Wednesday, December 17, 2014

White Winter Cupcakes.

Behold....I'm back!!!!!

It's been a little over two months since I last blogged. Two months.

(On a side note, I kind of forgot how to blog. Didn't know that was possible, but I guess it happened.)

Anyway, now that I'm FINALLY done with finals and have some free time back on my hands, I get to bake! I not-so-jokingly declared that the first thing I'd do after exams week was sleep. I meant it when I said it. But I guess my body didn't get the memo because on the first day of break, I woke up at seven. Yikes.

Not to make you all feel left out or anything, but I'm not gonna lie, I've been blogging way more on another blog. (How scandalous!) It'd be awesome if you took the time to check it out here! Honestly, that blog is a compilation of my thoughts and favorite things (minus baking because it exists here), so I guess it's natural that I'd be posting over there a lot more. Anyhow, this blog is NOT going to be neglected. It'd probably be poorly attended, but definitely 100% not neglected.

Today's cupcakes are a delightful marriage of egg whites two ways. First, half a dozen whites were mixed in the angel food cupcake batter. Then, another three whites were used for the meringue frosting which I made over a bain-marie (the classy French term for double boiler). 

Honestly, if there was a cupcake that was the epitome of winter, it'd be this. Snowy, light, fluffy, white, and delightful all at once.

The meringue frosting was quite simple to make. Egg whites, sugar, and a little bit of flavoring were tossed into a metal bowl, then placed over a bain-marie to whisk for a couple minutes until it got nice and frothy. Then, the meringue was placed into an electric mixer and whisked for a couple minutes to achieve a fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency. I swear, the fluffiness of this frosting is un-real.

I dressed the fluffy white frosting in some dainty silver sugar pearls, which is totally optional but highly recommended to achieve a real, authentic "wintery" look. I think these'd pass for wedding cupcakes, too!

Really, everything in this cupcake could be described with the word "fluff." I don't think I've ever tasted anything nearly as light and fluffy as this. Also, can I just say that one cupcake weighs nearly nothing? I held one in my hand and it was as if I wasn't holding anything at all!

As always, I'll leave you with the recipes. 

Angel Food Cupcakes:
Meringue Frosting:

Happy baking! 
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Friday, October 3, 2014

Apple and Frangipane Tart (Tarte de Pommes a la Normande)

Fall, my favorite season, has officially begun!
(Translation: Fall has begun a long time ago in my book but I'm finally starting my fall baking.)

Besides the fall baking, TONS of things are going to be happening in the fall, including (but not limited to) new DSLR experiments (!!!), PSATs, and lots of apple baking. There's no apple picking over here in this tiny little place that I call home, but delicious fall recipes are still happening nonetheless. 

Today's recipe involved an unfortunate 194395992 hours of apple peeling, another 180284384 hours of apple slicing, and about 15 rounds of negotiations with the world's most stubborn pâte sucrée, but all is well, folks, all is well. 

As you see, I managed to pull through and throw (okay maybe not literally) this gorgeous tart into the oven! 

The image above is of the tart before it went into the oven. As expected, it looked much more dynamic pre-bake, but I think overall it still turned out marvellously. I'd perhaps prefer the apple slices a little more three-dimensional, but for a first try it was definitely a success.

Despite the difficulties, I was already able to simplify things even a bit more by using my brand new food processor! Hard to believe how I did it when I was sans-processor, but now I absolutely cannot imagine ever making pastry without it again. Bye bye, cold-butter rubbing! 

I love how the frangipane peeks out of the apple slices, and I also love the little burnt edges on the apple slices! Prior to baking, I tossed the apples in cinnamon and brown sugar, so this tart definitely screams fall! 

 I apologize for the rather short post. I've been coming down with the flu and there's tons of homework to catch up on :((((

Happy baking!
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Friday, August 8, 2014

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Delightfully smooth and custardy homemade ice cream filled with giant chunks of peanut butter Oreos sandwiched between two chocolate cookies literally screaming for you to dig in. Who doesn't love that?

