To the Gold Mine

Black Sesame Matcha Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“You have no idea how hard I’ve looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.
What’s the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the ocean. Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.
It’s no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these.
So I’ve brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.”

―Jalaluddin Rumi

Black Sesame Matcha Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

I am trying to luxuriate in my last few weeks here at the University of Chicago; I get extremely choked up when I think about graduating. I have often struggled with feeling too deeply and getting lost in my emotions. I hate goodbyes more than anything.

My dad used to commute to Dartmouth to teach at the business school; he had to leave home at 5 in the morning to make his flight on Monday mornings. I would often wake up when he was leaving and pad downstairs, crying, behind him. I never wanted him to leave.

It’s similar now, only I am padding around campus, feeling lost and lonely. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the jumble of emotions that come with goodbye. I’m nostalgic, introspective, frightened, excited, dragging my feet while trying to lean in, etc., etc.
I am clinging to anything, right now, just like I used to cling to my dad.
(Truth: I still cling to him. I will always be his remora, can’t change that. I can feel my mom and dad shaking their heads and rolling their eyes at that, and that makes me smile.)

What a strange, out-of-body experience growing up is turning out to be. I wonder at how quickly time passes. It brings me to tears, frequently, and shakes me to my core. I am a confident, stubborn, perseverant person, but I am oft reduced to a puddle of quivering jelly when I realize that I can never get back what’s gone.
Not only the boundless energy and carefree schedule of a child, not only people and pets, but also emotions, like the sheer, unbridled joy I used to feel when the seasons were changing—each one felt brand new and just as exciting, with no jaded cynic inside me to put a damper on those feelings, yet.
How many wistful words have been written by those who come face to face with time’s fleet feet? I rarely feel that it would be of much use to anyone for me to write my own, infinitesimal terror out on this page.
But here is where I repeatedly find myself, cursor blinking, as these thoughts storm in my mind.

Black Sesame Matcha Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Other things (other than self-indulgent moping, that is) with which I’ve been occupying myself:

Nati got a Nintendo Switch! And Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to go along with it. Oh my goodness, y’all, it is the most gorgeous game. I could watch him play for hours. It is 100% absorbing. So fun!

I (finally) read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. A quick read, but chilling, and a classic. Maybe I’ll watch the Hulu series now, who knows.

Speaking of T.V., Nati finally watched Game of Thrones with me (this is now my 5th? 6th? time watching the show); he enjoyed it, although is not as obsessed as I am. Then again, is anyone? It just made me even more excited for season 7! I can hardly wait!

Catch me in UChicago’s newspaper, The Maroon, in a style feature (whaaat). Big thanks to MJ Chen, Chris D’Angelo, and Christian Hill for making me seem like a cohesive human being. It takes a village, people. But seriously, they were a dream to work with and I’m so flattered and grateful! So go check it out, heh.

Also, I’ve been baking more dairy-free treats lately. But more on that soon!

Black Sesame Matcha Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

This matcha and black sesame cake had been on my to-make list/I’ve been dreaming of the combination of these flavors for a while now.

The cake itself is a close-textured, moist butter cake, sweet and rich with grassy, bright notes from the matcha. The cake is brushed with a honey syrup to keep it moist, then topped with black sesame Italian meringue buttercream, which is silky soft and nutty in a delightfully unexpected way; it was almost like a peanut-butter frosting, with a little more depth and bitterness from the sesame. I finished the cake up with some gold leaf, which is, like, the biggest pain in the ass to work with, and is most certainly not necessary to make this cake a showstopper.
Seriously, all you have to do is breathe and the stuff goes everywhere. Next time any of you see me pinning or liking photos of gold leaf, knock me upside the head. I always get suckered in.

It’s actually quite a simple cake, but the decoration + the surprisingly beautiful and vibrant interior make it gorgeous.

Black Sesame Matcha Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

The matcha for this cake was kindly sent to me from Happy Matcha, which is a small Australian start up selling organic matcha powder.
The tea is a lovely green and finely milled; it maintained its bright, strong flavor even when baked, which was what I was hoping for. I think it’s a bonus that it’s organic; honestly, when buying this type of powdered tea (and face masks, for that matter), I like to be able to completely trust it to be safe and from a good distributor.
If you haven’t tried good matcha before (i.e. not Starbucks, which is mixed with sugar, I think), I do recommend Happy Matcha. At this point, they only ship within Australia (but they do it in a carbon-neutral fashion, which is dooope), but we can all hope for worldwide shipping in the future!

As for the black sesame paste, I used this paste. Note that it isn’t black sesame tahini, which is made with raw sesame seeds and has a different flavor profile.

