Tuesday, May 21, 2013
If you live and breathe coconut, you cannot miss out on this. It's full of pure coconut flavour and the buttercream has the silkiest texture ever, making it seem like you're eating a light and airy coconut custard, which is, I must add, is absolutely free of artificial coconut extract. Not that extract is horrendous but there is a major difference between using fresh coconut milk and coconut extract. The extra fuss is worth it, trust me.
Indeed, the buttercream is a swiss meringue one but don't start thinking of alternative frosting recipes yet! I did and nearly decided to just make a coconut pastry cream and I'm so glad I didn't.
I've always had a bit of trouble with swiss meringue buttercream- I would spend hours in frustration trying to get the curdled mixture to come together- but this time I didn't! No it is definitely not the recipe. I think it has partly to do with using cold-ish chunks of butter instead of room temperature ones. But then again, I live in a temperate climate so the temperature your butter should be at for best results could differ. Whatever it is, I'm so glad I didn't have to spend precious hours sweating (figuratively! Literally would be pretty gross.) over the buttercream. And if this is the trick to get all my swiss meringue buttercreams to work, I think I'll be seeing a lot of it in the future.
The cupcakes themselves don't pale in comparison. The batter is too, made with coconut milk and there is just the right amount of shredded coconut folded into it such that the coconut flavour is amped up while not making the cupcake seem dry. The only drawback is that the cupcakes have to be refrigerated once frosted and these being butter-based cupcakes, they become hard when cold. For the best texture and flavour, you really should eat the cupcakes at room temperature but that would mean sacrificing the ice-cream-like consistency of the buttercream that can only be experienced while cold.
Next stop: layer cakes! Oh how I miss thee.
White Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting
recipe adapted from the Flour bakery cookbook
For the cupcakes:
2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
6 large egg whites
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large egg whites
3 sticks butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup coconut milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Add the butter and beat until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.
Combine the egg whites, coconut milk and shredded coconut together. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into this mixture and whisk to disperse the seeds. You can save the pod for others uses like making vanilla sugar.
Add about half the coconut milk mixture to the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add the rest of the mixture and beat until the batter is well mixed, light and fluffy.
Divide batter amongst cupcake liners and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out mostly clean, with moist crumbs attached.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting: Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Heat until the mixture is hot to touch, whisking occasionally, and the sugar has melted.
Remove from heat and pour the mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer. Whip on high speed until the mixture becomes a light, white meringue and is cool to touch, 6 to 8 minutes. Turn down the speed to low and add the butter, a few chunks at a time. Increase speed to medium and mix for 4 to 5 minutes or until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is smooth and glossy. It will look curdled at some point but just whipping it and it will come together eventually.
Add the vanilla extract, salt and coconut milk and whip for another 1 to 2 minutes to incorporate. The frosting should be smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for a while if too soft to work with.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Things are going to get a bit malty around here as I try to maximize the huge bottle of malt powder I bought. I started with some chocolate whoopie pies with malted buttercream and walnut filling. Have you checked them out? You should!
Today's dessert is another chocolate and malt combination. I wanted to amp up the malt powder in the pots de creme but I'm glad I stuck to the original proportions because I felt that the balance between malt and chocolate was just right. If you are familiar with the drink Milo, the flavour somewhat similar to that.
I feel that custards are often underrated and often overshadowed by towering cakes swathed in buttercream of kaleidoscopic hues. Sure, they may seem a little less unimpressive on the outset but once you dig in, this wave of comfort washes over you and for just a few moments, you would like the world to stand still and just leave you with your spoon and your dessert. Or at least I feel this way.
I mentioned in my whoopie pie post that I had a little streak of inspiration to do something with walnuts and malt. Well here it is! Toasted walnuts coated with creamy white chocolate and tossed in a shower of malt powder. It's simple, but it's good. You will want to make extra to keep in the fridge for snacking.
This is one of the tastiest desserts I've had in a while.
Malted Milk Chocolate Pots de Creme with Malted White Chocolate Walnuts
makes 8 servings
recipe adapted from Baked Elements
For the pots de creme:
4 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup malted milk powder
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 tsp fleur de sel
For the malted white chocolate walnuts:
coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted and still hot
white chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 325F. Place 8 4-ounce ramekins or souffle dishes in a roasting pan.
Heat heavy cream and malted milk powder in a saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and throw in the chopped milk chocolate. Let the mixture stand for 30 seconds then whisk until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together. Slowly stream in the chocolate mixture while whisking constantly. You can sieve the mixture at this point if you want a super smooth custard.
