Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Salted Egg Custard Paos

Yes, I'm still blogging even though I said I will not be cooking until next year. Well guess what, I made Salted Egg Custard Paos with my sister this morning and it was fun! She actually got me this cook book, "Chinese Desert 100" as Christmas present this year. There's really so many yummy Chinese desert that I would like to try out when I get home. After looking though the book, we both agreed that the Salted Egg Custard Paos (or Steamed Egg Custard Buns) would be a fun thing we can both do together (also considering we both like custard buns). Although the bao dough did not turn out as soft and fluffy as we have hoped, and we had some difficulty putting more custard filling in the buns. But the overall result was still satisfactory for our first attempt. :) We even modified the recipe to suit our taste buds.Will not be posting the recipe online this time, so interested bakers out there can leave a comment or email me.

Joy, Peace and Good Health to All in 2009!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

It's Christmas Eve, I should be busy packing to go back home and celebrate this wonderful holiday. But I'm still itching to bake!! I wonder has this become an obsession, haha! Some how just thought it's "incomplete" to not bring something yummy back for my family and friends. :)

So I decided to bake some Christmas cookies for my friends and nieces back home in Singapore before I leave my kitchen behind for 2 weeks. I used Chocolate Shortbread Cookie, sturdy enough for the decoration and traveling. Also decorated these shortbread cookies with some festive-looking royal icing.

Ingredients Chocolate Shortbread Cookies:
125g of plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
110g unsalted butter, room temperature
75g caster sugar

30g cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

  • In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla extract to the sugar mixture and mix well.
  • Add flour and stir till all blended. Roll to a ball and flatten it, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes for easier handling later.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper and grease the paper.
  • Preheat oven to 180.
  • Roll out the chilled dough to about 1/4 inch and cut out desired cookie shape.
  • Bake cookie in oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely on rack
Ingredients Royal Icing:
125g icing sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream

2 tsp of Meringue Powder
Preferred food coloring

  • In a mixing bowl, add icing sugar and heavy cream, mix well.
  • Add Meringue powder and stir till well blended.
  • Divide the icing into number of portions of colors you want to use.
  • Mix in food coloring and stir well.
  • Pipe on cooled cookie and place in refrigerator to harden.
These goodies can be keep in airtight containers and refrigerate up to a week!

Have a wonderful and festive holiday!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Egg Tarts

Last Sunday morning, I woke up earlier then normal and wondered what breakfast should I make for my dear family and Egg tart just "crack" in my head! Looking through my recipe notebook, I found this nice egg tart recipe which I got it somewhere online....but can't remember where, haha.
I opt to make this pastry tart crust verse puff tart crust being that my girls love pastry tarts more. And I was right, they love the egg tarts, including my husband. :) Anyway, here is the recipe:

Ingredients for the Pastry tart (makes 8 big tarts):
150g plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour

1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg yolk

100g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

  • Sift both flours, salt, icing sugar into a mixing bowl.
  • Add cold cubed butter and using only fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles bread crumbs.
  • Add the egg yolk and press to form a crumbly dough. Refer to Picture A below.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Scoop about 1.5 tbsp of the dough into the tart tins and press the dough in. Or optionally, you can roll out the dough thinly and cut to line the dough into the pastry tin.
  • Using a fork, prick the base of the pastry to prevent it from puffing up when baking.
  • Bake the pastry in the oven for 10 minutes.
Ingredients for the Custard:
1 eggs

1/2 tbsp condense milk
Pinch of salt

50ml evaporated milk

100ml water
1 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

  • Beat the eggs, add condense milk and salt in a bowl
  • In another mixing bowl, add sugar, evaporated milk and water and mix well. Heat up the mixture and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Slowly add the sugar mixture into the egg mixture and mix well and add vanilla essence and strain mixture.
  • Carefully pour the custard into the tart shells as shown in Picture B above.
  • Continue to bake @180°C for another 12 to 15 minutes until the custard it slightly firm to the touch or not wobbly.
The pastry crust is flaky and sweet, melt in your mouth texture. And the custard is soft and silky and not too sweet. And best eaten when it's still warm.
This recipe is definitely a keeper! Try it out and let me know!:)

Super soft Chocolate Bread

I must say I'm a bread person. If I were to be stranded on a deserted island and I'm only allowed to have one kind of food to survive, bread will be it. What can I say, it's my kind of comfort food. ;)
What's better then a home made bread? I'm sure you all out there knows that once you achieve making a loaf of soft bread yourself...there's no turning back to those store bought ones.(well unless it's something new you want to try out or no time, haha)

This chocolate bread has always been my favorite. I have made it several times (quite long since I last did it) and people that tasted it have only good reviews on it. It's really soft and chocolaty. Even on the following 2 days, it's still soft and yummy....if it still around that long! ;)

I got this recipe from Martha Stewart's website quite awhile back. However now I can no longer find it there. (Good thing I have a copy). Anyway, you hardcore bread fans out there, give it a bake! It's worth it!