Black Sesame Matcha Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Black Sesame and Matcha Cake
makes 1 3×6-inch layer cake, or 1 2×8-inch layer cake

ingredients:
for the matcha cake:
225 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter
400 grams (2 cups) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
300 grams (1 1/4 cups) buttermilk (or milk with 2 teaspoons vinegar)
360 grams (3 cups) flour
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons matcha powder

for the salted and black sesame Italian meringue buttercream:
3 egg whites
150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
45 grams (45 mL, 3 tablespoons) water
336 grams (1 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons roasted black sesame paste

to assemble:
25 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons honey
20 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons) water
gold leaf, if desired

directions:
Make the cake: grease and flour 3 6-inch cake pans; set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat butter on high speed for 3 full minutes, until light in color and fluffy.
Add in the sugar and salt and beat on high for 2 more minutes; scrape the bowl.
Add in the eggs and egg yolks and beat on high for a full 3 minutes.
Stir in the buttermilk or curdled milk.
Add the flour, baking powder, and matcha powder and beat until combined, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Portion out evenly into the prepared pans.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool completely.
Make the honey syrup: place sugar, honey and water in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, or until the sugar is just dissolved.
Meanwhile, make the buttercream: place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place sugar, salt, and water in a small pot.
Begin to heat the sugar mixture on high as you whip the whites on medium speed.
When the syrup reaches 245 degrees F, your egg whites should be at firm soft peaks (almost hard peaks, but not dry).
Drizzle the syrup into the meringue with the mixer running; whip on high until cooled to body temperature.
Beat in butter one or two tablespoons at a time.
Beat buttercream on high speed until thick, glossy, and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Divide buttercream into two portions (about 60-40), leaving the larger portion in the bowl of the stand mixer.
Add in the black sesame paste to the larger portion and whip on high until completely homogeneous.
To decorate, first level the cakes and cut off the brown cooked portions; brush with the honey syrup.
Pipe a border of white buttercream around the edge of the cakes, then fill with the black sesame buttercream.
Frost the bottom (plain) half first, keeping an approximate line in the middle of the cake, then stick in the fridge until completely hardened.
Frost the top half with the black sesame buttercream, being careful not to go too much over the white buttercream edge.
Cover the edge with gold leaf and decorate the top with piping as desired!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a product in this post for free, in exchange for my honest and fair review. All opinions are my own. Bisous!

Jewelled

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

 “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the
most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

—Roald Dahl

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

I’m writing this during the first thunderstorm of the season.
The kind of storm with big claps of thunder, early in the morning—great cymbals crashing in the sky—while a grey drizzle settles slowly down into dry winter bones.

The kind of storm after which, later in the day, the sun comes out and the heady scent of rain soaked earth fills the air.
The storm that reminds the trees why they’re budding, that urges grass to turn green.

One deep breath to fill your lungs with springtime.

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Sixty degrees F todayyesterday, and marvelously humid from the rain.  My skin and hair are in happy places.

Little purple crocuses have popped up, seemingly overnight, fanning their petals wide and showing off their bright yellow centers for the world to see.

Back home, spring is the sunny daffodils that grow tall and strong up and down our block; it’s the budding of all the oaks and the giant melt, as the land thaws out, that leaves the waterfalls fuller than any other time of year.
Spring is the chirpy birds that flit around, robins and tiny chickadees and oh!—those cardinals, with nests being built in trees just outside my bedroom window.
Gosh, guys, I do miss having trees that greet me first thing in the morning with a long-branched windy wave.
(I’m afraid home is still blanketed with snow, though.  Oh, Upstate, you fickle lover, you.)

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

I suppose spring means something different to each person (how bad are your allergies?) and is unique in each place.
I wish my spring had more flowers, more time in the sun, and, importantly, more baby goats.
Can I move to Ireland and live on a dairy farm? Please?

Don’t know if I could ever live in an environment that doesn’t have all four seasons.  I could do with a shorter winter, yes, and sure, a more temperate summer than Chicago boasts, but I can’t imagine not experiencing the changing of each season every year.

There’s something about the way our earth turns around the sun, slowly but surely, that makes you feel extra small
and extra alive, doesn’t it?

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Also HAHAHA did you see this article from the New Yorker?
“…Meanwhile, sprinkle each couple’s speech with “we” statements, adding a subtle flavor of competition to the mélange…”
Literal tears were cried while laughing at this one, folks.

Or this prank?  Reminds me of the similar Pepsi/Jeff Gordon one from a few years back
Girl power!

Opinions on the new Amazon Dash Buttons?
While they seem useful, they strike me as a bit unnecessary and seem to make online shopping that much more intrusive.

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Speaking of shopping, at Whole Foods the other day (did I mention the mangoes!?!  My goodness gracious, those were just the most perfect mangoes in the world.), I saw some pretty sprays of purple hyacinths perfuming the flower section.
I snatched them up, brought them home, and placed them in a jar on my desk so that my whole room smells sweet.
Their springy feel and sweet smell sowed little seeds of seasonal inspiration in my mind.
An entire stalk was sacrificed for this cake, because I wanted some flowers for decoration.
No, I am not completely sure whether hyacinths are edible. I picked them off directly after the photos.
#trueconfessions

I also picked up some berries (and asparagus), because I am overly eager for spring produce and I frankly don’t give a damn if they are in season at this exact moment, because they’re too juicy and tempting to resist!