Divide the custard equally among the ramekins. Carefully pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the custards are set around the edge but still wobbly in the middle. Remove the ramekins from the water, let cool for 10 minutes, then refrigerate uncovered for at least 3 hours before serving.
Make the malted white chocolate walnuts: Combine the hot toasted walnuts with the finely chopped white chocolate in a bowl and let the mixture stand until the chocolate has melted. Stir to coat the walnuts evenly. The amount of each ingredient you need is arbitrary- it depends on how much chocolate you like clinging to your walnuts.
Refrigerate the mixture for about 15 minutes or until the chocolate has just set. Sprinkle spoonfuls of malted milk powder and a pinch of salt over the walnuts and stir to coat. Refrigerate the mixture until the chocolate has completely hardened, at least 1 hour.
Serve generous spoonfuls of the malted white chocolate walnuts with the pots de creme.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
If you own the book Baked Elements, you might recognize this recipe. Hint: it belongs to the chapter of malt recipes.
Yeah, the recipe was titled Devil Dogs because of the shape the batter was piped in- bones. I didn't quite feel like getting out my piping bag and piping tip and going through all that fuss for just a bit of batter (I scaled down the recipe) so I made the whoopie pies in their prosaic shape.
Since I was already tweaking the recipe, I decided to tweak it some more. It wasn't that much of an adjustment really, I just folded some chopped toasted walnuts into the buttercream. Which, I must add, isn't just just an adjustment- malt and walnuts are divine together! Plus, saying the two words together is great fun. Malt and walnut. Malty walnutty. Malty walty. You get the idea.
Malted walnut. Oho I'm on to something here!
If I had to criticize (what am I saying- I always have some little quibbles), I would say that the cakes could be moister and the buttercream more malty. I guess it can't be helped since the cakes are made with butter so when refrigerated, they are rather firm and drier compared to oil-based whoopie pies. The buttercream issue can be easily resolved- just add more malt!
I feel that after becoming so detached from blogging, I just can't write my posts as quickly and eloquently as before. This is bad. I need to blog more, which means I need to bake more. Yes. That sounds like a plan.
Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Malt and Walnut Buttercream
a recipe adapted from Baked Elements, which was originally known as Devil Dogs
makes 4 regular-shaped sandwiches
For the cake:
2 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp instant espresso powder
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/8 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1/4 large egg yolk (about a teaspoon)
1/4 cup buttermilk
For the buttercream:
1 tbsp malted milk powder (I recommend increasing this amount anywhere up to 2 tbsp)
1/2 tbsp boiling water
1 1/2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted and cooled
For the cakes: Line a baking sheet.
Whisk the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, espresso powder, baking powder and salt together.
Cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add the chocolate and egg yolk and beat until just combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of batter and mound it on the baking sheet. I used a cookie scoop for ease. Repeat until all the batter has been used. At this point, you can refrigerate the mounds of batter while the oven is preheating if you prefer distinctively-domed whoopie pies. If not, just proceed with the baking.
Bake at 400F for about 6 minutes, or slightly longer if the batter was baked straight from the fridge. Cool before filling.
For the buttercream: Dissolve the malted milk powder in the boiling water. Stir together the milk, cream, malted milk mixture in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened. Transfer the mixture to a bowl to cool completely.
Cream the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the cooled milk mixture and beat until fluffy and stiff peaks start to form. Stir in the toasted walnuts.
Fill the cakes generously with the buttercream. Refrigerate for at least 5 to 7 minutes to firm up before serving.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Hello blog! Hello world! I can't believe that I have not updated this space in two weeks. In fact, I'm so excited to finally have something to share that I'm typing this out without having even tried the cake yet. (The cake's still baking.) Yeah so you can assume that by the time I get to the part where I talk about the cake, I would have typed that paragraph out at a later time when I've actually tasted the cake and I'm not just bullshitting my way through. Ohmigod I'm just so happy to blog that I'm about to go in a bout of verbal diarrhea. Or I'm already experiencing verbal diarrhea. Whatev. Can you tell? You can, can't you?
Okay, I need to calm down and walk away and wait for my cake to be done so that I can tell you all about it.
And I'm back (1.5 hours later).
This cake is dense like a pound cake should be but its not terribly so. The cream cheese definitely adds a little something to an otherwise pedestrian butter cake. You can taste the slight tanginess and it could have been more prominent if not for the lemon and almond extracts. If I ever make this again, I would keep just the vanilla extract for additional flavouring to see how much the cream cheese stands out.
