Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Wow, it sure has been awhile since I updated around here.

My life this past month has been crazy! I have been baking, but I've also been consumed with finals, and this...

Yup. That happened on December 11, right after I finished with finals.

Anyway, I promise to share some things that I've been baking in just a bit (and hopefully, there will be a new Mactweets post as well! :D )

w/<3 from Anne

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Black Sesame macarons

I kind of hate to admit it, but Gossip Girl is a guilty pleasure of mine. Everything about that show is so trashy, yet pretty at the same time! Anyway, Monday night's episode really highlighted macarons (as they are Blair Waldorf's favorite treat), and it's upped my craving to bake and eat them even more than usual.

Anyway, I took my mom to the grocery store the other day and I happened to see some black sesame seeds for sale. I've seen some delicious looking black sesame macarons on some other blogs, and I know that black sesame can be a great ingredient for desserts.

My mom is from a little city in Japan called Tosu (in Kyushu, the southernmost island). I haven't been back to visit my family in over 5 years, but I've been dying to go back. We always visit in the summer, and it's a MUST to go to a family-owned popsicle shop called "Yaoki Ice." Azuki (red bean) and milk are the two most popular flavors, and the last time we went they came out with a black sesame flavor. It was DELICIOUS. Of course, remembering this only gave me more faith in the tastiness of black sesame macarons.

If you haven't smelled black sesame before, it's a very overwhelming aroma, similar to that of peanut butter. It's only intensified after grinding them. I could even smell it after incorporating it into the batter, which by the way, looked a lot like melted cookies and cream ice cream!

Even though they aren't of the typical eye-catching spectrum of macaron colors, I thought they came out beautifully. And they were delicious too, especially when I sandwiched them with a simple vanilla butter cream <3

Happy baking, everyone :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rodriguez 2012

If I ever become President, I think I would host a Macaron Summit. I would invite the leaders of all the countries that we're having issues with (and hey, maybe I'll even invite our allies) for an afternoon of hot tea and macarons.

Oh, right. Didn't I say that I wouldn't talk about politics on my blog? Alright then, I'll just talk about my pumpkin macarons.

The city of Los Angeles has been going through a strange weather pattern recently. We've been experiencing a week of 90°+ weather, followed by a 20-30° drop in temperature and rain...lather, rinse, repeat. November hasn't been an exception to this see-saw pattern. Thanksgiving is a few short weeks away, but with the strange weather it's been difficult to get into the spirit of the holidays. Despite the fact that Costco has had Christmas trees on display since July, the 96° weather and my Southern California upbringing says it's really time to go to the beach and have a bonfire.

But this morning was a little different. Maybe it was the fact that it rained again, or maybe it was the ending of daylight savings. Even though it's still a bit warm, the strong winds and the crisp air outside just makes it FEEL like the holidays are around the corner. And indeed they are.

Anyway, Mactweets has just posted another theme for this month, and this is my second entry for the Mactweets "Falling for Macarons" round-up. What does fall mean to me? PUMPKINS!!! I'm sure you've noticed that it's been the flavor of the month for me. I had some leftover pumpkin in the fridge...so what's a girl to do? Make macarons, of course!

Macarons with Pumpkin Custard

BEST MACARONS TO DATE. Instead of making a buttercream or cream cheese filling, I decided to go with a pumpkin custard. My mom makes amazing cream puffs (seriously, they're better than Beard Papa's), and so I stole her custard recipe and added pumpkin and spices to it. It could be that I love these macarons because they're reminiscent of my mom's glorious cream puffs - or maybe it's the addition of the pumpkin. Whatever it is, these macarons could bring world peace.

Rodriguez 2012. You heard it here first.

Happy baking, everyone :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Today is a very important day, for several reasons.

First and foremost, it's election day! I certainly hope that you've all done your patriotic duty, and cast your vote.

Okay. I promise, that's probably the only political issue you'll hear me talk about on this blog.

Next, today is important because it is Día de los Muertos, a traditional Mexican holiday. It is believed that the souls of beloved deceased return to earth to visit their living relatives. Families usually gather together and pray and honor their loved ones. Altars are decorated with marigolds, candles, food, and sugar skulls to entice the spirits back home.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a terrible Mexican.

It's not that I'm not proud of my heritage; in fact, it's the exact opposite. I'm half Japanese AND half Mexican, something that I'm very proud of. But growing up was a little difficult. Other than the confusion and the weird looks followed by questions of, "What are you?", some lesser-known holidays from both cultures got lost in the mix.

