almond granola

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 | 0 comments

 

granola

Today I’m mad at the world. Not only am I pissed off, I’m also discouraged and saddened when I look around. Sometimes I feel hopeless. Do you feel that way too sometimes? Don’t feel bad if you do. It’s almost impossible not to.

Yes, I know I’m begin extremely cynical right now. After all, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I’m not homeless or ill. Things could be much worse after all.

And guess what? They are. They really, really, are.

granola

Commercial airplanes are being shot down, children are being bombarded (on beaches now?!?), stupid and psychotic parents are leaving their toddlers in hot cars, terrorists and radical groups are still wanting to exterminate us all, etc, etc. And Gaza…I mean, I’m just going to go ahead and say this, can the Middle East just please get along for once? In fact, can we all get along?

 granola

I know it’s not that easy, we all have our differences and our deep-rooted beliefs, but when it comes down to it, my simple and pragmatic mind (okay, I’ll admit that it’s not always such a logical mind) tells me that whatever the issue may be, it’s not worth the lives of thousands of people. Figure it out already and stop being selfish, assholes! Stop killing your fellow human!

granola

But wait…I’m not done venting yet. I feel a little better, but I’m not all the way purified from all evil of the world…

granola

Health insurance…Oh my lord, where do I start? Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not the best person at keeping up with current events, but I don’t have to read the New York Times on a daily basis or hear the president’s Obamacare speeches to tell you that the health system in this nation is truly backwards and borderline useless. I have my own personal experience to know that it just sucks, as I’m sure you may have your own experience as well. Medical care is a human right and necessity, but it’s just a corrupted business in this country.

granola

And last but not least…Yep, I think it’s happened. I may have finally reached my limit of stupidly rude people. People who are obviously bitter and unhappy with their existence and try to make others around them feel just as miserable as they’re feeling.People who don’t acknowledge you when they see you, because somewhere in their little brains, they don’t think that you are worthy of being acknowledged or noticed. People who talk to you in a condescending manner because somewhere in their little rat brains, they are programmed to believe that they are better than you. “Hey, guess what douche? You’re not better than me, but if it makes your day, you can believe that you are.”

granola

Okay, I’m done for now. Anyways, here is some yummy almond granola that will make all of this mess a little bit better, especially if you mix it with some deliciously thick greek yogurt, honey, and fresh berries.

Oh yes, things are already looking brighter.

Thank goodness.

almond granola
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 53 grams (1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons) old-fashioned oats
  • 43 grams (1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon) slivered almonds
  • 18 grams (2 tablespoons) rye
  • 1½ teaspoons light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon + a small pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1½ teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss oats, slivered almonds, rye, light brown sugar, salt, spices, oil, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
  3. Spread out on prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing every 5 minutes or so, until crisp and golden, for about 18-20 minutes.
  4. Let cool completely. Serve with yogurt and fresh or dried fruit.

 

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chocolate chip scones

Posted by on May 10, 2014 | 0 comments

chocolate chip scones

I love chocolate. I love sweets. Duh, right? I’ve only made pastry my career and main source of income. So therefore, I love these chocolate chip scones. I simply do and I think that you will too.

chocolate chip scones

chocolate chip scones

These scones are  full of flavor and unlike many other scones that may appear to be overly dry and extra crumbly, these are moist, fluffy, and tender. I’ve been making them for countless Sunday brunch services. They have become one of my favorite pastries to taste when hunger hits during the morning shift. Ssshh, don’t tell anyone, but I steal a few before I set the tray out on the line. Oh whatever, I’m sure the other cooks do the same thing as well. They’re just hiding it from me.

chocolate chip scones

It’s getting to the point where I think I need to change the scone flavor, but it’s hard to do so when I have these enticing goodies in my recipe book…they always call my name and whisper, “Make me again…you know you want to. No other scone will satisfy you or others quite as much.” By that point I’m exhausted and still half asleep, so I always end up listening to them…obviously. Because scones obviously know the deal. And I’m obviously not crazy just because I can hear scone voices in my head…I promise.

