Monday, 31 December 2012

Fresh Strawberry Cream Cake

 The same strawberry cake again? Yes, I'm afraid so. I've been a pretty selfish baker these days where I've been baking the same things over and over again. The point of this blog is to push me to try something new each time but my selfish desires were stronger this time round. I crave for more strawberry cake and I thought I must let my friends try some of this cake before I move on. This is basically a cake version of the Christmas Hat Strawberry Cupcakes that I've made on my last post.
At the KK christmas party, my friends were a little bit fooled by the appearance of the cake when I told them that this was a strawberry cake. The assumption was mainly based on the strawberry on top of the cake and hence called strawberry cake. And also because the crust on the outside doesn't show its' natural pink hue and so they assumed it was a plain cake base. Well, surprise's full of strawberry flavour. Strawberry bang all over. Apparently it's the best cake I've made that they've tasted to date. Selfish baking desires justified right here!

I had plans on making fresh strawberry frosting to accompany the cake but then decided to fall back on using whipped cream. I guess I didn't want to go overboard with the strawberries just in case some people in the group find it a bit too much.
Now you can see the pinkiness of the strawberry cake :)
This cake is quite dense, crumbly and moist. You can have up to four layers of cake from this recipe by dividing the cake batch into 2 to hasten the baking time. As you can only see two layers here and that's because I decorated each cake separately. I know not everyone is a cake monster like me, hehe.

Fresh Strawberry Cream Cake

(adapted from An Edible Mosaic)

2½ cups plain flour
2 ⅛ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
⅛ tsp bicarb soda
9 oz hulled fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups chopped strawberries, lightly packed)
112.5g (½ cup/1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups caster sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup milk (any kind)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp strawberry extract (if available)

1. Preheat oven to 180° C/160°C fan-forced. Grease 2 x 20cm cake tins; line base with baking paper.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor (you will get about 1 1/4 cups of strawberry liquid); set aside.

3. Cream together butter and sugar, then cream in the eggs; mix in the milk, vanilla extract, strawberry extract, and pureed strawberries. Use a wooden spoon to stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients all at once, stirring just enough to combine and being careful not to over-mix.

4. Divide and pour the batter into the greased cake tins evenly and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, approximately 35 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Hat Strawberry Cupcakes

Happy Christmas everyone! May everyone have an enjoyable time with their family and friends on this festive season. For Christmas, I've always dreamt of having a special feast with my family, hanging up stockings in my bedroom, having a massive tree in my house with presents underneath and dressed up warm and cosy, drinking hot chocolate around a fireplace. Unfortunately, that is never the case for me. First of all, Christmas down in the southern hemisphere is summer and therefore hot chocolate would be out of my list and I'd rather prefer to have a cool and refreshing dessert on my christmas menu like a strawberry cupcake. Secondly, christmas is never celebrated in my family although I very very much would like to celebrate it. It would never go according to plan unless I make it come true myself and I haven't been so motivated. I guess baking christmas desserts, being a little Miss Santa and singing some christmas carols with my sisters is as christmas I can get it to be.
I love this strawberry cupcake.The best cupcake I've ever tasted. It's pink, sweet and full of pure strawberry flavour. It can't get anymore organic than this. This recipe uses fresh strawberries in the batter giving out that fresh aroma of strawberries when you bite into it. Sweet and succulent where I ask for more after the first cupcake.
 As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged for a while now. December was just jam-packed with important events for me going from weddings to conferences to preparing for my 6 month candidature review of my PhD. I was especially nervous with my preparations since I haven't done public speaking for over a year now. My heart was beating fast, I couldn't stand in one spot for long and my hands were shaking which has never happened to me before. But at the very least, I'm glad that was over and done with.
But I guess the best thing that has happened during my absence from blogging was attending my family friend's wedding. As bizarre as it sounds, I've never been through an entire wedding ceremony although I'm already in my 20's. It was a very different experience compared to just showing up to a banquet. I was right behind the scenes where I first got to watch the bride and bridesmaids getting their make-up and hair done. It was also my first time helping out before the tea ceremony began with doing last touch-up's on the food to be served to family and guests and then to the fun part where the groom comes to pick up the bride. For Singaporeans like us, we definitely will not let the groom and groomsmen off so easily to see the bride. The bridesmaids came up with a specially brewed cocktail (diluted soy sauce with wasabi) to serve the guys for each answer the groom gets wrong about his dear bride. Surprisingly, the drink didn't affect the groom as he skulled it down as manly as he could but the groomsmen sure did have a hard time drinking it.
I had to say I cried during the wedding ceremony when the bride and groom were exchanging vows. For the first time, I witnessed such a magical moment. Deep down I felt really happy for them since the bride and I have grown up together. Now that she's stepping into the next chapter of her life, I wish her a blissful marriage and in the very near future, start her next chapter into motherhood.

