Archive for November, 2010

Peanut Caramel Topped Brownies

November 30, 2010 9 comments

Bakers who have been baking along Tuesdays with Dorie should be able to identify this cake straight away. This cake/ brownie just looks so strikingly different with bold whole caramel peanuts strewn over the top as topping. Quite frankly, i don’t think i have come across any other cake that looked like this.

Well, maybe my re-creation of this cake is not 100% accurate. You see, the caramel was supposed to flow down the sides of the cake as it was drizzled over the top in its semi molten state.

But i knew i was bringing this to work, and really, i would do much better if i didn’t have to deal with all the gooey, sticky caramel-ey mess no matter how delicious it promised to be. So i cooked the caramel a lil further, and  let it cool a bit to set before i spooned the peanuts onto the cake.

Now, that looks pretty neat and orderly. I was actually quite glad i was able to coax the peanut/caramel combo into staying on top of the cake instead of having them slide down the sides.

Now, lets get a closer look at that complying topping. This topping is part crunchy from the peanuts, and part chewy from the caramel and ALL awesome.

Peanuts (apart from peanut butter) are probably the least used nuts in the baking world. I’ve seen recipes calling for walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, etc, but  only a couple that call for peanuts. But despite being underrated, the peanuts really showed the world a thing or two here.

Now lets get on to the brownie part shall we?

This brownie was cake like, soft and moist. It was lighter than most brownies, which complemented the topping rather well. A dense fudgy brownie would probably have made this dessert too cloyingly rich. The brownie was also very easily put together involving just a few simple whisking. There is no need to pull out your heavy machineries here. Pheww!

The brownie rose pretty well too, almost reaching to the brim of my springform. That’s quite an achievement for a cake batter that didnt require any beating.  I also liked the spongy texture of the brownie that probably resulted from all that rising.

On a lil side note though, while the caramel didn’t leave its trails in a sticky mess this time, i would probably want that the next time if i were to bake it again. While this semi hardened caramel was good. I think the original chewy, sticky, gooey would be better. Just saying. 🙂

While i have a copy of Baking From My Home to Yours on my bedstand, i couldnt resist but hit the print button for the recipe from The Curvy Carrot who happened to have baked this recently. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to lugging the book to my kitchen have even more undesirable stains on the poor book! So here goes!

Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake (Recipe taken from The Curvy Carrot) thanks so much for sharingg!

Servings: 10


For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped **(I just used Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips….oh Ghiradelli…..sigh….)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 and 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup salted peanuts


1.  For the cake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Butter an 8-inch round springform pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper.

3.  Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

4.  Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

5. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

6.  Add the butter and chocolate to the bowl and heat, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are just melted.

7.  Remove the bowl from the heat.

8. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended.

9. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla.

10.  Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate.

11. Still working with a whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

12.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread until even.

13.  Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean.

14.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the cake for 15 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan.  Cool the cake to room temperature.

15.  When the cake is completely cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the paper.  Wash and dry the springform pan, and return the cake to it right-side up.  Refasten the sides.

16. For the topping: Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients, and put the pan over medium-high heat on the stove.

17.  Heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns deep amber (mine was the color of light beer….test it on a white plate if you are unsure), about 5 to 10 minutes (depending on your stove and pan).  As the sugar is caramelizing, wipe down any splatters on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.

18.  Lower the heat a bit, and standing back from the saucepan, add the cream and butter.  (BE CAREFUL…IT IS HOT AND WILL BUBBLE AGGRESSIVELY.)

19.  When the caramel calms down a bit, stir to dissolve any lumps.

20.  Add the peanuts and stir.  Transfer the hot mixture to a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup or a heat-proof bowl.

21.  Spoon the peanuts over the top of the cake, and then pour enough caramel to cover the peanuts and top of cake completely.  You may have leftover caramel.

22.  Allow the topping to set at room temperature about 20 minutes or so.

23.  When ready to serve, run a blunt knife around the edge of the springform pan and remove the sides.

Source:  Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Blueberry Muffins on a Blue Monday

November 29, 2010 4 comments

It’s Monday, and i am a severe case of the blues. And ironically i baked up some BLUEberry muffins  this morning. Geez, BLUEberry muffins on a BLUE monday. That’s a negative all right .

But in my defense, these aren’t your average muffins. These are the Baking Bites VERY Blueberry Muffins. We’ve got twice as much of the Blue stuff in there. And since double negative cancels out each other, These are positively a worthy candidate to offset your Monday blues. LOL. Okay, not making much sense here.

So why are they called the very Blueberry Muffins again? Cause they call for fresh blueberries, dried blueberries AND blueberry juice in the recipe.

The blueberry juice kinda gives u a weird murky blue brown colour. But seriously, no one cared. And i havent even gotten to the best part of these muffins. They contain NO butter.

Hold up, did someone say butter?

okays, so now they do contain butter, but it’s just for this one. I promise. The others were left untainted. LOL.

