With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d do a round-up of special Valentine crocheted projects that you could make for your loved ones or for yourself to celebrate ♥ The free patterns are available for all of these projects (click through the links to access them)!
Row 1: Valentine Teddy by me (my second ever original design!), Hearts by Little Birdie Secrets (I LOVE using these hearts to embellish cards- see here and here), Valentine Popsicles by Jennygurumi (her first original design!)
Row 2: Lovebirds by Lion Brand (a cute set that you can personalize with your own special colours, a hat, or maybe initials), Amigurumi Hearts by Roxycraft (perfect if you want a 3-D heart instead of the 2-D ones above), Sweetheart Bunny by me (my Valentine project from last year!)
Row 3: Heart Box of Chocolates by Red Heart (How amazing is this? These chocolates will last forever…and are calorie-free ;D), Valentine Envelopes by Lion Brand (such a cute way to send a special letter or photo), Chocolate Truffle Scarf by Twinkie Chan (super kawaii for chocolate lovers to wear proudly!)
Hope these give you some ideas of how you can add some crocheted touches to your Valentine’s Day! They’re a fun take on your traditional chocolate, flowers, and stuffies that are typically gifted for the occasion! Much love to you all ♥
Chocolate-covered strawberries have always been one of my favourite treats, and they’re so simple to make! I made these for a friend’s surprise birthday party last week: they look pretty and elegant and they’re easy to eat since you can just pop them in your mouth! I followed the recipe here. Adding shortening to the chocolate prevents the chocolate from becoming too thick and makes dipping the strawberries easier. I simply lay my chocolate-covered strawberries down on wax paper to cool and dry rather than stick them upside down into styrofoam with a toothpick (as stated in the recipe). Try making these the next time you have a potluck or get-together :)
Ryan and I both LOVE desserts, so Paris was the perfect place for us to satiate our sweet tooth. I tried to research exactly where we should go and what we should try in order to maximize our short stay in Paris. Armed with our cameras (our DSLR, point-and-shoot and iPhones), we documented our dessert adventures along the way. Ryan and I are both macaron aficionados as we enjoy trying macarons in different cities and comparing different textures and flavours. Imagine our delight and excitement when we got to visit Ladurée, the famed pastry shop along the Champs-Élysées. Louis Ernest Ladurée founded his bakery in 1862, and the pastry shop rose to fame when Pierre Desfontaines, the second cousin of Ladurée, had the original idea of the double-decker macaron in 1930. This is the macaron that we know and love today with two macaron shells filled with creamy ganache.
This place has so much history and is one of the most well-known (if not the most well-known) macaron makers in the world! I loved the beautiful, elegant storefront.
Unfortunately, the restaurant was being renovated while we were there, so we could not dine in for breakfast or for tea. Instead, we picked out some desserts from their shop and had to take them elsewhere to eat. Apparently there is usually a very long line-up, but there was none when we visited (probably because the restaurant was closed).
Everything looked so beautiful and delicious! It was very difficult to choose what to order. Interestingly, Ladurée was the one who made the pastries in Sofia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette”- I still remember the scene where the beautiful, colourful macarons are shown!
We were also very hungry this morning as it was our first official full day in Paris. We had had an early start to our morning to take some sunrise shots, so we could’ve gobbled up everything in a minute!
Armed with our delicious treats in hand, we went to go find a warm place to enjoy and savour them.
We ended up going to a nearby McDonald’s! We ordered a tea and coffee to go with these sweet treats. I love the elegant packaging and branding.
My all-time favourite flavours are still pistachio and salted caramel: thus, we ordered these flavours in the larger macarons and also picked up some blackcurrant, raspberry, chocolate and rose macarons.
We were told that their pain au chocolate amande was one of their best-sellers, so we decided to give it a try. We were delightfully surprised as this chocolate almond croissant’s filling was delicious and tasty with its bits of almonds and hint of chocolate. The texture was very unique, and we were really glad we tried this special croissant.
