houjicha, kinako & peach tiramisu

houjicha kinako peach tiramisu

Maybe I have developed a bit of a tiramisu obsession. I love the flavours of coffee and marsala, but also the format of a well saturated cake component with plenty of thick cream – and it lends itself well to other flavour profiles too. Which means I can make even more tiramisu!

And I think this one is particularly lovely – it has both the toasty flavours of houjicha (roasted green tea) and kinako (roasted soybean powder), layered with fresh peaches and a mascarpone cream.

houjicha kinako peach tiramisu
houjicha kinako peach tiramisu
houjicha kinako peach tiramisu
houjicha kinako peach tiramisu

I put this together much like one would a regular tiramisu. Begin with a layer of ladyfingers soaked in houjicha – I think it’s a great substitute as it has the body of coffee, but with a gentler tea flavour. After that, scatter a layer of diced peaches and cover it all with a marscarpone-based cream. Finish with kinako, which is often served heavily dusted over different varieties of wagashi, generously sprinkled overtop.

I made mine in a 23x32cm (~9×12″) oval saute pan (area of about 577cm2) ; alternatively, you could make this in a 9×9″ square pan (area of about 480cm2 so layers will be a bit thicker). If you have a deeper dish for a double layered tiramisu, you may need to double the recipe.

houjicha kinako peach tiramisu

houjicha, kinako & peach tiramisu

  • Servings: 23x32cm oval pan
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Mascarpone cream adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, with technique for cooking the eggs borrowed from Stella Park’s semifreddo.

mascarpone cream

  • 2 large eggs
  • 35g sugar
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp marsala
  • 200g heavy cream, whipped

houjicha soak

  • 60mL hot water
  • 1 tbsp houjicha powder


  • 2 peaches, peeled and chopped into 1-1.5cm cubes (200g chopped peaches)
  • ~2 dozen homemade ladyfingers (see recipe below; you’ll need fewer if storebought larger ones)
  • kinako

special equipment

  • 23x32cm (~9×12″) oval pan – the closest standard pan is probably a 9×9″ square tin, or use whatever you have and spread the components thicker or thinner

for the mascarpone cream, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a glass bowl. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and stir constantly with a rubber spatula, heating the eggs until they reach 165F. They’ll appear syrupy and quite warm to the touch.

Transfer the eggs to the bowl of a standmixer and whip until they become pale, opaque, more voluminous and cool, about 10-15 minutes on medium-high to high speed. The eggs should be thick enough to mound up when dropped from the whisk. (As it’s a smaller volume, it’s a bit tricky to really whip them up with the standmixer – they’ll likely only be doubled in volume instead of quadripled.)

Cream the mascarpone and marsala together in a large bowl. Fold in the whipped cream, then fold in the eggs. 

for the houjicha soak, whisk together the hot water and houjicha powder.

to assemble, have a 23x32cm (~9×12″) oval pan at hand. Dip both sides of the ladyfingers in the houjicha soak and use to cover the bottom of the pan. Break the cookies into pieces as needed to fill in all the gaps. Scatter the chopped peaches evenly over the cookies, then dollop the mascarpone overtop. Spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Place in the fridge for at least couple hours or overnight. Just before serving, dust the top generously with kinako.

savoiardi (ladyfingers) 

Makes about 3 dozen 9cm savoiardi. Adapted from As Easy as Apple Pie, with some adjustments to the method. 

  • 43g all-purpose flour
  • 20g potato starch or corn starch
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 50g sugar, divided
  • Pinch salt
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 7g milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 3/4 baking sheet with parchment paper (or use two regular half baking sheets).

Whisk together the flour and cornstarch in a small bowl. 

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standmixer along with half of the sugar (25g), salt and cream of tartar. Whip until stiff peaks are just formed (if anything, aim a little under – very firm, approach stiff). 

While the egg whites whip, in a large bowl whisk the egg yolks and remaining 25g sugar with a handwhisk until very light, fluffy and doubled or tripled in volume. Whisk the milk into the egg yolks.

Whisk a dollop of the egg whites into the egg yolks to lighten, the fold in the remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula. Sift the flour mixture over top. Fold in gently until just combined.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1.2cm round tip (I used Wilton 2A – you can also pipe them bigger if you prefer!) and pipe strips of batter about 9cm long on the prepared trays. 

Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool, then store in an airtight container.

peach almond crostata

peach almond crostata

Please be advised that this post discusses residential schools and the recent tragic discoveries of unmarked graves.

What sort of school comes with a graveyard?

