Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lusciously indulgent dark chocolate banoffee slab


It's been a while since I managed to bake or cook, with the crazy hot and dry spell we have here.. not to mention the ongoing water rationing that's driving me insane! ^^|| But the few splashes of rain (and thunderstorm) a few days back, has surely brought out the better side of me ^^ and I thought we could all do with some cheering up.

You know, it's been a terrible, terrible horrible, horrible March for me. I wonder if it's even possible to have so many bad, bad things happening every weekend since the beginning of this month??!! I've lost 2 friends (1 to depression and the other to illness), 239 people on a plane (I don't know anyone on it, but I feel down anyways ~ it's an aging thing, I think), and I've to deal with a crazy heartbreaking news too close to my heart.. It's been one long, never-ending bad dream.

I'm writing this not to gain sympathy, nor make anyone reading this sad or burdened, but it's so that I can look back one day, and say, "hey, this wasn't so bad.. this has passed, and I'm ok.. we're ok".

On a more positive note, I lost some weight. And I received an-all clear on a recent medical check-up. So that's good news. And of course I duly rewarded myself with a super-indulgent dessert.. dark chocolate banoffee slab! ^^

Dark chocolate banoffee slab (recipe by Dean Brettschneider, from his book, Pie)

Pastry ~ use your own personal favorite.. I used the below ^^

French pastry dough (by paule caillat)*
120g unsalted butter
4 tbsp water
scant 1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
200g / 1 1/3 cups flour

1. Preheat oven to 210C.

2. In a medium oven-proof bowl (Pyrex), combine butter, oil, water, sugar and salt.. and place bowl in the oven for 15 - 20minutes, till butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

3. When done, remove from oven (be careful of hot bowl and sputtering mixture!). Immediately dump flour in and stir quickly till it comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

4. Transfer dough to a 9-inch tart mould with a removable bottom, and spread it out with a spatula/spoon. No rolling needed, yay! ^^

5. When dough is cool enough, press to fit tart mould. Prick dough all over with a fork and bake tart at 200C for 15 minutes or till golden brown. Leave to cool before filling.

100g butter
1/2 cup golden syrup
395g can sweetened condensed milk
2 bananas, peeled and sliced lengthways

1. Place butter, golden syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan and cook over low-medium fire. Keep stirring until thick and golden brown. Remove from heat.

2. Pour over the tart crust, leaving about 7.5mm space from the top of the crust. There should be quite a bit of caramel leftover! Drizzle over ice-cream or drop them into banana cupccakes like I did ^^

3. Bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool slightly.

4. Place bananas over the caramel fudge.

225g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
50g butter
25-40g sliced almonds, toasted

1. Melt dark chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan/pot of simmering water, not letting the bowl touch the water. Once chocolate has melted, stir till smooth and remove from heat.

2. Pour chocolate and spread it out evenly over the bananas. Top with toasted almonds.

3. Chill thoroughly before cutting. Serve with whipped cream if you wish. Bon apetit! ^^

As usual, I couldn't wait to have anything chilled properly. And the caramel filling and chocolate was oozing out oh-so-lusciously.. I couldn't help licking my fingers ^^ This is seriously one of the most heavenly indulgences I've ever made!!! ^^ despite them looking sadly non-enticing nor exciting.. that's really all my fault, my bakes never made heads turn!

But let me assure you, this indulgent sweet definitely has marked a place in dessert-heaven! At least in ours, haha. Fatty hubby and piggies LOVE it ^^ Definitely one of my top 5, if not top 3 desserts! ^^

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Super moist chocolate cake!

do not be deceived by how it looks ~ it's not dense nor fudgy like it looks!

This is an absolutely wonderful, moist, dark and rich chocolate cake! My kind of chocolate cake! ^^

I wish I have nicer pics to share, so you'd be convinced of the worthiness of this cake.. but as usual my skills are totally lacking and I'm afraid I've done a great injustice to this recipe ^^||.. Still, I hope you'd give this recipe a chance anyways.. it's really good and it's not dense as it looks in the pix!

