Archive for ‘Desserts’

April 28, 2015

Lemon Bars

by tina


Ever since last Christmas, I’ve become obsessed with lemon bars. My roommate had made them for a family gathering and I had the opportunity to try some. I’ve never really liked lemon bars until I had these. They were tart, not too sweet, and absolutely delicious. She had followed this recipe (minus the walnuts). I followed the same recipe to make my own batch with high expectations, but to my disappointment they didn’t turn out the same–The crust was thicker, the filling was thicker and more gooey, and the lemon flavor wasn’t as tart. Apparently, my roommate had tweaked the recipe but had forgotten what was tweaked exactly. So for the next several weeks we experimented by adjusting the servings of the recipe and then increasing the amount of lemon juice, adding lemon zest, and added more flour for the filling. Between the two of us, we probably made about 7 batches until we figured it out. Thanks to the help of my roommate, here is the final tweaked recipe!


Crust portion

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/8 cup powdered sugar (3/8 = 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

Filling portion

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 5-6 small lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 3-4 small lemons)
  • 1/4 cup flour (sifted)



Part 1: Crust portion

Preheat the oven to 325F

Melt the butter a little in the microwave for 15 secs. Then add in the powdered sugar and flour.


Mix with a hand mixer on low speed until you see clumps form. Mix for about 2 mins longer, or until thoroughly incorporated. Then take the clumps and pack them together with your hands.


Place the crust dough in a 9×13 pan. Spread the dough out evenly with your hands, packing it down in the process.

Bake for 18 mins, or until edges are very light brown.


Part II: Filling portion

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Squeeze the lemons to make the 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Zest the lemons to loosely measure 1 tablespoon.


Place the egg and sugar in a large bowl and mix with a whisk.


Strain the lemon juice to get rid of any seeds and pulp. (I like it more tart, so I add the pulp back in). Add in the lemon zest and mix.


At this time, your crust should be just about done. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for about 5-7 mins.


While the crust is cooling, sift and add the flour in small amount while stirring into the filling mixture. Make sure there are no clumps of flour floating in the mixture.

After the crust has cooled for a little bit, add the filling onto the crust. Pop any air bubbles on the surface. Bake for 23 mins.


The edges should be brown when you pull it out of the oven.

Let it cool for about 1 hour before cutting into it.


A closeup of the filling and crust.


Cut them into squares, and Enjoy these delicious bars!!


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December 11, 2014

Raspberry Crumble Bars – The less sweet, less buttery version

by tina


About a year ago, one of my coworkers had made and shared these crumble bars with us.  I loved it so much that I asked her to share her recipe and she told me she had simply followed this barefoot contessa recipe and added a little more sliced almonds.  Super simple, she emphasized.  Since then, I’ve made them a couple of times and eventually tweaked it to my liking: the less sweet and less buttery version.  (I reduced the sugar to 78% and butter to 88% of what the original recipe called for, so if you feel that either of them is not enough for your liking, you could always add a little more of each).


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (Kerrygold pure irish butter)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (Trader Joe’s alcohol free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 ounces raspberry jam (Cascadian Farm organic)
  • 2/3 cup granola with nuts (no fruit)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almond
  • confectioner’s sugar

(yields 24 bars)



Place the butter and sugar in the electric mixing bowl.  Use the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed just until combined.  Then add the vanilla extract and mix on low speed until combined.


In a mixing bowl, sift the flour and salt together.  Slowly add this to the electric mixing bowl with the mixer on low.  When they are combined, take it out of the mixer and use your hands to press the crumbly dough into a ball.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Turn the dough out on a board.


Lightly pat 2/3 of the dough evenly on the bottom of a 9 inch by 13 inch glass oblong baking dish and about 1/4 inch up the sides.


Spread with the jam, leaving a 1/4 inch border.


Mix the granola into the remaining dough with your hands.


Break the dough into small bits, and distribute it on top of the jam, covering most of the surface. (I didn’t end up using all of this since I didn’t want it to be too thick). Sprinkle the almonds on top.


Bake the bars for 45 minutes, until lightly browned.


After it cools completely, sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar.  Cut into 24 bars and place them in cupcake liners.  Since it’s the holidays, you could also place them in some festive liners :)


April 15, 2013

Lumberjack Cake

by tina


Such a delicious “healthy” cake!  It’s the first time I baked with actual fruits in the cake batter.  Because there’s fruit in it, I totally feel less guilty after eating multiple slices :)

Recipe adapted from Yummychelle and 7×7.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates (I used Deglet dried dates)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (4.5 ounces) butter, softened (I used European unsalted butter)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (I used just a little less than 1 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (50 grams) coconut flakes (I used just a tad more)
  • 1 pear (bartlett), peeled and small-diced
  • 1/3 apple, peeled and small-diced
  • powdered sugar


Soften butter to room temperature by spooning it out into relatively thin slices. It should take about 40 minutes to soften. Do not microwave.

In a saucepan, bring water and dates to a boil for about 5 mins or to the point where some of the water has evaporated and mostly infused with the dates. Also, make sure the dates are boiled to the point where it is relatively soft and easy to crush them into some smaller pieces with a wooden sptaula. (This part is crucial since it will determine how moist the cake will turn out. To be safe, I’d boil it a little longer to evaporate more of the water).

