lemon sugar scone mix fork to belly
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Happy Sunday, friends! How are you celebrating Mother’s Day this year? Brunch? Flowers? A little shopping-spree? Hehe. My Mom and I have always had a thing for brunch. With an equal love of sleeping in, there were many weekends we’d leisurely wake in the late morning and spend an hour or two fixing up a meal for us, my Dad, and Grandma. We’d never make anything fancy. Brunch was usually omelettes, slices of fruit, and some kind of boxed mix like cornbread or pancakes. Of all the boxed mixes we made, I always loved choosing a scone mix from the pantry. They’re my favorite and I have never doubted why everyone loves ’em. But to be fair, I don’t think I really understood just how absolutely delicious scones are until I first made them from scratch.

Now, if you’re not familiar with scone mixes, then here’s how they work. Pour the contents of the package into a bowl, add water, mix together, bake. Ta-da! Yup, that’s it! Which is kind of crazy, considering what really goes into making scones. A typical scone recipe contains typical dry ingredients but you also add in butter and heavy cream, which has also explained to me why scones were never labeled as a healthy breakfast choice alongside croissants and muffins. But hey, it’s Mother’s Day and all you Moms out there deserve a little indulgence!

lemon sugar scone mix fork to belly

lemon sugar scone mix fork to belly lemon sugar scone mix fork to belly

lemon sugar scone mix fork to belly

Since I couldn’t be home with my Mom, I figured I could still make brunch a little easier but with a real scone mix this time. It takes a bit more work than just adding water, but it’s so worth it (trust me, Mom). Best of all, you can customize it with whatever fruit you have on hand! This scone mix is really simple and easy to put together. You’ll also probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already. It’s just four layers; all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, and lemon zest + sugar. Seal it safely in a mason jar, add a little note and a recipe card and send it on its way to whomever deserves a little morning pick me up.

Shout out to my wonderful Mom for being the most amazing human I know! Seriously. I can’t imagine where I’d be without you there to always keep me grounded and answer my phone calls about how long butter lasts in the fridge or how to get make-up stains off a shirt. I have always looked up to the kind of person you are and hope I can be just as wonderful of a parent as you’ve been to me. I wish we were able to spend the day together, but I’m hoping you’ll love making the best scones ever with this little gift. This post is for you, Mama! Happy Mother’s Day!! xoxo

lemon sugar scone mix fork to belly lemon sugar scone mix fork to belly

lemon sugar scone mix fork to belly

A note:
Mastro Company is an online shop for handmade kitchen tools. Founder, Gene, kindly reached out to me and sent a gorgeous pair of wooden spoons from Mastro Company for review. I received a spoon and matching spatula, both hand carved from a gorgeous walnut wood. Head on over to Mastro Company’s online shop for more unique items. I’ve been quite seriously eyeing the black carbon chef’s knife and the Korean cleaver.

lemon sugar scone mix fork to belly

Lemon Sugar Scone Mix

for the mix
widemouth quart (32 oz.) mason jar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon

1. Make sure your mason jar is completely clean and dry. In a small bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the mixture to the mason jar. You can use a funnel if you have one on hand to make it easier. This will be the first layer. Shake the jar slightly from side to side to level the flour.
2. Add a layer of whole wheat flour. Use a spoon to pack the flour down slightly to make room for the rest of the layers. Add the 1/2 cup of sugar for the third layer.
3. In a small bowl, combine the 1 tbsp of sugar and lemon zest. Use your fingers to rub the two together. This will keep the the lemon zest preserved. Add the zest and sugar mix as the final layer. If there’s still a bit of room left, stuff a few layers of plastic wrap in before closing the lid to keep the layers together.

how to use it
12 tbsp (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, frozen and grated
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fruit of choice (I used rhubarb and strawberries)

4. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
5. Empty the contents of the jar into a large bowl and whisk together. Use a pastry cutter to mix in the grated frozen butter until contents turn crumbly, coarse meal.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold the mixture together with a rubber spatula. Just before the mixture seems to come together, fold in the rhubarb and strawberries or fruit of choice. Don’t over mix.
7. Lightly flour your work surface and turn out the scone mixture onto it. Flour your hands and lightly press the dough down into an 8 inch disc. Use a knife to cut the scones into 8 equal pieces, like cutting a pie.
8. Transfer the scones to the baking tray, keeping them at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let the scones cool slightly before eating, but they are best enjoyed warm!

