HOLIDAY REVERSE S’MORES & 2010 in Retrospect

Stupidly Simple Snacks 2010 episodes
(Photos: Stupidly Simple Snacks on YouTube.)

I RECEIVED AN EMAIL FROM MYSELF THIS WEEKEND. For those unfamiliar with FutureMe.org, it’s a website that lets you write and schedule an email to yourself far into the future. Sure, you can schedule the message to send next Thursday, but that defeats the purpose of reflecting on where you are today in, say, a year from now. Here are a few notes I wrote to myself in December 2009:

“I had a driving lesson at noon and did pretty well. My road test is on Monday and I’d really like to pass this time…” and “By this time next year, I hope I will be working at a company with which I’m utterly in love.”

It took three tries, but I did finally get my driver’s license – only to not drive at all in the past twelve months. As for that job I was looking for – I found it in Stupidly Simple Snacks and Foodspotting. I had other hopes for the 2010 me, of course, which included: Visit India and Italy, learn French, and buy a DSLR camera – none of which I did. Despite the lack of travel to the eastern hemisphere, however, it was fun to look back at the old, slightly younger Amy who wanted – and still wants – to learn French, to see the world, and capture it through a big lens. Some things don’t change, which is great. Otherwise, what would I have to aspire to in the next 365 days?

At this time a year ago, I had only six snack videos. Today, there are thirty-five Stupidly Simple Snacks floating in web space and, because of them, I’ve made new friends, began working for a company with coworkers I cherish, and have come across great individuals who love food and can’t cook either. Luckily, I’ve met talented chefs, restaurant owners, bakers, and bloggers who have shown me that good food doesn’t have to be complicated too.

To celebrate the holidays and everyone I met through Stupidly Simple Snacks, I present my latest video with my new friend Mari Tuttle, the owner and chief baker of Mari’s New York. Mari makes artisanal treats like fudgy brownies and other decadent sweets that you can find online, at the Limelight Marketplace, and in upscale department stores around the States. We make HOLIDAY REVERSE S’MORES for the first time here. I think my second attempt might involve larger marshmallows, but you get the idea. After all, there’s always next time! This philosophy extends to chocolate-covered confections and new years. amy • december 13, 2010

HOLIDAY REVERSE S’MORES

SERVES 1 or many

WHAT YOU NEED
1 bag of marshmallows
1 chocolate bar (3.5 oz) or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
4 crushed graham crackers or crushed peppermint candy
frilly toothpicks

MUSIC Ike Turner Kills Fascists • City Lights

CLICK FOR MORE HOLIDAY CHEER…
Amy Blogs Christmas Reading Wish List
Stupidly Simple Gift GuideReal Simple magazine giveaway

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December 13, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . brownies, Dessert, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. 3 comments.

Danny Macaroons • TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT

Danny MacaroonsI’M A LITTLE SKEPTICAL ABOUT MACAROONS and I think I’ve tried enough of the coconut-based sweets to decide that cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts, pudding, pie, French macarons, and just about every other incarnation of sugar seems to have macaroons beat in the Desirable Dessert category. So when Dan Cohen, owner of Danny Macaroons, asked if I’d sample his macaroons for review, I had to be honest: I’m not crazy about coconut.

Dan wrote back with a gracious reply to say I was just one of many who have resisted his mighty macaroons and, indeed, he’d already converted a few. Since I had nothing to lose – except that last small shred of respect for coconut – I figured I’d give Danny Macaroons a go.

As much as I love to be right, it’s almost nice to be wrong when food prejudices are in play. Danny Macaroons won’t have me running away from croissants or ice cream anytime soon, but if biting into a moist and chewy shredded coconut cluster made with condensed milk and salted caramel isn’t enough to change the hearts of the macaroon-adverse, then nothing ever will. amy • september 13, 2010

Danny Macaroons order online / facebook / twitter (@dannymacaroons)

September 13, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Dessert, macaroons, review. 7 comments.

