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Raspberry Chocolate Dutch Baby

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I want to share a personal story with you today. It’s about vulnerability and relationships.

Normally, I avoid talking about debbie-downer stuff on my blog but I feel that I should share the good and bad with you. This blog means a lot to me and I want to give you the chance to know me better. 

To give you some background, I need to take you back to 4 years ago. It was 2010 and I was in my senior year in highschool. I was in great relationship that I thought would never end. I know what you’re thinking, “naive” just popped up in your head, didn’t it? OK, maybe I was being naive, but at the time I felt so much trust in the relationship that I didn’t think we would ever break up. There were no mind games, no jealousy, no pretending to be someone we weren’t. It was pretty easy going and we enjoyed just being in each others company. I guess I also felt really secure because he chose me to share his thoughts and emotions with when he was usually a really reserved guy. 

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As special as that felt, things started to stale. I got sick of always being the one to initiate texts and phone calls so I stopped doing it. A couple days went by and I didn’t hear from him at all. A week went by and we entered the first week of university, still nothing. I packed up my pride and called him. We did a lot of small talk, I crafted numerous ways of asking “how is school and life?” because I was too afraid to bring up what was really plaguing my mind for the last week. He, too, danced masterfully around the topic. After about 3 hours, I bursted it out, “What is happening with us, where are we going?” And to my dismay, he replied, “Nowhere.” 

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When I asked if we could talk about it in person but he said that he was too busy studying for a French quiz. I only wanted 30 minutes of his time, but he couldn’t even give that up to explain things face to face. Afterwards, I sent him an angry text saying that I had the right to hear all of this in person and that he was being a coward. He never responded and we never saw each other ever again, especially since he was so good at darting in the opposite direction every time he saw me around campus. What made me angry the most was the fact that I had to call him to bring it up. If I didn’t call, he probably thought he could just drop everything and leave without an explanation. 

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Long story short, I went through a spectrum of emotions that lasted 2 years. I was heartbroken, then angry, then confused and I held on to the “what if” for a long long time. I finally snapped out of it when one of my bestest friends, P-, spent HOURS talking to me to help me dissect my feelings. She wanted to help me realize why exactly I was holding on, so that I can finally let go. And it worked. 

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After that, I spent 2 more years building walls around me. I told myself I never ever want to feel that heartbroken and vulnerable ever again. And I decided that the only way to prevent that from happening again is to not let anyone get too close and also to be the one who cares less. I got really good at that doing that and slowly I built some indestructible walls around my heart. Don’t know when this next step happened but I went from “self protection mode” to “commitophobe mode”. 

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Recently, a friend has been talking to me a lot about the dynamics of relationships and asked me why I haven’t given dating a serious try again. Then she told me something about vulnerability that I never gave thought to: the strengths of being vulnerable. One point in particular stuck with me and that is being vulnerable means you can feel the good things as intensely as the bad things. “By keeping yourself from feeling and by holding yourself back, you’re also keeping out the good things in life”, she said. To which I responded, “Good point.” 

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This was some very timely advice because I had just met someone. This time, I decided to take a leap of faith instead of looking for exits. The windows in my walls were opening up, making me vulnerable once again. But guess what, he too just walked out on me with no warning and no explanation. Does this remind you of anything? It was like my life just replayed exactly what happened 4 years ago. I’m embarrassed to say this but I was really upset. The first time I decided to put myself out there and feel vulnerable again… and I was greeted with that same awful experience. My windows shut closed and my walls rebuilt faster than ever. I’ll probably spend the next 4 years shutting myself out again. 

For those of you who are also “commitophobes”, what is holding you back?

For those of you who are in relationships, what do you love about it?

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Raspberry Chocolate Dutch Baby

2/3 cup low-fat milk (I didn’t have any fresh milk so I used skim milk made from powder and it worked just fine)
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white, at room temperature
2 tbsp granulated sugar 
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (I swear by Nielsen Massey)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
11/4 tsp salt 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degree F.  Place a 10-inch ovenproof skillet in oven to heat.

In a blender, combine milk, eggs and egg whites, sugar, 1 tablespoon of the butter, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste.  Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt and blend for 30 seconds more.

Remove skillet from oven.  Pour the remaining butter into the hot pan and swirl to coat evenly.  Pour in batter.  Bake until Dutch baby is puffed and golden, 30 to 35 minutes.  Best eaten asap!

