Tag Archives: baking

Savory Sweets

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

I spent the holiday season with my relatives in Manila, and it sure had me waddling through rivers of the sweet and gooey. I tell you, I was caught in a perpetual sugar haze, with my niece and fellow sweet tooth, Laura, for company. We went through a stream of endless desserts punctuated by the occasional entree. I probably exaggerate, but not by much, I think.

Via Mills and Laura

One of the things that Laura acquainted me with was her maple and bacon cupcake, which had me ooh-ing with delight. Savory flavors work so amazingly in desserts! In same way that a little acidity provides a lovely counterpoint to rich and creamy ingredients, a little umami, or savoriness, cuts through the rich sweetness in desserts and kicks them up a notch higher. That’s why a pinch of salt goes a long way, and cheese is a favorite ingredient.

Merry Moo salted caramel ice cream. Via Our Awesome Planet.

Laura and I tried Merry Moo’s salted caramel ice cream in one of the weekend markets in Manila, and it’s gotta be one of the best ice creams I’ve ever tasted! We were also dying to try Sebastian’s green mango sorbet with shrimp paste topping (it’s sweet, tart, and edgy, less fattening, and with an exotic Asian spin) but sadly never got around to it. Well, maybe next time.

Sebastian's green mango sorbet and bagoong (shrimp paste). Via Foodspotting.

There are many other new dessert concoctions that go really all in with the savory. Ingredients that one would normally find in main courses can now be encountered in the last (and best) course. These truly carry an element of risk and require a little daring and an open mind in order to enjoy.

Olive oil and vanilla cake at New York's The Lion. Via Conde Nast Traveler.

ART Restaurant's Roasted Beet Baked Alaska with Basil Meringue. By John Lok via Seattle Times.

Foie Gras and Cherry Pop Tart by 2 Sparrows, Chicago. Via Conde Nast Traveler.

Fifth Floor's Black Olive Madelines. Via Conde Nast Traveler.

I’m ready to make some of these savory desserts myself. I looked around for recipes I can try, and found these two below.

Black Sesame Sweet Tofu. Via The Cooking Channel. Click for the recipe.

Here’s a sort-of-savory dessert that I’d like to try — black sesame sweet tofu. It seems easy enough, and I love anything that has to do with beancurd. Click on the image for the recipe.

Bacon Baklava. Via Dog Eat Blog. Click for the recipe.

And who doesn’t love bacon? It’s what got me started on this post. There’s something about it’s salty porky goodness that makes you want to eat more of whatever dish it has graced with its yummy presence. This bacon baklava is slightly more complicated than the sweet tofu, but hey, it’s bacon. It’s  always going to be worth the try.

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Cat Got Your Tongue?

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Lengua de gato with a cup of tea

Lenguas de Gato means “cat’s tongues” in Spanish, and it’s a weird and disturbing name for cookies. More disturbing still is that looking at them, you’d understand why they’re called cat’s tongues. But they are so good, that I stopped caring right after I first tasted it. They’ve got awesome buttery goodness, but are light and crisp, with a wonderfully fine texture.

I had a hankering for it and decided to make some. I’ve never made them before so I went online in search of a perfect recipe. The basic ingredients for lenguas de gato are butter, sugar, flour, salt, and egg whites. But different recipes used different proportions. Some use equal amounts of butter, sugar, and flour, while some used a little bit more flour and butter. The sugars used were also different — some used regular white, some caster, and some powdered sugar.

For my first batch of these, I went for the one that used just a little bit of flour and sugar, which I thought was the safer choice. But I decided to use powdered sugar instead of the white sugar that the recipe called for, because it seemed to fit in better with the really fine texture that I love. I’m also iffy about working with egg whites, so I put in a pinch of cream of tartar in mine.

So here’s the recipe I used for my first batch of lenguas de gato:

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
a few drops of vanilla extract
2 egg whites from large eggs
a pinch of cream of tartar


Cream the butter until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. Gently fold in the flour. Set aside.

Beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the batter. Add the vanilla extract.

Fit a pastry bag with a large-ish round tip, like a #12. Fill it with the cookie mixture and pipe out 2- to 3-inch lines on parchment-lined cookie sheets. They’ll spread out a bit while baking, so leave some space in between.

Cat's tongues on a cookie sheet, before baking

Bake in a 375°F oven for around 10 minutes or until they’re lightly browned at the sides. (Be sure to keep an eye on them. I got distracted for a moment and ended up with some really, um, toasted ones.) Put them on a rack, and store as soon as they’re cool to preserve their crisp-ness.

Here’s what I ended up with.

Cat's tongues right out of the oven

Next time I think I’ll try having a 1:1:1 butter-sugar-flour proportion. I believe it’ll result in more spread in the cookies, making them even more tongue-like.

Lenguas de gato on a plate

All images in this post by Nathalie Mariano.

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Fresh Lemon Tart to Welcome Spring

It’s Foodie Tuesday

a bucket of spring flowers

Image via Air Kiss

It’s March now!  So spring is officially around the corner and while it’s been a mild winter here in Toronto (and I won’t complain about the cold),  I miss vegetation:  buds and first leaves, little flowers poking up through the dirt.  I look forward to that fresh earthy spring air.

What better way to welcome the new season, then with an easy to make dessert that’s fresh and colourful, to remind us of the warmer days to come.  This tart is light and fragrant and if you’ve got the pie crust dough ready to go, is ready with very little effort.

Lemon tart slice


Shortbread Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
8 Tbsp cold butter unsalted butter
3-4 Tbsp very cold water

* This is a no-fail pie crust for me, so double the recipe to use for pies requiring a top and bottom crust.