About three months ago the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation found the remains of 215 children buried at the former Kamloops Residential School. Not long after, the Cowessess First Nation who reported 751 unmarked grave sites by Marieval Residential School. Then there were more and more – and still many other investigations are currently underway. These finding reflected what families and survivors had been explaining all along. Survivors of these “schools” (and remember, the last one closed in only 1996) live with trauma, their descendants with intergenerational trauma, yet have been continually questioned and disbelieved. I can only begin to imagine the complexity of the recent news for affected communities: the importance of these discoveries, but also the retraumatization, the grieving, and even after all this, encountering the resistance of institutions to release records and minimal political will for change.

And to be clear, it doesn’t end there and never really has. The Sixties Scoop saw, through child welfare services, a mass removal of indigenous children from their families. These policies persist to this day: over half of children in care are Indigenous and there are more children currently separated from their families today than there were during the height of the residential school system. Dozens of children continue to die in care every year – see in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. This is not just something for us to move past – and we have blueprints from the TRC and MMIWG recommendations of what needs to change.

peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata

Just how many wake-up calls do we need? This should be an election issue, yet it doesn’t seem to be. With the federal election happening soon, ask candidates in your riding what plans they have to implement the TRC and MMIWG recommendations.



peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata

This peach almond crostata is very much inspired by Forno Cultura‘s summer peach crostata. And what a great formula for a fruit tart it is: pastry, almond cream, jam, sliced fruit and slivered almonds to fill in the gaps. The exciting new component for me is the pasta frolla, which makes up a sweet and tender crust with a biscuity crispness to it… I can’t wait to make more crostatas next summer!

peach almond crostata

peach almond crostata

  • Servings: one 14 by 4 1/2 inch tart (36 by 12cm)
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Crostata inspired by Forno Cultura. Pasta frolla adapted from Domenica Marchetti. Almond cream based on a typical frangipane ratio.

special equipment

  • 14×4 1/2 inch rectangular tart tin (36x12cm)

pasta frolla

  • 180g all-purpose flour
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • scant 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 110g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg

peach jam

  • 1 1/2 peaches, peeled, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar

almond cream

  • 56g soft butter
  • 45g granulated sugar
  • 65g finely ground almonds
  • 1 large egg
  • 12g all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp amaretto (or dark rum)


  • 2 peaches
  • slivered almonds
  • apricot jam to glaze (optional)

For the pasta frolla, place the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl a food process and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg and process until the dough begins to come together into a few large clumps – it will take a little while, around 30 seconds.

Press the dough together into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill completely.

For the peach jam, place the chopped peach and sugar together int a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the peach is softened. Crush with a potato masher or back of a fork to a rough puree, then bring to a simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is thickened and jam-like. Let cool.

For the almond cream, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the almonds, then beat in the egg. Next, mix in the flour and finally the amaretto.

To assemble, roll out the pasta frolla on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 3mm (1/4″) thick. Drape over a 36x12cm rectangular tart tin, pressing the dough into all the edges and corners and trimming off the excess. Patch any tears. Cover and chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Spread the almond cream into the bottom of the tart. Dollop small spoonfuls of the jam evenly overtop and then gently spread to cover most of the surface (if you’re having trouble spreading the jam you can chill the almond cream first to firm it up a bit).

Cut the two peaches in half. Slice each half into thin slices. Set aside a few of the smaller slices from each end and fan the remaining slices alongside one edge of the tart (see pictures). Sprinkle the remaining surface area with slivered almonds.

Bake about 40 minutes or until the tart is browned. If you’d like to glaze the peach slices, melt together 1-2 tsp apricot jam with 1/4-1/2 tsp water and brush over the baked peaches. Let cool completely.

peach houjicha mousse cake

peach houjicha mousse cake

Earlier in the spring The Alley, a Taiwanese tea chain, (I get too many ideas from bubble tea places) had a houjicha and peach series; my roommate and I longingly stared at the sign in the window as we walked by on our way to the store to stock up on rice and instant ramen. I ended up never trying any of the drinks as the pandemic came into full force soon after, but I’ve been keeping the flavour combination in mind.

Continue reading “peach houjicha mousse cake”

peach, lemon verbena & gin ice cream (& alt food media)

peach lemon verbena gin ice cream

A couple of months ago, a slate of toxic workplace features came to light at Bon Appetit: people of colour, particularly Sohla El-Waylly, being pushed into unpaid video appearances for token “diversity,” unequal pay and support, and plenty of microaggressions. The Bon Appetit story is not exactly surprising – it falls in the tradition of white-led food media (ex. see Peter Meehan’s reign at Lucky Peach and the LA Times food section).

