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Using up the leftovers

6 Feb

I’m not sure about you but I am terrible at finishing up items that I have bought in my pantry.  Half opened this and thats scatter my groaning shelves (since I have to put everything overhead so that bubs doesn’t get to them!)  In keeping with Chinese New Year traditions, I tried to do a little spring cleaning of my pantry (and fridge)  A half opened box of Weetabix, almonds, sesame seeds and a bottle of honey in the pantry.  A half opened box of mascarpone cheese and butter.  It sounded like a possible dessert combination.  I also had some lovely plums from the market which were a lovely crimson.  Perfect!  But what to make?

For dinner today, I was slow cooking some pork – about the same temperature to roast almonds in!  Great!  So the almonds pop into the oven along with the pork, while I rack my brains as to what to make.  I remembered my cousin making some rather yummy cornflake clusters previously for CNY with the buttery honey taste making a lasting impression on me.  So I figured a plum tart kind of thing should be good, right?

So it turned out better than good.  The hubs polished off more than half of it.  The bubs told me to keep the left overs so that he could have it tomorrow.  My leftovers are finished and I’m emboldened to try something else the next time.  But first, I have to bring down those items to remind me that I actually have them…

Plum tart

Ingredients

20g Weetabix

75g whole almonds

30g sesame seed

125g butter

0.75 cup honey

100g mascarpone cheese

2 ripe plums

Method

  1. Roast almonds whole at 150 degrees celsius for 20 minutes and leave to cool
  2. Melt honey and butter in a pan on low heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  4. Chop almonds and Weetabix up coarsely with food processor.
  5. Add almonds, Weetabix and sesame seeds to the butter and honey and mix well.
  6. Press mixture into a lined baking pan and bake for 8 minutes.
  7. Slice up plum into even slices.
  8. Invert tart base into serving plate and leave to cool.
  9. Coat with mascarpone cheese and place plum slices on the top.

Tips

  1. As with all things with lots of honey in them, watch the tart base like a hawk!  As you can see, I had a bit of singeing just because I was trying to be wonder woman and got distracted.
  2. You can use clotted cream or whipped cream instead of mascarpone cheese.
  3. You can use strawberries, peaches, nectarines or even blue berries instead of plums.
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Going absolutely bananas!

5 Feb

If you do read this blog on a regular basis, you’d know I am a muffin freak.  So it wasn’t too surprising that it was what I decided to make when my husband got yet another dollar bag of bananas that were about to go.

Admittedly, all this baking and cooking has been going to the hips – remember the old saying “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips?”  I’m definitely learning this fast!  So I’ve been trying to eat healthy (let’s see how long that lasts!)  Nothing screams healthy louder than wholemeal flour, yes?  So in the same vein, I figured honey and olive oil sounded like good things to use too.  The result were very filling muffins which definitely kept the muchies at bay. (And when I say munchies I actually mean crunchies which are way too easily available at work – for fundraising too!  How is a girl supposed to say no?)  And let’s just say the fibre in these babies is HIGH!  Am quite pleased with my healthy snackeroos which also scores high in the natural sugars department!

Am trying to get used to my replacement camera.  It’s got lots of functions but I’m not sure how to use them.  I miss my DSLR.

Banana Muffins

Makes 6 – 8 muffins

Ingredients

3 large very ripe bananas

0.6 cup self raising wholemeal flour

0.5 tsp ground cinnamon

30ml olive oil

40ml honey

0.5 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Peel and mash up the bananas.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients together.
  5. Mix the dry with the wet ingredients.
  6. Spoon into muffin cups
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer poked into the muffin comes out clean.

A recipe that’s going to be passed down the generations

30 Jan

There’s one Chinese New Year cookie that I really love – pineapple tarts. But I’m quite specific about the type of tart. I only eat the sort with the melt in your mouth pastry. The pineapple filling has to be just right – lots of pineapple, sweet but not too sweet, with just the right amount of tartness to cut through the richness of the pastry.

