Sweets

HOKKAIDO MILK BUNS AND PINEAPPLE CUSTARD

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These super gorgeous crochet-printed side-plates are from the lovely DishesOnly.

TO MY SHAMELESS AND UNDESERVING SELF I SAID, YES I’LL HAVE FOUR OF THOSE PLEASE

This post, on top of the rare fact that it’s the third dessert-recipe within two weeks, is also going to take a rather unconventional introduction.  Instead of my usual babbling on my, more often than not, unpleasant stories/inspirations behind a certain recipe, I’m going to gratefully credit this entire post to the unexpected blogging-perks that have been recently showering my life like a long-awaited rainfall.

First of all around 2 weeks ago, a mindfully packaged box from Italy oozing the kind of anticipation and excitement not even the strongest duct-tape can confine, quietly arrived at my doorstep.  Carrying with it, among other gorgeous sample-ceramics, were 4 beautiful crochet-printed plates that marked the exciting collaboration between me, and the lovely Italian ceramic company – DishesOnly.  In all honesty, calling this sort of thing a “collaboration” where I shamelessly ask for things without paying, sounds all too undeserving on my part because I feel like I’m taking advantage.  But when I saw these unbelievably delicate and understatedly elegant side-plates called crochet, I simply couldn’t help my greedy self.  The desire of having them among my now-seemed-comparatively-unattractive collection of plates, overrode any remaining ounce of self-consciousness.  So to my shameless and undeserving self I said, yes I’ll have 4 of those please.

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PEANUT BUTTER STICKY RICE BALLS IN GREEN TEA

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THEY COMPLETE ME

Sorry but I have to run off quickly today, and leave you with this traditional and wildly beloved Chinese dessert.  These little pretty purses called tang-yuan, meaning “soup-circles”, are very popular, if not mandatory, at all major celebratory event and holidays because of their literal implication for roundedness and completeness. The elegance of its name may be lost in translation but I assure you that the reasons for their popularity are not, if you would just invest 1 hour of your life to find out.

The recipe for sticky rice ball-dough is an update from an older recipe, which I thought had a couple unnecessary steps and confusions.  Then instead of making a peanut-filling from scratch, which would probably never be as smooth with my incompetent food-processor, I decided to use a mix of store-bought smooth peanut butter with a little coconut oil (to loosen the texture further) and brown sugar.  The sticky rice wrapper is slippery and chewy, like little delicious purses bursting with lava-like peanut butter filling that comes with a hint of coconuts.  It’s a mouthful of complimenting textures and flavours, chewy and runny, sweet and slightly salty, intensely nutty and rich but balanced with the subtle bitterness and fragrance from lightly honey-sweetened green tea.

More than just words, they’ll complete you.

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THIN AND CHEWY DATES AND RUM COOKIES

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DENSE AND CHEWY AND BORDERLINE STICKY

Sometimes, I feel, if a recipe could talk… it wouldn’t be thanking me for lovingly bringing it into this world, nor telling me how it did at school today over a cup of hot cocoa, nor about its hopes and dreams as we laugh and cry together in the kitchen at the end of a sun-drenched afternoon…  Sometimes, I feel, if a recipe could talk, first and foremost, it would probably just gently lean into my ears, and the three little words it whispers with steady breath would sound something like…  Just.  Shut up.

See, it’s not that my recipes are mean, because I assure you that I raised them all with decent manners.  But sometimes I have to admit that they’ve got a point.  Let’s take this instance as an example, shall we?  Cookies.  Very fast, very easy, zero electronic machinery needed.  Tinted with ground allspice and cardamon, and filled with minced rum-soaked dates.  If you like crispy-on-the-bottom-and-edges, but dense-and-chewy-and-borderline-sticky kind of cookies, I don’t know what else the recipe would want me to say except… make it now.

So.  Make it now.

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PAN-GRILLED MARSHMALLOW TOASTS WITH SEA SALT

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SOME SAY WONDERFUL THINGS ARE BORN OUT OF DESPERATIONS.

BEFORE TODAY, I’VE ALWAYS THOUGHT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT SPANDEX.

There is something I want you to know about Beijing, or perhaps, about this entire country in general.

If someday you too find yourself living as an angry tick inside the thick filthy furs on this enormous, hyper-capitalism beast, at least you’ll know this to your comfort.  Which is, fret not, because it is not only possible but entirely effortless to maintain all daily functions of life (whether a happy or miserable one…), up from remodelling your kitchen down to keeping yourself groomed, all of it … without stepping one foot outside the front door.

This is a city that takes consumer economy, bloody seriously.  You can get almost anything, luxurious or middle-class or just plainly dirt-cheap, anything, with a simple click of a button and have them delivered to your front door with fees next to nothing.  Order groceries online at 3 AM and have someone, messaging you minutes after, to ask you if you want your pork ribs chopped.  Type “yes, please” or “no, thank you”, and the next day at 4 PM, you’ll have everything you need for an all-out BBQ party including a brand new grill.  It is a, if not the only perk, of living here.

Then, there’s something else I also want you to know about Beijing, or perhaps this entire country in general, during the Chinese New Years.

Which is, that last, precious ounce of will to live that you’re holding onto so tightly through petty convenience and e-commerce therapy?  That will all… and I mean aaall, come to an abrupt and screeching halt, every year, at the first light of dawn on Chinese New Year’s Eves.