But seriously, these muffins didn’t really need all that butter, or jam. Beside all that wonderful berryworks, these muffins were sprinkled with sugar over their tops before they went into the oven. They tasted very good on their own, and that’s how the others were eaten when i brought them to work to help ease the others’ with their Monday blues.

Just my lil’ contribution to make the world a berry happy place.

Very Blueberry Muffins (Adapted from Baking Bites) Thanks Nicole for sharing!

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp oil
zest of one lemon
1 egg
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup blueberry juice or milk
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
¼ cup dried blueberries

1 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, lemon zest and egg for 1 minute or until smooth. Stir in sour cream and blueberry juice. Gently stir in dry ingredients until almost fully combined. Add the blueberries and continue mixing until just combined.

Spoon mixture into muffin tins, filling each one 2/3 full. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 20-23 minutes at 350F, until tester comes out clean and the muffin springs back when lightly pressed.

Makes 12.

Categories: muffins Tags: , , ,

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies, Week #9- Vanilla Fudge Christmas Packages

November 25, 2010 17 comments

Christmas is not as widely celebrated here in Indonesia. In fact, i consider myself very fortunate if i were to receive even one gift! The truth is, gift exchange is not practiced here. Not with my family anyways.

I can’t force people to exchange Christmas gifts with me. But i can definitely make these make-believe Christmas packages. Call it my own way of having fun with the gift giving spirit.

Having said that, i would refrain from giving these to my dentist, or doctor. These are so incredibly rich they would make millionaires look homeless. They are basically just cream and sugar simmered together to reduce and form a consistency thats thick, dense and so very luscious.

And i am not kidding when i say that they are only cream and sugar simmered together, because those two are the only ingredients required for these. Oh, of course, not forgetting the mandatory vanilla essence of course.

So what are u waiting for?

Let’s get the fudge going!

Recipe (Adapted from PeriPlus’ Brownies, Fudges and Toppings)

2 Cups Caster Sugar

1 Cup Cream

1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

1. Lightly brush a 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf tin with melted butter or oil. Line the base with baking paper, extending over 2 sides. Place the caster sugar, cream and a pinch of salt in a medium heavy based pan. Stir to combine and continue to stir over low heat, without boiling, until all the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat slightly, until the mixture is just simmering. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.

2. Remove the lid and clean the sugar from the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Do not stir the mixture. Continue to boil the mixture for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches the softball stage (240 F on sugar thermometer ).

3.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and then stir in the vanilla essence. Beat with electric beaters for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture loses its gloss and begins to thicken. Quickly pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Cover and allow to set. Cut into small squares, or use a biscuit cutter to cut into desired shapes.

Shown here are sprinkled with some decorative christmas sugar and yellow cookie frosting as the “bow” 🙂

On a side note, i would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories: Cookies Tags: , ,

Tartine’s Brownies

November 24, 2010 6 comments

I was itching to try another recipe from the Tartine’s cookbook after that Banana Cream Pie with the Caramel and Chocolate. And when i came across Amanda of Fake Ginger‘s beautiful picture on her version of the Tartine’s Brownies, i was sold.

This brownie is probably the epitome of a dense, fudgy brownie. And when it comes to brownie points, this would have scored a perfect 10.

I am not exactly sure how these brownies should turn out. I have heard of an altogether different result from the same recipe. But as far as mine was concerned, this brownie is not much of a looker. It has the surface of a dry, caked up mud, a piece of barren land, unfitting for any form of life.

And it handled very badly too. I mean with that scandalous amount of chocolate (a whole pound, no less!) one wouldn’t have expected anything less. There was even a disclaimer which goes “NOTE: The brownies are ready even when tester comes out wet.on Divine Baking, another blog which also featured this recipe. Anyways, as predicted, these brownies baked up very soft and delicate, and you have to be painstakingly careful when handling them to make sure it stays intact and not fall apart. Oh, and really, a nerves of steel would come in handy.

But once all that pan to plate transfer is out of the way, do yourself a favour and cut  yourself a slice after all that anxiety. You deserve it.

See what i mean? With that amount of flour, the brownies just wont bake up to something structually sound. Of course, it could have been me, being too impatient to let this brownies bake further, or cool some more. The brownie came out pretty much like a chocolate molten cake. No complaints there though. 🙂

And as for the appearance department, nothing a lil sprinkle of powdered sugar cant solve, especially if you put a lil’ heart to it!

Recipe from Fake Ginger and Divine Baking (Thanks so much for sharing, girls!!)

from Tartine
Printable Recipe

3/4 cup butter
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups nuts, optional for topping

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. If the heat from the butter does not fully melt the chocolate, put the pan back over the heat for 10 seconds and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flour into a small mixing bowl. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture thickens and becomes pale in color and falls from the beater in a wide ribbon that folds back on itself and slowly dissolves on the surface, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture. Add the flour and fold it in quickly but gently with the rubber spatula so that you don’t deflate the air that’s been incorporated into the eggs.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish and smooth the top with a spatula. If you are using nuts, evenly distribute them across the batter. Bake until the top looks slightly cracked and feels soft to the touch, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 squares, or size desired. The brownies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.