In Singapore, it costs a pretty penny for a bottle of pineapple tarts especially during the festive season. There will be sellers that proclaim that their wares are “hand-grated pineapples” or “cognac infused” and such. So pineapple tarts have always seemed close to impossible to master on your own unless you had lots of skill or a secret recipe.

With a little time on my hands and a huge craving of pineapple tarts which aren’t readily available here, I embarked on a hunt for THE recipe. Unfortunately, I came up with a lot of recipes for the pastry but few for the pineapple filling as many Singaporeans ended up buying the jams premade. The recipes for the jams that I found often used canned pineapples which definitely cut down the time but to me, seemed to be a short cut and sugar laden. I was also not keen to buy any more ingredients than I already had in my kitchen as the likelihood of me finishing it would be low with only a couple of months to go in Melbourne. So I took the plunge and experimented with a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

It took me 2 goes with the jam to get it just right for my tastebuds and it allowed me to find out what the deal was with “hand grated” pineapple jams vs “food processor” pineapple jams. It also allowed me to tweak the pastry recipe to make it easier to handle and have a higher melt in your mouth factor.

The tarts aren’t actually difficult to do. It is just time consuming. From 1 large pineapple, I get 1 small bowl of jam (refer to the picture to get an idea of the ratio!). The jam actually makes about 70 cookies (depending on the size of the cookies) which can fill up 2 small jar as a gift but the time spent stirring the jam while it dries out is quite significant. It isn’t one of those things you can leave to simmer while doing something else.

Having said that, there is a certain amount of satisfcation I have looking and eating the cookies. It’s a definite keeper this recipe – hopefully, I’ll have time to make them once a year for family for Chinese New Year!

Pineapple tarts

Pineapple jam

Ingredients

1 large pineapple

5 tbs honey

1 tbs flour

3 tbs sugar

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground clove

¼ tsp ground start anise

Method

  1. Skin and de-eye 1 large pineapple. Core the pineapple and chop the flesh into quarters.
  2. Grate the pineapple and strain the pulp. Drink up the juice!
  3. Using a non-stick wok, fry the pulp until dry.
  4. Add the honey and stir continuously.
  5. Add the flour, sugar and spices. Stir until combined.
  6. Allow to cool and form small balls of jam to be placed on the tart.

Tips

  1. What’s the difference between hand grating and food processing? Hand grating means that the pulp has more “body” vs food processing where the pulp gets chopped up to finer bits. Hand grating also means that any little bit of core you miss out coring out ends up as a long fibrous bit in your jam. Food proccessing does give the option of using the core but one can end up with a jam that is softer as the fibres are a lot smaller.
  2. Be patient with the straining as you want the pulp to be dry. If you don’t strain well, you end up having to spend more time over the stove drying the pulp out. At the same time, you don’t want to place all the pulp in a cheese cloth and squeezing all the juice out as you need some of the juice to caramelise and give the pulp the flavor.
  3. What is I don’t have a wok? The wok is ideal as there is a large surface area to allow the pulp to dry but it is not 100% necessary. A saucepan works just fine.
  4. How dry is dry? I found that the pulp is dry enough when it starts to form a ball when you stir. It needs to be this dry as the jam needs to have a certain amount of “thickness” to allow you to make them into balls.
  5. The honey is used to make the jam sticky. Sugar on it’s own doesn’t have enough binding abilities.
  6. Every pineapple varies in sweetness so I suggest you taste the jam before you add the sugar.
  7. The flour gives the jam a firmness (like jam made with a bread maker)
  8. You can use a melon baller to give a uniformed sized ball each time.