Recipe from the Pure Vanilla cookbook

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Macarons, not Macaroons

vanilla bean macarons

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One of my biggest pet peeves after slow walkers (old people exempted) is when people make the mistake of calling macarons “macaroons”. Seriously, if you can’t get the name right, you don’t deserve to eat them. Either of them. OH, what’s even worse is when they try to correct me: “What are macarons? Did you mean macaroons?” AUGHHH. Sometimes, people annoy me to no end.

Anyway, rant aside, check out the FIRST macarons I have ever made!!!!! For years, I couldn’t muster up the courage to make these bad boys. Why? Well, they’re just super high maintenance and touchy. Everything, from heating the sugar syrup to folding the egg whites, has to be done JUST right. Last Saturday, I decided to get over my silly fear of egg whites and ground almonds and move on with my life.

Since it was my first time making macarons, I expected disaster. I expected cracked, hollow, and thin meringue shells. You see, I’m what you call a lazy baker. I don’t measure exactly. I hate taking the extra time to level off, sift, and pack. I just guesstimate. So even though I knew that macarons needed to be done with exact measurements, I didn’t bother because I expected everything to go wrong.

Annnd, a lot of things did go wrong. First, I couldn’t get the egg whites to form stiff peaks and after half an hour of trying I realized that idiot-me used a spoon that touched egg yolks to stir the egg whites. Then I spilt about 2 tbsps of ground almond, so that threw everything off balance. And to top it all off, I made the crappiest buttercream (I spilt about 1/2 a bag of icing sugar into the mixer, whoops) to sandwich everything together. 

Despite all of that, the macarons weren’t that bad! My mom and dad, for the first time ever, actually liked what I made!!! (They’re my biggest critics).

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Macarons, Bouchon Style

Ingredients

212 grams Almond Flour/Meal
212 grams Powdered Sugar
82 and 90 grams Egg Whites
1 Tbsp Vanilla Paste
236 grams and 1 pinch Granulated Sugar
158 grams Water

OR

1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 Tbsp  Almond Flour/Meal
1 3/4 cups + 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp and 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp  Egg Whites
1 Tbsp Vanilla Paste
1 cup + 3 Tbsp and 1 pinch Granulated Sugar
2/3 cup Water

How To

1. On parchment paper, make a template for piping out your macarons by tracing circles. You want your shells to be as close as possible in diameter because uneven macarons are ugly. 

2. Preheat your oven. If you have a convection 350 degrees F, or to 400 degrees F if you have a standard oven. 

3. If your almond flour has chunks of almond, grind in the food processor using the “pulse” function to get reallly find almond flour.

4. Sift almond flour and icing sugar into a large bowl and whisk it together.

5. Make a well in the center, then pour in 82 grams or 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp of egg whites and stir to combine. Add vanilla and stir.

6. Place the rest of the egg whites, 92 grams or 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp, in the bowl of a standmixer or a bowl where you can use your handmixer on.

7. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Over medium heat, cook the mixture until it reaches 203F/110C to make a syrup.

8. While the syrup is cooking, add one pinch of sugar into the bowl of egg whites. On medium speed, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. If you reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248F/120C, then reduce speed to low just to keep the egg whites moving.

9. When the syrup reaches 248F/120C, take the saucepan off the heat! 

10. Keeping your mixer on medium-low speed, slowing drizzle in the syrup while it is still hot. The egg whites will deflate, don’t worry it’s normal!

11. After all the syrup is added in, crank mixer up to medium speed and whip the egg whites for about 5 mins to get stiff and glossy peaks. The bowl should be cool, but if not, just keep on whipping. This syrup and egg white mixture is called a MERINGUE. 

12. Fold 1/3 of your meringue into the almond mixture. Continue folding in small portions of meringue until you can fold the batter over itself like a ribbon. The mixture should hold its shape – not too stiff but not too loose that it dissolves into itself

13. Transfer mixture into a piping bag and fill the circles on your template. 

14. Bake for 8-10mins in a convection oven. For standard oven, reduce heat to 325F and bake for 9-12 mins (make sure to reheat back up to 350F before putting in the next batch). You want to look for these indicators: shiny surface and crispness

Recipe from Bouchon Bakery

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