Cookie Madness 2014

We are HORRIBLE bloggers. Not only have we not posted new recipes in three months (I KNOW), but we almost let March Madness go by without a pool. Almost, but not quite! So here it is. Get going, though, because tournament play begins March 20th, and this pool will close on that date at 1am (so, really, get your picks in by March 19th).

For a reminder, here’s the deal:

Enter our March Madness bracket (recap for the uninformed: March Madness is a tournament of college basketball teams, mmmmkay?) If you win the pool, we will bake you something yummy and portable based on your personal preferences. You will get two different selections of baked goods: Alison will have baked one and Jess will have baked the other. Then YOU choose which one of us has won your heart and stomach. Then that person will have home bragging rights for the year.

Seriously, potential winner of this bracket, you have the interpersonal dynamics of our marriage resting in your future hands. Don’t f*ck it up.

Anyway, here’s how you enter:

1) Like us on facebook! (We’re greedy)

2) we will post our bracket location and password on facebook.

3) Log in and fill out your tournament bracket by March 19.

4) Watch some basketball, drink some beer, eat some pizza (try our recipes: here, here, here, and here). Check your bracket once in a while to see where you rank.

5) Win! (Or hope to).

But what if I don’t follow basketball???
Don’t fret. You can pick based on colors, names, or out of a hat and you might have the same luck as those of us who watch. But if you want more systematic guidance, here are some helpful guides to picking a bracket on slate, espn, and bleacher report.

What kind of baked goods would you be willing to make?
Anything that can be shipped. So no pies or other delicate products. But don’t worry–there are a ton of other options.

And finally, as you are counting down the days until the tournament begins, peruse some related links:

Sarah won both the men’s and women’s contests last year (we went for gender equality, but we just can’t follow through with that this year–sorry, women’s basketball). Her preferences were posted here. Since she won twice, she kindly handed one “win” to Claudia. Alison won the contest over Sarah’s heart with her mint madness cookies and I won Claudia’s undying love (or something) with these peanut monsters. The year before, Amy chose Jess’s almond and tar heel cookies.

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Korean sweets!

The two PhDs were recently on tour in South Korea (okay, one of us went to a conference and the other one offered to carry luggage) and we took the opportunity to eat our way through Seoul and then Busan.

At this time of year, it’s pretty warm in South Korea. One of the things that everyone indulges in the heat is patbingsu, which is a shaved ice dessert. They are available nearly everywhere, in a variety of forms with different toppings. After a couple of hours of walking around a really cute neighborhood called Bukchon, full of little boutiques filled with artisanal jewelry and pottery, we stopped at a cafe recommended by our Time Out Seoul book– Cafe Margot. They recommended the raspberry shaved ice, and it wasn’t on the menu, so I asked the kind woman who worked there and she knew exactly what to bring me. I did not know what to expect.

IMG_0998This was no joke. On top of the shaved ice was a delicious combination of sweet red beans, mixed berries, a raspberry sauce, and condensed milk. Two spoons– yes. This was a mountain of shaved ice for two. It was seriously one of the most delicious, refreshing treats I could have asked for. It was so hot and we were so exhausted from wandering around that it was the perfect mid-day treat. The condensed milk added a tiny bit of creaminess to the shaved ice that was an unexpected and delicious component.

While we were shopping for souvenirs, Jess was also interested in a little bready treat filled with red bean paste. A good friend of mine from grad school, who lives in Seoul and served as our intrepid guide and generous host, told us that it was called “poop bread” because of the spiral shape it took– it looked, well, like a turd. It didn’t really, but Jess was game to try it anyway.

IMG_0995Jess looked initially dubious, but she reported that it was delicious.

IMG_0996I have to say, calling it “poop bread” kind of turned me off. But I’m glad Jess was brave enough to try.

One of my favorite Japanese desserts is mochi. I have loved fresh mochi since I was a kid– a glutinous rice cake filled with red bean paste (or more recently, ice cream) but I heard that in Korea you can get rice cakes of different flavors, so I was immediately on the hunt for these little mounds of deliciousness.

IMG_0986

Clockwise from top: sesame seed, green tea, cinnamon, yellow deliciousness, black sesame. Our favorites were cinnamon, sesame, and yellow deliciousness. (Sorry, we have no idea what the yellow one was, but it was sweet and yummy.)

IMG_0987As you can see, on the inside, they are gooey, sweet, and sticky, and filled with… yes, red bean. Are you sensing a trend here? Asians love red bean as a dessert. I have to admit, I’m not actually a huge fan of red bean because I am not a huge fans of the pasty, heavy texture of beans. But I will make an exception in some cases (like mochi, or a mountain of shaved ice).

All in all, this was a delicious excursion into sweets from Korea. I clearly need another vacation there so I can continue to sample their desserts!

2nd Annual Baking Madness Contest

It’s March Madness time, folks. In three days, 68 men’s teams will be chosen to play for the big prize. One day later, 64 women’s teams will be selected (yeah, I know–fewer teams and a Monday selection spot. Ugh.). Since last year’s contest went so swimmingly, we are going to do it again, this time with TWO prizes: one for winning the men’s bracket and one for the women’s.

Here’s how you enter:

  1. Like us on facebook! (We’re greedy)
  2. After selection Sunday, we will post our bracket location and password on facebook.
  3. Log in and fill out your tournament bracket by March 19 (men’s) and March 23 (women’s).
  4. Watch some basketball, drink some beer, eat some pizza (try our recipes: herehere, and here). Check your bracket once in a while to see where you rank.
  5. Win! (Or hope to). Once you win, we will ask you for some info–your favorite type of baked good, flavors, consistencies, etc. Then, the second part of the contest commences–Alison and I will battle it out to see who can win your favor. Each of us will create, workshop, and produce something just for you. We will send the final products to you and ask you to choose your favorite (we won’t reveal who made which item).
  6. Once you choose your favorite, we will name it after you (or you can choose a name) for posting purposes!

But what if I don’t follow basketball???
Don’t fret. You can pick based on colors, names, or out of a hat and you might have the same luck as those of us who watch. But if you want more systematic guidance, there are a few helpful links below.

What kind of baked goods would you be willing to make?
Anything that can be shipped. So no pies or other delicate products. But don’t worry–there are a ton of other options.

And finally, as you are counting down the days until the tournament begins, peruse some related links: