Monday, October 21, 2013

Healthier Halloween Candy Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the Healthier Halloween Candy giveaway! The randomly selected winner is Meredith M (comment #51)! Congrats and please look out for my email and send me your mailing address ASAP! =D

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Healthier Halloween Candy Giveaway!

Am I the only one who has never been a huge fan of over-the-top sugary candy bars and hard candies for Halloween? As a little kid and even now, the excitement of Halloween was more about getting to pick my costume, to play make believe and truly believe in magic, and to stay out late with my friends for one night of the year! I get quite nostalgic when I come across old Halloween photos -- like one of my mom in a Frankenstein's monster mask trick-or-treating with me in 2nd grade -- or think of the time that my friends made a surprise stop by my house in costume when I was too sick to go trick-or-treating. I cherish the memories of running around with those friends and counting then trading our many "treasures" at the end of the night much more than any of the candy itself. 

Giveaway Pic A
That being said, there would be no "trick-or-treat" without the treats! But now that I'm older and wiser =p, my taste in candy leans more toward healthier options that incorporate fruits, nuts, dark chocolate, etc. Certainly these are still indulgences, but why can't indulgences be a bit nutritious as well? If you're nodding your head in agreement, you're gonna love my Healthier Halloween Candy Giveaway! I've worked with Temptation Candy to develop a more health-conscious candy basket full of organic and natural treats for ONE lucky reader! These would be perfect for handing out to kids on The Big Night, but I also promise not to tell if you decide to keep them all for your own enjoyment ^_^.

Healthier Halloween Candy Giveaway Prize

Organic/All Natural Candy Included:
  • 1x Panda Blueberry Licorice
  • 1x Organic Hard Candies (Cherry)
  • 1x Justin's Organic Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • 1x Justin's Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • 1x Divine White Chocolate w/ Strawberries Chocolate Bar
  • 1x Box of Asher's Sugar Free Milk & Dark Chocolate Assortment
  • 1x RJ's Raspberry Licorice Log
  • 1x Green & Black's Organic Milk Chocolate Bar w Crunchy Toffee Pieces
  • 1x Justin's All Natural Almond, Milk Chocolate, Caramel & Nougat Bar
  • 10x Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops
  • 20x Das Lolli All Natural Lollipops (Flavors include Ginger & Lemon, Orange & Pomegranate and Salty Caramel)
  • 1x Bloomberg & Co "Smooch" All Natural Milk Chocolate Bar
Additional Candy Included:
  • 2x Chocolove Milk Chocolate Bars
  • 2x Chocolove Raspberries and Dark Chocolate Bars
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 an e-mail address for me to contact you if you win. The giveaway is limited to mailing addresses in the continental US and will close on October 20 at midnight; the winner will then be announced shortly thereafter.
  • Leave a comment that you'd like to win this giveaway.
  • Like 6 Bittersweets on Facebook, then leave a comment telling me you did or already do.
  • Like Temptation Candy 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 so, including your Twitter name.
  • Tweet about this giveaway, tagging me @6bittersweets, then leave a comment telling me.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Favorites

Earlier this week, I completed my first planned food shoot in over a year (for this post) and it was quite terrifying to start shooting again without knowing whether the old skills/sensibilities would flow back naturally or if the learning would be from scratch. In the end, it was a bit of both, with the added challenge of adjusting to the lighting in a new apartment. I realize professional photographers must constantly adapt to diverse settings for their shoots (among the many reasons that I respect them so and that I'll never be a pro lol!). I, on the other hand, am accustomed to quite the opposite: transforming the same environment into 20 different ones so my photos don't all blend together. If any of you have tips for readjusting to food photography/blogging after a long break or after a big move, please share them with me in the comments below!

