the lemon triangles

We’ve had some lemons grow on our little tree in the front yard before, but not as much as we’ve had this year! So naturally, when I came back from being away for so long, I just had to pick some and make something with them. What better excuse to make lemon bars, right? So I went outside, picked a few lemons and found this recipe online.

lemon bars

They turned out pretty good. However, if there was one critique I would say about the recipe is that it wasn’t “lemon-y” or sour enough for me. Just a tad more kick and it would’ve been even more delicious. Maybe next time, I’ll double the amount of lemon zest! Haha. Either way, it’s great snack that’s quick and easy to bake.

the black sesame macarons

One of my favorite desserts when I go to yum cha (or dim sum for you Yanks!) is the Black Sesame Lei Sha Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls). It’s like a chewy mochi ball filled with black sesame and then covered in ground peanuts (side note: the recipe linked above uses soybean powder instead of peanuts). It is DELISH. Every time I have yum cha, if I don’t see it on the carts, I always ask for it.

I loved it so much that I figured there must be a way to get that delicious flavor into a macaron! I definitely had to try it. I made the shells just like normal, but substituting a little bit of the sugar for black sesame powder, which you can make from scratch or find at your local Asian store. If you do buy a packet, make sure you find one that contains only black sesame and not any additional sugars or preservatives. For the filling, I mixed some of the same black sesame powder with melted dark chocolate.

Voila! Dark chocolate and black sesame macarons!

black sesame macarons

the macarons made with love

I had been trying to make macarons all year and at the end of it, I was headed to the Philippines for a vacation and of course, to see my family. Well, let’s just say that I received numerous requests to bring some home for them to try. I had a few different families to bring boxes to and each box that I found at Daiso held 16 pieces. That’s 64 macarons…IF I didn’t mess any of them up!

I decided to make my most requested flavors: pistachio, pink velvet and calamansi. Either luck was on my side or the extra love that went into making these three batches for my family resulted in almost perfect shells each time. Which was great, because I didn’t need to re-do any of the batches! Thank you, Lord!

macarons love

the minion cakes

When I was in Michigan, I took my 12 year old cousin, Icee, to watch Pacific Rim. During the commercials before the movie, he was looking at random stuff on his phone. He showed me a picture of a minion cake and said, “Ate Jap, can you make this?” For my little cousins? Of course!

Luckily, I was off the next day and we took a trip to the grocery to buy some ingredients. I made a simple chocolate chip cake using a 13 x 8 ” pan and then cut it in half to make two smaller minions. Made some icing, grabbed some food coloring, chocolate chip cookies and melted chocolate and voila! I present Icee’s minion cakes.

Minion cakes

Since there was only four of us in the house, we ended up giving the other cake to Icee’s “girlfriend” (haha, he hates that we call her his girlfriend!) and I’m happy to say that she enjoyed it too. Success!

the butterfly garden cake

It was that time again: my inaanak (Goddaughter)’s birthday. She turned 12 this year and before her birthday, I asked her what kind of cake she wanted. Her response? The same as last year! “What?” I answered, “We can’t have that! Something else?” To which she replied…

“Candy!”

“No, butterflies!”

“And candy!”

Haha. So I compromised and surprised her with a fantasy butterfly garden cake, completely made of candy. Well, the butterflies were made from using fondant and a butterfly cutout, plus some sprinkles. But everything else on the cake (except for the ribbon and the “Dani’s Garden” sign were just a few of her favorite candies. Hmph, then again, ALL candy is her favorite, so I guess anything would’ve worked but I chose these for a little fantasy garden.

Dani's butterfly garden cake

Success! Yessssss!

On a side note, for those of you who like to bake for the little ones, using candy to decorate cakes is a great idea. First of all, it’s easy. Just think of a good theme and find the right candies and you can make any scene come to life. Secondly, after Dani blew out her candles, we just let all the kids attack the cake, picking out whatever candy they wanted and giving out slices after. The kids love it. I mean, let’s face it, how many kids have tried to poke their finger into icing and lick it, while all the adults yell out, “Ooooh…nooooo!” This way, not only do they love the cake, they feel like they’re part of the experience with the birthday celebrant! You should’ve heard all the kids giggling in awe that they were actually allowed pick at the cake! Anyway, hope you guys try it sometime and if you do, please share your creations!

the pink & green macarons

Let’s combine the last two color themes into one great box of japsierons.

