Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Trade Jacques Macarons, New Packaging, New Flavors

 Sorry for the quality of the pictures...

Yes, I know, I shop at Trade Joe's a lot.  What can I do?  It is 3 minutes away from my house.  Every body chill.  
I reviewed their macarons last time.  But they came out with a new packaging, with three new flavors: coconut, figs and apricot.  I am not a big fan of coconuts, so I am going to skip that and feed it to my dog (Just Kidding!!!).  Reviewed so many macarons, apricot and figs are definitely the most unusual flavors so far.  The apricot one has a gooey, gelatinous center, with a subtle yet distinct apricot flavor.  And as a good macaron should have, a thin and crisp outer crust but soft and slightly chewy inside.  Very very delicious. 
Figs macaron, on the other hand, definitely figgy.  Although, figs itself do not have a very strong and distinct aroma.  There are edible figs seeds in the fillings, which is a very nice touch.  But overall, it is overly sweet.  Overwhelming sweetness made me not wanting another.  Oh well...
Last time, the salted caramel was a disappointment.  This time, Trader Joe's has redeemed itself.  The salted caramel is very salted caramel.  The rich caramel with the slight salty flavor together with the delicious shell, very satisfied.  The pistachio macaron is also better.  Instead of the very artificial flavor like pistachio flavors tend to have, this time, the flavor is nice and rich, but very natural.  You can taste the delicious roasted pistachio flavor and the nuttiness.  

I give it a 8 out of 10.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Layer Cakes Bakery Macaron review

Layer Cakes Bakery is located in Fullerton, CA.  I stumbled upon it recently.  I went inside just to take a look, and I saw them selling French Macarons, so I have to try them.  I picked four flavors: Passionfruit, Hazelnut, Salted Caramel and Coffee.  Unfortunately, I ate the passionfruit one right after I walked out of the bakery, so it was not in the picture.  The passionfruit macaron had purple cookie shells, which intrigued me, with yellow fillings.  The purple shell seemed to taste like taro to me, and the filling inside had the tartness of passionfruit.  Flavor-wise it worked well.  The texture, however, could use some improvement.  When bit into the middle, the cookies were too chewy and hard, which was not very enjoyable.  The other ones that I've reviewed on this blog, had crumbly thin crusts on the outside and soft and slightly chewy on the inside, even in the almost frozen state.  The other ones were all the same.  
The flavors for Hazelnut, Salted Caramel and Coffee were also not very strong.  I tasted the saltiness of the salted caramel, but could not really differentiate the rest, even the coffee one.  And I actually rinsed my mouth with water in between each flavor, but still did not get much.  

Each macaron sells for $1.60 each, average price. 

I give it a 6.5 out of 10.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Richart French Macaron Review

So...I saw Richart's chocolates and macaron on sale on another site, which piques my interest.  So I decided to try some.  
Richart sells 15 macarons for $18, included shipping, totaled $33.  Originally, I did not know how big these are, assuming that they would be around the same size of the ones I've reviewed before.  As you can see from the third picture, they are only about the size of a quarter, which is significantly smaller than others.  I wasn't very happy about that.  So I was hoping the overall taste would win me over.  NOPE!  Even the appearances don't look that great, many of them were crushed.  Richart has very creative and interesting flavors, but in this box that I've received, there were several repeated ones.  They tasted alright.  Blood Orange was definitely one of the most unique flavor so far.  But overall, Richart's maracons are not worth it.  

I give it a 4 out of 10.

Merely Sweets Macarons Review

Passed by this store in Downtown Brea many times, but never went in.  So as you can probably tell, it was a bakery, and they have typical bakery items like cakes and pastries.  My friends wanted to try their cupcakes, and I saw that they have macarons.  So I decided to try them.  
The macarons are fairly large, which is usually not a good thing actually.  These ones aren't very impressive.  The meringue cookies did not taste like the usual macaron.  The meringue usually has a nice crust with a tender, chewy inside.  However, Merely Sweets' seemed to be baked too long, it was pretty dry and crunchy on the inside.  The meringue was also too sweet, and the same with the fillings.  I had the coffee and salted caramel flavors, but even the coffee was too sweet.  Overall, too expensive, and not worth the try.  

I give it a 5 out of 10.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My New Guilty Pleasure

I saw this on the menu at Bruxie a while ago, but did not have the chance to try it...until today.  I thought to myself "I am gonna go get myself a soft serve frozen custard at Bruxie!".  Yes, it was totally random, and totally worth it.  
The custard is a little thicker and denser than normal soft serves.  But then again, most soft serve ice cream are not custard base.  Bruxie's soft serve frozen custard is so rich and creamy, and is totally out of this world.  The texture is incredibly creamy and smooth, which a lot of other soft serves you can still taste the ice crystals.  The flavor and aroma is also insanely good.  You get a very strong cream flavor from the soft serve, which tells you that it is most likely very fattening, with very high content of milk fats.  BUT THAT'S GOOD!!!  It also has a very sweet flavor that I can't quite figure out, and very distinct.  Maybe it is the vanilla that they use, or a special sugar.  If you love a rich and delicious frozen dessert, this is the one.  THE ONE.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

*NEW* Trader Joe's Assorted Macarons

Walked into Trader Joe's last night, and had a very pleasant surprise.  They have their own macarons!!!  I was so excited!!!  Trader Joe's had their own macarons before, chocolate and vanilla, but they weren't too impressive in my opinion.  Plus, the new product comes in six flavors.  Six is better than two, simple math.  
Overall, the macarons were quite good.  Texture of the cookies was good, expected for French macarons.  Oh, sorry, that was a compliment of the product if it was not clear.  The flavors were all delicious, except one...
The box said "salted caramel", and I did not taste much caramel.  AND...I did not taste much salt, either.  It actually just tasted very "vanilla".  
The macarons were a bit small, actually smaller than the ones I've reviewed before.  I personally loved the coffee one the most.  It is quite a shame that this set is "chocolate-less".  

