Posts in Category: Beaches

BUTTERY ALMOND SQUARES

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I have some great news. My first cookbook, Beach House Baking, has been queued up for a reprint!

I’ve been asked to create 10 delicious new recipes for the reprint to make it even bigger, badder and beachier!

These buttery almond squares have definitely made the cut, and I’m excited for all of you to try them.

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They are quite easy to make and quick to bake. They keep well in an airtight container stored in the refrigerator but trust me, they won’t last very long because it’s hard to stop eating them.

While the cake bakes, you cook a butter almond sauce over the stove until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture thickens. The sauce is then poured over the warm, just-baked cake and broiled until the almond topping caramelizes to perfection.

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When the cake has cooled, cut it into squares and enjoy!

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Almond Squares

Ingredients

  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter (soft)
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13x2-inch pan and set aside.
Combine the eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla and salt in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until thick, about 2 minutes. Mix in 1 cup melted butter and 1 cup flour until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
Combine 1/2 cup soft butter, almonds, 1 tablespoon flour and milk in a small pot and cook over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens. Spread the mixture over the cake right after it comes out of the oven. Adjust the oven to high broil and caramelize the topping for 6 minutes, rotating every couple minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

 

Sailor Jerry Rum Laguna Beach Bungalow

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Sailor Jerry Rum Bungalow launch party for the new ‘Sailor Jerry’ Bungalow at the beautiful Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach.

Who is Sailor Jerry, you ask? Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins was an actual sailor living in Hawaii whose original tattoo artwork made him popular in the 1940’s and 50’s. Some of you may be more familiar with his protégés, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone. These two artists went on to create a rum inspired by their mentor and named it ‘Sailor Jerry’ Rum, a 92 proof spiced rum featuring a quintessential ‘Sailor Jerry’ hula girl on the label. I had the chance to try it for the first time at the party and dang was it delicious!

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The bungalow is a great way to enjoy the beach when you’re in Laguna. Day rentals are around $500 – $600. The bungalow which sits right on the beach includes its own tiki bar, full beach access, a pinball machine, private bathroom, comfy lounge-like sitting area, and a large outside deck with stunning ocean views. Bottle and food service is offered as well.

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Small bites that evening of grilled cheese sandwiches, crab cakes, lamb chops, pork belly and pepper-crusted grilled ahi tuna were provided by The Deck, the hotel’s restaurant. Bravo to the Chef!

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Guests drank ‘Sailor Jerry’ Rum-based drinks and enjoyed the tasty bites while live acoustic music played in the background.

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The evening ended with a stunning sunset along the Laguna Beach coast. It was the perfect end to a truly fun evening.

 

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beach town baking

Beach House Baking now available for pre-sale!

 

 

Beach House Baking cookbook

I’m proud to announce that my long-awaited cookbook, Beach House Baking, is now available for pre-order on Amazon! This project has been my baby, and I’m ecstatic that my dream of writing my very own cookbook is finally coming true. And if you’re wondering about the discrepancy between the blog and book title, we (the publisher and I) decided to change our minds about the name midway into this process, but fear not, the concept is still the same: Beach House Baking chronicles my baking adventures in some of my most favorite places to be– beaches!

The book includes some of my favorite recipes for cupcakes, cookies, frozen pops, ice cream sandwiches and pies. The last chapter is called Classics, and includes some of my all-time favorite recipes that I make over and over again, like my Apple Cider Donuts and my Berry Trifle. These are my tried and true favorites that have been hits with my family and friends, and I can’t wait for other people to share it with their loved ones now. Yummm!

Beach House Baking won’t officially release until May 6, but you can pre-order it now to make sure you get it hot off the presses and receive it just in time for Mother’s Day. If you order 2–one for you and one for your mom– shipping is free!

For those of you who may not be that into baking, you’ll still enjoy the beautiful photos of the beach and sweet treats taken by my photographer Chau Vuong. Her photos are exquisite and will make you want to try out all my recipes!

Click here to pre-order your copy now!

 

beach town baking

How to Toast Coconut

Toasting coconut

One of the key ingredients and garnishes of my Pina Colada Cupcakes is toasted coconut. I figured that before I share my cupcake recipe, I’d first show you how to toast coconut so that you’ll have it on hand for your cupcakes later. Why toast coconut? Well, because it crisps up really nicely and can add interesting texture to your baked goods. Also, toasting the coconut brings out a richer, nuttier flavor that adds depth to both savory and sweet dishes. Try toasting a batch of coconut and garnishing it on top of your meals!

There are two widely used methods out there for toasting coconut: stovetop and oven. When I bake at the beach house, I prefer to use the stovetop method because more than likely I only need to toast a small amount of coconut. Plus, I’ll have much more control over how far I want to toast the coconut.

Toasting coconut

How to Toast Coconut:

Place desired amount of shredded coconut in a large saute pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the flakes are golden brown.
That’s it! Simple, right?  Practice toasting your coconut, and stay tuned for my next blog post featuring my Pina Colada Cupcakes!
beach town baking

Summer Activities in Dana Point – Elephant Parade

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The elephants are here!

