Azucar (Revisit)

I LOVE Azucar. They have delicious desserts for good prices, the staff is always super friendly and in addition to fancy desserts their Cuban snacks and pastries plus coffee are on point.

Divina Cake - Vanilla Cake, Passionfruit Curd, Raspberries and Toasted Marshmallow Topping

Divina Cake – Vanilla Cake, Passionfruit Curd, Raspberries and Toasted Marshmallow Topping

I used to go to OB more often but now I rarely find an excuse to go. This time we were heading to Pizza Port and so obviously had to make an obligatory stop at Azucar, even though I was too full to eat dessert. Fortunately I could take these babies to go.

Azucar Cakes

Azucar Cakes

My favorite thing at Azucar are their mini cakes. Instead of buying a huge slice of cake you can buy little mini cakes (for $4 to $6 dollars). They are all complex and lovely with a lot of them showing a Cuban influence in the use of tropical fruits or dulce de leche. Some stand outs include the Divina (pictured here) with passion fruit and marshmallow, the cheese flan with coconut, the cinco leches cake, mango cheesecake, rum coconut cake….amongst so many.

The Divina cake is one I always get. I ADORE passion fruit, and this is the perfect combination as passion fruit’s tartness takes so well with super sweet foods like marshmallow or white chocolate. The Divina is a super moist vanilla cake filled with passion fruit curd, fresh raspberries and topped with toasted marshmallow. Amazing.

Divina Cake

The other cake I got was called the Havana I think. It is also vanilla cake (you can always see the black specks of real vanilla in their cakes, always a plus in my book). But this one is filled with a thick layer of dulce de leche and topped with vanilla frosting and crystallized sugar. Sweeter than the Divina and a little sweet for my taste but my sister loves it. This is for her which is why I left the plastic layer around it (sorreez). I was afraid that if I unraveled the plastic covering all that dulce de leche would just ooze out…For a picture sans plastic see my old post on Azucar here.

Havana Cake

If you want something simpler than a cake they also have fantastic pastries; scones (including a gluten free option), flaky pastries filled with guava and cheese, brownies, bars, cookies (try the Mojito cookie or the peanut-butter-white-chocolate Tiger cookie), caramels (dark chocolate with sea salt), muffins and even coconut almond granola. They also have some Cuban inspired salty snacks like croquettes and papa rellenos. As far as real food goes they have inventive sandwiches like the Cuban in Paris (brie, ginger spread, arugula, pears), Berto (serrano ham, manchego cheese, arugula, drizzle of extra virgin olive oil) and the Havana (oven roasted turkey breast, cream cheese, guava marmalade). And lastly the many coffee options are all great.

But I would definitely order a cake.



Just sayin’.


Azucar

4820 Newport Avenue (Ocean Beach)
San Diego, CA 92107
619-523-2020

www.iloveazucar.com

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Bouchon Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

So naturally after a healthy post I follow up with something on the other end of the scale. My mom got me Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook and having heard really great things about it I was excited to try something. I started off with the TKO cookies and the Nutter Butter’s but thought a more unique thing to share would be the Flan Tart! I slightly adapted it by omitting the apricots and adding a chocolate ganache to the top of it.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Look at that thing. I personally love flan, crème brûlée and all sorts of custard based desserts. This filling isn’t exactly flan per se as it does not include condensed milk which is typical of flan but more of a simple custard based simply on whole milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar. It has a pâte brisée crust and you can use Bouchon Bakery’s recipe or one that you are more familiar with, as long as it fits a 9 inch round pan.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

The recipe’s in Bouchon Bakery are very exact and contain a lot of useful information. If you follow directions closely you will end up with a great product. One of the tips I really liked is to let muffin batter sit for a day as this soaks the flour and produces a more moist final product. Having made countless batches of dry-ish muffins despite vast amounts of oil or buttermilk this might be the clue I’ve been missing all these years! I plan on trying one of the muffin recipes and reporting back here to see how that goes 🙂

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

One important thing to note is that they call for Bird’s Custard Powder for the recipe. Coincidentally had this as I had been to Cost Plus World Market and they had this in their section of international foods a while ago (custard powder is quite popular in the UK). If you don’t have it I looked at the ingredients and it is entirely cornstarch with flavoring and food coloring. So you can most likely sub cornstarch for it and maybe add some extra vanilla. Your final custard might be less yellow but taste should not be too highly affected.

