Friday, December 26, 2008

Chocolate Fudge Cookies



It seems like I've been baking a lot of chocolate goodies this past couple of weeks. Well, it has something to do with the 5-lb 75% Belgian dark chocolate that I need to use up. I think I still have about 2lbs after making all this chocolate goodies.

This cookie recipe struck me when somebody posted the recipe in my mailing list about a month ago. Since then, many people in the mailing list have been trying it and the response was really positive that it even tempted the non-chocolate-fan like me to try it. When I saw the picture of this cookies, it reminds me of the dark chocolate cookies with white choc. chips that I used to love when I was in college. It was sold in the school cafeteria that I worked at and I usually hide a couple before they're gone. These cookies were not available everyday and that's another reason why I treasured it so much.



I halved the recipe and slightly modified it. I cut down the sugar by quite a bit, since I'm really not a fan of those really sweet cookies. It is still a little too sweet for my taste. I will need to cut the sugar a little bit more next time
Here's the modified recipe:

Chocolate Fudge Cookies
modified from this recipe

100 g toasted nuts (I used slivered almonds)
60 g cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. espresso powder
450 g dark chocolate (I use 75% dark), finely chopped
60 g butter
250 g sugar
4 large eggs
150 g semisweet chocolate chips
150 g white chocolate chips
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside.
  • Melt the chocolate and butter in a stainless steel bowl on a double boiler. Remove and set aside.
  • In the bowl of electric or hand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until pale yellow and thick (ribbon stage).
  • Beat in the melted chocolate and butter and mix only until incorporated.
  • Fold in the toasted nuts and both chocolate chips.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the batter is firm enough to be scooped, about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F
  • Using ice cream scoop (I use the medium size), drop batter on parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing evenly.
  • Bake until the top is cracked and shiny. The time will depend on how big and how thick your batter is. Approximately 12-18 minutes. You might need to adjust the baking time.
  • Do not overbake or it will be dry instead of fudgy.
  • Transfer to wire rack to cool completely and keep in an airtight container.
This is also my entry for Holiday Cookie Baking and Giveaway event hosted by Sharmi.

[cookie+baking+eventlogo.jpg]

I have been wanting to participate more in this kind of event but time has always been my enemy. I hope in time to come, I can make more time to participate more. Thank you Sharmi for hosting :)
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Durian Chiffon Cake



This is actually my second attempt experimenting with durian chiffon cake recipe. Well, maybe the third but the first one was completely followed a recipe to the tee. For the last two attempts, I tried to make my own recipe from scratch. After making chiffon cakes for so many times, it's not hard to approximate how much each ingredient you need to make the texture you like.

The previous one failed on me about 3 or 4 months ago. I didn't bake the cake long enough, apparently the bottom wasn't cooked enough that it collapsed or fell when I turned it upside down. But I really liked the flavor and the texture. My brother (who didn't know that it was a failed cake) even asked me to bake another one. I've been dying to make another one ever since, but never had a good durian so far.


Well, I had some durian leftover from last week that I froze. This time, the durian is pretty flavorful and so I determined to make another durian chiffon cake! I rescaled the recipe I had for 8-in pan instead of 10-in, but decided to use the full amount of durian pulp in the batter because I thought it wasn't going to give enough durian flavor. This time, the chiffon loves me. It baked beautifully. The smell of durian immediately filled the whole house (I know some people would consider me crazy). The texture is so light and fluffy and moist and the durian flavor is intense too. I can't describe it until you try it yourself :P


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Black Velvet Chocolate Mousse Cake


It was one of my friends' birthday last weekend and I was asked to make the cake. I thought the birthday is this week, but when I found out that the birthday was actually last Sunday, I began to panic! It was Friday night already when I realized this. Luckily, I still had the whole Saturday (so I thought) and Sunday afternoon (the celebration was on Sunday night). But what do I know, Saturday turned out to be a very busy day for me. I didn't get home until midnight or so. I was super tired that I just fell asleep.

The birthday boy is a chocolate fan and the gf asked for something with chocolate cake of course. I decided to make this cake, which I had been wanting to experiment for some time. Yes, I want to experiment with chocolate occasionally, even though I rarely eat chocolate cake.
Remember the black raspberry I found at Trader Joe's that I fell in love with immediately about a month ago or so? When I smell and tasted the fruit for the first time, one of the things that came up in mind was to pair it with chocolate. And this is the perfect opportunity to make that happen, considering that I don't make a lot of chocolate cakes usually.