Lemon Filling:

ingredients for the lemony pie filling 1 cup whipping cream
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup quick dissolving sugar (also known as castor sugar or superfine sugar)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1tsp grated lemon zest

1. For the crust, combine flour, salt, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

2. Add 3 Tbsp very cold water and pulse 2-4 times.  The dough should hold together.  If it’s crumbly, add water, 1 tsp until the dough holds its shape when pinched together.

3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten into disc and chill for an hour or two. Toward the end of this process preheat oven to 400 F

Rolling out the pie crust

4. Roll out dough for pie plate, top with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans (or proper pie weights if you’ve got them) and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Blind baking the pie crust

5. While pie dough is baking prepare lemon filling by combining cream, eggs, egg yolks and sugar, lemon juice and zest, whisking to combine.

Pouring in the pie filling

6. Once the pie shell is ready, turn oven down to 350F, fill pie shell with lemon filling and bake for about 20 minutes, or until just set.

7. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until firm.

The finished tart

Welcome spring!

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Sweets For Your Sweet

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Did you wake up this morning and realize that, despite your best intentions, you are completely unprepared for Valentine’s Day? Don’t panic. Skip the card store with its incredibly long line of procrastinators and the picked-over candy aisle at the drugstore and head to the grocery store instead.

Chocolate Says sweets available via Etsy(Photo: Chocolate Says via Etsy)

Seven easy ingredients and less than an hour of work will produce a rich and creamy fudge that is sure to impress the one you love. Trust me, I won the blue ribbon at the Kentucky State Fair with this recipe and those judges know their fudge!

Tracey Eckersley's Blue Ribbon Fudge Ingredients(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

Tracy’s Festive Fudge

½ cup dried cherries, chopped

¼ cup bourbon

½ cup pecans, chopped

Peel of 1 orange, finely grated

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 ¼ cups dark chocolate chips

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Place the chopped cherries in a small bowl and cover with the bourbon. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes (or, when you have more time, up to 8 hours).
  2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, stirring once, until slightly toasted. Be careful not to let them burn. Set aside and let cool.
  3. Drain the cherries (save the infused bourbon- it’s great in a Manhattan!) and mix in the cooled nuts and half the grated orange peel.
  4. In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the sweetened condensed milk over low heat until warm. Be careful to not let it come to a boil.
  5. Stir the dark and semi-sweet chocolate chips into the warm condensed milk and keep stirring over low heat until the chips are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. This will take about 5 minutes and a little muscle.
  6. When the mixture is smooth and glossy, quickly stir in the cherries, pecans, and grated orange peel mixture until thoroughly mixed into the chocolate.
  7. Spread the mixture (it will be thick) into a foil-lined 8 x 8 pan. Sprinkle the remaining orange peel over the top.  Refrigerate until firm.
  8. Lift the foil from the pan and remove it from the fudge. Cut the fudge into small squares. The fudge will keep, refrigerated in an air-tight container, for about a week.

Tracey's Festive Fudge(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

Not only is this an easy recipe but it can be customized to your tastes. Don’t like bourbon? Substitute dark rum, amaretto, or orange liqueur. Want to keep it alcohol-free? Soak the cherries in orange juice or just use them as they are. Can’t find cherries? Use dried cranberries. You can also mix up the nuts, using walnuts or almonds in place of the pecans. One thing that really makes a difference is good-quality chocolate. Ghirardelli makes great chocolate chips that are not much more expensive than other brands and are available in most grocery stores.

Heart shaped sweets for your sweetie(Photo: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures)

To make it a little more gift-worthy, consider using a cookie cutter to make heart-shaped pieces. Or tuck little notes into paper cups for your sweetie to see when he or she picks up a piece.

Hiding sweet notes under your truffles and fudge sweetens your gift all the more(Photos: Martha Stewart)

Even if you repurpse an old box or tin, take a moment to jazz it up with some nice paper, a personal photo, or special extras that reflect your loved one’s interests.

Interesting gift wrapping(Photo: Better Homes and Gardens)

No one has to know how easy or inexpensive your gift was to make; the fact that it was homemade for the recipient will mean more to him or her than any cliché bouquet of roses (and it will taste better too).

Peace, Love, Bread

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

I’m having some friends over for a Woodstock-themed murder mystery party on Sunday, and though I already have an idea on what to wear, I had no idea what to serve. And as I usually tend to do, I went overboard on the research. I actually found it riveting, especially viewing that period from the point of view of the present. It is quite amazing how the culture and values of hippie sub- and counter-culture have contributed to the ethics that we now uphold.  We see a hints of it in contemporary music, fashion  and art, in our concern for the environment, preference for natural, organic products, the quest for individuality and love for diversity, in anti-war ideologies, to name but a few.

So anyway, when I rubbed the crazy glazed look from my eyes, I shook myself off and started looking for recipes. I found a lot of interesting vegetarian dishes — but the jury’s still out on those, as my guests are veritable carnivores. And then I came upon a hippie bread recipe that was just basically flour, sugar, and beer. Now that I have to serve! But since that one required self-raising flour, which I don’t have, I had to look for a version that just used regular flour. And I found this beer bread recipe from Epicurious which sounds even yummier — well, because it has butter in it, and I love butter.

Tested the recipe today, and here’s what came out.

It’s moist and chewy, and slightly sweet. The butter ran down the sides and bottom of the pan and created a brown, crunchy, buttery crust, and the beer gave it a heady, earthy character. It’s really really good! The recipe is quite foolproof (love that!) and it’s the kind that the more adventurous bakers can play around with. The variations I’ve seen include substituting whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour, or adding whole grains, nuts, and dried fruit — which are all exciting possibilities.

Now, I’ve got the bread down — yay! I just have to figure out the rest of my menu for Sunday. Tofu or not to tofu? That is still the question.

All images in this post by Nathalie Mariano.

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