Saturday, January 29, 2011

Post Full of New Year Cookies!


My my , I have never deliberately neglected my blog for such a long duration of time before! I am not idling and wasting my time away, mind you. It's just that this year's pre- CNY bake has been a real busy one! Now, finally, I get some time to post it, please be warned of this LONG POST, since its a consolidation of all those cookies I baked for the past 2 weeks. :P

It all started with this idea in my mind; to make the pineapple tarts into golden nugget shapes! Sounds fantastic, but it's quite time consuming to make the shape. ^_^" But since it was so well received and several orders came in., I went ahead with it. It practically took up all of my free time, not to mention having to perform my daily duties on top of it. Although there are still requests coming in, I have to turn them down as I have already over stretched my limits...meaning I actually fell ill because of over working or over baking?! :P So lesson learn here, don't be too ambitious and remember to mark up the price to make more worthwhile, lol!
Without further ado, here it is, my pineapple golden nuggets!
The recipe is actually quite similar to the one I used last year, I made minor adjustment to it. Furthermore, I was too tight down that I don't have time to make my own pineapple jam, thus store bought ones. Luckily I was still able to find one that is not so sweet and a slight tartness to it. Furthermore my customers were pleased with them, so no complains there. :)
Taste? It's light, almost melt in the mouth, except for the chewiness from the pineapple jam, you really won't feel 'heavy' or full after popping 3 or 4 of these in your mouth! I also made some flower shaped pineapple tarts for my husband's co worker. :)

Besides all these traditional pineapple tarts, I too baked several other cookies this year, namely cornflake cookies, almond cookies (my favorite), peanut cookies, rabbit shaped butter cookies and lastly Orange scented Strawberry jam Almond Swirl cookies. A little much right, hahaha!

The cornflake cookies is actually a special request from my husband's work place, so I just did it as a favor.
Besides I make a little more for my kids to try to, heehee. I actually adapt the recipe from Jodelibakery. For more details on the recipe, please refer to the link.

The recipe is simple and easy to make. I added 2 different 'topping' to the cookies, one os dried cranberries and the other semisweet chocolate chips. The crunch and flavor from the cornflakes is very satisfying, not too sweet and a nice snack that you don't normally find selling in stores even during CNY. The down side however is that these cookies need to be store in air tight containers, else it turns slightly chewy after awhile.

Next up is almond cookies....my favorite! This is the first time I attempted to make this myself. Why wait so long? Well, My standard is so high, I worry I might just disappoint myself, lol! Anyway, here it is, my almond cookies:

Not too shabby huh? For this recipe, I adapted J3ss's version, but replaced portion of the vegetable oil with ghee since I like the buttery scent from the clarified butter. :) Overall the texture and sweetness was really good, melt in the mouth but with bits of almond crunch in it, which is what I like. :)
However there is just one mistake I made....adding almond essence to the it. Somehow that 1/4 tsp of essence just made the cookie taste a little artificial. :P I swear the next time I make these, I am not gonna add any essence to it....natural is good. :) I just have to toast those almonds real good to get it's natural flavor out.
Next is peanut cookies. Since I love peanut, so I always make a point to make some every year. Here they are!
I love peanut cookies, it's almost a must for me in CNY. However, the dreading part I believe for most of us is to roast, de-skin and ground the peanuts. Although it only took me 3 hours to perform that task, I still didn't enjoy it any bit. But store bought ones are also not an option, so I guess I just have to suck it up and do it, lol!
Taste? It's almost melt in your mouth of course! I adapted the recipe from Wendy but I made some changes to it; i.e less the powder sugar by 10% (but still too sweet for me) and used ghee in place of 50% of the vegetable oil needed in the recipe (Plus 3 tbsp more). A wonderful recipe, but I will remember to reduce the sugar by 15 or 20% next time.
This year I made butter cookies mainly because it was actually a special request from a neighbor. So I decided to cut them out into rabbit shape to make them a little more festive, heehee!
Sorry, forgotten to snap a few photos of the cookies before I bottled them up. :P There are 4 different rabbit shapes in there. :) This recipe is the same butter cookies as the one I made before.
Last of them cookies I made this year would be Orange Scented Strawberry Jam Almond Swirl cookies which I got from 孟老師的下午茶 which I borrowed from the library. :) My kid loves jam cookies, so whenever I see any new recipes, I would jump to try it out. ;)
The addition of almond flour in this recipe makes it really special and delicious. ;) My girl loved it so much that she brought it to school for a consecutive 4 days!
However due to the presence of moisture in the jam, the cookies turned kind of soft after a couple of days. :P But the flavor is still good, so it was all eaten up as well. :D Here is the recipe for this delicious cookie:

Ingredients for Orange scented Jam Almond Swirl cookies (makes about 15 to 20)
Set A:
80g unsalted butter
50g ground almond
50g powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
25g egg white
Finely grated orange peel of 1 orange (without the white part)
100g cake flour

Set B:
Fruit Jam (I used strawberry jam)
Method:

  • In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, sifted ground almond flour and powered sugar together till well combined.
  • Add in egg white and orange peel to the butter mixture and again mix well.
  • Preheat oven to 170C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Add cake flour in directly and stir gently but not over mixing it. Scoop batter into piping bag with a large flower tip.
  • Pipe out the cookies in circular discs, leaving about 3 cm apart from other cookies. Repeat till all the batter is piped out.
  • Bake the cookies in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and place about 1/4 tsp of jam in the center of each cookie. Put the half baked cookies back into the oven to continue to bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Once the cookies a slight golden brown, remove from oven and let cool completely before storing them in air tight containers.
After all this, I shan't forget to do this before I sign off. That is to submit this to Aspiring Bakers #3 : My Favorite CNY Cookie (Jan 2011) hosted by Jess of i3ss kitch3n. Hope I am not too late for that! :D

Just in case I don't get the chance to post something up before the arrival of the Lunar New Year, I want to take this opportunity to wish one and all:

富貴滿堂, 万事如意,

身体健康, 新年快乐!

Cheers all! Happy Rabbit Year!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Milk Tea Bread Loaf

If you read my blog often, you know I am a bread "addict", whether to bake or to consume, lol! So I am always on a look out for a good bread recipe. It so happened that I came across this great bread recipe book call "Natural Breads Made Easy" (Chinese is "天然麵面包") at the library a week back. Boy am I hooked! I merely tried 2 of the recipes and I am completely sold and determined to own a copy of the book myself. FYI, I just bought the book a couple hours ago online, hahaha! To show you a little proof of my great found "treasure", I present to you my first attempt, Milk Tea Bread Loaf!
It might just appear to you this is just like any ordinary old plain white loaf. But no no no...this is red milk tea infused (红茶) tender soft bread loaf. :) I followed the recipe to the dot except for the part which he requires me to add tea leaves into the dough. I figured the 2 small person in my household would dislike the overly strong tea scent. So I avoided it but it still has a faint tea scent because of the red tea concentrate I added in. :)
The main technique adapted in this book is the "17-hour low temperature" pre-ferment dough. This method evidently yields a much more moist, chewy, yeasty and a longer shelf life bread. I guess the best way to get my point is to actually make it yourself! So here is the recipe:
Note that original recipe calls Earl Grey Milk Tea Bread. Instead of brewing a pot of Earl Grey tea, I took the shortcut and used the red tea concentrate I have in my fridge. Here is a pic of the concentrate which I got from MEIDI-YA in case any of you are interested. :)

The following recipe makes up to 2 loafs of 8"X4.5"X5" loaf tin.

Ingredients for Milk Tea Bread:

Pre-ferment Dough:
464g bread flour
265g water
7g fresh yeast (I used instant active yeast)
7g sea salt (I used table salt)
13g skim milk powder

Dissolve the yeast in water. Add bread flour, sea salt, skim milk powder and knead until soft. Cover the dough in cling wrap or a big zip log bag. Refrigerate to let it prove for 17 hours.