Chocolate Bread Starter (makes 3/4 cup):
Chocolate Bread Starter (makes 3/4 cup)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup plus 3 tbsp all purpose flour

  • In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast in 1 cup of lukewarm water. Stir in flour until completely incorporated. Cover and leave to proof at room temperature for 4 to 6 hrs.
Ingredients for Chocolate Bread (makes one 8.5" by 2.5" loaf):
410g bread flour
35g cocoa powder
125g caster sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup Chocolate bread starter (from recipe above)
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3 oz / 85g good quality bittersweet chocolate
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp of heavy cream

  • In one cup of warm water, add the active dry yeast and let stand till foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • In a heavy duty electric mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the Chocolate bread starter. Add the yeast mixture in and start mixing at low speed for 5 minutes, then turn machine off for 15 minutes to let dough rest.
  • Add salt, butter and mix on medium speed until the dough develops and sheen, about 10 minutes. Add chopped chocolate. Continue to mix until completely combined.
  • Place dough in a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to proof for at least 90 minutes.
  • Punch down dough and remove from bowl to a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough into thirds (like folding a letter for an envelope) and cover to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Butter a loaf pan. Divide the pan into 4 equal portions. Roll each piece in a circular motion , forming a tight ball. Place the 4 doughs, smooth side up in the loaf pan, side by side.
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap again and let proof for another 90 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Combine egg yolk and heavy cream and lightly brush it with the risen loaf surface.
  • Bake loaf in oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Let cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before slicing.
It's good eaten on it's own or a thin spread of cold butter on it....mmmm.;)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Cookie Swap

Cookies, glorious, yummy cookies!! Finally this "long awaited" post about the wonderful cookies that all my friends baked during the Christmas party. :) Without further ado, let me present in no particular order or preference the photos of the cookies...

Marianne made mini cut out shortbread cookies. And nicely decorated with white royal icing and colorful Christmas sprinkles and smarties. So nicely done, looks store-bought!
June made Spritz Orange Cookies with a tactful orange taste in it and a nice crunch. :)
Susan made Raspberry thumbprint cookies. These little morsels are delectable and melts in your mouth!Lilian made Almond Snowflake cookies. These sweet things are really festive don't you think? Good work Lilian, especially it's her first time baking cookies!
Last but not least, Ee Peng made Strawberry Sandwich Butter cookies...with homemade strawberry jam! ;) These pretty cookies are not only pleasant to the eyes, they're delicious too.
Here's a group picture of all the cookies during the exchange.

We had so much fun tasting and swapping the cookies, but it wouldn't be possible if everyone didn't put in their effort. Thanks so much ladies!

The following are some of the recipes that the ladies have kindly typed out and share with everyone out there. Thanks again ladies!

If you're wondering where's mine,
click here. :)

Marianne's Shortbread cookies:
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
70g caster sugar
200g sifted superfine flour
1 tbsp milk

225g sifted icing sugar
1 tbsp meringue powder
3 tbsp water
2 drops of rosewater (to give it a nice smell - optional)
  1. Cream butter and sugar till light.
  2. Fold in flour and milk. Mix till well combined.
  3. Roll it between 2 plastic sheets to 5 mm thickness, cut it with cookie cutter.
  4. Place the cut dough into greased baking tray.
  5. Bake at 170°C for 30 minutes or till lightly golden.
Ee Peng's Butter Cookies:
175g unsalted butter, room temperature
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

400g plain flour, plus more if needed

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

  • Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy
  • Beat in eggs and vanilla
  • In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt
  • Add dry ingredients to the wet, and mix gently
  • If finished texture is too difficult to roll out, add more flour. Do so sparingly as too much will make the dough tough.
  • Halve the dough, form into flat discs, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hr.
  • Roll out on floured surface to about 1/2cm and cut with lightly floured round cutters.
  • For top of cookie, use a smaller cutter and cut out desired shape.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes at 180°C.
  • When cookies are completely cooled, spread some jam (I used strawberry) onto bottom cookie, and dust top cookie with icing sugar.
  • Assemble and store in airtight container.
Susan's Jam Thumbprint Cookies:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of preferred jam