THE PERFECT AGE For Cupcakes

Ciao For Now carrot cake cupcakeDEEP DOWN IN THEIR HEARTS, BLOGS ARE PUBLIC DIARIES. Some blogs convey what’s coming, others inform the present, yet others chronicle the past. But, collectively, all blogs provide snapshots of the way we were in retrospect. My blog didn’t know what the hell it was until a year ago when Jason suggested I make Stupidly Simple Snacks. I figured the videos would be helpful at best and unwatchable at worst. If the latter turned out true, then I’d just stop making them.

I was updating my YouTube channel the other day when I noticed I launched it on August 31, 2009. It’s been nearly 365 days since I shared the first Stupidly Simple Snacks video in which I bumbled through banana shakes.

It’s weird to read old posts and remember sitting on a park bench considering a cupcake a year before today. And I’m sure, in another twelve months, the photo on the left which I took at Ciao For Now in the West Village on Saturday will resonate and I’ll recall taking a chance on a surprisingly moist carrot cupcake crowned with cold frosting. But the best recollection of all will probably be of the chatty little girl and her pug-shaped piggy bank. While her dad paid for a chocolate cupcake, the girl introduced me to her amazing multitasking pup, which had tape wrapped around its neck like a collar on a pet with a real chance of running away.

I started Amy Blogs Chow as a way to get to know – and remember – those who love food and what’s on our plates. Funny thing is I’m just realizing now that “foodies” are as young as eight. amy • august 30, 2010

August 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . cupcakes, random, West Village. Leave a comment.

Ice Cream Lollipops With GALE GAND

A FEW WEEKS AGO, I was invited to interview Gale Gand, a Chicago-based superstar pastry chef, restaurateurcookbook author, and former Food Network host, who was in New York to promote Breyers’ Sundae Scoop-Off. Gale had created a series of ice cream recipes to inspire young (at heart) sundae makers, including one for ice cream lollipops, which we created together under bright studio lights and heavy makeup. The experience was a far cry from my last snack video, which I filmed in my uncomfortably warm kitchen and jeans. But, isn’t that the damnedest thing? You can be anyone anywhere and wear whatever you want while making Stupidly Simple Snacks, including balls of ice cream. amy • august 30, 2010

SERVINGS varies

WHAT YOU NEED
ice cream
magic shell chocolate sauce (available in most supermarkets or make it from scratch using Brownie Points recipe)
sprinkles, crushed nuts, etc. for topping

MORE ICE CREAM RECIPES BY GALE
Mini Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches
Snowball Sundaes
Spaghetti & Meatballs Sundaes

MUSIC Loomis & the Lust Bright Red Chords myspacefacebookyoutube


August 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Hungry Nation, ice cream, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. Leave a comment.

My Romance with SWEET POTATO FRIES

ONCE, IN MARCH, I DEEP FRIED SWEET POTATO FRIES WITH THIERRY PEPIN. If you have no idea what a thierry pepin is, that is okay. I had no idea what I was in for either.

Earlier this year, my food/social media friend Aaron Ginsberg approached me to make a snack video with one of his clients, T Poutine, on the Lower East Side. I was flattered that the restaurant wanted to get in on the Stupidly Simple Snacks action, so, of course, I said yes. Ironically, I asked him “Do you have a charismatic employee who’d like to be on camera?”

The T Poutine team and I decided to make a French-Canadian dessert that they called The Canuck, which was sweet potato fries tossed with Asian Five Spice, cinnamon, sugar, and maple syrup. They had a deep fryer, so it was stupidly simple enough to throw frozen fries in a vat of boiling oil there. However, to make it feasible for the casual sweet potato fry eater, baking would be the better – plus, an equally tasty and arguably healthier – option.

I kept the video under wraps after I learned T Poutine closed, but it was a matter of time before sweet potato fries starred in an episode. Naturally, I had to include footage of Thierry, who turned out to be the owner of T Poutine and an underwear model. You may recognize him from the Ralph Lauren Romance commercial too. Confirm below. amy august 11, 2010


SERVINGS 2 to 3

WHAT YOU NEED
4 sweet potatoes
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
pepper to taste
paprika
ground cumin

FOR “THE CANUCK” BY T POUTINE
sweet potato fries
Asian Five Spice
cinnamon sugar
maple syrup

MUSIC Kelly Harper Till This Goes Away website / myspace / facebook

August 11, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Dessert, Lower East Side, recipe, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. 7 comments.