Categories: Brownies Tags: , , ,

Blueberry Chiffon Cakes

November 21, 2010 14 comments

I am kind of having mixed feelings about chiffon cakes. Though most of the time, i enjoy the light, cottony soft texture, of the chiffon, sometimes though, i feel like i needed something more substantial. Something with more oomph, or something richer (think dense fudgy brownies).

So i tried spicing things up with my blueberry chiffons two ways. One to have it studded with blueberries, and another decorated with fresh blueberries, whipped cream and some icing.

The studded:

Fresh blueberries were folded into the batter before it was poured into the pan.

I for one absolutely adore how the blueberries peeked out of the cake, adding some colours to the otherwise plain brown cake.

A common problem with adding fresh fruits to a chiffon batter, is to have all the fruits sinking down south. Unfortunately, mine sank too. But not entirely, some lucky one managed to stay afloat, but most of them crowd within the bottom half of the chiffon.

Besides sinking, the blueberries also seemed to form mini caves around themselves. I am not entirely sure why this happens. It doesnt seem to apply only to fruits for i have seen cheese forming the same holes within breads. Anyone shed some light ?

Taste wise, the berries provide an unexpected burst of tartness, which go pretty well against the sweetness from the cake. It also added a bit of moistness. I also liked how the colours from the blueberries bled, creating splotches of purplish blue.


The Decorated:

As the chiffon is incredibly soft, i was not left with much choices when it comes to frosting this cake.

I settled on decorating half the cake with freshly whipped cream and fresh blueberries, and the other half with white sugar icing drizzled over fresh blueberries. Both were light enough for the chiffon to handle. Fortunately.

I also left the batter plain this time. I feel like i shouldnt crowd the cake with too many things and overshadow the chiffon.

So after all that, which is my fave way of eating the chiffon?

I would say i liked my chiffon with the whipped cream. It added an extra moistness to the cake, without overpowering it. 🙂

For the recipe, i have used Kokken69‘s (Thanks so much for sharing!). She has the most beautiful pictures in her blog.

Recipe : Adapted from Kokken69

Egg White 110g
Sugar 55g
Corn Starch 5g
Egg Yolk Base
Egg Yolk 40g
Water 12g
Grapeseed Oil 36g (or any other neutral oil e.g. canola oil)
Blueberry puree 50g
Lemon juice 6g
All purpose flour55g
Sugar 10g
Blueberry 30g (blueberry should be cut into very small pieces and dried with a kitchen towel. Best option would be dried Blueberry)
Method :
1. Heat oven using convection mode to 160C.
2. In a mixing bowl place egg yolk, blueberry puree, water, oil, lemon juice and sugar. Beat the mixture under well mixed and sugar is completely dissolved. (I do this by using a hand whip)
3. Sift flour into egg yolk mixture and mix well.
4. In a separate clean dry mixing bowl, whip egg white until foamy. Add sugar/corn starch mixture in 3 additions during whipping. Whip egg white until meringue is firm peaks.
5. Add 1/3 portion of the meringue into the egg yolk base. Use a spatula to blend egg white with egg yolk.
6.Add another 1/3 portion of the remaining meringue and blueberries into (5). Use spatula to fold egg white evenly with (5).
7. Add the remaining meringue into (6). Fold the egg white evenly with (6).
8. Pour (7) into a 17cm chiffon pan (do not oil the pan otherwise the batter will not rise).
9. Bake the cake at 160C for 30mins.
I will also be submitting this to Aspiring Baker#1: Chiffon Cakes
This is an event that is hosted by Small Small Baker and for the month of November, she has chosen Chiffon Cakes as the first task. I am really really excited about this event. I have seen other bloggers’ post for this event and am really impressed with what some of them came up with. Thanks Small Small Baker for organizing!
Categories: Cakes Tags: , , , ,

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies Week #8 – Angel Cookies

November 18, 2010 20 comments

I cant believe we are at week 8 of 12 WOCC.

4 more short weeks before all the fun ends. I am starting to miss it already. Geez.

Anyway, for week 8, i send forth these Christmas Angels.

And while these angels will not carol your homes with melodious Christmas songs, they will at least fill your stomachs.

These angels have Pretzel Wings,

U know what kind of pretzels i am talking about right?

Yup, THAT kind of pretzels. While these are so very easy to find in the States, these are a rare breed in Indonesia. I had to rummage through the shelves of  a couple of supermarkets before i found a bag of these. They are not cheap either, being imported and all. But i must say, they are pretty worth it. I really love how they  gave these angels wings to fly.

Well, not literally fly of course. That would be freaky.

