Sunday, July 31, 2011

Coconut Mung Bean Kaffir Lime Popsicles for MLLA Anniversary!

Mung Beans
I've long been a fan of my friend Susan and her gorgeous blog, The Well-Seasoned Cook, especially her elegant photography and her blog event, My Legume Love Affair (MLLA), which has done a great deal to popularize nutritious and delicious beans/legumes. MLLA recently had its 3rd anniversary, and I was honored to accept Susan's invitation to help celebrate this momentous occasion as well as help kick-start what's sure to be a fabulous 4th year! Inspired by Chinese mung bean popsicles as well as our Southeast Asian neighbors, I'm sharing these flavorful Coconut Mung Bean and Kaffir Lime Popsicles over on Susan's site. I'd love if you'd stop on by to check out my full guest post. But if you're in a hurry and just wanna grab the printable recipe, you'll find it right here.

Coconut Mung Bean Kaffir Lime Popsicles

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Recipe Shout-Out 3 and Digital Kitchen Scale Giveaway!

It's not been long since my 2nd blogiversary and a major subscriber count milestone yet just before my long vacation...seems to me like the perfect time for a 3rd Recipe Shout-Out and giveaway! Thanks to ALL of you who never fail to leave your words of support on these pages to cheer me on. Thanks to all who retweet my links on Twitter. Thanks to the local friends who order treats from me. Most of all, thanks for simply being there and being you. THANK YOU =D.

Escali Primo Digital Multifunctional Scale
Today I'm giving away an Escali Primo Digital Multifunctional Scale. I've had mine for over 3 years and find it indispensable for everything from macarons to cake pops (I make my cake balls 32 g each) to cake layers (I weigh my pans to make sure they have equal amounts of batter). I'm offering you the same scale I use at home 'cause I love it's compact size, light weight, and durability. A scale is especially useful for consistently measuring ingredients that are easily compacted (like flour) and for cooking for foreign recipes without having to convert measurement units (this scale can be switched between grams and ounces). As I mentioned above, I've had mine over 3 years and have yet to run out of power or have any error even once.This giveaway is open to all readers in the US or Canada (or who have a US/Canada shipping address). To enter, do as many of the following as you want and leave a separate comment for each thing you do! Please also make sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win. The giveaway will close on August 20 at midnight, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter. Good luck! THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED!
  • Leave a comment telling me what you'd cook or bake with the help of a digital scale.
  • Like 6 Bittersweets on Facebook, then leave a comment telling me you did or already do.
  • Subscribe to this blog, then leave a comment telling me you did or already do.
  • Follow 6 Bittersweets on Twitter, then leave a comment telling me you did or already do and including your Twitter name.
  • Link to this giveaway on Facebook, then leave a comment telling me and including a link to the post.
  • Tweet about this giveaway, tagging me @6bittersweets and linking this giveaway, then leave a comment telling me and including a link to the post.
  • Blog about this giveaway, then leave a comment telling me and including a link to the post.
Lastly, if you (1) posted about a 6 Bittersweets-inspired recipe and I missed it; (2) made a recipe and took a photo, but don't have a blog; or (3) post about a recipe of mine in the future, please email me your name, photo, and blog post URL (if applicable) and I'd be delighted to include it in my next round-up. Now let's see what you guys have been inspired to make!