After a short hiatus, I'm back with the bomb diggity. Literally, THE best thing I have ever made. Probably. From the looks to the taste, this ice cream sandwich is the best thing that's happened to me all summer. Given, summer is over in 5 days (eeek!) and this summer has been utterly uneventful. Ice cream sandwiches rule the world.

I've never been fond of making homemade ice cream just because I don't own an ice cream maker (and can't fit one in my new kitchen at the moment). However, I was watching an episode of Junior Masterchef Australia the other day and saw a handsome young man whip up a magical ice cream sandwich creation. The crazy person in me decided that she'd be able to handle all the ice cream fuss and would like to attempt this daunting task.

It turned out to be nothing out of the ordinary. I wish I had some fantastic tale to tell about me conquering my ice cream making fear but I'm afraid there was nothing interesting enough to share. I followed the recipe to a T, making slight adjustments along the way. Also, I did about a billion taste tests, just to make sure everything was good. That bit I enjoyed the most :)

This recipe began with making a basic, simple custard, which I did rather quickly. Then, I had the time of my life smashing some Oreos to add into the mixture. I did make a rookie mistake, however. I added in the Oreos at the earliest stage, forgetting that I'd have to mix the ice cream several times after that. So, after the first whiz with my hand mixer, the ice cream turned into a light grey color thanks to the Oreos. I will forgive that, though, seeing that grey IS my favorite color :) All I had to do to fix this "problem" was just smash a few more Oreos, this time into bigger chunks, and add them in at the VERY last time I mixed the ice cream before popping it into the freezer for good. It took about 5 or 6 times on the hand mixer, about an hour or so apart each time, before the mixture was set.

I left the ice cream in a 13x9 pan overnight to stabilize so that I wouldn't have a drippy, wet mess when I was assembling the sandwiches! The day after I made the ice cream, I made the cookie dough. It was a simple chocolate cookie recipe, nothing out of the ordinary. I wouldn't say that the cookie is a soft one, but it certainly isn't crunchy either. It's somewhere in a pleasant in-between zone. Right after I cut out the circles, I used my cookie stamp that I got from Typo to leave a sweet little message. I can't find a direct link to it but here is something similar. The cookie stamp SCREAMS me! I love it so much and can't wait to try it out on fondant and other cookies :)

After all the cookies were done and cooled, I stored them in an airtight container and called it a night. As you can see, I don't like rushing things when I bake, so if the treat can wait a day or two, I definitely let it do so. 

Assembling them was an easy job, although I did have to work very fast in order to keep the ice cream from melting. You could tell the ice cream was 100% homemade because it melted SO quickly! I cut ice cream rounds with the same cookie cutter that I used for the cookies, threw that on top of a cookie, then put another cookie on top. Easy as pie.

Because I did make several tweaks to the original recipes, I have decided to leave a full-written recipe for you all. It's a rare treat, guys! Usually, I leave links because I'm still very amateur (not to mention busy) and have no intentions of developing my own recipes (yet!), but today I thought I'd be kind enough to write it out :) The recipe is a bit lengthy, but don't worry, a lot of it is just me warning you about some things. The recipe itself is pretty simple. 

Enjoy making these sweet treats! They're seriously adorable and can turn any hot, humid (that's to all my Hong Kong peeps), and crummy day into a sweet one! (Treat bag also by Typo. This was a gift several months ago so I do not have a link. However, you can shop more adorable items from Typo here.)

Happy baking!
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Classic Chocolate Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen 7-centimeter rounds. Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
4 tablespoons water, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or 175 degrees Celsius. Line a cookie sheet/tray with parchment paper. If you have multiple trays, line those too, as it would save you time from having to transfer cookies back and forth before baking.

2. In a stand mixer (or hand mixer), cream together the butter and brown sugar. Beat until fluffy and incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add in the baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder, and mix well. 

3. Then, add in 1 cup of the flour and 2 tablespoons of the water. Let the mixture come together. Once incorporated, add in the remaining 1 cup of flour and the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Make sure you let the dough mix around for a while to ensure that all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick. Make sure your rolling pin is also floured beforehand. Cut the dough using a circle cutter, as I have done, or any other cookie cutter you have. Bear in mind that different sized cutters will yield a different amount of cookies.

