Monday, November 26, 2012

Mascarpone cheesecake

I made a mascarpone cheesecake for baby pig's birthday celebration with the *oink! oink!* family yesterday ^^. He turns 11 today.. Happy Birthday, baby! ^^

And it's a really delicious, soft and light creamy cake.. everyone loves it, especially baby who had 2 helpings ^^! However, I feel the texture fell a little short ~ not as smooth as I expected ^^||.

In fact, right after I added the eggs, the creamy batter started to curdle and separate (and I haven't even added the lemon juice, etc yet ^^||).. turning the batter into tiny grain-like texture.. I actually prayed that the cake would turn out okay.. and it did ^^ though not as perfect as I would have wished for.

Mascarpone cheesecake (recipe from gourmetbaking and foodnetwork)
125g ground almonds
75g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
35g sugar
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter (I made brown butter ^^)
500g cream cheesecake
500g mascarpone cheese
200g sugar (next time, I'll reduce sugar to 150g)
1 tsp lemon juice (some zest too if you like) (and 1 tbsp rum ^^)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Mix ground almonds, digestive biscuits and sugar together. Add melted butter and mix well. Press the crumbs into bottom of baking tin and bake for 12-15 minutes. And leave to cool.
* tip: for easy removal of cheesecake, line the baking tin with a big piece of aluminium foil that covers the bottom and sides of the tin. To remove cake, just lift up aluminium foil and voila, you have a nice whole cake.

2. Prepare water bath.

3. Beat cream cheese, mascarpone cheese and sugar till smooth and creamy.

4. Add lemon juice (+ zest) and vanilla extract. I added some rum too ^^!

5. Add eggs one at a time till blended and smooth.

6. Pour mixture onto cooled crust and bake 325F/160C for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Leave cake to cool in oven by leaving the oven door slightly open.

7. Refrigerate overnight. Best served chilled.

* I just made half the recipe ^^ WE are still on "diet" (???)

I love cheesecakes! But I cannot say that I'm a fan of crusts in cheesecakes.. I would've preferred them without ^^ But this crust is EXCELLENT! I love it! Maybe it's the ground almonds, or it could be the browned butter.. I don't know. It's just wonderful ^^!

Well, I'm definitely going to make this cake again for sure, because it's really good ^^ but next time I'll add the mascarpone cheese last after adding the eggs, and see what happens ^^. For all I know, this is how this cheesecake is suppose to be ~ not super smooth (??), just delicious! (^^)

Anyway, with this cake.. my happy run in november officially ends ^^|| and what a month it has been.. I celebrated a personal milestone and more milestones for a few of my bestest friends, and of course, the wonderful 2 1/2 parties ^^! What more can a girl ask for ^^?! This has been the best month ever!!! (^^)

PERFECT panna cotta!!!

sorry, no time to wipe glasses! rushed job for fear of panna cotta melting! and hungry pigs awaits!

Perfect? You better believe it! ^^

In fact, it's better than perfect.. if that's possible!

I made this for big pig's party earlier, but I made them AGAIN to share with the chubbies (that's big brother, mama and chubby pig ^^), fatty hubby and papa pig who missed out on this luscious dessert! It's too delicious not to share with my favorite people ^^!

Perfect panna cotta (recipe from david lebovitz's blog)
~ serves 8
4 cups / 1L cream (I used half and half)
1/2 cup / 100g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 tsp gelatin powder
6 tbsp / 90ml cold water
fruit puree/compote or honey, to serve (best to use homemade fruit puree ^^)

1. Boil cream (+ milk) and sugar together till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

2. Lightly grease moulds with neutral oil, if planning to unmold later. If serving in cups/moulds, skip this step.

3. Sprinkle gelatin powder over a bowl of cold water. Leave to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

4. Pour warm cream mixture over bloomed gelatin and stir till gelatin completely dissolves.

5. Divide panna cotta into moulds/cups, and chill overnight.

6. Serve panna cotta with some fruit compote or honey. Best served IMMEDIATELY while chilled ^^.

This is seriously the easiest, most luscious and luxurious dessert ever!!! Perfect wobble, perfect texture, perfect sweetness, perfect taste! Easily, definitely a PERFECT 10*!!! ^^

p.s. *my piggies couldn't agree more ^^

Friday, November 23, 2012

Quiche fried rice

i love this bowl ^^

It's big pig's party today ^^ finally! And I made him cheese twists, david lebovitz's chocolate chip cookies, blueberry cheese tarts, luscious panna cotta and onion chicken bacon ham quiche. (^^)