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aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly
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I‘m bringing a little more Hawaii-fied flare to the blog this week with a post to celebrate a special day in Hawaii, May Day! No matter the day of the week it falls on, the first of May is always celebrated with hula dances, live music, and lots and lots of leis. It’s a celebration I hold dear to my heart, and one that always reminds me of home despite being 2000 miles away.

aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly



May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
Garlands of flowers everywhere
All of the colors in the rainbow
Maidens with blossoms in their hair
Flowers that mean we should be happy
Throwing aside a load of care
Oh, May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
May Day is happy days out there
aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly

aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly

In Hawaii, Holoku is a hula pageant held every year at my school. In third grade, we cut and sanded our own ipus and performed with them. Holoku was especially a big deal during our middle school years when girls and boys were paired up for the “couples dance” – think the Hawaii equivalent of square dancing. I remember watching the Holoku court walk in, a prince and princess to represent each island and feeling mesmerized every year by the Queen’s solo hula dance around the auditorium. At the end of every pageant, with the bleachers packed with friends, family, and students, we’d join hands and sing Hawaii Aloha. Goosebumps always climbed up my skin as the music stopped and we sang the last chorus out loud and proud, raising our clasped hands together in unison. That’s one of the things I love most about Hawaii, the sense of family and togetherness. It’s also one of the reasons I love sharing food and stories on here too.

aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly

aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly

So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m kind of obsessed with Rilakkuma. He’s my favorite San-X character. I have stationary, stickers, pencils, instax film, and bento containers with his little face all over it. When my mom sends me care packages, there’s always a little Rilakkuma trinket sitting inside. I’ve been practicing my hand at cookie decorating and when choosing a subject out of my messy cookie-cutter drawer, I always find myself picking out the Rilakkuma and Kiiroitori cutters. A few months ago I’d done sleepy-time Rilakkuma cookies, but with May Day around the corner I was immediately drawn to the Aloha Rilakkuma series. If you’ve never seen the designs for the series then you may want to google it or click this link or this one because it’s absolutely adorable and your heart will squeal!

aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly

So after all the sugar cookies had been baked and the icing was all colored and portioned out into piping bags, I started playing a few Keali’i Reichel songs, which always remind me of growing up in our Kailua home, and got to work decorating these little bears and duck with grass hula skirts, muumuus, and leis.

I hope you enjoy these cookies and that your day feels just a little bit sunnier after taking a peek at them. Happy May Day, dear reader! I’m virtually sending all of you leis and a few cookies!!!

aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly

aloha rilakkuma cookies fork to belly

Sugar Cookies
Notes: I usually make two batches of cookies from this recipe, one with cocoa powder for chocolate sugar cookies and one without for regular sugar cookies. I also only use half of each batch and store the other half in the freezer until the next time I bake cookies.

for the cookies:
• 3 cups all purpose flour
• 3 tbsp cocoa powder* (for chocolate sugar cookies, eliminate if making regular sugar cookies)
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 egg, room temperature
• 1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Sift together flour, (cocoa powder if using), baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg and vanilla extract.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl when needed. Add in the egg mixture slowly, beating for 30 seconds to 1 minute until full incorporated.
4. Add the flour to the wet ingredients in three additions, mix on low speed. Beat until just combined but the dough has not come together yet.
5. Dump the dough out onto a work surface, making sure to get any left over bits still in the bowl. Use your hands to lightly knead the dough until it comes together.
6. Split the dough in half. Shape both into a round disk and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate one half of the dough overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours. Store the other half in the freezer until needed.
7. The following day, let the chilled dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes until workable. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
8. Separate the cookie dough in half. Between two sheets of parchment, roll one half of the dough to about 1/4 inch of thickness. I used my Rilakkuma and Kiiroitori cookie cutters to cut out the cookies. You can find them online at Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. I recommend searching “san-x rilakkuma cookie cutter” and you should easily be able to find your own! After the first round of cookie cutting, re-roll the scraps and cut out more cookies.
9. After cutting the cookies and transferring to a baking tray lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper (I suggest using a silicone mat), freeze the uncooked cookies for 10-15 minutes. Bake for 9 minutes. Let the cookies cool to room temperature. They will harden and be ready to decorate.

