European Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

The past weekend was kind of rough. Bryan’s car was broken into. His car was parked on the street overnight like normal. The next afternoon, we got in the car and realized the phone USB charger was missing. Then, we looked around and found out a few more things were gone. We got out of the car and saw the passenger’s side window was chipped and some of the car parts were broken. The car is barely 5 months old. No valuable things were visible before the incident. The thief only took away some non-valuable things, but the car repair will probably need about $400. It is heartbreaking. On the bright side, no one gets hurt and the car can be fixed easily. So all is good. But, Bryan and I definitely wouldn’t mind a cup of hot chocolate to make us feel better.

This hot chocolate is European style. It is really thick like a cup of melted chocolate. Smooth, creamy and warm. I swear that you will never go back to those hot chocolate packages after you try this! Now, go make a cup of hot chocolate and bundle up. 🙂

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Homemade Pomegranate Syrup

Pomegranate Syrup

Pomegranate is not a typical fruit that I would get or eat. I like the taste of a pomegranate, but I don’t like to eat the seeds. I just can’t get through the texture. So how would I ever think of using a pomegranate? Thanks to my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box that I get every 3 weeks. I got a pomegranate this time. I am happy to explore what I can do with it.

Let’s talk about CSA. It is a way to buy local seasonal vegetables and support local farmers. How does a CSA work? First, pick and join a subscription. Then, the farmers would pick and choose a variety of fruits and vegetables for you and put in a box. The box would either be delivered to your door or you have to pick it up in local area. There are many different CSA farms out there. Some even do bread and honey. The thing I like about this the most is the surprises. I would never know what I get each time. The morning for my CSA delivery is like Christmas for me. I am so excited to check out what is in the box. Of course, I also get to try some new fruits and vegetables that I have never heard or tried before. It definitely inspires my cooking. If you cook a lot, I think you really should check out the CSA farms in your area.

So yes, pomegranate! After doing some research, I have decided to make syrup with the pomegranate. That way, I don’t have to eat the seeds. Win-win decision! The pomegranate syrup is intense, little tart and little sweet. I used mine to make a cocktail, which I will post the recipe next week. But you can use the syrup in desserts, like cheesecake, cake, panna cotta or ice cream. If not, drizzle them on pancakes would be just as good. Also, don’t forget the meat. Pomegranate glazed pork chops sounds like a great idea too. I am sure you will find a way to use this yummy syrup.

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Sweet Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Black Sesame

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This is my interpretation of my grandma’s (my mom’s side) recipe. It is a dish from a specific region in China called “Chaozhou/Chiuchow 潮州”. My grandma is from Chiuchow. The original name of this snack is “Lok Tang Ci 落湯糍”, but most people will know this as “Nuomici 糯米糍”. Why is this sweet snack being served on Chinese New Year? It is because the word “Ci 糍” sounds almost exactly like the word “Chin 錢 (money)” in Chiuchow dialect. The dumplings are the symbol of wealth.

The dumplings should be made on New Year eve. On the first day of New Year, everyone in the family will go to grandma’s house. We greet each other, give red packets, receive red packets, sit around, eat and chat. These dumplings are one of the things that everyone loves. When the steaming hot dumplings come out of the kitchen and arrive on a table, everyone would run over with a pair of chopsticks and munch on their dumplings. Great memory!

One really interesting thing: My mom and my aunt are never allowed to eat the dumplings. It is because they are married. In Chinese culture, when a daughter married someone, she is the member of the husband’s family. Any family traditions from the daughter’s side of the family will not pass down to the daughter. And the daughter is considered an outsider. Since the dumplings symbolize wealth, my mom never got to eat the dumplings after she got married. But this year, my grandma has suddenly changed the rule to allow my mom to eat under one condition. No take out. (No money is being taken away from the family). Mom said that she hasn’t eaten that for 30 years. Haha… Lucky mom!

But yes, these little dumplings are gooey. Dip as much sugar as you want when eating. Don’t start talking when eating. I don’t think anyone will understand you when you have that sticky dumpling in your mouth. It is fun and tasty, and it will bring you wealth! Have a great new year!

P.S. Special thanks to my fifth uncle for helping out with the background information and recipe tips! I can’t finish this post without his help.

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Marshmallow Squares

Fluffy, soft and gooey marshmallows…. They are way too good! I had my very first homemade marshmallow in a restaurant in Monterey, Passionfish. It was lightly toasted served with sweet and tangy balsamic strawberries. The marshmallow was so soft, which was nothing like the regular round ones that came out of a bag. Ever since then, I always want to make my own.

With my new mixer, marshmallows were the first thing I made. They were very soft and delicious. I can’t wait to put some in a cup of hot chocolate. Once you have some homemade marshmallows, you can turn them into anything. This Halloween, I will be giving out these marshmallow lollipops. Hope the kids will like them.

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Sweet: Snowskin Mooncakes

This year Mid-Autumn Festival is on Sunday. I am not going to make anything special for the day. But I bought a few snowskin mooncakes and some traditional mooncakes with lotus paste to celebrate. Before the day is here, Bryan and I have already finished our snowskin mooncakes. So sad… I wish I have bought more…

Talk about snowskin mooncakes, they are one pretty new invention. They appeared at around 20 year ago, and they started to get popular around 10 years ago. They can now be found in most bakeries in Hong Kong. They are not baked pastries any more. They are some cold treats like mochi. The outside skin is soft and a bit chewy that made with glutinous rice flour. The inside usually are mung bean paste with some fruits flavoring and fruits. They are definitely healthier than the traditional mooncake. And since they are cold and sweet, children and young people tend to like the snowskin mooncake more than the traditional one. I personally love both. The traditional one reminds me of my childhood and home. The snowskin one is more fun and special. All I know is that I must have some mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival.

I bought two kinds of snowskin mooncakes. They were both amazing! I love the crunchy texture of the dark chocolate crisps. But I also love the strong mango flavors in the Mango with Pomelo one. I just can’t pick one. There are also many other flavors, like strawberry, green tea, blueberry with cheese, chesenut and etc. Go get some before they are all gone!

I wish you a happy Mid-Autumn Festival! May you and your family can get together and enjoy some precious moments. 中秋節快樂! 祝大家人月兩團圓!

Maxims Snowskin Mooncakes

Mango and Dark Chocolate Crisps Snowskin Mooncake

Chocolate Flavor Skin with Mango, Mango Flavor Mung Bean Paste and Dark Chocolate Crisps

Mango with Pomelo Snowskin Mooncake
Mango Flavor Skin with Mango, Mango Flavor Mung Bean and Pomelo

Want to get some mooncakes?

Snowskin Mooncakes: 99 Ranch Market (140 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776)

Traditional Mooncakes: Kee Wah Bakery (150 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776)

Egg Tarts

Egg tart is one of the Hong Kong classic. Everyone in Hong Kong loves egg tart. They like to eat it for breakfast, brunch as dim sum or tea time snack. An egg tart is a baked egg custard in a pastry. There are mainly 2 types of egg tarts. One with a shortcrust pastry and the other with a puff pastry. This recipe is the shortcrust one. I personally love this crust the most. It is buttery with a hint of savory, which is perfect with the smooth and lightly sweetened egg custard. Whenever I am baking these little egg tarts at home, the house just smells incredible. It is hard to eat only one. Maybe, I can sneak in two in my stomach before anyone found out.

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