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

While rooting around in my pantry for brown sugar to make muffins, a little tin of matcha powder fell from the heavens and bonked me on the head.

Matcha, bright green and perfect for a springy cake with its grassy undertones!  The Gods were telling me something.
Thus was this cake born.

See matcha previously on this blog in this Chocolate Matcha Mochi cake (so chewy and moist!) or this Matcha Marzipan roll cake (so light and fluffy!).

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche
This is a cake perfect for noshing—little slivers taken repeatedly over the course of a slow afternoon—and goes brilliantly with a hot cup of any sort of tea, green or otherwise.

It’s delightfully dense, like a tightly crumbed, firm poundcake, but avoids the usual pitfall of dryness with a touch of cream, which keeps it moist even on the second day.
The matcha in the cake is not overpowering at all.  It adds a whisper of green tea, a little kick of grassy, springy brightness, but isn’t overwhelmingly bitter.
This is a perfect pound cake, buttery and not-too-sweet; little ruby berries and a dusting of matcha powdered sugar make the perfect accompaniment.

It can be on your table ready to be served in less than 45 minutes, and keeps brilliantly.  The last slice was that much better on the second day, as the cake had lost none of the flavor but become more moist overnight.

I could also see this being served with lashings of chocolate ganache or good honey, with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream.

For now, I kept it springy, simple, and light.

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake
makes 1 6×3 inch cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
170 grams (3/4 cup) butter, soft
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3 eggs
10 mL (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
30 mL (2 tablespoons) heavy cream
1 tablespoon matcha powder
120 grams (1 cup) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

for decorating:
1/2 teaspoon matcha powder
1/4 cup powdered sugar
fruit and flowers, as desired

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 6×3 inch pan liberally.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar and salt and beat on high speed for 5 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the eggs.
Beat on high for 5 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the cream and vanilla extract; mix only until partially incorporated.
Add in the matcha, flour, and baking powder.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix to ensure homogeneity.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is puffed and springy and a tester comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes; invert onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
To decorate, mix matcha and powdered sugar together very well.
Dust over the top of the cake and decorate with fresh fruit as desired.
Serve in repeated thin slices with hot tea!

Pas de Cadeaux

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Ceci n’est pas un cadeau.

Oh, the treachery of cake.

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I must tell you, at once, of a miracle that has been flying well under anyone’s radar for some time:
my petite Korean grandmother has ceased aging.

People! Pay attention!
It seems the antidote for age is simply refusing, in a classic Chang woman manner, to acknowledge your birthday.
Like so:
when anyone asks you what you want for said day, explain, only mildly peeved, that material goods are, in so many words, worthless and, additionally, take up too much space, do not buy me anything I do not want it;
when anyone asks you what kind of cake you want, respond, as if it is the most logical answer in the world, that you want whatever cake they want to make (bonus points if your granddaughter is a food blogger, because then you can reason that you want her to be able to document the cake).
An elegant and difficult solution—yes, that seems about right.

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My mama urged me to write a blog post for September 8th.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the photos for this post by then, but I didn’t expect it to be SO LATE coming.

If you’re shaking your head at the screen because of my ridiculously long absence, I understand.

But don’t leave just yet. I have cake, fwiendz. I have cake.

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Sitting down to finish writing this post has been one of my very first moments of leisure in the last few crazy weeks.

I have officially moved to Chicago, into a very large and very beautiful apartment with three of my very best and very closest friends.
I have built an outrageous amount of Ikea furniture and scrubbed and mopped and organized until I can do no more.
As of right now, we have 3 bookshelves that need 1 more coat of paint, and we’re fiiiinally done done done.
It’s a great feeling to finally begin to make a place your home.
(Of course, as soon as I feel settled and cozy here, classes will start and then living in the library will start and I will be thrown into the real world at an uncomfortably high speed.)

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I don’t have gas in my apartment yet (tomorrow is the big day!), so I haven’t been able to bake or cook while here.
Alexa (of popcorn cake fame) is not happy about the lack of cake being produced in the apartment; she asks once a day (even though she is also living sans cooking gas) when the heck I’m going to start feeding her yummy things again.
*eye roll*
People have even come up to me and asked me to please please post again, which is a bad sign for me.
Bad blogger, bad.

This is one of the last posts I have photographed from while I was still at home, but don’t worry. The lighting in our apartment is fab and a half and as soon as we get cooking gas, I’ll bake something yummy and share it with you (and Alexa, I suppose…) promptly.

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This was the cake I made for September 8th, a completely innocuous and otherwise boring day.

I knew it couldn’t be too sweet, and something with an intriguing flavor or texture, even better.
It couldn’t be too fancy, but couldn’t be jejune either.
A bundt cake seemed to fit the bill, and the jar of green tea powder was calling my name.
(As it often does… I do adore matcha!)

