Mexican Wedding Cakes

I made these cookies in December for a holiday nabe party.  Mexican wedding cakes, or Snowballs, are like a shortbread cookie, but covered in powdered sugar.  Very rich and definitely one of the culprits to those extra pounds we all put on during the holiday season.   And for those of you in Japan, look at the COLOR.  Indeed this dessert is white, hint hint!  In case you didn’t know, in Japan, Valentine’s day is only for the dudes to receive presents from their girlfriends/mothers/daughters.  A month later the girls get a payback on White day.   Nothing like a commercial holiday being extended another month!  Time for a fun fact:  yet ANOTHER month later in Korea there is black day, which is “Single Awareness Day”.  As tradition would have it, you are supposed to eat Jajangmyeon, noodles with black bean sauce derived from the Chinese Zha Jiang Mian.  Perhaps something to aim for next month?  We will see.  Adapted from Joy of Baking.

Mexican wedding cakes

Yummy

Mexican wedding cakes

Prep time: 20 minutes                Cooking time: 30-45 minutes              Servings: 10

Budget for ingredients: ¥1000

Equipment:

Spatula
Bowl
Toaster oven
Plate
Paper towels

Ingredients:

1 c toasted and chopped almonds
1 c butter
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/4 t salt

1 c powdered sugar (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar in the big bowl.
  2. Add in vanilla, flour, and salt.
  3. Mix in the chopped toasted nuts.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more.
  5. Shape the dough into balls by tablespoonfuls.
  6. Bake at 160C for 15 minutes.
  7. Let cookies rest on paper towels and cool down.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar.  出来上がり、完成! (dekiagari, kansei- aka VOILA! FINISHED!)
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Egg tarts (蛋撻)

So, it was the 5000th Chinese New Year this year!  Great, I didn’t know either.  However, when I got invited to a Chinese New Year dinner at my friend’s house, how could I go empty-handed?  and HOW, could I not try and make a traditional Chinese dessert?  Thus, I began my very first time of making egg tarts, called danta, in the HK style.  Not too healthy but no worry, Chinese New Years is ALL ABOUT THE GLUTTONY.   Thanks to Greg again for the lovely photo.  Hopefully looking at this photo and comparing it to ones taken with my dinky digi will motivate me to put money towards a SLR! Or to just make more friends that are talented!!

Egg tarts Danta 蛋撻

新年快樂!!!

 

Egg tarts

Prep time: 20 minutes                Cooking time: 40-45 minutes              Servings: 12-15

Budget for ingredients: ¥1500

Equipment:
Big bowl
Fork
Cupcake tin (I already used these when I made Yorkshire puddings)
Whisk
Frying pan
Sieve

Ingredients:

1/2 c powdered sugar
3 c flour
1 c butter
1 egg, beaten
1 dash (~1/8 t) vanilla extract  

1/2 c white sugar
1  c water
5 eggs, beaten
1 dash vanilla extract
1/2 c evaporated milk

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix together the confectioners’ sugar and flour. Mix in butter with a fork  until it is in small crumbs. Stir in the egg and vanilla until the mixture forms a dough. The texture should be slightly moist. Add more butter if it is too dry, or more flour, if the dough seems greasy.
  2. Roll the dough with your hands into 1.5 inch ~2 inch balls.  Then, flatten it against the cups. 
  3. Combine the white sugar and water in a pan, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. 
  4. Strain the beaten eggs through a sieve, and whisk into the sugar mixture.
  5. Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla.
  6. Strain the filling through the sieve again, and fill the tart shells.
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven at 200C until golden brown.

