Mango Tango


 Current mood: pain.


I just got my wisdom teeth out.
Boy, was I glad that there were a few of these popsicles in reserve.
I am so doped out on Vicodin that I don’t have the energy to type up a whole post.
I’m pretty much utterly miserable, eating popsicles and mashed sweet potatoes and yogurt and hating life.

All I want is a good crunchy kale salad. URgh.


Mango lassi popsicles, however, are a sunshiney way to nurse my poor, poor teeth back to health.

Sweet mangoes and thick, creamy skyr—Icelandic yogurt—are blitzed to the high heavens with a touch of honey and tumeric (both good for anti-inflammation) adding, respectively, a floral roundness and a spicy, mustardy complexity.  Salt and sugar to balance out all the flavors, and a touch of cream to keep the pops from being too icy.

These are so refreshing and perfect for a summer afternoon, even for the non-chipmunk people among us.


Mango Lassi Popsicles
makes 6-8 popsicles

2 cups frozen mango
3/4 cup nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup sugar (depends on how sweet your mangoes are)
2 tablespoons honey
heaping teaspoon tumeric
2 pinches kosher salt
1/3 cup cream or half-and-half

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed and process on high until completely smooth, about 5 minutes.
The mixture will be thick but pourable; pour it into a popsicle mold and freeze for 15 minutes, then stick popsicle sticks in and freeze completely, at least 2 hours.
Run the mold under hot water to unmold the popsicles.


Chiaroscuro LARGE


blackberry caviar, coconut mousse, coconut crumb, coconut yolk, blackberry puree

Chiaroscuro SMALL II

Hi!  To any newcomers, welcome to my blog, and welcome to my project for UChicago’s spring Festival of the Arts!

(I’ll post more explaining this post-presentation, for all you laypeople.)

////// Okay!  SO Hi!  Yes!  Presentation went off without a hitch. \\\\\\

I gave a 7-ish minute spiel about molecular gastronomy, this here blog, my weird love of reverse frozen spherification, and the three desserts you see here, which were funded by FOTA.

Hopefully I didn’t embarrass myself too badly (I definitely did).Chiaroscuro SMALL I

Contrast, made edible.  Fruity, creamy, crunchy, chewy.

Why are there so many seeds in blackberries?  Getting ultra-smooth puree is a pain in the ass.

Fragola LARGE


black pepper cheesecake, lemon curd, lemon sorbet, ginger black pepper sand, walnuts, candied lemons, creme fraiche, honey

Fragola SMALL I

Early summer on a plate.  Spicy, sour, rich, fresh.

PSA: candied lemons are so incredibly addictive.  So is lemon curd.  OMg.

Fragola SMALL II

For my live presentation, I made a deconstructed strawberry pie: strawberry yolk, yogurt cream, 5-spice milk sand.
Simple, delicious.



mango yolk, watermelon tartar, avocado mousse,  lime curd, creme fraiche, grapefruit


A play on tuna tartare with raw egg yolk.  Tropical, crunchy, herb-y, tangy.
(There is nothing quite like cold watermelon on a hot day, amirite?!)


Happy to provide any of the recipes pictured for my fellow molecular nuts!

Round Two!

Deco rolls are going to be a problem.
I can feel it in my bones.
Why was I allowed to fall down this rabbit hole of adorable cakes?
I am going to blame everyone except myself (as per usual) because I am head over heels for these stupid cakes.
They’re just so cuteeeeeeeee I mean look at them all rolled up and pretty and full of fruits and cream.
So, um, yes.  Here is my second deco cake roll.
I was not wholly pleased
but then again
when am I ever wholly pleased.
Never, that’s when.
As you can see, the stripes are kind of wonky.
Okay, very wonky.  The white is vanilla bean and the green is matcha.
I made Junko’s sponge cake batter, divided it in two, added vanilla bean to one and matcha powder to the other, then attempted to pipe them out into stripes.
It worked to some extent, but all the mixing and folding combined with the pressure of piping deflated my batter slightly (sponge cakes rely only on natural inflation from the whipping of the eggs, not chemical leaveners), which resulted in a thinner cake.
I filled it with Junko’s filling of choice, softly whipped cream and fruits- I chose strawberry and mango.
Overall, I loved the flavor and, of course, the texture.
Light and fluffy sponge cakes call out to me unlike any others.
I just wish it were neater, cleaner, more perfect.
In fact, I have a third deco roll in the works.
Lord have mercy.
Click here for my version of the recipe.

