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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

chocolate chip cookie dough cake.

I'm a little slow when it comes to following trends. I mean, I know what sort of dessert is popular at the moment but it takes a while before I actually make it. There's just so many things to bake and so little time (and calorie allowance).

Chocolate chip cookie dough cakes/cupcakes were wildly hot quite some time back, but I only recently finally got to bake one. And I'm so glad that I did! Sure it's just vanilla or yellow cake, chocolate chip cookie dough and cream cheese frosting all assembled and packaged up nicely, three very common recipes made time and time again each for different purposes, but together, they are really something. Of course, I think simply the idea of a chocolate chip cookie dough cake accounts for a part of my adoration of this cake.

The yellow cake recipe is a new one for me. It's really good- fluffy and moist but not as eggy as I would like. It's also a bit sweet but that's easily remedied. I think it would do equally good or even better in other applications, like as a cushion or a vehicle for fruity buttercream.

It's pretty hard to find any fault in cookie dough, but I must say that I would prefer a version with more flour in it so that the resulting dough has a less sticky and firmer consistency at room temperature. It's a texture preference thing; very subjective, so you could follow the recipe as it was originally written and overlook my opinion.

The cream cheese frosting, ohmigod the cream cheese frosting, is absolutely divine! It's not too tangy, which I like, and it has a creamy airy consistency that makes it just the right firmness to stick your fork into straight out of the fridge. The secret? Whipped cream. I should have known- the wonders of cream has no bounds.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake
makes a 5 inch cake

For the yellow cake:
5/6 cup all-purpose flour
5/6 tsp baking powder
1/6 tsp salt
50g butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 egg
100ml milk

For the cookie dough filling:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 brown sugar
3/4 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp + 1 tsp milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chocolate chips

For the cream cheese frosting:
140g cream cheese
25g butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
100ml heavy cream

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two 5-inch round baking pans.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract and egg until just combined. Alternatively stir in the flour mixture in three additions and milk in two, starting and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly between the two pans and bake for about 12 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool cakes in pans 5 minutes before unmolding out onto a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the cookie dough: Cream the butter, sugars and salt until fluffy. Stir in the vanilla extract and milk. Stir in the flour just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Spread bulk of frosting onto a layer of cake; top with the next layer. Use the reserved cookie dough for decorating later. Chill the cake while you prepare the frosting.

Make the frosting: Cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth and combined. Stir in the icing sugar and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy.

Whip the cream to stiff peaks.

Fold in half the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until mostly combined. Fold in remaining whipped cream until the mixture is homogenous. Use to frost immediately or refrigerate first if too soft to work with.

Chill the frosted cake for at least 4 hours for the frosting to firm up before serving.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

buttery white chocolate-macadamia drop cookies.

Hey guys I have instagram now so go check it out (and follow me)!

These cookies are ah-maze-ing and would have been even better if I had not overbaked them. Lesson learnt: always keep your eyes on cookies especially when they're nearing done and not play candy crush. Yes.

They have incredible flavour, and the toasting of macadamias in butter beforehand is a genius genius idea. These are supposed to be chewy cookies and even though I clearly baked them for too long, the centres still retain their chew. Which, I must add, is an incredible feat. I mean, look at how browned these cookies are!

I had no idea that these would spread so much either. I feel like I've been reduced back to an amateur baker when I would constantly to produce nice round cookies because I couldn't gauge how far apart to space them. Oh well. Make myself another batch?

Buttery White Chocolate-Macadamia Drop Cookies
adapted from Simply Sensational Cookies
makes 25 to 30 3 inch cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup coarsely chopped salted macadamia nuts
Scant 1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp light or dark corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare baking sheets.

Bring butter to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Gently boil for 3 minutes. Stir in macadamias and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the butter and nuts have browned. Immediately transfer mixture to a separate bowl to cool until just warm to the touch, about 10 minutes.

Stir in sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, baking soda and salt until combined. Stir in the egg. Fold in the flour and then the white chocolate chips until evenly incorporated. Let the dough stand for a few minutes if it's too wet. Drop the dough into 2 inch diameter mounds, spacing 2 3/4 inches apart, onto the baking sheets.

Bake for 11 to 15 minutes or until the cookies are just light golden all over and slightly darker around the edges. Cool cookies on baking sheets for about 2 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

mini chocolate pounds.

