The Cookie with Lovely Names – Butterfly (a.k.a. Elephant Ears)

I’m not sure if you guys have similar experience like mine, but I always have a sudden crave for dessert. So I made myself this easy to make cookie on my last dessert crave. Palmier, or more commonly known as butterfly or elephant ears, is a kind of puff pastry cookie. It can be found in different countries like France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portuguese and there is not a known credit for the first recipe. It is in a palm shape or butterfly shape and has a lot of different name like elephant ears, butterfly, palm leaves and French heart etc. Personally I love to call it “butterfly” as this is the way I call this cookie since I was a kid. Here is the recipe of it:

Butterfly/ Elephant Ears (about 15-18 pieces)

Recipe adapted from Christine’s Recipes

Ingredients

1 sheet of puff pastry (24cm x 24cm)

1/4 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

Method:

Step 1: Preheat oven at 392F (200C)

Step 2: Sift and sprinkle about half of the sugar over your working station. Then lay the fully expanded puffy pastry over the sugar. Lightly brush the melted butter on the pastry sheet. Sift and sprinkle the other half of the sugar over the puff pastry.

Step 3: Fold the left and right vertical side inward and stop at about 1/4 (about 6cm) of the pastry. Fold both sides inwards again and let them meet and touch at the center. Press the two sides together gently and make them stick to each other as close as possible. Let the pastry chill in the freezer for at least 30 mins. You can repeat the above steps to prepare an sheet of pastry if you have any.

Step 4: Take out the pastry from  the fridge carefully. Cut the pastry into strips of 1/2 inch (about 1.25cm) thickness. Lightly brush the melted butter on both sides of the strips. Press the two rolls firmly together to make sure they won’t unroll during baking. Place the strips on a baking tray lined with baking paper, open the opening side of the strip a bit and makes it looks like letter “Y”. Let about 2 inches (about 5cm) space between each strip as they expand during baking.

Step 5: Put the tray into the preheated oven and bake for 20-30 mins. Turn once at the last 10 mins. The cookies are done when sugar has caramelized and look golden brown. Cool the cookies over a rack for about 10 minutes then enjoy!

Little Notes:

  1. Look for instruction on the puff pastry box when trying to defrost the puff pastry sheet.
  2. Besides regular white caster sugar, you can also choose to use other flavored caster sugar like vanilla sugar. It can add an extra vanilla scent to your cookies and make them more tasty!
  3. Baking and flipping time are just a recommendation. The actual baking time may vary on different ovens. The best indicator of the baking time is the golden brown color of the cookies. Flip over the cookie when one side has turned into a golden brown and it is done when the other side has also turned into a beautiful golden brown color.
  4. Placing the strips like the letter “Y” helps to form the shape of the cookie.

The butterfly is a very easy to make dessert and not very time consuming. Indeed it is so easy to make that parents can turn this into a family activity. Children can help to sprinkle the sugar and brush the strips with melted butter while parents will be responsible for the cutting and baking part. What’s better than enjoying some home-made treats fresh out of the oven together with your family and friends?

Interview with Pearl Chan

In this post I am going to introduce a person that has a significant meaning to me. Pearl Chan is a friend of mine and she is an amateur pastry maker. She is very passionate about making dessert and always share her works with others. I started to develop my interest in dessert making because of her influence. Pearl has offered me a lot of help and advice when I first started off my dessert making journey. I hope you will be inspired by her experience and develop your interest in dessert making just like I do!

Me: When did you start develop your interest in making dessert?

Pearl: I started to develop my interest in making dessert since Form 1 (about 7th grade). I studied at a girls-only school and it was compulsory to take a home economics class and we learned how to  make some simple desserts in this class. Moreover, I was a student ambassador of a student society at that time. We once organized an event which all the ambassadors acted as secret angels to help fellow students sending hand-made cookies and candies to their friends to show their care for them. We did not only help to send out the cookies and candies but also responsible for making them. Through this event I found the baking experience very interesting and I really enjoyed the whole process a lot. Then I started to develop my interest in making dessert gradually.

Me: What makes you become so passionate about making dessert?