Another topic on my mind this week has been the interaction between individual innovation and external inspiration from the work of others (such as the photos I share in these favorites posts). One of the reasons I enjoy perusing beautiful food photos is that different photographers can approach the same subject from drastically different angles. In the best circumstances, seeing such varied takes on the same subject helps me break out of a creative box I may not even realize I'm in. That's the best and desired outcome. Yet there's also the possibility that focusing too much on the work of others will simply impose new blinders that anchor your creativity to the ideas of another artist. I know I'm not the only one to feel this way. For example, I once read an article from a cake artist who avoided looking at other cake art so that she could ensure that her designs would be part of a unique, personal style. What do you guys think? Not just for food or photography but for any form of art, do you feel it's more helpful or harmful to look at other people's work while also developing your own? 

P.S. - Just want to make sure everyone knows that the photos I feature still link back to the source/creator if you click on the image.  One of the main reasons I make these favorites posts is to direct more traffic to deserving artists, so I'd hate for people not to realize the links are there. Enjoy!

Tomatoes Photograph by Local Milk
0 LocalMilk-Heirloom Tomatoes Ingred
Herbed Chicken Sandwich Photograph by Jeff Kauck
1 Jeff Kauck-Herb Chicken Sandwich, Burger Paper Wire Rack Blue Linen
Assorted Ingredients on Bread Board Photograph by Jeroen van der Spek
2 Jeroen van der Spek-Cheese Tray Round Wood Board Peas White Asparagus Mustard Ingred
Roasted Spiced Pumpkin Salad with Tahini Dressing from The Food Dept.
3 FoodDept-Roasted Pumpkin Winter Squash Salad Tahini Dressing Idea
Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps from Sips and Spoonfuls
4 Sipsandspoonfuls-Grilled Chicken Satay Wrap Ingred Paper
Great Gatsby Themed Wedding Cake by Sweet Cakes Bakery via Glamour and Grace
5 SweetCakesLLC-Feather Gilded Great Gatsby Brooch Flag Banner Fondant Wedding Cake Fave
Salty Caramel Ice Cream with Popcorn from Have a Yummy Day
6 Haveayummyday-Salty Caramel Ice Cream with Popcorn Idea Ingred

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Naturally Gluten-Free: Coconut Cassava Bars

Hello world! These are my baby steps back into the food blogging/photography world. A little scared...a lot clumsy (I swear I've somehow forgotten even the basics of how light works! =X)...and learning things again bit by bit (I hope) with each attempt!

Coconut Cassava Bars
For today's shoot, I chose coconut cassava bars inspired by one of my favorite nutrition blogs, Nutrition to Kitchen. Similar versions of this cake can be found in Vietnamese and Filipino cuisine. These bars are mildly sweet and just a little bit salty (partly due to the addition of cheddar cheese!); soft and chewy in a way that's reminiscent of mochi cake (not surprising once you learn cassava is used to make tapioca); rich with coconut flavor (from the milk as well as sweetened coconut strings known as macapuno); naturally gluten-free; and ab-so-lute-ly addicting to nibble on. Please do give it a go, and let me know what you think!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Favorites! (Guess Who's Back...Back Again...)

Wow. Can you believe it's been over THREE months since I last updated 6 Bittersweets?! No? Me neither. But somehow...despite my best efforts to keep the posts trickling in, the speed of life simply overtook my commitment and capacity to blog in the past few months. How do those of you with kids and/or more than one job do it? How and with what black magics? Seriously though, you guys are amazing and I have more respect for you all now than even before. 