This cake has two layers of moist chocolate sponge, brushed with Chambord (black raspberry liqueur) syrup, brandied dark chocolate mousse and black raspberry jelly in between the thin layer of mousse for the bottom filling, and another thin layer of black raspberry jelly on top of the second layer of cake as well before adding the final layer of brandied chocolate mousse. Sprinkled with cocoa powder, put the chocolate fence around, tied with ribbon, and we're good to go. The jelly also has Chambord in it to enhance the flavor.

I was so happy when the birthday boy said that he liked it so much. He said that it wasn't like any other chocolate cakes, which usually heavy and you know how sometimes chocolate cake can be so rich that you can only have a little of it. But this one is really light that you can finish a big slice. Also, it has than fruit layer in the middle to cut the richness of the chocolate that can be overwhelming. I personally really like this combination. For next time, I will need to put more gelatin in the jelly as it was softer than what I would have liked, and maybe make it a little thicker layer so that the flavor won't get lost in the middle of the chocolate. But, for a first try, definitely satisfying! Can't wait to try another flavor combination with this black raspberry wonder :)


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Christmas Goodies





Made this about a week ago for a friend's request. He called on Wednesday night asking me to make cat's tongue and kaastengel to give to his relatives for Christmas on Friday morning. That means, I only had one full day to make the cookies, hunting for containers, ribbon, etc. Luckily, I had all the ingredients available, so I could save a trip to the grocery store.

Nothing much to say about these cookies as I had posted it a couple of times before. One thing I learn or notice though, when I made the kaastengel, the dough was a lot stiffer than usual. Most likely because the weather was really cold (made it early in the morning on Thurs. and Fri.) and the butter just wouldn't soften as much as it would when it is warm. I had to reduce the amount of flour, which worried me for a bit. But it turned out to be ok. The cookies were still great and crunchy. I hope they like them as much as I do :)


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Friday, December 19, 2008

Death by Chocolate Cake



It's very rare that I would make something with chocolate, especially if it contains all chocolate all the way, like this cake. Then why would I make this cake?

Well, the reason is because I have quite a lot of Belgian dark chocolate that I've had for a while. Not being a chocolate fan, I can tell you that 10lbs of 72% Belgian dark chocolate can last for a VERY long time. Oddly, most of my friends don't like chocolate. I mean they don't hate it or anything, they will eat it if it's the only flavor available, it's just not the flavor they would pick if they have to choose between chocolate cake or fruit-flavored cake.

And then I found out that two of my coworkers are true chocolate addicts. You know, the kind who won't eat chocolate if it's less than 70% dark. Well I think this is perfect and so I promised them a death by chocolate cake will be coming soon. Week after week went by so fast before I know it. There's always something came up whenever I wanted to make the cake. After three week delay, I finally made it.



The cake has two layers of soft and moist chocolate sponge cake, brushed with cocoa syrup, layered with dark chocolate ganache and dark chocolate mousse, encased with chocolate sheet and dusted with a little cocoa powder. I guess chocolate lovers would like chocolate cake with fudgy and creamy ganache, and covered with ganache too, but I always try not to have the same kind of filling for a two-layer cake. I want to have the texture combination and flavor too. It's very unusual that I don't put some sort of liqueur in this cake. Well, not that I forgot or anything. One of the guy specifically told me that he doesn't like rum in his chocolate cake. He likes to keep his booze and his cake separate :). So, here it is, a Death by Chocolate Cake.



And I am so glad that everybody liked it. I tasted a small spoonful of it and it wasn't as bitter as I thought it would be and to be honest, I quite like it. A small piece of course, one step at a time :). I still have about 2-3lbs of chocolate left and I have so many ideas how to make use of it. I'll just have to find the perfect "victim" ;).
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Hong Kong Style Cake



Been wanting to try this recipe for a while. The technique and the ingredients are very similar to cotton cake. Instead of butter, it uses oil and unlike the cotton cake where you have to warm the milk and butter mixture, here, you combine all of them together with the yolks and everything in room temperature. It doesn't require waterbath either, which I think would make it better.

I baked it in individual muffin tin so that it is easier to eat. Made it into a couple of different flavors, which are plain vanilla, mocha, chocolate chips, pandan, and cheese. They rose so beautifully in the oven, and as other cotton cakes or sponge type cakes with lots of eggs and so little flour, it deflated after taken out from the oven.