That’s my messy workspace btw, there are lots of unrelated items, but i just placed them there and created a mess. A cute mess with happy colours.

LOL, anyways, as you can see, these angels are pretty easy to put together, involving with just the usual suspects of butter cookies, coloured cookie frostings and some decorative sugars.

I got the idea from Betty Crocker. I think the creative juices behind the Betty Crocker team is simply wonderful. *love*.

Okay, i am done writing this post,let’s get angelic already!

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Betty Crocker® yellow sugar
2 tablespoons Betty Crocker® blue sugar
96 small pretzel twists
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tube (4.25 oz) Betty Crocker® yellow decorating icing
1 tube (4.25 oz) Betty Crocker® pink decorating icing
  1. In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar; beat until creamy, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in milk, vanilla, almond extract and salt. Stir in flour until well mixed.
  2. Measure 1/2 cup of dough into resealable food-storage plastic bag; refrigerate. Divide remaining dough in half; roll each into a 6-inch log. Roll 1 log in yellow sugar; roll other log in blue sugar. Wrap logs separately in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
  3. Heat oven to 350°F. For each cookie, place 2 pretzels with flat sides touching on ungreased large cookie sheets, 3 inches apart. Cut dough into 48 (1/4-inch) slices. (If dough cracks, allow to sit at room temperature a few minutes.) To make angel body, fold in opposite sides at top of each slice to make triangular-shaped body; place each slice on top of 2 pretzels, so double rounds of pretzels form angel wings at each side. Press lightly into pretzels. Using reserved dough from plastic bag, roll 1/2 teaspoon dough into ball; place on top for head of each angel. Press 2 sliced almonds into dough to make song book. Repeat to make 48 cookies.
  4. Bake 11 to 14 minutes or until edges are firm and just begin to brown. Cool 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  5. Pipe yellow icing on cooled cookies to make eyes and hair. Use pink decorating icing to draw mouths. Let stand until frosting is set.
Categories: Cookies Tags: , ,

Strawberry Shortcake Birthday Cake

November 16, 2010 16 comments

The cake is frosted with lightly sweetened whipped cream, topped with fresh strawberries and slapped with graham cracker crumbs on the sides. It is made up of 4 layers of chiffon cake sandwiches alternating layers of freshly whipped cream and strawberry jam.

I sent it along to the birthday girl without tasting this.

Geez, i hope it tastes fine.

Categories: Uncategorized

Banana Cream Pie

November 15, 2010 13 comments

The recipe for this banana cream pie has been chilling in my email inbox for a couple of weeks. My good friend happened to have visited the Tartine Bakery and picked up a copy of their cookbook. She scanned the pages for this recipe and sent it along my way. This is not your average banana cream pie, btw. This pie has TWO extra special components that brought this up pie up TWO notches from the average banana cream pies out there – Chocolate and Caramel.

Let me see you through the steps.

First, we have a chocolate covered crust.

Drizzle a bit of caramel over that chocolate

and then of course, we cant forget the traditional vanilla bean speckled pastry cream

But, wait, before i go on, lemme show you my most prized possessions,

My vanilla essence in the makings. 🙂

I swoon each time i open this jar of scented goodness.

Anyways, so we spoon some of that cream over the caramel and chocolate

Den of course we have the cardinal bananas. LOL

Top it with a generous amount of whipped cream

And voila!

Now, comes the HARDEST part, refrigerating the pie overnight.

it’s hard, but pls be patient. You WILL be rewarded.

Now, this is not the kind of pie that cuts cleanly. It’s messy, but, really, who gives a hoot?

Are you going bananas over this yet?

Banana Cream Pie, with caramel and chocolate, adapted from Tartine.

Serves 8-12 (10 inch tart)

Flaky Pie Crust:
1 tsp / 5ml salt
2/3 cup/ 150ml very cold water
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons / 455 gr. flour
1 cup plus 5 tablespoons / 300 gr. chilled butter, cut into 1 inch cubes

In a small bowl, dissolve salt in water and keep cold.
To make dough with a food processor: put flour in the work bowl, scatter butter over flour, and pulse until the mixture forms large crumbs, but some of the butter is the size of peas. Add salted water and pulse for several seconds, until the dough comes together as a ball, but is not completely smooth (you should see some butter chunks).
On a floured surface, divide dough into two balls, shape into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
To fill a 10 inch tart pan, roll out one disk on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions, lifting and rotating the dough a quarter turn every few strokes. Cut out a circle 1½ inches larger than the tart pan and carefully transfer dough round to the pan (folding in half, if necessary), easing it into the bottom and sides and pressing into place, and trim the edge with a knife.Line with parchment paper and pie weights or dry beans.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Bake until the surface looks dry with no opaque areas left, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and remove parchment and weights or beans and return shell to oven for another few minutes. If the center starts to rise, gently pierce with a knife tip. Let cool completely.