for the royal icing:
• 1 lb powdered sugar (453g), sifted
• 2 1/4 tbsp meringue powder
• 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
• 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 c warm water
• red, orange, yellow, green, pink, and black food coloring

10. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the meringue powder and warm water together until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and vanilla and mix until combined.
11. Add in all of the powdered sugar at once. Use the paddle attachment for the mixer and beat on the lowest setting for 3-5 minutes. The icing will be on the thicker side. You can loosen the consistency by adding a tiny bit of water at a time as needed. You don’t want it to be so thick that it will hold a stiff peak or too thin to where it’s liquidy.
12. Transfer half of the icing to an air tight container. Make sure to cover the top with a layer of plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. You will only need half to decorate all the cookies. I store my icing in the refrigerator until needed.
13. Portion the remaining half of the icing into 7 small bowls. Use food coloring to create red, orange, yellow, green, pink, and black icing. Leave one white. Transfer the colored icings into separate piping bags. Decorate the cookies and enjoy once the icing has dried!

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iceland spring trip fork to belly
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iceland spring trip fork to belly iceland spring trip fork to belly

In Iceland, we read fairytales. Bundled up in the backseat of our car, we told stories of evil stepmothers and spells, brave Princes fighting giants, tales of Kings and Queens, and stared up at the snow speckled mountains that gave way to looming black cliffs and the endless expanse of black rock and sand leading to the sea. I looked out the window and imagined castles in the distance and ships setting sail for far away lands. I thought of Sigurd and Lineik fleeing to safety through the pine strewn forests and wondered what the world was like a long, long time ago. I fell in love with the hidden waterfalls we stumbled upon, the days when the snow gently floated down like powdered sugar, and the furry horses that nibbled at my sweater.

iceland spring trip fork to belly

strawberry chocolate glaze marzipan cake fork to belly

strawberry chocolate glaze marzipan cake fork to belly

strawberry chocolate glaze marzipan cake fork to belly strawberry chocolate glaze marzipan cake fork to belly

strawberry chocolate glaze marzipan cake fork to belly

strawberry chocolate glaze marzipan cake fork to belly strawberry chocolate glaze marzipan cake fork to belly

strawberry chocolate glaze marzipan cake fork to belly

strawberry chocolate glaze marzipan cake fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

There are three foods in Iceland you must try because you probably won’t have something like it anywhere else.
(1) Skyr has been around for a very long time, think 1000 years. Yeah, it’s old. It’s yogurt made from skim milk and is just about everywhere. I think we ate it almost everyday. You can find it at grocery stores, gas stations, for breakfast in your hotel – we even had it for dessert at this little restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

(2) Pylsur is the Icelandic word for hot dog, and it can also be found just about anywhere. We may have even eaten it every day too… which is quite easy to do because also like skyr, you can find it everywhere! We tried hot dogs from both gas stations and the truck that boasts selling the best Pylsur in town, one wasn’t exponentially better than the other but these were the star food of the trip.

(3) Lastly, Icelandic lamb!!! Iceland has some of the best lamb I’ve ever had – and even in the randomest most hole-in-the-wall spots. The lamb burgers at the gas station across from Hotel Skaftafell were so delicious (I never thought I’d say that). It’s something to do with how the sheep are raised, munching and strolling on grassy hillsides, free of grain-fed diets and hormones. This makes the meat incredibly tender and all around amazing. You’ll also find some kind of lamb dish everywhere (lamb soup, lamb burgers, grilled lamb, rack of lamb, SO MUCH LAMB).

iceland spring trip fork to belly iceland spring trip fork to belly iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

While out of the city and traveling through the most deserted parts of Southern Iceland, we stayed at four or five different hotels over the course of a week. Our favorites were Litli Geysir across from the tourist stop Geysir and 37 Apartments back in Reykjavik.