PANNA COTTA with DessertTruck Works

IF THERE’S A DESSERT DESTINATION THAT I’D RECOMMEND TO ANYONE IN OR VISITING NEW YORK, IT’S DESSERTTRUCK. Even die-hard dessert eating New Yorkers, who are notoriously spoilt for choice when it comes to sweets, would probably name DessertTruck among their favorite places for warm chocolate bread pudding, molten chocolate cake, vanilla cream-filled brioche donut holes, and goat cheese cheesecake. I met the owners Jerome, Susana, and Vincent last summer at one of their dessert making classes when Jason and I just started dating. Rereading that cheesy post reminds me how much can change in a year: DessertTruck lost their street vending license last fall and went brick-and-mortar earlier this year, and now they’re back on the streets by Astor Place (though just for the summer).

In my latest SSS episode, the trio demonstrates the simple art of making panna cotta! Panna cotta is unbelievably easy to make, provided you have Knox Gelatin (gelatin powder) on hand. If you don’t, go get some. Knox is easy to find at most grocery stores next to the boxes of Jell-O. In fact, making panna cotta is like making Jell-O, only it’s creamy, smooth, and pretty darn sophisticated. Enjoy! amy • august 3, 2010

SERVINGS 4

WHAT YOU NEED
2/5 cup heavy cream
3/5 cup buttermilk
1 bloomed* gelatin sheet or 1/4 packet of bloomed Knox Gelatin
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
jam (raspberry used in video)
fruit

*to bloom a gelatin sheet, soak the gelatin in water for 10 minutes to soften it. Then lightly wring out excess water before using. If using gelatin powder, use 1/4 cup water to dissolve the granules in every Knox Gelatin packet. Since this recipe calls for one gelatin sheet or 1/4 packet of Knox, bloom the gelatin powder in 1/16 cup (equivalent to 1 tablespoon) of water. To learn more about gelatin, refer to David Lebovitz’s immensely helpful guide: How To Use Gelatin.

MUSIC Keelay America

August 3, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Dessert, Italian, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos. 3 comments.

JASMINE TEA SHAVED ICE with Guerrilla Ice Cream

I MET ETHAN FRISCH AND ORI ZOHAR – the masterminds behind Guerrilla Ice Cream – after loitering by their ice cream cart earlier this month at the Hester Street Fair in Chinatown. They’d just opened their business four weeks prior, so it was exciting to come across a new ice cream company manned by two guys in their twenties with a mission to create exotic ice cream and give back to the community.

The flavors are based on political movements around the world, such as lemon poppy seed Velvet Revolution and Libertação, a chocolate & port wine medley. New flavors and menu items, like a Malta (wheat soda) ice cream float, are added weekly. Now wrap your brain around this: 100% of profits go to organizations that support marginalized groups, like the Street Vendor Project, where Ethan has volunteered, in New York City.

In my latest video, which features Ethan as my snack-making cohort, we make a brilliant and ridiculously easy jasmine tea shaved ice. I think Guerrilla Ice Cream not only has a big heart, it shows that you can create great things and do good with something as simple as sugar. amy july 29, 2010

WHAT YOU NEED 4 cups of water | 1 cup of sugar | 5 tea bags (jasmine tea used in the video) | liquid honey or other topping (optional)

SERVINGS 2 to 3

MUSIC Julian Bachlow Desolate Place

July 29, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Chinatown, food cart, ice cream, Manhattan, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos. Leave a comment.

A TINY ICE CREAM SANDWICH STORY

Ice Macaron J' Chanceux Macaron square by Amy CaoIce Macaron Story by Amy Cao on TastingTable.com
J’ Chanceux Macaron 202a mott st, nyc, 718 916 5119

I RECENTLY BEGAN WRITING FOR TASTING TABLE, a beautifully-designed daily email that delivers the best of food and drink culture to adventurous eaters everywhere. (Free to subscribe here.) My first write-up, on ice macaron by J’Chanceux Macaron in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood, went up last week while I was traveling and eating through western New York for my next story. I suppose it’s safe to say a writer-blogger’s work is never done, but I wouldn’t wish to have it any other way.