Note: The dough will expand in the fridge. So whatever container you put the dough in, do give some allowance for growth.

Main Dough:
199g bread flour
27g skim milk powder
7g sea salt (I used table salt)
80g sugar
80g beaten egg
80g milk tea concentrate *
7g fresh yeast (I used instant active yeast)
66g unsalted butter, room temperature
13g ground Earl Grey tea leaves

*Note:I used the above packet tea concentrate. But if you want to brew your own tea, here is the formula: 20g of Earl Grey tea leaves brewed in 133ml hot milk for 15 minutes. Strain and use.

Method:
  • Knead all ingredients of the main dough together, except the butter. Add pre-ferment dough piece by piece. Knead after each addition until soft and smooth. Add butter. Knead until stretchable consistency.
  • Put the dough into a big bowl. Cover with cling wrap and let it prove for 30minutes till double.
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Flatten each portion with your hands to drive the air out. Roll it into square shape, cover and let rest for 20 minutes before shaping.
  • Flatten the dough to drive the air out. Roll each out into a rectangular sheet with a rolling pin. Fold about 2cm from both sides towards the center and roll it out again. Roll the dough up like swiss roll (the width should be the same as the tin) and out them into the mould. Repeat for the rest of the dough portions. Cover with cling wrap.
  • Let it prove for about 45 minutes or until the dough has risen to 80 to 90% of the depth of the loaf tin. You can either cover the lid or bake it open top like mine. If open top, brush with egg wash. Bake in 175C for 30 to 35minutes.
It looks kind of plain without adding in the ground tea leaves. But the softness and deliciousness compensate for the looks, hee. :D Furthermore, if I replaced the milk tea concentrate with full cream milk, it will just be a nice milk loaf too. :)

Once the loaf was out of the oven and I had taken a few shots, my hubby and I gobbled up a few slices immediately! Freshly baked bread...who can resist that? Plus this bread's texture is really good, soft with slight chewiness and a nice crusty outside. :) You guys gotta try this, trust me. :) Besides the ingredients are simple too. :)

Okay all, got to go catch my Zzzzs. :) Hope you all have a nice relaxing weekend. Cheers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Root Beer Chocolate Chunks Chocolate Cake


Its quite frustrating sometimes knowing that there's tons of work to be done and yet I just don't have the time of the day to get to them. :P With CNY around the corner, it's even more pressing with New Year cookies to be baked and the house to be thoroughly cleaned. It's insane that I don't even have time to go for my haircut...sad isn't it. :P Anyway, hopefully everything will come into place and proper time management is what I need the most right now. No, right now is to blog a little and let off some steam and get away from those work load. :) So please let me "indulge" myself a little by posting up this simple yet delicious chocolate cake...Root Beer Chocolate cake, yummy! :D
Seriously? Root beer? Yes my friend, it's the drink you top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make a float. I love root beer in the first place, so it's really not much problem for me to add this ingredient into my cake. :) If you ask me if it taste more root beer or chocolate....definitely more chocolate but with a much deeper, mellower taste then your usual chocolate cake for sure.
I actually got this recipe from one of my latest cookbook collection I acquired during my last visit back to California. The recipe actually calls for Coca Cola. But I didn't have that at home so I went with Root Beer instead, heehee. :D Furthermore I reduced the sugar a great deal for I know American cakes are pretty sweet. :P End result? Turns out great...but I might just try out the cola version next time just to cease my curiosity itch. Okay, I'll quit mumbling. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients for Root Beer Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cake: ( 10cup bundt pan)
225g all purpose flour
110g light brown sugar

100g caster sugar

90g unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup Root Beer

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

100g chopped dark chocolate (60% cocoa)


