Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Durian Chiffon Cupcakes

You would think that fruits durian, kumquat and even cranberries are seasonal fruits that only available certain times of the year. But with the help of proper packing and freezing methods, you can practically have these fruits all year round! So when you crave for that durian chiffon cake or egg tart, remind yourself to buy extra next time to keep in the freezer for "rainy days". I would usually freeze in smaller packs of 100 g which would be easier to when I use them for baking. 

Today I will be sharing this lovely Durian Chiffon Cupcake recipe which you can, yes you can, bake as and when you have some durian whether fresh or frozen. I used only 200 g of durian flesh, which is only about 4 fruit amount of D24....okay lah, you are not wasting anything when you use it to bake, it still goes into your tummy!
My first trial on this recipe and really glad that it still manage to turn out so wonderful. When I started off writing this recipe, I had the idea of a chiffon cake texture which is not too soft or mushy. I want soft but still springy and a slight bite to it. I would feel substantial enough after eating one. So if I compare this with Ogura cake, this is contains slightly more substance, not that melt away feel when you eat an Ogura steam baked cake. Perhaps it is my own personal preference, I love mine this way. But if you love Ogura cake, hop over here and here to check out my recipes. :)

Ingredients for Durian Chiffon Cupcakes
5 egg yolks
50 g caster sugar
1/3 tsp salt
200 g durian flesh
100 ml evaporated milk
50 ml organic cold pressed coconut oil ( you can use vegetable oil or melted butter)
150 g cake flour (sifted)
1 tsp baking power

5 egg whites
80 g caster sugar

  • Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. I usually use cold eggs from the refrigerator, much easier to separate.

  • Whisk the egg yolks and 50 g of the caster sugar till it is double in volume and creamier.

  • In the blender, add the durian flesh and 100 ml evaporated milk. (Note that evaporated milk is creamier then fresh milk, so try not to substitute it) Blend till mixture is smooth and creamy. Set aside for use later.
  • Whisk the blended durian cream into the egg yolk batter. Then add in coconut oil and combine as well.
  • Next sift in the cake flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine till no visible lumps and creamy.
  • Preheat the oven to 160C, prepare cupcake liners. I baked about 14-15 of these 4 oz cupcakes.
  • Beat the egg whites with the remaining caster sugar till it reaches stiff peaks.
  • In 3 separate portions, gently fold in the meringue to the egg yolk batter. Do not overtax and deflate the egg whites.
After well combined, carefully scoop the cake better into the cup liners. Divide equally. Of course you can also bake a whole chiffon cake, no problem there. For small cupcakes, bake for 15-17 minutes till tester comes out clean whole chiffon of 22 cm diameter, it will be 28-30 minutes or till tester comes out clean.

I bought my square cupcake liners at Phoon Huat. Unfortunately, they come in packs of 50 or 100, so you will take a longer time to finish using them. 

The main reason why I baked this batch of chiffon cupcakes was for my brother whom was back to visit. I always try my best to bake for him when he returns, because he enjoys simple home baking even though he travels so much and tried so many different cuisines. And awesome idea to bake durian cake for him when he came back during off season. So he gets to enjoy this even when there was no real durian to eat haha! 
That fluffy soft texture! So fragrant too! Who would have thought that durian and coconut bake can be so awesome. Another good point for the healthy coconut oil. So versatile and yet great in most bakes. 

Do try this out when you have some durian flesh to spare. Or do like me, buy more and freeze for rainy days. You and your family can enjoy these delicious chiffon cake even in February Chinese New year time haha! Hurry and go stock up now...December month has some too. ;)

Happy baking everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Santa Claus Bread

If you asked me how many types of bread have I baked up to date. I don't think I will be able to answer that. :P It is really beyond me to remember that huge number (and still counting) which also includes the unrecorded / un-blogged ones. Like I said it before, I love baking and cooking more then writing. Having this blog was to mainly keep a record of those recipes that are worth sharing. And today, this Santa Claus bread is perhaps another one in the record. People that knows me, knows that I have been such passion for bread baking. Well mainly the soft asian breads. They are much easier in my opinion and my kids prefer them too. And since Christmas is so near, I decided to bake another fun one; Santa Claus!
There is more fun in baking then eating for me! Besides, the little ones are always amused by the fun shapes that I conjured out. But I have to say taste is still the top priority over looks. I cannot stand those that only looks good but tastes horrible. :P

This recipe uses super ripe bananas and straight dough method. Almost leaves you with no excuse not to try it. :P The recipe allows me to make a Santa Claus and two small loaf of cinnamon chocolate rolls.

