Sunday, September 19, 2010

Matcha, Red Bean and Chocolate Entremet - Celebrating My Very 1st Blogversary

When I first started this blog, I had intended it to be detailed journey of my baking expeditions with an archive of recipes that I've tried before. Never would I have imagined I would progress to making multi-layered cakes and colourful, pretty desserts. Prior to starting this blog, I've always been a homebaker contented with making simple, homey treats for my family and friends. However, joining the blogging community also allowed me to meet many talented bakers and be inspired by their gorgeous desserts.

It's intriguing that I actually remembered my blogversary by accident. Months before this, I planned to celebrate my blogversary by making something nice and special, but along the way I've already forgotten about it. I made this Matcha, Red Bean and Chocolate Entremet because I was inspired by a new book I bought...and as I was writing this post I began to think about how my posts have progressed since the beginning. While browsing through my old posts, I realised that today marks my blog's first anniversary! How timely and apt that this entremet came at the right place at the right time :).

The process of making this cake was surprisingly manageable. The key is to spread out the components into separate days so that you won't feel overwhelmed by the number of components to make and the waiting time in between. I made this over three days and it came together fairly easily. I've almost admired how people like Chelle and Evan are able to make entremet after entremet without feeling tired. Sometimes after making one, I already don't feel like baking for the rest of the month, yet they seem to have the patience and perseverance to keep going on.

As usual, I'm not good at making layered cakes, hence I was pretty cheesed that the layers weren't perfectly gelled together. However, I'm glad that the texture and taste of the cake turned out really well. The mousse was airy and light while the chocolate ganache layer wasn't overpowering. The bits of red bean really added a nice dimension to the taste and texture as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this combination and would make this again if the occasion calls for it :).

Layers from top: matcha whipped cream, matcha mousse, chocolate sponge, chocolate ganache with red bean, chocolate sponge

While making these using my individual mousse rings for the first time, I realised I don't have enough of them to go around. Hence I put the rest of the leftover ingredients into glass cups and made them in verinnes instead. I guess they'll still taste as good!

The past one year has been an awesome journey. I'm glad I made the decision that day to start this blog. Thanks for being a part of my journey :). I'm really glad to be able to get to know all of you and share our loves, passions and experiences together. I guess I can expect a 2nd...and a 3rd anniversary maybe? That's a little too far to forsee...haha.

Well, in the meantime, Happy Anniversary to Sweets & Loves! :)

Matcha, Red Bean and Chocolate Entremet
adapted from the original Matcha Kyoto Mousse Cake recipe by Kanae Kobayashi

[Chocolate Sponge Cake]
Egg whites 160g (about 5 egg whites)
Castor sugar 90g
Unsweetened chocolate 80g (chopped)
Whipping cream 45ml
Cake flour 45g

[Chocolate Ganache with Red Bean]
Bittersweet chocolate 80g (I used 60%)
Whipping cream 120ml
Canned azuki beans

[Matcha Mousse]
Fresh milk 160ml
Matcha powder 10g
Castor sugar 50g
Gelatin sheets 6g (I used 2.5 sheets)
Whipping cream 120ml

[Matcha Whipped Cream]
Whipping cream 200ml
Castor sugar 20g
Matcha powder 5g

[Chocolate Sponge Cake]
1. Beat egg whites in a standing mixer until foamy. Gradually add in the sugar and beat till stiff peak form.
2. Heat the cream until almost boiling and pour it over chopped chocolate. Stir till smooth.
3. Add half of the meringue into the chocolate mixture and fold till well-blended. Fold in the sifted cake flour, followed by the rest of the meringue.
4. Pour into a prepared sheet pan and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.

[Chocolate Ganache with Red Bean]
1. Heat the cream until almost boiling and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Stir till smooth.

[Matcha Mousse]
1. Soften the gelatin sheets in cold water and set aside. 
2. Stir together the matcha powder and castor sugar. Heat the milk until almost boiling and pour it into the matcha and sugar mixture. Stir till smooth.
3. Wring the excess water from the gelatin sheets and add to the mixture. Stir till the gelatin sheets are well-blended into the mixture.
4. Beat the whipping cream until fully whipped. Fold the whipped cream into the matcha mixture till well-combined.

[Matcha Whipped Cream]
1. Stir together the matcha powder and castor sugar. Gradually add the whipping cream with the standing mixer on low. When all the cream has been added in, whip the mixture on medium high speed until medium peak form.

[To Assemble]
1. Cut out two layers of chocolate sponge with the mousse ring. Place one layer at the bottom and pour the chocolate ganache over it. Press down the red beans and top with another chocolate sponge layer. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
2. Pour the matcha mousse over the set chocolate base. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. Top the matcha mousse with a layer of matcha whipped cream. Dust a layer of snow sugar over the whipped cream layer before sprinkling matcha powder over it for garnishing.

Yields 8 2.5" by 1.75" round cakes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Espresso Chocolate Shortbread

I'm back! Anybody missed me? Haha honestly I don't expect anyone one to, perhaps with the exception of my mum :P. The trip to KL was amazingly awesome. Camp was great and I feel refreshed with a much more relaxed and peaceful heart. Camps are really special to me. The past two have been life-changing and I believe this one won't fall short either. Really looking forward to the good things that are going to happen in the days to come :).