Litli Geysir was cozy and adorable and like many other spots in Iceland, surprisingly like stepping into a Pinterest board. The morning breakfast was also our favorite breakfast during the trip! It’s mostly things like baked beans, a variety of breads, deli meats, cheeses, fish oil shots, skyr (duh), granola, and cereal. But best of all is this place had bacon and geysir bread which the hotel chef picked up that morning.

37 Apartments was my favorite – I couldn’t rave enough about this place. You get your own apartment (request #2 if you can, it’s so cute), which is super spacious for the price, and again a living Pinterest photo. It’s the kind of place I’d want to live in if we lived in Europe. Plus it’s in a very central area of the city, with lots of shopping and places to eat on the street below. But this also means that if you’re staying in an apartment street-side, you may need to bring ear plugs and especially on the weekends. Check out the shop that’s directly below the apartment complex. They have the cutest home goods and kitchen ware.

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

Trip highlights/stuff I think you should do if you’re in Iceland:

Take your time in Reykjavik
I took the advice of others who said they wished they’d spent more time in the city and made sure we had 2-3 days at the end of our trip to relax and get to know Reykjavik. There are so many places to shop, the downside being that most if it is v $$$. Some fun places to eat at were Reykjavik Roasters, Sandholt, Snaps, and Grillmarkadurinn (Grill Market).

Fish & Chips @ Reykjavik’s oldest restaurant
It could have been getting to escape the cold or being (literally) the only tourists in the restaurant, but this place had the best damn fish and chips. EVER.

The worst decision we made
If you’ve ever looked up photos of Iceland, then you’ve probably seen ones of the abandoned plane on the beach. People used to drive off the main road to it when the gate was open. However, it’s since been closed indefinitely to keep people away. A sign marked the crash site as 2km away, which didn’t seem too far. We could make out people in the distance and thought they were standing near the plane. We were so wrong. We kept walking and the people we could barely make out kept moving away from us. We later realized they were probably half way to the plane. The weird thing about Iceland is the beach is miles and miles from the main road. We were walking through a barren field of nothing but black rocks. It was freezing, windy, and at times rainy. At some point, we thought we’d been walking for an hour and a friendly stranger coming from the plane told us that we still had 30 minutes to go. She also told us to be careful because if we took too long, we’d be walking back in the dark. We only spent 10 minutes at the crash site before booking it back to the car. If we hadn’t used a black patch of mountain as a landmark, we definitely would have missed where we parked the car. We did some very *skeptical* things in Iceland (e.g. snorkeling, see below), but this was the only one that was kind of a disaster. We all agreed that the abandoned plane was not worth the struggle it took to get there. But if we could have driven there, that’d be a different story.

Snorkeling in Silfra
So, I know what you’re thinking. Snorkeling? In below freezing water? Goodbye. I hadn’t realized how cold Iceland was going to be when I booked the snorkeling tour but we were all very worried on the morning of. I’m not going to tell you that you forget about the cold once you’re in the water, like many of the reviews I read suggested, BECAUSE IT WAS SO COLD. But it’s not as cold as you think. You get a dry suit and wear a layer of thermal underwear underneath so you don’t actually get wet. Only your head and hands do, which is very manageable for the 20 minutes you spend in the water. Iceland is the only place you can swim between two tectonic plates. Coupled with the water being filtered through miles of volcanic rock, it’s the freshest and clearest water in the world. It’s a really neat experience that I really recommend. Plus, they give you hot cocoa and digestives after!

Blue Lagoon // #spaday
The the blue lagoon was the exact opposite of snorkeling next to icicles. But 1000x more relaxing. It’s busy and there’s a lot of tourists, but I felt like I was in a spa. The water is warm and a gorgeous milky blue. We put on clay masks and drank skyr smoothies and champagne and floated through the water. We did this the day before we left once we were back in Reykjavik, and is hands down one of the best things we did.

