Friday, August 9, 2013

Custard cake

My boyfriend loves custard. He eats custard with pretty much all desserts. (Is it a British thing? I'm not sure.) Sometimes I don't know which one he likes more, the custard or the cake. :P

So what do you do...

when you like both custard and cake?

You combine them into this enchanting Custard Cake. 

Recently, I came across this recipe for Magic Custard Cake. Rumor has it that this cake magically separates into 3 layer with a melt-in-your-mouth custard layer in the center. 

Sexy, no? This would change Talullah's mind for sure. 

Jamiroquai - Talullah

The best part about it is that it's really easy to make. :)

Custard Cake
Adapted from White On Rice Couple

1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs (separated)
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup flour
1 tbs water
pinch of salt
icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to ~162C. 

2. Melt butter and set aside for it to cool.

3. Whip the egg whites (most preferably in a copper bowl) until they form stiff peaks. 

4. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolk and sugar until light. Add melted butter and the tablespoon of water and mix evenly.

5. Add flour and mix until evenly incorporated. Slowly hand-whip in the milk and vanilla extract and mix well. 

6. Fold in the egg whites into the batter, 1/3 at a time. Fold in gently until evenly incorporated.

7. Pour the batter into a greased pan and bake until golden brown. (~30-45mins). Allow cake to cool completely before cutting and dusting.

Also, Happy Eid Mubarak to my family and friends. Really missing home at the moment, but for now, I'm taking a day off diagrams and readings and just enjoy this custard cake under the sun. :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Brown butter chocolate chip cookies

Sorry for the much belated post. Finally back from my hiatus. After my back-to-back exams, I made a short trip to Malaysia. My entire trip was dedicated to moving houses, cleaning, and other household chores you can think of. The highlight of it all, was just spending time with my family - which I only get to do twice or three times a year.

My recent trip made me think and reflect a lot about love and life - which does not come without hurdles, disappointments and uncertainties. 

"The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter." 
— Paulo Coelho (Veronika Decides to Die)

The best thing to do is to just do good to others, pray and persevere with much faith. We are His humble beings after all.
via Dreadful

On a lighter note...

So today I would like to introduce you to my new love.

......Brown butter.

It is this underrated, magical ingredient with the Midas' touch. Its rich, nutty, caramel notes accentuates the flavour of just about everything, from sweet to savoury. Its aroma beats Jo Malone's Ginger Biscuit and Raspberry Cream hands down. Bliss.

Okay, let's make some cookies, shall we? 

Oh wait.

Misun - Coffee (Cousin Cole & Nacey Edit)

 Mario - Let Me Love You (Equator Club Remix)

Let's roll. :) This is my recipe for crispy bite-sized chocolate chip cookies, which is quite reminiscent of Famous Amos cookies (quite up there on my favourites list). It might not be exactly the same, I haven't exactly cracked the recipe code, but it is still one of my favourite go-to recipes. 

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup dark chocolate bar (chopped into chunks)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Brown butter. Heat a thick-bottomed pan or skillet on medium heat. Best use a light-coloured pan so you could easily track the colour of the butter. Add butter (preferably sliced for more ven cooking) and whisk frequently. The butter will foam in the pan and later subside. [In this process, the milk solids separate from the butterfat, and water is evaporating. When the foam subsides, the milk solids begin to brown]. At this point, the butter should have this scrumptious nutty aroma, and a golden/amber colour. Remove pan from heat and let butter cool for at least 20 minutes.

2. Heat oven at 180C.

3. Once brown butter has cooled, cream butter and sugar mixture until fluffy.

4. Add vanilla extract and egg gradually and mix well.

5. In a separate bowl, sift in plain flour, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. 

6. Fold in flour mixture (4) into the butter-sugar mixture (3) and mix well.

7. Add in chocolate chunks and chips and combine thoroughly.

8. Roll ~1 tsp of dough with chocolate chunks into balls about the size of Maltesers and place on baking tray spaced slightly apart from each other.

9. Bake for ~12 minutes on 180C. 

10. Cool completely before serve, and store in airtight container. 

If there's any food that could cheer me up on gloomy days, it is these cookies. Hope it cheers you up too. :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lemon curd-filled pancakes with berry and mint sauce

I thought I'd just have to make a tribute post for Father's day weekend. 