The end result is a half matcha, half chocolate bundt cake, hiding a bright green surprise within it’s simple exterior; the cake is made with sweet rice (glutinous rice) flour, so it benefits from the same thick, chewy texture of traditional mochi.
It’s not too sweet, rather allowing the two flavors to really sing; the chocolate is dark and a touch fruity, while the matcha is bitter and a tiny bit floral.
The texture is something special; super dense and chewy, just right for taking tiny slivers of all day. (I do believe this is called noshing, according to the lovely Molly.)

It’s an extra-special everyday cake; it doesn’t take a lot of effort or time but produces quite the stunner.
And that’s exactly the type of recipe I can get behind after making this crazy cake.

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Anyways, happy birth— September 8th, Grandma.
I love you, and I hope your day was special.

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Chocolate and Matcha Mochi Bundt
adapted from Sara Yoo
makes 1 bundt

ingredients:
1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 box (16 ounces, 1 pound) sweet (glutinous) rice flour (Mochiko brand comes in 16 ounce boxes)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup extra dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup matcha powder

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a bundt pan very well.
Whisk together butter, sugar, salt, evaporated milk, and vanilla until homogeneous.
Whisk in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Add in the rice flour and baking powder and whisk to combine.
Add half of the batter into another bowl and stir in the cocoa powder.
Stir the matcha into the other half of the batter.
Pour the chocolate batter into the pan, evenly covering the bottom.
Gently pour/scoop the matcha batter on top, smoothing the top.
Bake for 45-55 minutes; a toothpick should come out completely clean.
Allow to cool slightly in the pan; turn it out onto a serving platter or cooling rack while still warm to prevent sticking.
Serve with powdered sugar.

Maccha

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Do you have doubts about life? Are you unsure if it’s worth the trouble?
Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person’s face as you pass on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you.
They are as much for you as they are for other people.
Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing.
Stand up and face the east. Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky.
It’s okay to be unsure. But praise, praise, praise.

Miranda July, No one belongs here more than you.

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Home.

I am praising Home.
I am praising the ground beneath my feet, so familiar, worn and slick with rain.
Praising the sounds of fighting cats crickets that resonate through my bedroom window, flung open to let the sweet night breeze in.  (Apparently, during my absence, a troupe of kitties has been adopted in the neighborhood.  Occasionally, as they are like to do, they fight.  And yowl.  Thank god Ginger is deaf.)
The peaches.  The juiciest watermelon.  The hot sun.  The night storms.
The trees never seemed so green.

Today, while on a walk, I smelled–not for the first time, but the first in a long time–the smell of upstate woods.
It’s damp.  The smell of soil and sweet decaying trees.  It smells like dirt and swimming holes and home.
The scent that the wind picks up as it sweeps through the forest.

Home.

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This is my first time returning home in six months.

I’m unsure.  Far from feeling foreign, it feels too familiar.
It feels stagnant.  Is this right?
Should I be here, spending my whole summer in my hometown?
Am I wasting time in this precious life, returning over and over and expecting things to be miraculously different?
Do I wish them to be?

I have doubts.  I am unsure.  I am scared and small.
And yet I am praising.

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This is the last confection I made at college, in that godforsaken dormitory kitchen.

A matcha deco roll!  My second, actually, and third deco roll.  Here’s the first and the second.

I’m still working on perfecting the decor paste, but I’m getting closer.

Here, a simple vanilla sponge is decorated with a matcha chevron pattern, rolled up with billowy cream studded with marzipan, and topped with little marzipan balls à la uber fab Molly of My Name is Yeh

So stinkin’ cute. I just love it.
Matcha and almond pair beautifully, and I love the lightness of this cake.
Not too rich nor heavy.  It practically melts on your tongue.

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Are you asking yourself, Is that cake on a book?
Yes.  That cake is on a book.
Is this a little weird?  Yes.

Being the broke college blogger that I am, I quickly realized the conundrum I was in when I pulled this cake from the oven.
I didn’t have a single plate among my, like, 10 plate-large collection on which the roll would fit.
Here at home, it’s not an issue.  We have lots of discarded and mismatched dishware.
Oh well. I made do.

It also happens to be an amazing book, one that matches my favorite spoons, one that contains dragons and delights and murders and monarchs.  I love Game of Thrones so, so dearly.
Notice how I’m not letting a whisper of the finale pass through my lips.
Oh! Oh my god. GUYS the finale!!!!!

No spoilers.  Go read the books.  And watch the show.
And eat cake.

