Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lilikoi Butter

I am so glad that I moved to Hawai'i six years ago, otherwise I may never have had the opportunity to discover this amazing fruit - lilikoi.

Lilikoi is the Hawaiian name for passionfruit. It has a pretty tarty taste right out the gate, but with some sugar and butter, it is just heavenly! I had never seen it "in the wild" before until last year when walking up a hill in my neighborhood with my sister-in-law. One of the things I love about Hawai'i is that if fruit is on the public side of a fence or street, it's fair game! We'd discovered a lilikoi vine on a fence outside the public water municipal property. We kept our eye on it, waiting for the time when the fruit would be ripe.

In Hawai'i, the yellow variety is most prevalent (the fruit turns from green to yellow). A beautiful flower sprouts up on the vine, and the lilikoi fruit comes out of the flower! How cool is that?!

(not ripe when it's green and hard)

It's kind of weird, you have to wait until the fruit gets wrinkly and looks like it's going bad before it gets ripe. When I had my fruit ripening on the counter also, it made my whole kitchen smell like stinky feet. Not desirable but I was willing to wait it out to get that delicious fruit! You can eat lilikoi just by cracking open the peel and sucking out the juice/seeds. The seeds are surrounded with delicious fruit pockets and are okay to eat, although I prefer to spit the seeds out.

I'm currently growing my own vine in the small strip of dirt we've got on our lanai. I got this tiny, 6-inch clipping from my husband's cousin in December, transplanted it in April, and it has just now started to take off!

I've heard they grow pretty fast, and I thought it would just magically grab onto the fence and climb but it needed some help. I picked up this bamboo trellis and I'm hoping to train it to go all over the place. So far, it's grabbed onto three different places.

I'm hoping that next year, I'll be harvesting my very own lilikoi! The concentrate from Perfect Purée out of Napa Valley is pretty pricey (which can be found at Foodland Farms market in Aina Hina), so being able to make my own fresh from the fruit is practical and worth it. I also like knowing exactly what is in my food. No preservatives or too much sugar here!

I found this recipe for lilikoi butter and decided to give it a whirl! I used about seven fruits and got 2 mason jars full of lilikoi butter. I picked up the lilikoi at this amazing little local market called Waialua Fresh  on the North Shore of O'ahu. It's a drive (45 mins from Town), but it's so worth it! It can be used on ice cream, toast, or you could modify the recipe and make it into a thick curd for tarts, pie, etc! (just add more egg yolks or some cornstarch, your choice!)

Lilikoi Butter
(adapted from LavaLily)

1 cup fresh lilikoi juice
8 oz unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs

In a saucepan, bring to a boil the lilikoi juice, butter and sugar. Temper this hot mixture into the eggs, then add all back to the pan and return to a boil, whisking constantly. The original recipe recommended cooking for another 1/2 hour at a simmer, but I just stopped after it came to a boil. You can strain the liquid if you like before you pour it into some sterilized jars. Cap those suckers and turn them over to seal the jars. Refrigerate after opening.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ono Chocolate Haupia Pie

So ono it wen brok da mout.

So delicious your mouth will be broken! This simple pidgin sentence is the best way to describe this amazing pie. It's got a chewy pressed crust with coconut in it, then there's a layer each of smooth and sweet chocolate pudding and haupia (coconut pudding for you Mainlanders). Oh. My. Gosh. 

As I ate my piece of pie, I kept thinking "This reminds me of something! But what??!" Then it dawned on me - this is like the pie version of a Mounds candy bar. Yum! 

I was lucky enough to get this recipe from my brother's girlfriend and I am SO thankful!! After the two of them visited my husband and I for our wedding, she went home and tried to come up with the perfect Chocolate Haupia Pie ala Ted's Bakery, which is very popular here. She did a great job! The recipes come from a few different places but they are all good.

Give it a try; you won't be sorry.

Chocolate Haupia Pie
Serves 8-10

Pressed Crust
(Makes one pie crust)
adapted from The Cambrian

1 and 1/2 cups blanched almonds
1 and 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
6 T sugar
6 T unsalted butter, cold

After reading the ingredients list, I thought to myself, what could be more Hawaiian than swapping out the almonds for macadamia nuts??! I had some in my icebox (they keep longer) and figured I would use them up and, hello: Mac Nuts + Chocolate + Haupia = AMAZING, right?! Yes. Well, my little alteration to the recipe did NOT work. At all. I ended up with some weird bubbling mass in a pie pan instead of a delicious golden brown crust. I'm guessing that the fat content of the macadamia nuts plus the butter was just too much to handle for this crust. If you are crazy on the idea, I bet the addition of some flour would cure the problem.

