A big thank you to Kudo-san and Watanabe-san for joining our class! Busy Little Bee Tokyo is a small venture I run with another artist, offering cooking classes and crafts classes for children ages 0 to 3 and their mothers. The cake class that is featured in this article is an off-shoot of these classes, and I offer 2 to 3 classes per month for adults only. Each month, in the children's class, we create healthy desserts and snacks that the children help us make, with no sugar, butter, eggs, or cream. Each month is based on a different picture book. In the mom's class, we make a French pastry each month, and the older children play together while the younger babies are usually carried by their mothers as they bake.
I am also very excited to say that we will be starting a Busy Little Bee Cooperative Preschool from February 2014! Cooperative preschools are quite common in the US and Canada, but as far as I know, there are none in Japan. At our school, I will be the organizer and head teacher using a Montessori home school curriculum, and the parents of the children who will be joining us will be helping us in the classroom, leading a craft or singing songs with the children. If your child enrolled in the program 5 days per week, you would be on duty 2 days per week, leaving your child at our school 3 days per week. For now, it will be a bilingual English / Japanese program, but we would be happy to add more languages as different families from different linguistic backgrounds join us! For children, our school would provide a secure and supportive environment to learn through play, and to see their parent in a different light as a teacher and leader. For parents, our school would be an opportunity to truly focus on the children and to enjoyably spend these precious early childhood years with them in the community of other parents while also getting some much needed time off. It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, and we hope that with this Cooperative Preschool, we will be able to create a village for our children in the big city of Tokyo!
To learn more about our classes and preschool, please visit www.busybeetokyo.com Happy Holidays and happy baking!
４月といえば、１年のなかでも新しいことが始まるとき、気持ちを切り替えるときですが、今月のThe Sweet Lifeではそういう新しさをお菓子で表現してみました。今年は桜も早く、東京ではもう終わりつつありますが、その余韻を最後まで味わおうと思い、桜のレシピをご紹介します。以外に簡単でエレガントなお菓子、作ってみては？
April in Japan is a month of new beginnings, a new school year, new hires, and a fresh start for the rest of us. It used to be that the cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom in Tokyo this time of year, blossoming as if to celebrate a beautiful new start to the year. Their early appearance this year left me wanting their fleeting beauty to last just a little bit longer, and led me to create a simpler version of a cake that was incredibly popular at my shop this time of year, our Cherry Blossom Gateau.
This white chocolate and yogurt mousse is most elegant when served in a glass, whether it be a wine glass, brandy glass, or shot glass. The preserved cherry blossoms are traditionally used in festive teas, and can be found at most department stores in the green tea or tsukemono section. Use a toothpick to arrange the blossoms in the gelee, working quickly before it hardens.
It also turns out that April is a month of new beginnings for me as well, with the start of Busy Little Bee Tokyo, toddler cooking and crafts classes. I teach the cooking classes (I should not be allowed near crafts at any cost!), and we had great fun in our classes last month! Our hands on toddler cooking classes use healthy ingredients and little to no sugar or butter, while our baking classes for moms teach grown up desserts while the children watch and play. Our website is www.busybeetokyo.com, and below is a photo from one of our first classes!
Hoping that this month's dessert puts you in the frame of mind for a sweet, new beginning!
70g white chocolate
4g leaf gelatin (soak in 24g water for 3 minutes)
140g yogurt (at room temperature)
100g heavy cream
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over hot water. Add the softened gelatin and soaking water and mix well. Beat the yogurt until smooth with a whisk, then add it to the white chocolate mixture. Beat the cream to a soft peak, and add it to the yogurt / chocolate mixture. Pour into glasses and chill in refrigerator until firm.
20g sakura liqueur
3g leaf gelatin (soak in 15g water)
Salted sakura blossoms (put in a bowl of water and refrigerate overnight to remove saltiness)
Simmer syrup and liqueur, remove from heat and add the softened gelatin. Cool to room temperature, then pour gently over the chilled and hardened mousse blanche. Quickly decorate with the sakura petals and chill until firm.