It's incredible how easily a week without posting can turn into months, and the passage of time barely registers until suddenly a new season is approaching. Well that's not really all that's changed since my last post... During my break from blogging, I've managed to (1) get accepted into graduate school; (2) leave my government contracting job; (3) pack up/toss more belongings than any apartment-dweller should ever have (no really...we filled up a U-Haul moving truck intended to move a small house/family!!); (4) relocate from the metropolitan DC area to a very different part of the great state of Virginia (that is, rural Blacksburg); and (5) start (today!) taking courses toward a master's degree in nutrition as well as becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD). Sorta major changes, no? =D

I was so tied up between wrapping up my old life and laying the groundwork for the new one that blogging never even made it on to my To-do List this summer! Even with that off my plate, I'd be lying if I said I never felt overwhelmed by the huge life changes ahead of me. After calling Northern Virginia home for SIX years where I was lucky enough to be surrounded by my friends and my mom, moving (even just across the state) was no easy task. I will miss those people the most, of course, but the foodie within is also lamenting the loss of easy access to so many international food markets, amazing and varied restaurants, Trader Joe's, and the list goes on! (If anyone knows where to get haloumi or affordable mascarpone near Virginia Tech, please let me know!)

But the other, wonderful side of this coin is finally setting foot on my chosen career path and so much more. For those who've never been here, the VT university campus and surrounding region is bursting with natural beauty. After living near the city, it's glorious to see so much green (the campus, the mountains, our yards!). While we no longer have large malls at our fingertips, I'm already excitedly planning excursions that bring us closer to nature such as hiking, tubing, and picking fruit. As I ease myself back into regular blogging (this post is the 1st small step), I hope to share images from these parts of my life in addition to what comes out of my kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen, the one in our new apartment is more than twice as large as our previous. Anyway, before I get too carried away, my point is that I was gone for a while but NOT gone for good. I'm starting a new chapter of my life in a big way, and I'm bringing my readers with me if you'll still have me!

Citrus Fruits for Glazed Cream Cheese Pound Cake from Herriott Grace
1 Michael Graydon-Blood Orange Kumquat Citrus Ingred Wood Board Ingred Idea
Spring Chicken Soup from Gourmet Traveller
2 GourmetTraveller-Spring Chicken Noodle Soup Cilantro in Pot
Rainbow Beet and Goat Cheese Jewels from Frances Janisch
3 Frances Janisch-Rainbow Beets Goat Ch Strata Sliced Appetizer Idea FAVE
Table Spread Photograph by Matt Armendariz
4 Matt Armendariz-Apricots Macadamia Nuts Wood Board Table Scene
Photographs Styled by Dietlind Wolf with/withOUT the Food (all photos from this post are very educational/inspirational)
5 Dietlind Wolf-Roasted Baked Potatoes Sauce Dip Salad Styling Tutorial
Steaming Teapot and Tea Moving Photograph by Anna Williams
6 Anna Williams-Steaming Teapot GIF Idea
Lily Flowers and Pads Wedding Cake by Sweet Disposition Cakes
7 SweetDisposition-Asian Lily Pads Flower Ombre Fondant Wedding Cake Fave

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Recreating The Baltimore Bomb (Chess Pie with Vanilla Fudge Cookies)

I've always enjoyed eating pies, but they've never consumed my daydreams the way cupcakes and macarons have. Perhaps its their rustic appearance and less portable/adorable packaging. Or perhaps its the added step of having to make pastry dough in advance (a pie without a homemade crust is not a pie worth making IMO). Either way, my thoughts rarely turn toward pie unless autumn's on the horizon.

Baltimore Bomb Pie
At least that's how it used to be until an unassuming slice from the aptly named Dangerously Delicious Pies (DDP) in DC blew me away at first bite. Its name was The Baltimore Bomb, and I guarantee it's like no pastry you've ever tasted. DDP created The Bomb especially for the city of Baltimore, Maryland, using their famous Berger cookies, which are equal parts vanilla cookie and chocolate fudge. The inspired twist was to suspend these decadent cookies in a traditional Southern chess filling. The fudge melts down to bestow its gooey goodness to the entire pie, while the tangy custard reigns in the richness of the chopped Berger's. I strongly encourage everyone in the DC area to experience the real deal at DDP, but I think this recipe hits pretty close to the mark and captures all the elements that make the Baltimore Bomb Pie so exceptional and addictive =D.