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE PATE BRISEE RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE FLAN TART RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

INGREDIENTS:

– 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
– 1/2 cup whole milk or cream

1. Melt the chocolate and milk together over a double boiler or by microwaving for 30 second increments with whisking in between.
2. Spread over the cooled flan tart.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

TIPS:
– As before, if you do not have Bird’s Custard Powder you can order it online, find it at Cost Plus World Market or substitute for cornstarch and extra vanilla flavoring.
– Incorporating coconut in this, whether by subbing in coconut milk or topping with toasted coconut would be quite good.
– Another option is omitting the chocolate ganache and topping with fresh berries.

Slice

Slice

Azucar

So I’m pretty when people are thinking desserts in San Diego their first thought is Extraordinary Desserts. Which is completely understandable and pretty fantastic as far as desserts go, however I invite you to consider Azucar in Ocean Beach as well. Although it bills itself as a Cuban style bakery, they go beyond that and have fantastic offerings.

Azucar's Havana Cake

Azucar’s Havana Cake

Azucar

Azucar

Its definitely smaller and more casual than Extraordinary Desserts but I think a perfect afternoon would be perusing the antique stores on Newport Av. and then stopping and getting some coffee and dessert at Azucar. The cakes are mini sized and mini priced (your waistline and wallet will thank you!) but still feel very high-end and complex, with ingredients like passion fruit curd, flambeed pineapple, and champagne infused chocolate.

Azucar's Cake Display

Azucar’s Cake Display

You can also get yummy sandwiches (try the Cuban naturally) as well as amazing coffee. They also do more casual pastries like their flaky pastries with guava or cheese, ham croquettes, cookies, brownies, scones and cupcakes, etc. Personally I prefer their sweet to their savoury. As a disclaimer I will say that in life I also prefer sweet to savoury.

Azucar's Cake Display

Azucar’s Cake Display

As far as their more elaborate little cakes these are an incredibly affordable $6 bucks. One of my favorites is a white cake with passion fruit curd, raspberries, and a marshmallow toasted top. Next on my to try list is one that had rum soaked cake layered with coconut cream and flambeed pineapple. And their birthday cake is also inspired by the Momofuku birthday cake which would please anyone with a super sweet tooth. However, what I actually got this time was a white layer cake with dulce de leche filling and a vanilla frosting with sprinkles. Behold.

Vanilla Cake with Dulce de Leche

Vanilla Cake with Dulce de Leche

Sprinkle Close Up

Sprinkle Close Up

It WAS delicious. A little too sweet with the frosting but I tend to not be a big frosting person anyways. The cake is so moist and flecked with little vanilla beans (play find the specks on the first image of this post!). It pairs incredibly well with dulce de leche because really what doesn’t pair well with dulce de leche.

The other item I tried was their mojito cookie. This was awesome. The cookie is thin but chewy and a light green inside, topped with granulated sugar. It really does taste like a mojito sans the alcohol component. But the fresh mint and lime flavor with the texture from the granulated sugar really makes this cookie. And yes I had a bite on the way home before I was able to take a picture of it. Life happens.

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie

Mojito Cookie - So green!

Mojito Cookie – So green!

I’d like to also point out that the service at Azucar is great. Everyone is really friendly and they don’t mind at all when people like me stand there for 20 minutes and read all the descriptions of every cake 3 times before deciding what I want to take home. Usually when I’m picking desserts there’s 2 that stand out of maybe 10 options but here I think I could’ve been happy with almost any of the cakes. It helps that I like that they use Latin inspired ingredients like tropical fruits and dulce de leche (which I love). Until next time I’m in OB I guess…

Azucar

Azucar

Azucar

4820 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 523-2020

http://iloveazucar.com/

Bleu Bohème

For Restaurant Week Bleu Bohème used to have a dish called Tournedos Rossini which is filet mignon tournedos in a Madeira demi-glace on top of a crouton topped with foie gras and truffles. These are basically all my favorite things so I bookmarked this place but unfortunately never made it to Restaurant Week. We did however make it to happy hour and managed to sample quite a few dishes.