I cut down the sugar because I planned to add white chocolate chips but my advice is to lower the sugar anyway even if you're not going to add the white chocolate. At 3/4 the original sugar level, the cake was just right in terms of sweetness so I would definitely think that if you were to follow the original recipe, you'll be risking an extreme sugar high.
Gargh the pictures turned out real bad because I was working with inadequate sunlight. Oh forgive me.
Cream Cheese and White Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
adapted from Baking by Flavour
makes a 10 inch tube cake
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I omitted- couldn't find my nutmeg!)
1 cup butter
3 tbsp shortening (I replaced with butter)
1 cup cream cheese
3 cups vanilla sugar (I say use 2 1/4 cups)
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp almond extract
6 large eggs
1 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a 10 inch tube pan.
Sift the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together.
Cream the butter, shortening and cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Blend in the vanilla, lemon and almond extracts. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the flour mixture in 3 additions, blending until just incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out mostly clean. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. Let it cool completely before slicing.
Friday, April 26, 2013
I'm procrastinating by typing out this post. I'm really supposed to be doing math homework now but just the mere thought of it repulses me. Oh math, the bane of my existence. Along with my sweet tooth.
Why do we need to do all those complicated math problems when we have such miraculous technology that is capable of solving any sum we key in anyway? Speaking of which, I have no idea how to work a graphic calculator. It's the technology idiot in me. My future is doomed.
P.S. Is anyone else feeling unsettled at how techno-centric the world is progressing towards? I for one like certain things to be kept simple like the way they were.
Okay. I need to make this short and snappy because my math homework isn't going to get itself done.
This tart basically consists of a tart base containing ground almonds, a white chocolate ganache with shredded coconut folded in and a chocolate ganache. There is supposed to be a whole almond topping off each tart but I didn't have any.
I tampered with the recipe a little (typical me) by subbing the white sugar with brown and using ground almonds instead of grinding whole ones down like the recipe instructed. I also used desiccated coconut instead of shredded because that was what I had.
The almonds weren't very discernible, and I think that's an understatement. Maybe I should say that I couldn't taste them at all, whatever traces of them being masked by the heavy flavours of chocolate and coconut. I would prefer the filling to have less coconut because it soaked up a lot of moisture from the ganache, making it rather dry. The thin layer of chocolate ganache on the tart's surface was barely enough for me- I found myself craving more chocolate to go with the tart. I rectified that issue by grabbing a few stray M&Ms from the fridge.
Overall, it's a pretty okay recipe but it could be made better with a few tweaks here and there.
Almond Joy Tart
makes 6 individual 4-inch tarts
adapted from Baked Explorations
For the almond tart dough:
1 large egg
1/4 cup whole toasted almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
For the coconut filling:
8 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp light rum
For the chocolate glaze and garnish:
2 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 whole toasted almonds
Make the almond tart dough: In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg and set it aside.
Pulse the almonds and sugar together in a food processor until almonds are finely ground. Add the flour and salt and pulse again until just mixed. Add the butter and pulse until sandy. Pour in the egg and pulse until the dough just begins to cohere into a ball. Form the dough into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or overnight. (Alternatively, divide the dough into 6 equal portions and press it straight into the tart pans- my lazy method of choice.)
Divide the chilled dough into 6 portions and roll each portion into a 5 1/2 inch circle that is 1/8 inch thick before pressing into a 4 inch tart pan. Place the tart pans in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Line the tart crusts with aluminum foil and fill each one 3/4 full with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the coconut cream filling: Place the white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until it comes to a simmer than pour it straight into the bowl with the white chocolate. Let the mixture stand for 30 seconds before stirring the mixture until smooth. Cover and refrigerate the ganache for at least 4 hours or overnight before proceeding.
Whip the white chocolate ganache until soft peaks form. Fold in the coconut and rum. Divide filling evenly among the cooled tart shells and place them in the fridge while you make the chocolate glaze.
Make the chocolate glaze: Place the milk and dark chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl.
Heat the heavy cream until it is just about to boil then immediately pour over the chocolates; stir to combine. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Remove the tarts from the fridge and spoon glaze evenly over each one. Top each tart with one almond and refrigerate again until the glaze has set, about 10 minutes.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
These are one of those photos that are hurriedly shot before the fleeting moments of sundown came to pass, again. The sun was setting and the sky was dimming by the second, casting a grayish hue on my standing-height Ikea table, which was where I was going to shoot the cookies. I moved quickly. I grabbed the best-looking cookies and set them on a pink flowery plate I had grabbed from my display cabinet and given a quick wipe just moments before. Positioning two slightly off-centre then leaning the third against the foundation of sorts, I was ready to bring the plate to the table.