Ganache Layer:
1 cup/ 250 ml heavy cream
3 oz/85 gr. bitter sweet chocolate

Set the chocolate into a bowl. Heat the heavy cream to boiling point and pour over the chocolate. Let stand a couple of minutes an gently stir until fully incorporated and glossy. Cool to room temperature. Pour over the cooled pastry shell and refrigerate.
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce:
240 gr. sugar
80 ml water
115 gr salted butter
150 ml heavy whipping cream

In a heavy saucepan set over low heat, combine the sugar and water and heat just until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter. Let it come to a boil and cook until it reaches a golden caramel color. Remove from the heat and add the cream ( it will splatter and get crazy, but do not fear and trust the recipe). Whisk to combine and put back on the stove. Let it come to a boil again over low heat and cook 10-15 minutes until you reach a nice creamy consistency. Let cool to room temperature.Pour over the cooled chocolate ganache and refrigerate.

Pastry Cream:
2 cups/ 500ml whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, cut open down the middle, seeded
1/4 tsp of salt
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
1/2 cup/ 110gr. sugar
2 large eggs
4 Tb/ 55 gr. butter, cut in small cubes

Heat the milk, vanilla seeds and salt in a pan and put over medium heat, and bring to a boil.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch and eggs until smooth. Slowly add 1/2 of the milk mixture into the egg and whisk constantly to temper them. Add the remaining milk and return the whole thing to the saucepan. Cook until you get a thick consistency, whisking non-stop. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl, let cool for 10 minutes and then incorporate the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until smooth . Cover the surface with plastic wrap, directly touching the cream, let cool completely.

Layer the pastry cream on top of the chocolate and caramel. Cut 2 ripe bananas in medium-thick slices (you know, not a mouthfull but not disintegrating when you pick it up), and arrange them over the cream, lightly pressing down. Decorate with chocolate shavings and if you really need it, some whipped cream.

Oh, before i go, i wanna thank my good friend, Yenny for scanning all five pages of this recipe and sending it to me! So Yen, if you are reading this, Thank bangets yeahh! LOL

Categories: Pastries Tags: , , , , ,

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies, Week #7 MaChristmases – Macarons go Christmas-ey!

November 11, 2010 31 comments

With a whole spectrum of colours and a universe of flavour to manipulate, these macarons are quite like the chameleon. Despite being infamous for being temperamental and sensitive, they were still able to charm the world off its pants.

The truth is, i am a rookie when it comes to macarons. I could probably count the number i have eaten macarons off my fingers. The taste didn’t really leave me with as much impression as the appearance. All i could remember was a soft, hollow sweet shell cookie sandwiching an assortment of filling. I think it might be because the bakery from which these macarons were bought was only substandard. I don’t think i have ever tasted a real macaron*.

So if i were being honest, the push factor behind baking these cookies was more on the appearance of these lookers. I have seen bright macaron displays with colours so blindingly beautiful, it was impossible to ignore. So i dove headfirst into the macaron journey and returned with my version of Christmas Macarons, the cookies that will be my 7th entry for 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies.

Okay, so maybe my macaron is not the most perfect version. But i was having so much fun with these i didnt really care.There are just so many things u can play with, from the colours of the shells, to the colours of the filling. I chose a matcha macaron, with a red buttercream filling to keep in tune with the Christmas theme. And just for fun, here is what i did:

A Sprinkle of Christmas themed candies, and a mix of some green and red sugar

Some mismatched macarons, with bold stripes painted across the shell and there is that decorative sugar again…

A sprinkle of hundreds and thousands?

Or Run your macarons across a bed of sprinkles and let them adhere to the filling

Geez, the possibilities are pretty much endless isn’t it. Anyway, the recipe for the macarons is the recipe that i used for my Mango Mousse Birthday Cake. Like the cake, the recipe is from Rei. Thanks so much Rei for sharing!

Green Tea Macaron
50g Icing Sugar
5g Green Tea Powder (use good quality ones)

*Sift together

30g Finely Ground Almond

35g Egg White (this time I used fresh egg white)
30g Sugar

1) Prepare 2 11 x 14 inch baking tray, lined with silicon coated parchment paper (draw circles behind the parchment if required). Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

2) Add the ground almond to the icing sugar mixture, break up clumps if any.

3 In another clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg white till frothy. Add in sugar in 2 additions and whisk till soft peak.

4) Add in the ground almond mixture into whisked egg whites in 2 addition, fold till incorporated. Lift the spatula to see if it falls ribbon-like.

5) Load the batter into a piping bag with round tip. Pipe into circles. Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes. The feet will start to form. Lower down the temperature to 110 degrees and further bake for another 15 minutes. Set aside to cool and remove from paper.

6) Pair them up and sandwich with Lemon Curd, buttercream or ganache. Refrigerate before serving.

And with that, we are at week #7 of 12 Weeks of  Christmas Cookies!! 5 more short weeks before Christmas! Hot damn!

Thanks again to April for hosting this event. I cant wait to see what the others bake up with!