Next came the moment we had been waiting for: trying the famed Ladurée macarons! First up was pistachio! Their macarons were delicate with a crispy exterior. The flavouring was wonderful and the ganache was light and fluffy. Many people hail these as the best macarons they’ve ever tasted with perfect texture. Everybody has their own tastes and preferences, and I myself prefer a chewier macaron. I loved the chewiness of the macarons of Miette Patisserie in San Francisco, but Ladurée’s did have better flavour. I remember also really enjoying the macarons of Bouchon Bakery in New York City as they were both flavourful and chewy.
Mmm….look at all that delicious fluffy ganache filling! The salted caramel also had a wonderful taste, and we ended up saving the others to eat in our hotel so we could enjoy them later.
One of my favourite things to do on the trip was hop into bakeries to pick up some croissants to snack on along the way! This place was near our hotel and along the way to the Metro station.
The croissants were so fluffy, soft, and buttery. Since they were so light, I could eat a lot in one sitting!
This baguette was a delicious snack on the go in the Metro station. The crispy exterior contrasted the soft, warm and chewy interior. Mmm…I love bread :)
Next on our macaron tour was a stop at the famed Pierre Hermé. Pierre Hermé was dubbed “The Picasso of Pastry” and was the youngest person ever to be named “France’s Pastry Chef of the Year”. He worked with Ladurée before opening his own boutique in Paris in 2002. His storefront is noticeably different from Ladurée’s as it is more modern and sleek.
You can see me in the reflection, eagerly anticipating more of these Parisian treats! There was a line-up to get in, but the line-up went fairly quickly.
Once again, there were so many beautiful desserts on display. The “Ispahan”, a beautiful pastry made of rose macaron biscuits with rose petal cream, whole raspberries and lychee flavour is apparently one of Pierre Hermé’s masterpieces (you can barely see it in the back of this picture below- it’s visible in one of my Ladurée pics as they sell it too). I will have to go back to try this next time as I only read about this recently…I suppose I was too fixated on the macarons!
Pierre Hermé is known for his unusual and unique macaron flavour combinations, from olive oil with mandarin orange to chocolate and foie gras. We had to quickly choose which of these unique macarons we wanted to try after the sales associate rattled off all the flavours available.
Once again, we took our macarons to go as we wanted to enjoy them as we continued our sight-seeing of Paris.
We ended up picking four very unique flavours: Mogador (passion fruit chocolate), Creme Brûlée, Truffe Blanche & Noisette (white truffle and hazelnut) and Chocolate & Foie gras.
The colours and presentation of these macarons were absolutely gorgeous! I loved the elegant powder dusting on the macarons- they looked so fancy!
All of the macarons were exceptionally flavourful and intense and unlike anything I had ever tasted. Some have hailed these macarons as the best they’ve ever tasted. The texture of these macarons differed from Ladurée’s as we found the shells to be very soft and much less crispy. Once again, I prefer a chewier macaron, but I definitely appreciated Pierre Hermé’s unique and creative flavours. Look at the beautiful colour inside the Chocolate and Foie Gras macaron!
We also stopped by Angelina, a famous tearoom founded in 1903 near the Louvre and the Jardin de Tuileries that was frequented by many famous individuals, such as Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn and King Henry V. There was a very long line-up outside, and since we had to catch our plane in a few hours, we opted to grab a few items from their store rather than dining in.
Angelina is famous for their ‘Chocolat L’Africain' (hot chocolate), and I was so happy that we could take it to go in a portable cup. This hot chocolate is incredibly thick, rich, and dark…it tasted like I was drinking pure melted chocolate! Apparently when you have this in the tearoom, it is accompanied by a bowl of whipped cream to complement it and a glass of ice water on the side to offset the richness!
Angelina is also famous for their legendary Mont Blancs, made of chestnut purée, vanilla chantilly and a merengue base. Don’t they look unique? I had never tasted a Mont Blanc prior to this. The gentleman in front of us ordered 6 of these to go! This was a good indication that they were indeed delicious and were going to live up to their hype…
We ordered one and enjoyed it back at our hotel as we waited for our taxi to come drive us to the airport.
