The Aroma of the Holidays

Every year I look forward to the holidays and yet at the same time, dreading the pounds that inevitably come shortly after. I hear the words that the Borg utter “resistance is futile” repeating in my head over and over again. Does that stop me? No 🙂

What food do you typically associate with the holidays? For me, it’s basted ham, roasted turkey and lots of delicious and tempting desserts.

This Halloween, I kick started my baking with a pumpkin pie and a carrot cake. Fall weather always makes me think of hot chocolate and spices. What could be more appropriate than having a slice of home made pumpkin pie and a lightly spiced carrot cake with fluffy cream cheese frosting to enjoy the start of the holiday season.

I finished off the night with a cup of hot cocoa topped with 2 cinnamon marshmallows. I love watching marshmallows melt in hot cocoa. They melt into a frothy layer on top of the hot cocoa, spicing it just right as you sip your hot cocoa. So good!

The cinnamon flavor in my hot cocoa reminded me of other desserts I love which I think would taste great in hot cocoa too. Gingerbread cookies! It brought me back to my culinary school days when I participated in a Fairmont gingerbread hotel competition with 3 other classmates. Here’s a picture of the finished hotel. We came in second 🙂

Anyway, I went ahead and made gingerbread marshmallows and pumpkin pie spice flavor too. They turned out great so I’m bringing them to the Evergreen Farmers Market this Sunday, complete with a cup of hot cocoa for those who will brave the forecast of rain.

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The Sweet and Savory Avocado

California Hass avocado. What a versatile fruit!

In California, you probably often see avocados in the form of guacamole, but if you happen to find yourself in an Asian community or shop, you’ll find them on the menu as a drink or dessert. That’s how I’ve always enjoyed avocados until now. Now I enjoy them both ways, in its sweet and savory forms.

The other day, I was craving avocados so I decided to buy a pack of 4 avocados. I used two to make fresh guacamole and the rest as a refreshing Indonesian dessert, avocado in snow ice with rose syrup and condensed milk.

I’ll first start with the guacamole since I made that for dinner to go along with the enchilada I made.

Fresh Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced small
  • 1/4 medium tomato, seeded and diced small (optional)
  • 1 jalapenos, diced small
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Lime juice from 1/2 lime.
Direction:
  • Halve avocado and remove seed. Place in bowl.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.
This recipe isn’t set in stone. You can tweak the amount of the ingredients that go in it. If you like the sharpness of the onion, add more. If you like them more spicy, then add more jalapenos. You can also season the guacamole with freshly ground salt and pepper if you wish.
This guacamole was a perfect accompaniment to the enchiladas I made.
Now on to after-dinner dessert 🙂
This dessert is a popular dessert in Indonesia and I often have it growing up. It’s easy to make and perfect on a hot sunny day. I can’t wait till my little avocado tree grows up and bear fruits.

Avocado in Snow Ice with Rose Syrup and Condensed Milk
  • 1 to 2 avocados
  • Rose Syrup
  • Condensed Milk
Directions:
  • Half the avocado and scoop the meat out of the skin into a bowl
  • Shave ice on top of the avocado (LOVE my new hawaiian shaved ice machine!)
  • Drizzle with rose syrup and condensed milk to taste.

Enjoy!

Bak Kwa Macarons

I have to admit. When my friend at Little Red Dot Kitchen asked me to create a Bak Kwa French Macaron, I cringed. It’s not that I’m not a fan of sweet and savory. On the contrary. Let me explain why.

Bak Kwa is a Southeast Asian Jerky unlike any jerky that you’ve tasted in the US. It already is by itself a sweet and savory snack. I grew up in Singapore eating these treats hot off the charcoal grill. They’re great served that way so why spoil a perfect tasting snack? If you haven’t had bak kwa before, get some from Little Red Dot Kitchen and you’ll understand what I mean.

The other reason why I was a little skeptical at first is because these days, chefs tend to pair bacon with pretty much everything, even some that they don’t even pair well with. I thought this experiment is going to be one of those awful combinations.

I was forced to eat my words after making these macarons, happily though, I might add 🙂 The Bak Kwa French Macarons filled with champagne buttercream were delicious! I had to stop myself from popping those little delectable bites in my mouth.

Here is the recipe for the Bak Kwa Macarons. I decided to pair it with Champagne buttercream as I thought the fruity taste of the champagne would compliment the sweet and savory bak kwa.

Macaron Shells
(Makes about 60 mini macarons)

  • 150g egg whites (about 5 eggs)
  • 90g sugar
  • 180g almond flour
  • 250g powdered sugar
  • Drop of pink coloring gel paste
  • Bak kwa (about 2 oz)
Direction:
  1. Grind bak kwa in a food processor into very small pieces to sprinkle over your macaron shells. Set aside.
  2. Sift almond flour and powdered sugar and set aside.
  3. Place the egg whites in a stand mixer and turn on mixer to medium high. Add the sugar gradually to the egg whites and continue whipping until it forms shiny stiff peaks. Add the drop of coloring right before you stop the mixture.
  4. Add the sifted almond flour and powdered sugar into the meringue and mix. Do not fold.

    You need to knock out some of the air that you added to the meringue otherwise, your shells will look like mini volcanoes in the oven when you bake them. Stop stirring the mixture as soon as the mixture falls like a ribbon from the spatula.
  5. Pipe them using a round tip onto a parchment lined baking pan.
  6. Sprinkle the ground bak kwa over the piped shells. You can press the bak kwa bits so they adhere to the shells, but be careful not to puncture the shells.
  7. Let the shells rest for 30 minutes. While the shells rest, you can make the champagne buttercream with bak kwa filling (Recipe below).
  8. Preheat your oven to 300F, then bake the macarons for about 11-12 minutes or until the top of the shells don’t slide around on their feets when lightly touched.
  9. Let cool before removing from parchment.
Champagne Buttercream with Bak Kwa filling
  • 6 oz butter (3/4 cup) at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons champagne
  • Bak kwa (about 2 oz, or more if desired)
Direction:
  1. Toast or grill the bak kwa, then grind in a food processor into very small pieces. Set aside.
  2. Whisk butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Add powdered sugar and continue to whisk until incorporated.
  4. Add champagne one tablespoon at a time while continuing to whisk.
  5. Finally add the finely ground bak kwa and mix well.
  6. The buttercream mixture will be very soft at this time so refrigerate it until it firms a little bit before piping it onto the macarons. After removing the buttercream from the refrigerator, whisk it for a couple of seconds to break any lumps that may have formed so you can pipe it easier.
Tip: 
Fresh macarons are crunchy. You need to refrigerate your macarons overnight or for 24 hours before serving them. Store them in an open container so no condensation will form on the shells. Remove the macarons from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving to let the buttercream soften and come to room temperature. They will be chewy and delicious that you’d be wanting to eat another one.