparation to make mousse, bavarian cream, joconde, it is doable.

Each joconde, chocolate and pistachio, was made differently. The chocolate joconde was made with regular almond powder and powdered sugar, while the pistachio was made with 50/50 almond paste. The chocolate mousse was made without gelatin and rely solely to set from the chocolate itself, I should have refrigerated it in the mold a little longer than overnight, but it was my last day before vacation, so it had to be done.

The layering could be more straight, and I probably should have a thicker pistachio mousse, but overall, the cake was delicious! Just like any other Hidemi Sugino desserts, even though it has a lot of components, it is so light. I didn't get to taste more than a spoonful but it was enough to convince me that Mr. Sugino is a genius in the pastry world, even the pickiest eater of all time (read:M), said that he would eat the whole thing if he was given the whole individual cake, that itself making all the effort worth it.

It only makes me more eager to get back to making entremets, especially now that strawberry season is here! I started to go farmers' market almost every Sunday now when the weather is nice, and I was so delighted to see that my favorite strawberry stall was there! Immediately I bought 6 baskets of strawberries last week, sweet and tasty as I remember it to be. I also found blueberries, and cherries! A little early maybe for the cherries, but hey I am not complaining. I also got those tulips from the most gorgeous flower stall called "super tulips" and they are indeed SUPER! So many good stuff floating around, I haven't even had the time to play with blood oranges, meyer lemons, now add strawberries and cherries to the list. But anyways, I'm trying to savor every minute of the wonderful days we've been having, although the weather here has been back in Winter mode again for the past week and rain too. I still hope I can get more free time in the kitchen by myself to play around.

I am now buried in blue macarons and have made no less than 500 macarons in a few days (including the failed ones), more on this on later post. Other than that, it seems like we're back in Winter weather, temperature dropped to low 60's max during the day, it's been raining for 5 straight days and I cannot wait to start wearing shorts, skirts, mini dresses, without having to worry about freezing.

As far as recipes, I am really struggling to find the time and try to write it down, especially since the book is in Japanese (and I have no idea how to read it). I start planning on the Spring Cleaning of my freezer though and I cannot wait to get to it!