Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Cookie Pops

As usual, I come back once in while when there's an occasion to bake for *grins*. How I miss fiddling around in the kitchen and creating pretty and yummy goodies for all to share. Christmas is always the season for baking. Everyone's in a celebratory mood, regardless of race of religion, gift giving happening everywhere and we are all expecting a better year of us - what more can we ask for? Such a joyous mood calls for joy inducing treats too, and this year I decided to make cookie pops!

Inspired by Happy Home Baking's post, I set out to look for the bakeable M&Ms...but I couldn't find them anywhere! I remember we use to see them in the supermarts and baking shops, but somehow they just disappeared when I wanted to use them again. Sigh. Anyways, I substituted them with Ghiradhelli Chocolate Chips (more yummy than M&Ms for sure!) and Roasted Hazelnuts. And boy, they turned out very yummy indeed!

I adapted the recipe from this link, didn't search very far or wide due to the shortage of time, and I am real glad it turned out very well. Once baked, I simply wrapped them with clear plastic wrappings, put on the "handmade" sticker I bought from Japan some time ago and tied a ribbon round the stem. They look pretty cute don't they? :)

Can't wait to see my friends' reactions when they see this. I am getting very excited myself! Hahaha...

Hope you having a wonderful Christmas too, enjoy the year end holidays!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pandan Chiffon Cake - A Singaporean Childhood Favourite

Was just watching Liverpool vs Arsenal on TV earlier, it was painful to watch (mebeing a Liverpool fan) that I switched off my TV set and decided to blog instead. Recently, 2 of colleagues departed from the company and the week seemed like a week of farewell - saying our goodbyes and well wishes to each of them. It felt sad, yet at the same time happy for them to be moving on to a new and better place. And in the midst of that, I also received a couple of requests for chiffon cakes, so here goes :).

Singaporeans first knew chiffon cakes in pandan flavour. Personally, I never knew other flavours existed till I started baking. I love its light, fluffy texture with its gentle sweetness that makes eating this feels like a treat! Having seen my mum gone through her fair share of chiffon cake failures, I never dared to try making it, though the Pandan Chiffon Cake has always been my favourite. I tried a couple of Pandan Chiffon Cake recipes following the success of my Chocolate, Marbled & Yuzu Tea Chiffon Cakes, but they never quite satisfied my tastebuds. Yet at the same, I had to make one by Monday...hence I picked a new recipe by Chef Judy Koh of Creative Culinaire and hope that it works out well eventually.

The recipe was easy to follow, but the cake batter turned out too little for my 22cm pan. I would recommend using this recipe on a 20cm pan instead, as I prefer my chiffon cakes tall :).

Guess I'll have to wait with bated breath till Monday to find out how it tastes! Since I can't cut it in advance now >.<.

Pandan Chiffon Cake

5 pandan leaves, finely chopped
3 Tbsps water
48g egg yolk, from about 4 small eggs
70g castor sugar
1/8 tsp sale
20ml corn oil
36ml thick coconut milk (I used the chilled version that is more suited to my tastes)
1/4 tsp pandan paste
54g cake flour
120g egg white, from about 4 small eggs
1/8 cream of tartar (i replaced this with corn flour)

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
2. Blend the pandan leaves with water to a fine pulp. Wrap the pulp in muslin cloth and squeeze to extract the juice. Discard the pulp and set aside the juice.
3. Whisk together the egg yolks, 30g sugar, salt, corn oil, coconut milk, pandan paste and pandan juice until well incorporated.
4. Sieve the cake flour into the pandan mixture and continue to whisk till smooth. Set aside.
5. Whisk the egg whites till foamy, add the sugar and cream of tartar and whisk till stiff peak form.
6. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the cake batter, 1/3 at a time, until well incorporated.
7. Pour the batter into a 20cm tube pan and bake for 40 minutes.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and invert it on a rack to cool before removing from the mould.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alice in Wonderland Wedding Cookies

It's been a long long time since I blogged. Haven't been checking my blog for the last few months, neither have I baked apart from what I post...haha. I miss baking, wish I can have more time to do this, and am working towards doing this more in the next couple of months.

I'm glad that a good friend of mine actually asked me to create a set of Alice in Wonderland cookies for her wedding. She sent me an image for inspiration, and the standards were just waaaay better than what I can do. Hence, I can only try, and try my best. 

Ultimately, I came up with a set of 3 cookies - the TeaPot, the Ribbon & the Poker Cards. I'm glad they turned out pretty okay, though they weren't as crunchy as I would have liked. Reckoned the humidity didn't help the icing to dry well....

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed doing this! Darren even did an amazing job on creating 3D Alice in Wonderland cut-outs....they were beau-ti-ful, check this out - so cute!

Apologies for the poor photo quality. I had too much to carry that day and only took these with my handy camera phone..gotta make do with these!

Will just leave you with these other photos I took...till the next project that comes along the way :).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Plentitude Macarons

It's been a while, a pretty long while since my last post. Are you wondering what I've been up to since then? Well, after changing to my new job, the hours are long, workload's heavier and I don't have much time nor energy to dream of baking sweet treats like I do last time. When I get off work, some time is spent destressing (i.e shopping) to get my mind out of work mode and into the lifestyle mode. And after that, I'm pretty much ready to go to bed. Baking time is almost non-existent.

Well, I miss baking! Miss the days when I can dream about the goodies I can bake with my "spare" brain capacity. Miss the days when I can spend long hours in the kitchen without worrying about finishing within a certain number of hours. All that has changed, quite abit in fact. 

I feel a little rusty in the kitchen, a little lost when I can't find those ingredients like I used to, a little sad when I had to throw away expired ingredients that hasn't seen the daylight since months ago. Wish I had more time to make good use of them rather than throwing them away right now.