Food For Thought

The other day, someone politely informed me that I was a terrible writer, with a sneer and a laugh.
Um… Thanks?

I had no response.

I spluttered and mumbled.   

I was saddened by the fact that I felt so bothered and upset by such breezy criticism.
I was sad that I was sad.

A cheery circle of life, no?

Anyways, this prompted me to sit down at my computer, poised and ready to write a beautiful post, one that would surely impress this person, should they ever bother to read my blog again.

I’ve been sitting here ever since.
Sort of. 
I have been dwelling on this, more than I really should be.
This post has lain blank, while my mind churns with all the things I want to shout say.

What better place to rant than here on my very own blog, on the ever-so-private internet?
Actually, I don’t want this to be private.  
I want it to be shared and sent around, all around, despite its intimate and private contents- I want it to make its rounds through people’s inboxes and readers.
This is because I want it to have some impact.
I want people to remember how others feel when they make them feel bad about themselves, because sometimes we just don’t think before we speak.
We all forget too soon how we have felt when we are sad and broken.

We’ve all been on both ends of a less-than-kind comment, and I won’t hear otherwise.

I mean, honestly, as if I needed yet another thing to pick at inside me.
Another sore place where I feel I’m not good enough- another place which I scratch until it bleeds, until I drown in all of that bloody sorrow and regret and self-loathing.
I struggle to grasp at confidence; I do my best to act it, even when I don’t feel at all confident within.
There are a few things that I am (was?) confident about, and one is my baking and my blog.
I toil here, probably more than you think, to create a product of which I can be proud.
I love my blog.  And I love my readers.
And frankly, I put enough work in here that I don’t really care if someone thinks I’m a terrible writer.  
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when they tell me that.
To be honest, I’m not confident enough that it doesn’t make me doubt myself and my intentions.
I still came back to this blog with the thought that perhaps it’s not worth it, or not good enough, that people don’t like to read it.
I worried about this blog, and I worried about myself.  
For days.
So couldn’t that snide comment have been left to the wayside?

Because where exactly did it leave me?
Extra critical and picky over this blog.
Worried and worrying about what others think of me, not only myself, now, but also my blog.
Worried not only about how other bloggers receive me, but also my readers.
If we spent half as much time loving and appreciating as doubting and critiquing ourselves, don’t you think we- and this world as a whole- would be that much more satisfied and happy?

Wouldn’t we be that much more willing to love others?  To overlook their faults and embrace them?  
Don’t the majority of our criticisms and anger stem from our own sadness?

I lay in bed last night, feeling the cool air from my open window wash over me, wrapping around my ankles and resting in the crook of my elbows, flooding my nose and cooling the back of my throat, thinking about self-appreciation and love.

My thoughts- harboring hate self propagates; sow seeds of love and harvest happiness. 

The happier we are with ourselves- the more comfortable in our own skins- the brighter and happier our futures will be.

I want my future to glow- to shine- bright enough to blind.
That starts with loving myself.
That starts (anew) here.

To conclude this, I’m giving you the recipe for a cake that loves you back.
It’s raw, vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, and much lower in fat than most other raw desserts.
I’ve swapped in low-fat coconut milk and coconut, reduced the amount of nuts used in the crust and filling, and added a vegetable.
Zucchini!  That magical veggie which we are all guaranteed to have too much of in the coming weeks, as the plants churn out hundreds of little green squashes.
This cake boasts healthy fats from coconut, avocado, and walnuts.
It gets all of its sweetness from bananas, mangoes, dates, and a touch of stevia.
It’s pretty, and it’s yummy.
It’s a hug for your stomach, which is pretty much as close as I can get to giving any of you a hug.