Pearl: The first thing that makes me become so passionate about making dessert is that I love to eat desserts since I was young. However desserts are always quite expensive and I thought if I can make them by myself, then I can save a lot of money. The second reason is, making desserts is just like doing magic. Only using simple ingredients, like flour, sugar and egg, you can already get hundreds of combination of desserts, such as cookies, muffin, sponge cake, cupcake, pie, tarts, soufflé, bread etc. Each of these types of dessert can also develop into different flavors based on the kinds of ingredients you add, either sweet or salty. It’s all about your creativity in terms of style and flavor. Thirdly, desserts itself represent all the emotions I involved. I don’t really like purchasing cakes from the chain cake shops as I always think their cakes lack some kind of “emotions”. On my friends’ birthday I would like to make a cake for them to represent my blessing. On Valentine’s Day or other special occasions, sending the boy I love hand-made chocolates to show my love for him. Not just tasting the desserts, I also wish people to taste the “heart and sincerity” of a pasty maker included in the dessert. Finally, making dessert can train you up, no matter physical energy or psychological mind. Physically, without the electronic machines you need to do all the steps by hand like rubbing, decorating, and coating. You need to stay close to the oven and pay attention to the baking process to prevent overcooking the desserts. Both requires a certain level of physical strength. Psychologically, you need to face thousand times of failure before you able to create a beautiful and successful dessert. Therefore, you always need to convince yourself not to give up until the last moment which is a good training to develop a strong mind.

Me: Are you a self-learner or did you take any course to learn about the skills needed?

Pearl: Both. During my high school study I chose cooking as one of my major. We need to make a dessert every week and my teacher would guide us one by one. Outside of school, I joined some baking class when they organized courses teaching some special desserts like wedding cake or spekkoek. I also learn by myself during leisure time, studying desserts cookbook, reading posts of famous dessert bloggers and watching demonstration videos on YouTube.

Me: Do you have any plans to turn your interest into a career in the future? Why or why not?

Pearl: Certainly. I wish I can study Le Cordon Bleu International to learn more professional techniques of making desserts. However this dream cannot hardly come true due to my family’s opposition and lack of funding to support me studying overseas. Also, it is quite hard to turn my interest to career in Hong Kong as not much places accept female chefs. However, I will never give up my dream. I will keep on looking for different ways to improve my dessert making skills. In the future, I wish I can open a café which provide various desserts to people and share my love and passion for dessert with them.

A Tasty and Easy to Make Egg Dessert – Steamed Eggs with Milk

Egg is always one of my favorite ingredients because of its ductility. You can use eggs to make an individual dish or use it together with other ingredients to create a more rich dish. You can always find recipes with eggs as the main character in both the entree and dessert section. Egg is just one of the most amazing ingredients that you can simply do anything with it and the result seldom goes wrong.

In this post, I am going to introduce a tasty and easy to make egg dessert which is a pretty well-known dessert among the Chinese. The dessert is Steamed Eggs with Milk and is known for its soft and smooth texture. So here is the recipe:

Steamed Eggs with Milk (For about 2 people)

Recipe adapted from Christine’s Recipes

Ingredients: 

2 Eggs

30g White caster sugar (You can adjust the amount used according to your own taste.)

250 ml Milk

Methods:

Step 1: Beat the eggs to a consistency similar to what would be used for an omelet. Warm up the milk a bit in the microwave oven without boiling it.

Step 2: First, pour the warm milk into the beaten eggs. Then add in sugar and use a spoon/ fork to mix the mixture well.

Step 3: Pour the egg mixture into a container(s) (This depends on the number of servings you want.) that can be used for steaming. Use a spoon to remove the foam on the surface of the egg mixture.

Step 3: Cover the mixture with a foil or the lid if your container has one. Steamed it for about 12 minutes in a wok (or a pot with a depth that can hold your container inside it) with the lid on. Lift up the lid every 4 minutes to release some steam. Then done!

Little notes:

  1. Removing the foam on the surface of the egg mixture and covering it with a foil/ lid during stream are tricks to help your steamed egg to have a smooth surface when it is done. So don’t forget to do them!
  2. The steaming time is just a suggestion as the material of the container may affect the cooking time. For the first time you make this, you can open the foil/ lid once in a while to check out the actual condition of the egg and adjust the cooking time. The dessert is done when it becomes solid and looks soft and smooth.

Most people would like to have this dessert served hot and thinks it tastes better this way. Personally I think it tastes good in both hot and cold. Eat it right after it’s done if you prefer hot and let it chill in the fridge for a couple hours if you prefer cold. Let me know which one you prefer! Enjoy!

Experience Hotness and Coldness Together in a Bite

I am a big fan of Japanese food. I love sushi, sashimi and also the family style Japanese food.

There is a restaurant called Temari in Rockville, Maryland and it is specialized in providing family style Japanese food. This restaurant is one of my favorites. They provide a large variety of Japaneses home style dishes and also some unique Japanese dessert that I can’t find elsewhere. As you all know I LOVE desserts, so this post is not gonna be about the main dishes of the store but their dessert.