Pastry

(Adapted from The Little Teochew)

Ingredients

1.6 cups all purpose flour

0.2 cup corn flour

150g butter (cold)

2 egg yolks + 2 tbs cold water (½ egg yolk for glazing, 1½ to add to the mixture)

3 tbs icing sugar

¼ tsp vanilla

Method

  1. Using a food processor, blitz the 2 flours and icing sugar with butter until crumbs form.
  2. Add the vanilla essence to 1½ of the egg yolk/water mixture.
  3. Slowly pouring the liquid mixture into the crumbs until it just comes together.
  4. Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper to about 0.8cm – 1cm thickness and place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the tart base.
  6. Place a jam ball on a tart base and press down gently on the ball.
  7. Using the remaining egg yolk as a wash, paint a light layer over the tart.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 160 degrees celsius

Tips

  1. You can rub the butter in with the flour but I find that the food processor is faster and less mess. It also takes out the muscle work of having to cut up the butter to rub in.
  2. Add the liquid portion to the crumb portion tablespoon by tablespoon until it just comes together. This is to avoid having a very sticky dough that is impossible to work with.
  3. I find that rolling the pastry out first at this point is easier as the butter is slightly melted, rather than putting it into the fridge and then having to exert strength to roll it out. Then I put the rolled out pastry into the fridge so that it is easier to handle (and less messy) for cutting up.  But don’t leave it for too long as it hardens up and makes it very difficult to cut.
  4. If you are working in a warm environment, I suggest planning everything and laying everything out first before starting on the pastry as this would make it a lot easier and less messy.
  5. The amount of pastry is slightly more the jam usually but it depends on the size of your pineapple.

I love cheesecakes!

21 Jan

Yes, I’ve got a sweet tooth AND I love rich food.  Not good for the waist line at all!  Doesn’t help that I’m short either.  This means that I have to spread the guilt around when I bake (or in this case, don’t bake) .  A potluck is always a good excuse to cook something sinful in terms of calories, but a bad time to experiment with a new recipe or so I’ve learnt!

In Singapore, there’s a very popular dessert / snack called Jelly Hearts.  They cost a pretty penny to buy but are really popular despite the price.  After having tried to make it myself, I reckon that if you aren’t fussy about appearances, I could probably make a decent one.  I have also discovered that my freezer shelf is lopsided after cutting my cheesecake.  The layers had set in uneven layers.

There isn’t actually a recipe that would give me the exact measurements for the aluminium tin pan I had.  So I tried to guess the amounts required.  Not too good I must say – the crust was over the top thick and the jelly not thick enough!  I didn’t help things by spilling a good portion of the jelly when I banged into the fridge whilst trying to put the cake into the freezer.  Also, I didn’t have time to nip out to get the strawberries (which do a mainly decorative job in my opinion)  I’m just waiting for another potluck to try this thing out again with the correct proportions (as I have written below) and maybe with some strawberries.

Strawberry Jelly Cheesecake

Makes a 20cm by 20cm by 5cm cheesecake (the correct proportions)

Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits

75g butter

250g cream cheese (room temperature)

1 tbs gelatine powder

50 g sugar

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1 box strawberry jello

Method

  1. Crush the digestive biscuits into crumbs.
  2. Melt butter in the microwave for 10 seconds and stir and repeat if required.  Be careful not to burn by over heating.
  3. Mix the biscuit crumbs into the butter and pour into baking tray.  Place baking tray into the freezer to set biscuit base.  It should take about 20 minutes.
  4. Bring the cream cheese to room temperature and add sugar and vanilla essence, blending until smooth.
  5. Dissolve gelatin in hot water and add to the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Pour cream cheese into baking pan and put into the freezer for 30 minutes until set.
  7. Follow the instruction on the box of jello to prepare jello.
  8. Pour jelly over the set cream cheese layer and put in the fridge to set.
  9. Cut and serve chilled.

Tips

  1. It’s always easier to blend cream cheese after bringing to room temperature.
  2. The biscuits can be crushed with a rolling pin and a plastic bag or a food processor.  With the plastic bag, be careful not to make a hole in it, otherwise, it’s going to be a mess!
  3. You can use an electric mixer to blend the cream cheese but I use a food processor as I don’t have a mixer.  You could even do it manually but it takes arm endurance sometimes.
  4. Using the freezer cuts the setting time.  If you wish to leave the cake in for more than 30 minutes, I suggest you use the fridge to set the layer to avoid ice crystal formation.
  5. Don’t allow the gelatine to cool before mixing with the cream cheese as it will set on the edges of the container you used to dissolve it, resulting in a cream cheese layer that is too soft.
  6. Make sure the cream cheese layer is set well before proceeding with the next layer otherwise it will mix.
  7. You can set the jello in the freezer if you are in a hurry but remember to bring it down to the fridge to chill to avoid ice crystals!!
  8. You could use lemon jello or raspberry jello too!  In fact, you could be adventurous and try other flavors!