Then.  Lasts.  For.  Weeeeeks.

OK, perhaps you don’t know what this means.  It means online grocery shop, stops.  Online anything, stops.  Deliveries, half of them at least, stops.  My lifeline of this entire city, stops.  Right, of course I can remove myself from my bunker and physically go to an actual market to evade my impending starvation, but did I also mention… that it is cold here during CNY?  The kind of face-biting, ears-stinging coldness that makes the 15 minutes bike-ride between my apartment and the nearest market, feel like miles.  So thanks but no thanks.  Times like this, when desperation strikes, I could only resort to the emergency convenience store downstair.

Yes, well, that convenience store… that fucking convenience store that, when I needed it the most such as say… today, presented me with the mere company of a moldy broccoli and its desperate plea for a merciful death.  “Solly, Chinese New Years.”, the dude shrugged.  Was he serious?  I wouldn’t know what to do with a fresh broccoli let alone a moldy one.  Houston, it’s official.  You will find me stiff-cold by a torn bag of dog food in the bathroom…

Some say wonderful things are born out of desperations.  Before today I’ve always thought they were talking about spandex.  But now, now I know they were talking about things like this.  The transformation of an exhausted pantry to unexpected, glorious beauty.  What can you make from half of a baguette, a bag of marshmallows, some butter and flakey sea salt?  Apparently, much more than the sum of its parts.

As I stared into this little stack of pan-grilled marshmallow toasts with crispy edges and caramelized crusts, chewy and gooey layers of sweetness with pops of brininess, I marvelled at human’s sheer will to, not just survive, but survive well.  It took more than basic animal instincts for a blood-sugar thirsty female to patiently stood by the stove, gently pressing down the butter-browned baguette in a slow and warm embrace with the melting marshmallow, then the last 30-seconds push for it to caramelize into a gorgeous crust.  But it was all worth it.  Buttery, crispy, sticky and chewy with sparking saltiness.  A dignified end on the last day of this CNY’s starva-thon.

Tomorrow, the pulse of this city will slowly start to tick again as holiday ends.  But I have a feeling that this marshmallow toasts with sea salt is going to last much long than that.

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BACON CRACKLIN’ PANCAKE W/ SALTED HONEY

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WHEN DID THE ALL-STAR WORD “CRUST” LEAVE THE PANCAKE CONVERSATION?

I know, there are a lot of you out there, who loves pancakes.  And I just want to say, really, I tried.

I’ve never understood pancakes…  I’ve never understood the appeal of it.  I’ve never understood the logistics of it.  The oftentimes blandness and monotoned textures of it.  The never-ending flipping just so at the end, having only one that’s fresh and hot of it.  All of it.  I don’t get it.  All these years, I told myself that all I need is a moment.  A wow-moment.  A moment where a pancake so good, it comes barging into my oblivious life and smacks my foolishness awake, and poof just like that, I’d be a happy pancake folk.  Because aren’t you all?

But instead I found myself a pre-middle-aged women, i-hop-ing for the stack that never came.

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LET’S FILL THAT BOWL ON THIS SUPER !!!

IN THE NAME OF SPORTS, IT’S TIME TO EAT OURSELVES TO A CELLULITE-D IMMOBILE PULP

Right, let’s face it.  Who are we kidding?  The only thing sporty about me is that I could, maybe, jump over a puddle if my life depends on it.  But that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want someone like me at the party this sunday – while the gang rouse up above a borderline-patriotic roar towards the flatscreen, beers blazing and testosterone bursting – who sinks into the couch giggling at her phone for French bulldog puppies on youtube.  Why, because my friends, I’m the one who’s gonna bring the kool-Aid.

So let’s hit it.  For God and country, in the name of sports, and beefcakes clashing and tight muscles fluttering in slow motion… let’s eat ourselves to a cellulite-d immobile pulp and call it the spirit.  Man… gotta love this day.

Here’s the game-plan.


First, what’s a football party without some sliders?  These 2:1 sliders with charred green chili mayo, with patties that are 2 parts meat and 1 part cheese, browning and melting all over the place, is the one that you’re looking for.

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CHOCO-COLATE MUFFIN TOPS

MOISTER THAN A COOKIE, CRISPIER THAN A MUFFIN, LARGER THAN THE FACE OF CHESHIRE CAT AND GOES DOWN FASTER THAN THE LONGEST SLEEP I’VE RECENTLY ENJOYED

OK… I who haven’t had more than 4 hours of continuous sleep for the past few weeks, am talking to you in between my loose grip of consciousness, and my looser grip of consciousness, and then… oh look! it’s my unicorn-pony who helps with my dishes~    Uh whadat?  Oh yeah.  I was saying, how about, we take these double chocolate-y muffin tops, yes, just the tops because I couldn’t even trust my hands-and-eyes coordination to drop the batter into the molds (but it’s really because I was never fond of the bottom half of a muffin so I thought why bother), and slip into The Lady’s Wonderland to catch up?  These muffin tops are warm and melty, moister than a cookie, crispier than a muffin, larger than the face of Cheshire Cat, and goes faster than the longest sleep I’ve recently enjoyed.

So come, we could all use a fall down a tree-hole once in awhile.  Tell me about that time when you showed up in school without pants and your braises fell off.

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