P.S. - Please pardon the mediocre photo! I only had 15 minutes during the workday to grab a shot in front of my office building AND it started raining as soon as I got outside. The taste was fantastic though so I wanted to make sure I had a photo for this blog post to tempt you to try the recipe (please do!).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chocolate Guinness Stout Cupcakes with Baileys Frosting (Happy St. Patrick's Day!)

Happy St. Patrick's Day, dear readers! It's actually not a big day for P and me 'cause it's a bit like St. Paddy's Day every day around here (lol can you guess what P stands for now? =p). The joke started a few years ago when we went shopping at Old Navy close to a certain holiday. A cute green St. Patrick's Day tee was on sale, so I got it for him with the justification that he could wear it any day rather than just the one and he totally does wear it all the time (yay!). But then again, I just asked if he'd wear it later today, and all I got was a huge eye roll. Don't worry though, I'll keep working on this...I've still a few hours yet.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! (Chocolate Guinness Baileys Cupcakes)
In the meantime, I want to share a really delicious Irish-themed (by which I mean boozy ^-^) cupcake recipe with you. I have my coworker and friend A to thank for requesting these chocolate cupcakes full o' Guinness stout and Baileys Irish cream. Her repeated guidance as I prepared to make these was "Remember. There is no such thing as too much Baileys!" I agree in theory, but many of you bakers will already know that runny frosting is a bit of a nightmare. I found a happy medium using my special cold cream cheese technique to keep the frosting firm while adding more liquid than usual.

These cupcakes were actually such a hit with P and my coworkers that I only got a single bite of one. So I've decided to use their descriptions rather than my own for this post:
  • The Boy called these "seriously dangerous" and a combination of "F yea and awesome!"
  • Guinea pig coworker N may have moaned a little while eating his cupcake.
  • Coworker B called these the "best thing ever!"
  • Coworker C, who works in Pricing, when asked if the cake was moist enough drew me a bell curve showing me that on a scale of 1 to 100 (completely dry to terribly moist) with 50 being the ideal level of moistness these cupcakes were a 48. 
    • On a side note, I'm a crazy perfectionist so I tweaked the cake recipe in response to his feedback. Hopefully the recipe below makes a perfectly moist 50-worthy cupcake now.
  • Coworker N liked the cupcake and was kind enough to be my hand model for the photo above (thanks!!).
Now if those reactions don't get you running to the kitchen, I don't know what will! I truly do hope you'll give these a shot. Either way, hope you all have a fantastic (and safe) St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Favorites!

I've been sick as a dog for the last week, but managed to rally enough this weekend to spend some time with my best friend visiting from NYC. Thanks for coming, N! Sorry I couldn't be a better host this time, but I promise to make it up to ya when I'm better =)...

Hope you all had fun weekends as well. And here are some lovely sounds and images to end it on a high note!

Shrimp Fresh Spring Rolls from Shoot to Cook
1 ShoottoCook-Thai Shrimp Summer Rolls
Mushrooms and Soup Photographs by William Meppem
2 William Meppem-Mushrooms Ingred
Cottage Cheese Peach Strudel Bars from Dolce Vita
3 DolceVita-Cottage Cheese Peach Phyllo Strudel, Triangle Bars Stand Chair Idea
Chocolate Cake from Pratos e Travessas
4 PratoseTravessas-Choco Glazed Ring Cake Sliced Books Idea
Chinese Steamed Dumplings Photograph from The Marion House Book
5 MarionHouseBook-Chinese Steamer Dumplings Chopsticks Idea

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wheek Wheek! (Guinea Pig Cake Tutorial)

Guinea Pig Cake Process
I had a Work Hard, Play Hard kind of weekend and I'm gonna be honest with you, my body just can't bounce back like it used to in college! In fact my head's pretty mad at me right now for not going to bed 2 hours ago lol. But I had to type up this post now 'cause I couldn't wait another second to share my first carved cake with you! My good friend E is a guinea pig lover (and proud mama to 6 adorable lumps of flesh and fur piggies), so I volunteered to make a guinea pig-shaped cake for her big 3-0 party this weekend. I was pretty scared to carve a cake for the first time, but I'm so glad I went for it because (with P's help) I was able to make something we all found super-cute. I looked at a LOT of cake versions of this adorable rodent and EVEN MORE photos of real pigs before settling on my own path. Kinda really hoping not to see another guinea pig photo for a few months, as cute as they may be...

