... tackling one recipe at a time

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Boy Meets Girl Cake

I saw this engagement cake posted by Hello Naomi and I fell in love with it. It is too cute! I love love love the floating balloon on the cake, simple yet very pretty. I wanted to make something similar, but with fondant-covered tiered cakes instead of cupcakes. Hello Naomi's inspiration was a picture from BoldLoft "Boy Meets Girl" collection, so I went to their website and started looking for ideas. They had a lot of very cute illustrations on their website, but some of them were very complicated or not suitable for tiered cakes. I started doodling and came up with an idea which included Hello Naomi's floating balloon decoration. Since the main purpose of this was for me to practice my cake decoration techniques, I used cake mix and canned frosting for the base. Personally, I really like the cake, despite the uneven bottom tier and rather sloppy fondant covering. Not bad though for a first trial :D

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bake-oholic: Profiteroles & Gorilla Bread

I have an exam tomorrow, but having said that, I was not in the mood to study at all. My brain's already pretty rusty and I couldn't memorize anything. I was pretty stressed out, so as usual, I baked :p This weekend, profiteroles and gorilla bread were on my baking list. Profiteroles are basically mini cream puffs filled with either ice cream or pastry cream. Gorilla bread is the bigger version of monkey bread; store-bought biscuits filled with cream cheese, topped with nuts and cinnamon sugar. You can find the recipe for cream puff in my post "My Favorite Dough: Pate a choux" and here for gorilla bread recipe.

..... Alright, can't think of anything more to say, my brain is full of technical terms and diagrams -_______-" So, just enjoy the pictures of the profiteroles and gorilla bread below :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mid-Autumn Festival: Mooncake

Yesterday was the mid-autumn festival or 中秋节. Usually, we celebrate this festival by eating mooncake, lots of it. Too bad I'm currently living in a small Midwest town where it is very difficult to find good quality mooncake :( I was craving for it sooo bad and my mom only made it worse by telling me that she has plenty of mooncakes at home. Then I thought, "Hey, just make your own!" So, I looked for recipes online and found a pretty promising one. It looked fairly simple. For the skin, you only need:

110 g golden syrup
1/2 tsp soda water (combine 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1 tsp water, then use 1/2 tsp of the mixture)
40 g vegetable oil
160 g all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt

That's it. Just mix all the ingredients together and wait for 4 hours or more for the dough to relax. Very simple right? Next, the filling. Ughh, it was so complicated. You have to cook the lotus seeds, mash them, stir fry them until dry. Gosh... I needed a shortcut. I went to the Asian grocery store here and looked for premade lotus seed paste (莲蓉), which is my favorite mooncake filling, but I couldn't find it. They only had red bean paste. Okay, that would have to do for now. So I bought red bean paste and salted eggs, portioned the paste into 110 g balls (for big mooncake), and inserted one salted egg yolk (remove and reserve the whites) into each paste balls. After the dough has sit for a couple of hours, I portioned them into 60 g balls (it was supposed to be 40 g dough balls, but I wasn't that good in wrapping stuff so I ended up needing more than 40 g) and wrap it around the paste-yolk balls. I used my silicon rose mold to form the mooncakes, sprinkled a little bit of water on each of the cakes, baked them at 350 F for 5 minutes, took them out of the oven, turned the oven temperature down to 300 F, brushed the cakes with egg wash, baked them again for about 12 minutes, and lastly put them under the broiler for a couple of minutes until they became golden brown. Sounds easy, but actually it was difficult to wrap the paste balls with the dough. I got cracks here and there, but whatever :p Anw, if you can't find mooncake in your town like me or you just want to try making your own, just follow the recipe above, I think it should be pretty straightforward :D

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Campfire without the Fire: S'mores Cupcakes

I had (still have) plenty of egg whites left after making "lapis legit", which is a traditional Indonesian cake. It required 30 egg yolks and 500 g of butter to make one 8x8 square cake. Yeap, an instant heart attack in disguise, so don't be fooled by its innocent appearance :p

I could have made macarons with the leftover egg whites, but I was kind of bored of them. Unbelievable, right? Lol.. Anw, I was googling for how to use leftover egg whites when I stumbled upon this marshmallow frosting recipe from Martha Stewart. Hmm... the recipe asked for 8 egg whites, okay, that was at least almost 1/3 of the egg whites I had. Oh well, better than none. It said on the page that it was meant for Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow, i.e. S'mores cupcakes. Never made that before, so I was pretty excited about making them. Looking through the ingredient list, I realized I didn't have any cocoa powder on hand and mannnn it was such a long list! I wasn't in the mood for baking something with that many ingredients. So as usual, I modified the recipe (below, yield 24 cupcakes) :p

Graham Cracker Crust

~15 graham crackers, broken down into crumbs (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 Tbsp butter, melted

1. Mix the crumbs and melted butter together.
2. Press onto the bottom of lined muffin pan.

Chocolate Cake
*You can follow Martha's recipe or just get a box and mix according to manufacturer's direction like I did. Pour batter on top of the graham cracker crust and bake for 20 mins at 350 F. Let cool.

Marshmallow Frosting
*Use Martha's recipe.

