My Accidental Japanese Dessert

On Friday, before Chuck left on his work trip, I made a reservation at a cute little restaurant on a quiet, picturesque street that I found on one of my wanderings. I perused the drinks section of the menu and determined to try something different and local. I spotted
“milk zenzai” and suddenly realized I had been craving bubble tea. I speculated that perhaps the milk zenzai would be similar to the milk tapioca tea that I so loved at the Asian restaurants back home, and ordered a glass with my meal.

When my dinner came without the milk zenzai, I tried to ask our waitress about it. Of course, my lack of Japanese language skills made this extraordinarily difficult, and while she understood that I was asking about milk zenzai, neither of us could communicate my specific issue. I only ended up confusing her and embarrassing myself by the time I gestured “never mind” and demonstrated happy satisfaction with my glass of water.

Moments after we finished our meal, the waitress brought me this:

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“Milk zenzai!” she chirped. Chuck and I looked at each other and grinned. Of course milk zenzai isn’t a beverage – it’s a dessert! I must have confused the sections on the menu (no real surprise there.) Feeling foolish, we gave it a try. It did have the sweet tea flavor, and there were tapioca balls submerged in the milky liquid, so I like to think I wasn’t too far off. However, I was mystified by the presence of kidney beans in a dessert. The pastry-like piece in the middle of the bowl was a sort of baked bean-puff as well, that made for a most unique flavor. I enjoyed the sweet milk, but jury is still out on the bean-pastry. It was yummy and different to be sure, but I mean – it’s no chocolate lava cake 🙂 Chuck, on the other hand, thought every bit of it was delightful.

I’m really glad I made the mistake, because I tried something new that I otherwise may not have gone for, had I known what it was. Here are some pictures of the rest of the meal… just because 🙂

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Two of my favorite culinary items from this past weekend’s Army/Navy Football + Christmas party are pictured above: jumbo spiral cut ham and chocolate chip cookie dough brownies! I also loved the mashed potatoes, but they aren’t quite as photogenic 🙂

The party was a hit. It was pouring rain outside, but pretty much everyone we invited showed up. After the game (yawn), we played a rousing and hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity, and then played with the XBOX Kinect until our knees and joints ached. I never tire of Dance Central!! I looove that came, and of course – I always win 🙂

This is our last week before we head home to Virginia for the holidays! It’s pure admin before we go. Medical clearance for Japan, various appointments for government passports for Japan, random miscellaneous paperwork… you guessed it, for Japan. I feel so bad for poor Annie. Her past two Japan-centric visits to the vet were traumatic enough, but the worst is yet to come! Early January, she has to get a blood test that will require tying her up and restraining her, since they will take the blood straight from the jugular. They will ask me to leave the room 😦

Probably a good idea, to be honest. It’s gonna be heartbreaking!

Culinary Delight #10: Mini Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosting

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe – because it’s been a while since I’ve actually cooked anything interesting! Some friends were noting my lack of baked goodies recently, but there just hasn’t been the same surplus of time and energy now that I’ve started working full time. Of course, losing one of my biggest consumers to Afghanistan hasn’t helped motivate me to get in the kitchen, either! But this weekend I decided to pull out the apron again.

I modified a brownie recipe to a cupcake recipe (of course.) I say use whatever brownie recipe you like – whether boxed or from scratch – and make them towards the cakier side (more eggs, and milk instead of water.) After spooning the batter into a mini-muffin tin, I dropped a mini Rolo or mini Reeses cup in the center, for a little something different! I always like little caramel or peanut butter surprises in my cupcakes.

The Frosting is what was truly unique though!

Beat 1 (softened) stick of unsalted butter with 3/4 cup of light brown sugar until creamy. Mix in 1/2 cup of flour (for a doughy consistency) and 1.5 cups of powdered sugar. Add 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tsp of molasses. Add heavy cream (or half n’ half) until you get the desired consistency, or to thin if necessary.

Gently fold in mini chocolate chips, and frost your cooled cupcakes!

 

Had lunch with two really awesome girls from Chuck’s new unit today and encountered this total YUMgasm at Carolina Ale House. It pretty much has all my favorite things and then some. Amazeballs.

Culinary Delight #9: Apple Cider Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

These were pretty much to die for. Perfect for fall. Chuck got that eyes-rolled-back-in-the-head look when he tried them. I served them at our Halloween bash in all sorts of cheesy creepy embellishments, so I’m including the internet photo from which I got the recipe. 🙂             

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 bag Kraft caramels, melted with 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. milk for thinning, if necessary
Instructions:
 
Mix all ingredients for the cupcakes together in a large bowl. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake at 350 for 19 minutes.
For frosting, cream together the butter and shortening. Add the powdered sugar and the caramel alternately (add the salt in with the caramel.) Add milk by the tablespoon as needed for thinning. I pretty much used Chuck as a taste-tester to gauge how much caramel vs. milk vs. powdered sugar I needed. He was happy to oblige!