December 24, 2012

Sucré Giveaway!

This post is going to be short but sweet (literally). It's my first giveaway (exciting!!!). The lovely people at Sucré want to give one of you their Holiday Chocolate and Macaron Collection!

"Discover true Holiday bliss with our 15 piece festive Mint Chocolate & Dark Truffle Collection paired with our 15 piece peppermint and chocolate flavored Holiday Macarons."

Sucré is a sweet confection studio located in New Orleans, Louisiana. They have two shops in New Orleans where they sell a variety of amazing desserts: cakes, cupcakes, pastries, gelato sundaes, chocolates, and macarons. But if you're not from New Orleans, don't fret as they offer many of their scrumptious sweets online as well. I've listed their website below, check it out!

To Enter:
1) Leave a comment below telling me your favorite holiday treat (mine: peppermint hot chocolate and chewy gingerbread cookies).
2) You must be a follower of Diamonds for Dessert (click "Join this site" on the right via Google Friend Connect).
3) Fill out the entry form to provide your e-mail address so I may contact you should you win.

1) Contest only open to those residing in the continental US.
2) This giveaway ends at 11pm PST on 12/26/2012.
3) The winner will be announced at 12am (midnight) of 12/27/2012 here on this post and will also be contacted via e-mail. They will have 24 hours to respond with their shipping info (if they fail to do so, another winner will be chosen).
4) Duplicate entries and those that don't complete all three "to enter" tasks (as listed above) will be disqualified.

This giveaway is sponsored by Sucré.

P.S. I know I announced last week that I'd have this up on Saturday but 1) I got stuck at the airport for 1 1/2 days (SNOW >:|), 2) my laptop died (so I didn't have computer access until I got home), and 3) I got sick :(. Sorry for the delays!

Congrats to the winner: Madonna (I've e-mailed you)

October 28, 2012

Cinnamon Apple Macarons

Fall is definitely here. The leaves are changing, it's getting chilly, and suddenly I'm craving the warm, cozy scent of cinnamon as well as pumpkin baked goods. I say it's the perfect time to bake some Cinnamon "Apple" Macarons.

I'm going to straightforward; these macarons aren't very apple-ly in flavor. It's more like cinnamon with a hint of apple. My brother calls them Apple Jacks Macarons, you know, like the cereal, which is actually pretty accurate. But I find them pretty cute, so I couldn't resist posting them anyway.

They are technically still Cinnamon Apple Macarons in that they look like apples and taste like cinnamon :). I think if I were to make them again, I'd devise some sort of apple jelly center to up the apple flavor. But despite the lack of apple flavor, they still taste wonderful. Happy Autumn Everyone!

September 03, 2012

Cake Batter Ice Cream Fairy Wands

Been getting settled in at school; I just finished my 1st week of M1 :). It's been hot here in Illinois... like ice cream weather hot, which makes it the perfect time for me to post this recipe for Cake Batter Ice Cream, which I formed into both fairy wand pops and bonbons.

I had this idea to make pastel pink and blue fairy wand ice cream pops: star-shaped with a cute striped stick. I was inspired by Deborah Lipmann's "Glitter In The Air" nail polish, Little Twin Stars (Sanrio), and the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. To make them even more fanciful, I made my own cake batter ice cream, chock full of rainbow sprinkles and cubes of cake, to go inside the pops. They're the perfect sweet treats to add a little bit of magic to a hot summer day.

August 12, 2012

Olympic Macarons + News

I know that I said that I'd blog about the Southern Dinner Party in my Mini Moon Pie post, but since the Olympics ends today, I decided to do an Olympics themed post instead. But don't worry; the Southern party photos and details will definitely come another day.

But before I talk about the Olympics, I first want to let you all know that I'll be starting medical school at the end of this month! I'm super excited :D. And I intend to keep this blog running even after school starts. That's partially the reason I've been MIA here this past month. I'll be living in the dorms for my first year, which means not having my own kitchen, so I've been baking like crazy, taking advantage of the kitchen at home, preparing back-up posts in case I really won't have access to a kitchen in the coming months. So hakuna matata :).

Back to the Olympics. Did you all watch them? My favorite events are always gymnastics and swimming but this year I've discovered that I also like pole vaulting and synchronized diving. I set out to bake something simple but Olympics themed and somehow ended up making Olympic ring macarons :P. Technically these are more meringues since they didn't form feet, but since I used a macaron recipe, I'm going to stick to calling them macarons. I also made individual rings with the leftover batter and they ended up with feet, so go figure. Keep these in mind for Sochi '14 and Rio '16!

July 18, 2012

Mini Moon Pies

Last Friday, my friend Monica and I hosted a Southern Dinner Party. We set up a backyard buffet of Southern dishes, with an abundance of different desserts, including the Mini Moon Pies I'm posting about today. I'll share my party photos with all of you in my next post :).