5. Place the cut cookies on a cookie sheet/baking tray about 1/2 an inch apart. These cookies will not spread too much, if at all, in the oven. Pop that into the freezer for 10 minutes. (You may need to do this at intervals if you don't have enough cookie sheets/freezer space. If you have multiple trays, I suggest using one solely for the freezer, and the other(s) for baking.)

6. Take the cookies out of the freezer and bake for 7-8 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and undone, but they will harden promptly after they are removed from the oven. Let the cookies sit on the hot pan for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

7. If making ice cream sandwiches, follow recipe below or use store bought ice cream. Cut out the ice cream with the same cookie cutter you used for the cookie dough. If ice cream is difficult to cut, run the cutter under hot water for a couple seconds. Immediately place the ice cream onto an inverted cookie base, then top with another cookie (right side up) to create a sandwich. Serve immediately, or put in the freezer to enjoy later.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream (No Machine)

Makes enough ice cream for 12 ice cream sandwiches, if made in a 13x9 pan. Read footnotes for further information. Recipe adapted from Junior Masterchef Australia.

1 1/2 cups milk, full fat
2 cups heavy cream
2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped out OR 1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 egg yolks (Freeze the whites for later use. Works like a charm and can keep for up to a year!)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
15 Oreo cookies (5 packages), crushed into large chunks (NOT powder form)

Note: If making with an ice cream machine, follow recipe, but churn and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

1. Line a 13x9 pan with cling film. Make sure the film hangs over the sides of the pan.

2. In a saucepan, heat the milk, heavy cream, and vanilla until almost boiling.  If using vanilla bean, throw in the seeds AND the pod. If using extract, simply add it in. Then, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, making sure to stir periodically to prevent a skin from forming.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is a pale yellow. Slowly whisk the yolks into the warm milk (in the saucepan), taking care to whisk vigorously to prevent the yolks from solidifying. Return the pan to the heat. 

4. Cook the mixture on low to medium-low heat until the mixture thickens up a bit and turns into a thin custard. This took about 10-15 minutes for me. 

5. Pour the custard into the prepared 13x9 pan. Place the pan into the freezer.

6. After 40 minutes, take the pan out of the freezer. The mixture should have cooled down, but is still completely liquid. With your hand mixer, whiz the liquid ice cream around for about 10 seconds, just to prevent ice crystals from forming. Place the ice cream back into the freezer.

7. After another 40 minutes, mix the ice cream again, then return it to the freezer. Repeat this at intervals: Freeze, Mix, Freeze again. I did about three 40-minute intervals, then two 1-hour intervals. In total, you would need to mix the ice cream at least 5 separate times. 

8. You can add the Oreos when the ice cream has become a thick, frosting-like texture. This indicates that your ice cream is good to go. After you whiz it with your hand mixer, lightly fold in the Oreos. Be gentle, as you don't want to crush the Oreos and lose the texture of them. Cover the pan with foil and freeze for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. 

9. To make ice cream sandwiches, follow Step 7 from the cookie recipe above. Enjoy!

-I made the recipe in a 13x9 inch pan. The ice cream ended up being quite thick, about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick. If you want to make more ice cream cutouts, simply freeze in a larger pan. That would yield a larger quantity of thinner cutouts.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Heavenly Crumb Cake---and Where Have I Been?

The last time I blogged was on February 4th. That is NOT okay, folks. NOT okay. How have I become so behind on blogging when I've been baking pretty much all the time? (Proof: My My Instagram Feed.)

I guess life just took it's toll. School has been overwhelming, albeit an understatement. And life in general--people, things, occurrences--they've all been drastically diverse and I've just been taking my time to find my place again. 

But I'm back. Here I am, in the last month of summer. Better late than never, right?

Enough about me. Let's talk about this super gorgeous crumb cake, because who doesn't love a moist, buttery cake with the most delicious, sweet, beautiful caramel-tasting crumb on top? 