Christmas Hat Strawberry Cupcakes

(adapted from An Edible Mosaic)
2½ cups plain flour
2 ⅛ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
⅛ tsp bicarb soda
9 oz hulled fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups chopped strawberries, lightly packed)
112.5g (½ cup/1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups caster sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup milk (any kind)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp strawberry extract (if available)

1. Preheat oven to 180° C/160°C fan-forced and line cupcake tins with paper liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor (you will get about 1 1/4 cups of strawberry liquid); set aside.

3. Cream together butter and sugar, then cream in the eggs; mix in the milk, vanilla extract, strawberry extract, and pureed strawberries. Use a wooden spoon to stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients all at once, stirring just enough to combine and being careful not to over-mix.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake wells (filling each about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full) and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 20 to 24 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Yields about 24 to 28 cupcakes

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from Citrus and Candy)

100g white chocolate (containing cocoa butter), chopped
170g cream cheese softened
25g unsalted butter
a spoonful of sour cream (approx. 2 tsps)

1. In a bowl over simmering water, melt the white chocolate. Remove and set aside to cool.

2. Beat the cream cheese, butter and sour cream until smooth. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula to incorporate everything. Add in the cooled white chocolate and beat until smooth. If the mixture is too soft, allow it to become firm in the fridge for 5-10mins before piping it onto the cake.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Lemon Coconut Sour Cream Cake

 Aloha everybody! Summer is approaching as it's constantly sunny in Melbourne. What's not better than having a lemon coconut sour cream cake to celebrate this new-coming season? The cake is moist due to the sour cream, refreshing with the lemony zing and the coconut punch combination all leads to one word in mind: summer! You can tell how much I'm excited for summer.
This cake was in fact baked especially to the man of my life. Happy birthday papa! I really wanted to emulate the look of this cake for ages now and now I've finally filled in another tick-box. For the frosting, I just slightly whipped some thickened cream with some icing sugar where the cream has somewhat thickened in texture than what you started with but still runny enough for it to drip. I don't know how much I've used altogether but I certainly do like the final result!

Lemon Coconut Sour Cream Cake

(adapted from my baking addiction)

1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups caster sugar
zest of 3 medium lemons
2 teaspoons vanilla (I used vanillin)
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup sour cream
½ cup sweetened flaked coconut (I used dessicated coconut)

1. Preheat oven to 180° C/160°C fan-forced. Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans, set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and lime zest mixing together with your fingertips until the sugar is moistened and fragrant. Add the sugar mixture gradually to the butter and beat on medium speed until light fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla.

4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and bicarb soda. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream, beating until well blended after each addition. Fold in coconut.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the top with a spoon or offset spatula.

