Category Archives: Life

Aritzia Black Friday Sale 2015

I’ve noticed an influx of visitors to my site lately looking at my Aritiza Clientele Sale post. I’m assuming everyone’s trying to find out what Black Friday deal Aritzia has this year.

Seems that everything will be up to 50% in their stores and online. Log in online with the e-mail address you usually give at the till or the one you usually use to purchase online at Aritzia to see the individual prices.

UPDATE (NOV 25, 2016): It seems that the discount is much like last year. Basically 10% off most brands on the site with 30-50% off select fall/winter items in the sale section.

UPDATE 2:

Churro Inspired Macarons

Churro Inspired Macarons
Ingredients
  • 120 grams egg whites
  • 170 grams almond meal (almond flour)
  • 200 grams powdered sugar/confectioner’s sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 70 grams granulated (white) sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • Dulce de leche
Directions
  1. Set the egg whites aside to come to room temperature.
  2. Measure the almond meal, powdered sugar, cinnamon powder, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Process the mixture finely, then sift, discarding any large bits. Set aside.
  3. Measure the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Add the cream of tartar to the whites, and mix on medium-high speed, using the whip attachment. When the whites hold soft peaks, start adding the granulated sugar, very slowly, while continuing to whip. When all the granulated sugar has been incorporated, continue to whip until stiff. Add color, if using.
  4. Add the almond meal mixture to the meringue, and fold together, until the batter drops from the spatula in a long ribbon. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, and pipe 1 1/2-inch diameter rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Allow to dry for 45-60 minutes, or until thin, dry membrane forms on the surface.
  5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and bake the macarons (one sheet at a time) until set (approximately 10-15 minutes). Do not brown. Allow to cool on the baking sheet, then carefully peel from the parchment and sandwich with dulce de leche.

SOURCE (adapted)

Macarons.. those things that I like to buy once in a while to treat myself. So expensive, but if you have to make it, I think you’d understand why it is priced the way the way it is. Almond meal isn’t cheap. It’s usually around $12 for 453g here at the cheapest price, but I think recently stores have been raising the prices the brand that I buy (Bob’s Mill). Now it’s probably around $16 regular price. Last time when I saw that it was on sale for $11 I had to quickly go buy a bag.

The first time I tried making macarons, I made it with my boyfriend. We were going to do a super simple version since it was our first time and didn’t want to experiment too much with the recipe. I feel like there’s A LOT of different tips out there on how to achieve the perfect macarons and it can be extremely overwhelming figuring out what tips to follow. One of the tips that we had followed was to under whip the egg white just a bit because over whipping it would cause it to be too stiff. When I think back on it, I think that that exact advice was what made us fail LOL.

We had recently tried out a new restaurant before trying our hands at making macarons and we had ordered some churros as a dessert. They served it with dulce de leche, which was a bit different for us. When we were making the macarons, we decided to use that as an inspiration and incorporated cinnamon into the flour mixture. Everything seems okay until we baked it, until we started seeing the macaron shells crack before the time was up.

Months later I decided to try it again by myself. I was honestly expecting that it would fail and that I wouldn’t have any hopes of it turning out okay. I thought to myself that this would be another trial run to my adventure of making macarons. I’ve seen many blog posts about how it took many attempts for people to perfect the process. To my surprise, it came out pretty good! They’re still a bit bumpy because I don’t have a food processor to break down the flour further. I also don’t have a sifter so I’m too lazy to be putting it through a strainer instead LOL.

So I don’t know EXACTLY what it was that made such a difference between my first try with my boyfriend and my second try, but here’s a couple things that I did differently:

  1. I aged my eggs whites. I separated them the night before and left it in my fridge overnight.
  2. I also left the eggs out before I started so that they were close to room temperature. I have a feeling that I probably didn’t leave them out for as long as I should, but it also wasn’t straight out of the fridge either.
  3. I added cream of tartar to help the egg whites stabilize after you whip it.
  4. Added the sugar much more slowly (by small spoonfuls).
  5. Rather than adding the almond meal mixture slowly to the egg whites, I dumped the whole thing in at once. I feel like that prevented me from over folding the mixture which would deflate my egg whites. I remember my boyfriend folded it A LOT because he told me to add the almond flour slowly to ensure that it was all incorporated. But in my opinion, it’s probably better to have a the mixture be a tiny bit under mixed rather than fully mix it and risk it being deflated. Some bloggers have even put in the average of amount of times you should be folding the mixture before you ruin it, but I feel like that’s a bit obsessive.
  6. Prepare the piping bag that you’re going to use beforehand. Waiting too long to transfer the macaron mixture from bowl to bag might also run the risk of having the mixture deflate a bit.
  7. I baked it one sheet at a time.

One tip I read about to know when your macaron shells are done, is it lightly pull it from the baking sheet. If it needs a tiny bit of force to work it off, then it means it’s done. If it’s easily removable, then it’s probably over done. Don’t follow that advice… LOL.