Green: pistachio – this is probably my most ordered flavor. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of pistachio but a wide range of people like it and I am quite happy to make it.

Pink: pink velvet – this is my velvet-y chocolate flavor. I initially made the color of it pink because I thought it was much cuter, but I recently found some brown color at one of my favorite stores, Sur La Table, so I am going to slowly transition chocolate into brown colored macarons. But first, I must think of a new flavor for the pink ones.

Any suggestions totally welcome!

pink and green macarons

the xbox 360 cake

This year, my cousin, Icee turned 12. Being the typical boy, he spends a lot of time playing games on his Xbox. And whenever you asked him what he wanted for presents, his answer would either be an Xbox game or Xbox Live points. So, naturally, the first idea I had when it came to thinking of his cake design was, of course, an Xbox.

xbox 360 console cake

I chose the 360 because I liked the cleanliness of the white design. Simple, and the small details are a stand out. Plus, let’s face it: we learned from the camera cake pops that white food is definitely more appetizing than black food, right? Anyway, here’s how his cake turned out. I definitely had the most fun making the controller.

xbox and controller cake

What do you think? Any ideas for future cakes?

the 50th birthday cake

I’ve been posting a lot of pink lately (probably more often that I even realize) so I thought I’d mix it up a little and this time, go green! This year was my Ninang (Godmother) Candy’s 50th birthday. Of course, my mom and I wanted to make the her cake for the party. She wanted everything to be green. Green!

Although my mom and I made most of the decorations at home, we flew to Detroit from SF on a Wednesday night (the red eye) and I spent all of Thursday and Friday baking up a storm. Here’s how her cake turned out. Green per her request and gold to represent her 50th birthday.

Ninang's green cake

Of course, with over 150 guests at the party, we could not stop there. I also baked an additional 75 (yep, 75!) cupcakes. I used the salted caramel cupcake recipe from here and went with a Andes chocolate mint cupcake for the second flavor, which I found here. Serious success.

Ninangs cupcakes

The party was excellent and I was happy to spend time with the family. In the end, my Ninang’s cake spread turned out like this.

Ninang's 50th birthday cake

 

the pink velvet macarons

I always see those macarons with the design on the shell but was really scared to try it because well, I mean, we all know how temperamental those shells can be…what more when you add something on them? Anyway, so I made the bestie some pink velvet macarons for his birthday and decided that it would be the perfect to try a little decoration. Needless to say, it was quite a success and I am now not afraid to experiment with adding just a little something to my macaron shells.

pink velvet japsieron shells

I got this cute little box to put them in (ok, maybe not so little ‘cuz it fit almost 3 dozen) and I must say, they turned out great. And delish!

pink velvet japsierons

I also think that they are great colors for Easter too! Is anyone making pastel colored macarons this Easter?

the pink and black pops

My mom’s coworker had a niece that was celebrating her 15th birthday and asked me to make 60 cake pops for the party. Sixty!! I’ve never made that many cake pops at once. I think the most was Dani’s bday pops, which I believe totalled only 26. Luckily, my lola (grandma) was in town visiting and she really wanted to help so at least I didn’t have to do it on my own.

I asked what the theme of the party was and my mom’s coworker said that she would send over some of the ribbons they were using and I could decide what to do from that. When I saw that she sent over pink, black and white dotty ribbons, I could not be happier. Naturally, I kept with the pink, black and white theme and I think that the cake pops turned out quite nicely.

Pink, black, white cake pops

I used both pink and white chocolate for the coating of the cake pops. To decorate, a used a combination of pink sugar, white nonpareils and the pink/black/yellow nonpareil mixture. This was the first layer in the box, but I assure you, we filled it up pretty easily.

Pink black white cake pops 2