100g granulated sugar
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar is completely melted. Remove from heat.
デザートのようなmocktail (ノンアルコールカクテル)を作ってみては？今月のThe Sweet Lifeではお子様にも喜ばれるハワイのLava Flowの作り方をご紹介します。
Oh, February... With Christmas long gone and New Year's festivities a distant memory, February always seems to drag its feet. Inspired by a recent family vacation, I decided to create a kid-friendly version of my favorite cocktail, the Lava Flow. Truth be told, it is more dessert than drink, and a very sweet one at that, but oh so delicious!
The Lava Flow is a Hawaiian drink that is essentially a pina colada with strawberries, and it is poured into glasses in layers to imitate the appearance of lava flowing from one of the islands' volcanoes. I have this "thing" when I am traveling, where I will eat certain foods every day of my vacation just to try all the different local variations of the food. In Paris it's pain au chocolat with the just perfect balance of flaky pastry and warm chocolate, in Greece it's the ever so creamy Greek yogurt and honey, in the Bahamas it's Guava Duff, a decadent, custardy concoction, and Hawaii it's the Lava Flow, sunshine in a glass!
So based on my most recent Lava Flow binge, I have created this kiddie treat, which was inhaled by my daughter this morning. Our version here is basically a smoothie that relies mainly on maple syrup and pineapple juice for its sweetness with a bit of yogurt thrown in for nutrition. We use powdered coconut cream rather than the canned variety, as it lasts longer and is easy to keep on hand. Even the smallest children will be able to help put the ingredients in the blender, peel the banana, or push the buttons on the blender. Say goodbye to those winter blues with this festive bit of liquid sunshine!
"Lava Flow" Smoothie
Makes 2 adult-size portions
1 teaspoon maple syrup
4 teaspoons coconut cream powder (available in the Thai food section of import grocery stores)
80 g unsweetened plain yogurt
¼ cup pineapple juice
½ cup ice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
In a blender, puree the strawberries with the maple syrup. Pour the strawberry puree into chilled serving glasses, dividing equally among the glasses. Rinse out the blender.
Place the banana, coconut cream, yogurt, pineapple juice, ice, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in the clean blender and blend until smooth. Be sure to put all liquid ingredients into the blender before the solid ingredients. Slowly pour the banana mixture into the glasses over the strawberry puree. Pour to the edge of the glass rather than the center to get the strawberry puree to climb the sides of the glass. Garnish with a strawberry or pineapple wedge and a paper parasol.
２月が近づくと、やはりバレンタインのお菓子が目につきますね。バレンタインデーにニューヨークの街を歩くと、男性が赤いバラを持ってせかせかと歩いているのはよく見る光景です。アメリカではバレンタインは男性が女性にお花やギフトを送る日で、女性からあげることがあっても、いたってシンプルなギフトが多いです。ということで、今回のThe Sweet Lifeはそんなバレンタインにぴったりなクッキーのレシピとラッピングの提案です。今年のバレンタインは手作りでせめてみては？
If there is anything I love as much as dessert, it is wrapping paper and ribbons. So imagine my delight when I came across Wrapple, a store dedicated to packaging and wrapping materials in Shibuya's Parco I! I was like a kid in a candy store, and you will see some of my purchases in the pictures below. What's not to love about ribbons in every shape and size and delightfully decadent wrapping paper?
This month, I am sharing with you a recipe for Peanut Butter Kiss cookies, a cookie I have been obsessed with since tasting it in elementary school at a bake sale. It is not the most refined cookie, but there is something comforting about the moist peanut butter cookie with the meltingly sweet taste of a Hershey's Kiss. Tokyo has everything in the way of high-end, luxury chocolates, but nothing can compete with a home-baked treat!
I recommend baking these the night before gifting them and packaging them the morning of, to give the chocolate time to harden. These are best enjoyed slightly warm, so suggest that the recipient heat them slightly (10 seconds in the microwave or 1 minute in a hot oven), just enough so that the chocolate is soft, but not enough for it to lose its shape.