Spinach and bacon quiche

I was searching in Fukuyama the other day with a really empty stomach for something savory (no, I was nowhere close to my own kitchen).  I went into a rather well known coffee shop where I saw something that they called quiche, but it was GROSS.  I’m sorry Japan, and I don’t mean to rail on other people, surely, some machine worked very hard on making that slice get to the glass display, but it pretty much looked like a Japanese omelette, aka NO FILLING!  The bacon was so scant and…I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Starting this blog and subsequently cooking more was like a double edged sword, the good thing is I have a better palette and my friends can eat the food I make, the bad thing is I have actually developed standards so the outside food just doesn’t cut it sometimes.  Anyways, here is some eye candy for your rumbling stomachs.

Spinach and bacon quiche

Nom nom nom

The recipe is loosely adapted from Emeril’s Quiche Lorraine but I had to subsitute for easily accessible ingredients!

Spinach and bacon quiche

Prep time: 30 minutes (not counting resting)               Cooking time: 45-50 minutes              Servings: 8-10

Budget for ingredients: ¥1000

Equipment:
Big bowl
Square pan
Rolling pin
Parchment sheets
Dried beans
Knife
Chopping board
Frying pan
Spatula
Toaster oven

Ingredients:

For crust

1 1/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
7 T butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 -2 T ice water

For filling

6 ounces thick cut bacon, cut into narrow strips (or lardons )
20 spinach leaves
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/4 c half-and-half
1/4 t salt
1/4 t white pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
1 c cheese

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour and salt in the big bowl.
  2. Add the butter and with your fingers, kind of rub it in until it looks like coarse crumbs.
  3. Add the ice water and the dough should come together.  If it’s not, add more water.
  4. Put the dough inside your fridge to rest for at least an hour.  I left mine for overnight in a disc shape wrapped in plastic wrap.  Just like a person, your crust  needs to get some sleepytime!
  5. Roll out the dough between two parchment sheets and some extra flour until it can fit into the square pan.   Then allow for more resting (30min- 1 hr).
  6. Poke some holes at the bottom of the crust with a fork and then lay parchment paper over it and put dried beans in it.  This way when you prebake your crust, it won’t make a big bubble!  Bake at 180C for 10-15 minutes.  While it is baking…
  7. Cut the bacon into 1/2 slices and render out the fat.  This means heating the bacon on medium heat in the frying pan and then taking it out after 15-20 minutes or until crispy.  The remaining fat in the pan is the bacon grease which can be saved in a jar for future recipes, or you need to wipe it out with a paper towel because if poured down your sink, the fat will solidify and clog up your pipes!
  8. Cut the bacon more into 1 cm pieces.
  9. Put the bacon at the bottom of the baked crust.  Then layer with spinach.
  10. Mix together eggs and half and half together, then add the remaining ingredients.
  11. Pour over the bacon/spinach and bake at 180C for 30 minutes.

Cheesecake brownies

Brownies are few and far in-between, and so is good cheesecake (unless you read this blog).  So why not mix the two in a delicious combo?  Two years ago, when I got invited to a dinner party, I decided to make this recipe and I have to give it due credit for inspiring me to create this entire blog!  Everyone that I’ve met more than once has probably eaten this before and I still get requests for the recipe, more than a year later!  Props to smitten kitchen for the inspiration.  If it wasn’t for Deb I wouldn’t have known the delight that is a frozen brownie!

Cheesecake brownies

Rich and deliciously sweet

Cheesecake brownies

Prep time: 25 minutes                Cooking time: 20-25 minutes              Servings: 16 (2 inch blocks of goodness)

Budget for ingredients: ¥1000

Equipment:
Frying pan
Steamer stand
Glass bowl
Whisk
Spatula
Mixer
Butter knife
Square pan
Oven

Ingredients:

Brownie batter:
100 g butter, cut into pieces
120 g chocolate, chopped
1 c  sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla
Pinch of salt
2/3 c  flour

Cheesecake batter:
225 g cream cheese, softened
1/3 c sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 t vanilla
1/2 c chocolate chips


Directions:

  1. Place butter and chocolate in the glass bowl.  It’s best to make a double boiler, aka put the steamer stand in water and the glass bowl on top.  Make sure the water doesn’t touch the glass bowl.  Heat over simmering water until it just melts.
  2. Take the bowl off of the steamer stand and add the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt.  Whisk until it’s all combined, and then add the flour.
  3. Spread in the baking pan.  It’s best to actually butter the sides of the pan first so it will slide out easily after baking.
  4. Wash out the bowl and with the mixer, mix all the ingredients for the cheesecake batter together.  Spread over the brownie batter with your spatula. 
  5. Using a butter knife you can make swirlies by bringing the chocolate batter from underneath up from the sides of the pan in a circular motion.  If you mess up on this part it’s ok!!!  It will still taste delicious.  Top with chocolate chips. 
  6. Bake at 170C for 20-25 minutes. 

I usually put these in the freezer and take them out ~30 minutes before serving to slice them.

GF Chocolate Cake

With Valentine’s day, that sappy, Hallmark-manufactured holiday, just around the corner, what could be better than sharing the ideal dessert?  In Japan, the tradition is that the girlfriend makes chocolates/cakes for her man.  NOTHING is received by the girl until the next month rolls around, aka White Day.  Either way, and for either gender, this is a definite crowd pleaser.  It also happens to be gluten-free, so if you have any friends with celiac, they can enjoy it two times if not three times as much.  This cake is adapted from Gluten Free Goddess.  Props to my friend Greg, a really talented photographer and budding film maker for the photo! 
 
Gluten free chocolate cake

Happy Valentine's Day!

 

GF Chocolate Cake

Prep time: 20 minutes                Cooking time: 40-45 minutes              Servings: 10

Budget for ingredients: ¥1500

Equipment:
Knife
Chopping board
Big bowl
Spatula
Whisk
Springform pan
Toaster oven

Ingredients:
500 g chocolate *
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
3/4 c HOT black coffee **
200 g butter, cut into pieces
2 T  cocoa powder
8 eggs
1 T vanilla extract

Optional:

1 package of strawberries
Powdered sugar

*Daiso is currently selling blocks of chocolate at a steal for 120 g for 105 yen!

** You can just buy the heated black coffee drink at your combini! 

Directions:

  1.  Chop the chocolate up and mix with the sugars in the big bowl.
  2. Add the coffee which will magically melt the chocolate!  If this doesn’t work off the bat, just set up a double boiler method (aka frying pan with water, steamer stand, and glass bowl) to melt it.
  3. Add the butter and chocolate powder.
  4. Mix in eggs one by one.  The mixture should definitely be wet and gloppy.
  5. Pour into springform pan and cover with foil.  Bake at 160C for 40-45 minutes. 
  6. If desired, add fruits and powdered sugar.  Tada!  ❤  True love at first bite.

Stuffing cupcakes

When the holiday season rolls around (aka anytime after Halloween for Japan), I get the urge to bring cooking to almost all of my classrooms!  As long as your teachers like you, and you plan ahead in advance (I start talking about cooking 3-4 weeks before the actual day), this is really easy and a BIG hit.   I completed the following recipe within two periods (washing/clean-up included) for a 5th grade elementary class of 16 kids.  I split them up into two groups for the stuffing and the mashed potatoes.  The only prep work done for this beforehand was the applesauce, because it doesn’t exist in Japan.  I just grated an apple and cooked the mushy part and juice down with some cinnamon which only took 15-20 minutes.  You can do all of this in a big batch and save it in the freezer for other recipes in the future.   It might also help if you measure stuff out for your kids beforehand, so they just have to put it together. 

I also wanted to mention that my students and teachers wanted this recipe so I translated it and put it on a Japanese cooking site called Cookpad.  もし日本語のレシピ欲しかったら,これをクリークしてください!Link to the recipe.

Stuffing cupcake
Happy festivus for the rest of us!

This was adapted from Ryan’s Baking Blog.  You should click on the link just because it has a cute pug in a cupcake!

