International Foodie Pen Pal: Reveal #2

I made a little communication error with the foodie pen pal program so Adeline over at Intrigued With and I did a simple exchange just for kicks.  Her blog is filled with great photos of Singapore, her travels, and yummy, yummy food so stop by to say hi.  Speaking of yummy food, check out this great Singaporean spread she sent me:

Foodie Pen Pal International Reveal Singapore from intriguedwith.blogspot.comMy box from Adeline was compact but packed to the rim!  My husband and I have already had a many snacks and a few dinners thanks to this box, and I even used her ingredients for a very successful dinner party.  How great is that!  Here’s the contents:

  • Moon Cake: The first in the box to disappear.  My hubby couldn’t put it down! It was so fresh. *drooling*
  • Peanut Punch: This is one of my favs – kind of like an Asian peanut brittle that’s soft and crunchy at the same time and made of many delicate layers!
  • Wu Xiang Gao: I don’t know how to explain this one.. some help, Adeline? :)
  • Piggie Cake: The most adorable dessert I’ve eaten!
  • Bah Kut Tea Spices: This made the most amazing braised short ribs – enough for a party of 6!
  • Hainan Chicken Rice: Nothing reminds me of Singapore more than this! It was a huge hit and made for yummy leftovers the next day too.
  • Padang Rendang Paste: Yet to try – I’m savoring them best I can.  I’ll be sad when they’re all finished!
  • Sambal Chilli: Also yet to try
  • Kai Yang Marinade: this is dinner tonight!

Awesome, right?  Here are some close ups:

Piggie Cake from Singapore

Moon Cake from Singapore International Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

Adeline is such a crafty and sweet gal, and you could tell at first sight – there was a cute vintage address label, washi tape-wrapped envelopes and packaging, and she included this pretty handmade surprise:

Handmade Necklace by Adeline from intriguedwith.blogspot.comIf you love this necklace as much as I do, Adeline will be posting up more little trinkets for sale soon – follow her blog to hear more about it!  Thanks so much for all of the goodies and treats, Adeline! I’m savoring the last few bits I have left :)

If you’d like to join the International Foodie Pen Pal exchange for December, leave me a comment!  I’ll be posting more info about it early next week.  Happy weekend all!

Hello Naomi

I’m always looking for baking inspiration.  And when I say “inspiration,” I mean “I wish I could make these in some impossible alternate universe.”

A girl can dream, right?  And there would be much worse things to dream about than these beautifully decorated cupcakes, cookies, and macaroons from Hello Naomi.

And the presentation is just too gorgeous for words.  Look at that gold cherry and the perfect cupcake holder!

It’s time to go shopping for some gum paste and gold flakes!  Where do you look for cooking inspiration?

Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

I’ve been playing all week with my new stand mixer, and it’s wonderful!  First, I had the urge to over mix everything, but that turned out really dense, yucky cake.  So after a few batches of failures, I got tired of ‘oooo’-ing and ‘ahhhh’-ing at my mixer and made these oh-so-fluffy and light vanilla cupcakes from Sweetapolita.  They’re so light they almost remind me of angel food cake, but just heavy enough to hold the frosting on top.  These are so moist and scrumptious that my husband and I couldn’t stop eating them plain without frosting.

Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

 

But of course everything is better with frosting, right?  With such a basic cake base, I thought I’d jazz up the frosting a bit with strawberries with this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.  I just love the strawberry bits and the natural pink of this frosting.  Since I have a mixer, I stepped up my usual frosting and made a Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting.  I felt like my vanilla cupcakes were already sweet enough so I decreased the sugar in the frosting by 1/3.  The consistency of this frosting was a little bit soft though so I might have to play with it a little more.  I need to practice my piping too!

Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

 

I’ve been complaining about dense cupcakes for awhile now, and I was hoping my stand mixer would solve the problem.  I also started weighing my ingredients, changed my method of blending the ingredients, and made sure that all of my ingredients were at room temperature before blending.  Since I changed all of these at the same time, I’m not sure which had the biggest effect on the density of my cupcakes, but I’m going to continue doing all of these from now on.  The results are incredibly light and fluffy (have I said that too many times now?).

Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes in Glossyboxes

I’m toting these cupcakes to my students today so I put them in my Glossyboxes!  Aren’t the boxes too cute for words?

Tokyo Desserts and Cafes Part 2

There just wasn’t enough room for all of the cafes yesterday so let’s continue the Tokyo dessert bonanza!  Here’s some more of our favorite places:

My favorite dessert shops and cafes in Tokyo

From the top left to bottom right:
Gazebo (Ebisu-Nishi)
Paper Moon (Hiroo)
King’s Cross, Paper Moon, Two Rooms (Omotesando)
Microcosmos Cafe (Shibuya)

Tokyo Desserts & Cafes

Walking around Tokyo, you’ll soon realize that it’s a haven for the sweet tooth.  Tokyo has such a great blend of Japanese, European, Chinese, and American desserts – and all done to perfection.  Zhing and I have a soft spot for desserts, and we definitely did the city justice.  Here’s just a small splattering of some of our favorite Tokyo desserts over the past year and a half!  More to come tomorrow :)

My Favorite Tokyo Desserts and Cafes

From the top left to bottom right, by row:
Giotto (multiple locations), 100% Chocolate Cafe (Kyobashi)
Starbucks (multiple locations), Homemade Cupcakes and Sorbet
Berry Parlour (Minami-Aoyama), Echire (Maranouchi)
Berry Parlour (Minami-Aoyama), Lupicia Salon (Jiyugaoka)

Hummingbird Cupcakes

When I heard about Hummingbird Cupcakes from Brown Eyed Baker, I just knew I had to try it!  A cupcake filled with pineapple, coconut, banana, and nuts? Yum!!

Hummingbird Cupcakes Mini Cupcakes Plated with dried blueberries

Unfortunately, I still haven’t figured out the ins and outs of Japanese flour.  It doesn’t react and work the same way as all-purpose flour back home.  My cupcakes never rise enough leaving them too dense and doughy.  Not to mention that I haven’t been able to get my frosting the right consistency – it’s way too thick.  But that might be a problem I have to blame on myself and not Japanese ingredients.  :)  If you have any advice about baking in Japan or baking in general, I’d love your feedback!

Wedding Cake Centerpieces

For my wedding, I always dreamed of being surrounded by beautiful, extravagant floral decorations – cascading flowers everywhere!  But since we had a destination wedding, my dream turned into a nightmare where my guests and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy and savor all of the beautiful flowers after the big event.  Although I’m in love with flowers, it’s so sad not to be able to enjoy them for as long as they can last.  So instead, my planner and I decided to go for centerpieces that highlighted my other love and that guests would be able to thoroughly enjoy – cake!

My original idea was to use fruit centerpieces, which I found some beautiful inspiration for here.  But since I was planning to use satellite cakes anyways, my planner suggested that we place one cake on each table as centerpieces so they could multitask before being eaten!  And boy did they multitask for us!  We used them as centerpieces, table numbers, dessert, AND with cute to-go boxes, guests brought cake home for a late night snack.

I was a bit worried since many of the ideas online looked tacky.  I really wanted to use peonies, but since they weren’t in season in Hawaii during out wedding time, I opted for spider mums and fancy carnations.  Luckily, with cute flowers and placement, we were able to get a mini version of the “cascading flowers” that I wanted along with centerpieces that wouldn’t go to waste at the end of the night.    Plus, there were less things to clean up at the end of the night!  Benefits all around :)