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Happy Birthday Cousin!

March 31, 2011 30 comments

It’s cousin Irien’s birthday a couple of days ago!

And ideally, I would have loved baking, frosting and decorating a no expense spared, collosal cake with all the works. A monster sized  cake just as big as her heart. 

But cousin Irien is so tiny! Barely into her twenties, she could be the dictionary illustration of “fashionably thin”. She could be a pea sharing  a pod with Nicole Richie, and boy would they rock that pod.

So i crossed that big collosal cake idea, and went for something small.

Inspired by Grace of La Mia Vita Dolce, these are called the Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes. But i strayed away from her recipe and settled on something i was familiar with. I guess i was not comfortable with experimenting with a new recipe when the stake (the birthday) is high.

So i started with baking cupcakes. A certain moist, and delicious chocolate cupcake

to which i piped on a white chocolate ganache frosting

And, dont worry, there is no need to go digging out your fancy pipping tips for this. In fact, i just loaded up my pipping bag sans any tip.

Because it will be covered with a good drizzle of melted chocolate.  YUMMM..*licks spoon.

Some fancy coloured sprinkles,

And of course a cherry on top to officiate the Sundae look.

Taa-Daaah!

That was easy peasy wasn’t it?

I’ve said it once, and i will say it again.

“Happy Birthday Cousin, may you stay eternally pixie cute, and be abundantly showered with love!”

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever.

(Taken from Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients

  • FOR THE CUPCAKES: (Makes about 12)
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
  • 2 sticks Butter
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • ½ cups Buttermilk
  • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

Preparation Instructions

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into cupcake lined tins and bake at 350-degrees for 15 minutes.

For the White Chocolate Ganache

200 gr White Chocolate, chopped

200 gr Whipping Cream

1. Double boil white chocolate till it fully melts, set aside to cool slightly

2. Whip the whipping cream to soft peaks. Drizzle in the cooled melted white chocolate, and whip to firm peaks (You want this to be of pipe-able consistency)

For Decorations:

Some melted chocolate

Some Fancypants sprinkles

Some maraschino cherries

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Triple Chocolate Espresso Brownies

March 29, 2011 25 comments

Just popped by for a quick brownie post.

A brownie with the thin, crackly, shiny crust

That almost always promises the richest, fudgiest and most chocolatey treat

These were also spiked with espresso,

to help you get going on your busy day ahead.

And of course, a dollop of some leftover Caramel Whipped Cream  from my Chocolate Caramel Cream Pie wouldnt hurt too!

Triple-Chocolate Espresso Brownies
(Taken from Tracey’s Culinary Advernture who took it from Baking Illustrated)

5 oz semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (8.75 oz) sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (5 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour 

Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the lower middle position.  Spray an 8×8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line the pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposing sides so you can lift the brownies out easily once they’re baked.  Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Add the semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, the unsweetened chocolate, and the butter to a medium heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and, stirring occasionally, melt until everything is smooth.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and espresso until incorporated.  Set the bowl aside so the mixture can cool slightly. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until combined, about 15 seconds.  Add the warm chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.  Finally, stir in the flour with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking ban, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula to cover the bottom of the pan.  Bake the brownies for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  (Do not over bake, or the brownies will dry out.)  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan.  Use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan and slice before serving.

Caramel Whipped Cream

Taken from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • Directions

  • Prepare an ice-water bath. Heat sugar, water, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  • Cook, without stirring, until mixture is amber. (Do not let caramel burn.) Carefully pour in 1/2 cup cream in a slow, steady stream down the side of the saucepan, whisking constantly, until smooth (caramel will bubble).
  • Remove from heat, and place saucepan in ice-water bath. Let caramel mixture cool, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.
  • Whisk remaining 3/4 cup cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold caramel mixture into whipped cream, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Use immediately.
  • Categories: Uncategorized

    Sleek, glossy Chocolate Cookies

    March 28, 2011 14 comments

    Like a spanking brand new leather wallet, i was totally drawn into the glossy, smooth, dark surfaces of these cookies.

    I once had one of those gleaming, slick, leather wallet with the unblemished surface in my early teens (It was only later that i found out that the leather was synthetic…  doh teens).  I loved how sleek it looked, and how it caught the light.  I was totally infatuated with the wallet, till one fine day when it got its first scratch.

    It was not a bad scratch, just a light score across the  surface of the wallet.  But i felt as if my perfect wallet has been disfigured for life, and vowed to take better care it. But of course, as they always do, accidents happen. I remember dying a little inside each time my wallet met its next scar.

    It has been a long long time since that incident of course, but i have learnt my lesson and my subsequent wallets were always the dull textured, practical, albeit boring type. I guess that’s part of growing up isnt it?

