Thursday, January 28, 2010

Malted Milk Ice Cream

In between making the Chinese New Year cookies, I accidentally promised that I'll bring some homemade ice cream for a girly gathering this weekend. That kinda threw me into mild panic mode, as I'm so tied up with all the other things plus the impending Japanese exam that I have no idea how to fit ice cream making into my schedule. But somehow, I did!

Mum's been going on and on about all the chocolate desserts I've been making lately and told me to make something different. Hence I thought malted milk ice cream sounded like a pretty good idea...until the point where I was about to add the chopped maltesers, then I realised that this contained chocolate after all....Oops!

I quietly presented this to her and thank goodness she didn't make any noise about it. I tasted this thereafter and it was delicious! Though the ice cream wasn't as sweet as I would have liked it to be, the chopped maltesers added a nice crunch and rounded off the sweetness level very nicely. I do hope the girls will like it!

Malted Milk Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop

1 cup half and half (I used whole milk)
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup malted milk powder (I used Horlicks)
6 large egg yolks
2 cups malted milk balls, coarsely chopped (I used Maltesers)

1. Warm milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, vanilla and malt powder and set a mesh strainer on top.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and whisk it into the malted milk mixture. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. As you remove the ice cream from the machine, fold in the chopped malted milk balls.

Yields 1 quart.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Double Chocolate Almond Cookies - Chinese New Year Cookies Part I

Coming to the end of January and it's almost February now. Chinese New Year songs are now playing on the radio and in departmental stores all round Singapore. As a child, I loved this traditional Chinese holiday, as it's that time of the year when I'll receive red packets from all my relatives and get to indulge in all the delicious New Year snacks. Over the years, this has changed. The holiday to me, is really a time of reunion and celebration for familes. With families nowadays getting smaller and more distant, somehow we're more and more dependent on such holidays to bring us together in the spirit of the season.

I've never been very adventurous when it comes to baking Chinese New Year cookies. Cos I have an aunt who bakes them very well and I love to eat the Egg Rolls, Kueh Bahlu and Kueh Bangkit she makes every year. However, as she gets older, she bakes lesser. Hence, I decided to make a few simple treats this year as snacks for relatives and visitors to my place.

First on my agenda is the Double Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies. I took this recipe from Elyn's blog, followed the recipe to the T and true enough, the cookies baked beautifully. These chocolate gems didn't spread much and I love the simple indentations made with the use of a fork. I used all the best ingredients I can find, including Valrhona cocoa powder, Elle & Vire french butter, chopped 68% Valrhona chocolate and Prima flour, and these cookies turned out absolutely delicious. I shared my test batch with some of my friends and they loved them. Looks like I can boldly make more of them for the New Year :).

Double Chocolate Almond Cookies
adapted from e's joie

100g butter
45g castor sugar
45g brown sugar
20g egg
140g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
60g chocolate chips (I used chopped Valrhona 68% Chocolate)
Handful of diced almonds

1. Cream butter with the sugars until light and fluffy.
2. Add in the egg a little at a time until it is well-incorporated with the batter.
3. Fold in the sifted flour, baking soda and cocoa powder until just incorporated.
4. Mix in the chopped chocolate and diced almonds.
5. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into a dough and flatten slightly on the baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart.
6. Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.

Yields 30 cookies.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chocolate Chip Muffins - Comfort Breakfast Food

Rain rain go away, come again another day.

Was supposed to go jogging this evening but it was raining at my usual spot, pouring thunderstorm. While going home, I actually prayed that I won't have to go. But when I didn't manage to go, I felt something amiss. The irony of it, the irony of me. Thinking back, I know exactly what I'm missing out on, the exact thing I needed right now. I want to let go and be myself, I want my freedom, my joy, my peace. I can't imagine living a life trying to be someone I'm not. I crave and long to be true to my one and only self.

I hate to admit this, but I got pretty affected by the series of events that happened over the past two days. I haven't been myself, I haven't been doing what I should be doing, but it doesn't matter. Magical comfort comes when I know I'm loved regardless of what I did or did not do. I can go ahead and live a life of freedom, making mistakes, falling down, then picking myself up again and stride forth with a confident expectation of good. Life is still beautiful.

