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Open for business

Chaifinal
I´m back, and it didn´t take me 3 years this time around!

I´m here to announce that this Friday, October 21st, my baking venture, Chai Pastelería, opens its virtual doors. I can hardly believe the day is finally here to be honest.

Torta de chocolate y café con crema de caramelo y escamas de sal gris

It took months of careful planning, website design (done by yours truly, which explains the delay!), baking, photographing, designing the logo with a graphic designer friend, finding the right boxes for the products, and on and on.

But now it´s all done and I can start actually working and enjoying the fruits of my labor… or slaving myself in the kitchen, depends on how you look at it!

You can see the website here (so far, it´s only in Spanish, but I´ll get the English version running in a few weeks at most). And you can find me in Facebook here and Twitter here.

brownies de chocolate blanco

I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to taking your orders and/or sharing a cooking class with you!

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Caramel cake and vanilla caramels

When you have over 1,000 Daring Bakers from all over the world, it´s damn hard to chose a challenge that suits everyone´s tastes and seasons. That´s why when I read that November´s challenged involved a caramel cake and caramels I wasn´t particularly excited since caramel cake is something I could crave during the winter, but not in the summer, and it´s been crazy hot here these past few weeks, so I wasn´t too keen on turning on the oven or making a buttercream frosting.

bite

But that´s the magic of the DBs, you are bound to be surprised. And I was! First of all, I didn´t burn myself while making the caramel syrup, mostly thanks to a very clever DB who commented on the forum that a good way to avoid getting burnt by the splattering caramel was covering up the pan with aluminum foil and making a whole in the middle through which to add the water. I worked like a charm! So thank you Linda for the great tip, my arms will be forever grateful.

This month´s hosts are Dolores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity , Alex from Blondie and Brownie and Jenny of Foray into Food. And they certainly did a great job picking this recipe.

The caramel cake is very delicate and moist, but in a compact sort of way, which I liked, but some people might not agree with me. It´s not hard to prepare either once you have managed to work through the caramel syrup without making a mess of yourself and your kitchen.

caramel cupcakes and minicakes

As for the brown butter frosting, there was dissent in the DB ranks. Many people claimed it was unbearably sweet, which had me quite worried. Granted, I didn´t add as much sugar as the recipe called for, but enough to get the right consistency. And I LOVED it, which is saying a lot since I normally dislike buttercream frostings. It added a whole new dimension to the cake, and although it was quite sweet, it´s wasn´t too sweet, and it complemented the cake perfectly. Maybe this has to do with getting the caramel syrup dark enough (without burning it, that is), since it is used in both the cake batter and the frosting, and I believe it can lack complexity and just taste sweet if it´s not dark enough.

caramel syrup

caramel cupcake with brown butter caramel frosting

I was about to chicken out on making the vanilla caramels since I rarely eat caramels and I don´t own a candy thermometer, nor intend to, so my chances of messing everything up were quite high. But I tried to reassure myself with the old-school methods of soft and hard ball syrups, and went ahead.

Surprisingly, the came out quite decent! When I took them out of the flame, put them in their molds and let them cool, they turn out a bit too soft (which was fixed putting them in the fridge and eating them half-cold). But I didn´t know that until later, so I put half of the batch back in the pan for a quick reheat hoping to make them a bit harder, and well, in two minutes, they went from too soft to too hard (yes, refrain that chuckle, please). So I ended up with hard caramels, but I could still cut them in small pieces and they are still edible, as long as you warn people not to chew on them if they want to keep their perfect smile.

Overall, I´m going to declare this whole venture a big success, summer or winter, and I´m sure I´ll be making the cake again as soon as the weather makes it bearable to turn on the oven.

If you want to check out tons of variations, and what I´m sure will be some breath-taking decorations, check out what the rest of the Daring Bakers were up to this month.

And if you want to give the recipe a try yourself, you can find it after the jump.

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Oops, I did it again and lemon poppy seed muffins

And just like that, I´m back!!!

Well, technically, I´ve been back for two weeks already, but my poor neglected blog hasn´t heard from me in ages, and I had promised to fill you guys in regarding the trip and everything.

mini cake

The problem is, I have been working pretty much non-stop since I´ve been back, so I haven´t had much time to reflect on the trip and process it all up in writing. Of course, it was amazing in many ways: I got to meet “virtual” people personally, I got to see a dear friend of mine again, I got to explore cities I felt I knew from watching tv or movies but actually didn´t, and got surprised with some cities I only had a faint idea about.

But more on that later, I promise (ok, I know I haven´t been good with promises lately, but this time it´s for real, there´s no way the trip is going to go unrecorded.)

With Sugar High Friday just around the corner and with Helene hosting, there´s no way I was going to miss participating. Plus, and this is a big plus, I finally got a microplane zester on the trip, so the citrus theme was right up my alley, all the recipes I seem to get to these days are the ones with some sort of zest in them or with something requiring the use of my new kitchen toys.

mini bundt cake

I actually made two things lately that could qualify for SHF: lemon poppy seed muffins and an orange pound cake covered in ganache. And even though it could seem a bit predictable, I´m going to choose the muffins, because they were tasty enough to overlook the “not another lemon-poppy seed combo” aspect of it all.

And to add to the predictability, the recipe is Dorie Greenspan´s, but hey, look at the gorgeous mini-cake molds I got in NY!

lemon poppy seed muffins

Oh, and just in case you haven´t noticed, I finally got a new camera! A Canon Rebel XT I´m still figuring out how to use. And yeah, I´m totally overdoing the exclamation marks today, but I´m just so excited with all my new toys… and I haven´t even started showing off, people, so brace yourselves! haha

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