Hidden Waterfalls
Iceland has a lot of waterfalls. We went to most of the well-known ones, but our favorites were the two more “off the beaten path” ones we stumbled upon. Next to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall is another one called, Gljúfrabúi. You won’t see it upon approaching but will find a river coming through a large crack in the mountain. You have to step through the water/balance on top of river rocks to get inside where the waterfall is but it’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t know the name of the second hidden waterfall we went to, but it’s near Skógafoss. I wanted to go to the museum, Skogasafn, near the waterfall but it was closed when we got there. To life out spirits, one of the museum workers gave us directions to a secret waterfall behind the museum. If you’re interested, I suggest asking someone at the museum how to get there. Icelanders are the friendliest people!

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

A few other things to note:
+ Don’t worry about not knowing Icelandic or being unfamiliar with how words are pronounced. Everyone we interacted with spoke English very well and we never had to deal with any language barrier.

+ IT WAS SO COLD. I heard time and time again how cold Iceland can get, especially during the winter months, but none of us were prepared for the weather. The hard part about going in Spring is that it’s a bit warmer than winter but much rainier. Couple that with wind and snow and that photo of Steph and I frowny-faced under a waterfall is a very accurate depiction of how we felt. Make sure to bring appropriate clothes for the time of year you’re going!

+ Shopping and eating are very pricey. On average, about $30-40 for a plate at an average restaurant. The hotels near major tourist spots can also be very pricey, especially if they’re the only lodging around. On the plus side, lodging is very reasonable in the city. Most of the places I looked at were between $100-200 a night.

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

iceland spring trip fork to belly

So I know I’ve been kind of ignoring the other thing in this post besides Iceland – a marzipan cake. But to be very honest with you, I don’t have much to say about it. While stopping by a grocery store to buy pylsusinnep aka Icelandic hot dog mustard aka yaaaaaaas, I found myself flipping through a food magazine. I can’t remember the name of the cake I read about, aside from understanding the word “marzipan”, but the photos had me craving it with one glance. This marzipan cake with strawberries and a chocolate glaze is my interpretation of it – a dessert I discovered in Iceland and grew eager to attempt back in my little kitchen in sunny California.

There is something magical about Marzipan, which made this cake absolutely stunning. I don’t even know if I’ve ever called a cake that before but it blew me away. It’s moist and rich with a dense and chewy crumb. It’s the kind of cake you don’t forget. Apparently, after putting the last few pieces up for grabs in the kitchen at school, I got declarations of marriage. Essentially what I’m saying is yes, try this cake. It is delicious.

A note: Many of these photos were taken by my friend, Vinny. You can check out more of his photography on Instagram! Also, a warm thank you to Betty and Steph for giving tips and letting me know what they loved on their own trips to Iceland!

Strawberry & Chocolate Glaze Marzipan Cake
Adapted from The Daring Gourmet. Recipe makes one 8-inch cake.

for the marzipan cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup marzipan
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
optional: jam of choice (I used raspberry)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the marzipan and vanilla extract and continue to beat until combined. Add in egg and beat for another 30 seconds.
3. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
4. Pour in half of the buttermilk and half of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Use a rubber spatula to fold everything together until lightly combined. Mix in the rest of both the buttermilk and the dry ingredients. Fold together until just combined. Do not over mix. The batter should be thick and sticky.
5. Transfer the batter to the springform pan. Additionally, you can spread half of the batter along the bottom of the pan and to the edges. Add a thin layer of jam and cover with the rest of the batter. Use a small offset spatula to smooth out the top of the batter.
6. Bake for 45-55 minutes on the middle rack, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for at least 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Remove the parchment paper and let it cool completely on a wire rack. The cake can be made a few days ahead of time and can be stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped in plastic and inside a ziplock bag.

for the chocolate glaze
10g gelatin sheets (or powdered gelatin)
210g sugar
110g water
65g cocoa powder
65g heavy cream
50g dark chocolate

