Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Orange Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Squeezing this in at the very last minute! This post was specially done up for Small Small Baker's Aspiring Bakers November Event. The theme for the month is chiffon cakes! As you may know, I love chiffon cakes as they're light, fluffy and easy on the palate. However, I haven't baked any for some time since macarons have taken over as the regulars on my blog in recent months...haha. Well, it's now time for a chiffon cake resurgence!

Throughout the month, I scoured the blogosphere and saw many interesting variations of the chiffon cake, like the mango coconut chiffon and sakura chiffon by Cosy Bake, hazelnut chiffon cake by Frozen Wings and the purple sweet potato chiffon cake by Evan's Kitchen Ramblings - all very pretty and delicious looking cakes! I toyed with the idea of making a very girly Rose Raspberry Lychee Chiffon versus a more rustic Orange Chocolate Chiffon and eventually settled for the latter. I rummaged through my baking stash, mixed up the the two different flavoured batters and got two 16cm chiffon cakes  and one mini chiffon into the oven within half an hour. Ahhh the beauty of making simple, rustic cakes like this - no fuss at all! :)

The resultant cake was soft, fluffy with a fresh orange fragrance and light chocolatey taste - perfect for breakfast or as a light-as-air midday snack! The orange zest added to the batter makes this smell so so good!

If you'd like to try it out, the recipe is listed below. Can't wait to see what the rest of the bloggers came up with this month! :)

Orange Chocolate Chiffon Cake

95g egg yolks
25g castor sugar
zest of 1 small orange
pinch of salt

80g vegetable oil
80g orange juice

95g cake flour

10g cocoa powder
10g cake flour

200g egg whites
110g castor sugar
15g corn flour

1. Rub the zest with the sugar. Whisk together all the ingredients in (A) in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves.
2. Add in (B) in their respective order and mix well at each addition.
3. Fold in (C) and incorporate till the mixture is smooth.
4. Divide the egg yolks mixture into two equal portions in two separate mixing bowls.
5. Mix 10g cake flour into one of the egg yolks mixture and 10g cocoa powder into the other bowl of egg yolks mixture. Whisk the mixture till well incorporated.
6. Beat egg whites in a clean large bowl until foamy. Mix together the sugar and corn flour and add in gradually into the egg whites. Beat till stiff peak form.
7. Gently fold in half of the egg whites mixture into the cocoa egg yolk mixture and the other half into the plain mixture. Mix till there are no traces of egg whites.
8. Spoon in the plain batter into three or four different corners of the tube pan, then cover with cocoa batter, layer by layer till all the batter has been used. Bake in a preheated oven at 170c for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean.
9. Invert the cake immediately on a wire rack and let cool before unmoulding the cake.

Yields 2 16 cm chiffon and 1 mini chiffon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coffee Caramel Mousse Cake

November's coming to an end and soon, December will come along and cap off a wonderful year of 2010. This has been a crazy, crazy month for me - one that's filled with ups and downs and adventures along the way. Just earlier this week, I was at a children's camp, helping to plan the programmes and games for these kids. I never had a special inclination towards children, neither do I have special favour with them, but this camp changed everything. Not only did I grow to like them, at the end of the three-day camp, there was an interesting attachment to them. Strange, but very real. For a camp that I didn't know what to expect from it, I ended up enjoying the company of the children and learnt and received much more from it - a lifetime experience I wouldn't trade for the world :).

November's also a month of birthdays. A number of my good friends' birthdays fall during this month and hence I decided to make this Coffee Caramel Mousse cake for these lovely November babies. The cake consists of three main layers - chocolate almond jaconde, coffee mouse and caramel mousse. As usual, my decorating skills are virtually non-existent. I tried painting brush strokes with coffee before glazing the cake but made a mistake of not allowing my coffee strokes to dry thoroughly first. As a result, the glaze and the strokes all combined into one brown mass...sigh...

Layers from bottom: Chocolate Almond Jaconde, Coffee Mousse, Caramel Mousse, Instant Jelly Glaze

Despite my cake looking less pretty than desired, the general reviews I received were good! Thank God for sweet and forgiving friends like this who make me feel a little more encouraged haha :).

Besides the square cake I made for my friends, I had enough leftovers to put together three mini rounds with an extra layer of chocolate jaconde in between just like the original recipe. However, after tasting both versions, I preferred the square cake version with just a single layer of jaconde with the two layers of mousse. The extra layer of cake made this dessert too cakey in my opinion.