    But enough about wallets, lets talk about cookies,

    These cookies started out as a roll and cut butter cookies. That is you roll the cookie dough out and use a cookie cutter to cut out each individual cookies.

    And when you do that, you tend to get cookie scraps.

    I dont know about you, but i like to bake these cookie scraps. 

    My cookie scraps look like the polynesian islands.

    And these are the actual  cookies, before hair and make up.

    If you are the type who likes your chocolate cookies with a pronounced chocolate flavour, these are definitely for you. There is a high content of cocoa powder in this recipe, so you might want to use a higher grade cocoa powder for these.

    But what i really liked about these cookies is how effortless the dough handling is. It was an agreeable dough, it rolled well and cut well without being too soft and sticky.

    From my experience, co-operative cookie dough usually results in bad cookies. The high flour content which makes rolling a child’s play can never match the butter-full dough which threatens to melt on you with the slightest touch from the warmth of your hands.  But these cookie dough was a bit different. Instead of relying on flour, the dough had milk powder listed as one of its ingredients. That’s quite a smart way to overcome dough stickiness and introduce  a milky flavour at the same time. But having said that, the cocoa powder still remained the dominant flavour in these cookies. I can barely trace any form of milky taste.

    Oh, in case you were wondering, those white lines are made of white chocolate.

    So if sleek, glossy, chocolatey cookies are your thing, here goes:

    Sleek, Glossy Chocolate Coated Cookies

    Taken from a free insert on an Indonesian Magazine Saji

    100 gr Butter

    75 gr Icing Sugar

    1/4 tsp Salt

    1 Egg Yolk

    100 gr Cake Flour

    25 gr Cornflour

    25 gr Milk Powder

    30 gr Cocoa Powder

    1/4 tsp Baking Powder

    Enough Dark Chocolate (to coat)

    Enough White Chocolate (to pipe)

    1. Beat Butter, icing sugar and salt till light and fluffy. Add in egg yolk, beat to combine

    2. Sift in the flour, cornflour, milk powder, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Beat till just combined

    3. Gather dough into a flat disc and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

    4. Roll your cookies to about 1/2 cm in height, and using a cookie cutter, cut them to shape.

    5. Bake at 150 degree Celcius on a pre-greased and pre-lined baking sheet for abt 25 mins or till they are cooked

    6. Drop chocolate into the melted dark chocolate, wait till set, then decorate as you wish with the white chocolate.

    Categories: Cookies Tags: , , ,

    Chocolate Caramel Cream Pie

    March 27, 2011 19 comments

    Let’s face it. I am not good with chilled desserts. There is just something about “Refrigerate until filling is chilled and firm” that i can’t seem to abide. I am terribly when it comes to that part of the recipe, constantly snooping into the refrigerator and poking my nosey finger into the dessert to see if it is “firm”.

    And this is just one of those desserts.

    A silken chocolate pie.

    I guess i only have myself to blame. I could have the most elegant looking slice of pie, prim and proper with the neatest cut. But instead i got this slipshod.

    But just as Joe is sloppily delicious, so is this pie.

    Being used to chocolate pies with rich chocolate ganache filling, this pie was new to me.

    For one, the filling was light and super soft.

    It was like a cross between a pudding and a custard. The texture of the filling was silken and smooth. If you are familiar with the Asian silken tofu, this is it, but slightly softer and less set. Eating this pie is like eating a cookies (the crust) dipped in soft serve ice cream (filling), hmm, that does sound good, doesnt it?

    And as if that wasn’t enough, this pie has got another trick up its sleeves, because over the satiny, barely set custard, was a generous dollop of caramel infused whipped cream

    With its pallid colour, i know i am probably not convincing anyone of its caramell-y goodness. I guess that’s what happens when you pour a liliputan bowl of caramel into a sea of whipped cream, and moreover, my caramel was a strong amber colour.

    But trust me, while the whipped cream was laxing in colour, it did make up in flavour. The caramel taste was definitely tasteable and frankly speaking i wouldn’t have this any other way. A strong caramel whipped cream would probably overshadow the chocolate filling.

    So there you have it,  soft, creamy chocolate filling topped with pale but delicious caramel whipped cream.

    But what about the crust?

    Well… this is akward, but really, the crust was just like a hamburger box to a hamburger. It served the pie well by walling up the wonderful content, but i really wouldn’t miss this crust if the filling was served on a bowl instead.

    So if you have chocolate pie on your craving list, but have chocolate on your “say no to” diet list, this is definitely for you. With only 110 grams of chocolate and a couple of egg yolks, this pie is definitely less evil than its ganachey , full-on chocolate  counterpart (Not that i don’t love them though)!

