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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Chocolatissimo



This cake is essentially a chocolate mousse cake and is very, very chocolaty. Half of the mousse mixture is baked, while the other half forms the topping. There are people who like chocolate and there are people who are chocolate maniacs. If you are in the first category, you may find this cake a bit too heavy for you. But for the choco maniacs, you will absolutely love this.

My version, not glamorous looking at all but tastes pretty good.


This is how the cake is supposed to look like as it appeared in Ms Su Chan's  book, Cakes & Desserts :

Chocolatissimo from Cakes & Desserts by Su Chan. Doesn't it look pretty?

The recipe comes from Ms Su Chan's book Cakes & Desserts with my notes and observations in red.

Chocolatissimo


Ingredients :

For the base :
- 50g butter
- 250g chocolate, chopped
- 5 eggs, white and yolks separated
- 3/4 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1/4 teaspoon water
- 75g walnuts, broken into pieces (I omitted)
- 50g castor (superfine) sugar
- 10g white chocolate, melted and spread onto greaseproof paper with a spoon and chilled (This is for decoration which I omitted)
- 1 teaspoon snow powder (I have no idea what this is and I omitted)
- 100-150g chocolate, grated to decorate (I omitted)

For the Filling :
- 50g unsalted butter
- 350g chocolate, chopped (this is a lot and I wonder is it typo error? I followed anyway)
- 4 eggs, white and yolks separated (please use pasteurized eggs for your safety)
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1/4 teaspoon water
- 20g castor (superfine sugar)

Method :
For the base :
- Grease a 22.5cm (9") springform pan and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 150C
- Melt butter and chocolate in a mixing bowl (I melted these by placing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water)
- Add egg yolks, cocoa powder, coffee and combine (I let the chocolate cool a bit first before doing this)
- Fold in walnuts, if using, and set aside.
- Whisk egg whites and sugar until stiff.
- Fold egg white into chocolate mixture and pour into prepared pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

For the filling :
- Melt chocolate and butter in a mixing bowl (as above)
- Add egg yolks and coffee and combine (as above)
- Whisk egg white with sugar in another bowl until stiff.
- Fold egg white into chocolate mixture and pour over cooled base.
- Set aside overnight to allow cake to set in pan (I covered pan with cling film and refrigerated overnight)
- The next day, remove cake from the pan.
- Sprinkle grated chocolate over the top and decorate with white chocolate tags. Dust with snow powder (I skipped this step entirely)
- Slice cake into 10 slices and serve chilled.

This is what I noted from my experience with this cake :

1. I think I overbaked the cake. By the time I checked, 33 minutes had passed. The cake was done and was a bit hard. It would be wise to check at the 25 minute mark.


2. The cake shrank after coming out of the oven. Perhaps, I should have cooled it in the oven?

 

Just out of the oven.
After 30 minutes it shrank.

3. When making the filling, the pasteurised egg whites took forever to stiffen. At first I thought either the mixing bowl or beaters were not clean (oily or tainted with yolks). Then it occurred  to me that the pasteurization must have altered the molecular structure of the egg whites and I kept on going. I used higher speed to beat and I think it took 3 times as long compared to normal egg whites.


4. If I make this cake again, I would line the sides of the pan with baking paper to make it easier to release the cake. I ran a spatula around the cake before releasing the springform pan.


5. After I released the cake (refrigerated overnight), I found it hard to slice. Perhaps this is due to the high chocolate content. I've checked Chocolatissimo recipe on other sites and it calls for 10oz of chocolate which translates to roughly 280g of chocolate for the whole cake. This recipe here in total uses 600g of chocolate which made me think that there is perhaps a typo error in the book. Or perhaps Ms Su Chan intended it to be a very chocolaty experience. In my next attempt, I will reduce the chocolate used.


I like this cake very much especially the filling. There will be another attempt and hopefully the second one would turn out better looking.


Dense chocolaty goodness.








Friday, 28 September 2012

Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes




I have finally caught on to the Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcake craze (is it still on or is this so yesterday?). What motivated me to bake these little yummies was that I had leftover filling from my Tiramisu Cake and I did not want it to go to waste. I know that the filling is supposed to be inside the cake but somehow I couldn't get it to go in, it kept spilling out. Am I supposed to dig a hole in the cupcake first? So I decided to pipe the filling on top instead.


I came across the recipe on Quay Po Cooks and Nasi Lemak Lover and I decided to go with Quay Po's recipe because Sonia mentioned that her's yielded 9 cupcakes. In my house 9 cupcakes is not enough (yours truly can down 4 in one go) and to avoid a riot, I better make more.