...especially because I always forget and I'll get an upset call from my dad the day after. Whoops. In my defense, New Zealand's Father's Day is always the 1st of September and in Malaysia and many other parts of the world, it's the third Sunday of June. I haven't forgotten this year though. Yus!

Treat your dad with a special colourful breakfast/tea this weekend - lemon curd-filled pancakes! I wish I could :( (my dad lives in Shanghai).

You just need to swing to these happy, upbeat tunes when making crepes/pancakes:

Parov Stelar - Booty Swing

Caravan Palace - Rock It For Me

1)  Filling
I have recently shared with you a simple recipe for Lemon curd, which makes an excellent filling with these crepes and the strawberry-mint sauce. Yum.

2)  Thin pancakes
Slightly adapted from V-recipes:
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
250 ml milk (I used almond milk)
a sliver of butter to grease pan

1. Combine the flour, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the beaten eggs. Stir in half the milk, gradually working the flour down from the sides.

2. Beat mixture vigorously until smooth and bubbly, then stir in the rest of the milk. Pour in to a jug. Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes. (I refrigerated the mixture while I work on the berry-mint sauce).

3. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat, adding a little butter to create a very thin film of grease.

4. Stir the batter and pour about 4-5tbs into the pan (just enough to thinly cover the base of the pan). Tilt and rotate the pan so that the batter thinly covers the pan evenly.

5. Cook pancake for about 2 minutes until the pancake is set and golden brown underneath. Ensure that the pancake is loose by shaking the pan. Flip the pancake with a spatula and cook the other side for about 30 seconds or until golden.

6. Slide pancake on to a plate. Place 2 tbs lemon curd filling in the middle of the pancake. Fold four sides of the pancake, securing the middle, and quickly turn upside down. Serve :)

3)  Berry & mint sauce
1/2 cup berries (frozen is okay too)
1/4 cup mint
1 tsp honey

1. Mix all ingredients using a hand blender until fine.

2. Serve. 

Enjoy. Happy Father's Day to all fathers out there. (also to my dearest friends who have recently become fathers themselves. Wow, how we've you've grown. Very proud of you guys. Well done.)  

To my dad, thank you so much for being the most wonderful father a girl could have. It seems like only yesterday when you forced me to fry my first fish...and made fun of how it turned skinless and burnt 10 minutes later. Ah, memories. :P Thanks for continuously believing in me. I'll cook up a storm for you when I'm back in July. :)

Saucy Fridays: Lemon Curd

It's study week, exam two weeks away. Contrary to some people, at these beckoning times, I don't really stack up on instant noodles and microwaveable dinners (Well, not everyday anyway). I would normally find myself cooking something just because the whole experience is very therapeutic, plus you get to enjoy good food after. So why not? :)

Today, I made lemon curd. I thought it'd be a great alternative to my daily peanut butter toasts. Of course, it goes on a lot of other things too - pancakes, tarts, muffins, ice cream...the list goes on.

...and it's yellow. I know it doesn't have to do with anything, but I just love the colour yellow. There's just something about it that makes me feel happy instantly. I'm sure many feng shui books will agree with me. Well, at least Coldplay did. (Tip: make this lemon curd for your loved one with a " was all yellow" love note- if not something more creative. Hee.).

Anyway, hope you enjoy both of today's "jams". :)

Phoenix - Trying to be cool (Breakbot Remix)

Lemon curd
50g of butter
3/4 cup caster sugar (or just under)
4 lemons (or 3 large lemons) - juice and zest
3 large eggs
4 tbs almond milk
1/2 tbs plain flour

1) Combine all ingredients except eggs in a metal bowl (Not everyone has a metal bowl, so you can be creative and use a smaller pot ;) taking care that water does not flow into the mixing pot). Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir until sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from heat. 
2) In a separate metal bowl, whisk eggs. Add the first mixture and beat until combined.
3) Pour mixture through a strainer to remove zest.
4) Place mixture back over pot of simmering water and keep stirring slowly until mixture is thick enough. (keep stirring constantly and do not overheat to prevent eggs from curdling)
5) Cool and store in a jar in the fridge. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Steak Empanadas

So on Friday, I finally submitted my assignment. And...i looked and felt like a wreck. I knew the only thing that could make me feel better was getting my major food craving of the week : EMPANADAS.