    Chocolate-Caramel Cream Pie

    Taken from Martha Stewart

    Ingredients

    • All-purpose flour, for surface
    • Chocolate Pate Sucree
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
    • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent to 70 percent cacao), finely chopped
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • Caramel Whipped Cream
    • 1 thick block bittersweet chocolate, room temperature, for garnish

    Directions

    1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll pate sucree to 1/8-inch thickness. Fit into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edges, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Tuck overhang under dough so edges are flush with rim, and crimp edges. Lightly prick bottom of dough with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line dough with parchment, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges begin to look dry, 20 to 22 minutes. Carefully remove weights and parchment. Bake until crust is darker around edges and bottom looks dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (Chocolate crust can be stored overnight.)
    3. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl. Heat milk and chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts.
    4. Whisk 1 cup hot milk mixture into sugar mixture until smooth. Whisk milk-sugar mixture into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, 4 to 5 minutes total (about 2 minutes after it comes to a boil).
    5. Whisk yolks in a medium bowl until combined. Pour in milk mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking until completely incorporated. Return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it just begins to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes.
    6. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Let custard cool in saucepan on a wire rack, whisking occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
    7. Pour custard into chocolate crust. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of custard. Refrigerate until custard filling is chilled and firm, at least 4 hours (or overnight).
    8. Spread caramel whipped cream over pie. Using a vegetable peeler, scrape chocolate block at a 45-degree angle to make a small mound of shavings, and sprinkle over whipped cream. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve within 2 hours.

    Caramel Whipped Cream

    Taken from Martha Stewart

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • Directions

  • Prepare an ice-water bath. Heat sugar, water, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  • Cook, without stirring, until mixture is amber. (Do not let caramel burn.) Carefully pour in 1/2 cup cream in a slow, steady stream down the side of the saucepan, whisking constantly, until smooth (caramel will bubble).
  • Remove from heat, and place saucepan in ice-water bath. Let caramel mixture cool, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.
  • Whisk remaining 3/4 cup cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold caramel mixture into whipped cream, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Use immediately.
  • Cook’s Note

    The caramel mixture must be very cold before the whipped cream is folded in. Otherwise, the whipped cream will collapse.

    In-built Hot Dogs

    March 26, 2011 14 comments

    So while the most common way of eating a hot dog is to take a hot dog bun, slice it in the middle, stuff it with the hot dog and pile and/or squirt your favourite sauces and relishes, i decided to plant the sausages in the dough.

    That makes convenient eating doesn’t it?

    You can just pick one up as you walk out the door.

    But of course having said that, there is also the drawback of not having the full fledged hotdog, and the obligated fresh tomatoes and lettuce. Because while i managed to incorporate the sausages into the dough and sent it to bake, i dont think i can do like wise with the fresh vegetables. Not unless i want a vegetable slushie in my hot dog anyways.

    So, while it is tempting to just forget the greens (or red) altogether, i decided to serve in on the side instead.

    With the hope of whoever is getting a plate of this would not just pick up the hot dog and leave the rest uneaten.

    This is the third yeasted bread i made with the help of the bread softeners, and like the previous two, these buns were also cotton soft. However, there is a slight deviation from the first recipe with this. This recipe had more water, and lesser fat content, and instead of using a combination of AP and bread flour, this recipe called for 100 percent bread flour.

    Due to the high water content, this was a wet wet dough, and it sticks to any and every surfaces. And like a cane to every naughty child, it’s good to come armed with a scrapper to handle this bugger.

    The resultant buns from this recipe was also rather different. Although they both share the same level of softness, the pores on this buns are more structured and less fine. As such, each pore pocket is able to house more air, creating a bun that was more aerated, and thus fluffier.

    Okays, sorry to bore with all the boring scientific details, let’s go back to hot dogs.

    I drew a circle of tomato sauce and a sprinkle of dried mixed herbs to garnish these hot dogs, and was really surprised by how those few specks of herbs was able to knock me giddy with the most aromatic scents as i first opened the oven door to retrieve the dogs.

    And of course, a dip of the mandatory tomato sauce (i ran out of mustard) doesnt hurt either!

     

    Soft Bread Dough

    (Adapted From Roti Modern)

    Ingredients A

    1 kg Bread Flour

    15 gr Instant Yeast

     

    Ingredients B

    30 gr Milk Powder

    200 gr Sugar

    12 gr Salt

    10 gr Bread Softener

     

    Ingredients C

    125 gr Egg

    80 ml Evaporated Milk

    460 ml Iced Water

     

    Ingredients D

    50 gr Butter

    50 gr Margarine

    50 gr ButterSub (A butter subtitue)

     

    1. With the mixer on low speed, mix ingredients A together, add ingredients B and C, continue beating till they are well combined

    2. Add ingredients D gradually, and beat till it gets tacky and elastic

    *note I hand kneaded this

    3. Leave the dough to proof till it doubles in size (+- 40 mins)

    4. Punch the dough down, and scale them to 50 grams each. Let the scaled buns rest for 5 mins

    5. Roll the scaled dough like a rope, and twirl it around each sausage and let rest for a second proof till they double in size (+- 60 mins)

    6. Brush the surfaces with evaporated milk and sent it to bake at 180 degree Celcius or till they get a nice golden tan

     

     

     

     

    Hot Cross Buns

    March 25, 2011 11 comments

    I had the “hot cross bun” song in my  head the whole time i was making these. My subconscious brain just seemed to have the song on “repeat”. It was quite annoying actually, considering that it was one of my least favourite nursery rhyme.