Sadly, Día de los Muertos is one of those holidays. But now that I'm older, I'm trying to change that.

Today, I took a step in what I think is the right direction of embracing my beautiful heritage, and I decided to do that with food and baking.

Another festive food item that comes with celebrating Día de los Muertos is pan de muerto, or bread of the dead. (side note, "pan" is also bread in Japanese! How cool is that?) I spent some time reading over recipes and finally selected one that involved an orange glaze (yum!)...and here's the result!

Gorgeous, right?

Pan de muerto is traditionally eaten with the family and served with Mexican hot chocolate (usually laced with cinammon), and they remember and honor the dead. Unfortunately, I have class until 10 pm tonight, and I don't anticipate getting to enjoy this bread with them, but it smells so good that I might just bake this again next year.

So here's to my grandparents, Manuel and Ruth. While I never met my grandmother, I understand that she was an amazing cook; my grandfather lived to be 99 years old, and he was a fighter until the end. I hope my pan de muerto is good enough to honor their memory. Here's to being a better Mexican, and here's to a new tradition.

Happy baking, everyone :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

My first homemade pie

In case you haven't noticed, I've been on a pumpkin kick lately. But it's Halloween and I'm going to take advantage of the seasonal flavors while I can, gosh darn it!

Anyway, I hope you all had a lovely (and safe) Halloween this year. I certainly did :) No, there were no costumes, and I didn't get any candy...but I did spend quality time with great friends, watch scary movies, and make/devour pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pie (made from scratch).

Oh, the pie...I have no words.

So I'll be quiet now :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since last night, I've been in the mood for chocolate chip cookies. So despite the almost 80 degree weather this afternoon, I thought I'd be a little festive and make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies :)

There's something about this time of year that makes me start craving pumpkin...Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies...

Well, these cookies didn't exactly come out tasting exactly like I wanted them to, but they satisfied my craving. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010


A lot of people say that macarons are like women. They're beautiful to look at, but they take a lot of work to look so good. And they definitely have an evil side that is unleashed when they're not treated properly.

But today, I've come to the conclusion that they're more like little boys. Girls in elementary schools around the world usually HATE how they're treated by little boys. The little critters like to pull hair, roll in dirt, pull pranks - and be really annoying in general. These little girls usually don't understand that these boys are just seeking their affection, but who wants a snotty little brat for a boyfriend at that age? NO ONE. That's why girls wait until the boys mature into well-behaved young gentlemen.

Where am I going with this? Well, it's custom to let the macaron sit and "mature" for a day, in order to meld the flavors of the shell and frosting together. In fact, many a pâtisserie sell their macarons only after they have matured for a few days. Selling them right off the baking sheet is a no-no. Unfortunately, I've been committing a crime because I've been eating them fresh out the oven. And you know what? They're delicious. Then I ate one of these right out of the oven yesterday:

Pistachio macarons with chocolate ganache

I spent A LOT of time working on these. My dad and I shelled and skinned what seemed like hundreds of pistachios for a few hours, and then I had to carefully make the batter. After all the work I did, I must have overmixed the batter because my macarons came out hollow and took forever to bake all the way through. Then I added the chocolate. And then...


All of my hardwork produced mediocre macarons. They were too crispy. They weren't very soft and chewy in the center. And there was too. much. chocolate. I love chocolate, but the ganache really took away from the exquisite pistachio taste that should have been there.

...but then I grabbed one about a half hour ago, approximately 28 hours after baking. And it was magical.

The texture was PERFECT. Thin and crispy shell, chewy and moist in the center. And the taste? It was to die for.

Maturity, folks. It does wonders. Pierre Hermé doesn't let his macarons sit around for nothing.

Lesson learned.

Happy baking :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yup, more macarons!!!

I think it's FINALLY safe to say that I've figured out the tricky nature of macarons. A post on my pistachio macarons will follow shortly :)

Anyway, sit tight kids. It's story time again.

During my dramatic, emotional, and macawrong-filled journey, I found an inspiring website that I absolutely adore. It's called Mactweets, and if you haven't been there yet, you need to check out all the great themes and pictures that are submitted on a monthly basis.

As many of you know, October is breast cancer awareness month. I, for one, am tired of the stupid statuses that people have been posting on Facebook (especially the recent one about where we like to put our purses), because does that REALLY raise an awareness for breast cancer? Probably not.

While many of you may argue that macarons and breast cancer awareness aren't really synonymous, I think they're a lot cuter and classier than those Facebook statuses. Run and tell that, homeboy.

