Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Peppermint and Chocolate Bundt Cake

Recently I'm on a bundt cake craze. Don't know exactly what prompted that but I suppose it's because I love how English it feels to just eat a cake with no frostings or icing or anything. Cake can be very pretty on it's own don't you think? Perhaps it's the coming of age that's talking but I find myself not wanting very much nowadays. Just a slice of something simple and plain and even if I do feel complicated or my mind is in a whirlpool, I swirl to express how I feel.

This is something I baked recently and I can't begin to tell you how addictive it is to both bake and eat. It's so easy to make that I made it twice, once for my doctor and the other time for my mom, who proudly brought it to work and relatives. Feedback was very minty and moist. The mint and chocolate combination may sound somewhat kiddy but hey, people can get complicated childhood sometimes. Or in my case, develop complicated taste since young.

Mint and Chocolate Bundt Cake

1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup dutch cocoa
240g unsalted butter, soften
3/4 cup Caster sugar
4 eggs
splosh of vanilla
3 1/2 cup cake flour (I had no problems using all-purpose but did sift twice)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
3/4 tsp peppermint extract (depending on brand, some can go really strong/mild)
1/2 tsp green food coloring

Start by greasing a cake tin well and preheating the oven to 175 degree Celsius. First combine the 1/2 cup sugar and cocoa powder and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together till fluffy before beating in the eggs one at a time. Splosh in the vanilla and make very sure that everything is well combined.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and fold into the batter in batches, alternating with the milk. Divide batter into 2 portion, adding the cocoa and sugar mix into one halve, and then the peppermint extract and green food coloring in the other halve. Pour both batter into the prepared tin and swirl around with a skewer, and then knock the tin on a surface to ensure everything is smooth and even. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave cake to cool for 5 minutes in tin before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

I hate to say this out myself but my trick for the pretty swirls? Layer like hell and it's relaxing and fun anyway. Also cake taste superbly tender and moist especially the next day. Happy baking!

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Irish Cream Chocolate Trifle

There are times when one can feel really uncertain about things in life. No matter how much you try, or how much effort you put into something, it's very frustrating to know that there isn't a definite answer or at least, nothing to give you some kind of temporary assurance. When bombs like this explodes, I hide in my kitchen.

I probably mentioned this before somewhere but the kitchen is truly where healing really begins. I guess it's because not only it's banged with food that gives one the feeling of security and abundance(think disasters and shelters) but also your mind tend to take a break from all the nervous breakdown and just concentrate on whatever your hand is working on. Be it stirring a pot, kneading a dough or folding a batter, suddenly the brain just KIV whatever that has been on the mind. You are not aware that you are not thinking bout your problems, and the best thing is you are not even wary that you are beginning to feel better.

No matter how hard life has been on you, no matter how insecure or unsure you are bout things, you can definitely be sure that mixing some yolks and sugar and chocolate will definitely give you custard. This is not just any boring old fashioned plain O' custard, but something thick and luscious and so intensely chocolaty, that you can pour over some Irish cream soaked chocolate sponges and fruits. Top with some freshly whipped cream and leave it to chill completely, and pass off as a trifle. Or even better, birthday trifle.

So it's a Friday night alone in my comforting kitchen, happily cooking away with wine in hand and alcohol soaked desserts and a birthday party to look forward to tomorrow. The heck with calories and fats. I got a birthday boy to celebrate and a soul in need of some top class comfort.

Note: There isn't a solid recipe because this is something I always whip up whenever I am asked to bring pudding to a party. Anyway just use whatever feels right and do whatever you feel like. Its your own bloody kitchen, no one's gonna say no.

My Irish Cream Chocolate Trifle

1 loaf of chocolate cake (store bought cake is fine, Victoria, pound or sponge. Whatever that's your liking although I prefer to make my own chocolate Victoria sponge)

3/4 cup Good strong coffee, warm

3/4 cup of Baileys Irish Cream

2 tbsp vanilla extract (Again, I made my own by soaking some vanilla pods in vodka but feel free to use store bought)

Chocolate Custard from Nigella's Chocolate Cherry Trifle recipe. I pretty much follow everything there except that I added in a pinch of salt and steeped the cream and milk with the vanilla for about 20 minutes before heating it up. Once custard is made leave to cool completely before assembling.