Instead I ran down to our local co-op health food store because I knew they had almonds and they are a 1 minute walk away from the apartment. Well, bad news. They only had whole, raw almonds. The recipe called for blanched so I knew I had to do something. Luckily almonds are easy to blanche and peel. Check it out:

Place almonds in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and let sit for 1 minute and 1 minute only.

Pour out the hot water and douse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Drain the almonds. Pop the skins off (super easy!) and pat dry.

Voila! Blanched almonds!

Now yes, it is far easier to just buy them already blanched from the store in little 1/2 cup packets, but I'm betting that they are much cheaper to buy in bulk. Hence the inclusion of this process. It just took a little extra time!

I love doing pressed crusts because they are less messy than ones you have to roll out and they taste way way better than traditional pie crust. I am a pie crust hater, which is good because my husband loves pie crust so he eats my leftovers. Match made in Heaven.

Best tool for the job: The Food Processor.
Makes it quick and easy!

I chopped up the almonds to a "medium" size because I knew I would do more pulsing with the rest of the recipe. Just don't leave the nuts too big. The moisture from the butter needs something to soak into (i.e. the teeny tiny almond crumbs).

Add in the coconut and pulse a few times, then add in the sugar and butter. I cut the butter up in little cubes to help the processor along.

Pulse until it is well-combined and then dump it out into your pie pan. Press the crust into the pan and up along the sides. You can use something with a flat bottom to help out or just use your fingers. At this point, I heat my oven to 375F and pop the crust into the icebox to firm up the butter a little bit while I wait.

Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes and take it out when the edges are slightly crispy. 

Hershey's Hotel Chocolate Pudding
(Makes enough for two pies!)
adapted from

2 and 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 cup sugar
3 T all-purpose flour
4 T cornstarch
2 T good quality cocoa powder*
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 and 1/2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, finely chopped
2 T unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

*I use Cacao Barry brand cocoa powder. Rich and dark!

In a one-quart saucepan, combine 1 and 1/2 cups of the milk with the sugar.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Add the egg yolks and remaining cup of milk, whisk to combine well.

Bring the milk in the saucepan up to a boil, then temper in 1/2 the liquid into the egg mixture. Return everything to the pan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Be careful not to overcook the pudding. When you see it thicken to a desired consistency, remove it from the heat.

Add in the butter and chocolate, then the vanilla. Whisk to combine well. Pour into the cooled pie crust until it is filled about halfway. Let set and cool in the icebox.

Haupia Filling
(Makes enough for two pies!)
Adapted from Hawaiian Sun Coconut Milk Package

1 bag (12 oz) Hawaiian Sun Coconut Milk (found in the freezer section)
1/2 cup sugar
6 T cornstarch
3/4 cup water

This is a very simple haupia recipe. I have seen it made with the addition of milk, heavy cream, butter and corn syrup. All those ingredients make it very creamy. Also, the thickness is controlled by the amount of cornstarch you choose to use. So if you want something very firm (this recipe is firm) add more cornstarch. If you want something looser and spreadable, add less.

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk and sugar to a slow boil, being careful not to let it scorch.

In another bowl, stir together the cold water and cornstarch.

When the coconut milk has come to boil, whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring to a boil, being sure to constantly whisk the mixture until it become very thick and you see some large bubbles appear.

Pour half over your pie and smooth it out. Let set in the icebox.


This pie is also delicious with a good dollop of fresh whipped cream!

We ended up sharing this pie at the Couples Bible Study that we lead every Tuesday night. I'm glad we have people to share with. I love baking but I definitely do not want to eat it all! Plus I love to share.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ocean Themed Cake

I had the sweet opportunity to bake the cake and cupcakes for my husband's cousin's wedding this past weekend. It was a lot of work but it was very worth it! I just wanted to share a few photos of the baked goods and I hope it gives you some inspiration if you make cakes!

The bride and groom are both artists and extremely, wildly talented. I wish I had their drawing/art skills! They made all their own stationery for the wedding (drool). One of my secret dreams is to one day make my own paper stuff. Stationery. Etc! I am a total stationery junkie and have to restrain myself from buying too many cards. Yes, I am keeping Hallmark and the USPS in business. But that is another story!

The bride was also cool enough to let me do my own thing with the cake. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Fortunately, I had some direction and inspiration - their invites/RSVPs!

She also had told me that she was going to make their cake topper. At first I thought it was going to be like the two little birdies on their invite, but she ended up making a pair of turtles. It is amazing what you can do with some clay and creativity! They came out SO adorable!

