Grab-N-Go Granola Bars

I'm terrible at eating breakfast. :-/ I grew up with my mom always making me breakfast or something to grab on the way out the door because breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. However, when you love to sleep in as much as I do, I don't wake up till I actually have to with enough time to get ready and grab something on the way out. (Bad habit, I know.) 

I usually cave and buy boxes of granola snack bars so I have something easy to grab and go before I run out of the house, but either those are full of sugar or I'll have to splurge for the all natural bars that don't come cheap. This week, I'm making my own bars!! 

It's pretty easy to make these and I already had all the primary ingredients at home. Mix-ins with these bars are completely up to you! Choose the type of nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, etc. that you love and mix them in! :) 

First key to this recipe is to have really plump, juicy Medjool dates. I got my dates from CostCo which were pretty fresh but you can also find these at your local farmer's market. If your dates aren't fresh, make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes to rehydrate them. 

Next, toast your oats till they're nice and crunchy. I like to include honey, butter, a little brown sugar and salt with my oats. Toss them a few times in the oven to get a nice, even brown toasting on them. 

Let the toasted oats cool a bit so this is a great time to get started on the rest of your elements. Once you have all the pieces ready, place them all into a large mixing bowl and use your hands to incorporate all the elements.

Make sure you REALLY get in there so the dates and almond butter mixture gets distributed.This is the most important part because it's what will help keep the bars sticking together so don't be lazy!! Keep mixing and pressing the oats with your fingers until you can feel it sticking together. 

Press the mixture into a 8" x 8" square pan lined with parchment paper. Press together so it's all evenly distributed on the bottom. Use a piece of plastic wrap to make sure it's really firmly set. 

The last step is to chill then cut!! After 40 minutes you'll have delicious Grab-n-Go bars!! Thanks to these, I'll never skip breakfast again! :) 

Gluten Free Grab-N-Go Granola Bars 
Makes 8 x 4" Rectangle Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed 
  • 2 large pinches of kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup clover honey 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups of fresh Medjool dates 
  • 1/8 cup honey 
  • 1/4 cup almond butter 

Other Mix-Ins: 

  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup of raw unsalted nuts (I used rough chopped Macadamia nuts) 
  • 1 cup dried golden raisins 
  • Other optional items: Flax seed, other dried fruit like cranberries, cherries, chocolate chips, etc. Note, the more you add for dries, you may need more dates/honey to stick together.  

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small saucepan on medium heat, add butter and honey and melt until the two are incorporated. In a medium bowl, add rolled oats, brown sugar and salt. Pour the honey butter over the oats and mix together very well so oats are properly coated.

2. Transfer the coated oats on a small rimmed baking sheet. I used a quarter sized sheet. Toast until golden brown. Stir the oats every 10 minutes to ensure they brown evenly. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan when you achieve the golden brown color. 

3. While the oats are toasting, work on preparing the other elements. Add the dates into a food processor and puree until it becomes a large ball. You want this to be mushy and pureed throughly.  

4. In the same small saucepan you used before, add almond butter and honey. Place on a low heat and mix until you can stir easily with a spatula. Make sure you don't over cook this! Set aside. 

5. Place your mix-ins, slightly cooled toasted oats, almond butter mixture and pureed dates into the same medium bowl you used to mix the oats. Using your hands, mix all the elements together VERY WELL! Press the oat mixture through your fingers and keep mixing until the dates and almond butter has been throughly incorporated. This is what will allow your mixture to stick together so keep mixing until it can easily be squeezed into a ball of your hands. 

6. Line an 8" x 8" square baking pan with parchment paper. Add the mixture into the pan and press firming and evenly across the bottom of the pan. Use a piece of plastic wrap to press down the mixture evenly. I've also used the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to ensure it's pressed in. 

7. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or freezer for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment from the pan and cut into even bars. Wrap separately with plastic and enjoy within 5 days. 

 

Blackberry Lavender Love Pie

I've been meaning to recipe test some new hand pies for fun! I've been so busy lately with a recent apprenticeship I've taken on at the bakery down the street from me that I've lost time for recipe writing and testing! But not today!!