7. Bake 50 minutes to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

8. Cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Invert cake onto wire rack; gently remove pan. Cool completely.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Chocolate Marquise with blueberry compote

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately. A friend/colleague of mine had passed away over the last weekend and most of us who were associated with him were sad, shocked and traumatised by the sudden news. He, who is at the prime of his age where he's dedicated and starting to build up his own career had all of a sudden just left us. For many of us, it took quite a while to process this reality through our heads. It comes back to tell us that life is unpredictable and you don't know what is going to happen in the next minute of your life. This brings me back to what I have said to a group of people once about my perspective on life and the future when I had first experienced torment and grief as a life-changing matter. I said "Do the most as you can whilst you're still alive. Do it now and don't wait because it could be too late for regrets".
With regards to what I've said, it doesn't necessarily mean travelling around the world, spending all your money on luxuries or doing crazy things that doesn't seem reasonable to many people in this world. What I refer to more importantly is spending time with the people that you love. You never know that your last random chat with someone will actually be your ever last conversation. You never know the goodbye you said to someone before you leave each time would actually be the last farewell. Everyone will be occupied with many things in life which makes them busy but I never see that it's impossible to bring out some spare time to see or contact your beloved family and friends, even if it was just for a few minutes. It will happen if you make it happen.

Despite all this, I've got a wedding of a friend coming in a week. There's a big swing in events but it's something I'm happy about and do look forward to in a positive manner. We've grown up with each other and there is so much in common between our families. There are three daughters per family and we're both the eldest. So lately, I've also been trying to put my sugar fixes on hold to have a reasonably okay figure to fit into my dresses. But it seems like this plan has failed miserably as I'm anticipating to get my hands on some chocolate marquise.
Classy, rich, luxurious, sumptuous, duluxe, indulgent are all the words that come to my mind with regards to the name of this dessert. Without a doubt, this chocolate marquise lives up to these words that I've used to describe. It's so rich and dense in texture that one slice served like a chocolate pate is enough to devour your tastebuds in.

This dessert doesn't seem much of a difference to my last post since a chocolate marquise is somewhat similar to a chocolate mousse, but I just couldn't resist. I wouldn't go without a berry compote in combination with this dessert or even at least the addition of fresh of frozen berries will be very welcoming.

Chocolate Marquise with blueberry compote

(Marquise adapted from Drop Dead Gorgeous Daily and compote from raspberri cupcakes)

Chocolate Marquise
250g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
175g unsalted butter, softened
75g caster sugar
30g high quality cocoa powder
4 large egg yolks
55 ml water
225 g crème fraiche or whipped cream (I used thickened cream)

Blueberry compote
300g blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used fresh)
¼ cup (55g) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract (I used vanillin)
Note: You may want to decrease the amount you make for the compote to half or less because the original recipe provides too much for this dessert.

1. In a heatproof bowl, gently melt the chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat 130g of butter till slightly fluffy, then mix in half the sugar and cocoa powder until light and fluffy (The mixture should appear to be more pale).

3. In a separate bowl, lightly whip the crème fraiche (or beat the thickened cream till soft peaks form) and set aside.

4. In a clean bowl, combine the remaining butter, sugar, water and egg yolks and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Warm to 70°C and whisk the mixture.

5. Using the electric mixer (with a whisk attachment), whip the egg mixture until light and cool.

6. To combine the marquise, gently fold the chocolate into the butter and cocoa mixture.

7. With a whisk, mix in the egg mixture and lastly fold in the whipped crème fraiche.

8. Place mixture into a prepared dish, smooth top with a palate knife. Cover with clingfilm and set in the fridge for two hours and serve at room temperature. Use a hot knife to cut into slices.

9. Prepare the compote (you may use any berries you want). Place berries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan (if using fresh berries, mash it up first prior to adding the sugar and vanilla). Stir regularly on low-medium heat. Simmer until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the skins away if you prefer. Set aside to cool.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Compote