My camera was sitting on another table where the TV was at. On the way to my Ikea table, I casually swiped the DSLR from where it was at with my free hand. Finally, the cookies and camera were ready. I was ready. It was time to shoot.
I battled against time and fought hard against the annoying little voice in the back of my head.
Horrible composition. Too close! Zoom out, zoom out! That angle is boring.
I could have done better, I believe. But I'd also like to believe that these pictures are not bad given time constraints. Hah. Anyway, the taste of the cookies is more important, no?
Instead of whole, chopped or slivered almonds in the recipe, the almond component is actually flaked almonds, which you have to admit is pretty unusual. They act almost like rolled oats, giving the cookies this flakiness that results in bits of cookie breaking off from time to time with every bite. Also, there is almond extract, and you can taste it. I sort of like almond extract in small doses, but it's not the most popular flavoring so if you absolutely abhor it, you should leave it out or reduce the amount by half if you make these cookies.
These cookies prove to me again that chocolate chunks are superior to chocolate chips- you just can't get that melty ooze from chocolate chips once the cookies are cooled. I would replace chocolate chips with chocolate chunks in all future chocolate chip cookie recipes but sometimes, the convenience is so hard to beat.
Oh, sloth would be the death of me.
Almond and Bittersweet Chocolate Nugget Cookies
adapted from Baking by Flavour
1 1/3 cups + 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter
2 tbsp + 2 tsp shortening
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch nuggets
1 cup lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut
2/3 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted and cooled completely
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt together.
Cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Blend in the egg, almond and vanilla extracts. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate, coconut and almonds until evenly distributed.
Spoon rounded 2-tablespoon-size mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until just set and pale golden around the edges. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Looks like a giant misnomer, doesn't it? Like, how can this be pie? Alas, the devil is in the details. It's a chocolate coconut cream batter pie. I'd say that the recipe title did a pretty good job of enticing me into baking it by including the word pie.
Think of it as a crustless pie. More accurately though, it is to me, a huge circular coconut-cream-cheese-swirled brownie. It probably even is. I knew beforehand that this would come out looking nothing remotely like a proper pie but I still can't help feeling disappointed. The word pie connotes crusted treats with fillings ranging from creamy to fruity to chocolaty, and in some cases even toppings- a picture of decadence and grandeur, so placing "pie" in this recipe title really unconsciously set me up for disappointment. Because when you place "batter" next to "pie", honestly, "batter" disappears.
I feel like I've been hoodwinked.
I'll give full marks to the recipe title for creativity though.
The slightly tangy cream cheese swirl is dotted with chocolate chips and M&Ms. The M&Ms aren't supposed to be in there but I figured that I would like a bit of colour. Nah, just kidding. I just wanted to use up the pathetic 2 tablespoons worth of candy left in the fridge. As usual, the colours ran, and it was painful to watch streaks of red, blue and green contaminate the pale yellow of the cream cheese as I stirred, but I think the colours made the final product look prettier.
I'm hankering for more coconut flavour though. There's only so much desiccated coconut can do (I was supposed to use sweetened flaked coconut but I doubt there would be much of a difference). I need to make something that is crazily coconutty soon. Like a coconut cake with coconut milk in the batter and frosting, because the real magic likes in coconut milk. Uh huh.
Oh coconut, me loves.
Oh yes, before I forget, the brownie portion isn't bad too. It's dense and fudgy and chocolaty enough- a great pairing with the cream cheese swirl.
Chocolate Coconut Cream Batter Pie
makes a 9 inch pie
adapted from Baking by Flavour
For the coconut cream topping:
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tbsp vanilla-scented sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
large pinch of salt
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut
For the chocolate fudge brownie batter:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 cup vanilla-scented sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9 inch pie pan.
For the coconut cream topping: Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in the egg yolk, flour, vanilla and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips and coconut.
For the chocolate fudge brownie batter: Whisk the eggs to blend. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla until mixture is lightly thickened. Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate until homogenous. Stir in the flour and salt until just combined. Stir in the walnuts.
Scrape the chocolate batter into the prepared pan. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate batter and use a knife to lightly swirl the two together. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.