A Cake That Loves You Back
for the crust:
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup coconut (I used reduced fat)
6 fat and juicy dried medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons coconut oil
for the banana layer:
2 bananas, peeled and chopped, then frozen
1 avocado
1 medium zucchini, peeled
1 scant cup of cashews, picked over and soaked in cold water for at least 2 hours
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 teaspoon stevia extract
for the mango layer:
2 cups chopped, frozen mango
1 cup light coconut milk
Make the crust: pulse all of the crust ingredients together in a food processor until they form a uniformly coarse meal. 
Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Make the banana layer: in a blender or food pro, puree the cashews until very smooth.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and puree until very, very smooth, at least a couple minutes.
Spread over the crust and chill in the freezer until set.
Meanwhile, make the mango layer: in a blender or food pro, puree the mango and coconut milk until a thick, sorbet-like mixture is formed.
Spread over the frozen banana layer, then chill again until the whole thing is set.
Before serving, allow it to sit at room temperature to temper, then cut and serve.


This is my last WISE post.
It’s been real, y’all.
Just yesterday, it feels, I told you about my WISE project.
I present in a week.  It’s crazy.  I’ve loved every minute of this.
Time flies.

(This is the last dessert I made not destined for the presentation.  
I combined classic Persian flavors: cardamom, rose, pistachio, and saffron, and added mango for an extra kick.  
I shaped the sholeh zard, or rice pudding, into firm, pressed rice cakes, inspired by Dave Chang’s ttuk, and then fried them in ghee.  
The mango sorbet was just mango purée with a little bit of glucose and plenty of saffron.)

rose whipped cream
sholeh zard
pistachio pain de gênes
mango saffron sorbet

All the King’s Horses

And all the king’s men.

I’m back y’all.  And I’m still half-alive.
I’m feeling pretty beat, though.  
I’m still finishing up some loose ends with college (I know.) and all my classes (including WISE!  Wow!) are beginning to wrap up.

There are some things I need to address in my WISE project, however, before I can consider it a done deal.
Actually, a lot of things… But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?!

So, it is here I will begin demonstrating/divulging some research and important information that you might not know.  
If you are a hotshot smarty pants, you can skip these boring terms to know.  
Kidding.  You have to read them all anyways.
Because I love being boring.  Can’t you tell?

P.S. these are not actually soft boiled eggs, although that is my favorite way to eat an egg.
P.P.S. for perfectly soft boiled eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil, then drop in an egg and cook for exactly 5 minutes and 10 seconds before removing it to a bowl of ice water.  Thank you, Dave Chang.  
agar: derivative of seaweed; gelling or stabilizing agent
bloom: preparing gelatin for stabilization; ensures smooth product by causing gelatin “grains” to swell as they absorb liquid
calcium chloride (CaCl):used in spherification; the calcium in CaCl reacts with sodium alginate; has a salty taste
calcium lactate gluconate: also used in spherification, most often in reverse spherification; has no salty taste
carbonated sugar: sugar that has been filled with CO2; melts in contact with water based moisture but not fat-based; essentially pure, unflavored, super potent pop rocks
emulsification: fat droplets dispersed throughout a liquid
foam: bubbles formed at the surface of a liquid; often stabilized to prevent bubbles from popping prematurely
gelification: the process of converting a liquid into a solid with certain properties of elasticity and firmness, depending on the agent used
glycerin flakes: emulsification agent; can also be used to stabilize foams
hydroxypropyl methylcellulose: gelling agent which solidifies when hot and melts when cool
powder: a liquid or solid converted into finely ground solid particles
quenelle: smooth, three dimensional teardrop shape; used most often with ice cream
reverse (frozen) spherification: rather than dropping a solution with sodium alginate into a calcium bath, a calcium laced solution is dropped into an alginate bath, either after being frozen into a hemisphere or still liquid
schmear: “fancy” way to plate sauces- place a dollop on the place, then use the back of a spoon to spread it in an even line, tapering to the end
sodium alginate: derived from seaweed, reacts with calcium to form a “membrane”; used in spherification
soy lecithin: stabilizing agent for foams; can also be used for emulsification
spherification: takes advantage of the reaction between sodium alginate and calcium, which form a membranous skin when they come in contact; allows for self-contained spheres of liquid or purée
tapioca maltodextrin: chemical which turns any high-fat or pure-fat liquid into a powder; a common chemical in many processed foods
temper: a means of setting chocolate so that the cocoa butter’s crystalline structure is arranged in an even pattern; results in shiny, crisp chocolate; involves taking chocolate to certain, precise temperatures; untempered chocolate is evident by white blooms on the surface
Thanks to JoePastry, Molecular Recipes, Albert y Ferran Adria, and Christina Tosi for some reference points for these definitions.
All the King’s Men
caramelized white chocolate ganache
lemon posset
passion fruit and mango sphere
brown sugar soldiers
All the King’s Men