So, while they are having a blast upstairs and my last quiche browns in the oven, I made myself some fried rice with the leftover onions, chicken and ham, tossed with soy sauce and chili pepper flakes ^^ and ooh, it's really yummy! All protein and carbs.. how can it not be delish? ^^

Well, my last (mini ^^) quiche turned out rather erratically browned.. but I don't think this will affect the taste whatsoever ^^ Yes, it doesn't have to look perfect, to taste good (I hear you, mel ^^).. because I used good ingredients and baked with my heart ^^!

p.s. i've figure it out finally.. the uneven browning is due to the grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on the surface of the quiche! ^^ updated on 4th Februaru 2013

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cheese twists

sorry bout the blurry pix ~ they were taken at night ^^|| 

Do these look like cheese twists to you? Well, they are.. even if they don't look it! (^^)

These are the little I made, 2 days ago, just to see if it could work. AND.. it's very good even if they do look "twisted", and with just grated cheddar cheese ^^! Big and fatty hubby loves it! ^^ So it's definitely on the menu for big pig's upcoming party this weekend ^^ Btw, this idea came from lynna@heartsinmyoven's pesto cheese sticks ^^.

Since these are really easy to make, I'm sure no one really needs a recipe once you get the idea of how it's done (see lynna's post and this) ^^ and you can use your preferred cheese and ingredients on your sticks. I don't think it's really that important to measure the ingredients.. I used a bit of this, and a bit of that.. ^^|| well, enough to cover the the pastry/sticks, anyways ^^! And it's really easy if you use ready-made puff pastry, especially if you can find the ready-rolled square-cut 4"x4" slices ^^.

Well, I've just completed a big batch of these with grated cheddar and parmesan, and some with oregano flakes. It's now stuffed in bags in the freezer, ready for baking on the big day ^^.

Cheesy, crisp and golden (fingers crossed ^^!) ~ let's hope them hungry teens like ^^!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

a first "baby" party ^^

Since papa pig complained that I bring baked goods "every other day" (which is an exaggeration, of course!).. I've been trying my hardest to lie low. And it's been a tough, long week.. ^^||

Well, since I couldn't bake, the "time-out" was spent on planning baby and big's upcoming parties ^^. And fnally, yesterday, I got to bake to my heart's content for baby's birthday pool party ^^!

It's a first for baby (or big), having a "real" party with lots of friends over ^^ Usually, birthdays are celebrated with family or a few friends. Piggies have never asked for big parties.. But with baby turning 11 this year, mama pig thought it was now or never, that baby gets a birthday party to remember! ^^

Here's what I made for baby's pirate-theme pool party ^^ nami's japanese cheesecake as requested by baby for his birthday cake, my summer skies and all things nice cupcakes (best moist and fluffy butter cake with swiss meringue buttercream and caramel sauce) and a surprise cake, pirate dan's loot (devil's food chocolate cake with chocolate ganache) ^^

nami's immensely popular cheesecake ~ the first for seconds and the first to go ^^

Aaaahhhh.. bliss. I'm so happy I got to bake, and all the cakes turned out okay ^^ Their friends were really sweet and encouraging about the cakes.. though I did hear one of baby's friend say the cupcakes were not sweet enough *gulp*.. Well, if I'm ever baking cakes for other kids again, I'll definitely pile on the sugar! ^^ Luckily, no complaints from the adults ^^

more, more sugar! more, more caramel, please! ~ we're kids, we live for a sugar rush!

So did pirate baby like his personalised cake? YES! And that, is good enough for me! ^^ Happy day.. lalalalala.. ^^ 

p.s. baby had a totally zoned-out best party ever!!! chef papa pig's barbecued chicken were excellent, for the record ^^ and i "rewarded" myself with yummy instant noodles ^^

say hello to the dark side ^^

On a cool night, there's nothing like ~ soupy spicy instant noodles with egg *burp!* ^^

p.s. i knew i shouldn't have succumbed to buying that packet of instant noodles! but this tastes soooo goood! and in case you're wondering, it's maggi asam laksa ^^

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Velvet nama chocolates ^^

I didn't start out by making this ^^.

don't judge these chocolates by how mud-like they look! they are AWESOME!!!

The plan was to bake a butter cake with chocolate ganache frosting for chubby big brother for his birthday tomorrow. I'm not sure what made me think chocolate ganache frosting would go well with butter cake??? Well, I know now.. IT DOESN'T!!!

Anyway, to have come to this conclusion, you must know I had baked my butter cake and also made the chocolate ganache.. I even used surgeres semi-salted butter (a 1st time! and definitely the last!! not for baking!).. which didn't smell nor feel right from the beginning.. and well, it certainly didn't turn out right either ><||..