Recently I found out they have a Winter special dessert which available on weekends only. The dessert is called zenzai, it is a kind of traditional Japanese dessert. Zenzai is a sweet red bean soup served hot in a bowl with mochi inside. There are two styles of zenzai available in the store: the regular zenzai and the cream zenzai. The one I’m going to introduce is the cream zenzai.

This is a cream zenzai.

The difference between regular zenzai and cream zenzai is a scoop of vanilla ice-cream is added into the cream one. This scoop of ice-cream is the element which makes the cream zenzai an unique dessert.

The way I eat this dessert is get some ice-cream with the spoon and also some red bean soup, then eat both of them together. The coldness of the ice-cream and the hotness of the red bean soup will form an interesting hot and cold experience inside your mouth. I like the feeling of having coldness and warmth inside my mouth at the same time.

The ice-cream brings more than just the coldness. When the ice-cream melts in the red bean soup, it adds a creamy texture and vanilla scent to the soup. It enhances the taste of the soup. The chewy texture of mochi also adds a different taste to the soup and makes the dessert more rich.

Both zenzai and cream zenzai are Winter limited dessert and only available on weekends. If you are interested in trying this dessert, go when the weather is still cold!

Temari Japanese Cafe

Address: 1043 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852

Phone: (301) 340-7720

The Dessert Place that You Don’t Want to Miss Out – Stella’s Bakery

I came across this store because of Gossip Girl.

I was watching Gossip Girl one night. I don’t even remember which episode it was, all I can remember is watching Blair eating one after another macaroon throughout the whole episode. Watching her eating those colorful little French almond cookies made me drooled and started to crave for one. I immediately looked for dessert places in the area through Google search and found Stella’s Bakery website after a few search. Their desserts look so good on the website and the actual ones taste good too. Stella’s Bakery has become one of the top three of my favorite stores ever since my first visit.

So, this is how Stella’s Bakery looks.

From Top to Bottom: 1) Outside the store; 2) Outside the store; 3) Inside the store

There are a few tables and chairs available both inside and outside the store. You can choose to enjoy your dessert right there with a cup of coffee (Yes, they sell coffee there too!) or some other places that you like.

Stella’s Bakery provides a large variety of dessert; they have different kinds of pastry, tarts, cakes, breads and cookies available. No matter how picky you are, I’m sure you can find something that interests you there.

From Top to Bottom: 1) Different tarts and pies; 2) Assorted chocolates; 3) Butter cookies; 4) Cakes and more tarts; 5) More cookies

Here are what I got from my last visit:

Top: Fruit Tart     Middle: Apple Tart    Bottom: Raspberry/Chocolate Mousse Merengue

Fruit Tart: I think they did a good job making the custard. It is very smooth and have a good vanilla scent but not too sweet. It matches with the fruits on top perfectly.

Apple Tart: This is one of my personal favorite. I like the way they include almond paste in the tart. The the taste of almond just make the whole tart taste more rich and yummy!

Raspberry/ Chocolate Mousse Merengue: This is the first time for me to try this. Merengue is a cookie like thing made of egg white and sugar. I find it a little too sweet when  just eating the merengue alone but it’s tastes totally different when eating the whole thing altogether. The chocolate mousse is made of dark chocolate, not sweet and has a light taste of chocolate’s bitterness. The chocolate mousse helps to balance off the sweetness of the merengue when  eaten together. The sourness of the raspberries also brings the same effect. The merengue, dark chocolate mousse and raspberries just form a perfect combination.

Here it comes my favorite — macaroons.

Stella’s macaroons have the exact texture that a good macaroon should has: A thin, crispy crust and a little chewy texture beneath the crust. Like other desserts, their macaroons also have a lot of different flavors: rosewater, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, lemon, orange, pistachio etc. I always have a problem deciding which flavors I want as all of them are just so tasty!

If you don’t know what to choose for your first visit to Stella’s Bakery, here are my recommendations:

  1. Macaroons – Remember to try the rosewater one. I know some people may think this is a weird flavor, but smell and taste of rose just add a little elegance to the French cookie and make it more tasty.
  2. Fruit Tart
  3. Italian Napoleon
  4. Apple Tart

Enjoy your visit!

Stella’s Bakery

Website: http://www.stellasbakeryonline.com/index.html

Address: 11510 D Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland  20852

Phone: (301) 231-9026