Just so you know, I've always been finicky when it comes to chocolate cakes.. but this one, you just have to make it to believe it. In case you're still not convinced, this recipe uses BUTTER! Lots!!! ^^ ^^ ^^

Steamed super moist chocolate cake (recipe by Agnes Chang "Let's eat!", shared by my good friend, Bee Hong)
~ bake in an 8" square tin
220g sugar (it's perfect for me at 180g ^^) 
250ml milk
1 tsp instant coffee
250g unsalted butter (now we're talking! ^^ ^^ ^^)
3 eggs
135g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Place sugar, milk and instant coffee in a saucepan and heat till sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Add butter and stir till melted. Leave to cool.

2. Fold in eggs one at a time into the cooled milk mixture.

3. Sift flours and cocoa powder together and mix into the egg mixture.

4. Pour into greased and lined 8" square baking tin and steam for 40 minutes on medium heat. That's the original recipe. But you can also do this ~ Bake in a preheated oven of 170C for 40-45 minutes, or till skewer comes out clean. ^^

Ok, you know me, I took the easy way and baked this in the oven ^^.. and it still turned out super-moist and heavenly! Lest you think this is a fluke (that's what I thought!), let me assure you, it is not! I've baked this twice, and it's just as gorgeous!

You can jazz it up and serve with a luscious chocolate frosting (melt chocolate with whipping cream) ~ which no piggy will be able to say no to! But me, I just love it as it is! ^^

It's rich and chocolatey-dark, but it's not at all cloying. It may look dense and fudgy like a brownie, but that's so deceiving 'cos it's really nicely rich yet light and airy textured ~ you can have many many seconds without feeling "uggghhh"! Best of all, it doesn't get stuck on the throat like some "saw-dust" cakes do!

I did say I'm finicky right?! Did I also mention I'm not big on chocolate cakes? It says a lot since I actually made this recipe twice ^^ And I'm going to again.. and again!

Well, I've found my chocolate cake! And it's so unbelievably easy!!! ^^

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Almost the end of february and bacon bak kwa.. finally ^^

I've said it many times, I'm a non-traditionalist, ok, I'm a laggard.

CNY is so over ^^||, but it's only now I found the time (it's been an extremely busy cny this year going without aunt's maid, as well as an uncle's passing all in one week) and groove to make the promised bak kwa.. not just any bak kwa, mind you.. bacon bak kwa. ^^

Anyway, I'm really behind in the bak kwa world, having sworn off buying bak kwa for many years now. This year I finally stepped into one, because of a good friend who loves this certain brand of bak kwa, and I knew he would appreciate my getting it for him. And lo and behold.. bacon bak kwa.. am I slow or what?! haha ^^

Bacon bak kwa @ jerky (adapted from melspantrykitchen and nasilemaklover)
~ serves 5, and 1 small eater, maybe ^^
600g bacon slices, cut into half
100g sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp chinese rice wine
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp dark caramel sauce
a dash of pepper
2 tbsp honey
no salt please! bacon is salty enough!

1. Mix all ingredients except bacon slices in a bowl. Then add bacon slices and coat well with marinade. Leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

2. Place the bacon slices onto a baking tray (no need to grease or line with grease paper).

3. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 160C for 15-20 minutes. Remove and wipe off grease on baking tray if you wish.

4. Increase oven temperature to 200C, turn to grill function. Place bacon slices back in the oven and grill for about 7 minutes, then flip over and grill for 4 minutes. Do watch out so that meat doesn't over burn.

Whoa, them jerkies sure look awful! But, ooooohhhhhh... they are sooooooo-yums!!! Then again, how can bacon taste anything but yums! ^^

Anyway, as good as these jerkies are, I'm unlikely to make them again. Bacon is as bacon good, it doesn't need anything to make it better ^^! Now, the traditional bak kwa.. they are so worth making from scratch! ^^

Friday, January 31, 2014

Caramel pineapple upside down cake ~ awesome-liciousss ^^


I had very much wanted to share this delish recipe the 1st time I made it late november last year! But the pictures.. ahhh.... never mind.