7. In a small bowl, bloom the gelatin sheets by covering them in cold water. If using powdered gelatin, in a bowl, add the powder to 50g of cold water. Let the gelatin bloom for at least 10 minutes.
8. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water, cocoa powder, and heavy cream. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture reaches a boil, add in the chocolate and stir until completely dissolved.
9. Remove the bloomed gelatin sheets from the water. Add the gelatin into the saucepan and mix until dissolved.
10. Run the chocolate mixture through a fine mesh sieve several times. You can also use an immersion blender to make it smoother. Remove any bubbles by running it through the sieve again as needed.
11. Let the glaze cool down slightly before using. Set the marzipan cake on top of a cooling rack and with a large bowl or rimmed baking tray underneath. I flipped the cake so the bottom of the cake when baked is now right side up. This created a more even surface for the glaze. Pour the chocolate glaze over the entire cake, making sure it drips down all sides. Transfer the cake to the fridge to let the glaze set up.
12. Once the glaze has hardened, add fresh strawberries to the top and dust with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy!

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macaron pops fork to belly

I hope I’m not making anyone anxious by withholding photos from our Iceland trip and just not really talking about it in general on the blog yet. Or maybe no one even noticed… Either way, let me preface this post by saying that YES Iceland was all kinds of amazing and there will be a post about it in the near future. But for now, is it ok if we talk about these macarons and a baby shower!!!

As an only child who grew up in a big extended family, I’ve always felt really lucky to be so included and warmly accepted into Roy’s family – which is this pretty huge and proudly Croatian, meaning there are lots of hugs and kisses and cookies and always a whole lot of love. Roy’s sister is having her first baby and I’m so excited to have an excuse to look at baby clothes and lamb themed nursery decorations and be at the receiving end of ultrasound photos and baby updates.

macaron pops fork to belly

macaron pops fork to belly macaron pops fork to belly

macaron pops fork to belly

This weekend was her baby shower, themed Bonjour Bebe, and of course that meant there needed to be french inspired sweets at the dessert table – along with all the Croatian sweets. Seriously though, this family is a huge dessert family! I volunteered to make macarons, which was both a good and bad thing. Good, because it forced me to work on my macaron making skills again. But bad because, well, it forced me to work on my macaron making skills again. MACARONS ARE SO FRUSTRATING! Just as the human brain tends to forget pain, I must have forgotten how much of a struggle these picky little cookies can take to get right. Can we please have a moment for silence for all the little macaron shells that didn’t make it.

macaron pops fork to belly macaron pops fork to belly

macaron pops fork to belly

After Iceland, Roy and I made a quick stopover in Vegas to celebrate his mama’s birthday. We had brunch at Bouchon Bakery in The Venetian and that’s where I came across the Bouchon Bakery book and Thomas Keller’s macaron recipe, in which he includes tips and tricks for the Italian method. I’ve had success before with the French method of making macarons, but I’ve heard time and time again that the Italian method is the way to go. So I tried it, I tried it! And yes, it produces more stable results and all that jazz but things can still go very wrong and give you a headache. In total, I made about four batches of macarons, which comes out to about 100 pairs, or 200 individual shells. That’s why I have so many egg yolks in the freezer.

I learned a few important things making macarons again, and wanted to share them in the hopes that you won’t have to make so many batches before you master Italian Method macarons!

Don’t pipe your shells out too large
If you’re worried about your feet not being large enough, or the shells burning before being completely done, pipe your shells out smaller. A smaller shell will make the feet appear larger and give them a better chance to rise with less weight to push up. They’ll also have a shorter baking time, which means less of a risk of burning.

Getting the meringue right is very important
I didn’t whip the meringue long enough the first time and this prevented any feet from developing on my shells at all. Save yourself a headache and make sure you have a candy thermometer and a small enough pot to heat the sugar and water in so you’ll get an accurate read.

