Austin Bakes for Japan







Several Austin Locations to Hold Bake Sales with All Proceeds Going to Japan Aid Charity.

Austin, TX (March 24, 2011) — On Saturday, April 2 from 10 a.m. until at least 2 p.m., hundreds of bakers, bloggers, businesses, and consumers will unite for “Austin Bakes for Japan,” a bake sale fundraising event to help survivors of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Over 70 home cooks and dozens of local bakeries will be contributing baked goods at locations throughout Austin with proceeds going to AmeriCares work in Japan.

Austin Bakes for Japan locations:

Downtown: Woof Gang Bakery Austin, 1204 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78703 (10am-2pm)

North Central: Foreign & Domestic, 306 E. 53rd Street, Austin, TX 78751 (10am-2pm)

South: Hotel San Jose, 1316 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78704 (10am-2pm)

East: Nomad Bar, 1213 Corona Drive, Austin, TX 78723 (10am-2pm)

Austin Bakes for Japan location open later as part of a Community Block Party:
West: Shops at Mira Vista, 2785 Bee Cave Road, Suites 336 & 341, Austin, 78746 (10am-5pm)

Baked goods will include Japanese-themed cake pops, homemade pop tarts, classic chocolate brownies, cookies of all kinds, and more. Among the homemade offerings will be locally sourced, organic, vegan and gluten-free items. In addition, customers may purchase gourmet pastries that have been donated by some of Austin’s finest professional bakers.

All funds raised at the bake sale will go to AmeriCares, a non-profit organization committed to providing emergency relief to survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. All baked goods will be sold by donation, so buyers can pay as much as they like.

Get Involved:

A team of food enthusiasts and bloggers is organizing Austin Bakes for Japan, and those interested in providing baked goods and/or volunteering to help with the bake sales should contact Kathryn Hutchison at

We encourage everyone to visit the bake sale locations to support this effort through donations and to spread the word through e-mail, liking Austin Bakes on Facebook, following us on Twitter (@austinbakes), or whatever medium they prefer.

Austin Bakes for Japan is part of a national movement of bake sales for Japan on April 2. Our goal is to raise $10,000 or more to help the people of Japan in their time of need. Twenty-three cities across the U.S. are hosting fundraisers for Japan that day, including Boston, Washington, D.C., New York, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle.

AmeriCares is non-profit organization committed to providing emergency relief to survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. AmeriCares has been bringing essential medicines and relief supplies to the region since the early 1980s, and they have consistently received high rankings for their work from Charity Navigator, Forbes, and The NonProfit Times. For more information about AmeriCares, visit

*****UPDATE*****   Thanks to the team of folks but especially organizer Kathryn Hutchison, more that $11, ooo was raised during the bake sale.

Contact Info:

For more information about the sale or to make a gift online, visit

Kathryn Hutchison
Phone: 512-695-2242
Twitter: @AustinBakes

I got this press release from the organizer Kathryn and wanted to post that I will be participating.  Not 100% sure what I will make yet but I have caramel/bacon marshmallow trimmings left from Bacon S’mores, so I am thinking Caramel Bacon Marshmallow fudge would not suck.  I will probably have my stuff at Foreign and Domestic but I will update if that changes.  Hope to see you there!

Bacon S’mores from Bacon Takedown 2011


Recipe: Bacon S’mores

Summary: Winner of the 2011 Bacon Takedown Best Sweet at SXSW in Austin, TX. These candies start with a layer of graham cracker caramel, topped with bacon marshmallows, dipped in dark chocolate, and finished with a sprinkling of bacon powder.

****  Hint  ****  Cook the bacon for the marshmallow layer BEFORE you start the caramel layer. 


  • [amd-recipeseo-recipe:3]
  • Quick Notes

You can use 2 smaller pans but it is hard to pour liquid caramel evenly in 2 separate pans. One layer may be thicker than the other. Also if you use foil instead of parchment paper, you must grease it with butter or cooking spray. this causes the caramel to pool in spots and hard to spread evenly. Spring for the parchment paper. It will change how you cook and clean!


I found that using all dark corn syrup was a little too molasses like in taste. You could easily use all dark if you prefer or all light corn syrup for a lighter caramel.

Summary: The caramel layer can cool slightly while you prepare the marshmallow layer. If the caramel is too hot, it will melt the marshmallow but if it is too cool, they will not stick together. It should be warm to the touch but firm and not runny.


Quick Notes

I find the easiest and cleanest way to cook bacon is in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet tray. About 1 pound should fit per pan. In order to get the bacon crispy enough to contrast with the fluffy marshmallow, cook it about 275 degrees for approximately 1-1 1/2 hours. After 45 minutes, check it every 15 minutes until it is done.  ***Remember to cook the bacon BEFORE you start the caramel***


Summary: Here is were the molecular gastronomy part comes in. This is my take on Grant Achatz recipe in the Alinea cookbook. The point of his powder is to be a total powder in contrast to actual bacon. I found I liked the contrast of the ground up bacon mixed with the powder for this application.