TGIF! I finally was able to take a deep breathe out of my busy week to meet up, sit down and relax with my high school friends. We haven't had a full house in ages due to everyone's busy schedule from work/studies and it was really sweet to see everyone again...and to have our dosage of gossip of our lives. We went to Tsindos, a Greek family restaurant. The interior design provided a warm family atmosphere catching glimpses of the mediterranean Greece (with my impression of Kalokairi, filmed in Mamma Mia). It was smooth and relaxing to dine in this place as there were guitarists playing Greek songs the whole night to entertain us. Although we couldn't understand a word, the music was soothing to listen to.
To top off the weekend and before I go on a skinny diet, my mind was set to make these chocolate mousse cups accompanied with raspberry compote and fresh blueberries on top. These were amazing. I knew I had to make these when I saw this on Steph's blog. Chocolate mousse or any mousse I should say has always been non-existent in my menu because 9.999999/10 times, I couldn't eat the ones served outdoors. So here's my first official chocolate mousse, and hurrah! I'm not a mousse virgin anymore. It's such an easy thing to make that I can't believe that I didn't make this any earlier! It's rich in chocolate flavour and fluffy in texture. It felt like I was swinging amongst the clouds as I was eating this. This mousse isn't sweet at all because of the dark chocolate with no added sugar. The raspberry compote was a perfect combination with this mousse as I personally find that the mousse might be a bit sickening by itself. I wished I had added more of the compote to each cup because I had leftovers and in my biased opinion, I really liked the compote. This dessert can definitely do with some more sweet fillings, hence I added some fresh blueberries on top.
Hope everyone had a happy weekend. Adios amigos!

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Compote

(adapted from raspberri cupcakes)

Raspberry Compote
300g raspberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen)
¼ cup (55g) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract (I used vanillin)

Chocolate Mousse
180g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
3 large eggs, at room temperature and separated
pinch of salt
225ml thickened cream

1. Prepare the compote first (you may use any berries you want). Place berries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Stir regularly on low-medium heat. Simmer until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain seeds if you prefer. Set aside to cool.

2. For the chocolate mousse, carefully beat thickened cream in a medium-large mixing bowl with an electric mixer till soft peaks form. Place in fridge until ready to use.

3. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the heat and add yolks and salt and stir to combine.

4. Fold whipped cream into mixture. In a separate, medium-large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Carefully fold egg whites into chocolate mixture until combined. The mousse should be smooth and even in colour.

5. Spoon about 1 tbsp of cooled berry compote into the bottom of each serving glass. Finish off with a layer of chocolate mousse over the top of the compote. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until set. Top with more berries or popping candy or fairy floss right before serving.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Celebrations with a Vanilla Butter Birthday Cake

Monday was the celebration of Kris' birthday and I volunteered to bring cake. The week before I asked her what flavour would she like and she happily said vanilla or anything else nice but NOT mango because her family's already getting her a mango cake. Vanilla cake is such a simple and classic dessert that can undergo so many frosting makeovers (or eaten raw) and taste just as great. I've nearly forgotten how fond my memories of vanilla cakes were. One year, I opened the door to welcome my papa home from work and the first thing he said to me was 'Happy Birthday' with a vanilla cake covered entirely with colourful sprinkles. I was completely surprised and delightfully happy.

I've made vanilla cakes a couple of times before but I was still stressed about baking it. Instead of staying in my comfort zone, using the recipes I used to use, I decided to venture out and try a new recipe myself. There was no better person to go to than the vanilla cake guru, Sweetapolita. Gosh she's made so many stunning vanilla cakes that I was blinded by the choices that she's offering. I decided to go with her classic vanilla butter birthday cake as it fits the aim of my baking mission.
One thing that wasn't within my calculations was how much cake I was going to get out of this batter. This recipe could give you 3 individual cakes, and the main point was that I didn't need so many in the first place. I should've read the recipe carefully in the first place. The first time I have to admit that a cake monster like me was feeling so overwhelmed by the amount of cake I get from a recipe.

From reading my previous posts you probably would know that I'm scared of sugary, deadly sweet buttercreams. Normally by looking at a colour-tinged buttercream frosting outside a cake, I would shun away from it as far as I can. Luckily, Sweetapolita has also given me a fruity buttercream recipe that doesn't require any artificial colouring. I love this raspberry buttercream where it gives off the natural pinkish colour and the raspberries mask the deadly sweet flavour of th buttercream. Therefore, I was able to add more icing sugar than usual at ease.
This cake completely suits Kris as she's such a cute and bubbly person with a teenage girl still living inside her. This celebration was rather funny as nobody brought candles along so she had to blow them out with imaginary candles. How dreamy...