I give it a 8 out of 10.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guilt-Free Tres Leches Cake

So I finally successfully made a low-fat tres leches cake!  And I said "Successfully" because everyone loved it, and no one can tell that it was low fat.  I also had tough critics, my Mexican friends.  They actually told me that they love my better than the ones they get in the Mexican markets.  So that was quite the assurance.  

For the chiffon cake base:

6 large eggs, separated
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

That's it for the cake part.  Sounds easy, right?  It actually is!!!  Six ingredients, and you can make a very delicious cake.  

Preheat oven to 350F.
Separate egg yolks and whites in different mixing bowls.  Make sure the mixing bowl for egg whites are absolutely clean, so the whites will whip up nicely.  
Add a squirt of lemon juice in the egg whites, with an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add 1/4 cup of sugar slowly, little at a time, and continue whipping.  Whip until stiff peak and shiny, and set aside.  
Add sugar, honey, salt and vanilla to egg yolks, and whipped with electric mixer on high until mixture is very thick and pale.  
Add 1/3 of the egg whites, and mix it into the yolks until combined.  Add 1/2 of the remaining egg whites, and fold the whites in until combined, then fold in the rest of the egg whites.
Put the oil in a medium bowl.  Sift the flour into the egg mixture, and fold the flour into the mixer just until combined.  Spoon some of the mixture into the oil and stir until homogenous.  Then fold the oil mixture into the rest, then pour it into a 9" springform cake mold.
Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick insert in the center and come out clean.   Place the cake upside down on a cooling wrack to cool.  
Now let's work on the leches.

Tres Leches
1 cup fat-free half&half*
1 can (12 oz.) 2% evaporated milk**
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

Combine the milks and mix until thoroughly combined.  Use a skewer or toothpick, poke holes on the cake.  Pour the milk mixture slowly unto the cake.  After the liquid is fully absorbed, pour more.  I actually did not use all my liquid, and had 1/2 a cup left.  Chill the cake in the fridge until ready to serve (12 servings).
My friends seemed to love the fact that the cake was not overly soaked, like most of the tres leches cake.   You still get the nice spongy cake texture, instead of soaked soggy cake.  The chiffon cake is the perfect base for tres leches cake in my opinion, because of its spongy and airy texture.  

*The fat-free half&half still have 20 calories per serving, so it did not cut the calories by very much.
**I used 2%, but feel free to substitute fat-free evaporated milk.

Calories per slice: 266 calories, with 6.5g total fat (compared to 8.5g).  


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Haagen-Dazs Black Cherry Amaretto Gelato review

This is one of the few unusual flavors from Haagen-Dazs' new gelato line.  I wouldn't pair these two flavors together, but now that I see the actual product, it is quite unique.  I did like the big chunks of black cherries in the ice cream.  They provided a slight tartness and nice balance overall.  However, the ice cream itself is still a bit too sweet, and a very strong flavor of almond and cherry.  Both flavors can be too strong and overwhelming, so I did not care for them too much.  

I give it a 5.5 out of 10.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Haagen Dazs Limoncello Gelato review

O...M...G!!!  Haagen Dazs' has a new product line, Gelato!!!  
Wait...Gelato means ice cream in Italian...so it's just ice cream...Hmmm...

Doesn't matter, they all look awesome.  I really love the new design.  Semi-matte black backgrounds really bring out the other colors, and makes the product really catchy.  
So, when I first found out about the new gelatos, I was very excited.  And I know that I have to try the Limoncello flavor.  Limoncello is a lemon flavored liquorIt is quite delicious by itself, and becoming more popular amongst foodies.  
The gelato texture is very rich and creamy, everything expected of Haagen Dazs.  Heck, do you see phrases like "low-fat" or "low-calories"?  Of course not.  The lemon flavor is very distinct, and the slight tartness of the lemon juice helped cut down the sweetness and richness slightly.  That is always dangerous, because then I can't stop eating.  There is vodka in the ingredient list, but really, I can't really taste any alcohol.  But that does not hurt the overall score on the gelato.  

I give it a 9 out of 10.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel Butter Cookies **No longer available**

Unfortunately, this was a seasonal item, so it is no longer available.  Trader Joe's has a lot of "seasonal" products, so you just have to try your luck sometimes.  
Milk chocolate salted caramel butter cookie...that is a very long and self-explanatory name, and what a great name it is.  The cookies really was truly amazing, which was expected as a product of France.  It has the sweet and smooth milk chocolate pocket filled with silky salted caramel sitting on top of a buttery cookie.  Little taste of heaven.  You got the salty caramel that basically married the chocolate and the cookies together, yet the salt just complimented everything, created this sweet harmony in your mouth.  Too bad you can't find them anymore, but maybe you can write to Trader Joe's and command them to bring it back.  

I give it a 10 out of 10