Nonetheless, I wanted to share some notes (before I forget!) on how I made this cake in case any of you have pig-lovers as friends/family/clients/selves. Wish I'd thought to document the initial cake carving/spackling process, but I'm hoping the 3 pre-buttercream shots below are still helpful. If you have any additional questions about how I made this Wheek-tastic cake, don't hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an email!

Guinea Pig Carved Cake
Makes one approximately 11 x 5 x 5-inch cake

12 or 14-inch Cake Drum (sturdy base board)
Three 8-inch square cake layers 
***I made 1.5x batch of my favorite chocolate cake with 1 extra egg and 1/3 cup less coffee
Chocolate Buttercream
Vanilla Buttercream
Black, Brown, Yellow, Pink and Green gel OR powdered food coloring
Spatula (for frosting between cake layers)
Sharp Knife for Carving
Piping Bags (optional)
Medium Paintbrush (used for food ONLY, with coarse bristles for best texture)
LOTS of Paper Towels
Gumpaste (for eyes, ears, and nose)
Vegetable Oil (for painting the eyes)
Smaller Paintbrush (for painting the eyes)
Wilton Tip #233 (or other grass piping tip)

I started off by cutting, filling, and stacking my cake layers with chocolate frosting to make a 10 x 5 x 4-inch rectangular cake. Crumble any leftover cake into crumbs and combine with enough frosting to make an easily moldable material for spackling the cake. (If you've ever made a cake pop, this is essentially what goes into cake pop fillings.). Chill rectangular cake for at least 30 minutes, then start carving! Use back and forth motions with a sharp knife to cut away small pieces of cake at a time. I just looked at a LOT of photos of guinea pigs (including my friend's actual pigs) and became familiar with their shape from different sides. To start with, you'll want to smooth out all the top corners and carve more toward the middle to create a subtle "waist" between the main guinea pig body segments. I'm not great at thinking in 3D, so this part was nerve-wracking when I thought I could only cut away. BUT (and you can call this cheating but I won't care =p) once I started using the mixed paste of cake crumbs and frosting as spackle, both building up the shape and cutting it away, I was able to just have fun. The angle, size, and shape of the head also stumped me for quite a while, so I just kept building up the cake "butt" with more spackle haha. So if you noticed that this (pig) baby's got some back, the credit/blame falls squarely on these here shoulders...**cheeeeeesy grin** 

Guinea Pig Cake Process
If you find the cake getting too soft to carve well, simply stick it back in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up again and then continue working. When you're happy with the shape, chill the cake again to set the shape. While you're waiting on that, reserve about 1/2 cup of vanilla buttercream, then divide up and color the remaining chocolate and vanilla frostings to make the shades you want for the fur. I used black gel food coloring to darken chocolate buttercream and a mixture of vanilla frosting, chocolate frosting, and brown and yellow gel colors to create the lighter shade of brown fur on the pig. 

Now's also a good time to color the 1/2 cup of vanilla buttercream reserved above a vibrant grass green for later. I used a combination of gel and powdered food coloring. Cover and set aside for later.

Guinea Pig Cake Process
Once the cake has been chilled enough, it's time to add the fur-textured buttercream. I spent as much time figuring out the best way to do this as I did studying guinea pig shapes (is it just me or do those both make me sound ultra cool?? and not weird at ALL). The keys to getting a fur-like look with buttercream are (1) to use a paintbrush (one reserved for FOOD use ONLY) with somewhat coarse bristles, (2) to apply the different-colored sections from the back of the cake toward the head, and (3) to wipe your brush off VERY well whenever it touches more than one color at once.

