Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mocha Truffle Cookies

Hmm... Mocha Truffle Cookies.. Sounds exciting and delicious. That was the first impression i got when i was reading this recipe. What I liked about this recipe was that I had all the ingredients and did not have to run around to shop for other required ingredients.
Instead of following the recipe and dropping tablespoons of cookie dough, I dropped teaspoons of dough onto the baking tray. For the first batch, I baked them at 180 degrees C for 12 minutes. I then baked them for 7 minutes for the subsequent batches.
When I tasted the cookies, I got a surprise. The 1st batch of cookies turned out to be crisp and chewy. You could still see grains of brown sugar when you chew into the cookie. For the susequent batches, the texture was fudgey. After two days, I realised that the cookies tasted even better and the flavour has matured. There is this light coffee fragrance when you sniff the cookies.
I have problems taking pictures of chocolate confections. They always turn out to be a pile of dark brown mess. To make things worst, I have the tendency to bake in the evening. Under such lighting conditions, the pictures turn out to be disatrous. In order to take pictures of the cookies, I had to wait till morning when the lighting condition is brighter.
Mocha Truffle Cookies

55g butter
50g chocolate
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
130g plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
90 caster sugar
60 brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
60 g chopped nuts

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
2) Place a metal mixing bowl over a pan filled with water. Ensure that the base of the bowl do not come in contact with the base of the pan, use a suitable size pan to do so.
3) Melt butter, chocolate and the coffee powder over the pan. The steam from the water will heat up the mixing bowl and melt the contents. Stir to obtain a smooth mixture. Leave to cool slightly.
4) Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together into a bowl. Add in eggs, both the caster sugar and brown sugar and the chocolate mixture obtained from 3). Mix well to form a dough. Lastly, incoporate the nuts to the dough.
5) Drop levelled tablespoonful of dough onto baking tray. Leave some space between each dough. Bake for 12 minutes. The dough should rise and puff up. Leave on wire rack to cool before storing in airtight container.

Things to note:

1) Vary baking time to get desired texture
2) Use an electric mixer to mix the sugar into the dough more evenly.

Birthday cake for Eve!



This cake was baked for my friend's 23rd birthday. I was comtemplating between doing a blueberry cheesecake and a chocolate cake. Decided to go ahead with the blueberry cheesecake since it was easier to handle and I was confident the cake would look nice at least. From my experience with cheesecakee, they are quite easy to decorate. There is not need to bother with smoothing the surface and sides if proper lining is prepared.

The recipe for this cake comes from this book named Catherine Lau's Cheesecake Seduction. The cakes featured are mouth watering and the recipes work out quite well with minimum adjustments needed. I ran out of ideas when i tried to decorate the blueberry topping. Was pondering what would look nice on top of a dark purple background. In the end, I thought that the fresh redness of strawberries would add a nice contrast to the blueberry toppings.

Everything went smoothly. The cake was set, the toppings and decorations were decent. However, i find that the cake was a bit too soft when i was eating it. Not sure if it is because it has been left out of the refrigerator for some time or that i did not bake the cheesecake long enough. Or it could have been that i did not whipped the batter until it thickens. It took me 70 minutes to bake this cheesecake. This is considered long as i only take 40 minutes to bake a New York cheesecake of the same volume.

Perhaps next time i will leave out the cornstarch and beat the whipping cream before adding mixing. Hopefully that will help me get a texture i am satisfied with.

Welcome 2009


My friends and I decided to have a potluck cum mini BBQ at East Coast Park on New Year's Eve. I flipped through some recipes and decided to do - pizza slice! It looked appetizing in the pictures and I was praying that mine would turn out well.

The original recipe called for ready made puff pastry. I did not have that in hand hence I decided to use pie pastry instead. For me, the challenge was the pastry base. I did not have any prior experience doing the pie pastry. In this attempt, the pie pastry did not turn out as well. It became soggy after i added tomato paste and the rest of the toppings. Perhaps i did not let my pastry base cool before adding the toppings.

There was this grave mistake I made while adding the toppings. The recipe indicated oregano herb to be added and i used dried rosemary instead. Little did I know that rosemary gives of a very strong and bitter taste. To think that the label even mentioned that rosemary is suitable for pizzas. Yucks! I am never ever going to touch rosemary again. Apart from the rosemary misfortune, the toppings turn out well. The toppings were simple yet they blended harmoniously. My elder brother and his girlfriend commented that i added too much capsicum and I can add in sausages and mushrooms.