Fruits of your choice (In this case it's strawberries and blueberries)

600ml Heavy Cream

Dark chocolate, to shave on top

Firstly mix the coffee, baileys and vanilla together in a bowl and slice up the loaf cake. Arrange the slices onto your serving dish/container, making sure that there is no gaps in between. Pour the coffee and Baileys mixture over, making sure that every slice of cake has drink up the liquid. Squish and squash if you must to make sure there is no holes and gaps in between, but do not press down the cake layer.

Next cut up the fruits and spread over the cake layer. I usually cut them up into chunks and sometimes even soak the fruits (especially berries) in some pomegranate juice to spruce up a little, although this step is entirely optional.

Then, make sure the custard is completely cooled to room temperature before pouring over the fruits and cake layer. Should there be fruits peeking out at the side, leave it as I think it's aesthetically enticing. But if the OCD in you can't handle that then fine you may tuck in the fruit to create the parallel layering effect. Shake the dish/container a little to make sure that the custard runs into all gaps and smooths out, then cover the dish/container with a clingwrap and leave to set in the fridge, preferably overnight or at least 4 hours.

Just before serving, whip up the cream and top over the custard layer. You may use a spoon to create some swirl if you like, or shave a bit of dark chocolate on top or even just cocoa powder. It's entirely up to you.

And there, have fun licking the bowl on the kitchen floor :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nutella Mousse Cake

I'm well aware that Nutella day is over, but then people just never get sick of eating it. My god EVERYTHING IS SO GOOD WITH NUTELLA! I'll be honest, whenever I can't think of something to fill up a plain vanilla sponge or what to frost a cupcake or macaron with, I think of Nutella.

Above was a trial run for a bestie's 21st birthday cake. The birthday boy HATES cake but is a huge fan of Nutella. So, a Nutella mousse cake is only appropriate right?

I've engaged guinea pigs from all walks of life and none of them were able to give a proper comment or what to improve on. A common observation was that most of them upon consuming the first mouth either went into a delicious food coma or is unable to talk for a while until they finish up everything and start blabbering words that does not sound English to me. So please, do me a favor and tell me what has to be corrected? :)

Chocolate Glazed Hazelnut Mousse Cake from Grouprecipes.com

For Shortbread Base:
2 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

For Mousse:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope)
3 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread such as nutella (5 oz)
1/2 cup mascarpone (1/4 lb)
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar

For Ganache:
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
3 1/2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped

Make Shortbread Base:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Invert bottom of springform pan (to make it easier to slide shortbread base off bottom), then lock on side of pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper.
Pulse hazelnuts with sugar in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped. Add flour, butter, cocoa, and salt and pulse just until a dough forms.
Press dough evenly onto bottom of springform pan with your fingers. Prick all over with a fork, then bake until just dry to the touch,
about 18 to 20 minutes.
Transfer base in pan to a rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
Remove side of pan and carefully slide out parchment from under shortbread, then reattach side of pan around shortbread base.

Make Hazelnut Mousse while shortbread cools:
Sprinkle gelatin over water in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.
Heat gelatin mixture over low heat, stirring, just until gelatin is melted, about 2 minutes.
Whisk in chocolate hazelnut spread until combined and remove from heat.
Whisk together mascarpone and chocolate hazelnut mixture in a large bowl.
Beat together cream, cocoa powder, and sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer at low speed until just combined, then increase speed to
high and beat until cream just holds soft peaks.
Whisk one third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whipped cream until well combined.
Spoon filling onto shortbread base in pan, gently smoothing top, then chill, covered, at least 3 hours.

Make Ganache and Glaze Cake:
Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan and remove from heat. Add chocolate and let stand 1 minute, then gently whisk until completely melted and smooth.
Transfer ganache to a small bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened but still pourable, about 20 minutes.
Run a warm thin knife around inside of springform pan, then remove side. Slide cake off bottom of pan and transfer to a serving plate. Pour ganache onto top of cake and spread, allowing excess ganache to drip down sides.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bacon Cupcakes

There are days when you feel kindda shitty, lazy and dreadful. School has been a total chore every morning you wake up only to feel that argh, can't be bothered to make breakfast man. Then, only junk food can help.