So how does breast cancer awareness tie in with Mactweets? Well, they're hosting the month of the pinkarons in honor of October's theme! I hope it's not cheating, but I made my sister these delicious pink macarons at the beginning of October...I hope I still qualify!

Here are my pink macarons with Rose Cream Cheese filling. Simple, but delicious.

And here's hoping that someday, we'll have a cure!

Happy baking :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

My remedy...

I love gloomy weather, because it gives me a good excuse to bake.

My dear sister and bro-in-law got me a Silpat mat. I decided to experiment today, and I made these little rays of sunshine.

Chocolate macarons with (leftover) rose cream cheese filling.


The feet didn't rise as much as I would have liked, and I'm wondering if the Silpat absorbed too much of the heat? Maybe I don't need to stack baking sheets anymore. I will do my research and keep experimenting.

Happy baking, all :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm a horrible person.


Don't tell cupcakes, but I've found a new love. Reader, in case you haven't met yet, I'd love to formally introduce you to the French Macaron.

Photo courtesy: http://papergoddess.typepad.com

Look at them...so cute. Colorful. Adorably ruffled. DELICIOUS.

First things first, I know you're thinking...macaron? Isn't it macaroon? To which I'll say, NO. French macarons have a wonderful eggshell-like crispness, and a cakey (yet airy) center, whereas American macaroons are ugly, dense coconut concoctions. French macarons are beautiful, and it's rumored that even Marie Antoinette loved them.

Disclaimer: I really don't like Kirsten Dunst. So let's pretend that this is actually Marie Antoinette enjoying macarons.

Secondly, you're probably wondering why I'm posting about another dessert on a blog dedicated to cupcakes. Well, let's put it this way. I've baked maybe 3 batches of cupcakes since the beginning of 2010. How many batches of macarons have I baked this year?...as of yesterday, I think I've baked 13 batches. In a 2 month span. Yes, I'm obsessed.

See, macarons are adorably cute and delicious, but they are truly the divas of the pastry world. There are two methods to baking these little treats, the Italian method, and the French method (which I will explain in just a bit). There are only six ingredients for macarons, which makes it deceptively easy to master. Take a bowl of aged egg whites, add a pinch of salt, and whisk to soft peaks. Slowly beat in granulated sugar until medium soft peaks. Add your food coloring, and slowly add sifted almond flour and confectioners sugar.

Next comes a technique that the French call "macronage," which is the process of carefully incorporating the dry ingredients with the meringue, until it flows like magma*. This stage determines whether you'll have macarons or macawrongs. One turn too little, and you'll end up with lumpy cookies. One turn too much, and you'll be eating deflated, porous almond cookies.

This is where I would post pictures of 10 of my failed batches, except I'm too embarassed to admit to my failures. And yes, you read that correctly, 10 failed batches. Out of 13.

If I have learned anything about baking macarons, it's that it's not only the macronage that counts. The meringue has to be JUST right. It can't be humid outside, because meringues don't like humidity. The temperature in your oven also has to be perfect, and the heat needs to be equally distributed. Not too hot, or else the macaron shells will crack. Not too cold, or else they won't get those beautiful feet. They also need to sit on the counter until they develop a skin before going into the oven. It also helps if Jupiter is aligned with Venus, and if there's a herd of unicorns flying over a volcano outside of your home (*because really, how many people actually know what flowing magma looks like?).

Anyway. My first batch of macarons was actually a success. I got my coveted feet, and of course I wore it as a badge of honor.

Banana Cream Macarons

...aaaand, I became a little too confident. Clearly, anyone that can successfully bake a batch of macarons on their first try is a prodigy. Well, those stupid cookies put me in my place, because the batches that followed were MACAWRONGS. 6 batches later, I succesfully made Matcha macaron shells, and used Azuki bean paste as a filling.

After a string of more failures, I succeeded in making Rose cream cheese flavored macarons for my sister's birthday.

OKAY. So clearly, I have a problem. I think I'm okay with admitting that now. However, I'm not finished with macarons yet. I think that I'm JUST barely starting to understand their finicky nature, and I still have dozens of flavor combinations that I would like to try.

...but I haven't completely forgotten about cupcakes. In fact, exploring different macaron flavors have inspired me to come up with different cupcake recipes, too.

So to sum it up, I love macarons, and you should too. I'm also thinking about turning my blog into a general baking blog, because you know what? I like baking all kinds of things. Cookies, cakes, souffles, you name it. It's time for a change!

But if you happen to see a cupcake before I do, please let it know that we're far from over. They will always be my first love.

Happy baking :)