Read my ice macaron piece on Tasting Table. You can also click on the right-hand image to enlarge. Cute, huh?

Happy Monday, Everyone! amy may 11, 2009

May 17, 2010. Tags: , , . Dessert, Nolita, Tasting Table. 5 comments.

RASPBERRY BAKESHOP: Explained

Raspberry Bakeshop mini cupcakesRaspberry Bakeshop pistachio cupcake with rosewater buttercream  "Blackberry Hazelnut" mini cupcake with blackberry buttercream frostingRaspberry Bakeshop carrot cake bite

Raspberry BakeshopBrooklyn, New York

I first met Roopa of Raspberry Bakeshop at the Brooklyn Chocolate Experiment in November. There were about two dozen contestants slinging chocolate bites that day, but Roopa’s Thai chili-lime chocolate ice cream and mini hand-rolled cocoa ginger Thai basil cones won the competition and deservedly so! I’d never seen a pop-up ice cream operation run so smoothly, cones so small, or names as long. When I learned that Roopa is a long-time baker, I was naturally keen to try her other creations. Months after looking for an opportunity to sample her posh-sounding Pistachio Rose and Blackberry Hazelnut mini cupcakes, I finally got lucky when one of her orders yielded extras with my name on it.

Roopa’s signature cupcakes combine Indian spices like cardamom in pistachio cake, which is then crowned with rosewater buttercream. While the flavor pairings make for some sophisticated bites of cake, they’re arguably unusual compared to everyday chocolate, vanilla and red velvet cupcakes. I have enough trouble explaining Kumquat Cupcakery‘s lavender lemon cupcakes to potential customers at the Brooklyn Flea so I imagine Raspberry Bakeshop flavors might fall under “Acquired Taste” for the less adventurous palate. (Jason took one look at the blackberry hazelnut cupcake with its yellow cake/purple frosting and assumed it was a lemon lavender cupcake.)

ChikaLicious fans may notice Roopa’s cakes have a similar moist and sponge-like quality. Her buttercream, on the other hand, is so airy it borders on mousse. Exotic flavors – even the not-so-exotic carrot cake – are Raspberry Bakeshop‘s strengths. They’re not classic American cupcakes, but if you’re fond of Asian spices, flavors, and desserts (Think: Pichet Ong), Roopa’s cupcakes elevate the everyday treat and you won’t be disappointed. amy april 28, 2010

Visit raspberrybakeshop.com to see more flavors! Say hello to Roopa aka @rspberryeggplnt and try the recipes on her blog, Raspberry Eggplant. Two recent posts on Manchego cheese popovers and Drunken noodles sounded particularly enticing…

April 28, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . cupcakes, review. 2 comments.

STUPIDLY SIMPLE SNACKS with Pichet Ong

THOUGH WE’VE BEEN FACEBOOK FRIENDS FOR A WHILE, I didn’t meet pastry chef Pichet Ong until recently when I visited his new restaurant Village Tart during opening week in February. I was starstruck as I’d only read about Pichet in magazines – when I used to read magazines – and passively knew about his days via the Facebook newsfeed.

In my latest Stupidly Simple Snacks video, Pichet and I make parmesan popcorn and chocolate-covered corn flakes for the camera on my Macbook. It’s been a somewhat surreal experience collaborating with the mastermind of glitter-frosted cupcakes. Not only did we cook together on camera, we also just launched his blog, Confessions of a Sugarholic, and have big plans to further his education in social media. Last year, I was plotting to profile Pichet for a food article; 365 days later, he’s a guest star on Amy Blogs Chow, a small food blog by a girl outta Brooklyn. Anything is possible. amy april 1, 2010

Follow Pichet on Twitter @pichetong

http://blip.tv/play/AYHR_S8A

WHAT YOU NEED Parmesan Popcorn 1 bag popcorn | 1/2 stick melted butter | 1/2 cup grated parmesan | salt & pepper Chocolate-Covered Corn Flakes 2 cups corn flakes | 1 cup dark chocolate | 2 tablespoons oil | salt

MUSIC Passion Pit Little Secrets

April 1, 2010. Tags: , , , . Dessert, Manhattan, Nolita, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos. 3 comments.

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