Chocolate Ganache

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
8 oz heavy cream

1. Heat heavy cream in a microwave for ~1 min or until it boils (be careful, it can boil over very fast).
2. Pour the boiling heavy cream on top of the chocolate and let sit for 1 min.
3. Stir the mixture until smooth and let cool.

1. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the ganache and pipe the rest into the cooled cupcakes with a large star tip. Don't overfill, the cupcakes will break.
2. Pipe a mount of marshmallow frosting with a large plain tip on the filled cupcakes.
3. Using a blow torch, burn the marshmallow frosting to get the toasted look.
4. Melt the reserved ganache until completely melted and drizzle on top of the toasted frosting.
5. Top the cupcakes with a piece of chocolate bar (I used Hershey's and Ghirardelli), a piece of graham cracker, and a large M&Ms (I used M&Ms pretzel).

What about the taste you say? Well, if you ask me, you can never go wrong with fluffy toasted marshmallow frosting, dense chocolate cake, creamy ganache filling, and an extra crunch from the graham cracker crust and topping. It's good enough to eat :p If you want that campfire taste without having to built a fire, just try this recipe and have fun with it :)

Sweet and Savory: Bacon Chocolate Cinnamon Cake

Last weekend was my friend's birthday party and I wanted to bake something different for him because I was bored with the usual cake flavors. I was thinking about possible flavor combination when an idea hit me. Bacon chocolate cake! I had this amazing bacon chocolate chip pancake cupcake from Phoebe's cupcakes in Chicago and it was one of the best cupcakes I have ever sunk my teeth into. The cake was moist, the sweetness of the frosting was just right, and the bacon made the perfect smokey savory topping. Seriously, it was sooooo good! I had to find a way to replicate that cupcake into a bigger cake. I looked for recipes in my baking books and I decided to use the genoise and cream cheese frosting recipes from Sherry Yard's "The Secret of Baking" with slight modifications. I added cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup to the genoise batter and cream cheese frosting to make them more breakfasty. Then, I made the best part of the cake, bacon dipped in chocolate! I crumbled the chocolate-dipped bacon for the filling and topping, glazed the cake with chocolate ganache, and decorated the cake with a few whole pieces of the bacon, done! Mmmm.... it tasted very similar with the cupcake, but it was a little bit drier probably because I put the cake in the fridge. It was still very delicious though. Some of my friends were skeptical about it, but most of them liked the cake after they tried it :D For those of you out there who are not convinced, just try the cupcake or make this cake then you can decide whether you like it or not. Be careful though, you can get addicted ^^

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ichigo Matcha Millefeuille

Lately, I feel like I lose interest in everything except for baking. Don't know why. Just need to take a deep breath and move on I guess. Anw, I needed to relax my mind and, to me, nothing works better than making puff pastry from scratch. You have to be patient when you make puff pastry, fold, roll, refrigerate, again, again, and again. I baked the puff pastry until golden brown and woww.. it worked! I could see the flaky layers! Mmm... I could smell the butter too :) To make the millefeuille, I filled the baked puff pastry with sliced strawberries, vanilla and green tea pastry cream. I put the stack into the freezer for at least 15 mins and sliced it with a serrated knife. The flaky and salty puff pastry complemented the sweet and creamy pastry cream very well. The strawberries added freshness and helped cut the richness of the cream and pastry. It was a great combination :) Fhewww, I was definitely a little bit less depressed after eating a slice of that, lol. Probably I need to make it more often so that I can be happier :D For all of you out there who are feeling a little bit down, just a eat a slice of millefeuille or any pastry you love, you'll most likely feel much better afterwards ^^
 I also made some chocolate peanut butter macarons last weekend. Since I'm not in the mood to write, I'll just post their pics here as well :p

Monday, September 6, 2010

Obsession: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

I am OBSESSED with chocolate and peanut butter. To me, it is the most perfect flavor combination ever created. That is why I can never resist chocolate peanut butter anything if I see it on the menu. Last week or 2 weeks ago I went to a pasta place on campus and they had Cheesecake Factory's chocolate peanut butter cheesecake! OMG, I was sooo gonna get it, but... no one wanted to share a slice with me and it was huge, there was no way I could finish it without gaining 2 lbs of fat, lol. Ughhh, I wanted it sooo bad :(

This weekend, I was still craving for that sinfully looking cheesecake. So, I looked up my favorite cheesecake recipe and added a bunch of chocolate and peanut butter, voila! Homemade chocolate pb cheesecake! Maybe it wasn't as good as Cheesecake Factory's, but it was sufficient to satisfy my craving :p Creamy, chocolatey, peanut buttery, and decadently rich... A little bit too rich actually :p I could feel my arteries clogging up, lol. Anw, pics are below as usual..
Basic baked cheesecake recipe can be found on my post "To bake or not to bake: Cheesecake dilemma". Just make the crust with Oreo cookies instead of graham cracker, fold Reese's pieces into the cheesecake batter, pour half of the batter into a 9" springform pan, top with a layer of smooth (or crunchy) peanut butter, pour the rest of the batter into the pan, and bake as directed. After the cheesecake is refrigerated overnight, make some chocolate ganache and peanut butter ganache, spread them on top of the cheesecake (or make decorative patterns with them like I did), and decorate the top with some Oreo halves and Reese's pieces. Lastly, grab a fork and enjoy ^_^

P.S. Check out my cake pop entry on www.cutestfood.com :)