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Favorites from April 2020: 11 Things I’ve Been Enjoying During Lockdown

It comes as a surprise to me that I managed to put together this list of favorites despite this whole Enhanced Community Quarantine situation. There are a total of 10 things in this list, plus 1 recipe that I simply MUST include because it’s THAT good. (Also I made and posted it on April, which is awesome!) And even though 3 out of my favorite things from this month come from one source, there’s a perfectly sensible explanation for it… Apart from the fact that they deserve to be on this list to begin with.

In any case, it’s really nice to know that food can really make or break one’s mood. Do you agree that good food can make bad situations not seem as heavy? (And vice versa, but we’re here for a favorites list aren’t we?) I’m grateful for each and every thing on this list, and I hope you guys find something interesting to try from this list too!

1. Cakeaholic by Joanne’s Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate Doughnuts

I’m not apologetic about the fact that I’ve been eating my way through Cakeaholic by Joanne’s product lineup and most of them have ended up on my favorites list. I haven’t been sponsored or anything. It’s just that from the first time I tried her ube pan de sal, Joanne hasn’t disappointed me yet. I know that despite this list, some people are still going to DM me to ask whether these are REALLY good, because maybe for some reason they think I’m pretending or showing favoritism or whatever. (Di ko na talaga alam.) But just so we’re clear: I NEVER say something is good when it isn’t. Okay? 

I’m glad we cleared that up. 

So these doughnuts. I had no idea whether they would be good or not, but I decided to take a chance because they looked SUPER fluffy from Joanne’s photos, and with doughnuts that is frankly half the battle for me. She sells these in boxes of 6, so I ended up ordering a box Cinnamon-Sugar Coated Doughnuts, and another box of Chocolate-Covered Doughnuts with Toppings.

These are not your typical Krispy Kreme or J.Co doughnuts, they are more of the traditional baked doughnuts you might find in neighborhood bakeries. Except those doughnuts are never as light and fluffy as these! (I forgot to take a photo of the interior because we kept eating lol.)

The doughnut base does not taste sweet, leaving most of the flavor work to the toppings. The cinnamon-sugar doughnuts are as you would expect, though personally I would prefer a bit more cinnamon. The chocolate doughnuts though, YUM. I had the one dusted with cocoa powder, and every bite was melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness! It was sad that we could only have one doughnut from each box because there are six of us lol. 

The chocolate-covered doughnuts also come in plain chocolate glaze, but for an additional Php 50, you can get these assorted toppings that boost the fun of eating the doughnuts.

Joanne doesn’t make these doughnuts everyday, and after eating these I ended up craving for more so it inspired me to make some at home. They weren’t as chubby and fluffy though! 

2. Cakeaholic by Joanne’s Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Because I have been ordering so much from Cakeaholic by Joanne, she was lovely enough to send me a box of her Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies. Despite these being a gift from her, that’s not the reason why they’re included in this list. These cookies are actually pretty good! 

I bake a lot so I have some pretty specific ideas on how I like my choco chip cookies. If I had to choose between the modern Levain-style thick choco chip cookie and the more classic slimmer choco chip cookies like these ones, I actually find myself to be a traditionalist. These cookies from Cakeaholic by Joanne are pretty close to my ideal choco chip cookie.

I would’ve loved them even more with some walnuts, but truth be told, these are actually very similar to the classic choco chip cookies I make myself. I like that they’re not too sweet, with a good balance of melty chocolate all over. They also have that crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside thing I love. Aside from the walnuts, the only thing missing is a little sprinkling of sea salt on top.

One of my brothers said that it’s nice to know there is a seller close by who makes choco chip cookies of this quality. He won’t have to wait for me to make him cookies anymore when he’s craving them. He could just order lol. If you live in the areas near Tondo, I suggest you give Cakeaholic by Joanne a try.

3. Cakeaholic by Joanne’s Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

My mother celebrated her birthday on the month of April, and instead of looking far and wide for her birthday cake, we decided to stick with something literally closer to home. I’ve been eyeing this Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake on Joanne’s feed for a while now, so I decided to order it while hoping and praying that it would meet her expectations.