All the ingredients in this cake are your regular cupboard ingredients. Milk, baking powder, baking soda, flour, butter, sugar, ONE egg.....that's about it. Oh and please don't forget the cinnamon.

Oh glorious cinnamon. 

The crumb is nothing shy of being decadent. The good amount of brown sugar gives it a caramel-y taste, while the butter balances out the sweetness and the flour gives it a nice, good crunch. Although it is a touch on the sweeter side, you can never go wrong with a little sugar ;)

I can honestly say that I've never made a cake that was more moist or melt-in-your-mouth like than this one. Within seconds of it entering your mouth, the cake becomes a glorious, DANGEROUS mush of buttery goodness. The crumb lingers in there for a little while, giving you enough time to savor the crunchy brown sugar delight that it is. This cake is truly magical.

I guess I'll be eating this for breakfast/lunch/dinner for the next couple of days. This is a very dangerous cake. Especially when you're trying to get into shape with the few remaining weeks of summer that you have. *cough cough* me *ahem*

The recipe is courtesy of my very, very favorite baking blogger, Sally from Sally's Baking Addiction. You can find it here. Enjoy!

Happy baking!
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Funfetti Cake Batter Puppy Chow

Oh dear sprinkles.

Today I'm bringing you a no-bake treat that may presumably be my favorite treat I've made these past couple months. Of course, that 3-layer cake I made last week was delightful and certainly made me proud, but this puppy chow recipe was so easy and delicious. Nothing complicated involved. Win-win. 

I went on a very tiring and rather dangerous hike yesterday. Five total hours of consistent climbing, slippery rocks, and creeks was enough to wear me out. Boy, if I had a choice, I'd much rather be eating puppy chow than hiking. But I guess hiking yesterday and eating puppy chow today makes me feel not as bad about the calories. So maybe that's okay.

This puppy chow recipe, unlike many others, does NOT involve powdered sugar. The original recipe, which can be found here, involved funfetti cake mix and powdered sugar. 

But here's why I did not include any powdered sugar in my puppy chow:
1) I didn't want it overly sweet.

….and….drumroll please…..
2) I didn't have any.

Yep, the reigning queen of disorganization failed to find powdered sugar in her cupboard. (And by the way, the reigning queen of disorganization is me, as if you needed any more proof…..) I didn't think it was going to be a problem, though, because I really didn't want my puppy chow to come out super sweet and I thought the funfetti cake mix would be enough powder to coat the Chex. 

To make this puppy chow, you simply have to melt your candy melts (or white chocolate), stir it into the Chex cereal, carefully toss that around, throw in some funfetti cake mix, and the last, and highly recommended ingredient, sprinkles. I mean, come on, we all know the tiny sprinkles in funfetti cake mix isn't enough to make this puppy chow worthy of being called funfetti. I lost count of how much extra sprinkles I put in, but I'd say it was somewhere between 1/3-1/2 cup.

Because I'm bringing this to a movie party tomorrow, I only tasted a little bit of it, but oh my goodness, it was SO good. It wasn't overly sweet as I had anticipated it to be, but rather subtly sweet with a strong cake batter kick to it. I tasted even better than the puppy chow in my dreams. Just powdery, sugary, cake battery heaven.

I did modify the original recipe a bit, so I'll leave you with my take on the recipe. I swear, this is THE most amazing thing on earth. Literally. Believe it or not, before I tucked the puppy chow away into an airtight container for transporting tomorrow, I said goodbye to it and whispered, "See you tomorrow." Ah, the feels.

The recipe is below if you want it (I'm sure you would). Go spare yourself a couple minutes and whip this up, then sit in front of your computer/TV and watch something fun. Which is exactly what I'm going to do right now. I think my soul is longing for a little bit of Glee.

