Wednesday, October 01, 2008

National Dessert Day

No one seems to know why, but today is apparently National Dessert Day this month is National Dessert Month and the 14th is National Dessert Day. I guess this means I'll have to eat a different dessert each day for the whole month. Sigh. I hate when that happens.

In a nice display of fortuitous timing, my friend who works in the alumni office at Tufts invited me to an event tonight that will have desserts provided by the Danish Pastry House, which from my experience has delectable baked goods.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blueberry muffins

For a co-worker's birthday, I made the Cook's Illustrated blueberry muffin recipe. The muffins looked beautiful and were very good, though still not quite as good as a great bakery muffin. The batter was a little less sweet than I'm used to, and the texture a bit more fluffy/creamy. I also made a note to add a few more blueberries next time--maybe a full pint instead of 1.5 cups. Still, they were quite good for homemade, and they were a big hit at the office.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Botan Rice Candy

I first discovered Botan Rice Candy at Epcot Center as a kid. I then didn't see it again for years, until I came across it in an Asian grocery store in Cambridge. I've since seen it off and on, and I usually buy a pack or two when I do see it, as I did at World Market in Evanston during my recent trip to Chicago.

Botan Rice Candy is a Japanese candy with a soft, chewy texture similar to that of kids' bubble gums like Bubbalicious or Hubba Bubba. Except, of course, it's not gum, so it melts in your mouth after a few chews. The flavor is citrusy and sweet, though not excessively. It also has the added fun of a rice paper wrapper that looks like plastic or cellophane but dissolves quickly in your mouth. (Note: This is inside the actual plastic wrapper on each piece.) And, it comes with a free children's sticker. Who could ask for more?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oreo and peppermint frappe

For those who aren't from the Boston area, I should mention that what the rest of the U.S. calls a milkshake, we call a frappe. (Here, a milkshake is milk and syrup, blended or shaken until frothy.)

Anyway, at the local ice cream shop, Colleen's, they have Brigham's ice cream (a local brand that's quite good for packaged ice cream). Two of my favorite flavors are Oreo and Peppermint Stick. Since chocolate and peppermint go together nicely, I decided one day to try the two flavors together in a frappe. Since then, if I'm at Colleen's and in the mood for a frappe, it's the one I always order. Rich, creamy, chocolaty-minty goodness that you can drink with a straw (though sometimes chunks of Oreo block it up). Summertime refreshment at its best.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Macapuno ensaymada

Today, I had a chance to taste a dessert from the Philippines, a sweet roll with coconut filling called macapuno ensaymada. It's a little hard to describe, but basically, imagine a sweet challah or other egg bread filled with pieces of coconut in some sort of gelatinous suspension. It tasted better than it sounds, although not as good as I'd hoped. I found the treat in a Filipino grocery store next door to a Filipino restaurant down in Braintree or Quincy. A Filipino friend took us down there on our way to Ikea.

Although it was interesting to try the macapuno, I was happier with the other item I purchased, Yan Yan, which I've had many times before and never tire of. Insert crunchy stick in creamy chocolate, remove, insert into mouth, enjoy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fried Ice Cream from the supermarket

Turkey Hill has another limited edition flavor to enjoy: Fried Ice Cream. It's cinnamon ice cream with a caramel-like swirl and pieces of "tostada." The tostada pieces are more chewy than crispy, but the overall effect works, creating something that both simulates the flavor of the Tex-Mex dessert and is just generally yummy.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Black-and-whites at Lyndell's

Lyndell's Bakery, a rare local "standard" bakery in nearby Somerville, has some of the best cupcakes and black-and-whites around. Their version of the black-and-white is basically a flattened cupcake with yellow cake and half white frosting, half chocolate. I actually prefer the variety that is all white, as I've always objected to mixing non-chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and vice versa. In any case, though, Lyndell's products are excellent. The frosting is satisfyingly sweet, without the over-rich fattiness found at some bakeries. The cake is moist but not too dense. And, unlike the cupcakes, the black-and-whites (and all-whites) are flat enough to fit in your mouth. :)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Southern Lemon Pie Ice Cream

Turkey Hill has a limited edition (unfortunately) flavor called Southern Lemon Pie Ice Cream: lemon ice cream plus shortbread pieces and marshmallow swirl (resembles meringue). I think lemon ice cream is an underrepresented flavor in the marketplace. Turkey Hill's lemon flavor is really tasty, and the other goodies add to the experience.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Banana nut bread

On Saturday, I made banana nut bread, following the recipe from Cook's Illustrated. I actually followed a variation for chocolate banana nut bread, with about 2.5 ounces of chocolate shavings in the batter and a bit less sugar to compensate, but I really didn't feel it added much. That said, it was a delicious banana bread. Moist and chewy, with a slightly crisp (but not dried-out) crust and lots of flavor.

My only gripe is that, once I let it cool all day and wrapped it in plastic wrap, the crust lost its crispness. Maybe if I had wrapped it in aluminum foil or put it in a paper bag like a bakery bread, it would have maintained the consistency. It still tasted great this morning, though, and I think most people expect the outside of a banana bread to be soft, anyway.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Molten Chocolate at Finale

It's hard to believe I've had The Dessert Blog for so long and haven't yet mentioned Finale. For those not in the Boston area, Finale is a dessert restaurant with a few locations in and around the city. It's very high end, with $10 "plated desserts" and a large selection of dessert wines, dessert martinis, etc. There are also a few appetizers and such, in case you're too hungry for just a dessert, but really the focus is on the sweets.

Last night, I went there with my wife and a couple friends, and I ordered one of my favorites: Molten Chocolate. I've seen (and tasted) this basic idea of a chocolate cake with a warm liquid/gooey chocolate center in many restaurants, but this is by far the best version I've had. High quality chocolate, exactly the right consistency inside and out, a Valhrona chocolate sauce, and a small but high-quality scoop of gelato (coffee by default, but I substituted vanilla). Combine that with a nice glass of sherry, and you really have yourself a treat. A treat that costs $20+, mind you, but a treat nonetheless.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cookies with creamy milk chocolate filling

A friend gave my wife a recipe that used to be printed on the back of Ghiradelli milk chocolate chip bags. My wife made the cookies with Nestle milk chocolate chips (the only milk chocolate ones we could find at the store), and we thought they were fabulous. Perhaps a little on the sweet side, so next time we might try semi-sweet chips for the cookies themselves and milk chocolate for the filling. We also thought about variations, like adding some peppermint extract or caramel to the filling.

Anyway, here's the recipe:

Five Star Ghiradelli Cookies With Creamy Milk Chocolate Filling

1 cup oats
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 bag (11.5 oz.) Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips


1 cup Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugars until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing on low speed until well combined. Mix dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by slightly rounded teaspoons onto lightly greased baking sheet. [Editor's note: I recommend parchment paper instead of greasing.] Flatten slightly. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet and then transfer to wire racks.

Filling: Place one cup chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave on HIGH power for 1 minute. Remove and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. If not melted, microwave on HIGH power for additional 30-second increments until smooth. Place 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream in small bowl and microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds. Gradually stir heavy whipping cream into chocolate until smooth. Spread filling on flat sides of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, flat sides against filling. Let cookies stand for 1-2 hours before eating. [Editor's note: If you can wait that long!] Makes about 24 filled cookies.