The texture of this cake is super light. I was surprised myself when I was about to eat it. It was like I'm not holding anything, and yes it is that light.

Hong Kong Style Cake

A. 50 g milk
50 g oil
105 g egg yolks
100 g cake flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

B. 175 g egg whites
1/24 tsp. cream of tartar
80 g sugar
  • Mix all the A ingredients in a large bowl and whisk well. Set aside
  • Beat the egg white until frothy and add the cream of tartar. Keep whisking until the bubbles appear smaller and white.
  • Add the sugar a little at a time while keep whisking until it forms soft peak
  • Fold the egg whites mixture into the yolk mixture.
  • Bake at 350 F until done (depending on the size of the pan you use)


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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Strawberry and Pistachio Mousse Cake



It was two of my dear coworker friends' birthday last weekend, on the 6th and 7th. As a good friend :), of course I want to make them a birthday cake. And what is a better opportunity to experiment than this one? I really wanted to make something new, and I was struck by this cake from Lynn. She makes absolutely gorgeous cakes and desserts. Everything she make is a perfection. There are a couple of reason why I chose this cake. First, I've always wanted to combine strawberry and pistachio together since last year, but never had the urgency to make it :). Second, I have a container of pure pistachio paste that I bought online for a while now. Third, I still have my pink macaron I made about a week ago in the freezer to decorate with.

It was a very hectic weekend I had, and everything I had planned didn't go the way I expected. I only had 2 hours at home on Sunday (other than the hours for sleep), so I made the rest of the cake on Monday night after work. I had quite a few obstacles when making this cake. First, I couldn't find stawberries at Costco. Every other time I go there, there are always plenty of strawberries, so I had to make do with grocery store strawberries, which are more expensive, and don't look fresh at all. They're all white in the middle, and completely tasteless and soft!!! I was really disappointed when I ate one to see how much sugar I would need.





Long story short, I brought it to work yesterday and to my surprise, everybody REALLY liked it. 90% of them had second (the other need to go back to work), and the slice they cut is pretty big slice (I would say about 2-2.5 regular size). I was really pleased with their reaction and believe it or not, I ate one whole slice too (just a little smaller than their slice :) ), and I liked it.

I was pretty skeptical at first with the amount of gelatin I decided to use. It seems like a lot and I don't like those rubbery mousse they usually sell at the bakery because they put too much gelatin. Of course gelatin is good to make the mousse hold its shape, but sometimes they just went overboard with it :). But in the end, I was really glad that the mousse hold its shape and yet you still get that mousse texture. And the strawberry flavor is definitely there, although it would be a lot better if I had used tasty and flavorful strawberries you would get in the farmers market in summer (hmm....can wait for summer to come). But there was enough strawberry flavor in the mousse. Maybe it's because I used considerably plenty of puree for the mousse (about 600ml or so).



So, the cake consists of a layer of joconde that I flavored with pure pistachio paste, moisten with Grand Marnier. Then there's a layer of strawberry mousse, a layer of pistachio bavarois, and the whole thing is then encased with the rest of the mousse. Put a clear glaze on top, fresh strawberries and macaron for the decoration, and it's done. The clear glaze is not that clear though. I made it myself and I put lemon and orange juice as well as the zest, also mint and vanilla bean. It tastes great, but it won't be very clear. I will try to make the plain one next time. I love this glaze because it won't turn to gel when it cooled down. It's just like glaze. The only thing I would do different next time (other than using good strawberries of course), I should use less pistachio cream. Yesterday when it was cut, I notice that the pistachio layer is a little thicker than what I would have liked. But other than that, everything was excellent.



Of course mine is still far from what Lynn made. I could only dream to make cakes like her, but I think it's pretty good :). I wish I have the picture of the cut portion, but I didn't. If you want to see what it looks like inside, you can see lynn's perfect layer here, it's pretty close.


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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mini Blueberry Swiss Roll



I've been wanting to make this Indonesian-type of swiss roll with blueberry filling, after a friend of mine gave me one, imported from Indonesia a couple of months ago. Yes, I liked it that much that I wanted to replicate it. The only thing that held me back was the fragrant blueberry filling they use. I couldn't find it here, so I brought some from Indonesia when I was visiting two months ago, and it has become one of my favorite ingredients :).



