Wednesday, September 28, 2011

UPrinting Postcards Giveaway!

I just love getting postcards from and sending them to loved ones, don't you? It's such an easy and sweet way to stay connected to your friends and family. And now they've become even more versatile due to online printing companies that let you customize your own designs for postcard printing like UPrinting. If you have a wedding or other big event coming up, you can even make custom invitations this way! What else can you use them for? Birthday cards, holiday photo cards, and whatever else you can think of! If you're now eager to make some personalized postcards, I have some great news. I'm partnering up with UPrinting to give away 100 postcards to one lucky 6 Bittersweets reader! This giveaway is open to US residents 18 years old and above only and will close at midnight on October 2. Please see the full details below and good luck! THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED -- THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED!

Prize Details:
  • 100 Postcards for One (1) Winner
  • 5" x 7"
  • 14 pt Cardstock Gloss
  • No Folding
  • Front Only Printing
  • 2 Business Days Print Turnaround Time
  • Free Shipping
To Enter:
  • Leave a comment telling me what you'd use your postcards for.
  • 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.
FTC Disclaimer: this giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting, no monetary compensation was given and I will receive a poster for hosting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Favorites!

Halloween Cupcakes Collage
Are you guys as excited about Halloween as I am?! Some of my friends think it's too early to be planning...HA! I've been brainstorming for this Halloween ever since the last one ^_^. For those of you who love Halloween as much as I do, I just want to remind you of the fun Halloween cupcake recipes I've posted in the past (pictured above). And if none of these suit your fancy, fret not! I've got at least 4 new ideas coming your way next month so stay tuned! For those in the DC/VA/MD area, I'll be offering all 7 options on my menu. Please email me if you're interested in ordering =D. Now it's time for my latest food finds -- enjoy!

1 Appledrane-Artichokes and Beet Chips
Roasted Potatoes Photograph from Margaret & Joy
2 Margaretandjoy-Roasted Potatoes Garlic
Ginger Ice Cream from Have Cake Will Travel
3 HaveCakeWillTravel-Ginger Ice Cream Heart Cookie
4 Vintagetrinkets-Salted Buttered Popcorn Macarons
5 MyLemonyKitchen-Malaysian Lemang Sticky Rice Tube Wrapped Banana Leaves Idea
Spicy Chipotle Tofu Sandwich from Healthy. Happy. Life.
7 Healthy.Happy.Life.-Chipotle Tofu Sandwich
8 Gilttaste-Vanilla Whoopie Pies Cookie Sandw Shell-shaped Idea
Zha Jiang Mian from He Needs Food
9 Heneedsfood-Zha Jiang Mein Minced Meat Chinese Noodles
10 Donal Skehan-Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
Mexican Grilled Corn from Gourmand Recipes
11 GourmandRecipes-Grilled Mexican Corn Cheese On Stick Idea

Monday, September 26, 2011

Plate to Pixel Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my Plate to Pixel giveaway! The randomly selected winner of the book is Rittie Kitty (comment #79) -- congrats! I just know you'll love this incredible resource =D. Since you didn't leave a way to contact you, please email me your mailing address within 3 days or I will need to select a new winner. For everyone else, stay tuned for another sponsored giveaway beginning in just 2 days!

Musical Monday: Frank Turner "I Am Disappeared"

Thanks to my friend Steve-o, I am awash in new albums to explore this week. My favorite so far has been English folk/punk singer-songwriter, Frank Turner. "I Am Disappeared" (video above) is just one captivating tune from his latest album, England Keep My Bones. Hope you like it =D.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Under the Sea! (Little Mermaid Birthday Treats)

Under the Sea!
Hey there! I'm taking a little break from studying to share these "Under the Sea" cupcakes I made for a birthday order. They're s'mores-flavored with a graham cracker crust, chunks of Hershey's milk chocolate, chocolate cake, toasted marshmallow frosting, graham cracker "sand", and sea creature marshmallow fondant toppers I made! I also made the cupcake wrapper using the shape I bought online, an image from the movie, card stock paper, and double-sided tape. The birthday girl, Alaina, is turning 6 and loves The Little Mermaid, so of course these and all other desserts were ocean and mermaid themed =). I had a lot of fun with this order -- so fun to get a chance to be creative!

A Little Mermaid Birthday!DSC_0011-e copy EDIT
Photos of Entire Dessert Tower Taken by My Mom =)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Collection for the Cure! (Cupcakes and Photos for Breast Cancer Awareness)

Photo Shoot for Breast Cancer Awareness 1
Whether directly or indirectly, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone whose life hasn't been touched by breast cancer or another type of cancer these days. Raising awareness is so important since those who discover it early on have a greater chance of successful treatment. And believe it or not, it's not only women who get breast cancer. It's far more rare, but men can get it too! This is clearly an important cause, and one I care about. So when my friend Christine of Pure Joy Events asked me to contribute cupcakes and photograph Chickabug's absolutely gorgeous collection of FREE printables for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I couldn't say yes fast enough.