The first thing I decided to bake when I had an off day is macarons! I have not tried any recipe from the Pierre Herme's Macarons book yet, and decided to pick a simply one - Plentitude Macarons. The description for this sounded delicious enough - caramel chocolate filling with fleur de sel dark chocolate chips sandwiched between 2 shells - I'm sold just by reading this!

Seriously, I was quite rusty. I forgot to start beating my egg whites and my sugar syrup was already reaching 110 degrees. I overmixed my batter and it turned out pretty runny. I was all set for a failed batch until I saw those frilly feet rising up high. Phew!

However, the texture didn't turn out quite right, they were wayyyy too crispy for their own good. I had a good laugh when I bit into one and heard a crunching sound HAHA. Ended up with a batch of Crispy Plentitude Macarons!

Apart from the shells, the caramel chocolate filling was super yummy! I caramelised the sugar to a deep amber and it gave this a nice burnt sugar taste which I love. The filling's a winner for sure :).

I'm still in 2 minds as to whether these can be shared with the world. After all, it's kinda like a "failed" batch, though it's edible. Alternatively, I can look at this as being the "pioneer" of Crispy Plentitude Macarons...HAHA.

Oh well...

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Charming Blackforest Cake

It was a case of right time, right place. I was at I12 Katong's supermarket when I spotted the jar of preserved morello cherries. Been wanting to make Hidemi Sugino's rendition of the blackforest cake, hence I grabbed a jar and made these :). It was for a good reason, my darling Darren's birthday! Haven't made an entremet in months...I hope the taste will turn out fine...haha.

I first spotted the recipe on Evan's blog. Her version of Charmed (Sugino's name for this cake) is absolutely lovely. I had some problems with the dark chocolate chantilly but eventually it turned out alright. The steps were really easy to follow, one of the easiest entremets to make, but not the easiest to get it perfect.

I loved the taste of preserved morello cherries, had it with my pint of Awesomely Chocolate ice cream from Udders, which was very yummy! This particular brand had it lightly sweetened...I would have preferred it more tart though :).

Unfortunately, I gotta wait for my darling to be back in Singapore before I can present this to him and celebrate his birthday. Well, at least I had a liiiitle bit of time to make a cake for him this time round!

By the way, anyone has experienced issues with the whipped cream hardening after folding in the melted chocolate? I wonder what went wrong with mine, as mine kinda "seized" when I folded in the chocolate, even after I cooled it. I wish the texture of my chantilly could be softer and smoother though...any suggestions?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Almond Cocoa Nib Sticks for Chinese New Year

For some reason, January passed in a blink of the eye. It's now nearing the end of the month and we're heading into Chinese New Year! Gosh, where did the first month of 2012 go? I really wonder, hmmm...

This year, I received a big Bengawan Solo hamper plus loads of CNY goodies including Kueh Bangkit, Bak Kwa, Famous Amos Cookies, Danish Cookies etc. I reckon there was no need for me to make any, plus I didn't have much time. Hence this was the only thing I made - Almond Cocoa Nib Sticks.

I made these twice before, once very recently for Christmas Favours, and they've received very good reviews and feedback! Even mum, who's usually very critical of my bakes, commented that these were really good. Hence, I decided to make a double batch of this for the new year!

I simply love the raw crunchy texture of cocoa nibs with its full and deep cocoa flavour. It's like eating chocolate, but without the sweetness! Baked to a crispy crunch, these are especially good with a cup of tea or coffee!

A friend of mine gave me a sachet of mint hot chocolate during Christmas, hence I can't resist having them with these Almond Cocoa Nib Sticks. They were absolutely delicious :).

Before I leave you the recipe, just wanna wish all of you a very Happy Chinese New Year! May you PROSPER BEYOND MEASURE! Yippee!

Almond Cocoa Nib Sticks
adapted from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich

3/4 cup ground almonds
1 cup + 2 tbsp plain flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup cocoa nibs

1. Combine ground almonds, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like a mass of bread crumbs. 
2. Combine the water, vanilla and almond extract, drizzle them into the bowl and pulse just until the dough looks damp. Add the cocoa nibs and pulse until evenly dispersed. The dough will not form a smooth cohesive mass, it will be crumbly but it will stick together when you press it.
3. Turn out the dough onto a sheet of foil and form it into a 6 by 9 inch rectangle that is 1/2 inch thick. Fold the foil over the dough and press firmly with your hands to compress it, then wrap it airtight. Slide a cookie sheet under it and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Slice the dough into 1/2 cm thick slices and place them on the lined cookie sheet at least 1 inch apart.
5. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the cookies are golden.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pink Peppermint Macarons for the New Year!

Happy New Year! I'm so glad 2011 has passed, and that I survived it! Looking forward to an awesome 2012, which I know will definitely be a great great year of unceasing fruitfulness!

Secondly, am glad to be baking again. After surviving the last few mad and crazy months of 2011, I can finally take a short breather and indulge myself in some me-baking-time...heh.

I made these with the intention of celebrating New Year, yet the colour turned out to be more suitable for Valentine's Day instead! Well, at least they were cherry enough to bring forth the year :). I made one of my favourite flavours of all time - peppermint chocolate - and sandwiched the mint chocolate ganache between plain macaron shells. They turned out simply heavenly :).

It's such a luxury to sip a cuppa tea, with some macarons at the side. I love these simple pleasures of life, so simple yet so enjoyable and comforting. When I have a home to call my own next time, I'll be sure to dedicate a nice tea corner by a window to enjoy a warm cup of afternoon tea.

This year, hope to explore more unique macaron flavours and move out of my comfort zone! I wonder if that will eventually materialise...haha! We'll see :).


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