Stuffing  Cupcakes

Prep time: 20 minutes                Cooking time: 35-40 minutes              Servings: 16

Budget for ingredients: ¥2000 *This is just approximate.  The teachers usually prepare all of this and I give directions in English. 

*

Equipment:

2 big bowls
2 mashers (or rice paddles)
1 pot
1 frying pan
2 cutting boards
knives
cupcake tins
Ovens
Spoons

Ingredients:

Stuffing:
2 loaves of french bread
6 strips of bacon
1 c water
1/2 c applesauce
1 t garlic powder
1 t salt
1 t pepper

Mashed potatoes:
10-12 potatoes
100 g butter
1 c cream
1 handful of cheese

Directions:

 Stuffing group

  1. Cut the bread and bacon.  The bread should be 1/2 inch cubes and the bacon can just be in little strips.
  2. Add applesauce and water to the bread and bacon in a big bowl.  Mix.  Add more water if it’s not moist enough.  Stuffing should be moist but NOT soggy. 
  3. Mix dry ingredients together and then add it to the bread.  This part is more to taste even though I gave guidelines for them. 
  4. Put the mixture in the little cupcake tins.  Bake in the oven at 180C for 35-40 minutes.

Mashed potatoes group

  1. Wash and peel all the potatoes.
  2. Cut them into 1 inch cubes.
  3. Boil them in the big pot until they are soft and can be pierced with a fork. 
  4. Drain and mash. 
  5. Melt butter in a pan and add it with cream and a handful of cheese to the  potatoes.  Mix.

Putting it together:

Use spoons to put a dollop of the mashed potatoes on the stuffing.  いただきます!

Frozen macadamia and honey cheesecake

Whenever I see a no-bake cake recipe, I usually cringe.  Not because I believe that the flavor profile will not be great or anything, it’s just that I kind of turn my nose up at those too easy to believe recipes!  However, I totally stand by this one which was adapted from Taste.com.au.  Having recently returned from sojourn in Oz,   I thought it appropriate to look up some recipes from down under to see what’s kicking and brought it to an Aussie day party in Shimane-ken!   Additionally, though I used a freezer to finish the cake, if you live in a cold area where the words ”Thundersnow”, ”Snowmageddon”, or ”OMG my water pipes are frozen” apply,  just cover it and leave it outside for a night.

Frozen Cheesecake

My mouth waters a little bit just looking at this.

Frozen macadamia and honey cheesecake

Prep time: 20 minutes                Freezing time: 4-5 hrs/overnight            Servings: 8

Budget for ingredients: ¥1000

Equipment:

1 plastic bag
Rolling pin
1 pan
1 big bowl
Electric mixer
Spatula
Springform pan*
Butter knife
Freezer

Ingredients:

1 bag plain biscuits
1/2 stick (50 g)  butter
1 pkg (250 g) cream cheese
2/3 c honey
1 c fresh cream
1 packet macadamia nuts (I used a Top Valu 65 g bag)

* Note –  Springform pans make for a prettier cake, but you can use any pan for this as long as you grease it!

Directions:

  1. Place biscuits in the plastic bag and crush them with the rolling pin.  No mess and the cleanup is less.
  2. Heat up the pan and melt the butter and mix with the biscuit crumbs.  Sometimes I add in cinnamon sugar for an extra touch at this point.
  3. Press the crumbs down into the bottom of the springform pan.  Place in freezer for it to set.
  4. Use your mixer to beat together the cream cheese and 1/2 c of your honey in the big bowl.  When it gets smooth add in the cream and beat some more.  This should take around 5 minutes.
  5. Chop macadamia nuts and add them to the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Take out the pan from the freezer and add the mixture to it.
  7. Pour the remaining honey over the cream cheese mixture, and using a butter knife you can make a swirl effect by making little circles around the edges of the cake.
  8. Freeze overnight.  Take the cake out 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.