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Deco Roll (Part III)
sponge portion adapted from Junko via Cakelets and Doilies

ingredients:
for the sponge cake:
for part I (yolk portion):
4 egg yolks
40 grams (3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon) sugar
80 grams (1/3 cup) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
52 grams (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) vegetable oil
105 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) flour
1 pinch sea salt

for part II (meringue portion):
3 egg whites
30 grams (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

for the matcha decor paste:
1 egg white
30 grams (2 tablespoons) of the yolk mixture
20 grams (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) vegetable oil
5 grams (1 heaping teaspoon) matcha
35 grams (heaping 1/4 cup) flour
30 grams (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) granulated sugar
15 grams (1 tablespoon) water

for the filling:
240 grams (1 cup) heavy cream, cold
1 cup (approximately 3/4 of a tube) marzipan, kneaded with 1 to 2 teaspoons matcha

directions:
Line a 15×11 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Make the sponge cake:
In a large bowl, whisk yolks and sugar together very well.
Whisk in milk, vanilla extract, and oil.
Remove 30 grams (2 tablespoons) and place in a small bowl.
Into the main yolk mixture, add the flour and sea salt and whisk very well– mixture will be thick.
Into the small yolk portion, whisk all of the matcha decor paste ingredients: egg white, oil, matcha, flour, sugar, and water.
The decor paste should not be too thick nor too thin, but just about pipeable: it shouldn’t pour off your spoon nor should it glob to your spoon.
Fill a piping bag with the matcha decor paste and pipe whatever pattern you so desire onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Place into the freezer for 5 minutes, then bake for 3 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool while you make the meringue.
Place 3 egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and begin to whip.
Stir the sugar and cornstarch together.
When the egg whites become foamy, start very slowly adding the sugar mixture, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Continue to whip and add sugar until the meringue is at stiff peaks.
Remove 1/3 of the meringue and whisk it vigorously into the yolk portion to lighten up the batter.
Gently fold the remaining 2/3 of the meringue into the batter, making sure there are no meringue pockets.
Spread the batter gently over the baked decor paste.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch.
Meanwhile, place a sheet of parchment large enough to fit the cake on a clean counter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Place a second one nearby, and have a sharp knife at the ready.
When the cake comes out of the oven, carefully but deftly flip it onto the first, powdered sugar-sprinkled parchment sheet.
Trim the edges so that they’re squared off.
Now, take the (hot! Careful!) cake and flip it back onto the second piece of parchment, so that the pattern is face-down on the counter.
Carefully and firmly roll up the cake from one short end to the other.
Store it seam side down while you prepare the filling and topping.
Make the filling: use your marzipan like play-dough!
Form 6 spheres out of about half of your marzipan, and set them aside.
Rip/crumble the rest of the marzipan into small pieces.
Whip the cream to stiff peaks.
Once the cake is completely cool, unroll it and slather whipped cream all over; sprinkle all of your marzipan bits (it will mostly cover the cream) on top.
Roll up the cake, pipe some extra whipped cream on top, and finish with your marzipan balls!
Enjoy!

Moshi Moshi

*mochi mochi.
*ichigo matcha daifuku mochi.
These mochi are ugly.
*tear.
So let’s talk about why they look bad but taste so, so good.
They are lopsided.
The bottoms, where I pinched them together, are too thick.
They do not have a smooth, round exterior.
The ratio of mochi to bean to strawberry isn’t correct- there is too much mochi.
I had to make my own anko, which is softer and less easily molded than storebought. (I do not recommend this! Go to an Asian market and buy some anko!)
And now I’ve said bean, and half of you are like… say what?  Beans?  In my dessert? No thanks.  
I mean, beans in dessert almost sounds worse than tomatoes or celery or beets.
 
BUT these are sweet beans!  Adzuki beans!
If you’ve had red bean buns, or anko daifuku mochi or a plethora of other asian desserts, you will appreciate how delicious they are.
Sweet and umami actually pair very well together.
 
So yes, when you bite into these lopsided, kind of ugly mochi, you are rewarded with a veritable lexicon of different flavors and textures.
The exterior mochi is bitter and bouncy, soft, and chewy.
The anko paste is sweet, earthy, and silky.
The strawberry, that jewel in the center, is crisp, fresh, tart, and juicy.
It all comes together beautifully.
 
The six mochi that this recipe makes didn’t make it 15 minutes out of the photo shoot.
I ate three.  Oops.
Ichigo Matcha Daifuku Mochi
adapted from Cooking with Dog
makes 6
ingredients:
100 grams glutinous rice flour (mochiko)
25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar
2 teaspoons matcha powder
100 grams (100 mL) water 
cornstarch for dusting
150 grams anko (red bean paste)
6 15-gram strawberries, leaves and stem removed
directions:
Stir the rice flour, sugar, water, and matcha powder together extremely well until no lumps remain.
Separate the anko into 6 even pieces and press it up and around the strawberries, starting at the pointy tip of each strawberry, then place on a plate; lightly saran-wrap the plate.
Cover the bowl with the rice flour mixture tightly with saran wrap (see this recipe for more how-to) and microwave on medium power for about 4 minutes.  
Stir the mochi well and turn out onto a cornstarch dusted sheet pan. 
Cut into 6 pieces. 
Working one at a time, flatten and roll each piece out thinly, then place the anko-covered strawberry into the mochi and pinch the end shut.
 

