Thursday, December 24, 2009

Espresso Delights

It's Christmas Eve! Blessed Christmas everyone! Since young, I've always loved Christmas. Though it was never a family culture to celebrate the occasion, I'll always bug my parents to throw a Christmas party. From then on, every Christmas became a family affair, one that I'd always look forward to year after year. There's something about Christmas that make people feel like celebrating, loving and giving. Isn't that wonderful? I think there's no other better holiday than Christmas :).

This year, instead of having traditional roast turkey, we had a Japanese themed dinner with sashimi, sushi, yakitori, chawanmushi and miso soup. To go with the Japanese theme, we had Japanese soft drinks and ume sake. To me, it's the company and the family effort, that really matters to me. Being able to contribute to the family dinner makes me very happy and seeing the happy faces when they opened their cards and presents is absolutely uplifting.

Well, I was supposed to make the dessert for the dinner...but as I've been so tied up over work, I haven't  had time to do so. The dessert crisis was solved when my dad brought back a log cake from his company. Just the exact thing we needed!

Aside from the dinner, I can't have a proper Christmas without making cookies for my dear friends, hence I made these Espresso Delights as Christmas favours to those who are close to me.

I spotted this recipe in the Ultimate Cookies Magazine by Better Homes and Gardens. Combining full-bodied espresso with the mild spiciness of cinnamon and natural sweetness of the bittersweet chocolate flecks, these are absolutely decadent. The cookies are wonderfully crisp, yet melt-in-your-mouth. My pictures really don't quite do justice to them.

Well, I hope my friends will enjoy these little treats. Here's to a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Espresso Delights
adapted from Ultimate Cookies Magazine

113g butter
37g powdered sugar
1/2 tbsp instant espresso
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
110g flour
20g semisweet chocolate (finely chopped)

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with a stand mixer on medium high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, instant espresso, vanilla and cinnamon, beat till well-combinged. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer, then stir in any remaining flour and chocolate.

2. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls 2 inches apart on a lined cookie sheet. Press to flatten slightly. Bake for 12-15 minutes until cookie edges are set and the bottoms are lightly-browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

3. Sift cocoa powder and powdered sugar over cooled cookies a desired.

Yields 24 cookies.

Christmas Favours

This is really last minute, I know. But that's about all the preparation time I had to do up my Christmas favours for my dear friends. I didn't even make anything fancy, just good ol' cookies that are nice and versatile. Well, at least the packaging fits with the Christmas mood!

I hope they'll be happy with these simple treats made with love!

Friday, December 18, 2009


One more week to Christmas! I'm really getting into the mood now. Christmas wish lists going all round the office, dinner prepartions and festive wishes in the plan. This is going to be fun!

I love giving presents, somehow it beats buying things for myself. There's a peculiar joy about giving that makes one feel so blessed. And the season of giving is coming, we are able to give because we have more than enough, with more to spare.

Made Alfajores today, cute little cookies aren't they?

I filled these with nutella instead of Dulce de leche cos I don't have any at home. These were delicious! Soft, buttery, definitely the perfect tea time treat for a lazy afternoon like this. I did, however, have a problem with the cookies spreading too much. I prefer my cookies small and petite, easier on the eye and palate. I couldn't resist using the red and white background for this, really gets me in the Christmas mood! So looking forward to the holidays!


165g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
85g butter
140g sugar
1 large egg
90 ml milk
30 ml orange juice
filling of your choice : dulce de leche, jam, nutella, chocolate ganache

1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line the baking sheet with silicon paper.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix till well combined. Add in the flour in two separate additions and mix till well combined. Add in the milk, orange juice and vanilla extract and mix till incorporated.

3. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto the lined baking sheet, with 2 inches of space in between the dough. Baking for 9-11 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway in between to ensure even browning. Transfer to wire rack and cool.

4. Spread the filling onto the cooled cookies and sandwich with another. Dust with confectioner's sugar as desired.

Yields 15 sandwich cookies.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

French Chocolate Madeleines

Whew! It's the weekend finally! I can almost hear the sound of the jingling bells by now. I'm in a mild panic mode as I've been so busy I hardly had time to sit down and plan my Christmas bakes. Japanese classes are starting again next week and I haven't done my revision. Plus, my Christmas shopping's not done either. Help...

On the bright side, this is going to be a fairly relaxing weekend. I'm toying with the idea of spending some quiet time at a cafe to do up my Japanese notes while watching people pass by. I love people-watching, there's something calming about seeing people whiz by while you're stationary at your seat. Ooh...I'm dreaming about sipping tea and having sandwiches already...

My first encounter with madeleines was at a new local bread/pastry shop. I'm a later bloomer, I know, cos that wasn't that long ago. It wasn't a great experience as the cakes I tried was oily, dense and buttery, very unlike the reviews I've read online. Determined to try making them myself, I pulled out a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my home to yours and made these cute french chocolate madeleines. As I wasn't sure how I'd fare, I used a cheap madeleine pan from Daiso to try this out.

The results turned out lovely. The cakes were light, fluffy and extremely chocolaty. I love it! However, the scalloped lines weren't too obvious as the indentations weren't very pronounced. Well, looks like I have a reason to invest in a proper madeleine pan after all :).

Recipe can be found here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blueberry Crumble Muffins - Butter vs Oil

It's been a hectic week, a rollercoaster week, but it ended really well. I'm heartened, encouraged and very thankful that it did. Looking forward to more good things coming my way :).

Reading through Okashi once again, the blueberry muffin recipe caught my eye. Most likely because of the delicious looking picture, but also because of its lovely brown hue spotted with cream coloured crumble topping. Honestly, I'd always preferred muffins made with oil, as they tend to yield softer, fluffier muffins that I can keep for days without turning hard. I also tend to prefer the muffin method of mixing which blends the wet and dry ingredients separately before combining them together. This particular muffin recipe goes against all of that, using butter in place of oil, and the creaming method instead of the muffin method. It was easy enough to put together and the recipe made just the right amount for 6 muffins.

This recipe yields denser muffins which taste best warm. I love the buttery crumble topping with the added ground almounds cos it gave the muffins a nice crunch. Taste wise, I still prefer my muffins made with oil and the muffin method.

Nevertheless, blueberry muffins are always great for breakfast!


Related Posts with Thumbnails