I had no idea how it would taste, and we were excited to dive in!
I managed to snap a quick pic before we completely devoured the Mont Blanc. The chestnut puree ontop had a delicious texture and flavour, and the vanilla cream was incredibly light. The merengue base added a delightful crispy, sweet contrast to the rest of the dessert. Ryan and I were both very pleasantly surprised with how much we loved it, and we actually concluded that it was our favourite new dessert in Paris! I hope that we can dine in and enjoy the full tearoom experience the next time we go!
Writing this blog post has made me incredibly hungry and I wish I had some sweet treats with me now. Thankfully, we actually have some exceptional macaron establishments where I live, such as the Duchess Bake Shoppe and Mirabelle Macarons, so I can enjoy these delightful Parisian treats without having to hop on a plane! My good friend Connie of Mirabelle Macarons has done a wonderful job of perfecting her macaron recipes and has experimented with some very unique flavors too. I have yet to try making macarons on my own, but I am definitely excited to give them a try :) Stay tuned for more pictures and posts about the restaurants and other famous attractions we visited on our whirlwind trip to Paris!
We feasted on so many beautiful and scrumptious desserts while we were in Paris. I hope you enjoyed my tweets as we traveled, and we can’t wait to share more photos with you soon! In the meantime, I thought I’d share a project I worked on before Christmas with you. I have a good friend who is a wonderful baker and cook, so when I saw this adorable crocheted dessert trio in Ana Paula Rimoli's “Amigurumi Toy Box”, I knew I had to make these for her!
I first started on the dainty little cake by alternating between white and tan for the layers.
We made some modifications to our little cake. To make the layers more flat and solid, we cut out pieces of cardboard and glued them onto the white parts so they would not be as puffy when filled with stuffing. I only recommend doing this if you are making these pieces for an adult who will be putting the amigurumi on display rather than for a child who will be playing with them and probably getting them dirty. The cardboard will not fare so well if you will be washing the amigurumi! As you can see in the pictures below, we cut out a circular piece of cardboard as well as a doughnut-shaped piece. We also put some stuffing between the layers of cardboard.
The layers are much more flat and defined now, just like a real cake :) We then added the eyes and the dainty little smile!
Next I crocheted a pretty pink cherry adorned with a green leaf to sit atop the cake!
Here is the finished little cake! The pink cherry adds such a cute touch :)
The flan was very easy to make as I switched from brown to yellow and added the face. I love how these desserts have such big eyes and how minimal sewing is required!
This little flan gets a red cherry…
Here is the finished flan! We got these beautiful dessert plates as a gift, and I love their vibrant colours and wise quotes.
To finish up our dessert trio, I then worked on the hot cocoa. We once again added a circular piece of cardboard so that his base would be flatter. Then we added the eyes, smile and rosy cheeks!
Next I sewed on the brown hot cocoa part and added the curved little handle. He’s so dainty and tiny!
A melting marshmallow finishes off the look of this little hot cocoa! Working on him reminded me of the two amigurumi cups I made when I first started making amigurumi!
And here is my dessert trio altogether, displayed on my three-tiered platter :) I love using this platter when serving jello and other desserts at parties. Wouldn’t you be happy if you walked into a potluck or party and saw these three cuties staring back at you?
I love how the flan, cake and hot cocoa each have something special to decorate them ontop. These desserts would be the perfect gift for someone who has a sweet tooth or perhaps for someone who loves high tea (like me)! These three were quick and easy to make, and my friend loved them! They are proudly sitting atop her shelf in her office :) It’s fun not only making amigurumi animals but amigurumi food too! Adding faces to household objects and food make them look so cute (like my amigurumi Siu Mai)!
You can get the patterns to make the flan, cake and hot cocoa in “Amigurumi Toy Box”. If you haven’t checked out Ana Paula Rimoli's three books yet, I highly recommend buying them or borrowing them from your local library. I went through her patterns when I first started making amigurumi, and they are very easy to understand and follow. Her patterns are always adorable! Who is your favourite? Do your friends have any favourite foods that you could perhaps amigurumi-fy? Thank you for reading!