Since I knew I was going to make them again, I thought I would have better pics.. alas, the pics from the 2nd bake (a few weeks back) and the 3rd bake 2 nights ago was just as bad (oh why do I do this all the time and bake at nights????!!!!)! I give up, so please excuse my pics and get on with this fabulous recipe ^^

Caramel pineapple upside down cake (recipe adapted from simplyrecipes)
~ makes 2 8-inch round cakes
2 scant cups brown/white sugar
1 cup / 227g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup / 80 ml heavy/whipping cream, room temperature
1 -2 tbsp rum
3 pinches of sea salt, add to own taste

2 big tins of pineapple rings, drained

227g unsalted butter
100g sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp rum, optional
200ml sour cream
240g flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder, sifted
4 egg whites
60g sugar

1. Prepare caramel. Cook sugar, butter, cream and rum on medium heat. Do not stir. Bring to a boil and stir in sea salt, and remove from heat. Divide and pour into 2 greased 8-inch round baking tins, or 1*8-inch square tin and 2*8-inch loaf tins. If you encounter this problem where the caramel looks weird ie. caramel and oil separates, or maybe crystallized sugar.. it's ok. Get rid of crystallized sugar by straining the liquid. If you want a gorgeous caramel flavor and color (like I did), cook the sugar to a nice coppery-color (be careful, not black or burnt!), then add butter, cream, rum and sea salt.. read this.

2. Arrange pineapple rings in the baking tins filled with caramel.

3. In a bowl, beat butter and 100g sugar till light and fluffy (don't overbeat!) Add egg yolks one at a time and beat till well combined. Mix in rum..

3. Sift flour+baking powder, and fold into butter mixture in 3 batches. Mix in sour cream till combined. Batter should be nice and smooth now.

4. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites till frothy, and slowly add in 60g sugar. Beat till soft peaks are formed.

5. Fold in egg whites gently into cake mixture in 2 batches. Divide and pour mixture into the cake tins.

6. Bake in a preheated oven of 170C for 50-55 minutes, or till the skewer comes out clean. Remove and turn out cake onto a platter to cool. I love eating it straight from the fridge ^^

I first made this cake for big pig's 1920s whodunit-party. Pineapple upside down cake was the IT cake in the 1920s. And boy, did I receive rave reviews for it! Of course, "AWESOME" was one of them! ^^

Well, I personally find this ooey-gooey cake fabu-licious too! It's the decadent caramel, I swear!


ong lai cake ~ wrapped up in gold ribbon for family & friends ^^ 

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kumquat jam ~ nastar rolls and tarts ^^

Kumquats are in season again ^^. And buoyed by kumquat lady, mel's enthusiasm, I couldn't resist and bought 2 tubs of kumquats late December. But before I knew it, they were getting over-ripe and I had to do something about it. That's how this open-faced jam tart (using shortcrust pastry + salted butter) came about.. ^^||

Of course, I also took the opportunity to perfect the kumquat jam in anticipation of a possible attempt at kumquat nastar rolls. And discovered that the jam is somewhat more balanced and yummier with the addition of cinnamon! Trust me on this ^^

Kumquat jam (adapted from melspantrykitchen)
Kumquats, halved and deseeded
Cinnamon powder, to taste

1. Weigh kumquats. Then weigh the same amount for water and half the amount for sugar. ie. kumquats:water:sugar ~ 200g:200g:100g

2. Boil kumquat halves, water and sugar till kumquats turn soft and glossy.

3. Remove and puree kumquat, drained of syrup.

4. Cook kumquat puree with a few pinches of cinnamon powder till nice and dry, or till jam doesn't stick to the sides of the pan.

5. Refrigerate overnight before use.

Well, that practise and mel's advice sure helped in getting the right texture and taste in my 2nd attempt in perfecting kumquat jam for making kumquat nastar rolls. I could actually roll it  into rounds just like with pineapple jam.

