Friday, July 18, 2014

TARTE AUX FRAISES & A FOND FAREWELL TO STRAWBERRY SEASON

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Since becoming a non-professional baker, I've come to realize that some fruit are "in season" during different months of the year, depending, of course, on where you live. For example — strawberries. I say "for example" as if there are others, but as it is the most significant, it is the only example I'm giving. Strawberry season not being in sync with other parts of the world is my biggest disappointment. In Japan, strawberries are sold during colder months (usually starting around December and peaking around March), whereas in the U.S. or European countries, I hear that strawberry season is during the warmer months usually starting around May and peaking in the summer. Well, in my past B.B. (Before Baking) days, this fact was insignificant to me and went unnoticed. I enjoyed strawberry season the Japanese way, enjoying the sweetness of them indoors, while wearing a sweater. Just for the record though, the thought that 'strawberries would taste even better outside in the sun' (perhaps a summer picnic?), did cross my mind more than once. I must've known deep down in my heart. Now, in my current A.D. (After Discovering) baking days, summertime is torture. I read wonderful blogs with beautiful photographs, and the 'spring & summer recipes' sections of lovely cookbooks only to find them dotted with delicious-looking recipes using lush, ripe strawberries. And then there is Instagram . . . It is all truly maddening.



It is May now (this post was originally written then, so kindly forget that it is July for a moment), and it is time to say goodbye to strawberry season here in Tokyo. The cartons of red at the local grocery store are getting fewer and fewer, and unless you have kind relatives living in the coutryside that will send you fresh strawberries, it is time to choose your last cartons of the season. Well, that is exactly what I was doing the other day when I found some very appealing, smallish berries with the stems still attached. Perfectly pretty and perfectly rare. A good combination in my opinion, and they even turned out to be flavorful. One carton disappeared over a single french toast breakfast, but with an idea in mind, I went back for more. One of the recipes that makes being deprived of strawberries during summertime such a disappointment for me is tartelettes. They appear quite often in my references, and it's what makes me ending up with a deep feeling of need for the wrong things at the wrong time of the year. To fulfill this craving in May would be the next best thing to fulfilling it in July or August. And so, the grand finale for this year's strawberry season was realized: 'tartes aux fraises à la rustique' — a little sooner than summer, but at least not in the remains of winter.


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* { tarte aux fraises, pâte sucrée adapted from : miette by meg ray with leslie jonath, crème pâtissière adapted from : the little paris kitchen classic french recipes with a fresh and simple approach by rachel khoo }
— continue reading for the recipe

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

THE CUPCAKE PROJECT № 4 | ESPRESSO CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

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These chocolate cupcakes are incredibly moist and tender with a rich chocolate flavor, due to the fact that the batter used is actually a double chocolate cake batter using both cocoa powder and chocolate. The recipe is adapted from Miette, one of my go-to bake books, both for the recipes and the pretty designs.


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Come to think of it, cupcakes weren't a big part of my childhood. I can't really recall a special memory that includes them, even though I'm quite certain I've eaten a fair share at birthday parties and other seasonal occasions. But I do have a special place in my heart for chocolate cake.
Chocolate cake in Japan tastes different, and although I've been living here in Tokyo longer than I lived in the States, I still sometimes get cravings for a slice of classic American-style chocolate cake. No fancy flavors or decorations; just plain chocolatey chocolate cake, served with a layer of plain chocolate buttercream or maybe a dollop of whipped cream. That's my idea of perfection — something that fulfills my chocolate cake cravings — and that is exactly what these cupcakes taste like.


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The buttercream is adapted from Call Me Cupcake!'s espresso chocolate cupcakes (by Linda Lomelino), and if you like your chocolate cupcakes with a cold glass of milk, this is the buttercream to use. If you want something a little less rich but as equally as satisfying, I recommend the raspberry buttercream I used for the cupcake photographs in my last post, also from Linda's blog.




It's hard to believe we've already come to the end of April. I'm still having trouble writing posts on a regular basis, but I guess writing random posts is still better than not writing at all. I really hope I can post a Mother's Day post before Mother's Day. One of my goals for May . . . *

* { espresso chocolate cupcakes, double chocolate cupcakes adapted from : miette by meg ray with leslie jonath, espresso chocolate buttercream adapted from : call me cupcakeespresso chocolate cupcakes }
— click on the images above, or continue reading for the recipe

Sunday, April 20, 2014

HAPPY EASTER & LATELY . . .

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happy easter, and some photographs of my latest creations . . . *

1. ombre berry bavarois
A three-tiered mousse dessert which is a favorite, mostly due to the fact it brings back childhood memories of making it with my grandmother. Flavors are vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry, and while the strawberry is quite good (if I do say so myself), the raspberry and vanilla need tweaking. Hopefully, will be able to post the recipe soon.

2. chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream
These cupcakes were a special project for a very good friend of mine. I started with a completely different idea in mind, but this was how it turned out in the end. Will post the chocolate cupcakes recipe soon, and the raspberry buttercream recipe is from the lovely Linda Lomelino.