Bleu Boheme Patio

Bleu Boheme Patio

Their happy hour is quite short but worth it if you can make it to Kensington between 5 and 6 pm! Their martinis, champagne drinks, wine by the glass and craft beer selection (which is awesome btw) is all 50% off. They have a selection of appetizers and of mussels + fries that are all 50% off as well.

Basil Martini

Basil Martini

Red Ale

Red Ale

We started with the basil martini with citrus and a red ale. The basil martini was refreshing and not to sweet, it has tiny pieces of the basil in the drink which gave it a strong basil-y flavor. They also serve you crusty bread with butter right away. We liked the bread but it was extremely crusty so much so that we ended up just eating the insides.

Bread

Bread

APPETIZERS: We ordered quite a few of these. Our favorite was the Nouille au Fromage, a.k.a. the mac n’ cheese. Flat wide pasta with creamy gruyere cheese sauce, peas, duck confit and bacon all baked so the cheese is browned on top and piping hot inside. We did not see much of the duck confit but there was a good amount of bacon and this dish is a fairly large portion.

Nouille et Fromage

Nouille au Fromage

Next with so many options for mussels and fries, we chose the Moules et Frites au Champignon which has a creamy garlic sauce, white wine, bacon and wild mushrooms. This was also delicious and it came with PLENTY of mushroom and bacon (see picture below). The sauce was very flavorful and we definitely were mopping up the extra sauce with the crusty bread we did not eat (problem solved). The fries were very thinly cut and perfectly fried, we just wished they were a tad saltier. Overall would definitely order this again!

Moules et Frites au Champignons

Moules et Frites au Champignons

Next came the Galette du Crabe or crab cakes. These were 3 small crab cakes with an aioli on top and served with jicama remoulade and tomato-rocket salad. These were good but nothing too remarkable, I prefer when crab cakes have big lumps of crab as opposed to the finer shred meat, nonetheless it was not the type of crab cake that is predominantly bread and it was very well seasoned. Although it doesn’t sound very traditionally French, we loved the jicama roulade which was cool and crunchy and a nice contrast to the fried crab cakes.

Galettes du Crabe

Galettes du Crabe

Perhaps the dish I had the highest expectations for was the Crèpe de Homard, a lobster crepe with marscapone, asparagus and white truffle-carrot sauce. However the crepe was quite small and had finely shredded lobster that did not have a strong lobster flavor. The thick orange sauce had carrot and truffle but I did not care for it too much and thought it overwhelmed any lobster flavor in the crepe. Don’t think we would order this one again.

Crepe au Honard

Crèpe de Homard

Lastly another dish we quite liked was the Carpaccio de Saumon Fumé which was rum cured-house smoked salmon, crème frâiche raifort, baby arugula salad with shaved fennel, lemon zest, Champagne vinaigrette and capers. This is the only semi-healthy dish on the happy hour menu if you care for that sort of thing, but it is so flavorful we were all fighting for the last pieces of the salmon. Although we could not taste the rum-curing (not even sure if this would impart flavor though?) the combination of all the elements was very good. You had the salty smoked salmon with Champagne dressed greens, the crunch of the anise-y fennel, tangy capers and lastly the crème frâiche raifort to balance it all out.

Carpaccio

Carpaccio de Saumon Fumé

You thought that was it didn’t you? Well after all this can you imagine we still ordered dessert? We can.

DESSERT: There were many good dessert options and we had heard good things about the crème brulee crèpe however we ultimately decided on the Brioche aux Cerises. With brioche bread pudding, dried cherries, white chocolate, toasted almonds and Amaretto with crème fraîche this sounded like quite the combo. The bread pudding was not dense and was very light in texture but still custard-y in the middle. The white chocolate flavor was not very prominent but the dried cherries added sweet, chewy bites to the pillow-y soft bread. We really, really wished this had come with ice cream because that would have taken it to the next level.