* I live in Indonesia, not many French styled bakeries last time i checked 😦

Categories: Cookies Tags: , ,

On a Berry High

November 9, 2010 18 comments

I was wishing I could be bottling the scent i was smelling the whole time i was handling these berries.

They smell like the familiar berry scented shampoos and soaps we are so used to, except these are more natural. Way more natural in fact.

I am quite sensitive when it comes to commercial artificial fragrances. I find most of them too sharp and pungent for my liking. I get headaches when i spray perfumes on myself. That’s kind of weird.

So anyways, for these berries, i decided that i want to use them both ways. One in its au naturel, untouched state, and another cooked senseless and sweetened with sugar.

So i settled on two items, egg tarts topped with the fresh berries, and a blueberry cheesecake.

The Egg Tarts:

Now these are your standard sweet shortcrust pastry, baked in a muffin pan. Well, they are supposed to be baked in a pie pan, but i went ahead and baked it in a muffin tin as i  wanted it to be deep enough to house all that wonderful custard.

This crust is baked blind before i poured in the uncooked sweet egg mixture. The custard is baked in the cavity of the pastry,  just a different version from the usual pastry cream that gets piped on top of a pre-baked shell.

I then arranged my berry precious* over the egg tarts and glazed jello mixture over it. And i must say, of all the activities involved in making these egg tarts, the hardest for me was the glazing.  I used a mixture of Jell-o dissolved in water. That was a major flop for me. The jell-o was dead set against me (no pun intended). It set too quickly and instead of a nice liquid glossy consistency, i get this gloopy, gooey mess. Yuck.

Anyways, i won’t be providing a recipe for this, because this egg tart is just meh. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t taste bad, but i just don’t want to steal the limelight any further from the other candidate,

The Blueberry Cheesecake:

As with almost all cheesecakes, this cheesecake has three components.

Graham cookie pie crust, a lusciously smooth cheese filling and a sweet sunshine-y blueberry topping.

And if you insist on making you graham cookie crust from scratch, that’s quite a lot of work, but definitely definitely worth it. I thought the three components of this cheesecake went together perfect, but of course, u can’t please everybody. The graham cookie crust which is baked briefly with melted butter and sugar might be too grainy for some, who prefers a base which is more fine textured.

But once u get that cookie crust issues out of the way, this cheesecake comes together very easily. The topping was a breeze to make, and the filling was even more of a breezer (ok, this word probably doesnt exist).

The only thing i wished i did different was probably to add lemon juice to the blueberry topping, which i know from experience could really brighten up the taste by a notch.

Other than that, this dessert deserves a double thumbs up. This is a recipe i would definitely visit over and over again..

For more of this cake, head HERE.  Obviously Mel is so much better at capturing and describing this blissful dessert. LOL.

Thanks Mel for sharing the recipe!

Recipe adapted from My Kitchen Cafe who adapted from William Sonoma Desserts

Crumb Crust:
9 large rectangular graham crackers (around 1 1/2 cups), crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

For the cheese custard:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
Freshly grated zest from 1 lemon

For the berries:
2 cups blueberries, rinsed
½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter. Pat the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 minutes, until very lightly browned and set. Let the crust cool completely before filling. Leave the oven on.

Meanwhile make the cheese custard: in a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla and beat until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add the eggs and beat well. Stir in the lemon zest. Pour into the cooled shell and bake until just set, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

While the custard is baking, combine the berries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Remove from the heat and cool until tepid.

Spoon the berries over the custard. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

* Note: Berries are very rare in my part of the world. They usually cost quite a bit!

Categories: Pastries

Of Macarons, Mangoes and Dear Mommy.

November 6, 2010 11 comments

I have been wrecking my brains over my mom’s birthday cake for the past couple of weeks. I wanted something different for her. Something that doesn’t involve chocolate.

My mom does enjoy an ocassional bite or two of chocolate. But she is not BIG on them the way my brother, dad, nephew and bro-in-law are. And the truth is, i am getting quite sick of making the same chocolate cake again and again. Each of their birthday cakes had the same sponge cake and the same frosting. It was getting mechanical for me. The only room for creativity i had was on the appearance of the cakes.

And it wasn’t as if i didn’t try, i do ask each of them what kind of cake would they like before their big days arrive, secretly hoping i get some challenging answers. But equally mechanically, each of them was so firm in their answer – “CHOCOLATE!”.

For my mom, things are different. I didn’t have to ask her what she wanted, because she is the easy goer in the family. And i decided, what the heck, i am the baker, i should have a say on what i do too right?

So, i was toying on a green tea mousse idea. If u knew my mom, she is quite the tea drinker. A tea flavored cake would be pretty much perfect.

But then, lo and behold, a box of mangoes landed before my nose. My dad loves mangoes, but i think this season he got a lil bit carried away. A WHOLE box of mangoes, probably 30 of them for a family of 6. Do the math, that’s 5 mangoes a piece.