Recipe for Santa Claus Bread  & Chocolate Cinnamon rolls (Banana bread dough) 
380 g bread flour
175g banana Super ripe
35g caster sugar
4 g salt
5 g yeast
150 ml milk
25 g unsalted butter room temp

2 large dried raisins (eyes)
1/8 tsp of red food colouring (to colour his stocking cap and cheeks)
  • In a large mixing bowl, add in all the ingredients except for the butter and start kneading. 

  • Dough will be rather sticky initially. Continue kneading and resist from adding more flour as it will not turn out soft if you do. (I have so many readers asking me why the bread turned out hard but left out the detail that they had actually added more flour into the dough recipe. :P So bottom line is, if you cannot stick to the recipe, I cannot help answer your queries). Continue kneading till the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

  • Now add in the unsalted butter at room temp and continue to knead the dough again. And when the dough once again pull away from the sides, it is ready to proof. (Note that my dough actually lift out by the hook.)

  • Grease the same kneading bowl and then place the dough in it to proof till double in size. Once proofed, stick a finger into the dough, if it doesn't bounce back up, means it is ready.

  • Divide the dough into the following : 180 g , 150 g, 100 g, 80g, 4x 50g. As for the remaining dough, I divided them into 2 equal portions and made them into cinnamon rolls (recipe later).
  • Take the 180 g dough portion and roll it into a big tear drop shape. as shown below:

  • The specs are the banana's seed, so don't freak. Next you take the 150 g dough portion and roll it into a semi circle shape, as shown below. 

  • Then you start snipping the semi circle using a kitchen scissors into strips but not all the way, leaving the center still intact.

DO NOT worry if you didn't cut it all pretty. It doesn't matter, really. Once you start placing the dough portions together, you cannot tell how badly you have cut the dough, just make sure you don't cut all the way to the end. Carefully place this semi circle over the tear drop dough. Start twisting the strips of the semi circle so it looks like locks.
  •  Repeat till all the strips are twisted as shown above. Again, no worries if it is not the prettiest looking locks, it will still bake out nicely later. Then use the 80g and again roll into a semi circle but small one this time and snip the strips again. This smaller portion is for his moustache. Again carefully place slightly above the beard.
  • Take the 100 g dough portion and roll into a thin log that is just the length of this stocking hat top which Santa is wearing.
  • Roll the 50 g portions into 2 ovals and 2 circles. Ovals for his cheeks and rounds for his nose and the white ball on the tip of his stocking hat. (note that you can adjust the size of these portions to your liking, bigger nose, smaller cheeks, it's really up to your creativity, no restriction there)

  • Lastly add in the two raisins as eyes and leave the dough to proof for a good 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Once proofed, bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes till the bread it slight gold brown. Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool on the rack. At this point, you can choose to colour the stocking hat and his cheeks to make it more cheerful.

This banana bread is actually good on it's own or with some salted butter. My kids just devoured problem on the cuteness haha. For the chocolate cinnamon rolls on how to shape them and the filling, please refer to my previous post here.

Will be loading the video on how I made this Santa Claus bread on my FB HoneyBeesweets Kitchen soon, so stay tune. 

And if you do attempt this, do share it with me! I would love to see your Santa Claus bread as well. ;)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Strawberry Light Cheese Cake with Lemon Mascarpone frosting

Someone asked me this once, " Why do you always change your cake recipes? It's almost like every birthday cake is different from the other?" I never really thought about it until I was asked of this. True enough, I had hardly ever repeated the same birthday cake recipe twice before. Even though I was told that was the best birthday cake I have baked so far. Why you ask? I am not too sure of it myself, perhaps I love experimenting new flavours and techniques? Or maybe I just get bored easily? But one thing's for sure, I love making my family guess the flavours of the cake! 
As you can see this is another simple bake. Something I did in 2 sessions of 2 hours (separate days). I baked the cake 1 day before. Made the frosting the following day and assemble it as well. So this is pretty much a stress free bake. It can always be the case if I plan my time properly and know how I want the cake to be. So planning ahead is essential my friends. ;)

Considering my family members are not big on sweet and creamy cakes, fruity cakes are the obvious choice. And since my SIL gave me a big bunch of really ripe and sweet Korean strawberries...I decided to go with that.