Best. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever. As you know, I love baking, so I’m always on the hunt for new recipes. You must try out this recipe by Alice of Savory Sweet Life. The cookies turned out so moist, chewy and delicious, and everyone loved them! Some people even commented that they tasted like the scrumptious cookies from “Cookies by George”.
To prevent the cookies from coming out flat, be sure to cream the butter and sugars for three whole minutes on medium-high speed until it’s light and fluffy as Alice states in her troubleshooting section (she provides some other tips too). I also used coarse sea salt instead of table salt as per her suggestion, which gave the cookies a nice flavor. Since these cookies were so big, the centres were chewy and moist :) This will definitely be my go-to recipe when I’m craving some traditional chocolate chip cookies or if some friends are coming over!
My favourite chocolate bar of all time has to be Skor. There’s just something about that delicious crunch of butter toffee covered by milk chocolate that is irresistible to me. Once I take the first bite out of a Skor bar, I pretty much can’t resist and end up eating the whole thing! This may be random, but I remember eating Skor bars when I was younger and reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. I always envisioned Skor bars to be Wonka bars, and I thought one day I might find a golden ticket as I peeled away the wrapper!
A while ago, I went to a friend’s house and she made “Toffee Crunch Blondies" using Skor toffee bits. This dessert was sooo yummy and quick to make. She whipped them up right in front of me and told me that the recipe could be found on the back of the Chipits Skor toffee bits package. The recipe can also be found here on-line.
Mixing all the ingredients together is really quick. It’s kind of like making one massive cookie, but you save a lot of time since you just pour the batter into a pan rather than individually shaping each cookie!
Once it comes out of the oven about half an hour later, you sprinkle the remainder of the Skor toffee bits ontop (I’ve made this numerous times, and sometimes I forget to save some to sprinkle ontop :S).
This Skor toffee crunch blondie is so incredibly delicious. It’s moist and chewy with a delightful crunch from the toffee bits. It’s the most delicious when you eat it while it’s warm out of the oven paired with ice cream! However, it does stay chewy and moist for days :) I knew I’d love this dessert given my affinity for Skor chocolate bars. I’ve made it many times since then, and I always keep a stash of Skor toffee bits in my pantry in case I need to whip up a quick dessert!
I love discovering new blogs whether they’re crochet, fashion, craft, baking or food-related. As soon as I found Alice’s “Savory Sweet Life”, I scoured her site and found so many delicious recipes I wanted to try. I love Alice’s writing style and beautiful, crisp photos. Alice is a busy mom of three who started her blog as a creative outlet and an expression of all that she loves: food, photography, and sharing with others. It’s always interesting hearing how people start their blogs and share their passions and interests with the world!
One of her recipes that immediately jumped out at me was her “Chocolate Banana Bread with Sour Cream and Chocolate Chips" recipe listed under her “Best Recipes of 2009”. I thought it sounded like a good twist on the traditional banana bread (which we frequently bake), and I already had most of the ingredients at home. I just had to go out and buy some bananas and sour cream! I love using sour cream in cakes since it makes them extra moist. Find the recipe here.
The batter is all ready to go into the oven!
And here’s the cake one hour later! Mmm…you could smell the chocolatey-ness :)
And now to cut a slice of the moist, rich chocolate banana bread…
Instead of baking your traditional chocolate cake or banana bread, why not combine the two and give this “Chocolate Banana Bread" a try. It’ll certainly satisfy any chocolate cravings you may have! I can’t wait to try Alice’s other recipes…everything looks so delicious :)
Today my mom and sister are coming over for a baking day! We’ll be baking some of our favourite treats including classic chocolate chip cookies :)
We love the “Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies" recipe found on All Recipes here. Mmmmm…yummy-looking cookie dough….
One of the reviewers of this recipe provided a great tip: mix in a small package of instant vanilla pudding to the batter before adding the chips. This helps make the cookies chewier and puffier!
These cookies stay chewy for days. Whip out your mixer and share these with family and friends- they’ll love ya for it ;)