Today my bake shift was from 4am to 1pm so I came home and went straight for my ingredients! I know, I'll very likely crash any minute now and have to be in bed by 8:30PM in order to wake up and do it all over again. Ha! 

I had some blackberries in the freezer cause they were ripening too fast so wanted to use them up. I figured I would try some new combos since I also was drying some fresh organic lavender that I found at the farmer's market last week. It's so fun just picking up ingredients in my pantry and seeing where they can lead me! For this recipe, I felt like a small hit of vanilla extract really helps round out the tart blackberries and floral dried lavender buds. 

I definitely love how these little guys came out! Make some for a loved one or just cause you love yourself! ;) Here are some more pics for the assembling process since it can get a little confusing. Enjoy! 

Roll out your dough discs to be a little bigger than what you cut them at. So they're about 1/8 inch thick. 

Apply a thick outside coating of milk on the edges of one piece. Add your filling. 

Cover and lightly seal filling into the dough discs. 

Cut into the shape of a heart then crimp the edges with a fork. 

Brush with egg wash and add sanding sugar. Voila! Into the oven they go!! :D 

Out of the oven they come with this GOLDEN boootiful glow!! 

Blackberry Lavender Love Pies
Makes 12 x heart hand pies (using a 3" cutter for the dough) 

Dough Ingredients: 

  • 2 1/2 cups (357g) of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup of butter (225g) very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup of water of ice water (watch as you add it) 

Filling Ingredients:  

  • 4 cups frozen blackberries 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon dried lavender buds 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
  • pinch of kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch, dissolved in blackberry juices 

Other: 

  • Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream) 
  • 3 tablespoons Sanding Sugar 

Make the dough: 

1. Fill a measuring 1 cup with water and drop ice cubs into it and set aside. Put cubed butter into freezer while you measure out the rest of your dries. 

2. Place 2 ½ cups flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt into food processor and pulse to incorporate. Remove butter from freezer, cut into cubes and add into processor.

3. Pulse to cut the butter until mostly are sizes of peas. Start drizzling ice-cold water into the mixture slowly and pulse the processor as you add the water. You will use about 3/4 of a cup or a little under. Just be careful as you get to the end. Stop pulsing once all the water is added. Use a rubber spatula to gather the dough together.

4. Once you have large clumps and the dough can be pushed together with your hands, gather and knead the dough together into one large disc. Divide dough in half, shape them both into a disc then wrap with plastic wrap. Place into the freezer to chill quickly. 

Make the filling: 

5. In a medium saucepan, add all your ingredients EXCEPT for the cornstarch. Put on a medium high heat and cook for about 4 minutes until it's boiling. Stir occasionally. Don't want to over cook the berries or they'll all breakdown so keep an eye on them!

6. Once there is some extra liquid from the berries in the pan, take about 2 tablespoons of it out in a small bowl and add your cornstarch. Stir so that it is a thick liquid. Doing this will help avoid clumps of cornstarch in your filling. Add back into the pot and stir. Cook for about 30 seconds then remove from heat. 

7. Place filling into a separate bowl and into the fridge to cool down. Go back and stir once in a while to cool the filling down faster. If you're not in a rush, place on the counter and let it come to room temp before you put it into your fridge. 

Roll out your dough: 

8. While your filling is cooling, roll out your dough into a 1/4 inch thick. Using a 3inch biscuit cutter or glass, cut rounds out of your dough. Collect scraps and carefully re-roll them out to create more dough to cut out. I ended up with 24-26 total dough rounds. Place on a half-sheet and into the freezer to firm up before further working with them. 

Assemble your hand pies! 

9. Grab TWO dough discs and roll them out to about 1/8 of an inch thick. With a little dish of whole milk, brush the edges of one piece of dough leaving the center clean. 

10. Place about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of filling into the center of the first disc. Taking the other dough disc, place directly on top of the dough with the filling and gently press down the edges where the milk is so it seals the filling into the dough. 

11. Using a paring knife or pizza cutter, cut a heart shaped out of the little hand pie. Using a fork, crimp the edges down to further seal in the filling. Place on another parchment lined baking sheet and back into the freezer to freeze for at least 1HR to whenever you're ready to bake the pies off. 

12. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and space out 6 hand pies per sheet. 

13. When oven is heated, take your egg wash and apply a light brush of it on each hand pie. Top each brushed pie with sanding sugar. Using a pairing knife, cut two little holes for ventilation. 

14. Place into heated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Filling may ooze out which isn't a bad thing. :) 

15. Remove from oven and let it sit on the sheet for 3 minutes to cool. Place on a cooling rack to finish cooling. After 15 minutes you can eat and enjoy!! 

 

Blood Orange Rosemary Olive Oil Teacake

I'm pretty in love with this tea cake because it's sooo pretty to look at AND it's delicious! Best of both worlds. ;) I am a huge huge fan of using fresh herbs with fresh fruit because life's too short to stay in your swim lane. With citruses all the craze right now at farmer's markets, this is a serious need to bake teacake and wonderful for breakfast or for afternoon coffee/tea. 

I mean, how beautiful are these blood oranges?! I'm in serious heaven!! My favorite part about this recipe is during the first part of candying the oranges where your kitchen will smell like this amazing citrus sweet symphony. Then, you add in the rosemary and POW. You actually end up with this incredible syrup that can be used to flavor cocktails or sparkling water mocktails. :D This is the gift that keeps giving! 

Note: Do not slice your oranges too thin or else they'll just boil down to nothing. Also, minimize your stirring when the peel is simmering in your sugar water.  The more you stir, the less pulp you'll have on that rind. You want to keep as much of this in tact as possible for that pretty lining on your cake. 

There are a few parts to this cake but don't let that scare you off. Keep calm and bake on.   Also, feel free to add other citrus cousins to this cake if you are so inclined to! I've added kumquats and it pairs wonderfully.

Couple of notes on your ingredients: Go with organic oranges. I REALLY think this makes all the difference. The sweeter and better the fruit, the BETTER THE CAKE! Same goes with the olive oil used in this cake. I LOVE my California Olive Oil so suggest you use your favorite olive oil for these yummy cakes.  Happy baking! 

Blood Orange Rosemary Olive Oil Teacake
Makes one 9" x 5" bread loaf  (Approx 7-8 slices) 

Candied Fruit Bottom 

  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 4 medium blood oranges, cleaned well & sliced semi-thin 
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary 

Almond Paste

  • 3 oz. super fine almond flour 
  • 1.25 oz powdered sugar 
  • 1 large egg, room temp 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 

Cake 

  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • zest from 1 medium navel orange 
  • 2 tablespoon orange juice 
  • 1/2 cup canola oil 
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk 
  • 3 large eggs, room temp 

1. Start by making the candied fruit. In a medium saucepan on medium high heat, add water and sugar together. Lightly stir together until sugar melts. Bring to a simmer.

2. Add in sliced oranges layering on top of each other. You want the oranges to just barely sit at the same level as the water after adding into the pot. Lower heat to simmer and keep oranges there for 17-20 minutes until tender. Remember to stir every now and then but be VERY gentle as to not break the peels. They will become more fragile as they cook. 

3. Remove orange slices and place on a cooling rack to dry. Use the remaining orange sugar water and add rosemary sprigs. Simmer for another 5-7 minutes. Add a little water if needed and toss the rosemary so it's covered in the sugar water. Remove rosemary and place on the  cooling rack. 

4. Keep 1-2 rosemary sprigs in tact and toss in sugar to coat them. Set these aside to garnish for the top of your loaf if desired. Take the rest of the rosemary on the other sprigs off and give them a good chop and set aside.  (Note: Save your leftover syrup for drinks or flavoring other things!) 

5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter a 9x5 bread loaf. 

6. Layer cooled candied orange slices on the bottom of the pan layer on top so they are an even layer covering the bottom of the pan. Take chopped rosemary and sprinkle on top of the orange peel in the pan. 

7. Start the cake batter by making the almond paste. Add almond flour, sifted powdered sugar and  the large egg together in a small mixing bowl. Stir until well incorporated into a paste, set aside. 

