chocolate chip and everything cookie


Who doesn't love a cookie? Especially a chocolate chip cookie. Everyone can bake cookies but what makes those stand out above the rest? I'm not sure but I like to think the love and thought behind it. So next time you eat that homemade cookie, remember that someone thought about you that day. It will taste that much better. I adapted this from the Original NESTLE Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. It reminds me of the episode of Friends where Monica tries to replicate the cookies made by Phoebe's grandmother-- who apparently got the recipe from an old friend named Nestle Tollhouse (with strong French accent).

chocolate chip and everything cookie  
adapted from Nestle Toll House recipe
  • 2 1/2 cups flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup butter, softened 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 4 egg yolks 
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup dried cherries, raisins, crushed peanuts, shredded coconut  
  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees F.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Stir in morsels, fruits, and nuts.
  3. Spoon tablespoons of batter and drop onto ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Gateau with Praline Buttercream


Wow! I have to say this was quite a challenge. I don't think I've ever made something with so many steps and components. I attempted to make this in one day but soon realized I was too ambitious. It turned out to be a whole weekend affair. The cake is made with a combination of hazelnuts and pinenuts, which turned out lovely. The most difficult part of this recipe was the praline. The sugar was quite hard to handle and it took forever to melt. The first go around I ended up burning the sugar, so the praline was very bitter. So during my second round, I was very cautious about melting the sugar slowly but even then, there was bitterness with a slight hint of sweet. My favorite part of the recipe was the ganache. It poured easily on the cake and created a smooth finish.  
Gateau with Praline Buttercream  
Adapted from Great Cakes by Carol Walter
  • 1 Filbert Genoise 
  • 1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum 
  • 1 recipe Praline Buttercream 
  • ½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks 
  • 1 recipe Apricot Glaze 
  • 1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using 
  • 3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Filbert Genoise
  • ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned 
  • 1 cup of pinenuts, toasted 
  • 2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted 
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 7 large egg yolks 
  • 1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • ½ tsp. grated lemon rind 
  • 5 lg. egg whites 
  • ¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)
  1. Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.
  2. Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.
  3. Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.
  4. Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute. Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.
  5. Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.
  6. With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.
  7. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.
Sugar Syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar 
  • 2 Tbsp. chocolate liqueur
  1. In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake
Praline Buttercream
  • 1 recipe Swiss Buttercream 
  • 1/3 cup praline paste 
  • 1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. rum
  1. Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum
Swiss Buttercream
  • 4 lg. egg whites 
  • ¾ cup sugar 
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm 
  • 1 ½ -2 Tbsp. rum 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time.
  2. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows. Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside. Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become too soft.*
  3. On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.
  4. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.
Praline Paste
  • 1 cup (4 ½ oz.) pinenuts, toasted/skinless 
  • 2/3 cup Sugar Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

  1. Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.
Strawberry Glaze
  • 2/3 cup thick strawberry preserves 
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  1. In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.
  2. Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.
Ganache Glaze
  • 6 oz. (good) semisweet chocolate 
  • 6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream 
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup 
  • ¾ tsp. vanilla 
  • ½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed  
  1. Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.
  2. Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable.
Assembling Cake
  1. Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.
  2. Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.
  3. Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-inch blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.
  5. Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.
  6. To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.
  7. Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

tres leche cake


While a couple of girlfriends and I were in Miami a few weeks ago, we discovered the most irresistible Latin dessert. It is a dense vanilla cake soaked in a milk syrup called the Tres Leche Cake. So I was inspired to replicate this delightful treat. Originally I had planned to make cupcakes but then the syrup worried me. I felt like the paper cup would not be able to contain the syrup and it would be messy to eat in. So I decided to use ramekins-- which turned out to be a bad idea too. The batter was amazing and I knew it would be a very fluffy cake but the ramekin didn't allow the bottom to bake at the same speed as the top. The top half was amazing with the moistness from the milks but didn't have enough pockets to soak up the milk and it didn't have enough heat to rise. I was very disappointed but we live and learn, right? The recipe I married together from two tres leche recipes was great, I will definitely try this again in a regular cake pan or cupcakes.

tres leche cake

  • 3/4 cups butter
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour cake pan.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add in egg yolks one at a time. Then add vanilla and milk.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  4. Whip the egg whites until stiff peak. Fold into the cake batter until well incorporated.
  5. Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake until set and test with a toothpick.
  6. While the cake is cooling, mix together the evaporated milk, condensed milk and 1/3 cup of heavy cream.
  7. With a toothpick, poke randomly into the cake. Gradually pour the milk mixture onto the cake. Wait for each pour to absorb into the cake before continuing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8. Whip the whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar together. Frost the top of cake with whipped cream.

