Archive for May, 2010

31
May
10

desserts of the world

tiramisu; nairobi, kenya

tiramisu; nairobi, kenya


cherry tart; geneva, switzerland

cherry tart; geneva, switzerland


apple pie with chocolate sauce; nairobi, kenya

apple pie with chocolate sauce; nairobi, kenya


chocolate-covered chocolate mousse; paris, france

chocolate-covered chocolate mousse; paris, france


profiteroles; nairobi, kenya

profiteroles; nairobi, kenya


not pictured: panna cotta; arusha, tanzania;
ice cream; kano, nigeria
creme caramel; bamako, mali

30
May
10

Dolcezza on a hot, humid DC day

While I’m a fan of all things sweet, ice cream and sorbet isn’t high on the cravings list. But so many people have raved about Dolcezza that I thought it was worth a go.

I first tried their sorbet from their stall at the Dupont farmers’ market last year. Not a fan at the time–the sorbet was very dense in its small cup, overly sweet, and Mr. X-sXe and I had trouble finishing it between the two of us.

This time, I tried the cucumber-mint-vodka and the strawberry-tarragon sorbets. The quality and freshness of the ingredients were apparent (which is a relief, since they tout them on their website). The pairings were perfect: the licoricey tarragon came through in the strawberry, while the cucumber was super freshing without an alcohol bite. I also appreciate the spoon-friendly, airy consistency.

Less impressive were the dulce de leche churros. I had warmed them in the toaster after I got home, so they did get a bit charred. But the sauce in the middle barely tasted of caramel, and this churro was the only deep-fried food that I’ve thought about walking away from in a long time.

30
May
10

Crepe Amour, Georgetown

Behold the Madagascar from Crepe Amour. It offered an impressive amount of fresh fruit–at least half a mango and kiwi’s worth, probably more. The fruit was accompanied by a mango-like sauce and too much powdered sugar, which invariably makes me cough. Unfortunately, I remembered to take a photo only after attacking it.

I was hoping the crepes themselves could be less doughy, more thin & crispy. Also, was it my imagination, or did the crepe taste a lot like a sugar cone?

Despite the doughiness, I’d go back to try some of the nutella kinds, and probably the classic lemon (Citron) one.

22
May
10

Pauly D representin’ for Baskin Robbins

This promotion just made my year. The Baskin Robbins marketing team has outdone themselves. How is Pauly D the right personality for their family-friendly chain of ice cream stores? Oh, nevermind. This is just too awesome to be questioned.

22
May
10

Cupcake product extensions gone awry

A lot of chains that shouldn’t be getting into the cupcake act are “diversifying.” I really don’t get why Cinnabon is doing cupcakes. These don’t even look the least bit appealing when I’m walking by the store in National Airport.

And the tagline should be outlawed: Cinnabon cupcakes – Anything else is just a CupFake.

Haagen Dazs and Cold Stone Creamery (below), that makes more sense since everyone loves an ice cream cake. Yet I never see anyone ordering them in the store. Is that because everyone knows that Baskin Robbins makes the best ice cream cakes?

16
May
10

The problem with coconut cream pie

One of the desserts that we’ve always wanted to try is the Ritz Seafood coconut cream pie that was featured on Food Network. Mr. X-sXe and I have entertained the thought of driving to NJ for this pie, but in the meantime, we’re still hoping Ritz will offer it by mail-order someday. Read more here: http://bit.ly/9TO9zd

That’s why when we saw the coconut cream pie on the dessert tray at Fisherman’s Inn (Kent Island, MD) this weekend, we homed in on it.

While the pie was pretty good, we couldn’t help but analyze its deficiencies during the car ride home. The filling was basically just whipped cream and coconut–while it’s a tasty combination, it leaves you wanting for something more solid/substantial, i.e. a bottom layer of custard or pudding. Otherwise you feel like you’re shoveling too much air into your mouth (albeit delicious, creamy air).

Also, the crust could have used more salt to play off the sweetness of the coconut.

Our dining companions tried the brownie and cheesecake. The consensus was that if you have to choose one, go for the skillet brownie and ask for multiple spoons.

13
May
10

Yoplait gives cake the shaft

Yoplait has a whole brigade of pie flavors, but just two cake ones. What’s up with that?