The Capitol Baker - Fudgy Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

1 butterscotch choco cookies
2 Semisweetie Irish Cupcakes
Our Italian Kitchen - Bailey’s Irish Cream
3 Our Italian Kitchen Homemade Baileys
Mind Over Batter – Irish Cream Ice Cream
4 Mint Over Batter Baileys Ice Cream
Francis E. Weber - Tart Lemon Lilikoi Bars
5 Francis E. Weber Lemon Passionfruit Bars
6 Tastesofhome Brioche French Toast
Whisk. Write. Repeat. - Spaghetti with Vodka Cream Sauce
7 Whisk Write Repeat Spaghetti Vodka Sauce
Une-Deux Senses - Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce
8 Unedeuxsenses Pasta Vodka Cream Sauce
9 Sally Timlin Cherry Cupcake Toppers
Inspired by Mojito Cupcakes
Cupcake z Prahy - Mojito Cupcakes
10 Cupcake z Prahy Mojito Cupcakes
Teacher by Day - Chef by Night - S’mores Cupcakes
11 Teacher by Day Chef by Night S'mores Cupcakes
It’s the Cookie Monster - S’mores Cupcakes
12 It's the Cookie Monster S'mores Cupcakes
I Heart Baking - Hello Kitty Macarons
13 I Heart Baking Hello Kitty Macarons
Sweetly Serendipity - Raspberry Lemonade Bars
14 Sweetly Serendipity Raspberry Lemonade Bars
Sinfully Spicy - Plum Ginger Bars
15 Sinfully Spicy Plum Ginger Bars
Laurenliptease - Strawberry Cream Cake
16 LaurenLiptease-Strawberry and Cream Cake
Inspired by Mango Crab Gazpacho
Photo-copy Ann - Mango Crab Gazpacho
17 Photocopy Ann Mango Crab Gazpacho
Persnickety Palate - Piña Colada Cupcakes
18 Persnicketypalate Pina Colada Cupcakes
Inspired by Tiramisu Cupcakes
Only Cupcakes - Tiramisu Cupcakes
19 Onlycupcakes Tiramisu Cupcakes
Plaukia laivas of Forums - Chocolate Nutella Alfajores
20 Chocolate Nutella Alfajores
Not the Kitchen Sink! - Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Wheat Thins
21 Not the Kitchen Sink Cinnamon Sugar Wheat Thins
22 Novice Housewife Rich Choco Cake with Owls

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sew Sweet! Spools of Thread Cake Pops (Guest Post for Pure Joy Events)

Cake Pops for a Sewing Themed Party
Last week I shared the happy news with you that I'd gotten to contribute treats to the beautiful and imaginative Vintage Sewing Party that Christine of Pure Joy Events threw for her daughter's 7th birthday...and then I promised you a lesson in making your very own edible spools! Well today I'm delighted to unveil my tutorial for these fanciful cake pops as a guest post over on the Pure Joy Events blog. We'd love for you to come join the fun and why not stick around a little longer to browse through the other inspiring party ideas and tutorials available there? If you're in a rush and just want to grab the printable tutorial, you'll find it here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Favorites!

I'm moving up my favorites post even more this week 'cause I've got less than a week before my long vacation to Emerald Isle, NC, and then Singapore! There's no doubt I'm excited about this, but I will definitely miss all of you. Thus I'm trying to pack in as many posts as possible in the next week from me as well as several exciting guest posts while I'm gone from some lovely friends. Just wanted to give you guys a heads up. Now let's unveil this week's favorites!

6 Marie Melchior Apple Mustard Herring
Honey Beehive Cupcakes with Marzipan Almond Bees from What You Give Away You Keep
2 Adventuressheart-Honey Beehive Marzipan Cupcakes Idea
Strawberry Granita from Meals in Heels
3 Jennifer Joyce-Strawberry Granita, Sorbet Outside Chair Ingred Colander
Walnuts from Sneh of Cook Republic
7 CookRepublic-Walnuts Nutcracker Ingredient
4 Farmhousetable-Stuffed Grilled Tomatoes Garlic Ciabatta
6 Hungrygirl-Crunchy Cocon Macadamia Topped Brownie Muffins
Penguin Bento from Cuteobento
8 Luckysundae Flickr Penguin Bento
7 Unedeuxsenses-Lemon Souffles Baked Pudding Cake Blueberry Sauce
Seaweed Soup from Yvette Van Boven (Food Stylist)
9 Yvette Van Boven (St)-Seaweed Green Pureed Soup
Roasted Potatoes with Fresh Herbs from Christelle Is Flabbergasting
10 Christelleisflabbergasting-Roasted Potatoes

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vintage Sewing Party by Pure Joy Events

UPDATE: This party was also chosen for an Amy Atlas feature here. Hooray!