Brioche aux Cerises

Brioche aux Cerises

CHECK:
Red Ale $3.50
Basil Martini $5.50
Galette du Crabe $7.48
Carpaccio de Saumon Fumé $7.98
Crèpe de Homard $8.98
Nouille au Fromage $6.75
Moules et Frites au Champignon $6.98
Brioche aux Cerises $9.95
TOTAL: $61.69 (w/ tax)

Patio View

Patio View

Overall we thought happy hour was a great deal. There are quite a few options for food and drink which was nice. The dishes that really blew us away were the Nouille au Fromage and the Moules et Frites. Everything else was good except for the Crèpe de Homard which I thought was a little underwhelming. Definitely want to make it back here for the Tournedos (*crossing my fingers it will be in the next SDRW menu*).

Bleu Bohème
4090 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
www.bleuboheme.com

Triple-Whiskey Double-Chocolate Cupcakes

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day we wanted to come up with an appropriate recipe to celebrate this holiday with. At first we thought of chocolate and Bailey’s since that’s a classic pairing but ultimately decided there were enough of these recipes so came up with this Triple-Whiskey Double-Chocolate Cupcake: Chocolate cupcakes filled with whiskey simple syrup, whiskey cream and topped with chocolate ganache and whiskey caramel.

Whiskey Chocolate Cupcake

Whiskey Chocolate Cupcake

You can adjust how much whiskey you want to add and this recipe definitely works for bourbon or rum as well.

Whiskey Custard Filling

Whiskey Custard Filling

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:

Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Whiskey Simple Syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup whiskey

Whiskey Custard:
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 sugar
2 egg yolks
1 heaped tbsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup of heavy cream
8 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate

Whiskey Caramel:
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup of heavy cream, warmed
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp whiskey

Procedures:
Chocolate Cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Fit the 12 molds of a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.
2.Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 3. With a stand mixer or a hand mixer and a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for two minutes, until it is blended into the butter.
4. Add the egg, then the yolk, beating for 1 minute between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Beat in the vanilla, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear.
6. Scrape down the bowl and add the buttermilk, mixing until incorporated, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients.
7. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, and mix it in by hand with a rubber spatula.
8. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared molds. Bake for 22 – 25 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are springy and a tester inserted in the centers comes out clean. Transfer the muffin pan to a cooling rack and allow the cakes to cool.

Whiskey Simple Syrup:
1. In a saucepan, heat the whiskey and the sugar until thesugar is fully dissolved, stirring occasionally.
2. Let it cool.

Whiskey Custard:
1. Whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar in a bowl.
2. Mix the cream and milk in a heavy medium saucepan under medium heat and heat until its close to boiling.
3. Lower heat then slowly whisk cream and milk into egg mixture. Return mixture to saucepan.
4. Stir over low heat until the mixture thickens, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to
bowl.
5. Stir in whiskey and vanilla. Cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate.

Whiskey Caramel:
1. Combine the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan; stir to mix and melt.
2. Cook over low heat, using the handle of the pan to swirl the liquid and ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved. (From this stage forward, do not touch the caramel with a spoon or spatula until the final step.) It should be absolutely clear. This takes about 4 minutes
3. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil and cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the caramel turns a dark amber color, like maple syrup (about 10 to 12 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Carefully add the warm cream to the caramel; the caramel will froth and steam.
5. Return the pan to low heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to dissolve any solidified caramel until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and whiskey.
6. Let cool.

Chocolate Ganache:
1. Cook the heavy cream and chocolate on the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

ASSEMBLY:
1. Cut cones in the cooled cupcakes and slice off the end of the cones so you only have a “cap” like so .
2. Use a pastry brush to brush the inside of the cupcakes with the whiskey simple syrup.
3. Use a teaspoon or pastry bag to fill the cavity in the cupcake with whiskey custard.
4. Cap the cupcakes.
5. Use a spatula or knife to spread the ganache on the cupcakes.
6. Lastly, use a spoon to swirl glaze onto the top of the cupcakes (if the caramel hardened microwave it for a couple seconds to loosen it again).

whiskeycaramelcupcakes2

TIPS:
1. Feel free to adjust the amount of whiskey (or whatever alcohol you want to use) according to taste. You can add less whiskey to the custard or substitute water for some of the whiskey in the simple syrup for example.
2. You can make the custard, caramel and ganache the day before to make it easier.
3. If you’re feeling lazy you can make the ganache in the microwave: mix the cream and chocolate and microwave for 35 second increments, mixing in between until its all melted.

Whiskey Caramel based on this recipe.

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe based on this recipe