For this month’s Secret Recipe Club I was assigned Shirley from Enriching Your Kid, who is a clinical psychologist-slash-homemaker that chronicles her family recipes and cooking experiences through her blog. There were a few recipes I was thinking about making, especially Mint Chutney, Dal Lentils, and Chole Chana Masala. I had been itching to bake something so I zoomed in on pineapple jam. I was thinking about all the ways I could use the pineapple jam: pineapple cookies, swirled into banana bread, plain on toast, and pineapple cakes.
The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival was in the month of October so I already had Asian sweets on my mind. Pineapple cakes (sometimes called pineapple tarts) are all over Asia and each region has its own special format. The Taiwanese version is named s Fènglísū (鳳梨酥).
I really enjoy eating pineapple cakes, but the store-bought kind tend to be dry and the filling lacking in flavor. making your own pineapple filling allows you to control the texture, spices, and sweetness. I switched out the cardamom in the recipe for ginger and cut down the sugar, cooking it down until it was nice and thick.
The dough for these tarts comes together quickly and is ridiculously easy. There are only 3 ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, flour, and egg yolk. I busted out my wooden mooncake molds that I picked up in Chicago’s Chinatown years ago and brushed them with an egg wash mixture before filling.
Freshly baked cakes
Eaten warm, the dough is thick, buttery with a nice tender crumb. The filling is the perfect consistency that doesn’t ooze out when you bite into it but is soft enough to mix with the dough in each bite.
When my sister was graduating with her undergraduate degree in English last May, I had to show up to the ceremony with a little treat for her to eat afterwards.
This tart is incredibly easy to put together and is flavorful yet light. I first saw it on Zen Can Cook, thinking it was odd that a recipe so simple would be on his site. Then I knew it was destiny when fellow DC food-blogger Olga of Mango & Tomato re-created it with some crystallized ginger. How could you go wrong with mango and ginger?
My sister & I in Philadelphia
All bundled up, ready to be enjoyed
I was a bit lazy, which yielded a more “rustic” result. I used pre-chopped mango from the store instead of slicing my own, which made the tart a bit more clunky and testy when slicing. But the end result was still scrumptious and looked perfect for the occasion in my Panibois Baking Molds wrapped with ribbon and cute graduating owls.
Even though I was making 4 types of Christmas cookies, my office wouldn’t get to try any of them, so I whipped these up on a weeknight after seeing them on my friend Olga’s blog. I decided to make the pistachio cookies more festive by adding some red dried cranberries and some zingy crystallized ginger. I thought I was pretty clever turning these into Christmas-colored cookies.
Sometimes I think that chocolate is often used as a crutch in baking. It takes a really good hand to be able to make something delicious without chocolate in it that everyone will enjoy. These cookies had a firm yet delicate crumb and were extremely flavorful. I like that each bite had a bit of something else in it, an element of surprise, but some people don’t like that.
While these cookies were baking, I realized I had some chopped pistachios, cranberries, and ginger left over. I combined these with some leftover chopped hazelnuts from my homemade nutella and thought they’d make a delicious topping for one of my favorite things to make – pumpkin bread (or muffins). I scooped the bread batter into these odd shaped Panibois Baking Molds and hoped for the best, checking them often since they held varying sizes of batter. I couldn’t taste them after they baked (obviously), but I wrapped them up in cute snowflake cello-wrap and tied them with twine. I gave some to my family and some to co-workers. I’d like to think this is a more tasty version of a fruitcake, but pumpkin!
So you remember how I told you that one of my favorite foods is rice? Well one of my favorite things to do with rice is make rice pudding.
Growing up, we would take whatever rice was left in the rice cooker after dinner, add milk and sugar and nuke it in the microwave until it was nice and hot. For some, rice pudding can be polarizing. My dad thinks that it is blasphemous to make this meal staple sweet instead of savory; my boyfriend hates the consistency. I, on the other hand, love rice pudding so much that I visited a rice pudding restaurant with my sister when we visited New York City.
These two rice puddings combine some of my favorite flavors, especially with the crunchy, chewy topping. Since my family and friends are all lactose-sensitive, I opted to make this rice pudding dairy free. The flavor that the almond milk imparts onto the rice, blended with the warm spices of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, chai, and chocolate make something really special. I also used a special chai-cocoa powder I picked up when I visited San Francisco a while ago to deliver the chocolate punch, so this pudding is full of memories for me.
Trust me when I say this this pudding is as fun to look at as it is to eat! It is lighter than most other puddings I’ve tried since it is non-dairy. Which just means you can have a bigger serving ^_^.
Again, thank you to Marx Foods for the delicious Italian Organic Integrale Rice, and thank you all who voted me in to Round 2 and made it possible for me to create this delicious dessert. Please check out the other entries in Round 2, they all look delicious! Good luck to The DelGrosso Food Blog, Cookistry, Girl in the Little Red Kitchen, Oh Cake, Chez What?, Food for Thought, The Upstart Kitchen, Great Outdoors Cooking, Creative Cooking Gluten Free, and me of course.