Recipe for Strawberry Light Cheese Cake (makes an 8" x 3" round cake)
100 g fresh made strawberry jam
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 10-12 large strawberries, slice small and place in sauce pot with 3-4 tbsp caster sugar. Cook till the strawberries break down and thicken. Once the consistency is similar to jam, remove from fire and let cool till needed.

6 slices of cheddar cheese
6 large egg yolks
100 g unsalted butter
100 ml fresh milk
100 g cake flour

6 egg whites
100 g caster sugar
  • In a heatproof saucepan, place the butter, fresh milk and tear up the cheddar cheese slices in. 
  • Place saucepan over medium low heat and stir gently until all is melted and mixed in together. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool before use.
  • Add in the cooled strawberry jam into the cooled cheese mixture and combine well.

  • Ladle big spoonful of the strawberry cheese mixture into the egg yolks. Mix well. 

  • Sift in cake flour and whisk the mixture till no visible lumps.
  • Preheat the oven to 160C. Prepare a water bath and place in the oven. Grease an 8" x 3" round cake pan and line with parchment paper. 
  • In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and caster sugar till stiff peaks. 
  • Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture in 3 separate portions. Careful not to deflate the batter. 

  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and wrap the base of the cake pan with thick aluminium foil to prevent water from sipping in.
  • Use a toothpick to run through the batter to remove any air pockets. Then bake the cake in the oven for 45-50 minutes till the cake tester comes out clean.

  • Once baked, carefully remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan. Note that it is normal that the cake will shrink a little when it cools down.

  • At this point, you can chill the cooled cake in the fridge for a day or two before use. I did exactly that and the cake was still moist and soft.

Lemon Mascarpone Cream frosting
500 g mascarpone cheese
120 g confectioner's sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tbsp)
80 ml heavy whipping cream
  • Place everything into the mixing bowl and beat at high speed till it thickens. Mixture is still spreadable and creamy. At this point, you can chill the frosting till needed, at least 1 hour.

Assembling the cake:

1/2 fresh sweet mango, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Puree the fresh mango with 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • Slice the cake into 3 equal thickness discs. 
  • Place one of the cake disc at the cake plate. Frost about 1/5 of the lemon mascarpone frosting on it. 
  • Then spoon about 1/2 of the mango lemon puree over the frosting.
  • Top with another cake disc and repeat with another 1/5 frosting portion and the other half of the mango lemon puree.
  • Finally top with the last cake disc and frost the whole cake with the remaining mascarpone frosting. I did a "naked" frosting style which it does not require as much cream frosting as a normal cake frost. But it is really up to your personal preference.

When the cake was served, despite its simple decorations, everyone was still very eager to give it a taste (after a heavy dinner :P). There...simple enough right? But the taste is still refined enough to make your cake tasters go wow. :) I guess sometimes simple can be very attractive too! :)
Pardon the poor lighting... at the restaurant. But you get the picture. ;) But...I still manage to salvage one slice to bring back for me to take another shot teehee. :P
Ahh much better and can see the soft moist lecture of the strawberry light cheese cake, the mango puree and the creamy lemon mascarpone frosting. 

Yes yes, everyone loved it and even some asked for 2nd servings. ;) Strangely, I had this urge to bake this cake again...never happened before though. Yes, it is that good. ;)

Have a great day ahead everyone! Have fun baking!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Virgin Sangria

Christmas holiday is just around the corner. That goes without saying that many of us will be attending parties and gatherings with friends and families. Naturally, beverages come in major play during feasting. I am sure most of us are tired of those sugar loaded carbonated drinks out in the market. Have you ever thought of serving your guests with something more special? A concoction that will wow them and yet won't cause you a bomb? 

Look no further! I might just have the perfect drink formula for you! I have created this new drink which is non alcoholic (Yay! The kids can enjoy too!), no sugar added, super refreshing and so pretty that it might just the limelight on your dinning table. 