Now where on earth do I get them around Auckland, ASAP. I could have made them initially, but they can be a little fiddly and I don't really have the patience to wait for 2 hours (usual minimum time to freeze the dough). My hat goes off to the makciks in Malaysia who make curry puffs (Malaysian version of empanadas) every day and selling them for only 30cents each. Really, salute. Oh, by the by, curry puffs here are $8, for 5 tiny pieces. Pfft.

There is this saying:

"The First Law of Pies: No Pastry, No Pie.” ― Janet ClarksonPie: A Global History. I can't help but concur: No Pastry, no empanadas.

I remembered there is a stall selling them at the Britomart market on Saturdays. So, we went but to our dismay, that was the only stall not open that day :(

I was still not satisfied. I think my food craving syndrome has just gotten worse over the years. When I feel like eating something, I want it now. And no, you can't simply forget about it or sleep on it

After googling a multitude of recipes, I found this dough recipe that only takes 15 minutes to freeze. Score!! So here they are, steak empanadas. :)

Cooking is just so much more enjoyable with the right music - especially when you're rolling dough. The music playing in the background in my kitchen was: 

Steak Empanadas

pastry (only slightly adapted from Honestfare):
2 cups flour
1 1/3 stick unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg beaten for dough + 1 egg yolk for egg wash
3 tbs heavy cream

~300g Chuck Steak (cut in small cubes)
1 small onion (cut in small cubes)
1 clove of garlic (diced)
1 tbs cumin (+ 1 tsp for onions)
1/2 tbs chilli powder
1 tbs Worchester sauce
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup cheese

For the filling
1) Mix cumin, chilli powder, and Worchester sauce with steak. Season with sea salt and pepper.

2) In a different bowl, mix 1 tsp of cumin with onions and garlic. 

3) Heat pan with 1-2 tbs olive oil. 

4) Saute the onions and garlic until soft. Add in the steak, and lightly saute until just before medium-rare. Set aside.

For the dough:
1) Place flour, salt and butter in a big bowl. Work with your fingertips or in food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

2) Beat together 1 egg and 3 tbsp of cream. Combine dry and wet ingredients and mix using your hands by making smooth circular movements until dough is even. Add another tablespoon of cream or water if dough is not coming tougher quickly or seems dry. Roll into 2 balls and wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 15 mins or until ready to use.

3) Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Using cardboard stencil or a bottom of a mug, cut out as many round shapes as possible and then combine excess to the other dough ball and roll it out. Repeat until all dough is used. 

4) Scoop steak filling onto the middle of the round-shaped dough. Top with 1 tsp grated cheese. Fold the dough from end to end (into a half-moon shape). Press edges firmly with a fork to seal. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat egg to make egg wash and brush each empanada with egg wash. Bake at 180C or until golden brown (12-15mins). Serve warm.

If you are one of those serious, impatient food cravers like me, now you can enjoy these little dumplings of joy within an hour. Buen apetito!  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cheesecake with Peanut Butter Ganache

So it's Monday. But it's a public holiday. Thank you Queen.

I got really stuffed with my finance assignment. Not being able to work out this one question for days just threw me off the charts. When I accidentally spilled coffee all over my notes, I decided yup, screw dividend models, it's time for cheesecake. And let's make them in jars.

Cheesecake with Peanut Butter Ganache
makes 3 jars

9 digestive biscuits
25g butter
1 tbs brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
3 ferrero rochers/hersheys kisses (optional)

150g cream cheese (1 pack)
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbs flour

1/4 cup peanut butter1/4 cup cream
1 tbs milk
small block of dark chocolate (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 175C. 

2) Crush the digestive biscuits. Add in melted butter, brown sugar and sea salt. Mix/crush together until they form finer crumbs. (I did this by hand, but food processors would make a better time record :))

3) Use about 1/3cup of crumbs for each jar. Press down the crumbs until you have a packed crust at the bottom of the jar. Spread the rest of the left over crumb on another small baking tray and set aside.