1 teaspoon of Vanilla essence

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla essence first. and mix well. Then add sifted flour and mix again.
  2. Shape dough into 1 inch diameter balls with slightly floured hands and place into mini paper liners.
  3. Preheat oven to to 190°C.
  4. Imprint your thumb in the center to make 1/2 inch indentation. Fill with jam. Don't put too much jam or else it will bubble over and spill out while baking.
  5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown at the edges.
June's Orange Spritz Cookies:
170g butter
160g icing sugar (sifted)
4 tbsp orange juice
2 heaping tbsp grated orange peel
325g self raising flour
80g corn flour

  • Cream sugar and butter together in a mixing bowl.
  • Beat in orange juice one spoonful at a time into the sugar mixture.
  • Add grated orange peel and mix well.
  • Sieve in flour and corn flour & mix well.
  • Fill the cookie press container and press out the dough on a greased baking pan.
  • Bake at 165°C for about 15 minutes till golden brown.

My friends and I are already discussing what we should be doing together the next time we meet up. Bento? Bread making? Either one, I can't wait! ;) Thank you so much ladies, you really made me a happier person lately, couldn't be more thankful for finding great friends like you all.

"Remember, the greatest gift is not found in a store nor under a tree,

but in the hearts of true friends"

Let's Party!

"It's the Season to be Jolly, Fa lah lah lah lah, lah lah lah lah"...okay enough singing already! Sorry just couldn't help that wonderful feeling of Christmas in me, it always makes me so happy! Christmas brings people together, sharing time, love, gifts and of course yummy food. ;) I just had a wonderful Christmas party @ a friend's house and believe me when I say the only thing that bothered me was how come it has to come to an end so soon?!
Anyway, it was a potluck party, so everyone brings something delicious to share. For me I made a Christmas Log cake. Spent the whole Friday evening and Saturday morning making this piece of log, haha. But the result was satisfactory. ;)
I got the recipe from the cook book "Essentials of Baking" from William Sonoma. Basically I used the recipe into 2 smaller separate chocolate sponge cake using a 8 by 11 inch baking pan. One of the log I cut into 3 equal sections, one section to join to the other log while the other 2 sections on each side of the log. I used the same vanilla whipped cream filling with fresh strawberries like the previous post of Strawberry Swiss Roll. Anyway, here's the recipe:

Ingredients For Sponge Cake:
45g cornflour
45g cake flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
5 large eggs, separated

90g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (essence)

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  • Butter a 8" by 11" baking pan, line with parchment paper, grease again and dust with plain flour.
  • Sift both flours, cocoa powder and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and 3 tbsp of sugar, beat mixture using a metal whisk until light in color, thickens and doubles in volume.
  • In a stand mixer, add egg white and reminding sugar until mixture reaches stiff peaks.
  • Fold in 1/3 of the white mixture into the yolk-sugar mixture.
  • Fold in 1/3 of the dry ingredients into mixture, fold in another third of whites, followed by the reminding dry ingredients. Finally fold in the remaining white just until combined.
  • Pour 1/2 of the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly using spatula and bake the cake until it puffs up and feels slightly firm to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer on rack to cool completely in the pan.
  • Repeat with the 2nd half of the batter.
Ingredients for Rich Chocolate Buttercream (makes 500ml):
4 large egg yolks
125g of sugar
60ml water
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
90g of bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla essence

  • Using a wire whisk, stir the egg yolks gently and set aside.
  • In a saucepan, add sugar and water and bring to a boil. Cover and boil for 1 minute.
  • Uncover and continue to boil until syrup reaches soft-ball stage, or 115 on a candy thermometer. (to test without using a thermometer, scoop up a few drops of the syrup and drop in a bowl of ice water, When trap between the fingers, should be to form a pliable ball.)
  • Once the syrup is ready, slowing adding it to the egg yolk mixture while whisking the mixture continuously. Whisk vigorously until all the syrup has been incorporated.
  • Continue to whisk until mixture is smooth and satin, if it curdles, warm it slightly over hot water, continue to whisk, it should smooth out.
  • Add vanilla essence and melted chocolate and stir well.
  • Using a mixture, beat the butter into the egg yolk mixture until all blended and smooth.
A snap shot of the delicious food everyone brought to the party (besides the cookies).