Going bananas

17 Jan

Time spent with the family, the lack of internet access and the almost constantly overcast sky meant that I have neglected the blog for a while.  I must say that I really miss it!  And then when I was finally ready to blog again, my DSLR died on me.  Sniff!  I felt so crippled without my camera.  Who food blogs without a camera?  Who can?  That was enough to make me go bananas.

Anyhow, the hubs bought 2kg of bananas for $1.  We all know what that means –  Bananas that have to be eaten or used ASAP.  The family suggested banana chips in a bid to be helpful.  The banana chips that we were familiar with are deep fried (in oil used goodness knows how many times) and coated with sugar.  I was aiming for something a little healthier.  So I opted for baking them.  Each tray was finished even before the next tray was in.  Highly addictive but highly labor intensive.  So the rest of the bananas have to be used in a different way – let me know if you have any ideas?  My fall back plan is always muffins.

Banana chips

Ingredients

Ripe bananas

Olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  2. Slice banana into 2mm slices and lay on an oiled baking tray.
  3. Spray or drizzle some olive oil over banana slices.
  4. Put into oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Take out and allow to cool on a cooling rack before placing in bottles.

Tips

  1. It is easier to slice the banana at an angle to get larger pieces to save some time.
  2. The riper the banana, the softer it is and more difficult it is to handle but the sweeter the chips.  You have been warned.
  3. The riper the banana, the browner the chips will be as the sugars caramelize.
  4. The riper the banana, the more likely it is to burn.  If that is the case, turn the temperature down a little and take out when the chips are hard.  It will cool to a crisp.
  5. You can toss with honey and nutmeg.  But honestly, they are so good plain, I just don’t bother.
  6. Raw bananas can be substituted but I find them rather tasteless, necessitating the addition of honey and such.  Also, there is a slimy after feel when being handled before cooking which I dislike.

How to stealth bake for Christmas

24 Dec

Christmas baking in a small apartment is always tricky with a toddler around.  There usually isn’t enough room to roll out dough, cut dough, cool cookies and stuff.  To make it efficient, one would require a lot of space to set up a production line and no distractions.  I definitely don’t have the first and the second is tricky and the only time I have is when bubs is asleep.  I’ve tried baking while he’s awake and let’s just say that at every step of the way, he’s stuck a salivary finger in.

Bearing in mind that rolling out dough requires space and tends to slow one down with all the labor, I started my search for an easy way to make cookies.  All those crinkle cookies started appearing all over the shop, looking so tempting.  So it goes without saying that I would have to have a shot at them.

The night before the planned baking day, I started putting the dough together.  This went into the fridge overnight to harden and allow for manipulation the next day.  Then the big day came with bubs falling asleep very quickly.  How convenient!  But it meant I had to work fast!  I lay out the baking paper on the baking tray and placed the dough balls at the requisite 2 inches apart.  It could only take 12 balls!  Eek!  That meant that I had to work really really fast to get everything out of sight by the time bubs rose from his sleep.

The first tray went in.  I went on making balls, putting them on another sheet of baking paper so I could just quickly transfer them onto the tray once it came out of the oven.  But the 1st tray of cookies were a disaster.  It wasn’t a disaster in terms of taste.  It wasn’t burnt.  But it was really ugly!  I nearly got just 1 entire sheet of cookie!  I was very generous making my 1inch diameter dough balls.  No where online was it stated (I do research various blogs quite a bit before I launch into something new) that the cookie would end up THREE times  the original diameter!  Also, after the initial 10 minutes of baking, I found that the cookies seemed to be quite molten and ended up baking for another 10 minutes.  MISTAKE!  The cookies ended up still slightly molten but cooled to a crisp.  Yet again, my inexperience shone through.  But I had lots of dough left!

