Friends (Strawberry Gelato)

If you have friends like the ones I have, then you are one lucky person.

I’m talking about friends who will pick you up when you’re stuck at home in the rain with only a bike to get you around. I’m also talking about friends with whom you can have a philosophical conversation on the psychology of social relations while massacring wave after wave of alien invaders on the television screen in front of you. I’m talking about friends who are artists, rhetors, future politicians, athletes, or just downright cool.

Friend who are foodies, friends who would rather have a Big Mac than a peppercorn-encrusted New York strip steak with a red wine reduction; friends who enjoy cooking with you and friends who just like to eat the food you make.

Moreover, I’ve got friends who I not only appreciate but who appreciate me, so much so that on a rare occasion they will buy you an ice cream maker–because they remember talking with you about it a few months back–to say “thanks.”

For that, I’m one lucky guy.

Either that, or they all like me for the free food they get when they’re with me. I try not to think about that one, though.

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Feeling Good (Dried Persimmon Granola)

As a newly graduated high school alumnus, I could say that I’m feeling pretty good.

Not only that, but I’ve got a new job at a bakery and more time to cook at home, so, my fellow readers, you’ll be seeing “New Post” much more often this summer.

Now, what will make you feel really good is looking at–and more importantly, baking–this recipe for dried persimmon granola. What will make you feel even better is knowing that this granola has absolutely no sugar added to the mix, but does have yummy, yummy powdered sugar.

Wait, say wha? No sugar added, but there is powdered sugar?

My friends, I give you the dried persimmon:

It’s covered with the stuff. Dried persimmons undergo a (typically) month-long drying process, through which they shrink in size, intensify in flavor, and develop a fine coating of natural powdered sugar. Under the snowy-white exterior lies that bright orange flesh that you saw three pictures above, and boy, does it taste incredible. The flavor is of a fruit you’ve never tasted before, somewhere between a candied apple and a pear. In a word, it tastes like fall. Now, what is fall without cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves? Well, a very bland fall, I can tell you that much.

Even though fall is over 3 months away, you can have fall in a jar whenever you make this–and trust me, when you see the ingredient list, you’ll be feeling good when you eat this stuff.

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Fudge, The Intern (Part VIII): Fudge, The Baker?

Today, I went out with a bang. Well, a bang without the sound effects. Or perhaps an explosion of powder is more apt.

Everything was going fine. However, a customer ordered 50 cupcakes–cleaned out the whole front of the bakery–so the whole kitchen was in cupcake construction mode and I was put in charge of making buttercream. I had made two batches yesterday and had already made two batches today that were perfect–perfect consistency, perfect flavor (this is my opinion, although L said they were excellent! :P).

I thought I had got the formula down. Butter, low speed, high speed. Powdered sugar, low speed, high speed. Flavoring, low speed, high speed, high speed. Simple enough, no? Well, when I got to the powdered sugar stage on my third batch, my brain said, “Who needs low speed? Pssh…let’s kick it into high gear.”

White. Powder. Clouds of white powder filled the air and covered my face and my jeans and I realized that, no, it isn’t simple enough.

Psychedelic, man...

What ensued was as scramble to clean and laughs from the whole bakery and from myself ridiculing my slight. “Eh, it had to happen once!” I said. “It happens to everybody,” G said, “and it happened to me twice!” At that moment, I knew I was in the right place. Sadly, Fudge the Intern is no longer, but…

Fudge The Baker is now in talks of employment in the bakery!

😀

As I said, I knew I was in the right place–I will thankfully continue to be for the next few months before I’m off the Blg Apple.

Moose? Mooses? Oh, right, Meese.

P.S.: Today’s pictures–aside from the Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes are all funny goods or oddities I took photos of today. Thought I’d keep it lighthearted instead of the sentimental post I had planned!

Fudge, The Intern (Part VII): Yum.

Feet throbbing, back aching, and head pulsating, I stepped out of the bakery today missing the spring in my step that I arrived with earlier in the morning. Perhaps it was the longer hours today, or maybe it was the fact that there were six bakers in the kitchen when there usually are about three. Truthfully, it probably was just me being hypersensitive after a sugar crash.

None of this means that I don’t love what I do, however; baking is one of my huge passions and the opportunity to intern here is worth all the ephemeral aches and pains. However, I’m going to let the pictures do a little more of the talking today, if that’s alright with you all.

The day started out with some pecan pie bars (which I actually didn’t get the chance to photograph! So sorry, I’ll make it up to you all) while N sliced up and plated some brownies.