8.  Next, work on the rest of the cake batter. In a medium bowl, add your dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange zest. Whisk to incorporate together and set aside.

9. In a stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment, add almond paste, canola oil, olive oil, and sugar. Careful, the oil may splash during mixing! Whisk together on slow at first then increase speed to medium until all the ingredients are incorporated. One egg at a time, add and beat without adding the next until the egg has been incorporated. Batter will start to get thick and creamy then add milk and orange juice.

9.  Switch the mixer to lowest setting ("stir") and mix in dry ingredients in 1/2 of a cup at a time. Careful not to overmix the dry ingredients. Once all the dry is incorporated, turn the mixer on medium and beat for 5 seconds. Turn off right away! (I love giving my cake batter a little taste at this time. Sooo yummy!) 

10.  Pour prepared batter into the orange and rosemary lined bread pan. Spread with a spatula so it's even in the pan. Give the pan a light tapping on your countertop just to get rid of any air bubbles but do not tap too many times because of your oranges on the bottom. Place into heated oven and bake for 45mins-1hr until deep brown. Rotate the pan once 70% of the way through baking. Do not remove from the oven unless a toothpick comes out clean! 

11.  Let it cool in the pan for 20minutes. Invert on a cooling rack and let it cool completely. At this point you can brush the cake with the remaining orange/rosemary syrup or leave as is. 

12. Slice and enjoy!! Keep in an airtight container or plastic wrap for 4-5 days. 

 

My First Pop-Up!

This past weekend was one of the most rewarding and soul-fulfilling weekends I've ever had!! For those who don't know, I partnered with local Santa Monica coffee roasters, Cafe Demitasse, to take over their pastry case for the weekend selling my bakes exclusively. This was a few months of talks, menu planning, recipe testing, produce shopping and then pumping out schedules, marketing materials and more! 

I knew it would be something that would take a tremendous amount of work. What I didn't know was that we would sell out within hours of the event starting!! I'm still feeling the high and exhilaration of seeing all the smiling faces and empty plates coming back. I won't forget the near distant "mMMmms" and people telling me "SO GOOD" "DELISH" and "AMAZING!" as they walked out to carry out their weekend plans.

Here are photos from the weekend along with my beloved menu. I made 380+ pieces all on my own which was the largest amount I've ever had to make! Luckily I had my hubby as my Sous Chef on baking mornings where we woke up at 2:30am to bake off everything off. My other very best friend and cousin helped me prep more pieces on Saturday night for Sunday. I seriously couldn't have pulled this off without them. 

Both days we sold out and within a few hours. For the next one I'll DEF need to make more items. Crowd favorites were all different surprisingly!  Saturday the Matcha Maple Pavs were the last to go but on Sunday they were the first! The Breakfast Pie was a hit on both days and so were the Whisky Cherry Pies. 

I have to admit... I often (still) struggle with my path and baking talents (even after the show and everything!) and whether or not my bakes are good enough to "cut" it.  After this event, I realized that the overwhelming positive feedback from friends, families, strangers and industry foodies, that my happy place is making good food and people happy through my food! I plan to ride out this  overwhelming joy in my heart for as long as possible as I plan my next steps. :)

For those who showed up and we were sold out of goodies, please message me and we can arrange a pie or pavlova commission! 

Thanks again everyone and can't wait to let you know about future events/plans!! xoxox. 

Kelvin and I were up at 2:30am baking off all the pies! #bakerylife

Black Sesame Pavlova (Photo Taken by Jennifer Jou) 

 

Bunnies and Rainbows

I've been sadly neglecting my blog but wanted to at least share the latest commission I worked on for a friend I met at the previous agency I worked for. It brought me great pleasure to design and make this cake for her daughter because it was such a fun brief! 

Her daughter loves bunnies and rainbows. Doesn't get more fun than that! This was the first time I've painted with buttercream and totally want to explore more of this! Took me a bit to get the hang of the texture but I love how it came out. 

These pastel colors are super dreamy and makes me smiles. :) Inside is a simple Valrhona cake with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. Happy Birthday, Charlotte!