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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