Looking at this, I really really NEED to brush up on my cake decorating skills. Then again, it's probably something that will come with more practice and experience with making whole, layered cakes. Oh well >.<...

Coffee Caramel Mousse Cake
recipe adapted from Ken Nishio

[Chocolate Jaconde]
105g eggs
55g ground almonds
55g powdered sugar
20g flour
5g cocoa powder
50g egg white
25g granulated sugar
12.5g unsalted butter (melted)
Almond flakes

[Coffee Mousse]
60g egg yolk
60g sugar
5g custard powder
5g gelatin
250g milk
10g instant coffee
250g whipping cream

[Caramel Mousse]
140g sugar
160g whipping cream
50g salted butter
4g gelatin
160g whipping cream
20g granulated sugar

[Chocolate Jaconde]
1. Stir together ground almonds and powdered sugar in a mixing mould, add in the eggs and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
2. Whip the egg whites with the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff peaks form.
3. Take half of the meringue and fold into the first mixture. Add sifted cocoa powder and flour and fold until well-combined. Fold in the rest of the meringue
4. Add in melted butter and stir to combine.
5. Pour the mixture into a prepared sheet pan lined with parchment and bake at 220 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes.
6. Let cool on the rack before cutting.

[Coffee Mousse]
1. Soften the gelatin sheets in ice water.
2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale.
3. Add in the custard powder and whisk to combine.
4. Heat up the milk in a saucepan until boiling point, add in the instant coffee granules and stir to combine.
5. Pour the milk and coffee mixture into the egg yolk mixture and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and heat till 80 degrees Celsius. Remove the mixture from heat and let cool in an ice bath.
6.Whip the whipping cream until medium stiff peaks and fold it into the coffee mixture.

[Caramel Mousse]
1. Soften the gelatin sheets in ice water.
2. To make the dry caramel, heat sugar in a medium saucepan over small fire until the sugar is melted and turns a dark amber. In the meantime, heat up the whipping cream in a separate saucepan.
3. Slowly, pour the warm cream into the caramelised sugar. Remove the mixture from heat and let cool in an ice bath.
4. When the mixture reaches 40 degrees Celsius, add in the salted butter and softened gelatin and stir till smooth. Sieve the mixture.
5. Whip the whipping cream and sugar until soft peak form. Fold it into the caramel mixture.

[To Assemble]
1. Cut the chocolate jaconde using a square cake ring. Brush the cake with sugar syrup and pour the coffee mousse over it. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
2. Pour the caramel mousse over the coffee mousse. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. To glaze, heat 10g instant jelly, 50g sugar and 250g water in a saucepan. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before pouring over the caramel mousse layer. Refrigerate till set.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Salted Caramel Macarons

This recipe, I've bookmarked for months, but never got around to making them till now. I love all things with salted caramel. Caramel alone is just too sweet for me. With the addition of a pinch of salt, this makes salted caramel extremely palatable to me. There's a deep, sultry character to this - a little mysterious, a little sexy. Totally my type :).

I also tried painting macarons for the first time. Inspired by the macaron goddess Tartlette herself, I decided to try my hand at it by painting the ivory white macaron shells with brown gel colouring. They aren't the prettiest strokes but they do help make the macarons look more interesting than just plain white shells :).

Armed with Pierre Herme's salted caramel macaron recipe, I made caramel from scratch for the first time. I read numerous posts with warnings of splashbacks upon adding cream into the sugar and butter mixture, but none of that happened to me. Making caramel isn't that intimidating after all. I'm sure God was taking good care of me while I was attempting those potentially dangerous kitchen stunts...haha :P.

I'm really happy with how this batch of macarons turned out. The shells had nice, compact feet, and the filling was good and didn't make my shells soggy - definitely a keeper! However, because the filling was salted caramel cream instead of salted caramel, the caramel taste was much lighter, but creamier, smoother and easier on the palate.

After all these batches of macarons, I concluded one thing - making macarons are extremely fun! I love the entire process - from ensuring that my shells have smooth domes and prominent feet, to decorating the shells (with paint or other decorative toppings), to creating delicious fillings to complement these lovely shells - each step of the macaron-making process allows so much room for creativity that it makes it really fun and exciting!

Furthermore, macarons are extremely addictive. A full batch of macarons disappears within days in my household. I barely have enough to pass on to my friends if I didn't reserve them first. Tsk tsk to all the macaron pinchers at home...haha.