chocolate chip scones

Anyways, I hope that you enjoy these Chocolate Chip Scones as much as I do every week. I have a feeling that you for sure will!

chocolate chip scones

Chocolate Chip Scones
 
Author:
Serves: 16 small scones
Ingredients
Scones:
  • 9 oz (2¼ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 oz (1/3 cup + ¼ cup) cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • ¾ cup milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 oz (2 tablespoons) honey
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) milk
Chocolate Glaze:
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) chocolate milk
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
Instructions
Scones:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda) in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for about 1 minute until all ingredients are well blended.
  3. Meanwhile, chop milk chocolate and dark chocolate or place both chocolates in a food processor and pulse until chocolate is pea-sized.
  4. Add butter to bowl along with the dry ingredients. Switch speed to medium and mix until butter is pea-sized.
  5. Stop mixer and fold in chopped milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
  6. Combine egg, honey, and milk in a small bowl and whisk until all three ingredients are well combined. Turn mixer to low speed and pour wet ingredients into bowl. Continue mixing just until dough comes together.
  7. Sprinkle flour over work surface and dump dough over flour. Divide dough into two pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time, rounding it, and flattening it to a 6”-7” diameter disc. Cut flattened disc with a dough scraper or a large knife into 8 equal pieces that have the shape of a triangle. Repeat the same procedure with the other half of the dough.
  8. Place pieces on a sheet tray that has been covered with parchment paper, placing thinner corners of the scones towards the center.
  9. Bake, for a total of 10-11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time, until scones develop a nice golden color on the top and bottom. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
  10. Brush surface of scones with chocolate glaze.
Chocolate Glaze:
  1. Combine confectioners sugar and chocolate milk in a small bowl. Whisk until all ingredients are fully incorporated and glaze is smooth and lump-free.

 

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homemade twix bars

Posted by on Mar 4, 2014 | 0 comments

twix bars
Hello. I’m back. It’s definitely been a while since I last logged into the wordpress panel and clicked “publish” on a post. Two notable signs that show that I’ve been absent from the dessert blogging world are: 1. WordPress password amnesia (but I finally got it right after the third attempt). 2. High accumulation of plugin updates on my wordpress page. But after dealing with both issues, I am finally here blabbling away, just like old times. Oh, how I’ve missed this. twix bars But I’ve done this before…leave and temporarily abandon posting from this blog that I created years ago. Most times I knew that I would come back to it. I was certain that I just needed a break from it either because of a lack of inspiration, desire, or due to scheduling interference. But this time, unlike all other times in the past, I thought that it was a definite good-bye and not just a vacation. Kind of sad. When I came to such realization, I was just being honest and pragmatic with myself. I thought that although I have offered a lot of work, thought, and passion to it, that it was time for a departure. My logic was simple, truthful, and somewhat ruthless: there was no way on earth that I could or would want to maintain this blog while holding my new position as pastry chef of two restaurants. So bye-bye sweet-lab. I will miss you. twix bars The truth is that I have been extremely busy during this past month. Being a pastry chef of two sister restaurants is definitely challenging, demanding, and exhausting. Your bones hurt, your muscles ache, your mind is tired, and working 14-hour days becomes the new normal. I’m starting to get some assistance at one of the restaurants and am finally starting to see the pieces slowly (but surely) fall into place. Knock on wood… Despite the aching and exhaustion, this line of work is extremely fulfilling to me. I dream of desserts and I’m lucky enough to make those dreams become a reality at work. One of my biggest challenges, however, is to learn how to let go. It just seems impossible to do, but I’m getting better at it for my health and sanity. Things won’t be superb all the time and I can’t always please everyone, especially if I can’t be there all the time to oversee how the desserts leave the kitchen. Let’s just accept that and move on. twix bars But going back to sweet-lab… If I got offered the position of pastry chef of two D.C. sister restaurants, I’d like to think that it was not only because of my strong work ethic, but because of this blog. This blog is an open resumé to my abilities and capabilities. This blog has helped keep me sane during difficult times and has given so much more meaning to ordinary days. So how can I just disconnect from it altogether? I can’t. So here is my new plan of action. I will continue to post from sweet-lab. Sure, the posts may or may not be as detailed or as frequent as before, but they will still make an appearance from time to time and I am okay with that. And by the way, how do homemade twix pieces sound to you? I’m making these for a new dessert I plan to include on the menu.