I Know Not

알 수 없는
(unknowable)
miso caramel
matcha black sesame shortbread
lychee sorbet
black sesame brittle
create an animated gif
This past week, I’ve been hemming and hawing over my WISE project.
We were assigned old journals to read and review, and I received a very strange journal which is not really relatable to my project.
I felt confused as I flipped through the pages; its author and I not only have very different projects, but very different writing styles and ideas of what a WISE journal should consist of.
 
Cue panicked tailspin.
The first thoughts through my head: Am I doing it wrong?!
What happens if I am?!
Why isn’t mine like that?!
I went and talked to my mentor, Mr. B.
He shut those ideas right down; relax, you’re doing fine, everyone’s different and all projects are different, I’ve seen lots of others, etc.  Relax.
Breathe.
So here’s the thing, then: I know my journal is doing fine, and my weekly blog posts are alright, too.
I just can’t get this nagging voice out of my head when I sit down to write:
Are you doing it right?
Do you sound educated?
People will be reading this and judging you, you know.
Are you sure you want to say that?
No, no, no!  Start again.  Start over.  Rewrite that sentence; rewrite that post.
I’m sorry that this post is so long overdue.  
By now the dessert has run into the recesses of my mind; it has hidden in the depths.
I don’t know if my WISE project is right or good or whatever.
I can’t know; it is such a part of me that my own critical judgment falls by the wayside.
It is a part unto my whole, and it is thus that I am blinded.
 
“Freeing oneself from words is liberation.”
-Bodhidharma
I put the other journal away.  I’ll read it sometime next week, perhaps next weekend.
For now, I will write.
알 수 없는:

for the miso caramel:
adapted from food52
ingredients:
25 g sugar
10 g water
20 g heavy cream, room temperature or slightly warmer
1 teaspoon shiro miso
directions:
Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.  
Allow to cook until the caramel is deep amber; remove from heat and immediately stir in heavy cream, whisking all the while.
Mixture will splatter and bubble and steam; beware.
Once all the cream is incorporated, stir in the miso.
If you want a slightly thinner sauce, you can stir in up to 2 tablespoons more heavy cream.

for the matcha shortbread:
ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons matcha powder
pinch sea salt
5 drops vanilla extract
5 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon milk
black sesame seeds for mixing in, if desired
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter and sugar together until very fluffy and pale.  
Add the matcha, vanilla, and sea salt and mix to combine.  
Add in the flour and milk and mix just until homogeneous.
Stir in up to 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds.
Roll out to 1/8- 1/4 of an inch thickness.  
Cut small rounds using the back of a pastry tip.
Bake for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant and firm to the touch.
(Larger cookies will take longer; perhaps 7 or so minutes per batch.)

for the lychee sorbet:
ingredients:
1 can lychees in light syrup
directions:
Drain half the syrup, discard.
Purée the fruits and the rest of the syrup, then press through a sieve.
Freeze the resulting juice in an ice cream maker.

for the black sesame brittle:
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
directions:
Place the sugar in a small, heavy bottomed pan.  
Line a sheet pan with a silpat (cannot use parchment).
Caramelize the sugar until it is amber colored; working quickly, stir in the sesame seeds and spread as thinly and evenly as possible on the silpat.
Take caution, as the caramel is extremely hot.
Allow to cool completely, then break up into organic shapes.

to assemble:
Schmear the miso caramel.  
Add a few matcha shortbread cookies, then a few scoops of sorbet.  
Finish with the brittle.  
Serve immediately.

Doux-Amer

Sometimes, you see something you really, really wish you hadn’t.

A text or a phone call, an email or a photograph, numbers on a scale or old pants, a person, a place, a thing: a reminder of days gone by.  

The kind of thing that instantly feels like a little stone in the pit of your stomach.
The feeling that makes the tips of your ears red and the ends of your fingers cold. 
That dead weight right in the middle of your body that is the exact opposite of butterflies.

You know what I’m talking about.
We’ve all been there.

It happens.  We see it.
And it sucks.  
The mildest form of it is like a buzzing gnat of regret, purely annoying and easily swattable; the worst, a punch in the gut.
 
It’s the things you could have gone your whole life without seeing, the ones that tug the hardest on your heartstrings or stab the deepest into the recesses of your mind, that produce the most confounding emotions (of course).
 
The tears that come, inevitably, are the saddest and the sweetest- and the saltiest- of all.
There are no bad memories or experiences without good ones preceding.
 
It’s off the good which we measure the bad.
It’s not easy to let bygones be bygones.  
However, it is true that at some point, you will be rudely reminded of an unsatisfactory or tender moment of your past, and it will hurt, and you will have to let it go; you will have to accept it for exactly what is was, and exactly what it wasn’t.
 
We cannot change the past, which is a sad and terrifying reality which few can easily come to terms with; the rest of us have to simply put up with our own mortal inclinations and wishes. 
Such is life.
 