Armed with the knowledge I garnered from my first tray, I soldiered on.  I made the balls a lot smaller – about 2.5 cm across.  I ditched rolling the dough in sugar as it was already very sweet with me cutting down on the sugar prior to that.  Furthermore, I didn’t actually have any powdered sugar which was required to have that contrast with the usual crinkle cookies.  The cracks still showed up although not as dramatically.  I also continued to make the balls and lay them out on a plate, cutting the total time I spent on making these cookies.  Another time saving trick?  Since the dough actually melts into a puddle which is your cookie, I didn’t bother making the balls evenly round.

So did I manage to get everything done before bubs was up?  Surprisingly, yes.  I even got them all packed into a cookie jar, ready to be given away as a present.  Which goes to show, good planning does make for success and now I just need to know how to keep bub’s hands out of the jar.  His snail has already beaten him to them…

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Crinkle cookies

Adapted from Bakers Royale

Makes 48 cookies

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup plus 2 levelled tbs all purpose flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

0.5 tsp salt

110g semi-sweet chocolate, melted

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

50g butter, melted and warm

2 tbs honey

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1.5 tsp peppermint extract

Method

  1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix the sugar, oil, butter and honey to blend.
  3. Mix in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and peppermint extract.
  4. Mix in the melted chocolate.
  5. Add the dry ingredients from step one and stir until well mixed.
  6. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for several hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  8. Roll dough into balls of about 2.5cm in diameter and place on baking paper 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

Tips

  1. Refer to this post on how to melt chocolate.
  2. I hand mixed all the ingredients in this recipe and the results were great.
  3. The dough can be rather hard straight out of the fridge.  It may do well to take it out for a short while before handling.  Depending on the temperature of your room, you may want to work in batches.  I found that I didn’t have to do so.  The temperature was probably about 20 degrees at the most.
  4. To make the dough balls fast and approximately the same size, I used a table spoon to approximate the amount of dough required.  If you have a melon scoop and want to make small cookies, you could use that too.  Don’t bother to get perfect crack free spheres as this doesn’t have any bearing on how the cookies eventually turn out.
  5. What ever the size of the balls you make, just bear in mind that the cookies will turn out 3 times the original diameter and leave enough room in between each cookie.
  6. The cookie doesn’t actually cook to a firm finish.  It actually is slightly “lava” in consistency, being liquid under a slightly crisp crust.  I found that the timing for a slightly chewy cookie was obtained by baking until the cookies start to crack on the surface.  If the dough hasn’t cracked, it isn’t baked enough.  If the cookies come out slightly under baked, you can still salvage it by leaving it to cool (it firms up for handling) and then popping them into the oven again.
  7. The cookies actually deflate after coming out of the oven.  But you are on the right track!
  8. The cookies keep in an airtight jar for a week.

Potato Cheese Bread

19 Dec

Pao de Queijo.  The elusive Brazillian Cheese Bread.  I had something in Singapore at one of the Japanese bakeries which they named Brazillian Cheese Bread.  Google brought up Pao de Queijo.  I just had to try it.  The consistency I had in mind was that of Mochi.  I tried recipes with tapioca flour which gave a chewy texture somewhat.  But the crust was not nice at all.  Hard at times and it would even squeak when you chewed.  Plus it didn’t keep well at all with the center turning really hard and rough.

There were recipes made from actual potatoes instead but it seemed rather laborious and I still haven’t figured out which potatoes give you a powdery texture and which ones give a sticky one.   So this recipe seemed easy enough and I think everyone agreed that it was fragrant and very yummy just out of the oven.  Even bubs couldn’t keep his hands to himself and kept trying to swipe them away.

It didn’t turn out the way I remembered the bread to be.  But it was light and fluffy, the cheese makes it chewy but not in the mochi kind of way.  Testament to it’s yumminess is bub’s hand in almost every shot I tried to get of the bread.  He kept wanting to take them away for himself to devour.