As you can see for yourself, Christine did an incredible job coordinating and styling the shoot, including borrowing props and furniture and transporting it ALL to my neighborhood. She came over last Sunday, and we took full advantage of the pretty park behind my apartment and the perfect early autumn weather. There weren't many people around, but I wonder what the occasional joggers thought of the crazy ladies awash in pink ^-^. I've included some of my favorite outtakes below, and please check out the rest of the photos and the *FREE* printables collection over on Amy Atlas Events!

Photo Shoot for Breast Cancer Awareness 2
Full Dessert Table and White Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Photo Shoot for Breast Cancer Awareness 3
Bottles of Punch with Printable Straw Flags
Photo Shoot for Breast Cancer Awareness 4
Printable Donation Card and Cupcakes with Fondant Toppers by Lynlee's Petite Cakes
Photo Shoot for Breast Cancer Awareness 5
Another Shot of Cupcakes and Printables
Photo Shoot for Breast Cancer Awareness 6
Incredible Decorated Cookies by JP Creatibles

Monday, September 19, 2011

Appetizer Plate Set and I Love Macarons Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my appetizer plate set and i <3 macarons cookbook giveaways! The randomly selected winner of the Stylish Appetizer Plate Set from is Ally (comment #30)! And the randomly selected winner of the macaron cookbook is Amanda (comment #71)! Congrats to you both and I hope you enjoy your prizes =D. Please reply to the email I'll send you shortly with your mailing address. For the rest of you, there's still time to enter to win my copy of the fabulous food photography and styling book, Plate to Pixel. Now what are you waiting for? ^_^

Monday Favorites!

Hello there! I'm just dropping in to let you know that it may be a bit quieter around here in the next 2 weeks. Mostly it's because my first round of fall exams is next week, and you can bet I'll be busy trying to shove all that hard science into my cranium! Then any time I'm not studying will be spent making treats for a baby shower and adorable Little Mermaid-themed birthday party. But you know matter how busy I get or what country I'm in, I'll always have a fresh batch of weekly food favorites to share with you!

Just one last thing before we jump into the visual feast. My good friend, blogger, and professional food photographer Joy is working with some friends on an online cooking show geared toward singles and couples called "1-2-Simple Cooking." Their goal is to provide "inspiration for joyous, healthy, and simple cooking on a smaller serving scale." I, for one, think the idea is fabulous, especially in light of my personal experience with having to eat the same meal for days on end after cooking a recipe meant to serve 8 people ^__^. They're trying to raise some money to get the episodes in gear. Please head over to their Kickstarter page to donate and/or learn more about this exciting project!

1 Notwithoutsalt-Watermelon, Caprese Cherry Tomato Mozz Basil Salad Idea
Pizza Bianca from Sweet Paul Magazine
8 SweetPaulMag-Pizza Bianca Flatbread Herbs Bicycle Outside
Chai Tea S'mores from Design*Sponge
6 DesignSponge-Chai Graham Cracker Cookies S'mores
Twig Mini Caramel Apples from Day to Day Wonderments
3 Allysonbakerdeisng-Twig Branch Mini Caramel Candy Apples Idea Fall
4 Cookrepublic-Choco Bundt Cake Wire Rack Dark
S'mores Cupcake Photograph from Honey and Jam
10 Honeyandjam-S'mores Choco PB Marshmallow Graham Cracker Cupcake Dark
5 Styledmag-Notmartha Lattice Cookie Pie Tops for Apple Cider Drink Fall Idea
2 WhitePlate-Caramel Coconut Cheesecake Wire Stand
Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips from Cupcake Project
7 CupcakeProject-Apple Baked Chips Cinnamon Fall Idea

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Cherry Balsamic Glaze

Some time ago, Payson Fruit Growers sent free samples of their juicy tart dried cherries and tart cherry juice concentrate for me to review. The dried cherries were perfect in the cherry pistachio orange cocoa couscous I made as part of my A Lotta Chocolate series, but it's taken me a long time to get to cooking with the concentrate. The reason behind the delay is probably not what you'd expect, however.

Roasted Asparagus with Cherry Balsamic Glaze
I waited so long to use the concentrate because it had become a key ingredient in a favorite summer drink. Just a few cubes of ice, 1 to 2 tablespoons of tart cherry juice concentrate, and soda water to top things off quickly emerged as the ideal fast n' easy refreshment of Summer 2011.