We spend our lives wishing, hoping, working to change the past or future; we must never forget, in the instantaneous moment of the present, that our attempts may be in vain, and to appreciate the fact that that lost effort is okay.  
It’s human. 
We have to embrace the mistakes in the past and those to come, and in doing so, accept the profound emotions which accompany them.
 
La mélancolie et le bonheur… Les emotions douces-amères.
 
Bittersweet.
What you see here is a matcha cake with tangy cream cheese frosting.  
The green tea imparts just a slight herbaceous and umami quality; it’s fragrant and well offset by a sweet, sticky icing.
 
I made it ombré by varying the amount of tea and adding a touch of green food coloring. 
I actually grind my own matcha powder out of loose leaf in a coffee grinder.  (If you want to do the same, make sure your grinder is 100% clean by grinding some plain rice into powder in it before adding the tea.  Coffee will distort the flavor and color of the matcha.) 
The white chocolate roses that I made out of homemade modelling chocolate were just the right finishing touch, I think.  
The cake is, appropriately, aigre-doux: bittersweet.
Yeah, I saw it.  
I felt bad for a minute or two.  I might even have had a short, ugly, and relieving cry.  
Then I had a piece of cake.  And you know what?  
It was delicious.
 
Ombré Matcha Cake
ingredients:
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
1 scanttablespoon, 1 ½ teaspoons, and ¾ teaspoon matcha powder, divided
a tiny bit of leaf green gel food coloring
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Butter and flour as many 6- or 8- inch pans as you have; you will end up with four layers, so if you have 2 pans, just bake two of the layers, cool and clean the pans, and bake the second two layers.  
Cream together the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes, until very fluffy and pale yellow; beat in the vanilla and egg whites until combined.  
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  
Add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk; start and finish with the dry.  
Divide your batter in half as evenly as possible (I weigh mine out), then divide those in half, too.  
Pour one quarter of the batter into a pan as is.  
Add 1 scant tablespoon of matcha and 2 drops green food coloring to one bowl, in another, add 1 ½ teaspoons matcha plus 1 drop green food coloring, and in the third, add only ¾ teaspoon matcha.  
Stir each well, and pour into prepared pans.  
Bake for 15-17 minutes.  
Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.
 
For the [tangy] frosting:
ingredients:
4 ounces sour cream (a heaping ½ cup)
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch salt and dash vanilla extract
directions:
Beat the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy and pale.  
Add in the sour cream, vanilla, salt, and sugar, and beat on low speed until combined.
 
To assemble the cake:
Torte (level) your layers if need be, then layer them, starting with the darkest.  
Don’t add too much frosting between the layers, because the ombré effect will be slightly less cool.  
Frost the outside of the cake as desired!  
[Note: this frosting is not pipeable.  Instead, go for homestyle swirls, homeboy.]

Seedy

Calvin and Hobbes is the best comic strip ever written.  I say that with utter conviction.  
I have read every single strip multiple times and I still get a kick out of them.
As kids, my brothers and I would fight over our Calvin and Hobbes collection to read during breakfast.  The pages of all the books are accordingly sticky and stained with milk and Lucky Charms crumbs.
The losers of the fights would have to read Foxtrot.
What a life.
 


This past summer, I endeavored to reread all the Calvin and Hobbes books we have.

Hoo boy!  That was the greatest week.  They are endlessly enjoyable and hilarious… I mean, seriously.  Love!

So, I have this weird thing where whenever I think of the word “seedy,” I think of Calvin and Hobbes. I think it’s because when I was younger, I saw it in the comics and didn’t fully understand it.
My brain works in strange ways, people. 
 
 
Anyways, I decided to make a seedy pound cake, combining a few flavors that at first glance might not go together.
 
I love lemon-poppy seed baked goods.  The poppy seeds add that extra crunch and visual appeal; not much in the way of flavor, but whatevs.  They’re pretty.
 
I also love matcha.  It’s earthiness and subtle bitter and sweet notes always dance around my mouth, leaving me wanting more.  
 
Why not lemon and matcha?  The tart citrus plays off beautifully against the intense green tea.
 
I decided to really get the party started and added some sesame seeds to the matcha batter. Matcha-sesame seed mixed with lemon-poppy seed!  Sign me up.
(P.S. I also snuck some brown butter in.  Why?  Because I can, so hush.)
 
In hindsight, I wish I had swirled the loaves to create more of a marbled effect.  I got a layered effect because I didn’t do much mixing- I was a bit nervous to mix too much, but I ended up mixing barely at all.  Oh well.  C’est la vie.
 
I was sending these loaves off to my brothers, but I snuck a piece before I did.  
Buttery, sweet, and chock full of flavor, this is a pound cake to remember.  
Share it with your favorite tiger.
 