Happy baking!
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Funfetti Cake Batter Puppy Chow
Yields about 5 cups of coated cereal

5 cups Rice Chex (or any type of Chex)
10 ounces white candy melts/white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups funfetti cake mix (or substitute with white cake mix and add in additional sprinkles)
Extra sprinkles, optional but highly recommended

1. Measure out the Chex and place into a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Melt the candy melts and vegetable oil according to package instructions. Stir to melt.
3. Pour the candy melts into the bowl with the cereal and VERY CAREFULLY toss it together to coat.
4. Add the cake mix, and stir CAREFULLY so the cereal is evenly coated.
5. Throw in the extra sprinkles if using, stirring gently to disperse. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

Holy crap.

This cake is so beautiful I can't even.

It's been way too long since I've blogged, and by "way too long" I don't mean "I haven't baked in a month." 

I have, in fact, been baking every week this last month. I started my very own service baking project and taught kids how to bake once a month, for free, so I've been quite busy preparing for that! You can check out my experience here:

Okay, where was I?

Oh right, cake. 

So yes, I made a three layer cake because I was watching Masterchef Junior on Hulu and they were making three layer cakes. I mean, why not? Just because it's nobody's birthday nor is there a special occasion doesn't mean I can't make a nice layered cake. Just saying. Hashtag truth.

I swear, this cake made me so proud. Proud times a billion. I can't even begin to tell you how stoked I am that this cake turned out perfectly. It looked great, but tasted even better. Yes, I am eating a huge slice right now while I'm blogging. But hey, don't judge.

To be honest with you, the cake looks harder than it actually was. All you need is your standard chocolate cake ingredients for the sponge, an easy peasy chocolate frosting recipe, and a super simple raspberry buttercream recipe. If you've got all of that, you're good to go.

This cake is so perfect the pictures don't even do it justice.

It's so easy I don't think it's fair, either.

Let's talk about the chocolate sponge recipe first. I don't think it matters what recipe you use, but I used Hummingbird Bakery's Brooklyn Blackout Cake recipe. The original recipe yields three 8-inch rounds, but I baked the batter into 6-inch rounds and got 3 sponges. Weird. Anyhow, though, as long as you go for a trusty chocolate cake recipe, you're good to go. It doesn't really matter how much batter you get because you can always make more or less layers. Of course, a 3-layered cake looks more stunning than a boring 2-layered cake, but whatevs.

The chocolate frosting recipe isn't your ordinary one. There's no whipped butter involved. Just plain melted butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and milk. Again, I see no need in using a specific recipe, so just go ahead and use your favorite! 

The raspberry buttercream is what made me so sure that this cake was gonna taste amazing. The original recipe recommended using fresh raspberries, but because Hong Kong is an extremely un-baker-friendly place to be, fresh raspberries are insanely expensive and cannot be found everywhere. Frozen raspberries, however, are much cheaper and can keep longer, so I opted to use that. I simply pureed the thawed raspberries and whipped them in with the butter and sugar. The shade of pink is gorgeous.

As I was looking through the photos it also occurred to me that this would make for an excellent gender reveal cake. Not that I know anyone who would need one at the moment, but hey, please remind me in 10 years. One of my friends also commented that if I tinted the buttercream a different color (orange), it'd be a good representative for our house team! Yay for inspirational *ahem* friends!

So that's basically the jist of this whole cake!

Here's another thing: When you frost the cake, I'd say do the top first (the pink) because if you make a mistake, you can easily cover up the sides with brown since you're gonna frost the sides later with chocolate frosting anyway. You can't cover up the brown with the pink, but you can cover up the pink with the brown. Also, to ensure a nice, thick layer of buttercream in between the cake layers, I suggest using a piping bag and a turn table. Those things come in handy.

I'm not enclosing a cake or chocolate frosting recipe because those are up to you. Really. But if you'd like to use the ones I did, go look up the Hummingbird Bakery Brooklyn Blackout Cake recipe for the cake. I have no idea where I found the chocolate frosting, but something like "easy chocolate frosting" on Google took me there. 

The raspberry buttercream (queen of the show) can be found here

Now while I go stalk Carrie Underwood and Demi Lovato on Youtube because they're both so perfect……

Happy Baking (and Chinese New Year)!
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