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Sunday, May 26, 2013

chocolate coconut milk cake.

I had a bit of coconut milk left (coconut cream, actually) and I really did not want it to go to waste, though cheap as it may be. I've been wanting to try a chocolate cake with coconut milk in it for the longest time, so it was the perfect opportunity to utilize the remaining half cup or so.

The words "chocolate cake" and "coconut milk" punched into google's search engine turned up a link to this recipe that has been made by quite a few other bloggers as well. There was a gentle warning that this cake doesn't really taste very strongly of coconut but I thought that since I was using coconut cream, the flavour might show up more. And also since I was using a higher-fat-containing ingredient, I experimented a little and took away the butter in the recipe.

The cake was plenty moist. I don't think I lost out by omitting the butter. The reviewers were right though- the coconut was hardly detectable in the baked cake. However, the smell of the cake was so unique, so delicious. There was a nutty scent to it. Although you can't explicitly taste the coconut in the cake, there is definitely an extra something to it, an undertone that sets this cake apart from purely chocolate cakes. I hate to say this but maybe this cake needs a bit of coconut extract to underscore the coconut flavour. Otherwise, it is just a chocolate cake, but a darn good one at that.

To accompany the cake, I whipped up a quick crusting buttercream. Or at least it was supposed to crust. When I sliced into the cake a few hours after frosting, I was disappointed to hear no light crackly sound of a thin shell of sugar giving way under the weight of a serrated knife. After all, I would have done without any frosting for the cake if not for wanting a texture contrast from a crusting buttercream. Perhaps it was the humidity, or perhaps it was because I didn't refrigerate the cake (and the buttercream piped onto it). This definitely needs some research into. Luckily, it's the kind of research I like. (More buttercream to come!)

P.S. If you want a coconut frosting to accompany you chocolate coconut milk cake, here is an excellent one that I highly recommend you try!

P.P.S Follow me on instagram!

Chocolate Coconut Milk Cake
adapted from here

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
6 tbsp butter, melted (I replaced with water because I used coconut cream in place of coconut milk)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut milk (I used coconut cream)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
optional: 1/2 tsp coconut extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9 inch cake pan.

Combine the chocolate and cocoa powder in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water and let the mixture stand for 1 minute. Whisk until the mixture is homogenous. Set aside to cool.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.

Beat the butter and sugar until combined. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is pale and slightly thick. (If you're replacing the butter with water, whisk the eggs with the water until combined then dump in the sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale and slightly thick. Add in the coconut extract as this point if you're using.) Stream in the coconut cream and chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool cake completely before frosting.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

white coconut cupcakes with coconut frosting.

This. Frosting.

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
makes 16
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

malted milk chocolate pots de creme with malted white chocolate walnuts.

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
malt powder
coarse salt

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

chocolate whoopie pies with malted buttercream and walnut filling.

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

cream cheese and white chocolate chip pound cake.

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.

Walking away.

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.