Oh and did I mention that I’m in the midst of planning my wedding? Gotta love all the craziness.

Until next time.

Homemade Twix Bars
 
Serves: About 100 Twix Bars
Ingredients
  • Shortbread Cookie Dough:
  • 8 oz (1 cup) butter
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Chewy Caramel:
  • 10 oz (1 ¼ cups) corn syrup
  • 12 oz (1 ½ cups) sugar
  • 20 oz (2 ½ cups) cream, warm
  • 2.5 oz (5 tablespoons) butter, soft
  • ½ tsp salt plus a small pinch
  • Twix Bars:
  • shortbread dough
  • chewy caramel
  • about 2 ½ lbs milk chocolate, melted or tempered
Instructions
  1. Shortbread Cookie Dough:
  2. 1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl and mix with a paddle attachment or a hand-held mixer on medium-high speed until butter is smooth, light, and fluffy. Turn mixer off and scrape sides of bowl.
  3. 2. Change speed on mixer to low and add flour and salt. Continue mixing until dry ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. 3. Flatten cookie dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes.
  5. 4. Meanwhile, grease and cover an 18” x 13” baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap shortbread cookie dough. Work the cookie dough with your hands until it’s pliable, but not so much that it becomes too soft and warm. Place the dough into the prepared baking sheet and use your hands to press it into a thin, even layer that’s about ¼” thick. Bake for about 10 minutes and turn baking sheet halfway. Continue baking for an additional 10-12 minutes or until shortbread is light golden brown all throughout. Set aside for later use.
  6. Chewy Caramel:
  7. 1. Cook corn syrup and sugar to 310 F.
  8. 2. Whisk in cream, butter, and salt. Cook to 220 F while whisking nearly constantly. Cook at 220 F for about 6 minutes. Test caramel’s consistency by placing a drop of caramel onto a cold plate. Caramel should be soft and chewy. Remove from heat.
  9. 3. Pour hot caramel into shortbread cookie crust and smoothen it out with a spatula into an even layer. (Note: Remember that if you’re using a baking sheet that’s smaller than 18” x 13”, you will have caramel left over. Place the left over caramel into a bowl or container and store it for another use).
  10. Twix Bars:
  11. 1. Place baking sheet in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until the caramel becomes firm. Remove baking sheet from freezer. Use a sharp knife to loosen the shortbread/caramel crust from the sides of the sheet tray. Turn sheet tray upside down onto a large cutting board and remove parchment paper. Turn shortbread/caramel crust over and onto a cutting area so that the chewy caramel is facing upward.
  12. 2. Cut the shortbread/caramel crust into finger-width bars with a large and sharp knife. First, cut the crust into vertical bars and then cut each vertical bar into 2”-2 ½ ” bars. Clean the blade of the knife with a wet towel whenever crumbs or caramel stick to it. Place cut bars onto trays that have been covered with parchment paper and refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until caramel becomes firm.
  13. 3. Meanwhile temper or melt chocolate in a bain-marie or in the microwave using a microwave-safe bowl. Stir until chocolate is completely smooth. Dip the Twix bars in the melted chocolate using dipping tools or forks. Be sure to cover them completely in chocolate. Place the dipped bars onto a parchment-lined tray and repeat dipping procedure until all bars are covered in chocolate. Refrigerate the tray for about 10 minutes or until chocolate is set.
Notes
I used a half sheet tray (18” width x 13” depth) that is commonly used in restaurant kitchens. If you don’t have a sheet tray of those dimensions, you may use a 13” x 9” sheet tray. You will just have some shortbread cookie dough and chewy caramel left over and your overall Twix bar yield will be lower. You will need a candied thermometer for this recipe. Store Twix bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week and freeze for up to 3-4 weeks. For best results, allow Twix bars to sit at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes before serving so that the caramel can soften.

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