The roast chicken was super moist and delicious! Pasta was a great hit with all the kids, especially mine! Tiramisu was very flavorful and moist too. There's also a lovely quiche and some ordered pizza. Compliments to the great home chefs!

A short innocent story about the Christmas figurines...All the food was gone really fast, hungry or delicious, it was all worth the effort I must say. ;)

Oops, have I babble too much again... I think this post is getting too long, so let me continue the Christmas Cookie Exchange in the next post...

" Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving,
make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cookies, cookies and more cookies

Yes, more cookie post this time, 3 cookies to be exact. One of the cookies was made 2 days ago but did not get the chance to seat down to post it. It's name is quite outrageous, it's Outrageous Chocolate cookies, haha. How should I describe it....it's almost like eating a chocolate fudge cookie, dense on the inside, chewy to the bite :) A chocolate lover's treat...that's me, haha! . Got the recipe from Martha Stewart website. However I made a slight change to the recipe, I added about 2 tablespoon more of flour to the dough which made the cookie's look different from Martha's, not "crackly"...but still good!

With the holiday around the corner, some of my friends and I have decided to have a Cookie Exchange party. Basically everyone brings 3 dozen of cookies and swap with 5 other ladies, so at the end of the day everyone gets a variety to munch over the holiday, how great is that!! So now let me talk about the 2 cookies I made for the party.

The first cookie I made for the exchange is White chocolate Cranberry Chunky, a recipe from Paula Deen from Food network. However I replaced the candied cherries with dried cranberries since I like the slight tart taste verses the sweet cherries.

I have also reduce the amount of brown and caster sugars....to suit my taste. If you prefer, here is my recipe:

Ingredients (makes about 40 to 45 cookies):
115g unsalted butter, room temp
125g light brown sugar
75g granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons milk
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips


  • In a big mixing bowl, cream butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Sift together flour, soda, and salt. Add milk to the butter mixture and then add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
  • Add the nuts, cranberries and white chocolate to the cookie dough.
  • Drop by heaping teaspoons onto a greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for approximately 11 to 13 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
I like the chewy texture of this cookie, but will substitute the white chocolate chips with semisweet chocolate chips next time.

Second cookie I made for the party is Chocolate-Orange Pinwheels and Checkerboards, recipe compliments from the cook book "Essentials of Baking" from William-Sonoma. Simple dough, but lots of hand work to shape the cookies. After refrigerating the dough for at least 45 minutes, you are free to cut and mold it to the shapes you want.

And here are the nicely baked cookies. These cookies are pretty delicate, so do handle with care.I will not be posting this recipe, so any interested bakers out there, email me for it. :)

After the cookies are cooled completely, I packed them into clear cellophane bags and tied in polka dot ribbons, easy for my dear friends to carry home. ;)

Couldn't wait to see & taste my friends' creations too, will post their works of art in the following post.....so stay tune.

It is not how much you do,
but how much love you put in the doing.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gingerbread Boys

What better way to bring some Christmas mood into the house then baking some homemade Gingerbread cookies. ;) My girls loves gingerbread man, I suspect it's the cute cookie shape that attracts them. This is my first attempt to make gingerbread cookies and it turn out well. My three "cookie monsters" at home enjoys these cuties a lot.

I did some research on the recipe and came up with this one which doesn't require all of the usual spices and also molasses. I know it is not as "authentic" but I guess so long as it suits your family taste, it's good enough for you. :)

200g of plain flour
50g ground almond
120g brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
100g butter, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp ground ginger powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

  • Except for butter and eggs, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well using a whisk to break up any lumps.
  • Using your finger tips, press in the butter cubes to the flour mixture until it resembles bread crumbs.
  • Lightly beat the egg and mix into the cookie batter and knead it till it all comes together into a dough.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick, and using gingerbread man cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Decorate if desire.
  • Place the cookies on a greased baking tray and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until firm to the touch and golden brown.
If you want, pipe some pink vanilla icing on the cookies to give it a smile. ;) Much better don't you think?When I was about to keep the cookies in the jar, my younger daughter ask me, how come the gingerbread man are not wearing any cloths? So after some thoughts, I decided to melt 50g of white chocolate and drop 2 green food coloring in it and pipe the ganache on the little man to make the cloths, haha. I think I need more practice on the piping. ;)
A Little Love Makes A Whole World Of Difference
So Share the Gift of Love Today

Friday, December 12, 2008

Penang Trip 2008

Penang, a food paradise for all. Be it you're looking for fresh seafood or local delicacies, I'm sure you can find whatever that satisfy your taste buds. ;) So if you happen to be in Malaysia, don't miss the opportunity of dropping by there. Below shows the Penang Bridge.
Before I start to sound like a local tour guide....let me blog about a couple of places we visited. Wait a minute...only a couple?? Okay, let me explain. I'm sure you know how it is...there are occasions, you waited soooo long for tables, everyone's hungry, your kids are asking where's the food?? When it finally comes, everyone starts to pick up their utensils and.....well, let's just say I didn't have the heart to ask everyone to wait for me to snap some pictures! Anyway, just read on...