I'm so totally psyched today because today's the day my photobucket bandwidth gets resetted and all pictures become visible again! Selfish as a reason it may seem but my main worry of my pictures not being able to be viewed was decreased blog traffic. Well thankfully it did not dip that much. But anyway, I'm here today to boost it back up with this post, because chocolate always gets anyone's attention, especially shiny dripping chocolate glaze.

I deviated a bit from the original recipe because I was lacking orange extract. I didn't even have oranges in the fridge to zest in place of the extract so I scraped the orange part of the recipe and did some modifications. For the cream cheese filling in the middle, instead of the orange extract that was to be mixed in, I swirled in some apricot jam. I left out the orange extract in the cake batter and used brown sugar in place of regular sugar to make up for the loss in flavour. I simply omitted the orange extract in the glaze.

The cake itself is chocolaty and dense but not fudgy brownie kind of dense. It's also quite crumbly but not in a bad way. The apricot cream cheese filling turned out pretty alright too. I may have mixed in a bit too much apricot jam though, because the filling wasn't as tangy as I would prefer it to be. The glaze needs a considerable cut in sugar level and the coffee in it, usually used in chocolate recipes to amplify the chocolate flavour, shows up pretty prominently. It isn't that terrific but it complements the whole ensemble. Overall, this recipe is definitely one worth trying.

So hey, I've been thinking for a while and I've decided to hop onto the instagram bandwagon! Yeah, I'm slow, but better late than never! So please follow me on instagram and check out all my latest bakes, previous hits and obscene amount of sugar I ingest on a hourly basis! It's gonna be fun. And yes I'm bolding this because that's how much I want you to see this.

Mini Chocolate Pounds
adapted from Bake It Like You Mean It
makes 9 muffin-sized cakes

For the filling:
1 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
3 tbsp apricot jam

For the cake:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

For the glaze:
1/4 cup coffee, cool
1 tsp powdered gelatin
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Make the filling: Mix the cream cheese and icing sugar together until smooth. Swirl in the jam, don't mix it in completely. Refrigerate until firm.

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and spray muffin tin.

Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs one at a time.

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together. Stir in the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.

Divide batter equally amongst the cavities of the prepared muffin tin. Scoop a tablespoon of cream cheese filling and press it into the middle of the batter. Bake for about 15 minutes or until done. Cool cakes completely before glazing.

Make the glaze: Place the coffee in a bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over and allow it to bloom, about 3 minutes.

Combine the cream, cocoa powder and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir until mixture is homogenous. Stir in gelatin mixture. Remove from heat.

Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Pour the cream mixture over the chopped chocolate and let the mixture stand for 2 minutes then stir to combine. You can pour the glaze through a fine-mesh sieve for a smoother result or use it as it is. Let the glaze cool and thicken for about 5 minutes.

Pour the glaze over the cooled cakes and allow it to set at room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

filled raisin cookies.

When I saw these cookies on Brown Eyed Baker, I was sold. They sounded so fabulous but the fact that the dough needed rolling and stamping out deterred me from making these for a while. Finally, I had enough time and patience to spare and thus, I made these cookies.

These cookies are definitely worth all the trouble. The dough portion was soft, cakey and lightly buttery, and the raisins were so juicy. I had one while it was still warm and after the first bite, I thought that these cookies are possibly one of the very best cookies I've ever tasted. They had a old-school edge to them that make them even more appealing.

This recipe also marks the first time I've ever baked cookies with margarine. Usually that's a huge offence in my books (butter all the way!), but it works well in this recipe because it yields cakier cookies. I realized that baking with margarine can be incredibly convenient. For one, you don't have to wait for it to soften to room temperature because it's already spreadable when cold. In the same way, it makes the dough soft and pliable even when thoroughly refrigerated. That means that you don't have to wait for the dough to soften before rolling it out if you had made the dough way in advance. Plus, margarine has a lower fat content but who am I kidding- the number of cookies I'll inhale in total will negate all possible calories saved.

Filled Raisin Cookies
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
makes about 3 dozen (or 56 two-inch ones)

The instructions for making the dough is decidedly weird but keep faith, keep following and the dough will turn out fine. Although I think that the cookies are wonderful as they are, I do believe that the raisin filling could benefit from brown sugar instead. Of course, feel free to adhere to the original recipe.

For the dough:
2 cups sugar
1 cup margarine
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
6 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the raisin filling:
1 cup sugar (or brown sugar)
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water, divided
1 tbsp lemon juice
15 ounces raisins

Make the filling: Whisk the sugar, cornstarch and 1/4 cup water to form a paste. Stir in the remaining water, lemon juice and raisins and place the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and raisins plump, 5 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature before using.