Now that both summer and that bottle are nearly exhausted, I'm finally experimenting with the little concentrate I have left. Today I used it to give my typically plain (salt and pepper) roasted asparagus a little cherry balsamic makeover. The concentrate and vinegar combine to give the spears a sweet and tangy kick that's downright addictive. I hope you'll give it a try -- I'm sure you'll love it too!

Roasted Asparagus with Cherry Balsamic Glaze and Toasted Almonds [Printable Recipe]
Serves 3 to 5 as a side

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I like to prepare asparagus by snapping off the tough ends of about 2 to 3 stalks to see where they break naturally. Then I use a knife to slice the remaining ends off at about that length. I like to line my baking sheet with a non-stick silicone mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil sometimes to make the clean-up easier. Sometimes I make smaller batches of roasted veggies in my toaster oven, but keep the temperature closer to 375 degrees F since my toaster oven tends to burn things.

1 lb. asparagus
2 tsp olive oil [preferably extra virgin]
Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tart cherry juice concentrate OR pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Wash asparagus, and snap/trim off the tough ends. Let water drain off for 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer asparagus to a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Bake for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the balsamic vinegar and cherry juice concentrate together in a small bowl. Remove asparagus from oven, drizzle balsamic cherry mixture over the asparagus, mix to coat, then bake for 3 to 5 more minutes.

Transfer asparagus to serving plate and sprinkle toasted almonds on top. Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Favorites and Yet Another Giveaway!

First I want to provide a friendly reminder to you all that there's still time to enter my 2 ongoing giveaways for a super-stylish 6-piece porcelain appetizer plate set (ends Sept. 16) and a copy of i <3 macarons by Hisato Ogita (ends Sept. 18). Don't look away now, though, because I'm throwing one more into the mix!

Plate to Pixel
I've tried my best to cover all the essential aspects of food photography and styling for bloggers in my original post on the topic, but we're still only scratching the surface. And if you're like me, you often get tired of staring at your screen and would much rather curl up with a good book. So if a great book about food photography/styling is what you seek, I'd like to offer you my copy of Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling by Helene Dujardin. Please note that this is not a new book, but one that I've used eagerly and hope to pass to someone who'll do the same. This giveaway is open to anyone with a US or Canadian shipping address. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post including a way to contact you should you win. This giveaway closes at midnight on September 25 -- Good luck! THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED!
  • Leave a comment telling me what you look forward to learning from this book.
  • 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.
1 Andrew Purcell-Zucchini Fritters Pancakes Feta Dill Salad Woodware
2 Tuki-Mini Pavlovas Passionfruit Raspberry
3 Ingwervanille-Cowberries Cranberries Ingred Fall
Apples Photograph from Aisha Yusaf
5 Aisha Yusaf-Apples Ingred
6 Cintamani-Pumpkin Seeds Pureed Soup
7 Sam Stowell-Broad Bean Dill Bruschetta
Cantonese Egg Tarts from 黛西下厨房
8 Daisythekitchen-HK Egg Tart
Unfrosted Blackberry Cupcakes from Call Me Cupcake
9 Callmecupcake-Unfrosted Blackberry Cupcakes

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Collaborative Post: Pink Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling

UPDATE: To further encourage those of you who want to try baking macarons but are still hesitating, I've decided to give away my good-as-new copy of i <3 macarons by Hisato Ogita to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to anyone with a US or Canadian shipping address. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post including a way to contact you should you win. For additional entries, follow 6 Bittersweets or Heaven in a Wild Flower via email, reader, and/or Twitter (@6bittersweets or @heavenwildfleur). You must leave a separate comment for each entry for them to count. This giveaway closes at midnight on September 18 -- good luck! THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED!

i heart macarons
I mentioned in my Singapore post that I was lucky enough to catch up with 2 groups of lovely bloggers during my trip. I say "lucky" not only because we managed to match up schedules on such short notice, but also because 4 of them had just returned from being overseas and also planned to stay in Singapore only briefly. Eunice of Heaven in a Wild Flower, having moved to London some years ago, was one of these globetrotters ^_^.

I'd discovered Eunice's blog through her gorgeous macaron posts, so it wasn't long after we met that we began gabbing about which patisserie made them best and the secrets to making good macs at home. At this point, hearing that I was already missing baking in Singapore, Eunice was sweet enough to invite me into her chocolatier friend's professional kitchen where she'd be making macarons for a wedding! She led the baking, while I put myself in charge of visually documenting the process. We really hope you enjoy the following step-by-step photo tutorial of macaron-making that is the fruit of our collaboration. Now please turn your full attention to our resident macaron master =).