For now, let's talk Moon Pies. If you've never had one, a Moon Pie is made up of two graham cookies sandwiched around a marshmallow filling, dipped in chocolate. Sort of like a s'more, but not. I remember eating Moon Pies a few times as a child, but only once in a blue moon because they were so hard to find.

Moon Pies also come dipped in other coatings like orange and banana, so rather than just the original chocolate, I thought I'd also include a different flavor. If you've been following my blog, you probably know that I adore the combination of mint and chocolate (ex. Mint Chocolate Chip Truffles & Grasshopper Tart), so what better other flavor to include than mint? Plus, the mint color is lovely.

This is a great recipe to experiment with. Try using different extracts/liquids for the marshmallow filling and flavor/color the coating differently (maybe orange or lemon?). Definitely try this out. Not only are these Mini Moon Pies cute to look at, they're pretty darn tasty; they were the first dessert to go from our buffet.

P.S. If you choose to make mint and chocolate coated mini moon pies, don't throw away the extra coating! Use it to make homemade Andes chocolates (recipe at the very bottom of this post).

July 04, 2012

Red, White & Blue Jewel Cake

Happy 4th of July everyone! Hope all of you in the US did something fun today: attended a party, had a BBQ, watched a parade, baked an apple pie, played with fireworks, etc.

Today I have a pretty cake to share with all of you. It's an adaptation of Sprinkle Bakes's "Crown Jewel Cake", which is based on a vintage Jello recipe. I remember seeing this cake on Sprinkle Bakes and being wowed by how wonderfully gorgeous and colorful it is. I loved that Heather replaced the dream whip with actual whipped cream and added a tasty jaconde to make the "cake" an actual cake.

I took this cake and gave it an Independence Day twist, inspired by the American flag (red/white/blue + stars & stripes) and patriotism (hence the hearts). The jaconde does use a lot food coloring, but there are alternatives for those of you wary of food coloring. First, you could make a chocolate jaconde instead, brown instead of blue with three lines of frosting: red, white, and blue. Or second, you could skip the jaconde and make a graham cracker crust for the bottom instead, like in the vintage recipe (and as I did with the extra filling).

Another great thing about this cake is that it can easily be adapted to any other holiday/theme just by changing the colors of the jello, jaconde, and frosting. Imagine, a red jaconde with red and pink jello for Valentine's Day. Or a purple jaconde with purple, yellow, and green jello for Mardi Gras. Or change the colors to coordinate with the colors of your favorite sports team. The possibilities are endless so try this cake out!

P.S. To add to the fun, I used the extra jello from the filling to make some Broken Glass Jello, an additional dessert for my 4th of July menu (recipe also posted after the jump).

June 18, 2012

Better than Sex Cake

I'm back from Italy (and am currently hanging out in LA for the week). Thanks to all of you who left recommendations on my last post! I saw many beautiful sights and ate lots of terrific food. Didn't really eat many baked goods, had mostly gelato for desserts, which was wonderful. No Italy posts today, maybe sometime in the future.

Instead, today I'm posting about a very American cake. Two weekends ago, my friends and I had a BBQ/picnic, and I, of course, offered to bring dessert. I wanted to try something new: a cake that involved poking holes and pouring liquids on top, a poke-and-pour cake if you will, like "Tres Leches" or "Jello Poke" Cake (both of which I still need to make). For my first poke-and-pour cake, I finally settled on "Better than Sex" Cake (with a name like that, how could I resist ;) haha). Turns out though, there are actually two versions of the cake, one chocolate and one tropical. Naturally, I made both.

My conclusion is that these are great potluck cakes. They may not be the prettiest cakes, but they're widely appealing and provide just enough servings. The chocolate version appeals to chocolate and caramel lovers. It's for those days where you need a bit of sinful decadence in you life. Covered in condensed milk and caramel, it's a sweet, rich chocolate cake, made even better topped off with homemade whipped cream and chopped toffee candy bars.

The tropical version is perfect for those who prefer vanilla and fruit flavors. It's a yellow cake topped with a crushed pineapple syrup, vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, whipped cream, chopped pecans, and roasted coconut. To make it even better, I added a splash of rum to the syrup. It's the perfect cake for a hot summer day, refreshingly cool with tropical flavors that transport you to a beachy paradise. Which cake is better? You'll just have to make both to find out ;).

May 19, 2012

A Italia!

No new recipe today. Just wanted to let you all know, I'm off to the land of tiramisù, pizza, gelato, and Nutella for the next two weeks, in case you wonder why there aren't any new posts during that time.

I'll be visiting Rome, Florence, and Venice, and I was wondering if any of you had any advice in regards to these three cities? Restaurant recommendations, must see places, things to buy, tips for taking the train, etc? All suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

I hope to bring back some Italy-inspired recipes to post. Ci vediamo!

May 08, 2012

Parks and Recreation Cookies

I'm a huge fan of Parks and Recreation. It's definitely my favorite show on TV right now (I love TV comedies... a lot).