Come visit Dana Point (where I live!) and you can spot incredible hand-painted elephant statues scattered throughout the city as part of the Elephant Parade, an open-air art exhibition created to bring awareness to the plight of the Asian elephant. The Elephant Parade is the major fundraiser for the Asian Elephant Foundation, a grassroots organization founded in 2006 by father and son Marc and Mike Spits to help shed light on the heartbreaking situation of Asian elephants, whose populations are on the verge of extinction due to poaching. They also suffer from habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation.

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Dana Point has the honor of being the first American city to host the Elephant Parade, which has previously visited London, Amsterdam, Singapore and Milan. I took a trip down to the beautiful Ritz-Carlton near my house to see the elephants being exhibited there. There were so many beautiful, unique and colorful elephant statues– the artists did an amazing tribute to these giant beauties, and I know their efforts will do these elephants justice in the world.

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Some interesting facts about Asian elephants:

Contrary to the larger African elephants, Asian elephants are domesticated.

Asian elephants have small ears, a long trunk and thick, gray skin.

They inhabit India and Southeast Asia including Sumatra and Borneo.

 

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My favorite elephant from the exhibit.

My favorite elephant from the exhibit.

 

While there, I couldn’t help but enjoy some food and cocktails at the outdoor 180 Blu patio bar at the Ritz-Carlton. Enjoying the beautiful sunset at the rooftop lounge was the perfect ending to the day. If you have the chance, I highly recommend coming down to Dana Point to see the Elephant Parade!

 

beach town baking

Hello, Summer!

Sun Sand SurfIt’s a beautiful 75 degrees and sunny here in San Clemente, CA, a sure sign that it’s officially SUMMER! Yipee! Happy First Day of Summer, everyone! I’m going to celebrate this day by spending my afternoon at the beach and listening to some classic rock n’ roll, and then daydreaming about new sweet treats to add in my cookbook. What will you be doing?

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Flat and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • What's more American than the chocolate chip cookie?
  • We used this nifty heat sealer to hand package each cookie.
  • 2000 cookies packed up for my client! Don't worry, my recipe only yields 20 cookies 🙂

Last week, my baking team and I baked over 2000 chocolate chip cookies for one of our corporate clients, AAA. I thought it was fitting, too, being President’s Day weekend and all, since what is more patriotic than our beloved, traditional chocolate chip cookie?

Over the course of two days, we made, scooped, baked and individually wrapped each cookie. Lots of work that at times led to moments of silliness (hey, we bakers need to have some fun, too!)

I developed my chocolate chip cookie recipe at the request of my brother, who for years asked me for a chocolate chip cookie that was flat, crispy on the edges and chewy in the center. Oh, and that had chocolate in every bite too, of course. Sound impossible? I was up for the challenge!

Beach Hiking: Solstice Canyon Trail, Malibu

Hello readers! It’s been a hectic season to say the least. In between ramping up for my new cookbook —Beach Town Baking—while also juggling Sugar Blossom Bake Shop (the original Beach Town bakery!), I have to remind myself to find time to breathe. So, I finally broke away from the kitchen last weekend to take advantage of the holiday. My getaway of choice? Naturally, I wanted to do something at or near a beach, so I settled upon a hike at Solstice Canyon Trail in Malibu.

Malibu, California

 

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The Solstice Canyon Education Center.

Solstice Canyon is one of my favorite local hiking destinations. It is incredibly picturesque, offering gorgeous ocean and canyon views and other treasures like rock outcroppings, the old Roberts Family Ranch ruins (more on this later) and even a waterfall and some waterholes, making it a great hike for kids and families. Remember to bring plenty of water though, as there’s an exposed dirt trail in the beginning with a pretty steep incline.

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Awesome rock formations and outcroppings

Once you arrive at the trailhead, you can choose from two paths: the flat paved road, or the stone steps climbing up the canyon. I prefer the latter, so I can get the hard stuff out of the way first. Kinda like saving the dessert for last, just sayin’!

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The TRW loop trail (what I hiked) is 3 miles long total and includes the Rising Sun trail (.3 miles) and the longer Solstice Canyon Trail.

After a good mile into the trail you will run into the Roberts Family mansion ruins. Fred Roberts, a grocery store magnate, built his family’s home in Solstice Canyon in the 1950s and called it “Tropical Terrace.”  Sadly, the stone and wood mansion succumbed to a fire in 1982, and in 1988 the National Park Service declared what was left of the house, along with Solstice Canyon, a public park. It’s really neat to hike along the ridgeline above the canyon and then all of sudden see the ruins down below, which, from an aerial point of view, look like a life-sized blueprint of the original mansion!

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The Roberts Family Mansion ruins.

From here, take the flat paved fire road back to the trailhead. It’s a peaceful walk back along a small creek, and on any given day you are bound to run into a lot of dogs and their owners.

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That’s me, enjoying the view of Malibu!

All in all, it was a perfect weekend for a hike.  I feel so lucky to be in proximity to so many beautiful beach cities where I can escape to and find solace virtually whenever I need. What a blessing! Through my beach-inspired confections, I hope to share with my readers all around the world that same feeling of escapism that I love so much.

Want to read more about some awesome hikes? Check out this fabulous and comprehensive article on Top 50 Long Distance Hiking Trails In The USA put together by the good folks at Boot Bomb.

Until next time,

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