Guinea Pig Cake Process

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Modern Cake Decorating Tutorial with Edible Wafer Paper

HeythereCupcake 1
Stunning Wedding Cakes (above and below) by Hey there, Cupcake!
It's obvious from my favorites posts that I've fallen truly and deeply in love with cake decorating during the past year. One aspect of this creative community that really draws me in is the amount of openness, sharing, and instruction that goes on between professionals and hobbyists, experts and complete n00bs such as myself. This exchange occurs constantly through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, countless blogs, and devoted forums such as Cake Central and Cakes Decor. And such support among artists is the reason many of us novice decorators have had the courage to try daunting designs like this extended tier cake I made for my company's holiday party and the carved guinea pig cake I'm about to make for a friend's birthday.

HeyThereCupcake 2
Many professional decorators are not only generous with their advice, but are also releasing full tutorials for their coveted techniques (some for purchase but many for free)! It's become a common enough occurrence that I started praying for one from the first moment I saw these stunning Hey there, Cupcake! cakes using die-cut edible paper (above and below photos). Edna De la Cruz of Design Me a Cake turned out to be my knight in shining armor with her tutorial created for Edible Artists Network Magazine. Please check out her step-by-step on using craft punches with edible wafer paper to decorate your cake HERE!

This is an especially exciting technique for those of us without Silhouette or other die-cut machines yet don't have the delicate touch and patience to cut these patterns by hand. Any Martha Stewart craft punch will work, and there're so many beautiful ones to choose from. I've already purchased the Double Arches Punch Set used to create part of the Hey there, Cupcake! designs above. The Optic Dot Edge and Deco Shells punches are also on my caker's wishlist but I'm trying not to be toooo much of a shopaholic (for now...). Also, if you're interested in making chic edible paper flowers like those in the top photo, Paul Bradford offers a tutorial for similar flowers as part of his online Sugarcraft School (£9.95/month). 

I hope at least some of you find these tutorials as interesting as I do, and Happy Caking to all of you!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Day Late OR 364 Days Early? (King Cake Cake Pops!)

King Cake Cake Pops
I know Mardi Gras was technically yesterday, but can you really blame me for wanting to keep the party going? I made these King Cake^2 Pops for a birthday celebration at work today. And based on 100% statistically sound exit polling, these treats would be a welcome offering year-round =p. The filling is a 6 Bittersweets original cake full of sour cream, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cream cheese. Dressed up in a slim candy coat and sparkly colors, these are my most party-ready cake pops yet! I suggest you grab on to any excuse you get to make these, whether it's Mardi Gras, a birthday, or even just Hump Day =).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Favorites

I'm a bit short on time today as I've got work work as well as some baking work to do tonight on top of being on the tail end of the bug that finally caught up to me this weekend. Hope you guys had a better weekend, and take a few minutes to feast your eyes on the work of the incredibly talented folks below!

Hyperrealistic PENCIL Portrait by Kelvin Okafor
Sculpted Snake Cake (included in honor of the Chinese Year of the Snake) =D by Innicka Dee Cakes
1 InnickaDee-Sculpted Carved Snake Fondant Cake
Double Chocolate Heart Cupcakes from Sugar and Snapshots
2 SugarandSnapshots-Choco Piped Hearts Cupcake Toppers Vday
Poppy Flower Cake Pops by Sweet Lauren Cakes
3 SweetLauren-Red Poppy Flower Cake Lollipops
Watercolor Painted Flower Cake by Dessert Queen
4 DessertQueen-Chinese Watercolor Painted Flower Bird Ridged Textured Fondant Cake
Chocolate Cookies with Dulce de Leche from Call Me Cupcake
5 CallMeCupcake-Choco Caramel Stuffed Brownie Drop Cookies Idea
Chocolate Caramel Rum Cake Photograph by Bakers Royale
6 BakersRoyale-Choco Rum Bundt Cake Sliced FAVE Idea