4) Bake the crumbs in jars for between 10-12mins. Once golden brown, take out the jars out of the oven and let them cool. Reduce oven temperature to 160C.
*optional step: place 1 ferrero rocher/hershey's kisses per jar, it'll make a good surprise :)

5) In a large bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth on low speed. Add sugar. Whisk again until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream and a pinch of salt, mix well. Finally, add 1 tablespoon of flour and beat well until fully incorporated. 

6) Divide batter between the jars, leaving enough room (about 1/2 inch) on the top for the ganache.

7) Place the filled jars into a deep baking dish. Carefully fill the baking dish with boiling water until halfway up the sides of the jars. Bake for 40 minutes. Check with a toothpick. You'll know the cheesecake is done if nothing sticks to the toothpick.

8) Place the leftover crumbs onto the lower oven rack  and bake for about 5 mins. Once crisp, take out of the oven, and set aside to cool.

9) Once the cheesecakes are done, remove from the oven and let them cool completely before serving. These cheesecakes could also be refrigerated overnight.

10) For the topping, mix peanut butter, cream and milk together well. I used Pic's Peanut Butter, probably the best peanut butter I've ever tasted.

11) Once the cheesecakes are completely set, spoon the topping onto the cheesecakes. 

12)  Swirl in some melted chocolate in the middle and top with the leftover crumbs :)

Easy and portable. Now go have a picnic :) 

..while I set camp again in front of my assignments. :| 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Banana cupcake with salted caramel cream cheese frosting

"Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well".  - Mark Twain

Oscar Wilde said the same thing. 

Truth be told, deadlines are my worst enemies. It dawned on me that if I was born in the era of Twain and Wilde, I would probably fall deep into the slumps of mediocrity. 

Since it's still the start of the year (yeah right, it's April), it's not too late to exercise my resolutions. It's now or never. So here it is, my first post.

A couple of weeks ago, there were a lot of things going on in Auckland. Fashion week, Market day, St Paddy's. I was inspired to do something creative myself.

Green peony! Come on then, give us a twirl!

I just got into this gumpaste thing. After countless reruns of youtube videos, I managed to wing this.

I was so excited to make this, I actually forgot about the cupcakes it should be on. Doink.

Thanks to two last (very) overripe bananas in the fridge, I thought banana cupcakes!

Banana Cupcakes
from Dough Puncher
oven: 180C

6 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup mashed banana (about 1 1/2 medium bananas)
1/3 cup sour cream or vanilla yogurt
3 tablespoons milk

1) Line a muffin pan with paper liners - for about 12 cupcakes. Preheat oven to 180C. 

2) Beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.

3) Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, allspice, and salt. Add gradually to the butter mixture. Add the mashed banana, sour cream (or yogurt), and milk. Mix until everything is combined (don't over-mix). 

4) Divide batter amongst 12 lined muffin cups, bake for 15-18 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. 

Nothing's sexier than the thought of gooey salted caramel. 

Esp when paired with bananas. (Suzanne Vega's Caramel playing in the background)

Okay, you might not want to tell my boyfriend that.

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe from My Invisible Crown - I personally prefer frostings that are not too sweet. This recipe was used as a filling for her chocolate roulade (yum) but I find that this concoction goes well with cupcakes as well.

Part 1 Sauce

1 cup white granulated sugar
6 tbs water
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 heavy cream
1/2 of an 8oz bar cream cheese
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1) Add water to a deep sauce pot

2) Place sugar in the middle of the pot

3) Turn on heat to medium low and stir gently just until the sugar has dissolved

4) Turn on heat to medium high and watch very closely from this point on making sure not to stir again

5) Swirl the pan lightly at intervals if needed

6) Watch the liquid go from clear to a light, golden colour and then eventually to dark amber

7) Once the liquid begins to smoke lightly, count to 30 and turn of the heat. (It takes only one second for this to burn, so mind your counts between 20-30. Take it off the heat if it starts to smoke heavily)

8) Whisk in the cream, butter, and cream cheese until melted. Be very careful. Mixture will foam up violently and is very hot. Wear an oven mitt to protect your hand while whisking.

9) Add salt and taste and vanilla if desired.

Part 2 Frosting

2 1/2 8oz bars cream cheese, softened
1/2 confectioners sugar
1 stick of butter
2 1/2 cups salted caramel sauce (Part 1)

1) Mix butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer

2) Add sugar and caramel sauce

3) Frost! and top with flower!