(You will need 4 eggshells, cleaned and opened without cracking, or 4 small shot-glass size tumblers.  Recipes are easily doubled.  If you would like to double or triple the yield, increase only the amounts of ganache, posset, and cookies.  The sphere recipe makes a lot of spheres, enough to double the yield.)
for the caramelized white chocolate ganache:
1 ounce white chocolate
2 ounces heavy cream
big whopping pinch salt
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.  
Place the chocolate in a shallow pan and place in the oven.  
Stir it around every 10 minutes until it becomes toffee colored.
Remove from oven and let cool.
To make the ganache, heat the chocolate and the salt until the chocolate melts.
Stir in the cream, then mix with an immersion blender.
Pour into the bottoms of the eggshells, then refrigerate to set.
for the lemon posset:
from food52
1/2 cup cream
1.2 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Bring the cream and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.  
Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Stir gently, then pour into eggshells, over the ganache.  
Refrigerate to set.
for the mango-passion fruit spheres:
adapted from this wonderful site
100 grams mango, thawed if frozen
50 grams passion fruit purée, thawed if frozen
1 tablespoon glucose (optional)
3 g calcium lactate gluconate
50 ounces filtered water
33 grams sugar
6 grams sodium alginate
Heat the water, sugar, and sodium alginate until sugar dissolves.
Mix very well with an immersion blender, for about 2 minutes, until everything is dissolved.
Place in a flat bottomed container and let sit to allow bubbles to escape.
Meanwhile, blend the mango, passion fruit purée, glucose, and calcium lactate gluconate together in a food processor.
Transfer to a measuring cup with a spout.
Fill a hemispherical mold placed on a sheet pan with the mixture, then freeze until solid.
Turn the spheres out and place them back in the freezer.
Repeat with remaining mango mixture.
Once all of your purée is frozen into spheres, drop them, as many as can fit without touching at a time, into the bath.  
Let them cook for 4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to clean, cool water.
Repeat until all spheres are cooked.
Spheres can be stored at room temperature or cooler for up to 2 days.
To place in the eggshell, scoop out a tiny bit of posset with a 1/4 teaspoon measure, then gently place a sphere in the depression and press down very gently to nestle it into the posset.
for the brown sugar “soldiers”:
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup very lightly packed brown sugar
big pinch kosher salt
1 egg yolk
splash vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
cinnamon, optional, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter and sugar together for 3 minutes, until super fluffy and light, slightly shiny, and not grainy at all.
Scrape the bowl, add the salt and the egg yolk, and beat for 1 more minute.
Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
Add all the flour and mix on low speed until a dough forms.
Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness and cut it into strips.
Roughly pull the ends of the strips off to create ragged edges.
Texture the cookies with a pastry brush by dappling the surface.
Freeze for 10 minutes.
Bake for 14-15 minutes, until golden and firm.
Remove from oven and, if desired, dapple the edges with cinnamon to create more of a toast looking cookie.


Le soleil se reveille.
Les villes sont illuminées; le petit matin scintille avec des rayons de soleil.
On apprécie toujours les couleurs vives.  
Le jaune clair se transforme et devient le jaune doré.  
Le soleil s’étire et ainsi, le jour est réalisé.
The sun rises.
Cities are illuminated; the dawn sparkles with sunbeams.
The bold colors are always appreciated.
Pale yellow morphs and becomes gold.
The sun stretches and thus, the day is realized.