Monday, February 11, 2013

Latest Music Obsession (Tegan and Sara "Love They Say")

In light of some heavy news both P and I have gotten about our grandparents in the last few weeks as well as in light of Valentine's Day this week, I thought I'd post one of my favorite songs from the new Tegan and Sara album, Heartthrob, that's keeping me upbeat =). Hope you all had a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sucré King Cake Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the Sucré King Cake giveaway! The randomly selected winner is Athena of Athena Plichta Photography (comment #42)! Congrats and please look out for my tweet and email me your mailing address ASAP!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Big, Fat, Chewy, Perfect: The Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Perfect Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies 4
I rarely use the word "perfect", and never in reference to my own baking (being my own worst critic and all...). It's a term too often used to describe the generic and mundane rather than the extraordinary. But it's also incredibly subjective with meaning that varies as much as the individuals that use it. So when I tell you that the GIF below is 100% how I reacted to my first bite of these thick and chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, I want you to understand that I'm not using the word frivolously =D. And lest you think this an exercise in self-congratulations, I openly admit to making only minor tweaks to an already incredible recipe by Alanna of Bojon Gourmet

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
While I'm aware on some level that multiple types exist, the only CC cookies that my brain registers are crisp around the edges, chewy in the center, oozing with melted chocolate chunks, and bursting with a flavor akin to butterscotch. All of us who share this concept of Cookie Nirvana as well as an interest in gluten-free baking owe Alanna a huge debt of gratitude. With some slight tweaking of the types/proportions of grains, she's created a GF cookie that stays chewy in the center, spreads like a wheat cookie, and is equal or superior to any CC cookie I've ever tasted (conventional OR GF)! For you skeptics out there, know that all my guinea pigs coworkers loved these, and not one could tell they were gluten-free. 

Perfect Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Perfect Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies 3
In this day and age I'm willing to bet that most of you have had reason to contemplate gluten-free cooking. Whether you're baking for a friend with celiac disease or just experimenting with alternative grains, I'm confident your search for The Best (Gluten-Free) Chocolate Chip Cookie will be over as soon as you whip up a batch of these. And being a gift that keeps on giving, I wouldn't be surprised to see other GF cookie posts popping up soon using this base as the starting point...I truly hope you enjoy this "perfect" recipe as much as I have and would love to hear about your results if you try it!

Perfect Best Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
P.S. - I didn't use any ole pecans for these cookies, but Jumbo Raw Georgia Pecans I received from Oh! Nuts. Although I did receive these for free for my holiday baking, I can honestly say (and have said before on this blog) that I loved and paid for their products long before they ever offered me free samples. There's so much to love about Oh! Nuts that it's hard to know where to start. First, there's the incredible taste and freshness. These pecans are huge, fresh, and have a hint of natural sweetness that makes them addictive right outta the bag. Speaking of the bag, I love that all Oh! Nuts products come in a sturdy bags that stand upright, are resealable, and have a window in the front so you can easily identify the right product in your pantry later. Anyway, I'll stop gushing as you surely get the point by now. Oh! Nuts is a wonderful supplier of bulk nuts and candy, and I can't recommend them and their products enough! =D

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday Favorites

It's been a somber weekend as my YeYe (paternal grandfather) finally passed away after suffering a set of serious strokes 3 years ago. He never got out of the hospital bed since the strokes. I'm fortunate to have been able to spend time with him about 2 years ago when I went back to visit, and I'm glad he's probably had the chance to say goodbye to everyone at this point and vice versa. We will certainly miss him, but I hear that our family back in China is able to focus more on the positive things we want to remember about him at this point. I'm sad not to be able to attend his funeral, but my dad's on his way back now and will bring the best wishes of all of us who can't make it. As I was just telling my friend, I'm doing okay but I've still lost so few people close to me that it definitely hits me still. Just the concept of having someone being gone forever (no offense to anyone who is, but I am not religious) is still so difficult to grasp. I think I'm more sad for my little sisters growing up without our grandparents than for myself. I'm sure we'll keep their spirits alive through stories though =).