This recipe is worth a second attempt man! Next time round, I will make sure the pie pastry turns out better. Imagine adding cheese sausages, button mushrooms, black pepper ham, onions, tomato paste and cheese and topping them all over the base... yummy! Shall post the recipe when I am satisfied with my next attempt. Stay tuned..

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Orange and Lime Cheesecake


I am starting to get addicted to cheesecakes. This was one that I made for last year's Xmas gathering. I am particularly satisfied with this cheesecake. My very first attempt on this recipe turned out good in terms of taste and appearance. It was dense yet creamy enough in texture and the taste was that of combined citrus and condensed milk.

The fun part was preparing and decorating top of the cake. For this cake, i used candied lime and orange zest. After experimenting and twisting the slices, I managed to come up with a simple yet elegant decoration. That sure gave me a great sense of satisfaction. Haha, I felt pro for a moment then.

Orange and Lime Cheesecake (recipe adapted from Fresh and Tasty Biscuits and Cakes)
Serving size: 8 -10 slices
Equipment and materials:
1) Stand electric beater/ handheld electric beater
2) Food processor/ rolling pin
3) Measuring spoon set
4) Spatula
5) Mixing bowls
6) Wire rack
7) 18cm (7 inch) springform tin
8) Baking tray larger than springform tin
9) Aluminium foil

Biscuit base:
110g digestive biscuits finely crushed
50g melted butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Cheesecake filling:
250g cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 tbs brown sugar
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 tsp finely grated lime zest (I used australian lime)
4 tsp orange juice, strained
4 tsp lime juice, strained
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml condensed milk
2 1/2 tbs whipping cream

1) Prepare biscuit base as mentioned in Preparing a Cheesecake Tin. Freeze prepared base for 10 minutes or until ready for use.
2) Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
4) Place cream cheese, sugar,the zests and juices and beat until creamy. Add in the egg and mix until just combined.
5) Lastly, add in condensed milk then and fold in the cream until well combined.
6) Pour cheesecake filling onto prepared biscuit base.
7) Wrap top and sides of spring form tin with aluminium foil as mentioned in Preparing a Cheesecake Tin. Bake at 160 degrees C for 45 minutes in a water bath.
8) When baked, allow cheesecake to cool in the oven with oven door ajar for 30 minutes.
9) Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
10) Place cooled cheesecake tin in the refrigerator and chill for 4-6 hours. Dislodge cheesecake from cheesecake tin.

1) To slice cheesecake nicely, wipe the knife after each slice with kitchen towel/s.
2) To smooth the sides of the cheesecake, dip a knife in hot water. Wipe the knife dry and run it around the perimeter of the cheesecake. Repeat the step if necessary.

Gingerbread Cookies


Ok here goes another delayed post. Gingerbread cookies are the best in representing the Xmas mood. They come in attractive shapes and are adorned with colourful icings. I tried baking these cookies for the first time and it sure was a tiring attempt. It was like a cookie baking marathon for me when i was trying to bake these and the chocolate chip cookies.

These cookies had a slight spicy ginger taste and the tone of brown is on the light side. I find these cookies rather soft. Perhaps they are meant to be like that. The tough part when baking these cookies is cutting the dough and placing them on the baking tray. When handling the soft cut-out dough, i had problems trying not to disfigure the gingerbreadman and break them. Even after much chilling, the dough was still too soft to handle for big cut out shapes like the gingerbread man.

When preparing the icing, I had some doubts. The icing consisted mainly icing sugar and egg whites. What i was doubtful was whether uncooked eggwhites would be safe for consumption. From what i have gathered, it seems that uncooked egg whites has antibacterial properties. Once again, having to bake several batches of cookies and putting the icing on took me quite a few hours. If only there were someone who could help me out and lighten my load. I realise baking can be quite time consuming and laborious.

I was glad that the cookies turned out somewhat presentable. Good thing i had green food colouring in hand and it suited the Xmas mood. I thought the icing looked attractive and added much life to the cookies. In the end i decided only to put icing on the smalled cut-out cookies and not the gingerbread man as i was afraid that the gingerbread man cookies will break.

