Thursday, June 24, 2010
I love cherries. With cherry season being so short every year, I buy cherries like crazy once they come in season and I eat a ton of them. For the most part, I don't like to part with my cherries. So the idea baking with them usually doesn't appeal to me. Plus I don't like the taste of baked cherries as much as I like them raw.
This past weekend I bought a bag of cherries I didn't particularly like. They were sweet, but they were soft. I like my cherries to be firm. So I decided to bake with them. I saw these really cute cherry almond cakes on the cookie shop. I particularly like how each little cake has a whole cherry with the stem sticking out.
I don't have a mini muffin pan, so my cherry almond cakes were a bit bigger and not as cute. Also, my cherries didn't stick out. The recipe said to cover the cherries with batter, but I think it would have looked cuter if they peeked out more.
I loved how these little cakes tasted. There is a subtle almond taste (it uses almond flour but no almond extract). They are sweet and light, and the cherry in the middle adds a wonderful surprise. I think this would work better as minicakes though because it ended up being a lot of batter before getting to the cherry in the middle.
I'm definitely going to make these again. This is one recipe I'm willing to sacrifice some of my cherries for. Boyfriend didn't like that there was a pit in the middle. Perhaps I'll try making them with cherry pieces next time.
Cherry and Almond Cakes (recipe found on the cookie shop)
- 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for muffin tin
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for tin
- 1 1/4 cups finely ground unblanched almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 5 large egg whites
- 4 teaspoons kirsch
- 30 sweet (Bing)cherries
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees/ 180°C. Brush 30 cups of 2 mini-muffin tins with butter, and dust lightly with flour.
(I used regular muffin tins and it made about 12) Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When it begins
to sputter, reduce heat to medium. Cook, swirling skillet occasionally,
until butter has lightly browned. Skim foam from top, and remove
skillet from heat.
2. Whisk together flour, ground almonds, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add
egg whites, and whisk until smooth. Stir in kirsch. Pour in
butter, leaving any dark-brown sediment in skillet, and whisk to
combine. Let stand for 20 minutes.
3. Pour 1 tablespoon batter into each buttered muffin cup, filling about
halfway. Push a cherry into each, keeping stem end up. With a small spoon, smooth batter over cherries to cover. (I think next time I won't smooth the batter on top so that the cherries pop out more.) Bake until a
toothpick comes out clean and cakes are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
(Mine were already turning dark brown around the edges at 15 minutes for the regular muffin sized ones. Therefore, for mini ones, I would reduce to 8-10 minutes.) Let cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges to loosen, and unmold.
Cakes can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Taiyaki are Japanese fish shaped pancakes. The batter is a bit different from regular pancake batter. It tends to be chewier, a little more dense. They are usually filled with something sweet like red bean or custard. You can often find them being made and sold at stands outside Japanese supermarkets.
A while back, I bought my own little Taiyaki maker from Marukai in San Diego. I first experimented with my Taiyaki maker here. Since then I've been wanting to play around with it some more. It's been hard trying to find a recipe batter that tastes like the traditional Taiyaki I've eaten. This time around, I decided to just try using regular pancake batter.
I was originally going to make a buttermilk pancake batter from scratch but I didn't have any buttermilk. So then I opted to just use a Bisquick mix. Last time, I filled my Taiyaki with nutella. This time I decided to try chocolate. I had some solid chocolate ganache that was sitting in my fridge. This was pretty easy to work with since I was able to scoop some out and I knew it would melt quickly in the heat. If you don't have any chilled ganache, you can probably use a piece of chocolate, or some chocolate chips.
Every time I'm making these pancakes, I'm always doing something else at the same time. Next time, I need to just concentrate on making these pancakes. Since I was distracted, each of mine came out differently. Some came out slightly too dark, some too light.
The pancakes tasted best while they were hot. Of course, they just taste like regular pancakes filled with chocolate, but that's not a bad thing. I don't think they taste like traditional taiyaki batter, but they taste good and I love the fun fish shape.
When I made my first batch, it bothered me that the filling kept sticking out of the fish. The directions I had read was to put a thin layer of batter, and then put some topping and then close up the taiyaki pan. This time, I put some more batter on top of the chocolate and this really helped to keep the chocolate from seeping through.
I'll keep playing around with my taiyaki maker and post my creations and discoveries. I hope to get a more exact timing down so that my Taiyaki all look a pretty golden brown. I also plan on trying some other things with my taiyaki maker.
Taiyaki with chocolate filling
Your favorite pancake recipe or pancake mix
Chilled chocolate ganache or small pieces of chocolate
1. Place taiyaki maker on stove burner. Turn stove to medium heat. Spray or oil taiyaki pan.
2. After the taiyaki maker is heated, pour in pancake batter. Put a thin layer of batter, enough to cover the bottom fish shapes that are on the stove.
3. Place small piece of ganache or chocolate in the middle of the fish. Then spoon some more batter to cover the chocolate.
4. Close the taiyaki maker, and let cook for approx 2 minutes. Then flip taiyaki maker, so top side heats on the stove. Cook for about 2 minutes.
5. At this point you can check the progress of your taiyaki by opening the taiyaki pan. If taiyaki is still very light, cook for an additional minute, making sure to cook both sides evenly. If 2 minutes is too much, you can reduce the heat or cook about 1 minute on each side and then check the progress.