Method:
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the inside of a 9" round springform pan or a 10 cup bundt pan.
  • Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the eggs, sour cream, oil, Root Beer and vanilla extract in another separate bowl.
  • Stir the root bear mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until tester comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  • Let cool completely before unmoulding and store uneaten cake in a air tight containers @ room temperature up to 3 days.
This cake did give me a good chocolate fix. Soft and not dense like a pound cake since the sour cream and root bear helped, so do take note that the batter is rather runny. The cake has just the right amount of sweetness and very chocolaty. :) The chocolate chunks inside are like added bonuses. :) Delish!
My kids loved it and I actually made this twice before posting this. :) So if you happen to have a can of root beer hanging around next time....do consider giving this delicious cake a go...you will love it. ;)

Got to run. You folks have a great week ahead! :)


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fluffy blueberry pancakes


Happy New Year my dear readers and fellow bloggers! I trust that you had a great Christmas and New year celebration this year. :) Well, it's been weeks since I last posted on my blog. Sorry for my MIA, been away on vacation in California and now finally back and about and eager to keep up with what I've missed out. :) Frankly speaking, I was kind of lazed back and it did take me quite a bit of "effort" to post this up, lol! Guess the holiday mood in me hasn't completely go away...no surprise in that! Furthermore the jet lag is killing me, struggling with the right hours without dozing off. :P And today is a BIG day, first day of school again! Have been busy getting my kids ready for it...so with all these "excuses", it's no wonder I've been gone so long, ha!

Today I just want to start the year off with a simple blueberry pancake which can just be a great start to your new day in this new year. :) Pardon this weird & odd shape looking pancake, lol! I was actually trying my best to make it look like a Mickey Mouse head shape pancake...somehow the batter was not very obliging. :P Perhaps I should have tried out a slightly "thicker' batter rather then this version, it was pretty runny. However the end product was really fluffy and soft, no doubt about it. :)
Since I have sneak back a good 2 pounds of fresh blueberries back from California (yes, even during Winter they have it), its really a no brainer to make these pancakes. ;) I got the recipe from William Sonoma's Comfort Food cookbook and it's really quite simple to prepare. Here it is:

Ingredients for Blueberry Pancakes (serves 4)
1 & 1/4 cup All purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda (I reduced it to 1/2 tsp)
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1&3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen is fine too)
Maple syrup and butter for serving

Method:
  • Preheat oven to 200F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  • In another medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and the melted butter. Pour the butter milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir till just combined. Fold in the blueberries. Remember DO NOT over mix the batter.
  • Place a griddle over high heat until hot. (To test, flick a little water onto it. It should skitter across the surface) Lightly oil the griddle. I used a normal non stick pan and it was okay.
  • For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until bubbles form on the surface, about 2 minutes.
  • Flip the pancakes and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat till all the batter is used.
  • If batter starts to thicken, thin it a little with more buttermilk.
  • Serve the blueberry pancakes piping hot with lots of maple syrup and butter. Yum!
Noticed that Mickey's pancake mould. Yeah, got it in Disneyland during vacation. Not sure is it me not being familiar with the usage with these type of mould or the batter is runny...the pancakes just didn't turned out that nicely shaped.
Perhaps I need more practice. ;P Anyway, before I can snap a few more pictures, my kids were already gobbling the pancakes up...so I just had to settle with what I have. :P Perhaps looks ain't that important after all huh? But I am sure glad it was a delicious breakfast! :) Try it and enjoy!
Since I didn't really take enough decent looking photos during my vacation, I figured just skip that altogether and just share with everyone a video I took in Disneyland. It's actually a wonderful firework show during Christmas Eve. Even though it was freezing cold that night and my family and I were huddling together... watching this firework was still a true magical experience. :) Hope that watching it will bring a smile to your face. :)

video

Before I sign off, I just wanna wish you all a great and smooth year 2011 ahead. No matter what happens, take it as it comes with an open heart and may you iron out any rough patches along the way. Cheers all! Have a good week! ;)