Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chinese New Year Favours

I made this for a dear friend of mine. Though Chinese New Year is not a common season for favours, I was in the mood for making favours as I had a little more free time this year. I totally enjoyed shopping for the ribbons and for the container. The picture doesn't really show the beautiful flower motifs on the glass but I love totally love it. Hope I'll get the chance to pass to her soon!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chocolate Chiffon Cake - My Favourite Chiffon Recipe

I hope you aren't getting tired of seeing one chiffon cake following another shortly after. I'm in the process of experimenting with various recipes in search for my perfect chiffon formula and hence this may probably go on for some time, heh. Well, I'm glad that I finally get to make a chocolate chiffon cake. It wasn't one of the flavours on the top of my list but chocolate has always been my favourite dessert flavour, just haven't had it in chiffons as yet.

It's the 7th day of Chinese New Year. It's amazing how time flies, soon, the very special day will come when I will turn a year older, yet again. This just reminds me to really treasure the people and things around me. Instead of grumbling non-stop about the sad, bad and ugly, why not rejoice in what I already have and will have in time to come. There's so much to be happy about, so much to smile for.

For one, eating chocolate gets me smiling. Having a slice of cake makes me happy too. It's simple, yet very pleasurable. And this chocolate chiffon cake is a combination of both chocolate and cake, made using very little flour and oil. Hence, I can go on having one slice after another without feeling that I went overboard in my sweet indulgence.

After experimenting with a couple of recipes, some using cream of tartar and baking powder, some with corn flour, some using less eggs, some more, I've finally found my favourite recipe thus far. I doubt this is cast-in-stone kind of conclusive, but I'm pretty happy with what I already have now and am planning to stick to this unless convinced otherwise. I love my chiffon cakes soft, moist, slightly sweet and extremely light. This recipe fits my bill, and I hope you'll like it too :).

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

50g cake flour
30g cocoa powder
5 egg yolks
20g castor sugar
70g water
60g vegetable oil

5 egg whites
90g castor sugar
10g corn flour

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well. Add water and oil and mix till incorporated. Add in flour and cocoa powder. Blend well and set aside.

2. Combine sugar and corn flour. Beat the egg whites till foamy. Gradually add half the sugar and corn flour and continue beating for a few minutes. Add the remaining sugar and corn flour and beat till stiff peak form.

3. Spoon out one-third of the meringe and gradually fold into the egg yolk mixture, taking care not to deflate the egg whites too much. When it's well-blended, pour the mixture into the remaining meringue and fold in gently, making sure that all the egg whites are incorporated into the mixture.

4. Pour the batter into an ungreased chiffon cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes before removing from the oven and turning it upside down to cool. Slice and serve.

Yields a 21 cm tube chiffon cake.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Black Sesame Chiffon Cake - A Sweet and Salty Combination

It's day 2 of Chinese New Year and I made a Black Sesame Chiffon Cake for my family and relatives. The recipe is taken from Keiko Ishida's Okashi - a sweet, classy book with a clean and neat layout. I've been meaning to try this for some time but I couldn't find black sesame paste. One day when I was shopping at Sun Lik, I spotted it on their shelf! Of course, I grabbed it, and made this delicious cake. I love Keiko's chiffon cake recipes. They always yield a soft, cottony texture that's has a nice bite to it. I love this for its lovely texture as well as the sweet and salty combination that's refreshing and very tasty. This is one cake which I can eat and eat and not get sick of, as the saltiness of the sesame rounded out the sweetness level nicely.

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lemon Cream Tart - Birthday Dessert for the Girls

I'm really glad that I can finally sit down, relax and chill out a little. This week has been pretty crazy at work, pretty hectic after work as well as I had to study for my Japanese paper. After it was over yesterday, I had to rush to buy ingredients to cook a meal for the family as it was my mum's birthday! Well, I'm glad they enjoyed the meal. I made waldorf salad, baked rice, shepherd's pie and ended the meal with this lovely lemon cream tart which, to me, was the best part of the meal. The cream is indeed smooth, luxurious and very delicious. It might look simple as it's just cream in a tart shell, but taste-wise it's lovely :).

The Lemon Cream Tart is one of the recipes I've been meaning to try from Baking from my home to yours. I'm finally able to try this after getting an instant-read thermometer. The cooking of the custard was a little tedious due to the continuous stirring, but the results fully justified the work! The texture was really light, with a tangy lemon taste, very yummy! The boys in my house don't quite like it though (I don't understand what's up with guys and lemons, somehow they just don't click ), but my mum loved it and so did I. I think it's a girl's thing to love lemons and their sourness, it really picks me up at the end of the day :).

Lemon Cream Tart
adapted from Baking from my home to yours

1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1 fully-baked 9-inch tart shell

1. Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) ready. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

2. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water. Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.

3. Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels warm to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature, getting to the desired temperature can take as long as 10 minutes.

4. As soon as the mixture reaches180°F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender; discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.

5. Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture, you must continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes.

6. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to construct the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.

Yields one 9-inch tart.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pretty Ribbons

I finally managed to drop by Kin Soon Company on Arab Street to grab these pretty ribbons! Aren't they cute? I especially love the polka dotted ones with lace trimmings. I haven't quite figured out what I need them for but just bought them anyway cos I love ribbons! They could be used anywhere, ranging from cards, to scrapbooks, to packaging my baked goods...very versatile! They have lots more, but I figured I should rein myself in and not buy too much especially when I'm not sure how I wanna use them at this point. Love admiring them nonetheless!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Almond Crisps - Chinese New Year Cookies Part II

Despite having planned to make this for quite some time, I haven't gotten around to it until now. One day, mum came back and told me about this delicious almond cookie that her colleague's daughter made and asked if I could try to make them too. She then asked her for the recipe and shared it with me. Little did I know, this is the exact same recipe that I have been meaning to try since ages ago!

I love these Almond Crisps for its sheer simplicity, using very basic ingredients to create a cookie that's delicious as well as popular with everyone who tried it. The only challenge is in spreading the batter thin enough such that the cookie will be crispy, and watching the oven carefully to make sure they don't burn. Otherwise, these were a breeze to make. My first batch was wiped out by my parents in a matter of minutes! Hence I made a much bigger second batch to ensure that this does not happen again...haha.

With this second batch, I can now share them with my friends and colleagues. This is one cookie I'll definitely make again and again :).

Almond Crisps
adapted from e's joie

120g egg white (around 4 egg whites)
120g castor sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
80g plain flour (sifted)
1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Whisk together the egg whites, sugar and vanilla extract until all the sugar is dissolved.
2. Add in sifted flour and baking powder and mix till well-incorporated.
3. Spread a very thin layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and top with almond flakes. (Use parchment or silicon paper as far as possible as this cookie does not contain oil and sticks easily.)
4. Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 8 minutes or until the edges turn brown.
5. Allow cookies to cool for a few minutes before storing in an airtight container. (Letting the cookies out in the open for too long will cause them to turn soft and soggy. Hence, store immediately after they are cooled.)

Yields 120 cookies.


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