Although these are fat-free, full of artificial sweeteners, and don’t contain any real fruit ingredients (with the exception of the pineapple upside-down cake, which has pineapple bits), they actually don’t suck. But the only one I’d revisit is the key lime pie, where my taste buds were fooled into tasting the graham crust–though there was no trace of crust in the yogurt. What do they get up to in those Midwestern food labs?

09
May
10

Floating island, a dessert for meringue lovers

This is something that doesn’t show up on dessert menus much in the U.S., so when I do see it, I order it. Floating island is a French dessert, a ball of meringue (the “island”) floating on creme anglaise (custard). Side note: the English like pouring custard or cream over many of their desserts, a practice that I wish were more widespread.

This recipe is a creative take on the traditional floating island from pastry chef Anthony Chavez of 2941 via Washingtonian magazine. When I’ve made meringue for pavlovas–meringue nests filled with cream and fruit–they’ve always deflated pretty quickly. After listening to NPR’s “The Splendid Table,” I learned that fats are the enemy of meringues, so be sure to use a metal bowl when whipping the egg whites. Plastic bowls tend to absorb more fats.

Photo via Washingtonian magazine.


Floating Island With Mandarin Jus and Caramelized Popcorn

a la Anthony Chavez of 2941

Serves 6

2 satsuma mandarin oranges
½ cup mandarin-orange juice
¼ cup Champagne
½ vanilla bean, seeded (discard the pod)
1⁄3 cup egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar plus 2 cups sugar for popcorn
14 tablespoons butter
1 bag microwave popcorn

Peel and remove the pith from the mandarin oranges, then cut them into segments. Set aside.

Make the mandarin-orange jus:

In a medium bowl, combine the mandarin-orange juice, Champagne, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Chill in the refrigerator.

Make the meringues:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and 2 tablespoons of sugar and whip until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Pipe it into dome-shaped flexible molds.

Place the meringues into the oven and bake for 1 minute or until firm. Remove from the oven and cool.

Pop the popcorn in the microwave and set in a large, heatproof bowl.

In a large pot set over low heat, caramelize the 2 cups of sugar. Add the butter and whisk until combined. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir until well combined.

Turn the caramel-coated popcorn onto a sheet pan and let cool. When the popcorn is cool, chop it into small pieces.

Unmold the baked meringues and sprinkle the popcorn on top of each meringue.

Assemble the floating islands:

Place each meringue in a bowl and garnish with the mandarin segments and mandarin jus.

09
May
10

Michel Patisserie macaroons, coconut cake from ACKC

Walking into ACKC, there’s temptation at every turn. I could have easily blown beaucoup bucks there, so I was lucky to leave with just these macaroons and cake.

Orange, passionfruit, chocolate & pistachio macaroons. The clear winner was passionfruit.

At $2/macaroon, expectations are high, especially for such a small cookie. While these were really good, with the perfect texture and density (crispy outer, chewy inner), the fillings were ho-hum–with the exception of the passionfruit one, the only one maybe worth paying $2 for.

If you’re crazy for macaroons, the ones from Praline in Bethesda are almost as good, larger, and cost just over $1. (I say just like that’s cheap or something.)

At $5/slice for the coconut cake, you’d do almost as well by getting a slice of birthday cake from Safeway and sprinkling some coconut on it. Coconut was more of an afterthought than the main act. If you want to try one of the cakes behind the counter at ACKC, I’d go for something else.

09
May
10

Do you like your chocolate chip cookies chewy or crispy?

Me, I usually prefer them chewy with the chocolate chips still in their melted state (e.g., Potbelly’s). These crsipy ones from Tate’s Bake Shop won me over, though, with their buttery crispness and big chocolate chips. They’re also baked to be a lot browner than your typical cookies, which gives them a nice flavor.

The first ingredient is actually chocolate. My guess would have been butter.

The only place I’ve seen them is Whole Foods, and they’re usually sold out of the chocolate chip (even at $5+ a bag!), the shelves cluttered with a sea of macadamia nut rejects. I snagged the last two bags at the P Street Whole Foods on Friday.

If you order from the Tate’s website, they’re 3 bags for $22.50, so $5+ a bag seems like a deal next to that.

***Update: Although Tate’s oatmeal raisin cookies are studded with big raisins, the crispy cookie part doesn’t live up to the buttery goodness of the chocolate chip flavor. In fact, it reminds me of stale Potbelly oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, when the fats in the cookie start to lose their freshness.***