Chocolate Chip Cookies


For Xmas i decided to bake Chocolate chip cookies for my friends. This was my 3rd time baking these cookies and i was pretty confident they would turn out well. These cookies never failed to amaze me. One of my friend whom i had known since Sec Sch joked that i bought the cookie from famous amos and passed them off as my baked cookies. Another friend commented that they tasted really nice and i can start to sell cookies. I thought that i would suffer a lost if i start to make these cookies since it takes me 2 hours to get one recipe quantity of cookies done. Not to mention there is still the tedious washing up to do and mess to clear. Arghh!!! That is the part i hated most!...

Well, I'm not trying to boast or anything. It is just that the recipe is really a good one hence the cookies always turn out to be pleasent smelling and cripsy. I would say they are 80% as good as famous amos cookies. The original recipe called for chopped nuts but i ommited them and added more chocolate chips instead. This is definitely one recipe i would greatly recommend!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe kindly shared by Hugbear from Bakingmum)

125g butter softened at room temperature
75g caster sugar
60ml brown sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon or 7 drops of vanilla essence
150g plain flour
45g cornflour
1/2 tsp bicarbonanate of soda (baking soda)
pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
60g chopped nuts
125g chocolate chips (use more if desired)

1) Cream butter with both sugars till light, pale and fluffy. Beat egg with vanilla and add to butter mixture. Mix well.
2) Sift plain flour, cornflour, baking soda and salt together and add to the mixture in 1). Mix until a soft dough is obtained. Do not overmix.
3) Stir in chopped nuts and chocolate chips.
4) Drop levelled teaspoons of cookies onto baking tray lined with baking paper.
5) Bake at 180 degrees C for 18-20mins. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Things to note:
1) If nuts are ommitted, chill shaped dough for 30 minutes before baking to prevent dough from spreading too much and ending up with flat shaped cookies.
2) Chilling and addition of nuts prevent cookies from excessive spreading.
3) If dough is too sticky to handle, chill dough for 40minutes before shaping. The dough should harden and become less sticky.

Chocolate Mud Cheesecake

choc mud cheesecake

Tried baking this cheesecake from Catherine Lau's Cheesecake Seduction. I made a mistake by not following the recipe exactly and substituting whipping cream with nestle cream in order to save cost. After having done so i realised that maybe nestle cream isnt so suitable for cake making afterall. It had a strong smell as compared to normal chilled cream. If i had used whipping cream, i think the cheesecake would have turned out creamier. The cheesecake that i baked turned out to be a dense mud chocolate cheesecake. It tasted funny and a bit salty, perhaps due to the nestle cream. However, after chilling the cake for 2 days, the taste improved and the funny taste was gone. Well, i read that cheesecakes mature their flavour when they are chilled for a longer period of time.

Quite a pity that the cake looked good but the taste wasnt what i expected. I am definitely going to try this recipe again next time. For my second attempt, i will make sure that i stick to the recipe closely.

Sultana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Whew! It had been a busy period for me during Xmas and New Year. This post should have came up much earlier.
I wasnt satisfied with my maiden attempt on muffin baking. It turned out slightly stiff and kueh like in texture. The taste was bland and the muffin stucked to the paper liners. I guess i slightly overmixed the batter. The ideal batter should be lumpy while i tried to break up the lumps.
On my second attempt, the muffins did not turned out good either. The batter was very watery which i though was because i had added too much orange juice.
With some perseverance, i managed to get decent muffins on my 3rd attempt. This time round i mixed the liquid and dry ingredients until they were just nicely combined. The muffins came out to be soft, fluffy and kueh-like. Hmm... I wonder if authentic muffins are supposed to be like this.
After having done some reading on muffins, my understanding is that there is generally 2 kinds of muffins. One is by using melted butter while the other is by the creaming butter method. The muffins derived from these two methods are totally different in texture. Muffins yielded by the previous method would be slightly kueh-like while the latter kind of muffins are more cake-like. The muffins that i attempted belongs to the first category. In my opinion, muffins done by the creaming butter method are no different from cupcakes. In actual fact, i feel that majority of muffins you find in stores are fluffy and cake-like. Tastewise, i think that cake-like muffins seem to be more agreeable with my palate.
The original recipe that i followed called for blueberries. Thinking that fresh blueberries would not be so easily available in supermarkets, i substituted them with sultanas and choc chips that i had in hand. The amount of sugar used in this recipe is on the low side hence the resulting taste of the muffin is light. This is compensated by the sweetness and aroma of the sultanas and chocolate chips.
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