May I present you... my Virgin Sangria!
This drink does not require you to squeeze or blend any fresh fruit juices. All you need to do is get MARIGOLD PEEL FRESH juices and some fresh fruits. Super convenient and flavours are spot on, no sugar added and yet sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. And with the addition of fresh fruit slices that will macerate into the juices, it will infused the flavour even more. This virgin sangria is really fruity and delicious, it might even make you forget the alcoholic version. Oh yes!

Let's take a look at what we need to make this delicious drink shall we?

Recipe for Virgin Sangria (Serves 5-6 pax)

500 ml (2 cups) MARIGOLD PEEL FRESH Cranberry juice
375 ml (1 1/2 cup) MARIGOLD PEEL FRESH No Sugar Added Apple juice
125 ml (1/2 cup) MARIGOLD PEEL FRESH Lime juice
1 small bunch of balm mint leaves
1 lemon, thinly sliced in rounds with peel
1 orange, thinly sliced in rounds with peel
1 small Apple, cored, sliced into cubed
1 can of club soda or sparkling mineral

  • Wash all the fruits and scrap the skin if necessary since the whole fruit including the peel will be added into the drink.

  • To make the fruits release it's juices easier, roll the citruses on the chopping board to loosen the pulps.

  • Slice all the fruits. Orange, lemon and lime in thin circular rounds. Core the apple and cut into cubes.

  • Carefully place all the fruits and 3/4 of the mint leaves into the pitcher. Reserved mint leaves can be used for garnish later.

  • Measure all the MARIGOLD PEEL FRESH fruit juices. Add in all the juices into the pitcher with all the fruit slices. 

  • Use a stirrer to mash the fruits and mint leaves down so that some of it's juices and peel essences are infused into the fruit juice mixture. Do not over mash it as you still want the fruit slices in the drink to be presentable during the party.
  • Next you let the drink chill in the fridge for a good 2-3 hours so as to let the flavours marry and come together.
  • When you are ready to serve, remove the pitcher from the fridge and add a can of club soda. Do a quick stir to combine.

  • Get ready all the drinking cups, pour and serve to your guests. Prep some fresh fruits like strawberries or lime slices for garnish if necessary. Use fancy straws if you have them. Enjoy!
If you like to keep the drink cold during the party, all you need to do is freeze some MARIGOLD PEEL FRESH No Sugar Added Apple juice into the ice cube trays. So when you serve your drinks, just pop a couple of the Apple juice ice cubes in. Those apple juice ice cubes will keep the drink cold and will not dilute it at all. Cool!

My family really enjoyed the drink. Super refreshing and goes well with most of the food since the flavour is not overpowering at all. 

This drink is not only going to quench your thirst, but it will also make your guests go wow. So forget those sugar loaded soft drinks, make you own Virgin Sangria and make your party guests "beg" for the recipe. 

Try this out and feel free to let me know how you like it. And remember to have fun while making this! 


Traditional Braised Duck (卤鸭)

As long as I can remember, Braised Duck has always been one of the dishes my mother would cook up on special occasions. Whether it is used as an offerings to praying, or during Chinese New Year feasting, family gatherings or even celebration for elder's birthdays. This well loved dish never fails to make its appearance on the dinner table. This well loved dish stands through the test of time and made into many households of different dialect groups. Originated from the Teochews, it "evolved" in many forms in other dialect families, just like mine. 

As I mentioned before, every family has their very own special Braised Duck recipe. I can't say that mine is much better then others. But it reminds me of home, reminds me of my mom and all those special occasions that it appeared in. It would not be right if I don't learn to cook this myself and keep this heritage recipe alive. Well, it sure paid off when my kids said the braised duck I made today tasted much like their grandma's. My mom will be proud, perhaps I should cook this for her soon. :) *happiness*

I took up the challenge of cooking this without prior consultation on the recipe with my mom, so most part of it is based on memory and also my own preference. But I am super glad it turned out great, in terms of balance in flavour, tenderness of the meat and the colour coating on the duck itself. However I must say for most part of the "work" was done perfectly by my trusty cast iron Le Creuset Pot. My 26 cm, 5.5 qt, 10 year plus pot which is still solid as a rock and doing it's deed really well. *Love* 

I know owning a 26 cm cast iron Le Creuset pot seems uncommon. It is indeed heavy for daily use, but when it comes to dishes like this. I couldn't be more happy when that duck fits nicely into the pot.Yay! But do note that I did cut off the neck, head and the bottom to get it in. I cooked the neck but discarded the head and bottom. Why? My kid kept saying the duck's eyes are creepy and bottoms cannot be eaten! Lol! 