The cupcakes turned out well and was well received. I did get comments that there was too much frosting which I agree. In my next attempt, I will use much less or omit the frosting altogether. The cupcake by itself is yummy enough.

The recipe below yielded me 16 cupcakes. By the way, I got the cupcake liners from Sonia's Kedai Runcit. And no, Sonia didn't pay me to advertise for her hah! hah! hah!

Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes (from Quay Po Cooks with my adaptations in red)

Cupcake Ingredients :
- 4 large egg yolks 
- 70g castor sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup full cream milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 135g all purpose flour (I uses self-raising)
- 1 tsp baking powder (I omitted)
- 6 large egg whites
- 50g castor sugar

Method :
- Preheat oven to 180C (I used 160C)
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture turns pale yellow
- Add vanilla extract followed by milk and oil
- Sieve in flour and baking powder and mix until all incorporated.
- In another bowl, beat egg whites until foamy and add sugar.
- Continue beating until firm but not stiff peaks (I beat until stiff peaks)
- Take a third of the egg whites and fold into egg yold mixture to lighten it
- Continue folding the remaing egg whites gently until you get a pale yellow batter (I mixed using my hand until there are no streaks)
- Fill cupcake liners to 3/4 full and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until top turns golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

For the full recipe with whipped cream filling, please visit Quay Po or Sonia.

Ingredients.

Just out of the oven and cooling.

Too much frosting but I like it.
















Monday, 24 September 2012

Flowers and Herbs From My Garden


My home computer died on me last weekend, hence my silence.
 
This post was inspired by Quay Po's flowers  and Wendy's garden.  It was supposed to be posted earlier but was delayed because I wanted to take a picture of the neighbourhood cat. That cat never showed up and my stake out is over. And that cat ain't got no respect for my garden and leaves smelly "stuff" on my lawn. I have a pet name for it too. Yes, I call it "Bloody Fool".

My garden is small and has been work-in-progress for the last 10 years.  I enjoy and allow my plants to grow as freely as they do in the wild.  A sort of controlled chaos, if I may.  Manicured gardens are simply too clinical for me. However, as nature intended, chaos will be chaos, and after a time, my garden started to resemble a secondary jungle.  It made for a good landmark though.  Relatives giving directions to my home will tell you to drive straight after the junction and zero in on the mini jungle. Now, when your house becomes synonymous with jungle, you had better do something about it.  I am more diligent these days and my relatives keep getting lost.  Here's a sampling of the flora in my garden.

I have a small collection of flowers commonly known as Japanese Rose.









This is my multi-petal pink hibiscus. 




This is the red variety.




Single petal.




The yellow multi petal hibiscus.

These herbs come in handy when I'm in the mood for kerabu.


Mint.

Daun Kesum.


Vietnamese Basil.


Local Basil (Kemangi)

Gardening is a very good hobby, relaxing and rewarding. It really keeps me happy!








Sunday, 16 September 2012

Chicken Salad with Kiwifruit


The power of advertising! Yesterday I read Sonia's post on the Zespri kiwifruit special session for bloggers and media. I quite enjoyed reading about the activities and had a good laugh at a photo of Quay Po attempting the pole (apologies Quay Po, I just couldn't help it :D).

Now, I am not much of a fruit person. I have to be coerced to eat some fruit. I admit that the only fruits that I actually buy and eat are pineapples and unripe mangoes which I use in  kerabu or rojak. I don't eat them as you normally eat fruits.

Somehow that kiwifruit post implanted something in my mind especially when I saw a photo of The Sweet Spot preparing the kiwifruit, glass noodle and chicken salad. It looked really delicious and I started craving for a salad with kiwifruit.


So when I went grocery shopping today, I saw the Zespri kiwifruits and promptly picked up a packet. I also bought my salad ingredients.

Chicken Salad with Kiwifruit

Ingredients :
- Steamed chicken, shredded
- Carrots, grated
- Cucumbers, sliced
- Cherry tomatoes, sliced
- Daikon, grated
- Kiwifruit, sliced
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Corriander

Dressing
- 1 clove garlic
- 6 white peppercorns
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soya sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Toasted sesame seeds to garnish

Method :
- pound garlic, peppercorns and salt
- add vinegars, soya sauce, honey, sesame and olive oil and mix to combine

Put chicken and vegetables in a bowl and toss with dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.






Saturday, 15 September 2012

Tiramisu Cake




Sail along silvery moon...nah..nah.nah..nah..nah..naaaaah.....(I do this when I can't remember the lyrics). Is anyone young enough to remember Slim Whitman? He was one of grandma's favorite country and western singers. Grandma used to refer to these songs as "Cowboy Songs". Slim Whitman's song played in my head as I stepped back to admire my Tiramisu Cake.