I’m dreaming of bright sun and warmth.  The winter is dragging its feet out the door, and I’m ready for the transition from gray to green.
I mean, really.
This tropical produce-inspired dessert didn’t help much.
I don’t know whether my desire for a beach inspired the dessert, or whether the dessert inspired the desire.
Dessert-inspired desire or desire-inspired dessert?
These mango spheres, which look like farm-fresh yolks, were just short of mind-blowing. 
You can actually handle them like egg yolks; they’re not overly delicate, but when they hit your tongue, they release a lovely mango purée, fragrant and sweet.
I was so enamored with them that I also whipped up a small batch of sticky coconut rice (black forbidden rice cooked in coconut milk with a pinch of glutinous rice flour, then topped with a reduced coconut milk and jaggery sauce) to serve underneath them as a pre-dessert; it was a textural play on sticky rice with mangoes, a popular dish where I live.
I wish the fennel purée had been a bit smoother, but the fibrous nature of fennel was working to my detriment.  I was content with the flavor (mild, gingery, and a creamy foil to the acidic lime and pineapple), but I wish it had been just a bit silkier.  
I know that root vegetables tend to make smoother purées, so in the future, I may stick to roots rather than bulbs like fennel.
I plated this dish to look like its namesake: a sunrise.  I played around with the look of a sunny-side up egg, also an indicator of morning.  
With a tropical flavor profile and nouveaux textures, this dessert wakes you right up.
Ginger-fennel purée
Brûléed pineapple
Lime pâte de fruit
Coconut flan
Mango spheres


For the coconut flan:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
Big pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degreees F.
Place 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan and heat until it caramelizes and turns a deep amber, about 7 minutes.
Immediately pour into a 9-inch cake pan, swirling to coat the bottom.  If it hardens before you coat the entire bottom, simply heat the cake pan up over low heat on a burner until the caramel becomes liquid again.
Put a kettle on to boil.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, and second sugar measurement together briskly until lighter yellow colored and foamy.
In another saucepan, heat the salt and coconut milk until simmering.
Whisking constantly, slowly stream the hot milk into the eggs until all is incorporated. Pour into caramel coated pan.
Place the pan in a deep roasting pan and pour the boiling water in until the water is 3/4 of the way up the sides.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the flan is set around the edges but still slightly wiggly in the center.
Leave in water bath for 5 minutes, then remove from the bath and move to refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
To turn it out, place a plate with a slight rim on top of the cake tin, and quickly flip over.
To cut circles, use a circular cookie cutter.
For the mango spheres:
100 grams frozen or fresh mango
2 g calcium lactate gluconate
For the bath:
1400 g low-calcium water
65 g sugar
6 g sodium alginate
Purée the mango until very smooth; push through a sieve to remove any particulate matter; mix in the calcium lactate with an immersion blender.
Pour into a hemispherical mold and freeze completely.
For the bath:
Heat up the sugar and water until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Add in the alginate and mix very well with an immersion blender.
Allow to sit for at least 6 hours to allow any air bubbles to escape.
Remove the purée from the mold and place frozen spheres directly into alginate bath.  Leave for 4 minutes; do not allow the spheres to touch each other.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place in clean water.  (Do not serve immediately because the cores will still be frozen; wait at least 1 hour.)
To store, either store in clean water or water mixed with mango juice in the fridge.  Can be stored for up to one week.
For the lime pâte de fruit:
Adapted from the October 2010 issue of O magazine
1/4 cup lime juice
Zest of one lime
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon powdered pectin
1 1/4 cup sugar
Lightly oil a 6″ pan.
Combine sugar, juice, zest, applesauce, and pectin in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until mixture reached 225 degrees F.  Stir in some green food coloring, if desired.
Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle extra sugar on top.  Allow to cool completely, then cut out small cubes, toss in sugar, and allow to completely firm up overnight.
For the ginger-fennel purée:
Okay.  I’m going to be honest.  I roasted a fennel bulb, threw in some grated ginger, added some heavy cream, some white chocolate, salt, etc, until I was satisfied.  There wasn’t a… um… recipe per se.  I just winged it; I’m sure you can do the same.  Sorry!

For the brûléed pineapple:
Clean a pineapple, remove the core, and cut into desired shapes.  (I did a rectangular prism).  Sprinkle with sugar, brûlée, then flip onto the next side.  Repeat for at least three of the longer sides so that all visible sides

To assemble:
Schmear the purée on the base of the plate.  
Place 2 pieces of brûléed pineapple flush to the bottom of the plate.  
Arrange 3 lime pâtes de fruit organically around the plate.
Slide a flan above the pineapple; do not let it touch the purée.  
Finally, using a slotted spoon, transfer two mango spheres to the plate.