You’ve got your classic fudge brownies…

…your Scout Brownies (with Girl Scout cookies inside of them!)…

…your Peanut Butter Brownies (which look beautiful with the designs on them)…

…and your Fudge Walnut brownies…

These are actually some of my favorite brownies in the shop–although the salted caramel ones still reign supreme for me. I love the varied texture and nutty (duh) flavor that the walnuts give the brownie.

Now, this was a sad cupcake. An under-baked orange cupcake, it proved unable to be frosted with its orange buttercream counterpart due to the huge indentation in the middle. However, a quick piping job fixed the whole situation. Happy cupcake.

Oh yeah, lots of cookies today.

Also, lots of ice cream sandwiches.

But I digress.

Now, there were two real blg standouts for today. You saw a bit about the first in the first photo in the post. I cannot take credit for those cupcakes; one of my fellow bakers, “Q,”
did the beautiful piping and fondant job for those cupcakes. She even went into little minute details like the tiny fondant ladybug. Great job, Q!

The second was something of my creation. By the end of the day, I was thinking of things I hadn’t attempted yet. As my eyes scanned the room, I saw the industrial mixer.

“…Buttercream?”

I had frosted, yes, but never had I actually made the frosting. Luckily, G was more than happy to show me the ropes. The first batch started off a little rocky–a new mixer, an oral recipe–but after my first two very successful batches, I’m glad to say that I can officially make buttercream!

Tomorrow, my time as an intern officially ends (although I will be going in again on Tuesday to bake some things for a presentation). However, my time there hopefully won’t have to end as my internship concludes–fingers crossed! I’m hoping for the best tomorrow.

Lastly, I just wanted to say: thank you all to those who have been following my journey in the bakery these past two weeks. I really do appreciate your readership; I mean it!

Fudge, The Intern (Part VI): Second Taste Test Round-Up

You saw the pictures yesterday. You know you want them. Now let’s get down to business.

Lemon Bars

Your standard but oh-so-much-better lemon bar. The lemon bar is beautifully tangy, erring on the more solid side as consistency goes (versus the more “liquidy” or “jammy” versions of lemon bars), keeping its shape well. The lemon filling is accompanied with a satisfying crumble by the shortbread crust on the bottom, the flavor of which offsets some of the sweetness. All in all, a very well-rounded dessert.

Chocochino Cupcake

This is probably my favorite combination of cupcake (chocolate) and frosting (cappuccino) from the bakery.  The semisweet coffee flavor in the buttercream brings out and compliments the dark, intense flavor of the chocolate cake, resulting in a very grown-up version of the cupcake we all know and love.

Also, Forget about this particular picture; Girlfriend and I didn’t care about the looks of this cupcake when it was in our mouths :).

Vanilla Cupcake with Cappucilla Buttercream

If chocolate cake and cappuccino frosting is my favorite combination, the vanilla cake is my favorite standalone component of the three standard flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet. Guys, this is vanilla, without question. The flavor is absolutely there and spot on, and your palate will dive headfirst into a sea of fluffy, moist vanilla. Also, cappucilla buttercream? That’s the vanilla and cappuccino buttercreams that got mixed while I was practicing. A serendipitous combination, I say! It’s like eating a vanilla cappuccino.

Oreo Brownie

The bakery’s incredibly moist, deliciously fudgey brownie studded with pieces of Oreo cookies. Now, who has a problem with that combination?

Currant Scone

I didn’t get any of the currants, as I only took a tiny slice to try it before I gave the rest to my mum, so I’ll talk about the general scone itself–and what a scone it was. Nothing like your store-bought or day-old scone, this had just the right amount–but barely any–crunch on the outside, a slightly sugary taste before giving way to an absolutely delicate and tender center. This was probably my favorite of the bunch because it was barely sweet and was a joy to eat.

Coconut/Dream Bar

A teeny bit dry (perhaps because it had been sitting out for an hour or two, but very awesome nonetheless. Layer after layer of goodness: toasted sweetened coconut flakes, walnuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and a nice crunchy shortbread crust. This morsel was gone in seconds.

…?

Now, for the last sweet of the round-up!

So, I don’t know what this is. It has chocolate. It’s got some powdered sugar on top.  It tastes…different. Other than that, though, I’ve got nothing. More on this one later.

Well, that’s it for the second taste test round-up! Tune in tomorrow for another day at the bakery.