coconut

Baby Shower | Congrats Liang & Josh!

| Baby Showers, Featured, Recipe

Baby “DoFo” (that’s a mashup of last name syllables) is on the way, and I was happy to bring desserts to the tea-time themed baby shower. To match the theme, I wanted to make small bite-sized desserts that didn’t require any utensils to eat or serve. Another friend was already bringing scones, so I decided on coconut macarons with lime-lychee curd, matcha green tea sugar cookies (this time cut into D’s, F’s and circles — the ability to spell out DoFo was purely coincidental), and bourbon sugar fudge squares.

To make the macarons, I made plain shells but baked them with toasted coconut shavings on top. I probably could have ground up coconuts into the shell or used coconut extract, but I didn’t necessarily want the coconut flavor to be predominant. For the filling, I made lime-lychee curd (using a basic lemon curd recipe but substituting the lemon juice for about 75% lychee puree and 25% lime juice) and mixed it with a small portion of pastry cream.
The matcha green tea sugar cookies were just like the previous time I made them, but with a different brand of matcha that made the mix much more vibrant:

The fudge comes from a Bon Appétit recipe and is addicting. The original thought was just to throw in something darker and richer, like the pastry equivalent of a cigar for the men at the shower. But this ended up beingmy favorite of the three. The fudge has a light bourbon flavoring in it, and is topped with bourbon raw sugar and Maldon sea salt flakes which really give this dessert that something special.

Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Fudge with Bourbon Sugar
Makes an 8″x8″ square (cut to desired shape/size)

Ingredients:
  • 283.5g bittersweet chocolate
  • 113g unsweetened chocolate (okay to substitute with bittersweet)
  • 1 14-ox. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 142g unsalted butter (1¼ sticks), cubed
  • ¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 Tbsp bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • flaky sea salt
for bourbon sugar:
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup demerara sugar (raw cane sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp bourbon

Directions:

  1. In advance, prepare bourbon sugar by scraping vanilla beans into a small bowl and stir in demerara sugar and bourbon. Spread on to a parchment-lined baking sheet and let dry out overnight (or speed up process by placing in oven at lowest heat possible.
  2. Line an 8″x8″ baking dish with parchment paper, leaving generous overhang to be able to pull out fudge later. Lightly coat with butter or nonstick spray.
  3. Heat chocolates in a double boiler (i.e. heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water), stirring occasionally until almost completely melted. Set aside.
  4. Combined condense milk, butter, bourbon, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan. Scrape in vanilla beans and heat over medium under barely hot (as close to same temperature as the chocolate).
  5. Gently stir in a quarter of the milk mixture into the chocolate with a rubber spatula. Add another quarter, stirring to incorporate. Continue mixing in the remainder of the milk in 2 additions, stirring vigorously until fudge is shiny and almost elastic, about 5 minutes.
  6. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth top.
  7. Let cool before sprinkling with bourbon sugar and sea salt.
  8. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.
  9. Turn out onto cutting board and cut as desired.
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Birthday | German Chocolate Memories

| Birthdays

When I asked Darren what type of desserts or flavor preferences he might have for his birthday, he was quick and precise in his answer: German Chocolate Cake.

It turns out that his mom would make him a German Chocolate Cake for his birthday when he was growing up and he wanted to continue that tradition for his celebration. I was happy to oblige of course, but talk about pressure to meet or exceed the expectations of childhood longing!

For this intimidating task, I turned to Cook’s Illustrated for guidance, and as always, I’m glad I did. The Cook’s Illustrated German Chocolate Cake uses whole eggs instead of separated eggs, which the kitchen testers found actually improves the cake texture. I also think the use of sour cream instead of milk/heavy cream has something to do with this, as the sour cream gives the batter a luscious thickness and structure that helps prevent any cake sinking.

The end result was a cake with a fine crumb and silky melt-in-your-mouth experience, and a very distinctively chocolate taste. I highly recommend this cake!

The coconut-pecan filling was great too, but honestly most recipes for the filling should be relatively good. I recommend toasting both the coconut and pecans before mixing for enhanced flavor.

I cut two 10″ cakes in half for 4 cake layers, each brushed with rum simple syrup, and topped with coconut-pecan filling. I then coated the sides of the layered cake with dark chocolate frosting. I originally intended to make small tempered chocolate cut-outs for a geometric decoration, but ran out of time. Hopefully I can execute that vision sometime in the future.

Finally, for presentation, I made a “Happy Birthday” using two birthday candles, some cardstock and spray glue (one of my favorite crafting items every). It’s hard to say how this cake stacked up to all German Chocolate cakes that came before, but the birthday boy and guests were happy, and that makes me happy!
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Office Bytes | Moving Day!

| Uncategorized

Some of my happiest baking is for the office. To me, there’s an inherent joy in desserts, and to share that joy with others and make even just one person merrier (especially in the workplace) is what motivates me.

Amazon Lab126 just moved offices to a shiny new location in Sunnyvale, CA and to celebrate our last day in the old office, I made a cake! This is a 4-layer lemon chiffon cake with coconut pastry cream and a middle filling layer of mango bavarian cream and fresh slices of mango. The outside frosting is just a plain Swiss meringue buttercream, decorated with toasted coconut chips.

I left the cake out (in a mostly closed box) in the kitchenette to let it thaw a bit. By 11am, the cake was 90% gone and I hadn’t even announced its presence. I barely got to taste a bite and snap a photo of the inside before the cake was completely gone, the box thrown away and my knife rinsed off.

I guess hungry employees find joy in cake on Friday mornings!

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