My Spool Cake Pops and Raspberry Macarons
I'm honored to have 2 treats of mine (spool-shaped cake pops and raspberry French macarons) featured today over on Christine's Pure Joy Events as part of the amazing Vintage Sewing Party she created for her daughter's birthday. Please stop by her blog to get all the lovely details, and look out for a tutorial to come soon showing you how to create your own Spools of Thread Cake Pops!
My Spool Cake Pops and Raspberry Macarons 2
All Photography by Rebecca Watkins Photography; Styling by Pure Joy Events

A Lotta Chocolate Part 5: Bruléed Mocha Crepe Cake with Chocolate Liqueur Sauce

First of all, this is completely unrelated to food, but my friend R just took me to see the musical, Wicked, as a belated birthday gift, and it was AMAZING! I'd always found the idea of approaching the Wizard of Oz story from a different perspective intriguing. But I'm pretty sure I'd never have taken the initiative to see it where it not for my friend. Wicked was funny, exciting, and heart-warming throughout its 2 1/2 hours. And when it ended I could swear only 15 minutes had passed (I'd been so engrossed). If this show comes near you or vice versa, I strongly recommend getting tickets!

Now let's return to our regularly scheduled programming... Today's post is the 5th and last in my A Lotta Chocolate series. When we started down this road I promised you chocolate treats that would be less conventional, though no less delicious. A French toast, macaron, chestnut cake roll, and couscous salad later, it's my hope that you consider that promise fulfilled. For our last outing I decided to also make good on another promise. One that I made to myself when I started this site: to make my own crepe cake one day! (Is it just me or is this series getting a bit French food-centric? 8p)

Bruleed Chocolate Mocha Crepe Cake
Well folks, I made it! And not just any crepe cake, but a bruléed mocha crepe cake with homemade chocolate liqueur sauce! There's no getting around the fact that all these delicate crepes take time to cook and layer up. Yet you'd be hard-pressed to find any cake that slices as prettily or embraces chocolate as thoroughly as this one. Not only is dark mocha ganache spread between 15+ crepe layers, each slice of this cake is served with a generous pouring of chocolate liqueur sauce.

A rich and decadent chocolate treat worthy of closing out a chocolate series? Check! Thanks for joining me on this ride -- I sure hope you had as much fun as I did! If you missed any of the previous stops, you can still check them out right here: Chocolate Chunk Challah Bread French Toast, Snickers Macarons, Chocolate Cake Roll with Chestnut Cream, and Cherry Pistachio Orange Cocoa Couscous.

Bruléed Mocha Crepe Cake [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Homelife and The Essence of Chocolate
Serves 8

XIAOLU'S NOTES: The chocolate liqueur recipe obviously makes much more than you need for the crepe cake, but it's so easy to make and so delicious in cocktails or sipped with whipped cream that I'd just go ahead and make the whole batch :).

For crepes
5 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3 Tbsp white sugar [preferably fine/caster]
2 tsp vanilla bean paste OR pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp melted butter, plus more to grease

For filling and topping
8 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup light cream
1/3 cup espresso
6 to 8 Tbsp white sugar [preferably fine/caster], divided

For sauce
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
3 Tbsp light cream or half and half
3 Tbsp espresso
3 Tbsp chocolate liqueur (Recipe below)
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp honey (optional)

Blend all the crepe ingredients just until smooth. Set aside for 30 minutes to rest.

Heat an 8-inch non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Brush with melted butter. Pour in enough batter to coat the base of the pan (swirl the pan to coat it evenly with batter immediately). Cook for 1 minute or until lightly golden and just set. Use a spatula to turn and cook for a further 30 seconds or until golden. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter, reheating and greasing pan between batches.