So rather than waste the chocolate ganache (200g dark chocolate + 200ml cream) I had prepared, I put the ganache back over a pot of simmering water, added more chocolate (200g) and rum (2 tbsp).. and made nama chocolates! (^^)

Now, nama chocolates  (aka royce chocolates) is something I've been meaning to make since FOREVER! the printout of the recipe shared by nami@justonecookbook is always at the top of my to-make list ^^.. just waiting for me to gather my courage to use up so much of my precious loot of dark chocolates at one go!

Anyway, just for the record, my chubby big brother, papa pig and all my little piggies just LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! royce chocolates ^^!!!

So I'm truly sorry my chocolates look nothing like nami's or royce's ^^|| Despite the pretty cool weather due to the rainy season ~ it's still too warm here for making these sweets.. the chocolate started to melt the minute I took it out from the fridge! And then, I made the mistake of overdosing with my favorite organic cocoa powder (great stuff, this ^^!).. hence, my horrendous 'dried mud' looking chocolates ^^||! But I SWEAR these nama chocolates tastes SOOOOOOOO... SOOOOOOOO.. GOOOOOOOOD!!! it's like plump, luscious melt-in-the-mouth velvet.. GORGEOUS! (^^)

Anyway, you don't need to mess up a cake to make these chocolates ^^ they are really TO DIE FOR!!! Thanks, nami for sharing these unbelievably easy, decadently smooth, dreamy velvets! (^^)

p.s. believe it or not, papa pig says he prefers these homemade nama chocolates over royce's! ^^ and big just keeps saying, mmm.. these are good.. really, really good.. repeatedly ^^ oh! happy day! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Luscious devil's food chocolate cake

It's been raining almost every day for the past one-plus week now. And as much as I like the rain and the coolness it brings ^^, the gloomy weather doesn't exactly inspire baking or photography lessons ^^|| it's however, totally perfect for afternoon naps ^^! *oink!**oink!*

Anyways, baby pig's birthday's round the corner, and I promised to make the cake and sweet treats for his pool-party ^^ YAY! unlimited baking! to my heart's content ^^!!! Errrr.. what should I make, eh...? ^^||

Maybe some cake pops? So, just for experiment sake, since I don't have a to-go chocolate cake (brownies' different!), I made Ina Garten's beatty's chocolate cake and also bisouatoi's devil's food chocolate cake last night. And.. sorry, ina garten ~ it's probably me.. I may have messed up somewhere.. but I don't get the (kitchen-) sponge-like (but gorgeous looking texture and color) cake ^^|| So, moving on.. rima's decadent frosted chocolate cake ^^

Devil's food chocolate cake (recipe of rima@bisouatoi)

1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 tsp baking soda, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I reduced a little ^^)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I reduced a little of this too ^^)
65g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk*
1/4 cup warm water (I used freshly brewed expresso/coffee)

* 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice/white vinegar ~ stir and leave to sit for 5-10 mins

1. Preheat oven to 170C.

2. Beat butter and sugars till light and fluffy. Add egg and mix till well incorporated. Mix in vanilla extract.

3. Fold in sifted flour, baking soda and salt to butter mixture, alternating with liquid ingredients (buttermilk + warm water/coffee) in 3 batches.

4. Pour into prepared tin/s (rima used 3 7-inch round tins), and bake for 30 minutes or till skewer comes out clean.

Chocolate ganache
200ml heavy cream
250g dark chocolate, chopped
a pinch of salt

1. Double boil cream in a bowl over simmering water. When cream is warmed/hot, add chopped chocolates. Stir till chocolate melts and immediately remove from heat, but continue stirring till mixed. If chocolates burns or separates, place bowl over simmering water again, add more cream and stir till smooth.

2. Assemble cake with cream cheese frosting (I omitted this ^^||) and chocolate gananche. Check out rima's blog for the cream cheese frosting recipe and her simple but beautifully decorated chocolate cake ^^.

Well, fatty hubby, piggies and mama pig enjoyed this soft and moist cake ^^ especially since it comes with decadent chocolate frosting! And papa pig approves ^^ it's barely sweet.. just nice with the dark chocolate frosting.

Anyways, I've decided to ditch the cake pops idea ~ too much work ^^||! And why mess with perfectly good cakes? (^^)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

happiness doesn't get sweeter than this ^^

Isn't this grand ^^? 

And baby pig got the spelling right too, this time ^^ What a way to welcome november and a major milestone! Thank you, thank you so very much ~ big and baby ^^, mama and papa pig too ^^

Happiness is.. a feeling so sweet and wonderful that's beyond words.. days like this ^^