And you know what? She couldn’t stop eating this cake once she started. When cold, the cake is a dense, thick chocolate truffle that melts in the mouth. Everything from the icing to the cake itself becomes this mass of glorious chocolate, with a seductive little mouthfeel that keeps you wanting more. This cake is very chocolate-forward rather than sweet– a real chocoholic’s friend.

Personally, I prefer this cake when it’s had time to sit at room temp for a while. Though good straight from the fridge, I appreciate how the cake turns into this moist chocolate delight at cool room temp. I never found this cloying, and in fact I now consider this cake very dangerous. It’s THAT addictive. Sometimes cakes similar to this can clog up my throat with a sticky chocolate feeling, but this doesn’t do that.

You know how people sometimes have this tendency to jump into the bandwagon of what’s new and hip in the dessert world? This is proof that old-fashioned desserts still got it! 

You can reach Cakeaholic by Joanne through Facebook & Instagram. Prices of each product are available upon inquiry. Please take note of her production schedule before you order.

4. Sweet EsCakes Silvanas

Let me start this off by saying these silvanas are not the best silvanas I’ve ever had by far. BUT they did make me happy this month, so in here they go! I ordered these from a reseller called Le’Garcia Shop and Eat, but they are originally by a brand called Sweet EsCakes. Each box comes with 6 Assorted Flavors of Silvanas for Php 300 per box.

Right off the bat, I will say that these are not as creamy or buttery as the famed Dumaguete ones, but they are a lighter version. The meringue is thicker but airy when you bite down. I also find that the different flavors of the silvanas are not very obvious. Some of them actually taste the same but are only coated in a different color. The exception is the chocolate one, which in my opinion is the most addictive. 

That said, these silvanas are not bad by any means. They are really quite enjoyable! Just don’t expect House of Silvanas or Dumaguete Sans Rival levels.

As mentioned, I ordered these from Le’Garcia Shop and Eat. You can reach them through Facebook & Instagram. 

5. Democrita’s Premium Chili Garlic

I received this chili garlic a long long time ago and I’m really sorry that it took me ages to write about it. It got pushed back in storage and got covered up by other pantry items, but if there’s one positive thing this ECQ has produced, it’s that we’ve be cooking with the random stuff in our pantry. That’s how we unearthed this gem. 

The highlight moment of this chili garlic came when my mom decided to put it into a spicy sauce concoction she used to marinade some frozen scallops. She then placed those scallops on top of a bed of rice noodles and lettuce and steamed everything. This chili garlic was one of the flavors that permeated through that whole dish. To me, that scallop dish might’ve been the best thing our mom cooked this ECQ, and Democrita’s played a huge part in it. Cannot wait to order this all the way from Laguna once things normalize over here!

You can reach Democrita’s through Facebook & Instagram.

6. Tom’s Farm Tteokbokki Flavored Almonds

As much as I love almonds, it’s not exactly one of the essential things I think about at the moment. Luckily there’s still stash of Tom’s Farm almonds from my Korea trip last October. This is one among a handful of new flavors they released in 2019, and one that I very much enjoy. It doesn’t really taste like tteokbokki, but I guess the feeling is there? Although it does leave me a bit thirsty if I overeat.

I’ve seen this being sold in Shopee. Try your luck there! (The Ppang Ppang variant is a lot of fun, though it gets sweet after a few pieces.)

7. Baekje Instant Bibim Kalguksu

I have been missing Korean bibim noodles and was happy to find this noodle packet in the cupboard. I’ve never tried this before but it seemed legit when we found it at S&R on our last trip before lockdown. Cooking it is easy enough. You pop the noodles into boiling water for a few minutes, and since these noodles are fresh noodles, they cook quickly. (They also don’t have a very long shelf life. Something to note.) The result is a very chewy, bouncy wheat noodle, which I quickly ran under cold water to stop the cooking process. And then I just threw in the sauce packet and oil, and voila!