Will leave you with the recipe for now. I'm sure there will be more salted caramel macaron batches to come...which leaves me wondering what flavours shall I make for Christmas? Hmmmmm...back to the drawing board...

Salted Caramel Macarons

150g ground almonds
150g icing sugar
120g egg whites (divided equally into two portions)
150g granulated sugar
40g water

[Salted Caramel Cream]
165g granulated sugar
165g single cream
32.5g salted butter
145g unsalted butter

1. Sift together the ground almonds and confectioner's sugar. Set aside.
2. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook till the sugar syrup reaches 118 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, beat 60g of the egg whites in the electric mixer on medium speed till soft peak form. When the sugar syrup is ready (both should come together at about the same time), pour the syrup in a steady stream into the egg whites with the mixer running on low. Increase the speed to high and beat till you get a thick, glossy meringue and the mixture is cool to the touch (around 10 minutes).
3. Mix the other 60g of the egg whites with the almond/sugar mixture. Add a third of the meringue into the mixture and fold gently. Add another third and fold before adding the final third. Fold gently till it flows like lava, with a thick, steady stream flowing from the spatula. Be careful not to overwork the batter as a couple more turns will result in over-runny batter.
4. Transfer the batter into piping bags fitted with big round tips. Pipe onto pre-drawn circles on parchment paper. Leave it out to set for around 25-30 minutes before baking it at 150 degrees Celsius for 13 minutes.
5. Once done, remove the baking sheet from the oven and slide the parchment onto a cooling rack. Let cool for a few minutes before removing the shells from the parchment.

[Salted Caramel Cream]
1. Warm the cream but don’t boil, set aside. Pour about 50g of sugar into a large saucepan set over medium heat and cook until melted then add another 50g. Continue until all the sugar is melted. Allow the melted sugar to caramelise until a very dark amber colour. Being cautious of splashbacks, add the salted butter and mix with a spatula. Slowly add in the cream and then cook until the caramel reaches 108C over low heat. Pour into a baking dish and put plastic wrap in contact with the caramels surface. Keep in the fridge until cold.
2. Beat the butter in the bowl of your mixer for about 8 to 10 mins, then add the caramel in two additions and beat till combined. If the mixture is very soft allow to firm up in the fridge slightly before filling the macarons.
3. Pipe a dollop of the cream on the macaron shell and sandwich with another shell.

Yields 50 mini macarons.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Muffins

Muffins evoke a sense of warmth in me, they are like warm comfort food that perks me up on a sleepy morning and provides that touch of sweetness that makes me a little happier. Though I love muffins, I can be pretty picky about the muffins I eat. It's tough to find good muffins that are readily available here. The most readily available muffin that is acceptable for me comes from Starbucks. I love the Chocolate Hazelnut Muffin, the Blueberry Muffin and the Banana Walnut Muffin. I love how crisp the tops are and how soft and fluffy the insides are, especially when they are warmed up. Other muffin variations, like the dense and buttery ones, I don't quite like. I normally take the first bite and will decide not to finish it if it's not to my taste.

As a result, I prefer to make my own muffins. I'm very particular about the muffin's texture, and it shouldn't have an overly buttery taste. I like them soft, fluffy, light and suitable for breakfast :).

I've tried making muffins using two methods - first with the dry vs wet mixture method, the second with the creaming of butter method. Personally, I prefer the former, as it yields softer muffins that I prefer. Also, I tend to prefer muffins made with vegetable oil instead of butter. Weird, I know. But that's cos I'm not a big fan of butter in the first place...haha.

Filled muffin cups before going into the oven

These Raspberry Dark Chocolate Muffins originated from Chelle's post some time ago. I've been wanting to make them but was distracted by the multiple batches of macarons and cakes that I've been churning out. The recipe uses the muffin method of mixing the dry ingredients together and the wet ingredients together, before combining them to form a batter. However, be careful not to overmix the batter as I've learnt from experience that overmixing yields tougher, denser muffins. It's okay to have little flecks of flour scattered in your batter! It's better than having a batch of tough muffins for sure!

Digging in!

These smelt really really good when they were coming out of the oven. The faint smell of raspberries and the buttery fragrance filled my entire kitchen. I can't wait but dug straight into one right away!

Clockwise from top left: Muffins fresh out from the oven, digging in, last bite, half left!

It took just four bites for me to polish off a muffin...haha. Not that I'm super greedy but these aren't that huge actually :P. I love the combination of raspberries and dark chocolate in these muffins. However, I do find them a tad buttery, though I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem with butter lovers. I might just replace it with oil the next time I make them again.