As you can see from the photo, I substituted chocolate chips for some of the Hershey's Kisses to make them more suitable for small children, and you could also use other flavors of Hershey's Kisses if you prefer.
Personalize the wrapping as much as you would like, but below are pictures with a few ideas for you to get started. Of course you could always buy a Valentine's Day card, but there are plenty of printable Valentines on the Web, and in keeping with this month's homemade theme, I tried my hand at making my own! I love the kitschy look of vintage Valentines, so I printed some images, cut them out, glued them on construction paper, and voila, a Valentine! These would also be an adorable project for children, especially with some glitter pens and stickers to decorate.
Happy baking, and I hope you (and your Valentine!) enjoy these sweet treats!
Nuts for You and Kisses Too (aka Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies)
Makes 30 cookies
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (250g)
1 teaspoon baking powder (6g)
½ teaspoon salt (3g)
½ cup butter at room temperature (100g)
½ cup creamy peanut butter at room temperature (100g)
¼ cup granulated sugar (50g)
½ cup brown sugar (100g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
30 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses
Additional granulated sugar for rolling
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar using an electric mixer for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg, mix for 1 minute. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, mixing by hand after each addition. Roll dough into balls (each ball should be roughly 20g) with your hands and roll each ball of dough in granulated sugar. Place the balls of dough on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in a 350F (180C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes. While the cookies are baking, unwrap the Chocolate Kisses. Remove the baked cookies from the oven and press 1 Chocolate Kiss into the center of each cookie (cookies will crack). Leave cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
I will never forget our Christmas in France, five years ago. Tokyo Christmases and New York Christmases I have seen many of, but Christmas in France was an altogether new experience. Grocery shelves lined with an exorbitant amount of foiegras, and long lines not at the butcher but at the seafood market, where people would purchase oysters and lobster. The food of choice in Tokyo at Christmas is chicken and Christmas cake, in New York it is traditionally turkey and ham with pumpkin pie and gingerbread, and in France, foiegras and oysters. Partaking in the French spirit of Noel, that year I decided to try my hand at a lobster flambé, and nearly burned our quaint, very old cottage to the ground! I have since learned that you need to heat the alcohol before igniting it...
Now the pastry I remember most from my taste of a French holiday was not the buche de noel that you see everywhere in Tokyo alongside the ubiquitous "Christmas cake", but a pastry known as Galette des Rois, or in English, Kings' Cake. Traditionally eaten on January 6th, or Epiphany Day, the cake earns its name from the Magi or 3 kings who came to visit the baby Jesus. Incidentally, January 6this also the day that Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down, including the Christmas tree with the star on top, the star that guided the Magi to the baby Jesus.
Galette des Rois is a rather simple dessert consisting of an almond cream encased in puff pastry. Each galette contains a trinket, which traditionally was a bean but is now more commonly a porcelain figurine. Many of the renowned patisseries in Paris have their own signature trinkets, or fèves, made just for this pastry. Each galette usually also comes with a toy crown, and the person who eats the piece of cake containing the trinket is crowned king (or queen) for the day, and will also continue to be lucky for the rest of the year. In the spirit of fairness, the youngest person in the room when the cake is served, usually a child, sits under the table and names the person who is to receive the piece of cake being cut. One extra piece was traditionally cut and left to be given to the first person who came to the door.
Although not quite as popular as the Christmas buche, some patisseries in Tokyo do offer the Galette des Rois, usually by reservation only. This year we will be reserving a galette from Pierre Hermé, where I studied in Paris, and who has his fèvesspeciallymade for the occasion. http://www.pierreherme.co.jp/galette2013/
Galette des Rois are traditionally enjoyed on January 6th, but can be eaten throughout the month. Why not start a new celebration to brighten up your January and shed the winter blues?
Wishing you all a royally sweet 2013!
Caption 1: An American holiday tradition--a gingerbread house! We made ours this year on Christmas Eve.
Caption 2: Galette des Rois
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