Wedding Photography by Eunice; Tutorial Photography by me.

I had the lovely fortune of meeting up with Xiaolu from 6 Bittersweets when she went to Singapore recently for a holiday. I too, was back in Singapore for a holiday as I'm usually based in London. The precise reason was for a good friend's wedding and I had promised her I'd make her a dessert table, as well as arrange some of her wedding flowers. Little did I know what a big undertaking that would be!

So when a few of us met up over dinner and I mentioned this, Xiaolu gamely said she'd love to come and help out as I attempt to make 75 macarons, 12 meringues and 2 trays of rice krispies treats! Luckily for me, I also had the use of a proper commercial kitchen, courtesy of my friend E who owns the lovely chocolate shop Truffs, in return for showing his staff how macarons are made. This was the first time I had conducted a class of some sort, or made macarons in such a big batch, so I was fairly worried about everything working properly. I'm happy to report that all went well, and I was very lucky to have Xiaolu helping out as well as taking pictures.

Diptych 1+2
For the wedding, the bride wanted a whimsical fun garden theme. The colour palette she had picked was raspberry pink and lime green. I made green bouquets for the bridesmaids, and a pink one for her bridal bouquet, as well as the table flowers. We also placed apples all around as decor. I set up a dessert table using some vintage china I've been collecting, and decorated it with some of the leftover flowers. The macarons and other treats were laid out together with some luscious cupcakes baked by another friend. I must say that they looked really enticing and lovely. By the end of the lunch, all the desserts were gone!

I hope the visual recipe tutorial below helps you to recreate these little beauties!

Pink Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling [Printable Recipe]
Makes about 50 to 54 shells (about 25 macarons)

EUNICE'S NOTES: This basic recipe can be scaled up or down, I always use the egg whites as the base for proportioning the rest of the ingredients. So for every 1 part egg whites, use 1.3 parts almond flour, 1.6 parts icing sugar and 0.55 parts castor sugar.

XIAOLU'S NOTE: For additional tips on making French macarons at home as well as several very helpful videos of the mixing process, please check out my first macaron post!

100 g egg whites, aged for a day (equivalent to about 3 egg whites)
3 g egg white powder
130g almond flour (blitz in food processor together with icing sugar to get a finer texture)
160 g powdered sugar
55 g castor sugar
Pink gel food coloring (or other color)

Sift processed powdered sugar and almond flour together in a bowl. Set aside.

Diptych 3
Mix egg whites with egg white powder and whisk in electric mixer until soft peaks on medium high speed.

Lower speed on electric mixer and add in castor sugar slowly while still whisking until fully incorporated. Continue whisking on medium high speed until your egg white meringue mixture reaches stiff peak stage. Add in your food colouring when whisking.

Fold in 1/3 of dry ingredients (icing sugar + almond flour) into meringue with a spatula gently. Add in 1/3 more and fold again before mixing in the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

Diptych 4
Make sure all dry ingredients are incorporated into the meringue and start folding mixture more vigorously to form a shiny batter with the consistency of flowing magma or drips down like ribbons.

Diptych 5
When you lift the batter up and let it drip down, it should slowly disappear into itself without leaving a peak. Be careful not to over mix as batter will spread too much when piped.

Diptych 6
Line 2 baking trays with non-stick parchment paper (or silpat). You can stick it down with bits of batter in the four corners.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1-cm (about 2/5-inch) round tip with the batter, and pipe even rounds of batter, about 3.5 cm (about 1 1/3 inches) across, onto the tray. If you've mixed the batter properly, it should not spread flatly out too much (overmixed) or leave a peak (undermixed).

Diptych 7
Let the batter dry for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C/335 degrees F (for convection ovens) OR 180 degrees C/350 degrees F (for regular ovens).

When batter is dry to touch (it forms a slight crust), turn the oven down to 140 deg C (or 150 deg C for conventional oven) and bake shells for 14-15 minutes, turning the trays halfway through baking.

Diptych 8
After baking, lift parchment onto wire rack to let shells cool and gently lift up from paper when cool.

Chocolate Ganache Filling
125 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
125 ml single [light] cream

Heat cream in saucepan until it comes to a boil.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir in a circular motion from the centre of the bowl and slowly incorporate more and more of the cream until the chocolate and cream comes together into a smooth emulsion.

Let it cool at room temperature until it thickens, about 4 hours, or in a fridge for 2 hours.


Match pairs of shells of even size.

Fit piping bag with plain round 1 to 1.5 cm tip [about 1/2 to 2/3 inch]. Fill piping bag with chocolate ganache. Pipe a small mound of chocolate ganache filling onto one half of each pair of shells. Top with the other shell.