And with that arrival, it was byebye green tea, hello mangoes

So i went scouring the world wide web, so determined in using all those mangoes and not letting anyone go beyond their expiry. I saw a couple that i liked, but i settled on Rei’s Mango Mousse cake.I have been following Rei’s blog for quite a bit, and i am pretty sure her recipes work. You guys should really check her out!

Rei’s instructions were also clear, but what sealed the deal was a bonus green tea macaron recipe, which meant that i could still impart my original tea flavored cake plans into this cake. Thanks Rei for sharing the recipe!

Now, macarons, macarons, i know i am getting ahead of myself. I am sure many of you have heard the many standards of the perfect macarons. From it’s feet to its domes. I am not an expert on it, and my macarons are less than perfect. Thank goodness these macarons are not the main players here, only mere sidekicks. No one will be scrutinizing them to their last details. PHEW!

Yes, I know i need lots of help in my macarons. But, thats for another time. Let’s concentrate on the cake for now.

I am pretty surprised at how well this cake came together. It is probably one of the easiest cake to decorate too. All i had to do was just pour the mango mousse into the springform pan, pour the mirror glaze over the mousse, stuck a few macarons, and arrange a few strawberries ( okay maybe not that easy). But having said that, this cake takes time though. Time is needed for the mousse to chill, and also time needed for the glaze to set. So, do set aside enough time before u go on making this. 🙂

For better version of this cake, head over to Rei’s

Mango Mousse Cake

Sponge Cake Base :
2 Egg Whites
40g Fine Sugar
1/4 Tsp cream of tartar

2 Egg Yolks
30g Fine Sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
50g Milk
24g Corn Oil

68g cake flour
1/4 Tsp bicarbonate of soda

*Sift together

1) Prepare and line a 7 x 7 inch baking tin. In a clean bowl, whisk egg white and sugar. Add cream of tartar and whisk till peak.

2) In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar till pale and fluffy.

3) Add vanilla essence, milk and corn oil to egg yolk mixture then fold in sifted flour mixture.

4) Fold in egg yolk mixture into egg white mixture.

5) Bake at 150°C for around 30 to 35 minutes or till skewer comes clean. Let the cake cool and slice horizontally 2 slices and trim them into 6.5 x 6.5 inch square.

Mango Mousse :
17g Gelatine Powder
60g Hot Water

350g Whipping Cream
3 Tbsp Icing Sugar

300g Mango Puree (if regrigerated, bring to room temperature)
1Tbsp Rum

200g to 220g Cubed Mango

Mango puree topping:
150g mango puree (bring to room temperature)
1 Tbsp gelatin
4-1/2 Tbsp boiling water

Slice/Cubed fruits *optional

1) In a mixing bowl, whip whipping cream with icing sugar to mousse state. Refrigerate to chill.

2) In a small bowl, dissolve gelatine powder in hot water. When the gelatine powder is fully dissolved, add to mango puree. Add rum to the mixture. Mix well.

3) Add the mango mixture to whipped cream. Mix well till incorporated.

4) Use a 7 x 7 inch cake ring, place a layer of cake and pour in mango mousse, or use a large piping tip to pipe the mixture. Do take note of the corners. Add mango cubes and cover them with some mousse. Let it slighlty set for about 10 minutes in the fridge.

5) Lay another cake layer and pour the remaining mousse. Let it set for 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge.

6) Meanwhile,dissolve gelatine in hot water for mango puree topping. Mix in mango puree. Wait till the mousse is set and the topping is cooled, arrange sliced fruits, if using, pour in the topping carefully. Let the cake chill for at least 3 hours before removing the cake ring and decorate with macaroons (optional, recipe found here and here) or chocolate shards.

*Note : If you pour a little of the mango puree topping on the fruits, you do not have to glaze them again.

Categories: Uncategorized

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies, Week #6 Popcorn Christmas Tree

November 4, 2010 22 comments

We are definitely inching slowly but steadily to Christmas. It’s just a month away! Boy, am i giddy with excitement! To celebrate our crossing into November, and for week #6 of 12  Weeks of Christmas Cookies,

i present these popcorn Christmas trees.

The idea to make these just popped (no pun intended) into my mind as i was making caramel popcorns.

After all that chiffon cake episode, i wanted a break from anything sensitive and collapsible. No bread, or cakes or pies, or even pastries for all that matter. I wanted something fool-proof,  quick and easy, and i guess pop corn is it.

And i must say, there is something deeply satisfying hearing all that corn kernels pop. I am really digging it. It’s like listening to raindrops tapping against the window.

And i am really amazed at how science works. How corn kernels transform into something so different, how something so hard and inedible can turn into something so light and crunchy.

And how they can be further manipulated to form something so festive. 🙂

Okay, that’s not really a lot to be amazed about. Maybe i am just in a weird mood.