Potato Cheese Bread

Adapted from food52

Makes 32 balls 1 inch wide

Ingredients

2 cups potato flour

113g butter cold and cut up

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup mozarella

6 tbs whole milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place flour and butter into food processor and process until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Add cheese and eggs and continue processing until just mixed.
  4. Pour milk 1 tbs at a time while processing until a ball of dough is formed
  5. Divide the ball of dough into 32 pieces and roll into balls.
  6. Place balls onto baking paper 1 inch apart and bake for 10 – 15 minutes when the cheese turns golden brown.
  7. Serve immediately.

Tips

  1. If the dough is too soft, chilling it helps the ease in handling.
  2. Dough can be made a few hours beforehand and balls placed in the fridge.  Just pop the dough in to bake prior to serving.
  3. The original recipe suggested pepper, salt and roasted garlic.  I omitted the garlic as it was too much work.  I use salted butter so salt was omitted.  I forgot the pepper and think that it still turned out nice.

Cooking for the smells

12 Dec

I’m from the Northern Hemisphere.  Not that we actually had winter but Christmas in temperate countries have always been associated with flurries of snow, a warm fire place with a nice fire burning and a mug of hot chocolate.  But it’s the opposite in Australia.  Or at least it is supposed to be.  Right now, temperatures have been sub 20s with rain and winds.

Anyhow, I suddenly felt that I needed to have something smelling all warm and comforting for the Yuletide season.  The hubs is extremely sensitive to cheap potpourri with their manufactured “scents” and he’d balk at expensive ones especially since bubs is likely to destroy it all.  So I resorted to cooking up my own potpourri.

It definitely doesn’t have the overpowering smell of commercial potpourri but it is scenting the window side subtly and looks pretty standing there!  I like this combination but it is terribly personal.  Find some combination you like and try it out at home!

Potpourri

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

1 lime, sliced thinly

1 lemon, sliced thinly

Caster sugar

1 tbs of whole cloves

1/2 tsp of ground cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

2 star anise

1/2 tsp of ground star anise

1 – 2 drops of Lemon essential oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Coat the finely sliced lime and lemons with caster sugar and place in 1 layer on the baking tin.
  4. Bake the lemons and lime for 2.5h until the skin is dry and flesh translucent.
  5. Stir all the ground spices together.
  6. Stir in all the ingredients together except the essential oil.
  7. Add the essential oil one drop at a time to the mixture, mixing thoroughly each time.

Tips

  1. I didn’t have oranges but they would make a lovely display!  Especially blood oranges!
  2. Use fresh citrus fruits that are firm to make slicing easier especially if you don’t have a mandolin.
  3. The essential oils and spice powders make the smell stronger but the powders tend to “shed”.  The glass container you use may start to show this.  Don’t use a basket!
  4. Keep the potpourri away from moisture.  Otherwise the citrus fruits start to stick onto everything and deteriorate!

Strawberries and cream muffins

6 Dec

I’m sure I’ve raved about how fresh the food is in Melbourne and how CHEAP it is.  At the market, the strawberries were going for ONE dollar a punnet. Who could resist?  I was greedy and got 2 punnets.  It was even cheaper than the time when I got them for 1.50 and thought I had a steal!

But as with all cheap food, the strawberries were on the brink of being overripe and would rot by the end of the day if I didn’t eat them or do something with them.  Jam would be difficult considering how ripe the strawberries were.  What’s more, I had just made another batch of apple jam.  I remembered how Fanny enthused about some really good strawberry muffins.  It all sounded just delicious.  Plus this would be a new thing to try – muffins which weren’t just mixing everything in a bowl and then baking the batter in tins.  It would involve actually layer different flavors in the tins!

I tried to do a step by step demonstration with each muffin tin being one step.  But it was getting dark fast so the other shots didn’t turn out.

By the time the muffins were out of the oven, the sun had set.  So I had to make do with my lousy apartment’s lights.  What a waste!  But the muffins were just out of this world. Especially when fresh out of the oven!