6. Remove from pan and eat while still warm.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I've been eagerly anticipating the opening of the San Diego Fair. Every year, I love seeing what new food creations will be at the fair and it's a yearly tradition to go and sample the various fair foods.
Boyfriend and I paid a visit to the fair this past weekend. The theme this year is aptly named "Taste of Fun." We were surprised by the lines that greeted us at the entrance. In all the years we've been to the fair, we've never seen the lines so long.
Once inside, we headed straight for the food. I'd already scoped out all the new food fair offerings online as well as printed a map of the different vendor locations and what they would be offering. Out of all the new featured food items, the one I had been anticipating most was the deep fried Klondike bar offered by Chicken Charlie's. Prior to visiting the fair, I had read Darlene's preview at My Burning Kitchen. She had not enjoyed the klondike bar because it was completely melted. After reading her review, I almost passed on trying it, but curiosity won over. I had been wanting it for so long that I just had to check it out for myself.
The Klondike bar took an usually long time to make. When it came out, I was happy to see how big it was. Upon digging in though, I was pretty disappointed. The ice cream was a complete melty mess. Chicken Charlie's has come up with some tasty deep fried treats over the years, but this was one creation I was not a fan of.
Another treat I thought looked interesting was the ice cream smores offered by Fruit Caboose Ice Cream. Soft serve ice cream was sandwiched in between two crispy graham crackers. Mixed with the ice cream were small marshmallows. The top graham cracker was covered with a thin layer of chocolate. Biting into this, I did feel like I was eating a smore, but with the addition of ice cream. I enjoyed this treat. The vanilla ice cream was super soft and creamy and I was surprised at how well the graham crackers complemented the ice cream, having not eaten this combination before. Boyfriend wasn't as pleased, but he also doesn't like graham crackers.
The Fresh Cream Puff is something I've seen every year at the fair, but have never tried. It always looks really popular. I used to enjoy my puffs filled with whipped cream, but after trying Beard Papa's cream puffs, I'm always disappointed by the whipped cream ones. When I saw that the Fresh Cream Puff would be offering "Puff on a stick" I decided this would be the year to finally check out this vendor.
Once I arrived, I noticed that they had both a puff on a stick: four mini puffs stuck together on a skewer, or you could get puff on a plate: the same four puffs in a plate. Since I would have to remove the puffs off the stick to eat them anyway, I decided to get the puffs on a plate. They had patriotic puff color/flavors going on. I chose to get one of each flavor because I liked the colors.
Unfortunately, neither Boyfriend or I were fans of the puffs. The cream tasted too light and artificial. It tasted more like the whipped cream in a can rather than the fresh whipped cream I like to make at home. The various flavors made them taste even more artificial. The puffs themselves were a bit hard and chewy too.
Two other items that looked interesting to me were the hash dog and the sweet potato dog being offered by Del Mar Diner. Already getting quite full, Boyfriend and I decided to just try one, saving the other for our next trip. We opted to try the sweet potato dog.
I absolutely loved how gnarly this looked with the sweet potato spikes. The dog tasted like it was dipped in a corn dog type batter and them topped with lots of sweet potato pieces. It was a delicious batter that was a little bit sweet with crispy sweet potato pieces. The dog itself was spicy, which was another surprising twist on the classic corn dog that I really enjoyed. This was by far my favorite item on this trip to the fair. Boyfriend is not a fan of sweet potatoes so he didn't particularly liked the batter, but he liked the spiciness of the hot dog. I suspect that he'll be a bigger fan of the hash dog.
After that, we paid Fish and Chips a visit for the clam chowder, something we've always enjoyed. I thought the clams were too sandy on this occasion, and I wasn't as happy with the soup as I usually am.
The Indian Fry Bread was something that I saw for the first time last year at the fair but didn't have room to try. A lot of the creations offered were sweet, and didn't really appeal to me. However, this year, they offered one topped with buffalo chicken.
As I just happened to have a buffalo chicken craving, this seemed perfect. I was surprised by the Indian Fry Bread. The bread was nothing like what I imagined. It was puffy, a bit oily and doughy, with a very subtle sweetness. It reminded me of something I had before, but I couldn't put my finger on it until a few bites later. It tasted just like a chinese doughnut/cruller, though it looked nothing like it. I enjoyd the bread, but just like chinese crullers, I can only handle a little because of the oily batter. After a few bites, it was a bit much for me. I also didn't think the buffalo chicken went well with this because the dough was slightly sweet. Boyfriend enjoyed this more than me and polished it off the next day.
We checked out some more food stations, marking ones to try next time when we come back with my brothers. The Heart Attack cafe is one I hadn't noticed before. I think it's new but I may be wrong. It seems to be rivaling Chicken Charlie. It's offerings this year included the deep fried butter, which does not sound the least bit appealing to me.
Something else I noticed was that one of the hot new items from the fair last year, chocolate covered bacon, was now being offered at quite a few locations.
After we were stuffed, we went over to the stage to check out Guy Fieri. I was surprised he was in the lineup at the stage usually reserved for big ticket concerts. I guess it just shows how popular the interest in food has become.
Guy Fieri had even more energy on stage than he does on his tv shows, if that is even possible. We didn't have great seats since we got there right before it started. It was still pretty fun to watch.
You can find all the information as to new foods, a food map and what the vendors are offering here.