I couldn’t pull mine off the sheet so I kept thinking that it was still undercooked. It was kind of twisting around when I touched the top so I left it in longer. And no matter how many times I checked it after, it never seemed like I could remove the macaron without it separating from the bottom leg. I was crying to my boyfriend about how it looked perfect but I failed because the top shell would separate itself from its legs. He told me to just wait and let it cool down before I try it again or put it on a cool surface to shock it. I told him the advice I read online about how it should be relatively easy to remove from the silicon sheet.

My impatient self couldn’t take it and I removed one and it left a circle of crumbs from the legs on my silicon sheet LOL :'( So I put in my second sheet and succumbed to the sadness that I had failed at my attempt at macarons again even though I had already told myself to expect it from the start. I started removing the macarons shells from the first sheet after that and…. it came off perfectly. And then I realized, my boyfriend was right! I just had to be patient and wait for it to cool down and that the tip I read online was wrong! Well, at least in my case it was wrong. Remember that these things differ from person to person due to humidity levels in your city, how your oven works, etc.

I left my dulce de leche in my fridge so I had to microwave it very lightly to soften it and I put it in a regular ziploc bag and piped it from that. Just a warning, the dulce de leche stays very soft so your macaron shells might move around a lot. Definitely something to eat quickly! I put it in the fridge for it to harden up a bit, but then it made my macarons a bit hard. And when I left it back out in the open to get the shell to soften, the dulce de leche also softened up =_=. Basically, it’s telling us to eat it right away rather than wait LOL. But the taste of it was delicious. Very sweet, as expected because of the dulce de leche, but I think it’d be awesome if you’re drinking coffee with it!

Aritzia Clientele Sale 2015

Here we go again everyone! Clientele sale is on and here are the discounts.

The free gift is a candle handcrafted in France. There are four scents – Baies Noires, Figue, Jasmin, Vanille!

I know a lot of people have been coming to my blog this week to see the discounts. Aritzia didn’t release the list until the day of the sale!

Happy shopping!

Cream Cheese-Filled Banana Bread

Cream Cheese-Filled Banana Bread
Ingredients

Bread
1 large egg
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup liquid-state coconut oil (canola or vegetable may be substituted)
1/4 cup cup sour cream (lite is okay; or Greek yogurt may be substituted)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste

Cream Cheese Filling
1 large egg
4 ounces softened brick-style cream cheese (lite is okay)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray one 9×5-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
  2. Bread: In a large bowl, add the egg, sugars, coconut oil, sour cream, vanilla, and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the bananas and stir to incorporate.
  4. Add 1 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, optional salt, and fold with spatula or stir gently with a spoon until just combined; don’t overmix; set aside.
  5. Turn about two-thirds of the batter out into the prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula and pushing it into corners and sides as necessary; set aside.
  6. Cream Cheese Filling: In a large bowl, add all ingredients and whisk to combine. Alternatively, mix with a hand mixer.
    Evenly pour filling mixture over the bread, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula and pushing it into corners and sides as necessary.
  7. Top with remaining batter, smoothing the top very lightly with a spatula as to not disturb cream cheese layer and pushing batter into corners and sides as necessary.
    Bake for about 48 to 50 minutes or until the top is domed, golden, and the center is set, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Bake until done; watch your bread, not the clock.
  8. Allow bread to cool in pan for about 15 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving. Bread will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

SOURCE

With little time in the morning to grab something to eat before my classes, I always like to buy some cake loaves that I can quickly eat. Decided to make some banana bread and ended up looking for some with cream cheese in it too. I really liked when Starbucks had their Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin. Tim Horton’s (for my fellow Canadians) also had one, but I actually like Starbucks a lot more. More moist and the cream cheese tasted nice and rich. It made me wish I had some pumpkin seeds to sprinkle onto the top of this bread!

This recipe was nice and moist. I used canola oil instead of coconut oil because I wasn’t sure if it’d affect the taste. I didn’t want my bread to have a coconut scent. Maybe next time I’ll try it with coconut oil to see if it changes the taste much. I have some lying around anyway haha!

I also substituted the sour cream with Greek yogurt instead. Didn’t affect the moistness of the banana bread. We also used a bit of honey instead of all sugar. I think next time I want to substitute more of the sugar with honey to see how it’ll affect the taste. We were originally gonna add some cinnamon and nutmeg but forgot LOL.

We didn’t have enough batter to cover the cream cheese filling completely when we did 2/3 and then 1/3. I think next time I’ll just do 1/2 and 1/2? Not sure if I should’ve used more bananas or something. But the bread turned out fine.

The cream cheese filling reminds me of Japanese cheese cakes. Western cheese cakes are more like a block of cheese whereas Japanese ones are more similar to fluffy vanilla cakes. I wish the cream cheese layer was thicker LOL.