OK, its rather comical looking. And what on earth are those things encrusting the cake. Gravel? Sure looks like it but those are actually caramelized almonds. Yes, that's me trying to be sophisticated. But you can tell that the person who made this cake is a fly by night baker. Look, there's a big chunk of caramel on the upper left of the cake. Way too coarse, Madam. Should have crushed them a lot finer or I might as well call this "Gravel Cake".



What you won't be getting from me are beautiful looking cakes. I am here to showcase my ameteur attempts, warts and all, in the name of giving encouragement to my baking compatriots. Should you have a bad cake day, come look at my cakes, and you'll go "Oh, mine is not thaaaat baaaad....". This is some kind of community service I'm providing to depressed novice bakers.


This cake requires a certain degree of finesse, of which I have very little. What I had was ignorance, determination and a good dose blind faith. As you may already know, I have a plethora of cookbooks and this is one of the gems in my collection :



As I gawk at the pictures, one cake caught my eye.



It was the Tiramisu Cake. And I took it upon myself to attempt this lovely cake.

I am reproducing the recipe below by Ms Su Chan with my notes and observations in red.

Tiramisu Cake

Ingredients :

300ml whipping cream, whipped
2 tsp Strawberry sauce (I omitted)

Caramalised Almonds
- 200g castor sugar
- 50ml water
- 140g almonds, toasted

White Sponge
- 6 eggs, whites and yolks separated
- 120g castor (superfine) sugar
- 110g plain (all purpose) flour, sifted

Filling
- 300g cream cheese
- 100g castor (superfine) sugar
- 3 eggs yolks (please use pasteurized eggs for your safety)
- 1 tbsp Sherry (optional)(I used rum)
- 250ml double (heavy) cream, whipped
- 100g chocolate shavings (I omitted)

Coffee Syrup
- 1.5 tbsp instant coffee granules
- 1 tbsp castor (superfine) sugar
- 300ml hot water
- 1 tbsp Sherry (optional)(I used rum)

Method :

Caramalised Almonds
- Line and grease a flat tray and set aside.
- Boil sugar in water until caramalised.
- Add almonds and stir until evenly coated.
- Transfer almonds to prepared tray and set aside to cool.
- Crush almonds and store in an air-tight container until needed.

Note : It took quite some time for the sugar to caramelise. When it does, be sure to work quickly when coating the almonds because it hardens quite fast.

Sponge Cake
- Line a 22.5cm (9") round cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- Preheat oven to 150C

- Whisk egg whites and sugar in mixing bowl until stiff.
- Add egg yolks one by one until well combined.
- Fold in flour, the pour batter into prepared tin.
- Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.
- Remove and leave to cool.

Note : This is where is messed up. I was scared of adding the egg yolks into the stiff egg whites and was not confident of folding the flour in. Soo.....I mixed the egg yolks with flour and added milk until I got a smooth consistency and then folded it into the egg whites. Luckily for me, the sponge caked turned out alright.

Filling
- Beat cream cheese and sugar in a mixing bowl until light.
- Add egg yolks one by one.
- Add sherry and fold in whipped heavy cream.

Note :  I prepared this while the cake was cooling. Once done, I chilled it in the fridge for about 45 minutes before filling the cake.

Coffee Syrup
- Dissolve coffee granules and sugar in water.
- Cool, then add sherry and set aside.

To assemble the cake :
- Cut sponge into 2 layers.
- Place one layer into a 22.5cm (9") springform pan.
- Pour half the coffee syrup over sponge and allow to soak in.
- Then spread with half the filling. Top with chocolate shavings and then the remaining filling.
- Place second layer of cake on top and pour remaining coffee syrup over.
- Refrigerate overnight for cake to set.

Note : I messed up again. I placed the cake in a bigger tin and this resulted in the filling leaking out as the pan was not snug. I learnt my lesson :(

To serve :
- Remove cake from refrigerator and place on a round cake board.
- Cover cake with whipping cream.
- Then coat with caramelized almonds.
- Slice and serve chilled with strawberry sauce.

One of the challenges I faced was cutting the sponge cake into two. Not as easy as it looks on Youtube. By the way, I got my cake leveler from Sonia's Kedai Runcit and if you are interested in that gadget or any other baking stuff, go visit Sonia. 

Another challenge was coating the cake with the almonds. I was clumsy and inexperienced and ended up with caramelized almonds on the dining table, on the floor, underneath my feet and everywhere.

