Saturday, February 22, 2014


A few weeks ago, I got the chance to go to Maui with my husband as part of his work trip. Neither of us had been before, and it was truly magical! We spent the whole time relaxing at the beach or by the pool at the resort, and eating and drinking very well. We both came home with a bit of a sunburn and many happy memories. So I decided I'd try to re-create our experience at home.

Every morning at the hotel, we'd have passion orange guava juice for breakfast. I became obsessed! So tropical and refreshing! Well, after a little bit of searching, I found the same juice at a local supermarket. So now I can have a taste of Maui every morning at home. Yum! (I might have to try a passion orange guava cupcake soon)

We also ate a lot of taro and purple sweet potato, specifically macadamia and ginger crusted sweet potato wedges at dinner one night. I normally love any potato dish, and the fact that these were purple just sent me over the edge. While I couldn't find the purple variety in stores, I did find taro chips! It's actually a blend of taro, sweet potato, and other root vegetables. Quite tasty!

One souvenir I did take home was the kukui nut leis given to us upon check in at the hotel. The kukui tree is the state tree of Hawaii, and in Maui it is a symbol of peace. Although I was a bit disappointed not to get a floral lei, in the end these were better since they don't wilt and die.

I also found a lovely Maui candle, scented like Mai Tais. I drank my fair share of them on vacation, so now anytime I want to remember Maui I can light the candle and put the lei on, close my eyes and dream of the ocean.

 Hopefully we'll be back to Hawaii soon, since it's only a 5 hour flight from California. Just a quick jump over the Pacific and you're in paradise! But until then, I'll have to make do with my memories.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day! Lemon Mousse Cupcakes

Today is the day for lovers. Or for anyone who loves sweets! After gorging myself on chocolates earlier in the week, I was ready for something a bit lighter.
With not a lot of time, I rummaged around in my fridge for inspiration. Here's what I came up with: whipped cream, meyer lemon curd, a few lemons, and a little bit of French buttercream. After a quick internet search, I found that combining whipped cream and lemon curd results in lemon mousse. So I naturally made lemon mousse cupcakes.

I used my vanilla cupcake recipe, and added about 1 tablespoon on lemon zest, which lent a slight lemon flavor to the moist and fluffy cake. After cooling, I cored each cupcake.

I mixed together the whipped cream and lemon curd. I had about 1 cup of curd and probably 1 and a half cups of whipped cream. I filled each cupcake with the lemon mousse, then with the leftover, I added the French buttercream. It gave it more stability. Then I piped the rest on top.

I felt the cupcakes needed something else, to jazz them up for Valentine's Day. I had baked them in cute red striped wrappers. I decided to melt some red candy and pipe out hearts onto wax paper. After a quick chill in the fridge, the hearts popped right off the wax paper. I made big ruffly hearts and little ones too. I gently placed them on top of each cupcake, and they looked perfect! Such a sweet treat for the holiday, or any day. So cute!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day chocolates

Valentine's Day. A holiday dedicated to chocolate and roses. I usually don't make a big fuss over this holiday, I just bake something chocolatey for my husband and he gets me flowers. After being together for 18 years, it's more about the little everyday things than a big splashy gift once a year. But I will take any excuse I can get to eat chocolate in any form: brownies, cookies, cakes, and especially truffles.

So pretty!

I was honored to be asked to review this box of Valentine's chocolates by Whole Foods. I shop there probably 3-4 times a week, since there's a market only a few blocks from my house. It's a nice little walk there and back, and I feel like I've earned whatever I end up getting from the salad bar. So they sent me a lovely heart shaped box of Valentine's chocolates to try.

Can't wait to dig in

There's nothing quite like receiving a heart-shaped box filled with sweet treats! Something about the shape and color make it special, and you just know it's not something you'll get any other time of year. My favorite part of opening a new box of chocolates is guessing what each piece has inside. If I'm feeling adventurous I'll just dive right in and bite into a few to find my favorite. But this box came with a handy guide, so I didn't have to guess. Even if you know what's inside, there's still a bit of a surprise when you take that first bite.

Temptation- dark chocolate with smooth raspberry center

14 different chocolates, each one unique. I wonder if the number was a deliberate nod to the holiday's date? Either way, it's a good amount for sharing. I started in order listed on the description card, but after I was halfway through I realized I should have probably worked my way from white to milk to dark chocolate. Oh well. While each and every one was delicious, I did have a few favorites. I'm not a fan of white chocolate in general. In my mind, the darker the better. And since these are Belgian chocolates, the dark was super rich and decadent.

I'm a sucker for caramel and nuts, so those earned big points with me. The two chocolates with liquid caramel were my favorite, with the dark chocolate winning out overall. I mean, whoever first thought to combine dark chocolate, caramel, and sea salt is a genius. The hazelnut filled heart was also pretty amazing. I ate those entirely, but the rest I just took a bite, saving the rest for my husband when he gets home from work today. He'll be greeted with a half-empty box of nibbled chocolates, but it's better than a completely empty box. Or maybe I'll just polish off the box myself and pick up another one next time I'm at Whole Foods, for him to enjoy by himself. Now there's a thought!

The carnage

This heart-shaped box would be a great last-minute gift for anyone who forgot or put off buying a Valentine's Day gift. Just pop in to the market, pick up some flowers, champagne, and a box of chocolates, and you're set. A Valentine anyone would love to get. Including me!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Long time, no blog.

Wow. I just took a peek at my last post, such a long time ago! I'm not sure why I stopped posting, I certainly didn't stop baking. In any case, I've decided to start up again, with a bit of a different outlook. Having lived in San Francisco for almost 3 years now, I've had ample time to explore the culinary scene, and it's been really inspiring. So I plan on continuing my culinary adventures in the city, and in my kitchen as well. By sharing new recipes and tasting yummy foods, I hope I can inspire others to explore and experiment too. Stay tuned!