Don’t ignore the resting period/drying out step after piping
My best macaron shells were made after letting them dry out on the counter for almost an hour and a half. By that point, the top of the shells almost felt hard and mostly dried out. With such a thick skin, the shells had only one way to go but up! This is a key step in making macarons, one that I have always made sure to use previously. The Bouchon recipe says you can bake the shells immediately after being piped, but I found that this caused them to spread and crack and absolutely zero feet formation too.

A perfectly mixed batter can all go wrong in the oven
I was a victim of this many times. It took me a while to find the right baking temperature and time for the macarons that worked with my oven. I highly recommend buying an oven thermometer for accuracy. An oven that is too hot will burn the shells and may result in underdeveloped feet. You can read more info about it here.

Oh, and a little disclaimer: I know these cookies are *blue* but Nicole is having a baby girl! This color really wasn’t my initial goal. I was originally hoping for a cotton-candy-esque look with pastel swirls of pink and blue. The funny thing is that for some reason blue food coloring is always way more potent than pink is, and I guess I should know this after my Color Theory class, but that left the cookies quite basically blue in color. So if you’re hoping for more pinkish shells, make sure to use a lot of pink food coloring!

macaron pops fork to belly macaron pops fork to belly

Italian Method Macaron Pops
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery
Notes: I recommend watching this and this Youtube video for visual cues.*

for the macaron shells:
212g almond meal
212g powdered sugar
82g and 90g egg whites, divided
236g granulated white sugar
158g water
pink, purple, and blue food coloring

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position in the oven. Line two baking trays with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. I suggest using a printable template underneath or drawing out 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 in. circles a few inches apart. Set aside.
2. In a food processor, whizz the almond meal to aerate it and break up any large pieces. Add the almond meal to a large mixing bowl. Sift in the powdered sugar. Whisk the two together. Add in the 82g of egg whites. Use a spatula to fold the egg whites into the almond meal and powdered sugar until you get a thick paste-like consistency. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the granulated white sugar and the water. Attach a candy thermometer to the side. Heat the mixture on medium. Let it cook and make sure not to stir the mixture.
4. Once the mixture reaches 200F, add the 90g of egg whites and a pinch of granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on medium-low until soft peaks form. If the sugar syrup has not reached 248F at this point, continue to whip the meringue on the lowest speed to keep it moving.
5. When the sugar syrup reaches 248F, remove it from the heat immediately. Whip the egg whites on medium-high and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl. Once the syrup has been all poured in, turn the speed up to high until the meringue reaches stiff peaks.
6. Add 1/3 of the meringue mixture to the almond meal paste. Fold it together with a spatula. Add more meringue as needed (I used only 1/2 of it) and continue to fold until the macaron batter falls like molten lava off the spatula. I recommend watching the two videos* linked above for visual reference. When the batter is finished, add a tiny bit of food coloring using a toothpick dipped in each color and streaking it through the batter. Fold a few more times to create a marbled looking batter. Transfer the macaron batter to two pastry bags fitted with a 1/2″ round tip.
7. Pipe the macarons out onto the baking trays. Tap them against the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles and settle the macarons batter. Let them dry out on the counter for 1-2 hours, or until a skin has formed. When you touch the macaron, it should not stick to your finger.
8. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F on convection (I found that 300F with the convection fan turned on worked best for me). Bake each tray one at a time at the middle position in the oven. Baking for 8-10 minutes is recommended but I found I had to bake for 13-15 minutes. You may need to adjust the oven temperature and baking times according to your own oven.
9. When the shells are done baking, let them cool completely then remove them from the baking tray. Match each macaron with another that’s about the same size.

for the buttercream filling:
100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
200g powdered sugar, sifted
1 tbsp whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
pink, purple, and blue food coloring

10. For the buttercream fillings, cream the butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
11. Add in half of the powdered sugar. Starting on a low speed and increasing to high, mix for 2-3 minutes. Add in the last half and repeat.
12. Turn the mixer down to low and add in the milk and vanilla extract. Mix on high speed for another 2-3 minutes.
Stop the mixer and using a toothpick, add in very small dabs of pink, purple, and blue food coloring. Turn the mixer on at the lowest speed for a few seconds to slightly swirl the food coloring into the buttercream. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a large french tip.
13. Pipe small dabs of the buttercream onto one of the macaron shells and lightly secure a second shell to the other side. Stay away from the edges when piping out the buttercream. The filling will spread slightly when the second shell is pressed on.
14. Insert a lollipop stick into the filling of each macaron. Tie with a black ribbon and you may use an edible marker to write on the macarons.

