Goodies For Gifts – A goodies central

Li’l Puffs is proud to announce that we’re now listed on Goodies For Gifts directory of delectable goodies!

Goodies For Gifts is a site dedicated to anyone who is looking for unique edible gifts to ship anywhere in the country. Browse their website to find and learn about amazing tasty treats that you can buy, share or send as gifts to your loved ones.

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Learning to Make Crème Caramel

One of my friends asked me to teach him to make crème caramel today. He asked, what are the things he should watch out for? If you’re not an experienced baker, you may have received a warning when you tell an experienced baker that you’re attempting to make crème caramel. “Be careful of the caramel! They can turn black very quickly.”

It’s a fair warning, but making caramel is not as hard as you may think. As long as you don’t leave your sugar syrup while it’s boiling and know when you should remove it from heat, you should be able to make caramel successfully.

Here’s a recipe that he used. This recipe is adapted from the Classic Crème Caramel recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

Crème Caramel
Makes 10

Caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup

Custard:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. For the caramel: In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, water, and corn syrup to simmer over high heat. Do not stir. Use a wet cloth or pastry brush dipped in water to  remove any sugar crystals that might cause the syrup to turn grainy. Continue to cook until the mixture’s surface starts to turn honey-caramel in color. Remove pan immediately from heat, and swirl to distribute the caramel color more uniformly throughout the syrup. Pour the portion of the caramel into each of 10 ungreased 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins and allow caramel to cool and harden.
    Note: Even after you remove the caramel from the heat, the heat from the saucepan will continue to cook the caramel turning the color darker. It’s better to remove the sugar syrup earlier rather than later as you can always turn it darker with a little more heat.

  2. For the custard: Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350F. Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until steam appears, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. While milk and cream are heating, gently whisk eggs, yolks and sugar in a bowl until just combined.

    Off heat, gently whisk warm milk mixture and vanilla into eggs until just combined, but not at all foamy. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large measuring cup or container with a pouring spout.

  3. Divide custard mixture among prepared ramekins. Place the filled ramekins in a large baking dish or roasting pan and set pan on oven rack. Fill pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the ramekins. Bake until the custard jiggles like a soft jello, or until a paring knife inserted halfway between center and edge of the custards comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer custards to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate (up to 2 days).

  4. To unmold, slide a paring knife around the entire mold, pressing the knife against the sides of the ramekins. Hold the serving plate over the top of the ramekins and invert. Set plate on a work surface and gently shake the ramekin to release the custard. Serve immediately.

Here’s what the finished product looks like:

He did good for his first time making crème caramel, didn’t he? It tasted great too! 🙂

After we finished enjoying a couple of these crème caramel, he asked, what will it take to reproduce this in his kitchen? Yikes! He needed a starter kitchen tool set. Good thing this recipe doesn’t really require a lot of tools so he can slowly build up his tool set.

What do you think should be in a starter kitchen tool set?

New Year Seasonal Flavors

Happy New Year!!! 新年快樂

Some of you will celebrate new year twice in the same month this year. The lunar new year falls on January 23 and to help with the celebration, we’d like to introduce our mandarin orange and lychee puffs.

Mandarin orange has always been a symbol of abundance and good fortune. You would normally see them displayed as decorations or presented as gifts. We decided to add our twist to this fruit and so… Voila! We present our mandarin orange puffs.

The other seasonal flavor we decided to introduce for the new year is lychee. For those of you who have had lychee before, you’re probably familiar with the “perfume” fragrance of the fruit. This fruit is native to Southern China and Southeast Asia but it is now cultivated in many parts of the world.

As with all our other fruit puffs, both flavors are made using real fruits. We use mandarin orange puree and lychee puree to flavor the puffs. There are no additional flavoring, preservatives or coloring in these puffs. Because there are additional coloring added, you’ll find that our mandarin orange puffs have only a slight orange tint to them that is from the puree, and our lychee puffs are snowy white, similar to our pineapple puffs, that is from its whitish pulp.

Both flavors are now available in Li’l Puffs Online Shop.

Love With Food Tasty Box

Who doesn’t love food? I do!

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Love With Food a couple of times this year. I love that they donate a meal with every deal that they sell. I’ve been blessed with opportunities so I always look for ways to give back and working with Love With Food is a great way of doing so.

Love with Food recently launched a new Best Bites subscription program. For $14 a month (shipping is FREE), you get to discover 5 to 6 gourmet bites. Then, you’ll enjoy exclusive discounts to all the full-sized products featured in your box! How great is that?! And what I love most, for every box purchased, Love With Food will donate a meal to No Kid Hunger.

December tasty box included:

  • Li’l Puffs Peppermint Marshmallows
  • White Chocolate Amaretto Filled Wafer Cookies
  • Cranberry Ginger Biscotti
  • Madecasse Mini Square
  • Chocolate Dipped Nutter Butter
  • Truffle Pig-Dark Hazelnut

YUM!

For those of you who purchased or received a box, don’t forget. You get exclusive discounts to the full-size products featured in the box until January 9, 2012.

Don’t wait! Go to Love With Food to reserve your January box now. It features healthy new year nibbles 🙂

Holiday Bundles

It’s been a while since my last post. Sorry about that. The holidays took pretty much all of my time away from the computer.

Before the holidays are completely behind us, I wanted to let you know of our new marshmallow bundles. All our bundles contain three 4-oz packages of marshmallows of different flavors.

This holiday season we’re offering the holiday bundle. Each bundle include our fall flavor marshmallows, peppermint and cinnamon, and chocolate marshmallow.

We also added two other bundles: Customer Favorite and Neapolitan.

Customer Favorite is the most popular flavors that our customers order. The customer favorite bundle includes chocolate, raspberry, and strawberry.

Neapolitan, just like the ice cream, comes with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavor marshmallows.

Any bundles you choose, you’ll get a variety of flavors to enjoy.

Have a happy holiday season!

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.

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!