Truth is, i wanted to make mini versions of these Christmas trees. But time wasn’t really on my side ( I made them in the morning before rushing off to work). And the truth is, i wanted to make some pretty yellow star shaped icing, but again, due to time constraint, i didnt really have much time to locate my nozzle, or fit my yellow frosting into my pipping bag.

And of course u can go crazy creative with these, I am thinking M&M’s, chocolate chips, pretzel sticks, nuts into the popcorn! Whatever that rocks your boat.

Sadly, i didn’t have all these on hands, but at least i had sprinkles! So that will have to do..

So these Popcorn Christmas trees aren’t the most perfect things, and i shouldn’t really gotten ahead of myself,

But i am pretty satisfied with how they turned out.

So let’s get poppin’ !

Recipe from Ezra Pound Cakes ( who adapted from Damgoodsweets ) THANKS so much for sharing!!

  • 1 (3.5-ounce) package plain microwave popcorn (or 3.5 ounces of popping corn)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup lightly salted peanuts, roughly chopped

1. Heat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside,

2. Pop the popcorn according to the package instructions. Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray, and transfer the popcorn from the bag to the bowl. Set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, whisk the sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt and 2 tablespoons of water, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat, and whisk in the vanilla and baking soda. Immediately pour the hot mixture over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn until all of the popcorn is coated.

5. Gently stir in the peanuts, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet.

6. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

*Note: I used a gingerbread cookie as the base.

To make the popcorns green, i substituted the white sugar for the brown sugar in the recipe, and stirred in green colouring after the baking soda went in.

I then shaped the popcorns into its conical shape (BE careful, they are really HOTT!) and placed them on a baked gingerbread cookie.The semi molten sugar will adhere itself to the base.

I sprinkled the trees with sprinkles first before popping them into the oven to dry out. If you sprinkle after the oven time, the sprinkles wont stick as the sugar has already dried.

Once again, i thank the host abbeysweets for letting me participate on such a fun event!

Categories: Cookies Tags: , , ,

Unfolding the Chiffon

November 1, 2010 17 comments

The truth is, i haven’t gotten over my cracked and sunken chiffon issues.

I have been baking and experimenting with chiffon cakes till they are ready to come out of my ears. I sent every one of the cake into the oven with high hopes each time, manipulating the temperature, and the heat source ( top vs bottom, fan or without ).

Each one has been a disappointment as they all share that undesirable cracked surface which kinda folded upon itself. And it was really heartbreaking (no pun intended) to break all that eggs into the batter of one failure after another.

I became quite obsessed with it. I think about it all the time, wondering where i have gone wrong. It was during one of these thinking sessions that it finally dawned upon me where i might have gone wrong.*cue for lightbulb moment*

From my experiments, it became quite obvious that the temperature and the heat source was not the issue. Ditto for egg whites beating and folding. I ruled each and every factor till i was left with one possibility – the BATTER. The one thing that i was sure never to go wrong.

Well, it wasn’t really the BATTER actually, it was more on the eggs, or the size of eggs. Being an avid fan of Rose Levy Beranbaum, i register my eggs in grams rather than in units. 1 egg = 50 grams. And i have followed recipes with that law without a hitch. So when the recipe calls for three eggs, i usually pop a fourth cause somehow the batch of eggs i get is unusually small. And that aha moment came when i realized that maybe, there was just too much eggs in the batter!

I scoured the net for another chiffon recipe and landed with this Red Bean Chiffon cake from Happyflour. Let me tell you something about Happyflour. She is the chiffon expert, her archive on chiffon cakes is truly amazing!

And that was when i hit my turning point. For what sat in the oven was a pretty chiffon with minimal cracks!

No more bunching, folding, cracking, ugly surfaces. No more uneven dense layer beneath the uneven surface!

Thank You so much for Happyhomebaking, HappyFlour, Kirbie, NEL, ieatishootipost and bakingfiends and everyone else for answering all my querries!

Recipe (Adapted from HappyFlour) Thanks so much for sharing!

3 egg yolk
20g caster sugar
2tbsp cooking oil
1/8tsp salt
75g cake flour
65g red bean paste
70g thick coconut milk

3 egg white
1/4tsp cream of tartar
60g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 175C.
2. Cook red bean paste and coconut milk together over low fire.
3. Set aside to cool.
4. Sift flour and salt together.
5. Use a hand whisk mix egg yolk, sugar, oil, red bean mixture and flour together.
6. Whisk until well combined. (If batter is too thick, add 1/2-1tbsp of water.)
7. Use a cake mixer and whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar till frothy.
8. Gradually add in the sugar and whisk till stiff peaks form.
9. Fold in 1/4 of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture until combined.
10.Then fold in the rest of the meringue lightly in 3 portions until well combined.
11.Pour batter into a 20cm tube pan.
12.Put into a preheated oven and bake for 40mins.
13.Remove from oven, invert cake onto table until completely cool.
14.Remove from pan and serve.

Categories: Cakes Tags: , , ,