    But song or no song, i am glad i made these though.

    After all, Good Friday and Easter are just around the corner.

    Okay, who am i kidding? With about a month or so away, Good Friday and Easter are not exactly around the corner. But after that chocolate rolls, i just wanted to find another excuse to make another batch of ultra soft, ultra moist and ultra chewy yeasted buns.

    Plus it’s always good to be armed with a good recipe right?

    While the original hot cross bun is spiced and studded with dried fruit, mine was plain, and filled with custard.

    The same custard which i used to pipe the crosses over the surfaces of these buns

    And like the chocolate rolls, the recipe really lived up to its name and worked its magic again in creating the most tender crumbs and the finest of pores. And I absolutely loved how the subtly sweet soft bread carresed my tongue and the roof of my mouth. These buns are perfect for breakfast, with a cup of tea.

    Now, all i need is for the song to stop treadmilling in my head!

    Recipe for the yeasted bun Here!

    Categories: Yeasted Breads Tags: , , ,

    Chocolate filled Sweet Rolls

    March 23, 2011 14 comments

    If you have ever been to an Asian bakery, you will see that they are full of sweet, soft breads with various fillings and toppings. These are one of those breads.

    They are just like your dinner butter rolls, only, way softer.

    I have tried many many recipes that yielded a bread almost as soft as those sold in said bakeries, including the famed Tangzhong Method, which involves pre-cooking part of the dough. While that have had more success than others, it was still just a tad less soft, a tad less moist, and a tad less chewy than the commercially available ones.

    I decided to take in a sucker punch, and jumped right into the world of bread softeners and emulsifiers.

    It was ground breaking.

    This dough texture was so much more enhanced. Kneading was much more easier due to the malleable consistency of the dough. The gluten strands that form within the dough was more elastic and by the end of the kneading, i was able to  stretch the dough so thin and membrane-like that it was almost see through (window pane test).

    I then gathered the kneaded dough into the tightest ball, with the tautest, and the smoothest surface before i laid it to rest for its first proofing.

    Ditto for shaping the dough. You can pretty much coax the dough to form whatever shapes you fancy.

    Filling these dough with chocolate was also a breeze as the dough pretty much seals easily. Throughout my bread making experiences, i dont think i have ever worked with a dough something so agreeable.
     

    And the result of that wonderful dough was a bread with crumbs that was ultra tender and soft with pores are so so fine, you just want to tear right into them.

    I even got a compliment from my dad, who never comments on my bakes over breakfast today (I did admit that i got a mini boost from the bread improvers though).

    Having said that, i haven’t really read much into bread softeners and emulsifiers to know what health implications it might have. I can’t say whether i am for it, or against it. But for now, i am just going to bask in the glory of my chemically improved, bakery-worthy breads.

    Bread Dough

    Adapted from and Indonesian Cookbook Roti Unyil by Chendawati (Please pardon my poor translation)

    Ingredients A

    700 gr Bread Flour

    300 gr AP Flour

    250 gr Sugar

    5 egg yolks

    2 egg whites

    150ml evaporated milk

    275 iced water

    20 gr instant yeast

    10 gr bread softener

    50 gr milk powder

    Ingredients B

    75 gr Butter

    75 gr Margarine

    50 gr Butter Substitute

    10 gr Bacom (Bread emulsifier)

    15 gr salt

    1. Combine Ingredients A till the dough stops sticking all over the surface and starts getting tacky and elastic.

    2. Gradually add ingredients B and knead till the dough gets so elastic, you are able to stretch it into a thin membrane skin.

    3. Gather the dough into a ball, and leave for its first proofing for about 30 mins.

    4. Punch down the dough, and scale the dough into balls weighing 30 grams each. Let it rest for 15 minutes.

    5. Roll the dough, fill with chocolate filling, and roll it as you would a dinner roll.

    6. Let it proof for a second time till it doubles in size (60 minutes).

    7. Brush evaporated milk over the surfaces

    8. Bake at 200 degree CELCIUS till the surface turns a golden brown.

    9. Brush melted butter over the surface of the hot rolls to maintain that flexibility softness in the skin.

    Categories: Uncategorized