Classic Vanilla Butter Birthday Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

(adapted from Sweetapolita)

4 large eggs (separated), at room temperature
3 ½ cups (420g) sifted cake flour*
4 tsp (20g) baking powder
½ (3g) tsp salt
1 cup (227g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar, divided
2 tsp (10mL) pure vanilla extract (I used vanillin)
1 cup (250mL) milk, at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
*1 cup of cake flour = (1 cup plain flour - 2tsp) + 2tsp cornflour. Sift mixture 4-5 times till it's fully incorporated with each other.
1. Preheat oven to 180° C/160°C fan-forced. Butter and flour three - 8 inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment/baking paper and grease and flour parchment paper.

2. While eggs are still cold, separate them, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic warp and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using, about 30 mins.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add 1½ cups of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

5. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
6. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
7. In the clean bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
8. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over-mix the batter or it will deflate.
9. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula.
10. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan gently. Once the cakes are completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour (to make filling and frosting the cakes easier).
Raspberry Buttercream
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract (I used vanillin)
pinch of salt
15ml raspberry puree (push through fine mesh to remove seeds)
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter till pale and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients except the puree. Mix on low speed for 1 minute to incorporate everything then beat on medium speed for approximately 6 minutes. Add the puree and beat until incorporated.
Note: This amount is a bit more than enough to frost one standard 8 inch cake. I sliced the cake in half and frosted the inner layers as well. You might want to double up the amount if you want to frost the whole three layered cake. You may add more icing sugar to get your desired sweetness.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A warm welcome with...Coffee Cream Cake

This weekend has brought me into a big dilemma. The familiarity of my indecisiveness has come back to haunt me as I’m lost upon choosing the right dessert amongst so many choices. My aunt from Singapore has decided to come over to travel around Australia for a month and her first stop is good ol' Melbourne, and she's staying with us of course. I’ve been wracking my brains for ideas of what cake I should bake. What I originally had wanted to bake for the weekend has suddenly been taken over by the stress of my mother telling me what cake to bake clashing with me wanting to bake something extraordinary to impress my aunt. I was a very unhappy. Finally, I decided to take a back a few steps, have some deep breathes and calmed down. I decided to be myself and not focus too much on impressing someone as you can sometimes lose the point by doing so. There's a chinese saying that goes by: "Don't give what you don't like". True. At least I know the bottom line for me is that if I’m not going to be happy, everyone else is most likely going to feel the same as well.
I kept on brainstorming what my aunt would like despite I could've just easily asked my papa that question. Suddenly, Kopi-O came to mind. Kopi-O is the trademark coffee in Singapore and Malaysia which is just the traditional strong black coffee served with sugar. You will always come across a 'Kopitiam' (coffee shop) in every single corner of Singapore because it's just a part of their lifestyle...having a kopi to kickstart the day. Ugh, I dislike coffee. I'm one of those people who don't know how to appreciate coffee because they all taste the same to me (just as bitter). However, I do like the smell of coffee though. Wierd huh?
Despite my ramblings of my distaste for coffee, I do quite like this coffee cream cake of mine. The first time I tried this cake was from a bubbly aunty that I know of and she is an expert on this. I love how soft and delicate the cake is and the coffee cream flavour was acceptable to my degree. There's some elegance about this coffee cream cake that I can't describe properly. Of course, my aunt gave me a thumbs up to this as well.