I made these Espresso Chocolate Shortbread with the intention to bring them along for the trip. But at the last minute, I decided against it. There was going to be so much food and feeding at the camp that I rendered these unecessary, hence the decision was made. However, when I had hunger pangs in the middle of the night and no food was available, I regretted it! Arghhh I dislike my lack of kiasu-ness in times of need...

You know, I've never been a big fan of shortbread. The reason being I don't like butter. I never liked butter, milk, cheese due to their creaminess. Well, at least until I discovered Elle & Vire french butter. Using this makes me appreciate the lovely, refined taste of french butter and slowly develop a love for shortbread. For me, using good butter in shortbread is a must as the butter flavour really comes out in these cookies. Oh, and good chocolate too, of course :).

Shortbread cookies are so crisp, so hardy - good for travelling! I was inspired by all the TWD posts on Dorie's Espresso Chocolate Shortbread and decided to make them myself. The results were great - the cookies were crisp with a nice melt-in-your-mouth texture. The espresso-chocolate combination is also another winner, melty chocolate bits with hints of espresso providing that extra "kick".

Hmmm these are really yummy. At the rate I'm going, I'm really beginning to develop a liking for shortbread. I'm really tempted to make matcha shortbread or sables the next time round...hmmm...wish me luck? :)

Espresso Chocolate Shortbread
adapted from Baking from my home to yours

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.
2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.
3. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9-x-10½ -inch rectangle that’s ¼ inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
4. When ready to bake, position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife cut the dough into 1½-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale – they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.
7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

Yields 32 cookies

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thoughts...and a Strawberry Shortcake

Sometimes I wish I had friends who surprise me with the treats they bake. Unfortunately, most of my friends don't bake. Either that or they don't have time to bake. Mum used to make very delicious lemon cakes, lime cakes and durian cakes but lately she doesn't do that anymore. Perhaps I've hijacked her kitchen for my own selfish motives and she didn't feel the need to do so anymore :(.

To be honest, I'm really bad at making layered cakes. I never seemed to have enough patience to last through the entire process without major glitches. It happened the last time and it happened again this time. Sigh, I probably need more patience training and correction of attitude before I attempt another layered cake. It's just too tedious unless I had the right motives and occasion to make them. Then again, sometimes I will crave for more complicated cakes in flavours that I love. Otherwise, simple, down-to-earth treats will do the trick.

There are a couple of things which I'm working on currently, and hopefully I'll be able to finish them soon if I don't get lost along the way. Among them is changing my blog template and format to, hopefully a better one, and the finishing up of my long-overdue photobook on my Taiwan trip 2.5 months ago. Gosh, I'm so so friends have already finished up theirs while I'm barely halfway through mine. I guess I'm the master of procrastination >.<.

On a day when I'm feeling a little down yet a little itchy-fingers, I decided to make a simple Strawberry Shortcake. I came across a gorgeous inspiration piece on Daily Delicious, a blog I often visit and admire for her lovely taste and style. It seemed pretty simple and I guessed I should be able to put the components together in a jiffy.

This cake is a breeze to make. I used sheet pans to bake the cake layers so that I won't have to worry about getting even slices. However, due to my laziness, I only soaked one layer in sugar syrup when I ought to do both. Mum commented the top layer was slightly dry, which I agree. Oops! I forgot I was serving a cake to someone who knows her stuff. I shall resolve not to be lazy anymore and do a really nice and detailed job next time.

Sigh...I'm going to KL for a 5 days next week and thinking about missing out on baking makes me a lil' sad. Oh well, I'm sure I'm gonna have an awesome time then. Baking can wait!

Strawberry Shortcake
adapted from Daily Delicious
(original recipe from 12か月のハッピーバースデーケーキ  by Miwa Nakanishi)


For Genoise:
3 eggs
90g sugar
90g cake flour (sifted)
20g unsalted butter (melted)
20ml milk

For Syrup:
80g sugar
100ml water
10ml liquer

For Whipped Cream:
350ml whipping cream
40g icing sugar
10 strawberries

1. Heat the sugar and the water together into the pan until the mixture comes to a boil. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature. When cooled, mix in the liqueur.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare the pan by lining it with parchment.
3. Beat the eggs with a stand mixer until the mixture becomes lighter in color. Gradually add in the sugar and beat until you reach ribbon stage.
4. Take ¾ cup of the egg mixture and mix it with the melted butter.
5. Sift the flour into the remaining egg mixture and fold gently until combined.
6. Combined the egg and butter mixture with the egg and flour mixture. Fold gently to combine, add the milk and fold. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
7. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

To assemble:
1. Slice up 8 of the strawberries. Cut out two layers of the genoise and fit one layer into the pan.
2. Whip the cream together with icing sugar until medium stiff peaks.
3. Soak the cake with the prepared sugar syrup and arrange the strawberries on the cake.
4. Pour the whipped cream over the strawberries and spread till even.  Place the other soaked layer of the cake on top of the cream and cover with the rest of the whipped cream.
5. Garnish with halved strawberries and refrigerate to set.

Makes a 18cm square cake.


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