Quick Notes

I found the tapioca maltodextrin in a 1 pound tub on This is more than enough to share with your adventurous chef friends. I want to try a foie powder next! Word of warning, this stuff is very light and fluffy like powdered sugar and it gets everywhere. Salt is also very important to bring out the right flavor. Too little and it tastes like powdered fat. Achatz’ recipe calls for pepper as well but that did not work so well for this.


I used a small cookie cutter to make my candies into heart shapes. My caramel was initially too hard to cut into shapes, so I used a heating pad on medium set underneath the pan to warm the caramel but not melt the marshmallow. Melt at least 2 pounds of chocolate in a double boiler to dip candies in. I used 60% Ghirardelli chocolate chips. Ideally, you should use a couverture chocolate and properly temper it to acheive a sheen and snap to the chocolate. If the weather is not too warm out you can get away with good quality melted chocolate chips like the Ghirardelli which will not temper but hold their shape fairly well. The better your chocolate, the better your results.  I would not use generic chocolate chips, even the Nestles do not melt well. They have additives to keep their shape when you bake them.   Please do not ever use dipping chocolate. That stuff is just gross. 

I used a fondue fork and a long wooden skewer to dip the candies.  First use the fondue fork to pierce the side of the candy.  It should be secure enough to stay on while dipping but keep in mind you need to get it off the fork once dipped.  The wooden skewer helps with removal from the fork.  Dip far enough up the sides so just the top of the marshmallow is exposed.  Let the chocolate set up for several hours or overnight. 

The funnest part of all!  You must have a blowtorch to properly brulee the tops.  The oven broiler will get the chocolate too melty.  The blowtorch will soften the chocolate along the sides but after a few minutes, they should be stable enough to handle.  You can use one of those cute little creme brulee torches but a full size torch is about the same price and WAY more efficient.  Get one with a trigger and it is super simple to start and control your flame.  You want the kind that comes wth a blue container for the gas.  The yellow container is not for human consumption.

Sprinkle the bacon powder over the top and serve!  Yes, I know these are way more complicated than marshmallow on a stick but I truly enjoyed the whole process and I hope you do too!


The House of Bacon Gattis made for me on glorious Bacon Day- This is the day my coworkers love the most, when I get my pre- Takedown package from Hormel.
Two of the gorgeous and talented judges- Hilah Johnson (l) from Hilah Cooking! and Claudia Alarcon (r), writer for Austin Chronicle and many other publications.
That is Matt Timms with the camera. We are taking pics from the stage at Emo’s of the crowd at the Takedown.


More S'mores!

La Patisserie

Macarons are the new cupcake.  Not the American macaroons made with coconut but the French macaron made with egg whites and ground almonds.  Like cupcakes, the flavor possibilities are endless and they make a beautiful presentation.  These macarons are from the new bakery La Patisserie from the pastry genius behind the Kitchen Space and Luxe Sweets, Soraiya Nagree.

The building is located at 602 W Annie and they are open Tuesday-Friday, 8am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday, 9am-5pm.  Their menu is straight out of Paris with croissants, madelines, palmiers, financier, tarte tatin, opera cake, the list goes on and on.  They are even adding sandwiches on fresh baguettes to the line up including brie and apple, prosciutto and gruyere, and Nicoise.
The true stars of the pastry case are the gorgeously hued macarons.  With flavors like caramel fleur de sel, cardamom honey orange, and strawberry champagne you are sure to find something that will transport you from Bouldin Creek to the Left Bank.

Edible Austin Cooks Wins an Eddy

Marla Camp is on of my favorite foodie people and the amazing editor of Edible Austin.  Here is the news of her latest accolades:

We’re proud to announce that Edible Austin won two Eddy Awards, and were finalists in two other categories this year, bestowed at the Edible Communities Publishers meeting in January. Judged by a panel of outside experts from the food and publishing worlds, the awards recognize outstanding writing, photography and marketing campaigns.

Best Website: (2nd year in a row)
Best Editorial—Special Issue for Edible Austin COOKS! (digital edition click here)
and finalists for….
Best Editorial Spread or Layout for Setting the Season, Edible Austin COOKS!
Best Electronic Feature for our e-newsletter

Congratulations to Marla and her talented team!  Check out the special Cooks edition for party throwing tips, essential kitchen tools, family recipes from local chefs and farmers, a Texas wine guide, and more!