On a happier note, I felt like this would be a good time to restart my Favorites posts and focus on some joyfully beautiful things that are in our world. As pretty as my picks are, I don't just post them for looks.  I save the works that inspire me from all sorts of artists to serve as a constant reminder of what's possible to make with our mind and own 2 hands if we just set the mind and heart to it. As you surely have noticed, I've developed quite a passion for cake decoration in the last year, and I need to remember to practice practice practice to hopefully reach the level of these artists I admire one day. As usual, I hope you feast your eyes on these wonderful works!

Stunning Wedding Cake with Glittery Stripes and Peony Flowers by The Cake That Ate Paris
1 CakeThatAteParis-Glitter Striped Fondant Wedding Cake Peony Flower FAVE
Vanilla Tea Photograph from Alicia Buszczak (Stylist)
2 Alicia Buszczak (st)-Vanilla Pods Tea Drink
Baking Ingredients Photograph from Ingwervanille
3 Ingwervanille-Egg Flour Salt Pastry Baking Ingred Idea
AMAZING Nautical Wedding Cake (Photograph by Green Tree Photography; Cake Artist Unknown)
4 Unknown-Double Barrel Rope Gold Anchor Striped Nautical Fondant Wedding Cake Idea
Chicken Rice Noodle Soup from My Cooking Hut
5 MyCookingHut-Chicken Rice Noodle Soup
Baklava Bars from The Pretty Blog
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Taste of New Orleans! (Sucré King Cake GIVEAWAY)

Sucré King Cake
New Orleans has always intrigued me with it vibrant culture, dynamic music, and flavorful foods. And quickly approaching is one of the times of year that the city shines its brightest -- Mardi Gras!  Sadly I won't be able to make it down this time 'round, but I was delighted to hear that I could experience at least one integral part of the tradition right here in my home. And so can one of you! =D
Sucre King Cake 2
It turns out that Sucré, whose French macarons I've been coveting for quite some time, also makes a killer King Cake (a must at any Mardi Gras celebration!). It's gotten praise from The Times Picayune, Washington Post, and New York Times, among others. If you're among the uninitiated, a King Cake consists of buttery sweet danish pastry filled with cinnamon and cream cheese then topped off with a vibrant array of colored sugar. A trinket (usually a small plastic baby) is also put in each cake. The person who finds it is then dubbed King or Queen for the day and said to receive good fortune for the year! That person then has the duty to pay it forward by throwing another party and serving a King Cake. How. Fun. Is. That?! So the point of all this is that Sucré has generously offered to provide one of their award-winning King Cakes (feeds 8-10) to one lucky 6 Bittersweets reader just in time to throw your own local mini-Carnival!

This giveaway will remain open for 5 days and is limited to addresses in the continental US. 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 me your email address to contact you if you win. The giveaway will close on Tuesday, February 5, at midnight, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter!  This giveaway has ended -- thanks to all who entered!
  • Tell me your favorite New Orleans, Mardi Gras, or King Cake experience if you've had one.
  • Visit Sucré's online store, and share your favorite treat in the comments.
  • Like Sucré on Facebook, then leave a comment telling me you did so.
  • Follow Sucré on Twitter, then leave a comment telling me you did so.
  • 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 including your Twitter name.
  • Tweet about this giveaway including a link to this post and tagging @6bittersweets, then leave a comment telling me.
P.S. - Don't like relying on the whims of Lady Luck? Sucré will take/ship out orders of King Cakes until February 11, and don't forget to check out their nommy macaron selection too while you're there!