To make filling, place chocolate, cream, coffee, and 4 tablespoons of sugar in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Use a spatula or heatproof spoon to stir for 5 minutes or until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Taste a tiny bit and add up to 2 more tablespoons of sugar if desired. If more sugar was added, heat the mixture until new sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat; cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until mixture cools and thickens.

Line a 6 to 7-inch springform pan with plastic wrap. Place a crêpe in the pan. Spread with a little filling. Continue layering with crêpes and filling, finishing with a crêpe. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until chilled and set (at least 3 hours and up to 1 day).

To make chocolate mocha sauce, combine chocolate, cream, coffee, liqueur, sugar, and honey in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir for 5 minutes or until sauce is smooth.

Turn the cake out onto a clean serving platter. Sprinkle the top of the cake evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons of white sugar. Then melt the sugar evenly with a kitchen torch to form a crisp caramel topping. Allow to sit at least 5 minutes before serving. Use a sharp knife to cut into wedges. Place on serving plates and drizzle with hot sauce.

Chocolate Liqueur
Makes 3 1/2 cups

5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 cup vodka
3/4 cup heavy cream, for optional topping
Cocoa nibs or chocolate shavings, for optional garnish

In a bowl, dissolve cocoa powder in boiling water. In a saucepan, bring sugar and 3/4 cup of water to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add sugar syrup to cocoa syrup. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a jar with a lid. Add the vodka, cover and refrigerate overnight. (It will keep up to 1 month, but will lose potency over time.).

If serving on its own, stir well and strain again through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass until 2/3 full. Top with lightly-sweetened whipped cream, or float heavy cream on top (by holding a spoon with the bowl down and the edge almost touching the liqueur in the glass then pouring cream slowly over the back of the spoon until a layer (1/8 to 1/4-inch deep) floats on top of the liqueur). Garnish with cocoa nibs or chocolate shavings.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Favorites!

As ever, it makes me so happy how much positive feedback I'm getting to this series =). While uploading these picks I noticed there seems to be an abundance of yellow/golden tones as well as greens. I suppose it's simply a reflection of summer being in full swing where I am. I do realize some of you are in the midst of winter rather than summer, but I hope you find something here to inspire you no matter what the temperature is outside!

1 Roost-Peach Blackberry Pie, Cobbler
2 Zapxpxau-Elderflower Cordial Syrup Drink Ingred Basket Outside
1 MoominFooPinterest-Chicken Broccoli Phyllo Pot Pies Idea
Mango Blueberry Coconut Popsicles from Apt. 2B Baking Co.
4 Apt2BBakingCo-Mango Blueberry Coconut Popsicles Layered
5 Karaspartyideas-Fondant Asian Buns and Steamer Cake
Carrot Leek Zucchini Soup from Tongue Ticklers
6 Tongueticklers-Vegan Carrot Leek Zucchini Soup
Potted Chocolate Mint Puddings from Martha Stewart
7 Martha Stewart-Potted Chocolate-Mint Puddings
8 Alwayswithbutter-Peach Cherry Stone fruit Tarts Mini Wood Board
Asparagus Salad Photograph from Dietlind Wolf (Stylist)
9 Dietlind Wolf-Asparagus Ingred
Watermelon Soup from Mowielicious
10 Mowielicious-Watermelon Soup Balls Ingred

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guest Post: Tips from Professional Prop Stylist Robin Zachary

My dear readers, I am absolutely giddy with excitement to present to you the long-promised guest post from professional prop stylist and art director, Robin Zachary! Just corresponding with her in preparation for this post has been a great experience for me, and you'll know exactly how I feel once you join me in pouring over the tips Robin has so generously shared with us. She may already be familiar to you as the source of the fantastic tip I posted recently for creating a seemingly endless background for your photograph. Please be sure to check out her blog and portfolio for many more inspirational photos, trends, and tips (I particularly adore her "inspiration boxes")! Without further ado, I gladly turn my blog over to Robin's capable hands!

