From Chemistry to the Kitchen

In my sophomore organic chemistry lab at college, we used a chemical called benzaldehyde in a particular experiment. The benzaldehyde came as a clear liquid in a small vial, and as soon as we unscrewed the cap, a distinct aroma wafted up into our faces and around the room.


My friends puzzled over the scent, trying and failing to place the familiar smell, but I immediately recognized it. Benzaldehyde smells exactly like almond extract, one of my favorite flavors in baked goods!   Continue reading for recipe.


April 23, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Delicious Desserts. Leave a comment.

SWAK — And Baked Goods!

For Christmas, my grandparents sent me a gift card to Williams Sonoma. That afternoon, I scoured the store’s website, as excited as a kid in a candy store as I browsed page after page of rolling pins, cookie cutters, and grill pans. During my search, I discovered two differed sizes of pretty gold loaf pans that, with tax, added up to almost the exact amount on the card.   Continue reading for recipe.

February 18, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Baked Bliss. 7 comments.

Battle of Drips to the Death

This past weekend, the rains invaded, pelting the windows and laying siege to my humble home. As the assault continued, my food stores dwindled, but the rains’ vigorous persistence prevented me from escaping to the grocery store to buy more provisions. With a craving for soup quickly growing, I opened the fridge for a last-ditch effort to satisfy my unhappy stomach.


A ripe orange stared back at me, and a brilliant strategy began to form in my mind. The rain still taunted me outside, but I could create my own little bowl of sunshine inside my kitchen. Within minutes, the blender whirred out my battle cry, and I eagerly slurped up my citrus soup. Although it lacked the sun’s warmth, it still lifted my dampened spirits and brought a smile to my face as I waited out the rest of the storm.   Continue reading for recipe.

January 24, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Midweek Meals, Satisfying Sides. 2 comments.

Fruity Feelings

Every year, my grandma must buy out the entire candied fruit section of her local grocery store. She spends day after day in the kitchen, baking her famous fruitcakes. By the time Christmas rolls around, she has made enough to build an entire two-story house! Well, not really, but all of her family, friends, neighbors, and exercise ladies receive a loaf or two.   Continue reading for recipe.

January 10, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Baked Bliss. Leave a comment.

Christmas Cookies for Santa: Avoiding Sticky Situations

My fruity moment of brilliance really shone in the striped bars, but with the jam exposed on the sides of the cookies, Santa might stain his clean white gloves a deep raspberry red. Since Mrs. Claus already washes chimney soot out of his suit every Christmas, I thought she’d thank me if I tried to minimize the amount of stain stick and detergent she used. Which mean another “round” of cookies…   Continue reading for recipe.

December 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Baked Bliss. Leave a comment.

Christmas Cookies for Santa: Changing the Crunch

An explosion of almond extract hit my taste buds as I munched away on one (okay, three) of my biscotti. But as the crumbs collected on my shirt, another doubt crossed my mind. What if Santa forgot to dunk the crunchy cookies in milk? At his age, his teeth probably chip quite easily, and I didn’t want to be charged with Santa’s new denture bill. So I pulled the almond extract back off of the shelf to mix up a batch of chewier bar cookies.   Continue reading for recipe.

December 19, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Baked Bliss. Leave a comment.

Is Your Grandma on Speed Dial?

Nothing beats Grandma’s apple pie. Tart juicy apples bathed in cinnamon and encased in a butter flaky crust… As a child, I squealed and drooled with joy whenever one of these beauties arrived at our house.   Continue reading for recipe.

November 11, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Baked Bliss. 2 comments.

Market Culture

Californian Farmer’s Markets come once a week, and they sell ripe, delicious produce to regular people. In France, their markets open multiple times throughout the week, and both townspeople and restaurant chefs buy from the same vendors. So that whole-wheat artisan bread we smelled in the morning as we bought some carrots showed up on our table in a restaurant’s bread basket later that night. 


Which means that French menus are constantly changing. In the US, only the restaurant’s special tends to vary and depends on the fresh produce or catch of the day. But across the Atlantic, chefs adjust their salad toppings, side dishes, and especially their desserts according to what they bought earlier in the day.   Continue reading for recipe.

August 4, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Baked Bliss. Leave a comment.

Sweet Celebrations

This past weekend was full of celebrations. Three, to be exact.


My birthday.

Don’t bother asking how old I am—a lady never reveals her age, after all!—but a huge thank you to everyone who forced me to change out of my pj’s and actually celebrate. I had the most wonderful time eating dinner, watching baseball, and hanging out with some truly sweet and special people.


Being vegan.

I originally challenged myself to try it for a month. For those of you paying close attention, that month actually ended over a week ago! But since it really hasn’t been all that hard and I enjoyed learning how to prepare new foods, I decided to continue being vegan for a little bit longer. Which gives me even more opportunities to surprise friends with tasty vegan treats!


My first fondant fiasco.

I wanted a birthday cake. But being vegan, I couldn’t go to the store like a normal person and buy one. And seeing as a large fraction of my friends and family avoid the kitchen like the plague, I wasn’t about to depend on any of them to make me one. Coupled with the fact that I’m absolutely in love with baking, I decided to spend a good chunk of my birthday weekend making myself a cake.


But not just any cake. A four layer, fruit-filled, fondant-covered cake. The first two parts were easy. Bake two cake rounds and cut them in half, dice some fruit, mix up a bowl of frosting, and throw it all together. Then came the fondant.   Continue reading for recipe.

June 28, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Have a Heart. 8 comments.

U is for Upside Down Cake

My preliminary Google search only returned about 4 foods that began with the letter U. 3 were Japanese, ranging from an asparagus-like vegetable to eel, but seeing as I wouldn’t cook eel even if you paid me, I kept scrolling. And there, sitting rather unassumingly amongst yet another list of Japanese food, I found my U. Upside down cake.    Continue reading for recipe.

February 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Alphabet Adventure, Baked Bliss. 4 comments.

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