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 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 :)