I colored the fondant a sandy color and put that over the whole cake. Then, to make the "ocean waves" on the cake, I used white fondant for the first layer of ocean foam at the top of the cake. This gave it some nice contrast. Then I made three different shades of blue/green fondant and cut out more circles, layering them on the cake in a scallop pattern. I finished it off with a nice brown ribbon border at the bottom. This was a fairly easy design to execute; it just took some time and patience to do!

These guys are so cute!

I don't really like my fondant recipe and will need to do some tweaking. It doesn't respond well to the humidity here, even when I avoided refrigeration. Gah! Any suggestions? I'd rather make my own than buy commercially made fondant.

In addition to the small cake for cutting (which was Red Velvet inside!) I also made 300+ cupcakes, half Red Velvet and half Chocolate with Coconut Frosting. It would have been a LOT faster to make all the components in a mixer larger than my Kitchen Aid. (Honey - 20qt Hobart Mixer for Christmas - please?) But I made it work. I also have a super tiny oven at home, but my father-in-law graciously let me borrow his oven to bake all the cupcakes so it took me half the time! I brought all the cupcakes to the venue and frosted them right before the wedding. I could not have done everything as fast as I did without the help of my awesome sister-in-law! I think she also helped me keep my sanity a little bit :)

I really liked the heart toothpics that the bride had made. They added a nice amount of color to the cupcakes and made them look really special!

The whole wedding was super fun and I could really feel the love the couple had for each other! Congratulations you two!

And be sure to check out their clothing line: Vers Hawaii

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mango Madness: Mango Rosette Tartlets

This randomly popped up - a challenge to do a mango madness blog post! I found out about it from @nella22 on Twitter. I don't have nearly enough time to devote myself fully to Twitter, but I do check it out at least once a day. I was mentioning to her how I was getting ready to do a post on mangoes and she told me to save it until Friday as "everyone" was going to be doing a #mangomadness post!

The rules:
-Something with mango (obviously)
-Eat mangoes while you create (obviously)

I had a mango ripening in the fridge and my brain reached back to a clipping I'd saved from a Martha Stewart Weddings magazine from a few years ago. How odd! But that was the first thing that came to mind. I have a folder where I keep all my clippings that have yet to be tested, so I knew it was safely inside. Once a recipe has been tested and deemed good enough to repeat, it makes it onto the pages of my special recipe book. 

This one was a keeper!

Mango Rosette Tartlets

Don't those look beautiful??! A lovely crust and some whipped cream/creme fraiche filling topped with mango!

Well, I totally deviated from the recipe. I'm starting to do that more often! I had this amazing butter cookie dough in the freezer, just waiting to be used up. I had made it for sugar cookies and it was so delicious. I thought, tart dough = why not?

This recipe is adapted from the America's Test Kitchen and was recommended to me by @nella22:

Butter Cookies (aka Tart Dough!)
2 1/2 c All-Purpose Flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 T cream cheese, softened*

Mix all together, shape into discs, and refrigerate.

*I didn't have cream cheese at the time so I actually substituted some Greek yogurt I already had. It worked great! I suppose you could even try using sour cream.

Now, back to our delicious tarts!

These were the molds I used. They are very, very tiny. I think in the magazine, they used ones a bit bigger, and were able to use more mango. These were gifted to me by my husband's aunt. She found them at a Goodwill-type store for suuuper cheap. A huge bag of different shapes! Amazing. And she thought of me :) Aww!

Now, take your refrigerated tart dough and roll it out to about 1/4"-1/8" thickness, whatever you are comfortable with. I know there are easier ways to do this, but my tart pans were very light, so I decided to use a round cutter for each pan.
It is slightly larger than the tart pan.

Cut out however many you want (I made 14).

And very carefully, ease the dough into the pan.

Even more carefully, press the dough into the rounded edges of the pan without squishing it too much, until everything is nice, cozy, and even.

If you have edges that hang out, use a small knife to neatly trim them. The edges should look nice since everyone sees that! Once you've got all your pans done, refrigerate them for 30 minutes to let the dough get firm again. 

Then, prick the bottoms with a fork, and bake at 350 until they are baked to perfection (about 20-25 mins). Let cool completely on a wire rack before filling. 
1/2 c cold heavy cream
1 T powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c creme fraiche*
1 mango, peeled and halved
small mint leaves

*If you are unable to find creme fraiche ("fresh cream", a decadent sort of sour cream) at your local market, you can make it very easily at home! I did, using this website as a guide. I made mine with heavy cream and buttermilk.

Whip the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the creme fraiche and taste for desired sweetness. I found that I had to add a little more powdered sugar to mine.

Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, and pipe into the tart shells, filling them halfway. 

Next, slice your mango very very thinly, roll each slice into a rose and place onto your tart. I found this part to be very tricky! And I think in the magazine picture, they used several pieces of mango. I used only one. Pop on a bit of mint and your Mango Rosette Tartlets are ready!

Can't get enough mango?! (I know I can't!)

Check out these other #mangomadness bloggers for great recipes and inspiration!  by the #mangocrazy Annapet by the #mangomaniac Elizabeth  by the #mangosocial Karriann  by the #mangofriend Malou by the #dominicanmango Francys by the #mangowriter Nelly  by the #mangobaker Erin

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quick n' Easy Guacamole

MMM. I love this time of year because all my favorite fruits and vegetables are in season! Most especially strawberries, mangoes, and AVOCADOS!

I can't believe that I didn't like these when I was younger, but yeah, mushy green stuff is probably not too appealing to kids.

This recipe that I made up is super easy and customizable. That's what I love about cooking - you can add in or leave out whatever you want, and change things along the way. I am totally a baker at heart and love precision, measurements, and technical skills, but there is something fun about just tossing in what you want and tasting along the way!
- 5 Ripe Haas Avocados
- 5 Roma Tomatoes
- 1/2 Sweet Maui Onion
- 1 Lime
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to taste
- Salt and Pepper, to taste

Feel free to add anything else you might like... Cilantro, scallions, hot peppers?! Make it your way!

Cut all the avocados in half.
Remove the pits and scoop into a large non-reactive bowl (like stainless-steel) with a large spoon.

Cut the tomatoes and onion into a small dice. I like small-ish pieces that can fit on your chip.
As you can tell, I like tomatoes more than I like onions. I just add a little bit of onions for the crunch!

Throw all that into your bowl, and use my favorite tool for this recipe - the potato masher! I suppose you could also use a large fork.
I like to have some large chunks left over, so I don't mash my guacamole too much. You may prefer something incredibly smooth so I would suggest using a food processor (but seriously, try it chunky at least once!).

Ok, ditch the masher and switch back to your large spoon. Add in a generous amount of olive oil. As in, pour it once all around the diameter of the bowl. I find that this adds to the consistency as well as the flavor of the guacamole. Then squeeze in your lime and maybe some lemon juice. Add a generous pinch of kosher salt and crack some pepper in there!

Now stir it up and taste test!

Make sure you taste it with a chip or whatever you are serving it with. Chips already have salt on them, so perhaps you may not want to add too much salt to your guacamole. I thought mine needed some more salt and olive oil. You should always taste everything you make so that you know it is good and servable. Seriously!

Transfer your guacamole to a serving dish or storage container. I put some in both because I'm going to hide the storage container in the fridge somewhere. My husband LOVES guacamole so I hope this will make it last a little bit longer, haha!

Now, I know you have all heard the old wives' tale of leaving the pit of the avocado in the guacamole to keep it from turning brown. This works, but not very well! You just throw that pit away, seriously. The avocado turns brown when oxygen hits the surface. Although the browned guacamole doesn't taste any different, it just doesn't look that pretty. So, to keep that from happening, put some plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole. Directly! Press it down and make sure it is completely covered.

I even do this for the guacamole in the storage container. Even with a lid, oxygen will get in there and turn it brown. Cover it with plastic wrap directly on the surface and then put the lid on.

If you can wait, let your guacamole sit in the fridge for a good hour before serving. This will let all the flavors marinate. As each day passes (if you are lucky enough to have some leftover), you will need to re-evaluate the flavor. You might need more salt, olive oil, or citrus juice, so be sure to taste test before serving!

What do you put in your guacamole? How do you like it - chunky or smooth? Spicy or cool?

It's Been Awhile

Hope you weren't holding your breath. It's been about 14 months since I last posted, I guess life got a bit busy!

In the time that has passed, I:

  • Got a "real" job
  • Moved into our first apartment and set it up to be our home sweet home
  • Got married to my husband on October 9, 2010 - a truly amazing, wonderful day!
These are just the major things, but a whole lot of fun little things have happened along the way since last April. Perhaps I will blog about them in the future.

I originally started this blog as a way to connect with my far-off family and friends while I was away at school. It's a non-obtrusive way of sharing what's going on without sending out constant e-mail blasts, and I can never remember all my life updates while on the phone. Plus life is better when you can share pictures, too!

So, as it was when I started, this will be a way to share what I've been up to, whether it be cooking, crafting, baking, doing stuff outdoors, or just to share random thoughts. Read on!
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