I must say that it was quite an effort to make this cake but all in all, it was worth it. It is a very tasty cake and it got very good reviews. My "gravel" topping was forgiven and this cake really made my day.

The sugar boiled for the longest time. A case of waiting, waiting but not getting.

At last the golden caramel.

Caramelized almonds.

The filling. It is absolutely yummeh!!!

Cut the cake in two using cake leveler.

A slice of yum.

The interior. 






Saturday, 8 September 2012

Recipe Books




Are you a recipe book junkie? Well, I am. Guilty as charged. I go to the bookstore and head straight to the cookbook section. Never mind that I already own close to 90 cookbooks and still counting. I breeze past the romance, fiction, non-fiction and even my old favorites -  murder, horror and the occult. Those were the days before I was domesticated. Now I don't have time for murder and mayhem, I'm so into baking (okay, so I murder a few cakes like this one).


A series of Kak Liza's cookbooks.
And have you ever flipped through a cookbook at the store and found only one recipe that you want? It is such a waste to buy the whole book just for that one recipe. So what do you do? My Aunt would memorize the recipe. That's right, upload all the data into her brain and quickly download with pen and paper when she gets home.

Once we went shopping. My Aunt found 2 recipes and she memorized one and I the other. By the time we got home after our heavy lunch, all the uploaded data was duly erased from our "hard disk".


Our friend and fellow blogger Shahriah has published a cookbook.
Lately, my Aunt's memory isn't so good (mine isn't improving either). One lazy Sunday afternoon my phone beeped. I got an sms from her. It went something like this :


5tc, 1m, 1fl, don't cover

A cryptic message from my Aunt. What could it be? Was she in trouble? Knowing my Aunt, I need not worry as she is quiet a feisty lady. The potential kidnapper or robber would be begging her to leave them alone. The next day she called and I asked her what her mysterious message was about. She burst out laughing and told me it was a recipe she keyed in to her phone.



She was keen on a recipe when her phone beeped at the bookstore. It was from the bank, you know one of those messages that you could do without. That gave her an idea to key in the recipe on pretense of replying to the sms. So with shifty eyes, my Aunt did an abbreviated take on the recipe and messaged it to me. The things we do to save money. Then I read a post by Lena where she mentioned snapping a photo of a recipe at the bookstore. I couldn't help smiling.


With such a vast collection of cookbooks, you probably think that I have cooked many wonderful dishes for my family. Actually, no. Most of the time, I flip through the books and admire the pictures. Like this one :

Beef Salad Nicoise from Reader's Digest Vegetables for Vitality.

Or this one :


Chicken Stew with Winter Squash & White Beans from Reader's Digest Vegetables for Vitality.

And I go "Hmmm....this dish looks nice. Maybe I'll cook this". Then I flip some more. And then I go and cook what I cooked last week. 

If you have been following me, you would notice that I hardly bake. Phong Hong Bakes indeed! What a misnomer. I recently purchased this :


If you are interested, you can get this from MPH Online.

I do the same thing. I flip and ogle at the photos. And look at this, isn't it a beauty?

Upside-Down Orange and Pomegranate Cheesecake from Favorite Cupcakes and cheesecakes.

Never mind what Kashta cheese is, I just love the photo. 


Kashta Cheesecake from Favorite Cupcakes and Cheesecakes.
I love Indian food. I am always in awe of the spice mix, the exciting flavors and aroma. So I bought this :


As I thumbed through the content, I was very excited as I now possess in my hands the formula to concoct my favorite mutton curry. But alas, Indian food is complex :


All those flavors that tantalize the palate do not come easy. The list of ingredients is long and the preparation arduous. And I do what I always do, I flip the pages some more and get my curry fix from the Indian restaurant the next day. 

And I even bought this :



I have only read 1/4 of the book and did not make much progress since. It was too technical for me. If I want any wine related information, I'll just conveniently hop over to Chef and Sommelier.

Being more familiar with Nyonya and Malay cooking, I wanted to get acquainted with my roots so to speak. Perhaps, I could learn a thing or two on Chinese cuisine from these :




From Chinese Cuisine by Huang Su-Huei
The Crispy Chicken recipe had me all geared up until I learnt that you had to hang the chicken in a well ventilated area for 8 hours. Plan cancelled.

I also bought this, for God's sake :


Very informative, I learned quite a bit on various cuisines from the many Chinese provinces.
Will I continue to buy more cookbooks? I've sworn not to so many times already, so you can be sure if a good recipe book catches my eye, I'll go for it.


I used to read this stuff.



























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