worms n'dirt cupcakes


Who doesn't love some worms n' dirt? It's funny, I don't usually make chocolate cupcakes (I'm a vanilla kind-of girl). But in order to get the right affect here, the cake had to be chocolate. I decided to make a devil's food. Until now, I never understood what the difference was between devil's food and chocolate cake. I always thought they were the same thing and some people wanted to make a sin out of eating dessert. Developed in the south, devil's food (some know it as red velvet cake) was originally red in color using beets and cocoa. However, over the years it lost its coloring and just looks like an ordinary chocolate cake. The difference between it and chocolate cake is the use of cocoa instead of real chocolate.

strawberry ice cream


I get a lot of kitchen contraptions and appliances as gifts from my friends in the past few years. It's probably because I love cooking and baking. I admit there are somethings I've returned or exchanged but one of my favorite keepers was a ice cream machine from my college roommate Thu. You scream. I scream, We all scream for ice cream--- especially in the past few days of boiling temperatures. I had a ton of fresh strawberries and decided make a vanilla ice cream from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book and throw in the berries to make my very own strawberry ice cream.

strawberry ice cream adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book  
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 2 large eggs plus 
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten 
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk 
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups strawberries, muddled  
  1. Bring the milk to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan.
  2. Slowly beat the hot milk into the eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk until the custard thickens slightly. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble.
  3. Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through a strainer into a large clean bowl.
  4. Allow the custard to cool slightly, then stir in the condensed milk and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight.
  5. Stir the chilled custard, then freeze in 1 or 2 batches in the ice cream machine. Add strawberries.
  6. When finished, the ice cream will be soft but ready to eat.

peanut butter jelly cupcakes II


A promise is a promise and cupcakes were the promise. I had promised my friend Caroline I would bake her any cupcake her heart desired. Apparently she has been craving my peanut butter and jelly cupcakes since my first attempt for a housewarming party. These are adapted from my original pb&j cupcakes. Unfortunately, I didn't have anymore confectioner's sugar at home, so I had to adapt a frosting recipe without it into a peanut butter frosting. The recipe didn't turn out as well as I anticipated. It was very lumpy from the flour and milk mixture, so I had to press the frosting through a strainer to get all the lumps out. But despite all the work, I had a yummy frosting! 

peanut butter and jelly cupcakes 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 3 cups cake flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup jelly peanut butter frosting 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together, beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Sift flour, salt and baking soda together. Combine dry ingredients in four parts into butter mixture, alternating with the milk and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
  4. Divide batter into liners, 2/3 full. Bake for 15-17 minutes.
  5. Cool completely. Using a pastry bag and small tip, squeeze jelly into the center of each cupcake. Then decorate with peanut butter frosting using a pastry bag.
peanut butter frosting  
  • 1 cup butter or margarine 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 6 heaping tablespoons flour 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter  
  1. Cook milk and flour until very thick (so thick you can't stir), then COOL.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and peanut butter until very creamy. Add milk and flour mixture and vanilla. Beat until thick and creamy (about 4 or 5 minutes).

racing to save lives


For those who know me, you'll know that I'm a baker and a runner. For the past 4 years, I've been a participant of Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program, where I train for a marathon while raising money to support a cause dear to my heart. This year I would like to give back something to my supporters. I am proposing to bake a batch of whatever one wishes for every $50 donation towards my goal. Simply email me your donation receipt and request of sweets at least a week before consumption. If you are not in the NY area, cookies are the best request for shipping. Donate Now! Thank you all for your support! And don't forget to check out my latest creation!

inspired lemon macarons


Happy Birthday to my little sister. She and I are the same age for the next 7 weeks. This is my second time making macarons. However, this time I decided to make it in a class at the Institute of Culinary Education. I was amazed by how many different types of methods you can go about achieving these little tasty delights. My college roommate Talida (from talidabakes) joined me in my macaron adventure. Amongst the variety of recipes we were given by ICE, Talida and I just so happened to pick the easiest one (or we are just amazing bakers). Another thing I learned was that the flavor from these macarons is in the filling. We were discouraged by the Chef to not make the lemon curd, so we went with a white chocolate ganache. However, another team did make it and was more than happy to share. And these were our perfect masterpieces-- centers slightly chewy and not dry.
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