 

Lemon Poppy Seed and Matcha Sesame Seed Pound Cake
makes 2 loaf cakes, easily halved
adapted from Gale Gand
ingredients:
6 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 sticks butter, browned
2 cups sugar
8 eggs
big splash vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons buttermilk
3 to 5 tablespoons matcha powder (depending on strength of your matcha)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour 2 six cup loaf pans.
Beat the eggs and sugar together until they form thick, light yellow ribbons.  
Stir in the butter and vanilla.  
Stir in the flour, corn starch, baking powder, and salt, but don’t fully mix.
Divide the mixture into two, and into one, add the lemon juice, zest, and poppy seeds.  Into the other, add the buttermilk, matcha powder, and sesame seeds.  
Beat each one (by hand, so you don’t overbeat) until homogeneous.
Pour half of the matcha batter into each prepared pan.
Top with half of the lemon batter.  Swirl with a skewer or fork as desired (if you don’t, your loaf will have a pattern similar to mine).
Bake until the center is raised and a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs; 65 to 70 minutes.
To make an optional glaze, stir 1 cup of powdered sugar with 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to make a pourable glaze.  Once the cakes are out of the oven and mostly cool, poke a few small holes in the top and brush/pour the glaze all over the cakes. 

Pants on Fire

Remember how I said I hate baking cookies? Ha, um well…


I have four different cookies to show you.  Er… Tell you about.

Don’t look at me.

I wasn’t lying, but sometimes it’s necessary to bake cookies.  What a drag, I know.


For instance, if your best friend is going back to school and leaving you, cold and alone, you might need to bake some spiced-up chocolate chip cookies, as a parting memento so she won’t forget about you too quickly, while having a private pity party. Just you and half of the cookie dough.

Or!  What if, on the off chance that you needed egg yolks for curd, you put aside the whites to age (For the record, this is pointless.  Regardless, it’s paying homage to the voodoo macaron gods.), then pulled them out of the fridge a few weeks later, weighed them and they were exactly 5 ounces (Okay. 4.9. Forgive me.)?!!  Macarons round two.  Duh.  I shall vanquish thee and thine splitting shells, thou conniving cookies.
 
Ou, qu’est-ce qu’il faut faire lorsqu’on attend l’entré de ton ami (ouais, c’est le français!), qui t’a demandée de faire des biscuits il y a longtemps?  Il faut qu’on fasse les biscuits; quel gentil cadeau, non?
(Or, what do you have to do when you’re waiting for your friend to arrive (yes, the Frenchman), who asked you to make cookies a long time ago?  You have to make cookies; a nice present, no?)
And?  When you have 3/4 of a cup of buttercream left over from those pesky macarons and you need something to send in a care package to your pesky brother, why, it’s obvious!  You simply must make cookies!  Leftover cookies. Waste not want not people!  (No pictures.  Oops.)
Now, I would like to point out that 3 out of 4 of these recipes took me under 30 minutes to prep and bake.  Macarons, not so much.  Even so, it’s safe to say that I’m cookied out.  Cake soon.  Very soon.  Glory hallelujah… I love cakes.
Spiced-Up Chocolate Chip Cookies
ingredients:
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
splash vanilla
1 tablespoon nutella
1 tablespoon peanut butter
big pinch salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
big handful chocolate chunks/shavings/chips: as many as you want, you minx
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream the butter and sugars together with the salt extremely well until fluffy and light.  Add in the egg and vanilla, beat until combined, then add the nutella and the peanut butter.  Beat until homogeneous.  Add in the flour and baking soda and mix until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Use an ice cream scoop to portion out cookies, and bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on how chewy/crispy you like your cookies.  
 
Melting Moments
ingredients:
1 stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
splash vanilla
big pinch sea salt
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream butter and sugar together, then beat in vanilla.  Add in the salt, flour, and cornstarch all at once and mix slowly until it all comes together.  Refrigerate briefly (if your dough is still cool, you don’t have to), and up to a day.  Roll out tablespoon sized balls and bake for 10-14 minutes, until cookies just start to turn golden.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes, then sprinkle generously with confectioner’s sugar.  
 
Green Tea Ganache
ingredients:
2/3 cup melted white chocolate
2 teaspoons matcha powder
healthy pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup mascarpone
directions:
Mix chocolate, matcha, and 1/3 cup heavy cream and allow to sit and come together.  Beat with an immersion blender until smooth.  Set aside and allow to cool.  Once cool, beat with an immersion blender, then add in butter.  Next, beat 2/3 cup heavy cream (in another container) until soft peaks form.  Blend that with the matcha mixture, then beat in the mascarpone.  Put in fridge to firm up before using.
 
For the macarons, I followed BraveTart exactly (she is a master!) but added no coloring or flavoring except for a big honking vanilla bean.  I also used slivered almonds for my nuts.  I then filled them with the matcha ganache.  You will have 3/4- 1 cup of ganache left, but never fear…
 
Leftover Cookies
ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
big pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttercream (any flavor, really)
1 egg
splash vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat the egg and sugar and vanilla together.  Add in buttercream, stir just to combine.  Add in all of the flour, salt, and baking soda, and stir just until it comes together.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Bake for 10-14 minutes, again depending on how chewy you like your cookies.  *These will not spread at all.*