Our first stop was Bali Hai Seafood Restaurant along Gurney Persian for dinner after a long tiring drive.
Justify Full
Frankly speaking the main purpose to bring our family to a seafood restaurant was to let them taste Mantis Crab. I know, that name makes you shudder, but in fact the taste of this shell fish is pretty close to lobster and tiger prawn. Mantis crabs are very rare in Singapore, and hence this will be a brand new tasting experience for the family. ;)
We chose to have 2 different of cooking methods for the Mantis crabs, one steam while the other coated with Nestum corn meal & deep fried. The steam method actually preserved the freshness and sweet taste of the crab, very good!
We ordered their special fried green beans. Very crisp and yet tender on the inside, easily down with some white rice.
The best dish that night to my opinion was the Salty Egg Crabs. The taste of the salty eggs was not over powering, it was just right to balance off the sweetness of the tender crab meat. The crabs were meaty and fresh, goes really well with steamy white rice or on it's own! I have to say it's much better then the one I tasted in Pantai seafood restaurant.
Most of us didn't want to eat rice, so we ordered 2 kinds of noodles, one is Hokkien noodle (don't know why got vermicelli inside), and the other is Seafood Ee-fu noodle. The Ee-fu noodle was a little on the dry side and overall the noodles were average.
Last but not least, a mistake I have to say is the "Hu-xu" whole steam chicken we ordered. "Hu-xu"?? What is that you say...well let me tell you about the taste of the chicken first. It's meat is tough and chewy even though it well cooked. What's up with that? It taste like an old chicken....."Hu Xu"?? Go figure...I guess we're better off ordering something that can swim in the sea from a seafood restaurant! ;)We also ordered deep fried fish fillet but it never showed up (the restaurant was packed BTW) , which was a blessing in disguise, 'cos we're all stuffed!!

The bill comes to a total of RM450 plus drinks and taxes & services. Overall the food was okay, but next time would choose the food more wisely.

The following morning we went to the all famous Him Heang Bakery store for their "Tao Sa" biscuits.
Each box has 32 biscuits and per box costs RM9.50. When it's first out of the oven, it crisp out the outside, very good! We bought like 8 boxes of different variety, even with Kaya filling too...but only remembered to take this picture below, haha.We continue our food venture to Kafe Heng Huat for the best Char Kuey Tieow in Penang. It is located at Lorong Selamat off Mcalister Road.The place was jam packed! No tables until 20 minutes of waiting. Below you can see the "chef" frying furiously away for the endless orders coming in.

When my FIL went to order 5 plates, she said "Have to wait 1 hour harr". My goodness! 1 hr for a plate of Char Kuey Tieow?? I guess even if it's not that fantastic, after all that waiting and watching other people eat, we will mentally feel it's the best Kuey Tieow around! Hahaha..Okay okay in all fairness, it is pretty good, you can sense the background taste of the charcoal in the noodle, the key difference from normal. While waiting for our CKT to arrive, we ordered some yummy "Oh-Chien" (fried oyster omelette). Taste really good with the chilli sauce. I like this dish because they serve smaller oysters, the taste is not over-powering. :)
We also ordered some Ice Kacang top with vanilla ice-cream to cool ourselves off.
We also went to Gurney Drive Hawker Center (seaview), but the lighting was poor (sun already set) and I was busy ordering and hence didn't get a chance to take the pictures of the delicious food we ordered there. We tried the Assam Laksa, Satay, Chilli fried Clams, Grilled Sting Ray, Otah, Prawn Noodles, CKT (again), Fish ball Noodles, Wan Tan Noodle, Fried Tofu, Fried Chicken Skin and dumplings etc. A delicious spread of food, but all gone in no time believe me, haha...

Anyway, let's hope this will not be my last trip to Penang. I wish there was more time to go around the island for sightseeing and trying more local food...well we'll see. ;) Okay, enough jabbering, this is already too long a post!!