Here's my maiden attempt at kumquat nastar rolls ~ not so nicely shaped, but the taste.. delish! And the kumquat jam/filling stayed nicely intact ^^ I'm sorry but I'm too lazy to re-write the wonderful kumquat nastar rolls recipe shared by mel@melspantrykitchen.. so hop over to mel's. ^^

And this is what you make with leftover jam ~ kumquat jam tart.. again, haha! ^^ Just use your favorite shortcrust pastry, and use salted butter for best match with kumquat jam! Because I love lots of buttery, flaky crust, I made a closed jam tart this time ~ just the way I like it! ^^

Btw, I'm serving those oddly-shaped nastar rolls for cny.. fingers crossed no one would notice how "uniquely" shaped it is! ^^

Monday, January 13, 2014

Delicate coconut crisps

I'm starting early.. clearing the fridge, that is. ^^

I never prepare much for CNY.. but clearing the fridge is a must. Why, to fill up with more goodies, of course, haha! ^^

And that's how some egg whites ended up as coconut crisps ^^

Coconut crisps (recipe from alan ooi "new year cookies")
~ makes about 100 pcs (or more ^^)
100g unsalted butter
120g icing sugar (reduced ~ 100g ^^)
100g egg whites
100g plain flour
20g coconut cream powder
20g dessicated coconut
extra 20g dessicated coconut, for decoration

1. Combine butter and icing sugar together, and beat till light and fluffy.

2. Add egg whites and mix till combined (don't worry if it looks curdled). 

3. Fold in flour, coconut cream powder and dessicated coconut into batter.

4. Place mixture into a piping bag and pipe small rounds onto lined baking tray/s. Use the back of a spoon to flatten the rounds by spreading them into thin cookies. Sprinkle generously with dessicated coconut.

5. Bake in a preheated oven of 170C for 10 minutes. Cool and store immediately in airtight container/s.

This is a pretty easy recipe, but it does require a little more effort than the usual cookies.

Lest you think 100 pcs is a lot, it's not! That's because they are so addictive! These delicate crisps are so yums! ^^

And as pretty as the sesame seeds look on the crisps, the original recipe with just dessicated coconut sprinkling tastes best! The sesame seeds kind of overpower the delicate fragrance and flavor of the coconut crisps. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures of the original yummy coconut crisps.. ^^||

Well, so much for my "pretty" idea.. just stick to the original recipe, ok. ^^

Updated: I did have a pix of the original coconut crisps after all ^^

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Almond cookies for CNY ^^

After much drumming of how delicious these cookies are by mel, coupled by the fact I had some almond meal to get rid of.. I finally made my first batch of CNY cookies!

Just so you know, I don't "do" cookies, especially CNY cookies! So this is kind of a "first".. plus I'm early too! ^^

Almond cookies (inspired by mel@melspantrykitchen, recipe by alan ooi "new year cookies")
~ makes about 80 pieces (or more ^^)
120g almond meal
180g plain flour
120g sugar (reduced ~ 100g ^^)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
120ml neutral tasting cooking oil
1 egg yolk, beaten (for glazing)

1. Combine all the dry ingredients and oil together and mix to form a dough.

2. Divide and weigh 7g of dough, and form rounds/balls. Arrange on lined baking tray/s and brush/glaze with beaten egg yolk.

3. Bake in preheated oven of 180C for 15-20 minutes till crust turns golden brown. Cool before storing.

Yup, it's that easy! It's basically a one-bowl mix all! I like ^^

And the taste ~ DELICIOUS! Perfectly crunchy yet melt in the mouth soft! ^^ I can now understand why these cookies are your favorite, mel! ^^

Believe me, these are good! And that's coming from a not-so-big-on-cookies-person like me! Even the last person I expect to like these cookies, baby pig, loves it! I just brought a few pieces for piggies to sample, and they popped them all in a blink! And they, especially baby, were looking for more! ^^

Look no further for the best almond cookies recipe ever! ^^