Then whisk in baking soda. (It should turn into a brownish charcoal-ish color). Set aside to cool to room temperature. (Or if you were impatient like me.. let it cool down a little and then stick it in the fridge for about 15 minutes)


In a mixing bowl (not a stand mixer bowl), mix and sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Preheat the oven at 350F.

In the stand mixer bowl, cream butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and egg.  Mix until it looks light and airy. This will make the cake fluffier. (Takes at least 3 minutes to mix. I started out with stir level 2 and went up to level 4).

Slowly add the room temperature date mixture and mix at low speed until incorporated.


Then slowly add dry ingredients also at low speed until blended, careful not to over-mix.


(The Coconut Flakes that I bought were larger chunks, so I chopped them up a little bit)

Fold in coconut, pear, and apple with a large rubber spatula.

Pour mixture into a greased springform pan(I mildly greased the sides of the pan with some vegetable oil on a paper towel) springform pan. Evenly spread out the batter in the pan and try to smooth out the batter at the top.

You could put a generous layer of white sugar for a crusty top. I tend to not like my cake too sweet, so I just put on a thin layer of powdered sugar.


Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Rotate pan in oven, and then continue to bake in for 15 minutes. Insert a clean toothpick into the middle of the cake, and if it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, rotate pan and continue to bake in 10-minute increments.  (Mine was done after the initial 15 minutes. It may take a little longer to bake if there was more liquid in the date mixture).


Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the cake.  (The best and most even way to sprinkle is to use a thin strainer or tea strainer).



Look at this deliciousness~  Enjoy~~


September 19, 2012

Tiramisu Inspired Cupcakes

by tina

I’ve always wanted to try making tiramisu cupcakes, and here they are!  I found many recipes that required using a lot of eggs and a couple that only required 1 or 2.  I ended up choosing a recipe to follow that uses the least amount of eggs, modified it a little bit (I always like to reduce some of the sugar), and they turned out pretty awesome.


Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar (but I used a little less than that..more like 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature

Coffee Soaking Syrup

  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablelspoon Kahlua rum

Cream Cheese Filling/Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream, cold
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • cocoa powder for garnish
  • semi-sweet chocolate shavings for garnish

yields 10 to 12 cupcakes.

Recipe adapted from 6 Bittersweets.


Vanilla Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In the mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, oil, milk, vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix in the stand mixer on medium (level 3) until the batter is smooth (no more than 2 minutes). Add the egg and yolk, then continue beating for an addition minute.

Line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners. Fill the cupcake liners until they are about 2/3 full. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes (mine were done at 16 mins) or until very light brown.

Let them cool in the tins for 5 mins. Then transfer them to a cooking rack and let them cool completely (about 1 hour).

Coffee Soaking Syrup

Stir the coffee powder, water, and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring it just to a boil. Transfer the syrup into a bowl and stir in the Kahlua rum. Set aside and let it cool.

Cream Cheese Filling/Frosting

Sift the powdered sugar in a separate bowl. In the stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on low (level 1/2) until smooth. Add the heavy cream and continue beating until incorporated. Slowly and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing in between adds, until all the powdered sugar is added. (You may add more powdered sugar for desired sweetness). Add the vanilla extract and increase the mixer speed to medium (level 3). Beat for 1-2 minutes. Set aside or place it in the fridge if you like a firmer frosting.

*Now, onto the actual cupcake product!*

After the vanilla cupcakes have cooled completely, cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake and set each top aside. (You may want to line them up in a way for you to remember which top goes with which cupcake).

Using a spoon, coat each cupcake with the coffee syrup. Make sure you coat the sides and the center of the opening. 1 tablespoon to 1 1/2 tablespoon of coffee syrup was enough for me. If the cake doesn’t look too soggy, you can add a little more.

Fill the opening with the cream cheese frosting, dip the bottom of the cone with a little coffee syrup, then place the tops back onto each cupcake. Top each cupcake with another small dollop of frosting. Garnish the tops with cocoa powder and/or chocolate shavings.


August 7, 2012

A Cake Pops Kind of July

by tina

July sure flew by and I’m a bit sad that I lost my monthly posting streak that I had going on–it was a personal goal to post at least once every month. But oh wells. It was a busy month with lots of wedding related festivities. I enjoyed making cake pops 3 times in a month. yay :D

Here’s the evidence.

First off, I used this awesome cake pop baking pan

1st round. (first time ever making cake pops!) I followed this cupcake recipe for the batter. I knew the candy coating would contribute a lot to the sweetness of the cake pop, so I cut the sugar of the batter by about a third.

cake pops are hard to dip in the melted candy at first, but then you get the hang of it.  If you’re a cake pop newbie maker like me, I recommend melting the candy over a pot of simmering water rather than microwaving it.  You’ll get a much better consistency this way.  It takes a longer time, but you’ll be much happier, trust me!

Also, I learned that coating the bottom half first, then sticking the popsicle stick in, then letting the bottom half settle/harden first, and then coating the top half is a lot easier than trying to coat the whole thing all at once.

leftover cake batter went to making cupcakes :)

2nd round of cake pops. For a Tiffany’s themed bridal shower. (didn’t use the cake pop pan for 2nd or 3rd round. made it the original way of rolling the cake batter into balls)

3rd round. For a wedding shower.

We placed them in these cute bags

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