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What do you do when you’ve used up almost two cartons of egg whites and have nearly 24 egg yolks on hand? Well, you stay up all night worrying about it and cry a little because Whole Foods eggs are not cheap you come up with lots of ways to bake with them! I’ve spent way too many hours looking for recipes to use up extra egg yolks, and most of the time you’ll find ice cream recipes or ones that use egg yolks but also ask for whole eggs too. Most days, I usually don’t have heavy cream on hand, crossing ice cream off my list… and to tell you the truth, I’d rather save the whole eggs I have left and make something that only requires yolks. If anyone out there’s ever needed a quick and easy recipe to get rid of a few extra egg yolks, then keep on reading because today, I have something to share and that’s Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies that require – wait for it – #eggyolksonly!

oatmeal butterscotch cookies eggyolksonly fork to belly

oatmeal butterscotch cookies eggyolksonly fork to belly

We are saved!!!!! It is rare. Oh dear friend, let me tell you, it is very rare for me to find an all egg yolks cookie recipe that makes a decent cookie. The texture can be somewhat compromised or the taste just plain boring. But not this time. I tend to base my baking successes on my classmates. I’ve shared most of the things I’ve made on the blog with them and as art students – let’s just say they’re never shy to critique. They loved these cookies, and I got a lot of questions about what I put in them because these are definitely not your average cookie. Think gingerbread meets oatmeal raisin minus the raisin meets chocolate chip cookie minus the chocolate and add butterscotch. They’re the kind of cookie that you’ve probably never had before, and what makes them even better are the three egg yolks you’ll be ridding yourself of when you whip up a batch.

oatmeal butterscotch cookies eggyolksonly fork to belly oatmeal butterscotch cookies eggyolksonly fork to belly

I’ll be sharing more #eggyolksonly posts in the coming months, which I hope come in handy for any of you who plan on making a gorgeous pavlova or meringue kisses for a summery dinner party! In the mean time, here’s a little tip on how to save your extra egg yolks. The freezer is your best friend. You can freeze egg whites as is, no problem. But when it comes to yolks, you’re going to have to do a bit more work to keep them the right consistency. Once you’ve separated your yolks, add 1 tsp of sugar per yolk and whisk it all together until even and smooth. Label a plastic baggy with the date and # of yolks, then pour your sugar and yolk mixture in, squeeze out all the air and freeze! The egg yolks will keep for a few months. The reason the sugar is added is to keep the yolks from changing texture. Based on some science-y stuff, if you were to freeze the yolks without mixing in sugar, then when defrosted the egg yolks would be gelatinous and unusable. Remember to add that sugar!

oatmeal butterscotch cookies eggyolksonly fork to belly

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
Adapted from Baker by Nature

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 tbsp molasses, not blackstrap*
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, oats, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and cardamom. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, and molasses together until light and fluffy.
3. Add in the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla extract and beat again for a few seconds.
4. With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix just until the batter comes together, then add in the butterscotch chips. You can also save 1/4 cup of the chips to sprinkle on the cookies after scooping. Be careful not to overmix the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest in the fridge overnight.
5. In the morning, let the dough sit out on the counter till it softens to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out about 15 balls of dough. Place each ball at least 2.5 inches apart on the baking tray. Alternatively, you can use a tablespoon to portion out the dough as well though you’ll end up with smaller cookies.
6. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with sea salt and bake for 9-12 minutes until the cookies are slightly harder around the edges but still soft in the middle. Let them cool slightly then transfer to a cooling rack till the cookies are completely cooled. They may look domed inside the oven but will flatten out after cooling. Do not bake the cookies too long or they’ll be very hard when cooled!

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