I woke up craving for muffins today and popped by the cafe downstairs to take a peek at their lovely domed-shaped muffins. Unfortunately, they weren't available early in the morning, hence I went without breakfast. In order to prevent further disappointment, I made myself a batch of muffins with whatever leftover chocolate chips I had in my stash. Thank goodness there were enough to spare.

Made this with my favourite muffin recipe, and learnt a new lesson in the process. From now on, I resolve to not use measurements by cups and weigh my ingredients instead. It makes a whole lot of difference! Not that I've been measuring by cups alot, but when I feel lazy, I tend to take shortcuts. With the potential discrepancy in quality staring straight at my face, I shall be disciplined and do it the right way.

This recipe yields light, fluffy muffins which I absolutely love. I do prefer using vegetable oil instead of butter for my muffins as well. The recipe's quick to make and bakes beautifully. I'm sticking to this till I find something even better. Let me know if you have other ideas :).

Chocolate Chip Muffins

170g all-purpose flour
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
80ml vegetable oil
1 egg
80ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.

3. In a measuring cup, mix the oil, egg and milk together. Mix this together with the flour mixture until just incorporated.

4. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full, then bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Yields 8 medium muffins.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chocolate Banana Cake - バナナチョコレトケーキ

Been so caught up with work these days that I barely had time to bake. Other than the Lychee Almond Chiffon Cake and the Chocolate Chip Cookies I made last week that I didn't manage to post on, I didn't really make anything else. I'm on a break today, studying for my Japanese mid-term exam. The sensei sounded like this is really important, hence I thought I'll just take a day off and sit down to do some serious revision.

Well, I don't think I'm concentrating very well, since I get distracted every few minutes or so. And plus I'm really sleepy today! The hot weather didn't help much. Decided to bake something for a mid-day snack, and nothing sounds better than my favourite combination of banana and chocolate! After I saw this recipe on Piggy's Cooking Journal, I knew I had to try it. I made this in a 8' by 8' square pan and it came out much thinner than rectangular pan she used. The baking time was also shorter. It took about 27 minutes for the cake to be done.

Square or rectangular, thick or thin, this cake was absolutely delicious! I eliminated the rum as I didn't have any on hand, but I loved the caramel taste in this cake brought about through the use of brown sugar. The moist cake, paired with the soft, caramelised banana, made the perfect afternoon treat for me. It definitely made my day and motivated me to keep studying :).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Here's to a Happy 2010!

Happy New Year! I really hope 2010 will be a much better year for everyone who reads this. Personally, I'm really thankful for how 2009 has turned out. It has so much potential to become a total disaster year for me, but it wasn't so. There were many sweet moments that touched me, caused me to believe there's so much more to look forward to rather than keep looking back at all the wrong that has happened. Plus, more than a handful of people told me this: "2010 is going to be a great year for you" and I truly believe it will be so :).

My colleagues gave me an ice cream maker for sweet! Well, being a total ice cream newbie, it took me two tries to get it to the right consistency. But even so, I think it can be done much better. If I'd known how difficult it was to photograph this finicky dessert, I wouldn't even have attempted. It was melting so quickly under this hot hot hot Singapore weather and my lack of scooping skills didn't quite help. Well well, this is the best I can do for now (referring to the melted brown mess :P). All I can say is, I think it tastes absolutely delicious! Melt or not, it doesn't quite matter...I'm happy!

The recipe came from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. I've read so many rave reviews about this book but never had the urge to buy it as I didn't have an ice cream maker. Now that I actually own one, my eyes suddenly twinkle at the sight of this book. The resultant chocolate ice cream was decadently rich and smooth. Some might find it too bitter with 68% dark chocolate but I loved it. The chocolate flavour was very intense and satisfied my chocolate craving for the day, which seldom happens. I think I'm just beginning to fall in love with making my own ice cream :).

Chocolate Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop

2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp unsweentened cocoa powder
5 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Valrhona 68%)
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Warm 1 cup of cream with cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking thoroughly to blend the cocoa. Bring to boil then reduce heat and gently simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth. Stir in the remaining cup of cream.

2. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Set the mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

3. Warm the milk, sugar and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat making sure to scrape the bottom and corners until the mixture thickens to resemble a custard consistency.

4. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate till smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until the mixture is cooled thoroughly, then freeze it in the ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to freezer box and freeze for 4 hours to firm before serving.

Yields 1 quart.


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