Alternatively, you can cut the duck into half if you still find it hard to fit the duck in, no biggy. And I would not trade another cookware or pot to cook this dish next time. This enameled cast iron pot was able to cook so evenly, preserved the heat and at a much shorter time then I expected. Flavours all nicely infused into the meat and falling off the bone.

Enough said, let's get on with the recipe shall we?  

Recipe for Whole Braised Duck (Serves 5-6 px)

1 whole duck, about 2-3 kg (I bought mine from Sheng Siong at $13.90)
5 cm ginger, peeled and sliced
10 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
5 shallots, peeled and sliced thin

4-5 cinnamon sticks
4-5 star anise
5 cloves
3 dried bay leaves
50 ml + 150 ml quality dark soy sauce (I use 广祥泰)
2 tsp + 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp + 1 tsp spice powder (I used a brand from Penang given by a good friend, you can use any brand of you preference)

For caramel syrup
5-6 tbsp sugar
100 ml water

Add ons
4 Tau Gua, slice half (firm beancurd)
4 eggs, hard boiled and peeled 
500-600 ml water

  • After the duck has been rinsed clean, let it drain then dap dry a little with pepper towel.
  • Rub on 2 tsp salt and 2 tsp of the 5 spice powder on the duck.
  • Drizzle the 50 ml of dark soy sauce over the duck and again rub it all over it.Then let the marinated duck sit for a good hour before use.

  • In the meantime, boil the eggs for 8 minutes. Remove and cool in tap water and peel it. Set aside for use later.
  • Heat up the cast iron pot with 1 tsp of cooking oil. Add in the sliced ginger, sliced shallots, bay leaves star anise, cloves and smashed garlic cloves. Cook over medium low fire until aromatic.

  • Remove the aromatics once it has been cooked till fragrant from the pot and set aside for use later. 
  • In the same pot, add in the ingredients for the caramel sauce: 5-6 tbsp caster sugar, 200 ml water. Cook over medium fire and watch over it carefully. Stir to melt the sugar and let it caramelised till light golden brown. Off the fire and the colour will darken further.

  • Add the stir fried aromatics back into the pot together with the caramelised syrup.

  • Add in the 500 ml of water, 150 ml dark soy sauce, 1 tsp of 5 spice powder, stir well and cook at low fire.

  • Gently lower the whole duck into the cast iron pot.

  • Let the duck slow braise in the liquid at a low simmer. Then gently flip the duck over to the other side every 20-25 minutes. Note that you can add the firm tofu and hard boiled eggs later, it only take 20 minutes to braised them.

  • Do be careful when you flip every time, not to "rip" the duck skin. The duck will slowly take on the colour of the braising liquid. After 3 flip, add in the hard boil eggs and firm tofu.

  • Do another couple more flips. Before off the fire, remove the hard boiled eggs and tofu once they have taken up the beautiful dark golden brown.
  • You can further reduce the braising liquid to a thick gravy or you can leave it slightly soupy to drizzle over the rice. The consistency of the sauce is really up to you. 

Some said that it is best to leave the braised duck to cool completely (much like the Hainanese Chicken) before one can chop it up. It will taste more intense and flavourful. 

Well, I waited only 30 minutes haha! Needed ti shoot the duck before sunset...always chasing sunlight, food blogger's problem.
Okay, I admit. I totally suck at chopping up the meat. Especially cooked poultry *sigh*. But I ain't gonna stop learning and trying! Jia you!
Well, do not let it deter you too. Ultimately the taste will be more important. Well at least it is for my case. My family enjoyed this dish thoroughly. 
So instead of roasting a turkey or some chunk of ham this Christmas Holiday, how about cooking something a Chinese family would definitely enjoy! This delicious traditional Braised Duck dish and impress your family and friends.:)

Do try out this heritage dish and let me know how you like it. If you love traditional food as much as I do, you should definitely learn to make this and cook for your love ones too.

If you do not own a Le Creuset french oven pot, you should go get one during this holiday sale! It is ongoing at TANGS. Else head on over to to find out more about the promotions available now. It's definitely a Merry Christmas gift to yourself haha!

Until the next time, bee happy always!