I'm usually all for light and spongy cake, but Indonesian swiss roll is anything but light. It's made with sponge-cake method, but uses a lot more egg yolks compared to the amount of egg whites, relatively very little flour and a good amount of melted butter. The egg yolks make the texture dense, but very soft just like most of other Indonesian delicacy and the butter makes it really moist. If sponge cake usually is just used for a base, concentrating more on the flavor of the filling, for Indonesian-type of cakes such as this swiss roll, "Lapis Surabaya", thousands of layers cake (a.k.a lapis legit), the cake itself is the highlight. People want to taste the strong butter flavor, and the softness of the texture. That is why this kind of cake usually doesn't have a lot variation on the filling. The traditional filling would be a very thin layer of jam, or a thin layer of buttercream and sometimes a thin layer of ganache.

For cheese filling swiss roll, I prefer the lighter version of the cake. It's not as light as those you would get in a Chinese bakery, but definitely lighter than this one. It's more like Indonesian sponge cake, very soft but a little lighter. The buttercream and cheese filling would be way too heavy for this dense yet soft cake.



So, here is the mini version, made in a 10x10 in square pan. I was really satisfied with the result. It has anything that Indonesian swiss roll is supposed to be. Not to mention the very fragrant blueberry filling inside, yumm....
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French Macaron



Not to be confused with macaroon, macaron is a French-type of pastry made with egg whites, almond powder, powdered sugar and granulated sugar. It is then sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream, or cream-like filling in between. While macaroon is a type of cookie made with shredded coconut.

There are two ways to made this macaron, the italian meringue method, which involved cooked sugar or the regular meringue method, the simpler one. According to what I read, macarons made using italian meringue method, will yield a more stable batter and different texture. Either way, the texture of a macaron is supposed to be crispy on the outside, a little chewy on the inside.


The way you can tell that your macaron is a success is by the "feet" it formed while it's baked. When it's baking, you batter will rise slightly and formed what we called "feet" around the bottom of the batter. I made an attempt to macaron once last year. After a week or two of research, I settled on one recipe that seems reliable from a French blog I read. But it failed successfully. It was just like a round meringue with a taste of almond (which is wonderful), although they are SUPER sweet. I was traumatized since then and afraid to make another attempt, especially since almond powder is really expensive. I thought I would rather make joconde for opera cake or other cakes than wasting it on another macaron experiment :).



After looking at yossi's successful macaron, I felt the urge of making another try. Besides, I have a bag of fine almond powder I bought online specially for macaron, that has been sitting in my pantry for a while now. So I gather all my strength and hope and tadaaaa.......It has feet!!!! I was so excited and couldn't stop smiling when I checked the oven window after about 8 minutes of baking time. It's not as pretty as others', but hey, it's a start.

I've been wanting to make lots of colorful macarons filled with different things, just like what you would have seen in French patisserie window. It looks like a little jewel packed in a pretty box. I was a little skeptical when I about to try it, because I know it would be REALLY sweet that it would hurt my teeth. But I was pleasantly surprised that it actually wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be. It is still really sweet but not as sweet as the first one I made last year. It would be perfect if it's filled with bittersweet ganache or some sort of cream cheese filling to cut down the sweetness a little. The almond provides a really nice taste and texture to it. I wasn't planning on sandwiching this macaron as I was too lazy to make special filling just for a few macaron, so I froze it of course! Been wanting to make decoration on a cake using this little beauty. I just wish that the color is stronger. I'll try to fill them with ganache or something if I have leftover filling and I'll update you on that :)



There are a couple of them that were broken. I think part of it, it's because it was baked on a lower rack and therefore it has less heat distribution. Another reason is because I was so impatient that I try to remove them carelessly :(. But that's a reason so that I can munch of them whenever the sweet craving starts to hit (which is often) ;)
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tiered Fondant Birthday Cake



This cake was for a friend's birthday last Saturday, requested by the wife. She tasted the wedding cake I made a couple of months back and she loved it. So, she asked if i could make the same thing for her husband's 35th surprise birthday party.

It's been a while I haven't worked with fondant. The word "fondant" makes me itchy, nervous, etc. I seem to be intimidated by it. Personally, I really don't like the taste of fondant. It's one of those love it or hate it thing. But I agree that it makes an elegant look, compared to what buttercream can offer. The slogan "the more the better" doesn't really apply for fondant. The more stuff or decoration you put on it, the less elegant it is. It's simplicity at its best.

From my previous fondant cake experience, I've never been satisfied with them. I could never create a smooth and flawless finish. There are always cracks, unevenness, you name it. So, when she asked for fondant, my head was immediately spinning. She wasn't particular with the design though, she left it up to me. All she knows for sure that it has to be the same cake as the wedding cake I made :O, but two-tiered instead of four :).