I have to say, this really hit the spot. Not as great as homemade bibim naengmyeon/guksu, but incredibly satisfying nonetheless. The sauce is not powdered so it doesn’t trigger any allergies, and the flavor of that sauce! I get hints of sesame and garlic plus umami from the nori, all within that spicy red chili sauce. The spiciness to me is very satisfying as well. It’s not Samyang level of spicy that’s verging on torture, but it is hot from the first bite so if you don’t like spicy food you may find this a bit much. For me, this was just spicy enough to warm the belly. It doesn’t heat up your throat but goes straight down, and I love that.

In case you didn’t know, I am a noodle person. That’s why I love this kind of stuff even though I know it’s bad for the body LOL. I’m seriously going to buy this again.

8. Itsuki Instant Spicy Miso Tonkotsu Ramen

This was a random find on Shopee. I ordered some tea and decided to get this too because of the keywords ‘Spicy’ and ‘Miso’. This was so good! Not my favorite noodles but the broth is interesting. It’s almost a tomato soup consistency– a bit thick, with a very good kick that awakens the appetite. It comes with a powder flavor packet and a chili oil/sauce packet. I loved it! I suppose you guys can guess I am a bit of a sucker for spicy food!

As of this writing, these noodles are out of stock on Shopee. Hopefully restocking will happen soon.

9. Mrs. Owl Pure Arabica Coffee Beans

Yet another find during a Shopee search! We were running out of coffee beans for brewing and I thought, what the hey, let me see if I can find something on Shopee. The reviews for this local brand were very very positive so I went ahead and ordered their Arabica Dark Roast. (I am biased towards Arabica.) 

This was a good amount of coffee for just Php 495 (1 kilogram), and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it is! I made cold brew out of this, and it was delicious and fragrant, though I wouldn’t advise drinking it in the late afternoon because I was wide awake until the wee hours lol. Been a while since coffee has done that to me! This blend has a bold body and barely any acidity, just the way I like it. And considering my obsession with Filipino coffee brands, you guys have no idea how happy I am with this discovery. 

Shop this coffee on their site or on Shopee, or contact Mrs. Owl Coffee Roasters on Facebook or Instagram!

10. Osulloc Premium Green Tea Powder

I bought into this famous Korean green tea brand with a cult following because I wanted to know what the fuss was about. It was EXPENSIVE, you guys. To be fair, I only decided to get this after it passed my taste test, thanks in part to a very kind gentleman at their Insadong store. Still, none of that changes the fact that this was expensive, which is why I spent so much time saving it for a “special occasion”. You know, like a pandemic lol.

ANYWAY. I finally cracked this open, and I can understand why it’s a favored brand. This was very good matcha, you guys. It was delicious! It even dissolves nicely without a chasen. I know there will be debate about Japanese Uji matcha being better and whatnot, but since I have not tried any of the higher grade Uji matcha powders yet, I don’t have a point of comparison. I also have no idea if this was worth the price I paid, but I do know that it works wonderfully for homemade Matcha Espresso Fusion Lattes.

I am really happy that Osulloc made it possible for me to keep making one of my favorite drinks of all time whilst being locked up at home!

11. Hong Kong Pineapple Buns with Hong Kong Milk Tea Recipe

This was, hands down, my favorite recipe of April. It is also one of the very few recipes I “live published”, which is to say I somehow managed to post it about a week after I made it. That almost never happens. (It takes me at least a month to get a recipe out because I’m lazy lol. That’s why I have so many backlogs!) But this recipe was worth it. I really wanted people to make these while we’re all stuck at home. SO GOOD.

A breakfast and afternoon snack staple in Hong Kong, these Hong Kong Style Pineapple Buns are delicious on their own but pair perfectly with some good old Hong Kong Style Milk Tea! Making these is easier than it looks. Grab the recipe here.


Full disclosure: This post is not sponsored. All items were purchased on my own unless otherwise stated. I received no compensation for writing this post. All opinions are my own.

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