Sunday, July 31, 2011

Horchata Macarons

*WARNING: Reading this entry may make you crave Mexican food. :)

Have you ever wanted to try something seemingly radical in the kitchen, only to stop yourself and think, "Nahhh, that couldn't POSSIBLY taste good"? I must admit, I am completely guilty of having this mentality ALL THE TIME. Thanks to the lovely ladies over at Mactweets and this month's Macaron Challenge, my idea of combining ice cream with macarons has become a reality!

But first, a trip down memory lane.

My boyfriend and I are pretty big fans of a TV show called Man Vs. Food. We recently took a little trip to San Diego and tried the famous Lucha Libre Taco Shop, and ordered the Surfin' California...honestly, whoever thought of putting french fries in a burrito needs to be made a saint! It was amazing, but the best part of the meal was washing everything down with a nice big cup of Horchata.

Look at the size of this thing! Picture courtesy of my boyfriend and his beloved iPhone.

If you've never heard of horchata before, keep reading. Trust me, I'm doing you a favor.

Horchata is a cinnamon-rice milk drink, and it's easily found at most Mexican or "Mexican" restaurants here in Los Angeles. I've never been a fan of jamaica (hibiscus juice), but horchata...that's a different story. It's the subtle combination of flavors that really makes this drink delicious. In my opinion, the most refreshing glass of horchata isn't too sweet or cinnamony (I'm surprised spell check didn't flag me on this one). To be honest, any meal from King Taco - or any restaurant that serves horchata for that matter - is not complete without this refreshing drink.

So where am I going with this? Oh yes. I've always wanted to try making macaron ice cream sandwiches, but I've always felt that combining ice cream with a dainty macaron shell might ruin the texture, but this was heaven.

This...meaning THIS.


That, my friends, is homemade horchata ice cream sandwiched between cinnamon macaron shells. AMAZING.

Cinnamon shells...they came out horchata-colored!

I've never made ice cream before, but making this was easy, definitely a friendly introduction to making your own ice cream. This recipe is worthy of it's own blog entry. It's a lovely, creamy homage to horchata! I made sure to reduce the sugar, as many of you know that I'm not a fan of super sugary treats. I also cut back on the cinnamon, since there was PLENTY going in the macaron shells. After sandwiching the two, I was blessed with a match made in heaven.

The only bad thing about these is that they need to be eaten quickly (which is really NOT a problem. :) ). I was generous with the amount of filling I added, and the shells got softer...but at least it lasted for the picture!

Thank you, Jamie and Deeba! This month's challenge has allowed me to create a delicious ice cream flavor...and now I will never doubt the wonder of ice cream between two macaron shells ever again. :)


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy birthday, Jon :)

I used to be terrified of baking cakes.

My fear started when I attempted to bake a lemon cake for Jhonny's birthday a few years back. Being stuck in the confines of an inadequate dorm kitchen, (with less-than-favorable baking equipment) I ended up baking a glorified lemon pancake/cornbread hybrid inside a pie pan, definitely something more of a science experiment than an edible treat.

Fast-forward a few years later, and now I feel that baking layer cakes is the best thing on earth. I still have a lot to learn, though.

So what was the occasion for this layer cake? Earlier this week was Jonathan's birthday (a long time friend since elementary school). He loves chocolate, so I went with Ms. Humble's chocolate cake recipe, and threw in layers of banana buttercream, and surrounded the cake with Nutella whipped cream. The verdict? Delicious win. I have found my go-to basic chocolate cake recipe...not too sweet, not too chocolatey, and VERY moist. Ms. Humble is not one to be doubted, and if you haven't seen her blog/tried her recipes, what are you waiting for?!

Pardon my messy coating.

...and my messing piping.

...and no, he's not 42 :)

One thing the recipe is forgetting, though, is a nice tall glass of milk. Mmmm.

After devouring a slice, we headed out to Ashiya park and "vandalized" with light graffiti.

Happy birthday, Jon! Here's to many more.


P.S. Stay tuned for my first ever guest entry, which should be up in a few days :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Good Mistakes

I have ALWAYS wanted to make blue macarons.

My color bias is probably attributed to the fact that blue is my favorite color, and it's not everyday that I get to make blue desserts, or blue food for that matter. Blue food isn't exactly that common, and I actually remember reading somewhere that humans stay away from eating blue food. Blue usually means that something is uncooked or rotten, and it is within our vary nature to reject food with a blue hue.

But I don't care. I will never deny a macaron, especially if it's blue.

When Mactweets posted their June fruit challenge, I knew exactly what to do. BLUEBERRY MACARONS!!! I made my way to Whole Foods and bought this:

Courtesy of Eden Foods

Silly me. Just because the package says that they're Dried Blueberries, doesn't mean they're FREEZE-DRIED blueberries. My whole plan to add pulverized blueberries to get a beautiful blue macaron shell pretty much went down the drain. Nevertheless, this brand of dried blueberries would be wonderful in a bowl of yogurt or cornflakes!

Despite my mistake, I wasn't too depressed. Mactweets did say, afterall, that this month's challenge was a celebration of fruit. I don't know about you, but during these hot Southern California summer months, sometimes the only thing that I'll have an appetite for is a nice refreshing fruit salad. While cramming an array of fruit flavors into one macaron seemed a little much, a simple strawberry/blueberry combination was easy.

After rummaging through my pantry, I found an unopened bag of freeze-dried strawberries from Trader Joes. I threw the strawberry powder into the batter, which (*sigh*) gave me a pink tint. After they came out of the oven (with feet!), I sandwiched them together with a simple vanilla buttercream with whole dried blueberries.

No, these macarons aren't blue. While pink is my least favorite color, I must say that this mixed berry macaron turned out to be pretty delicious. And of course, it's a reminder to me that sometimes things happen for a reason, and mistakes aren't always so horrible. We might get something good and delicious out of it in the end :)

Mixed Berry Macaron