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Posts Tagged ‘vanilla’

Typhoon number 12 is currently trying to decide where or not it wants to plow through the kingdom of peaches and grapes, so while the weather is windy and rainy outside, I am inside thinking of desserts. 🙂

So before coming to Japan, I actually had never eaten a parfait before. I guess they just aren’t a popular dessert where I grew up. Count me among the happily converted though! In Japan, the parfait usually refers to layers of soft serve or scooped ice cream (sometimes both), whipped cream and toppings which range from cornflakes (surprisingly delicious) to custard, coffee jelly, jam or preserves, and fresh fruit piled high in a tall glass.


Recently, the one fancy fancy hotel in my city made the news with their seasonal fruit parfait, so of course we drove up the mountain to try it out. The type of parfait changes every couple months, and we were lucky to be there at the tail end of the the peach season.

I love peaches and there was very nearly a whole peach perced precariously on top of a scoop vanilla bean ice cream. The fresh peach was sweet with just a slight tang, pairing well with the mellow ice cream and the layers of thick custard and whipped cream underneath. About half way through the glass, I was surprised to find a couple layers of tangy peach preserves. I like to think of parfaits as the dessert that becomes more complex as you eat your way down to the bottom of each glass. I will admit, I was wishing for some crunchy cornflakes, but the extra spoonful of preserves at the very bottom was a nice surprise.

Fujiya Fruits Park Hotel@ Yamanashi City, Japan

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sugar cookie
Sometimes things happen in life that kind of knock you out of your regular routine, and it takes you a little bit to get back into the swing of things. Baking delicious things that simultaneously heat my apartment and make it smell like warm butter, sugar and vanilla is my way of getting back a sense of normalcy.

This recipe makes sugar cookies that are slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. They are simple and not perfect, but exactly what I wanted to munch on while curled up with some tea and watching back episodes of Good Eats.

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter, salted, softened
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g flour
  • 20g baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

—————
1. Preheat oven to 170C. In a medium bowl, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together until well combined, and until it lightens in color and is slightly fluffy. (use a stand mixer if you like)
2. Mix in eggs, one at a time until well combined.
3. Stir in vanilla extract, almond extract and nutmeg
4. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking power and salt, then add it to the butter and sugar mixture. Stir well.
5. Use a spoon or cookie scoop to drop roughly golf ball sized balls of dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just about to turn a pale golden brown. Bake less for softer cookies, and a bit longer if you like your cookies crisp.

**while I tend to just eat these cookies as they are, I’m pretty sure they would be fantastic frosted, or rolled in sugar as well.

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macaron2
A few weeks ago, a friends introduced me to Pierre Herme. As someone who isn’t the biggest fan of chocolate, I still could appreciate the rotating chocolate displays and the swanky cafe at the Aoyama branch of Pierre Herme Paris. I’ve been back 3 times, and had a chance to sample some of the delicious desserts and sweets. Although a little pricey, I say if you have the chance to visit, it’s definitely worth the trip.
I bought a box of their famous macarons to try. While the word macaron sounds like macaroon, the chewy coconut cookie, a macaron is a completely different cookie. Light, meringue and nut cookie domes with a chocolate ganache or a cream in between. Heaven.
From left to right:
Chloe: Raspberry and bitter chocolate ganache
*sweet and dark, the brilliant red and brown stood out, and the berry infused ganache was lovely.
Mosaic: Pistachio ganache, a cinnamon cream and griotte cherry halves
*easily my favorite of the box. the sweet creamy taste of pistachio goes really well with the tart cherry fruit and finishes with an unexpected cinnamon.
Rose: Light rose flavored cream
*the light pink outside gives way to a bright (very!) pink interior, and a light cream that doesn’t taste overpowering, or too much like perfume.
Vanilla: Sweet vanilla bean and white chocolate ganache.
*simple, creamy and was gone in a flash.
Citron: Tart lemon cream
*I seem to like my macarons with a little tart edge, this was no exception. delicious.
Caramel: Caramel cream with fleur de sel
*a bit on the sweet side, could taste the burn caramel, but no hint of salt.
Pistachio: Pistachio and white chocolate ganache
*glorious pistachio on it’s own, though the deep green color seemed to scream mint, not pistachio flavor.

Pierre Herme Paris Cafe @ Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan

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