As I’ve been reading about these events, this passage from an article in the Atlantic stood out to me (emphasis added by me):

Regarding the industry’s whiteness, it might be tempting to dwell on questions of representation, or to wonder who ought to occupy the top positions at legacy publications. But as years of examples have shown, the work of challenging biases in food must dig deeper. After all, hiring a handful of people of color at these outlets doesn’t fundamentally alter the media landscape at large. Too often, such staffing shifts represent decisions made with optics in mind, which tends to mean that new voices are elevated but then not empowered, or that sufficient resources aren’t put toward substantive changes in coverage. Challenges to the dominant framework often come from outside legacy institutions altogether.

That and this quote from the infinitely quotable J Mase III:

In this time of COVID-19, Black Uprising and economic shift, a lot of white institutions that have been gaslighting Black folks for years will fail and fall into irrelevance. Let them.

Continue reading “peach, lemon verbena & gin ice cream (& alt food media)”

white peach, strawberry & pistachio mousse cake

strawberry, white peach and pistachio mousse cakes
strawberry, white peach and pistachio mousse cakes
strawberry, white peach and pistachio mousse cakes

Arriving at a party three hours late (two-thirds of which was semi-intentional, one third of which was a surprise – though given the entire trip was relatively unplanned, why it was a surprise, or upon what the putative ETA was based, was unclear), the main hurdle had been locating the bus terminal. In a mixed transit hub, transformed into a maze by virtue of add-on’s and the white canvas-tented construction-impeded walkways, we tried following the path indicated by two dimensional and directionally ambiguous arrows (it always takes me a bit of a figurative leap to understand that an up arrow means forwards). Eventually we arrived at the apparent endpoint– a singular, lonely arrow pointing directly into a construction site.

Wandering back to look for help, we were informed that there must be a way and to try again. Surely people still took the buses after all. We located a second set of arrows – this time passing up a twisting ramp – convolutedly promising until we returned to the same, stark arrow.

Continue reading “white peach, strawberry & pistachio mousse cake”

peach & lavender crumb ice cream

roasted peach and lavender-infused ice cream strewn through with chunks of whole wheat lavender shortbread and roasted peach

roasted peach lavender chamomile ice creamroasted peach lavender chamomile ice creamroasted peach lavender chamomile ice cream

Going on trips to the west coast, summer became a season of lavender and specifically lavender shortbread.

In the warmer climes of the west coast, we would marvel over how herbs grew bountifully into literal shrubs and bushes, established sizes which I suspect truly fulfilled their promise as perennials that wake up again with each growing cycle. Lavender was sort of a mythical herb to us; the plants we grew would rarely ever flower. But! Basking in the humid warmth of the sun – and er, brake lights – lavender flourished even in the little concrete medians of the grocery store parking lot. I still have a bit of dried lavender left from the parking lot, several years old now, but still fragrant.

My lavender-flavoured go-to was shortbread, though often the texture lay closer to crackers as I would toss together guessed proportions of butter and flour (without the experience for those guessed proportions to be even marginally correct) and then require some added milk to bring the dough together. While occasionally I would use lavender flowers, I most often made it with the leaves, enabling myself to make use of the small flowerless plants we grew in our garden. I find it still imparts much of the same flavour – perhaps its moreso the lavender that I know in fact – and given the leeway to use more, often a stronger flavour as well.

When considering a lavender ice cream, the thought of shortbread came to mind as it often does with lavender – and I surprised myself about how much the taste of the shortbread I made reminded me of past summers and the grocery store parking lot.

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peach, lemongrass & cardamom mousse cake

lemongrass cardamom peach mousse cake

a multilayered lemongrass, cardamom & peach mousse cake

For the second go at a mousse cake, I wanted to try out something multilayered. Though to keep it a bit simpler, a multilayered single cake made all in one pan with all layers the same size and none being contained within the other. If that makes sense.

I based the structure of this cake off of Tartelette’s mango and chocolate mousse cake. As all the mousse layers are separated by a layer of cake, it can be assembled all at once without needing to wait for each layer to set.

Any time I have an infusible component, I always think lemongrass. And this time, combined with cardamom, both of which are (vaguely or not-vaguely) citrus flavours. It was actually a really lovely combination, the sort where it doesn’t taste like lemongrass + cardamom but something else, smooth and light and ambiguously citrusy. This was alternated with a middle layer of peach mousse, and to try to keep everything on theme, I used a lemongrass tea for brushing the cakes and for the top layer of jelly.

I think the proportion of peach mousse should have been increased as its flavour was more subtle than the lemongrass and cardamom. Otherwise, I found it an enjoyable and light cake – though if you feel the weight of the whole thing, it was literally very heavy.

Continue reading “peach, lemongrass & cardamom mousse cake”