Austin Bacon Takedown March 13, 2011

Last year I made Bacon Pecan Toffee.  This year, the TECHmunch conference has been extended for 3 full days, so I am not sure if I will have the time/energy to participate but I am experimenting with a new porky dessert.  I made bacon sticky buns last weekend but they were not up to the high standards of last years competition.  I will update with more information as I get it.

Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival March 31- April 3, 2011

Spring is coming!  How do I know?  The schedule is up for the THCW&FF!  (I love a long acronym.)  Lots of great events, my favorite is always the grand Stars Across at the Long Center.  The Sunday Fair wasat the beautiful grounds at the Salt Lick in Spicewood but has also been plagued with mud the last couple of years.  This year should be interesting at the stunning new Mexican American Cultural Center in downtown Austin.

IACP Conference in Austin June 1-4, 2011

The schedule is up! What a coup for Austin snagging the 2011 IACP conference. Culinary luminaries include Diana Kennedy, Jacques Pepin, Amanda Hesser, Dorie Greenspan, John Besh, Stephen Pyles, Tom Perini, as well as plenty of our own stars from central Texas like Tyson Cole.  I cannot wait!

HS Cupcake Battle

Now this sounds like fun.  How I wish there had been a culinary program at my high school.  There actually is a great program at my old alma mater, Travis High (Go Rebels :-))There is also a new program at Connally High which is headed up by an old high school buddy of mine Chef Mike Erickson.  He has put together this amazing contest complete with celebrity judges and terrific prizes for the students.  The first round is this Saturday January 29, 2011 at Connally High 13212 N Lamar Bl. from 12-2.  Chef Mike will also be at Taste of Austin pimping cupcakes.  Save me some chocolate/chocolate!



Update:  Wow!  Those were some amazing cupcakes.  Here is an update with pics of my favorites.


Homemade Chocolate Vodka- in the Crock-pot!

Two great tastes that taste great together!  I was intrigued by several different posts on the web like this one claiming that you could make chocolate vodka with 3 simple ingredients, chocolate, vodka, and a dishwasher.  Basically the concept is you put the chocolate or candy bars into a bottle that is 3/4 full of vodka, cap it, and place it in the dishwasher and run a full cycle, including drying.  Shake it.  Let it cool.  You have a bottle of chocolate vodka!  This method definitely works but I ran into a few problems and came up with a solution of my own.

I started off with grated dark chocolate intended for hot cocoa, not the powdered kind but actual grated chocolate.  You could grate a candy bar or smash up some chocolate chips but the point is to get the chocolate into little bits so it melts easier.  Giant chunks of chocolate in the bottle will melt eventually, so don’t stress over it too much.  Just get the chocolate as fine as you feel like fooling with and put it in a clean, dry bottle.  Now add enough vodka to fill the bottle 3/4 full and cap it.

The reason you leave some room in the bottle is that alcohol boils at 79º and starts to evaporate into a gas.  Chocolate melts between 100-113º.  So when you get the bottle hot enough to melt the chocolate, the alcohol needs room to evaporate.  This led to my first problem with the dishwasher method.  I heard a loud “pop” from my dishwasher and realized the alcohol fumes had pushed the cork out of the bottle.  Definitely use a screw top if you are using this method.  I was lucky to get to it quickly enough to avoid spillage, or worse, soap in the bottle.  But now how to melt the rest of the chocolate???

I ended up placing the corked bottle into my crock-pot and filling it up with warm water from the tap.  Within half an hour, the water was hot enough to melt the chocolate without risk of explosion or soap.  You definitely have to watch the pot with this method.  If the water gets too hot, it could build up too much pressure in the bottle from the alcohol vapors and shatter the bottle.  But it gently heats the water, so the risk is less than trying it on the stove.  Once the chocolate is melted, give it a good shake and let it cool to below 79º before you open the bottle.  Ideally, store it in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks, giving it a good shake every couple of days but really, is chocolate vodka going to last that long?

I used 4 ounces of dark chocolate for 2 cups of vodka.  As a pastry chef, let me tell you the secret to all great chocolate desserts.  USE THE BEST CHOCOLATE YOU CAN FIND.  I have lots of opinions on brands.  Some of my favorites are Valrhona, El Rey, and Ghiradelli.  I cannot always afford Valrhona but when you are only using a few ounces in a recipe, it makes a huge difference on the taste as well as the results.  I found a premium brand of chocolate that was packaged grated to be used to make hot chocolate which worked quite well.  The vodka, on the other hand, you can skimp on.  I would not use a premium bottle of vodka like Grey Goose to make this.  The best bargain vodka that still tastes pretty smooth in my opinion is Monopolwa.  It is a potato vodka originally made in Poland but now made in Austria.  I had a very good Russian friend who drank this exclusively.  That’s good enough recommendation for me.

Do svidaniya!

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