I decorated this cake on the go and it ended up looking like this...which turned out pretty okay I guess. It took me a while to decided what to put on the top of the cake and here I go into auto-pilot mode again: chocolate. Instead of grating chocolate this time, I used a vegetable peeler to peel off small layers of a milk chocolate block. I like the mini curls that I get out of it. I would suggest that you use a spoon to sprinkle the chocolate shavings on top of the cake instead of using your bare fingers. Your fingers would potentially crush the delicate chocolate curls.
I would totally have no reference as to where this cake originally came from since it was passed down to me in a chinese-whispers-manner. So in this post, I would like to reserve the coffee cream cake recipe. I guess I'll post up the recipe when I do find the recipe or something really similar? In this world where people are frowned upon copying and not acknowledging one's work, I would not want to be one of those. There are so many people out there who don't give a damn about these things. Reminds me of my primary school days where the boy who sat next to me wrote his name on my work once and handed it in as his. Of course, I did not back down and took it on with the teacher. I won.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Chocolate Chip Raspberry Cheesecake

I've been itching to try out this recipe for a while now. The only thing different was that I replaced it with raspberries and drizzled white chocolate on top and here you go Chocolate Chip Raspberry Cheesecake with White Chocolate Drizzles *swoon*. Cherries aren't in season yet in Australia although summer is coming in a month-ish time and I was not going to go out and get myself an expensive batch of cherries. I like recipes that are relatively easy and economical. I mean if you want to compare baking a cheesecake to a standard cake which mainly contains butter, eggs and flour, then of course the cheesecake is more pricey. However, you definitely get more value out of it by baking it yourself rather than buying one from the cake stores.
My mother creeped out when she saw me pulling out the frozen raspberries for baking this cheesecake. She has low tolerance for sour berries especially, but this cheesecake surely did not disappoint her. The sourness of the raspberries compensated for the sweetness of this cheesecake and the white chocolate drizzles on top made it a perfect combination. Insanely delicious. I wouldn't omit the white chocolate for this recipe. Never! I would love to try the original version as well once the cherries are cheaply available in the market.
Baking this cheesecake was the death of me because I did another late night baking session - the ninja style. It was wayyyy past my bedtime by the time I finished baking and cleaning up my mess. Although I could've easily taken my time to bake this cheesecake on the following day, time constraints did not permit me to do so. It is my little sister's sweet 16th birthday and sadly I had to pop into uni on the same day to do some work for my weekly meetings.

My little sister loves her cheesecakes. Actually we all do. My papa once bought a kilo's worth of marie biscuits from Costco just for me to bake a stash of cheesecakes. No I'm not exaggerating here. This cheesecake is a winner, I mean how could you not love the refreshing taste from the raspberries, the tangyness of the cheesecake and the chocolate amongst everything? Less than a quarter was left by the end of the night amongst 7 people. Many went for seconds and one went for a third...
One of the troubles I had with this cake was cutting it and the crumbs would fall apart easily. I should've made more biscuit crumbs for the base on the corner of the tart tin to be more thicker and bake it in the oven for more stability. I placed it in the freezer instead thinking it'll do the same thing...I guess was wrong.

Chocolate Chip Raspberry Cheesecake

(presentation inspired by Eat, Little Bird and recipe adapted from raspberri cupcakes)

2 cups (about 200g) of crushed digestive biscuits (I used arrowroot biscuits)
1 tbsp sugar
100g butter, melted
150g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) + 2 tsp cold water
150g finely chopped dark chocolate, or 3/4 cup mini dark choc chips (I blitzed my chocolate in the food processor to make the pieces really tiny)
300g cream cheese, softened
60g (about 1/2 cup) icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml thickened cream
50g white chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced . Line the base of a 20 to 22cm loose-base flan tin or tart tin with baking paper. Mix crushed biscuits and 1 tbsp sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until well combined. Press the mixture into the base of the tin forming an even layer, then using your fingers to gently push the mixture up to the sides of the tin, leaving a sufficiently thick border. Bake the biscuit base for 15–20 minutes. Place the tin on a wire rack and allow it cool completely.

2. Place raspberries, lemon juice and 1 tbsp sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat. Crush the raspberries until they're pureed and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the cornflour mixture to the saucepan and continue stirring over heat until mixture starts to thicken, then set aside to cool.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla at high speed until it becomes smooth and creamy. At low speed, gradually add the finely chopped chocolate and beat until it is evenly distributed. Add the raspberry mixture to the cream cheese filling and stir until combined.

4. In a separate mixing bowl, carefully beat the cream to stiff peaks (keep a close eye on this as the thickened cream is easy to overbeat). Fold cream into the rest of the mixture and then pour over the cooled crust. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

5. Melt the white chocolate either in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water or carefully in the microwave. Pour the melted chocolate into a small plastic zip-lock bag, snip off a corner and slowly drizzle the melted chocolate over the cheesecake. Return the cheesecake to the fridge to set for about 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Devil's Food Raspberry Layer Cake

This post is a special one as I'd like to dedicate it to my brother (cousin). Happy birthday! Although we are oceans apart, your presence is still muchly missed. I would sometimes address older guys that I know as ‘brother’ out of politeness (as it’s common in our Asian culture to do so) but I’ve always naturally called him brother since a little girl. I never call someone 'brother' as effortlessly as I do with him. We may have only seen each other no more than 10 times in our life, but we would always hit off when we see each other. I miss our casual stroll down to the park on a nice sunset evening, sitting on the swings and talking mindlessly about anything that comes to mind. I felt safe and secure during those timeless moments. I also miss the deep and meaningful conversations that we had which could've possibly lasted till 5am in the morning if our parents didn't nag us to get some sleep.
I was inspired to do this cake when I stumbled upon it on Gourmet Traveller. Despite how amazing it looks, the recipe looked overwhelming and impractical due to my diet restrictions. I can't imagine cutting a slice from an 8-layered cake, although I'm confident that I could finish a slice myself, hehe. In my mind I was imagining how the layers will fall apart as I'm cutting it and that would be my worst nightmare. So then, I thought I'd come up with my own smaller version of that chocolate raspberry layer cake.
I was tempted to try David Lebovitz's recipe for the first time. What not better to start off with his Devil's Food Cake that is full of chocolatey goodness. The cake is smooth and delicate in texture and is not overbearingly sweet in taste. However, I guess I could've used milk chocolate ganache or even buttercream instead of dark chocolate ganache to marry the sourness of the raspberries since the cake is not that sweet to begin with.
There are so many things that I wished I could've done differently to the assembly of this cake. The first mini kitchen disaster was leaving the cake a little bit longer in the oven as I didn't hear the alarm ringing the second time round. It certainly would not do any justice to a cake that's meant to be moist in the first place. The next few events didn't go as well as I had planned. I probably shouldn't have made a 4-layered cake but just keep the 2 layers of cake as it is and have one generous slab of whipped cream in between. Next the frozen raspberries starts dripping out on the cream as they thaw. Lastly, the chocolate ganache on top drooped down in quite an ugly way. It wasn't even meant to droop down in the first place. Gahhh what could get worse here on.
Well, given that my brother is not around to see me hang my head in shame on the appearance of this cake, I do however have one last message for him: "Please come back to Australia again! Although it should be my shot to come visit you overseas this time round" =P

Devil's Food Raspberry Layer Cake

(adapted from David Lebovitz's Devil's Food Cake Recipe)

9 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ cups cake flour (It's not self-raising flour! I used plain flour)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp bicarb soda
¼ tsp baking powder
112.5g (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup strong coffee (or water)
½ cup whole or low-fat milk
Optional: 1-2 punnets of raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease and flour two 20cm cake pans; line bottoms with circles of baking paper.

2. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, bicarb soda, and baking powder in a bowl. Using an electric mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until it's fully incorporated.

3. Mix together the coffee and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then add the coffee and milk. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients.

4. Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
Please refer to the original recipe if you want to cover the whole entire cake with ganache.

100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup water (or cream)
50g unsalted butter, chopped

In a mini saucepan, bring the water to boil with small-medium heat. Add in the chopped chocolate to the water, stirring occasionally till it's completely melted. Remove the saucepan from heat and add in the butter. Whisk them into the chocolate until completely melted and smooth in texture. Cool ganache at room temperature for approx. 1 hr or wrap up with cling wrap and leave in the fridge to set.

