Monthly Archives: July 2017

Watermelon Boba

Boba drinks (also referred to as bubble tea) are popular refreshing Taiwanese beverages with black tapioca pearls. These dark pearls are the size of little marbles with a chewy, gummy texture and come with oversized straws to accommodate the little balls. The boba pearls are often made of sweet potato starch and provides texture to these drinks. They are served in iced teas, iced coffee, fruit juices, slushies, and smoothies. These drinks are so popular in the San Gabriel Valley, you can find a boba cafe on every other block. Popular boba cafes like Tea Station, Ten Ren, and Half & Half will have lines out the doors on hot summer nights. I’m guilty of waiting in one of those ridiculous lines.

My first introduction to a boba drink was back in the early 1990’s when my friend treated me to a delicious Taiwanese meal. Back then, boba drinks were only available in select restaurants and not in specialty cafés. One of the few places that served boba was a small Taiwanese resaruant called Old Country Café in Alhambra, California. They served delicious Taiwanese food and their specialty drink was the watermelon boba, and I spent many weekends during my college days visiting the Old Country Café. Now that the summer is here and the watermelon is sweet, I thought it would be a perfect time to share my watermelon boba recipe. It tastes just like the ones I’ve had at Old Country Café – refreshing and delicious. Enjoy!

Watermelon Boba

Yield: 6 drinks

1 cup of organic sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of boba pearls (large tapioca pearls)*
1 small watermelon (or 8 cups of chopped watermelon chunks)
Pinch of sea salt
Ice cubes
Boba straws*

1. To make the simple syrup, add the sugar and 1 cup of water to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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2. To cook the boba, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the water boils, add the boba pearls and give it a gentle stir. Once the boba pearls float to the top, reduce the heat to a simmer.

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3. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Make sure to stir gently so as not to break up the pearls.

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4. Turn off the heat and let sit for about 25 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, make the water melon juice. Take out the simple syrup from the refrigerator. Add about half of the watermelon pieces, 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the syrup (depending on your preference for sweetness and the ripeness of the watermelon) and a pinch of salt to a blender. Press the smoothie button, or blend until smooth. Pour into a pitcher.

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6. Repeat the process with the remaining watermelon pieces.

7. To assemble, using a handheld strainer, remove the boba out of the water. Divide among 6 large glasses.

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8. Add some ice cubes to each glass.IMG_6086

9. Give the watermelon juice a good stir and pour evenly among the 6 glasses. Add the boba straw and serve.

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*You can find boba pearls and boba straws at most Chinese supermarkets. Note: If you purchase quick cooking boba, follow the instructions on the package.

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Chocolate Almond Madeleines

When I was in culinary school, the baking course was my least favorite class. My instructor was a wonderful teacher and incredibly talented, but the pace was very slow and I wasn’t much of dessert fan then. That quickly changed after I had my first child. I developed an insatiable sweet tooth and was craving pastries all the time. Not just any pastries, mind you, but the expensive kind from French Patisseries: macarons, croissant aux amandes, and financiers. The common ingredient in all these pastries is almond flour. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I love almond-flavored desserts. Today, I share a madeleine recipe with all the flavors of a financier – brown butter almond cakes.

These little mini cakes in madeleine molds are light and airy with crispy edges from the egg whites. They are also nutty from the ground almonds and the brown butter, and the cocoa powder takes it up another notch. Essentially, these are financiers in fancy molds. These little cakes will not have the traditional Madeleine hump so they will be done when the top is no longer shiny. If you don’t have madeleine pans, you can bake these in mini muffin tins. The texture will be a little denser, but still just as delicious. Enjoy!

Chocolate Almond Madeleines

Yield: 36 little cakes​

1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup of Super-Fine Almond Flour, like Bob’s Red Mill
2 tablespoons of Dutch processed cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona)
1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of flaky sea salt
2/3 cup of egg whites at room temperature, (about 4 large egg whites)
¾ cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting, optional
Baking spray
Madeleine molds or mini muffin tins

1. Add butter to a small sauce pan and cook at medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to keep a watchful eye until you see small brown specks on the bottom of the pan. It will have a nice nutty aroma. Once you hit this point, you want to remove the pan off the burner and transfer to a bowl to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

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2. Sift the flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, and baking soda  in a seive over a medium bowl to remove any lumps from the ground almonds and cocoa powder. Whisk and set  aside.

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3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until frothy.

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4. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and whisk until just combined.

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5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until just combined.

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6. Take the brown butter and pour it in the batter, folding gently until just combined.

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7. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

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8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the madeleine molds with the baking spray.

9. Taking a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop, measure out each portion. You can also use a piping bag if you prefer.

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10. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until the individual cakes are cooked through.

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11. Cool for 5 minutes. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve with coffee or tea. These are best eaten the same day, but you can store any leftovers in a air tight container for up to 3 days.

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