Characters (L->R): Donna, Leslie, Ann, April, Andy, Tom, Ben, Ron, Jerry, Chris

If you've never watched it before, Parks and Rec is about a group of people working for the Department of Parks and Recreation in the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana. What makes the show great are the quirky characters, the awesome pop culture references, all those slow head shakes and deadpan stares (Ben and April especially), and the plethora of continued gags & jokes (Zorp and the Reasonabilists, the creepy City Hall 4th Floor, the absurdly offensive murals, snooty rival city Eagleton, the library, the love for Li'l Sebastian, etc.).

I decided to make cookies based on characters in the show, much like I did for my Glee Cookies. It just seems fitting since I adore the show's characters so much. Tom and Ron have the best lines, so it was difficult to pick just one to use on the images above and below this blurb. Though Leslie and Ben are cute together, my favorite couple on the show has to be April and Andy! By the way, the Ron cookie is wearing his "got lucky" Tiger Woods-ish red polo, haha. Enjoy!

P.S. If you've decided to start watching, it's better to start from the 2nd season rather than the 1st. (It doesn't become the awesome show it is now until the 2nd season; they made a huge comeback after mixed reviews in regards to the 1st season.)
P.P.S. I'm sort of wishing I made a Jean-Ralphio cookie...  Orin and Tammy II as well :).
P.P.P.S. If you're a Parks and Rec fan and haven't checked out Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America, it's great. Oh and Tom Haverfoods!

April 28, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake

Lately, I've been seeing beautiful strawberries everywhere while grocery shopping, so naturally, I picked some up to bake with.

With so many strawberry desserts out there, I finally decided to make a fresh strawberry coffee cake, as I need to post more go-to, everyday type recipes here. This is one of those cakes that's perfect for anytime of the day, a great companion to your morning coffee at breakfast or a lovely mid-afternoon snack. It can be served warm or cold, and though the recipe makes a whole tray of cake, it goes quick!

There's cream cheese in the batter, which keeps the cake moist and gives it a richer flavor. The combination of fresh strawberries and strawberry preserves gives the cake that wonderful berry flavor, and the stripe created by the layer of strawberries and preserves gives the slices of cake a nice bit of color. The original recipe tops the cake off with chopped nuts, but I decided to use a crumb topping instead as I love crumb coffee cakes. Also, another plus about this cake recipe is that it's not too sweet, another reason why it's a great anytime cake.

April 09, 2012

Easter Chick Cookies

Spring is here! Today really felt like spring. I noticed pretty flowers blooming all over, the sun shined brightly, and birds were chirping.

Hope you all had a good Easter! I celebrated by making some chick cookies. I already made chick sugar cookies two years ago for Easter, but this year I thought instead of flat decorated cookies, I'd come up with some actual 3D chick cookies. After some trial and error, these turned out pretty well. They're the perfect springtime cookie.

Since Easter usually involves lots of candy like chocolate rabbits and jellybeans, I decided to make a cookie that was less cavity-inducing than the typical Easter dessert. I found this recipe that makes a nice, lightly sweetened cookie. I love the combination of lemon and honey. Because the recipe only uses a little bit of butter the resulting texture of the cookie is soft and cakey, in a good way. Finally, the coconut adds a hint of flavor and some cheery color. Enjoy!

April 02, 2012

Hunger Games Cupcakes

I watched The Hunger Games movie the weekend right after it came out. Overall, it was pretty good (I'd watch it again), but like most movie adaptations, not as good as the book, which I absolutely adore.

There were many things I enjoyed about the movie. The casting was great, especially the actors cast for Cinna, Effie, Caesar Flickerman, and Rue (hoping for an equally good cast for Catching Fire: Finnick!!!). Non-spoiler things I enjoyed in the movie: Seneca Crane's beard, the fire dress (exactly how I imagined it), and awkward Gale scenes. Anyway, if you haven't read the books, I highly recommend that you read them! In particular, read Catching Fire, my favorite :).

I've been meaning to bake something Hunger Games themed for a while. Finally, I decided to make cupcakes based on different Hunger Games characters. Since Katniss is the protagonist, I had to make a cupcake based on her. These were inspired by the costume she wore to represent District 12 (the black one that lit on fire) and her archery.

Peeta is my second favorite character, after Finnick, so he got cupcake as well (sorry Gale, Peeta's the nice, artistic boy who paints and bakes). In the arena, he uses his awesome cake icing skills to imitate nature in order to camouflage himself, so I topped off his cakes with pretty, "natural" frosting leaves. And because he is the "boy with the bread", I finished each cupcake with a chocolate bread slice.

I loved Effie's "look" in the movie, so I thought to take an element from her appearance and adapt it to a cupcake. I ended up representing her hair with curly pink swirls of frosting and adorned the frosting hair with big purple flowers.

Of course the villain of the story needs to be represented as well, so President Snow got a cupcake as well. His signature items are the genetically modified white roses always pinned to his lapel, which he uses to mask his bloody breath. Thus, my cupcakes based on him are iced in black and topped with white blood-stained roses.