Strawberries and cream muffins

Adapted from lululu at home

Makes 12 medium sized muffins

Ingredients

1 punnet of strawberries chopped

Muffin batter

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup raw sugar

113g butter, melted

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup milk

Cream cheese filling

100g cream cheese brought to room temperature

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients for the batter in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients for the batter in a separate bowl and mix well.
  4. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring to just mix into a batter.
  5. Place cream cheese filling ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth.
  6. Fill half the muffin case with batter.
  7. Then place some strawberries as the next layer.
  8. Cover with a teaspoon of cream cheese filling.
  9. Cover with a tablespoon of batter.
  10. Top with more strawberries
  11. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean after stabbing the muffin.

Tips

  1. I used 3/4 of a strawberry for each muffin.
  2. The strawberries will discolor after a day so it is best to eat it quick! (But honestly, it gets finished really fast anyway)
  3. The quickest way to melt butter is to chop it up and nuke it in the microwave for about 10 seconds and additional 5 second interval until it’s all melted.  I would recommend bringing the milk to room temperature as well.  Cold milk will solidify the butter again and make all your efforts go to waste.
  4. I use 2 spoons to transfer the batter and cream cheese filling for better control and not to spill it everywhere.  1 spoon scoops and the other one scrapes the first spoon.  I know some people use ice cream scoops but I don’t have that.

Adding to my waistline…

4 Dec

I used to have a friend who’s domestic help was a fantastic baker.  We’d have brownies, cookies and gingerbread men to name a few as treats – home made, no less.  Being the greedy little girl I was, I was terribly envious and always thought it must be difficult to do since my mum (who’s a good cook) didn’t do them.

I have been hoarding the compounded chocolate for a while and finally decided that I was going to make brownies – cheesecake brownies no less!  The thought of it made my mouth water.  So when the bubs went to sleep, I cracked out my baking things, all eager to start on my maiden brownie.  I thought I had all the ingredients nailed.  I did.  But I didn’t have enough.  I was missing one egg to be exact!  GAH!  But I had already started to melt my butter and chocolate and there was no turning back.  So I ended up with plain brownies – the fudgy sort.  A slice of pure heaven.  However it really reminded me of the phrase “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips”…  I had to take some to work to spread the guilt around.

Plain brownies – the fudgey sort

Adapted from The Joy of Baking

Makes 6×9 inch slab of brownies

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line a baking pan with aluminium foil to cover all the sides and bottom.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl places over a saucepan of simmering water.
  4. Remove the melted mixture from heat and add sugar and vanilla extract.
  5. Stir in the flour and salt and mix with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan.
  6. Place batter in pan and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges are starting to brown.
  7. Remove from oven and cool.
  8. Refrigerate brownies until they are firm enough to cut into squares.
  9. Once chilled, you can use a clean knife and cut up the brownies.

Tips

  1. I don’t actually have heatproof bowl that would fit into my saucepan.  So I used the smallest saucepan which fit into the larger saucepan.  I filled the larger saucepan with water and heated until it was simmering and placed the smaller saucepan in.  Then I tied the 2 handles together so the smaller saucepan wouldn’t capsize or bob up and down.  It worked.  Just be careful not to put too much water and not to let it bubble too vigorously.  You don’t want water in the chocolate as it seizes up when that happens.  (Common sense also says that you have to dry your equipment well before adding the chocolate)
  2. You will have to stir your chocolate constantly as you do not want the chocolate to over heat as it becomes grainy and unusable after that.  As many chocolate addicts would know, until you touch a piece of chocolate, you can’t tell if it has melted.  It’s not a piece of ice or butter!
  3. My baking pan was too big so I used another muffin pan (on any other pan you have) to fill half the pan and lined the remaining area with aluminium foil to get my “smaller” baking pan.
  4. I folded in my flour more than mixed it so I didn’t incorporate too much air into the batter.
  5. I’m impatient so I placed my brownie for about 15 minutes in the freezer and it became firm enough to cut easily!  But do watch that it doesn’t actually freeze over and don’t put a warm brownie near raw food!