Robin Zachary Shot 1
Hi Xiaolu and thank you for asking me to guest post on 6 Bittersweets! Your readers have some wonderful questions! Here’s a little bit about me first. I am working as a prop stylist in New York City with magazines, websites and retailers as clients. I do mostly still life photo shoots for food and tabletop, bridal and fashion. I have an extensive background art directing magazines and I love shopping, crafting and collecting so that’s how I arrived at styling as a career. Most recently I was the Creative Director of Bridal Guide Magazine and I’m still a contributor so I still have my hand in the bridal world. I also teach at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and write about my styling jobs and resources on my blog, Prop Closet.

In this post, I’ll focus on propping for food shoots since that is what most of you are interested in. You want your photo to be inviting to your viewers. You want them to be drawn into an alternate universe, get lost in the photo and forget about everything else! Props should create a world that is consistent stylistically with the recipe without overpowering the food.

Robin Zachary Shot 2
My approach to propping for a food shoot begins with identifying the style whether rustic, minimal, vintage or modern (to name a few) and picking a color palette that compliments the food, making a strong contemporary statement without being clichéd. I try to stay away from the obvious seasonal color palette and create a two to four color combination based on fashion and home décor trends. I pull fabric or paint swatches of colors that I like and hang on to them for a while before the right opportunity arises to use them.

I always think of layers in a food shot. First you need a surface, which can be wood, fabric or paper. A yard and a half is the minimum size any surface should be. Next you need an interesting dish. I stay away from too strong a color in the dishes and lean towards white, which is the most flattering for food. Next you need something soft in the shot and when it comes to napkins, the looser weave and more worn, the better. It can even be a square of pretty repurposed fabric instead of a finished napkin. This is where I incorporate color and pattern. The napkin should be loosely draped instead of folded. You can also use a wooden cutting board, a tray or a placemat underneath the dish to add another layer. Top the set up off with a fork, knife, spoon or a serving piece resting on the napkin or beside the dish. Lately I’ve been into mix and match vintage flatware with modern dishes. You can throw in a related object that makes sense with the recipe for interest, such as a vintage salt cellar or an old kitchen tool but don’t go overboard with too many items in the photo. Keep it tasteful and simple. Remember the food is the star!

Robin Zachary Shot 3
You ask how to find affordable props and surfaces. Well, you have to have your prop radar on all the time. My favorite commercial places to find dishes are Crate and Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond or West Elm. I always look in the clearance section for incredible deals. There’s a store in NYC called Pearl River Mart which has very inexpensive little dishes with an Asian style. When I go on vacation I browse through antique and thrift shops for the one-of-a-kind pieces. I might find something interesting and store it for several years before I use it. I also love working with organics so I might pick up shells from the beach or leaves and twigs from the ground and store them in plastic boxes with tight lids. Nature has a lot to offer for free! I encourage my FIT students to start by looking through their parents’ and friends’ houses for props and borrowing from them. Just be considerate and return what you take.

Your readers also asked about storage of props. My prized pieces are stored in my tall green painted wood cabinet with glass doors. This is where I keep all my small dishes, vintage flatware, small vases and organic items. I have small props, fabrics and napkins in clear plastic boxes stacked up under my desk mostly organized by color. I have a storage space filled with family vintage items and ephemera. There’s no easy answer to the space issue, but if you have a closet or area you can dedicate to styling that is the most ideal.

Developing your unique style takes time and effort. There’s no one way to do things but experimentation is the best way to learn and grow. I teach a 15-week Photostyling class at FIT in NYC but if you want to take one of my shorter styling intensives in NYC or online email me and I’ll put you on my mailing list to let you know when I have the next one scheduled. Keep checking in with my blog, Prop Closet or follow me on Twitter @robinzachary for my latest inspirations and projects and happy styling!

All photography featured in this post by Kan Kanbayashi and prop styling by Robin Zachary for Essence Magazine. Please see this post on Robin's blog for a more detailed behind-the-scenes look at that shoot!