Whipped Cream
300g thickened cream
1 tbsp icing sugar

Beat the thickened cream with electric mixer for approx. 2mins and then add in the icing sugar. Continue to beat the cream until stiff peaks start forming.

Assembling the cake
For both of the cakes, slice them horizontally across into two equal parts to get 4 layers (you may want to trim the tops off a bit if you want straight even layers). Crumb coat the first layer of cake with cream, then cover the cake with some more cream, smoothing out with an offset spatula. Distribute some raspberries on top. Add the next layer of cake on top. Repeat the same steps for the second and third layer of cake. The cream should be fully used up by the third layer. For the fourth layer of cake, spread the dark chocolate ganache on top using an offset spatula and top up with some raspberries.

Serve immediately. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature and keep it away from sunlight.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

TGIF: I wasn’t feeling too well. My head felt drowsy and heavy. My arms and legs felt tingly. The weather was crap with the sky coloured grey and accompanied by rain. On top of everything, I was tired and it took me more effort listening to people talking and to register all the information. But there was a concert that I’ve booked months in advance to attend. Was I going to give up so easily on my first ever concert to go and see Maroon 5? Hell no.
First time experiences always leave the biggest impression. For the first time, I went crazy like everyone else. Waiting with excitement, constantly smiling for no reason like a smitten fan girl, screaming louder and louder through each song, waving my hands as Adam Levine instructs, standing and grooving to the songs I loved, clapping my hands till it got numb, clicking away with numerous snapshots until my camera nearly went out of battery and getting deafened from all the screams and whistles. Adam Levine and the rest of Maroon 5 delivered such an outstanding performance. It was more than a sensation to listen to the live shows than watching it on-screen. On a stage with no airy-fairy props but just raw talent, sexiness and humour ;)

I was impressed by how I managed to survive through the whole night but more interestingly, I was surprised by the girl who sat behind me. She was asleep throughout the whole performance. I was struck in awe of how she still managed to sleep through that level of noise.
These chocolate fudge brownies are just as sexy as Adam Levine. The gush of aroma coming out of the oven was already irresistible. It was not reach out to the oven. Desires were strong but these brownies are best to be sliced and eaten once completely cool. Oh gosh, how was I supposed to wait?! Even my papa wanted a slice straightaway as well.

I started having doubts about this recipe when the first bite I took was quite bitter. It wouldn't be too surprising since they were chock loads of dark chocolate in this recipe. But then I realised the flavour didn't mature until the next day. That was when the true texture and flavour of a brownie came about. So I would suggest that you bake brownies a day in advance...but who really does that these days? 

I've never really eaten brownies. Even when I used to work at Mrs. Fields, I never bothered trying their brownies for which they're popular for although it was within my reach the whole entire time. Even the times when my lady boss had me to take some home, I gave it all to my family. Now I look back, I tend to ask what was wrong with me back then? I know this sounds wierd, but I don't normally eat or buy things from the place I work at (although it's free or discounted) unless I really needed it. I guess I just like to keep work and personal life completely separate from each other.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

(adapted from Women's Weekly MIX)

150g butter, chopped
300g dark eating chocolate, finely chopped
1½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork in a small bowl
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup dark Choc Bits or chocolate chips
½ cup (120g) sour cream
3/4 cup roasted macadamias, chopped coarsely (I used ½ cup almonds instead since I didn't have macadamias)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease 19cm x 29cm slice pan. Line base with baking paper, extending paper 5cm over long sides.

2. Stir butter and dark chocolate in medium-large saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool 10mins.

3. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla extract into chocolate mixture, then sifted flour, Choc Bits, sour cream and nuts. Spread mixture into pan.

4. Bake brownies for 40 minutes. Cover pan with foil; bake for further 20 minutes. Cool in pan before cutting.