Otherwise, these were a lovely treat! Anything with raspberries and dark chocolate together makes it worth having! Yummm :).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Raspberry Rose Dark Chocolate Macarons

Guess what? Haha I made macarons again! I know I said that I was going to take a break from macaron making but it happened that one of my best girlfriend's birthday was coming up and I had promised her some earlier on. Hence, I made this batch of macs in two different flavours specially for her. I went through my latest chocolate stash to find inspiration and decided to make these lovely Raspberry Rose Dark Chocolate Macarons and Salted Caramel Macarons (coming up soon). The colours for the raspberry rose ones are lovely and the flavour combination so girly - I'm excited just thinking about it!

Since I love all things pink, of course I would favour the pink-coloured ones more. This is the first time I'm taking work-in-progress pictures despite the bad night lighting. I had lotsa fun making these pretty babies - with rose petal flavoured shells and a dark chocolate ganache topped with chopped raspberries...very yummy I would say!

Clockwise from top left: Chopped Ghirardhelli 60% dark chocolate, piped shells on parchment, filling the coloured shells, rose petal topped shells waiting to be filled.

Managing the water content of the fresh raspberries was a little tricky though. I tried to cover all the raspberries with chocolate ganache, but I still found the macs to be a little soggy on the inside after a day or two. Hmmm....any ideas/suggestions on how I can do this better? I love the flavour combination but the way I combined them doesn't seem to make these last. They're fine after 3 days in the fridge, just that they have a tendency to give way easily at each bite...hmmmm...I wonder why?

Fresh red raspberries

These pretty pink babies were such a joy to photograph. I think pink just makes everything more pretty doesn't it? Haha! Or maybe it's just me :P.

I hope the birthday girl likes these! It's my way of saying Happy Birthday my dear and I hope you will enjoy them on your special day :).

Which makes me wonder if anyone's going to make me anything on my birthday? I will be very happy if someone does...haha :).

Will just leave you with the Raspberry Chocolate Ganache recipe. I made the shells using the Italian Meringue recipe. You can find the recipe here.

Raspberry Chocolate Ganache

100g Ghirardhelli 60% Dark Chocolate (chopped)
100g heavy cream
6 raspberries (chopped)

1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. 
2. Heat the cream in a medium saucepan until boiling point. Pour over chopped chocolate and let steep for 1-2 minutes. Stir till smooth
3. Refrigerate until pipeable consistency before piping a dollop of the ganache onto the shells, top with chopped raspberries and cover with another dollop of chocolate ganache.
4. Top with another shell and refrigerate till set.

Fills 50 mini macarons.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Not-So-Secret Chocolate Stash

Hoho guess what? went a little crazy and had a mini chocolate shopping spree last week.

And came back with not one, not two, but FIVE chocolate bars. Boy, am I a happy girl :).

I've always lamented the lack of chocolate varieties on the shelves here. Before I started baking, the only varieties I knew were either Cadbury, Van Houten, Hersheys (supermart selection) or Godiva and Sins (premium varieties). Taking up baking really opened my eyes to a myriad of chocolate varieties and brands that are good, yet still very affordable.

I discovered Ghirardhelli, one of my favourite supermart chocolate brands now, by accident when one of my swap pals sent me a HUGE bag of Ghirardhelli mint dark chocolate. I'm a huge fan of the mint and dark chocolate combination and one bite into it, I was sold. I snacked non-stop on the stash I received till one day when I'm left with none. Then I started hunting for Ghirardhelli on our local shelves. Years ago, it might have been an impossible task but now, it's almost everywhere. I happily grabbed a couple of bars at the supermart the other day when I saw them on offer, how timely! :)

The first bar I grabbed was this - the Raspberry Dark Chocolate - my current favourite flavour! I tried a very expensive version bought from Candylicious, before discovering this at a nearby supermart...haha...silly me, spent so much money on a heavily overpriced bag of chocolates then.

I also grabbed two bars of dark chocolate - the 60% Evening Dream and the 72% Twilight Delight - at half the price of what I initially saw. Phew, what a relief to know that I can eventually find these here.

Besides Ghirardhelli, I also bought a bar of Lindt Orange Intense and Movenpick Espresso Krokant. I've not tried these before so I thought I'd give them a chance! No prizes for guessing what I'm intending to use them for...haha. I'm actually pretty predictable, if you know me.

So excited! Can't wait to use my new chocolate stash. Shhhh just don't tell my mum in case she screams :P.


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