I came up with lots of design on my head. I was going to do a musical-themed cake, because the husband is awesome with music. But as the day is closer, it's very hard to find the time to make every little detail. I won't have time to pipe little musical notes with royal icing, let it dry overnight, and all the works. So, I changed gear and decided to make something simpler. This design came up in the morning of the birthday :P.

It took me a couple of days to make this cake. I woke up early in the morning and do a little before going to work and the same thing after work. I think it took about four days from start to finish. I really wish that I can come up with better design, as I think this might be too simple. But this is all I can do with the time crunch I had. I think it would be better if the bottom tier has chocolate-colored fondant base instead of ivory. At least it would not be too boring.


The surprising thing when I was making this cake is that they're smooth!!! I can't even believe what I did. It felt easy and not as intimidating as it was, when I covered the cakes with fondant. There are a couple of "nail" mark though, but it wasn't a major thing (I have long nails and yes I know it's bad when you're working with fondant). But it made me smile after everything was done.



By the way, there was supposed a "Happy Birthday" ribbon I made from fondant and melted chocolate. I let it dry on the counter so that I can put it on the top tier, but I forgot!!! I was such in a hurry at that time and I was trying to put everything in my car. I assembled the cake in my friends house so that at least somebody can hold it on the way to the place. I don't want the cake to collapse if I assembled it from home. I felt sooo bad that I forgot to bring the happy birthday sign. But the wife is really kind and not make a big deal out of it.

I hope she and everybody else like the cake. It's terrifying for me when I have to see other people eating my cake in front of me. I always scared and nervous everytime. I would prefer going to the back of the room and just face the wall, but of course people would think I'm crazy.
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Cheese Swiss Roll (Indonesian Version)


It's been a while I haven't made this cake. I used to make this all the time, but got tired of it for a while :). Besides, there are so many cakes I want to experiment with, so this cake was forgotten for some time :).

Made this cake today for a dear friend. Hope he'll enjoy it as much as he did. Indonesian swiss roll is heavier than what we normally call swiss roll here. It's still sponge-based, but uses a lot more egg yolks, compared to the egg whites, and it also uses a little amount of flour compared to the rest of the ingredients. It makes a dense, yet a very soft and moist cake (due to the amount of yolks and butter), combined with simple buttercream and shredded cheese (not any kind of cheese though), it's a pleasure on its own :). Red maraschino cherry and buttercream swirl are the staple decoration for this kind of cake.


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Cat's Tongue



It's only I think less than a month ago that I made this cookie, but it was gone so fast. My niece especially, loved it so much that she can munch on it the whole day if nobody's looking :).

I don't have any particular plan today, except doing some errands at home. So, I thought I'll make this since the family has been requesting it for a while now. Not much different from the last time, except that I substituted some amount of flour with powdered milk. This is one of the ingredients that are "must have" in my pantry. I just love this thing so much. I also added more vanilla powder to the batter.



The only thing that makes me raise my eyebrow is the cookies have a little salty taste. And yes, I used imported salted butter (the kind that comes in a can with a strong and wonderful butter smell). Maybe it's because I use different composition and brand from the last time. It doesn't hurt the taste though, it's just something I noticed.
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pandan Chiffon Cakes Parade

There's a time when I don't make chiffon cakes at all for the whole month or two (not sure about two), but there's a time when I make them really often in a week. This week is the later kind of week. I have to make 7 pandan chiffon cakes this week, plus 3 chiffon cakes last Sunday. One of them is for a friend of my friend's mom. The other six are for Church's snack this morning.

It was pretty time consuming as I only have 2 regular size pans. I made two cakes in one batch and each batch has to cooled down completely before I can take the cake out of the pan. It can take 3-4 hours each time. So, do the math. Then today, I found out that my friend has another pan and also my other friend. Grrrrrrrrrr..............I wish I knew that sooner so that I didn't waste a lot of time waiting for the cake to cooled down.



Not much to say about this as I make this so often. I hope that everybody who enjoyed it really liked it.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cream Puffs





Made this cream puffs last night and filled it this morning for a friend's order to be served for a prayer meeting. It's only about 21 pieces I guess, not that many. I think I baked a little too high in temperature. The color is more brown that what I expected. But other than that, I hope they're all like it The filling is custard that has been flavored with rum.


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