I chance upon this idea from Tumblr and they call it Bacon muffins. No flour or stirring needed at all, just line your muffin cups with bacon, crack in an egg, grate some cheese if you are in the mood, sprinkle over some white pepper or dash of tobasco and then bake at high oven till eggs are just set.

This is so awesome, all the bacon juices baked into the egg. Warning though, eating this in the class will cause many pairs of hungry eyes glaring at you from all angle.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

21st Birthday

Turning 21 isn't really a big deal really. Everyone goes through the same thing, everyone has got their own way of celebrating. Perhaps it is so common that people usually just have the thinking that this is something that you just gotta do it and be done with, and of course those who think whats the point of celebrating then.

For me it wasn't exactly the idea of celebrating my birthday, but more of celebrating the fact that I was surrounded by the people who have been loving me for the past 21 years unconditionally and thanking them. I celebrate not just my passing of 21 years, but also how lucky I am for all the love I've gotten.

It was just a very simple birthday get together under my house where I grew up, with all my relatives and good friends. Bits and pieces of here and there, good food and good wine and of course, the after party with friends at a hotel. All in all, I truly appreciate the fact that life has been great so far.

The initial cake in mind was a simple strawberry shortcake. But due to the fear of not having enough food to go around, the simple Victoria sponge with strawberries and cream idea blossom into a 2 tier Butter sponge with almond and dark chocolate filling, frosted in Swiss meringue butter cream and finished with fresh cherries and strawberries. A little extravagant really, but hey it's my birthday. Also, I really love how the vines stick out in their own ways.

Anyway, it has been a great birthday and I just gotta learn to embrace the adult life. Insurance, tax, bonus, career whatever. They'll come when they come :)

Engagement, Excitement and a brownie so Extraordinary

So again, another hiatus. Not only would I not want to give you the excuse of me being really busy with school and exam and of course, Yours truly 21st birthday party, but also I would not continue to talk crap and just update you with the little things I've been cooking up.

First and for most, in every baker's diary, there will be one particular incident that really becomes the front page of their lives. I wouldn't say the cake that I'm about to talk bout to be one of those incident, but heck I sure will have it as the background of the content page.

No hell idea what it really means but I suppose it must be something like Happy Engagement. If you watch Cake Boss on Youtube, you might not believe that a life of a baker could actually get as far to meeting the state mayor or going to a Sesame street set. However when I got to Sara's engagement day, I truly believe that delivering cakes DO open up your eyes.

Other than feeling all mighty proud of my cake being the centerpiece, there are many other cakes and sweets from other bakers too. I wish the couple my deepest best of wishes and may their love life be as sweet as this whole bed is. Just make sure there's Bagon spray near the bedsides though.

Next, would be these little morsels of sweet and tangy chocolaty squares coming from the delightful Nigella Lawson. Her first book, How to be a domestic kitchen Goddess is truly a book written by the Goddess herself. For those of you who think you can't bake, please just go get that book and get ready to be proven wrong. It's not the sophisticated stuff that makes you a great baker, is those simple little life pleasures that you mix in little surprises that makes you a true baker. Or you know, at least a clever kitchen minx.

Next up, my 21st birthday post :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

2nd Pav attempt

Believe it or not, there are like almost 6 other drafts awaiting to be publish onto the blog. Yes I am really aware of bakers losing the mojo to post updates, but trust me, every single day is a living torment for me whenever I pass by this blog. School assignments and tests really suck the living hell out of a baker. You bake a lot to cope with the stress, but you just can't type anymore.

Anyway, this is long overdue. Remember my post below about pavlova? Now here's the 2nd attempt.

I wouldn't say this one's better, but it definitely did not sunk as much as my first Pav. However, I think I under baked it :D

Nonetheless it was still delicious as hell, slightly more marshmallow and pillow like inside, and the crispy outer shell is so much more thicker as compared to the previous Pav. Topping's the same, rosewater and strawberries with cream.