Make the dough: Cream the sugar and margarine together until light and fluffy. Add the salt, eggs, milk and flour and mix just until the flour has been incorporated. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda and vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. The dough will be very soft and sticky.

Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare baking sheets.

Using about 1/3 of the dough at a time, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the dough into rounds with a 2 3/4 inch cookie cutter or a 2 inch one for smaller cookies. Place one on a prepared baking sheet, spoon some raisin filling onto the circle and then top with another round of dough. Although the rounds will seal themselves together during baking without having to manually tamp the edges down, you can do so for a neater seamless appearance. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bake cookies until lightly golden brown on top, around 15 minutes (10 to 12 minutes for the smaller ones). Allow to cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

pink strawberry and vanilla birthday cake.

I made this cake for a friend's birthday, so I can't show you a picture of a slice nor its interior, but I can tell you how it tastes, and it is one word- delicious.

I baked a half quantity of Smitten Kitchen's yellow cake and frosted it with a whipped vanilla frosting from Sweetapolita. The buttermilk in the yellow cake made it fluffy and moist. It was a tad sweet but all in all, a good recipe. I didn't follow the recipe for the frosting to a T- I used 1.5x the amount of icing sugar called for because I wanted the frosting to be thicker and more stable. And I omitted the vanilla bean, substituting the equivalent of vanilla extract instead. Despite the extra sugar, the frosting wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be. I may have compromised on the nearly flawlessly creamy consistency of the original frosting because adding more icing sugar means that more sugar granules are introduced, no matter how small they are. Still, the frosting was ridiculously creamy, fluffy and light, and it melts on your tongue and disappears in a aromatic poof of vanilla. If you're looking for a traditional American buttercream, I strongly recommend you try this recipe.

I split the cake into three layers and filled them with strawberry jam. To signal the strawberry element in this cake, I dyed the frosting a pastel pink. I also mixed a few tablespoons of confetti in (yes, right into the frosting), and frosted the cake, with sprinkles in the frosting and all. I think the colors of confetti don't run as easily as other kinds of sprinkles, which was why I chose it. To be on the safe side though, I chilled my frosting until it was firmer before mixing them in.

Finally, I used my spatula to do some funky grooves in the top of the cake and showered some gold sprinkles, if that is what I can call them. They're not made of sugar; they are like super thin pieces of gold foil each shaped like a miniature oval donut.

Pink, gold and rainbow. I like this color combination.

Monday, July 8, 2013

chewy chocolate chip and walnut cookies.

Honestly, I have tried so many chocolate chip cookie recipes and while I can more or less discern which are the better ones and which are the meh ones, it is really hard to pick the winning recipe, the best of the best. Hence I don't think I'll ever label any particular recipe as my favorite. But I do have a preference for recipes calling for browned butter, because it gives the cookies a toasty nutty undertone. I also like recipes that produce cookies that are flatter and spread out more. I'm just not that enamoured with the super puffy cookie. Sure they are nice to bite into because they're thick and substantial, but I like my cookies to have more crunchy surface area.

I won't call this the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it's definitely counts as one of the top few I've ever tried.

Chewy Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies
makes 34 medium-sized cookies
adapted from here

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and browned
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup chocolate chips

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

Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar and sugar until combined. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk until combined. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare baking sheets.

Roll portions of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes. Let the cookies cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, July 5, 2013

peanut butter marshmallow-filled muffins.

At my house, there is no shortage of the essential baking ingredients every frequent baker should have. I always have one-kilo bags of flour stocked up in my storeroom, and there would be three types of flour- plain, cake and bread. Occasionally a bag of rice flour would pop up. You can unfailingly find my fridge containing no less than five blocks of butter; right now there are eight. And when the mood strikes, cream cheese. My mum buys sugar by the two-kilo bagfuls. Recently, it seems like peanut butter is becoming a hot commodity in my household too. I opened my fridge yesterday to find no less than three plastic jars of peanut butter, each of a different kind. There's Skippy Super Chunk, Skippy Creamy and Jif Creamy. And get this, all three were opened and half-finished. I mean, which family does this?!


P.S. I love Jif's creamy peanut butter.

It wasn't that I felt like I had to use up at least one of the jars of peanut butter to clear some space in the fridge, I just had a massive craving for something peanut-buttery when I saw the jars of peanut butter. And while I thought of what to bake, I swiped a sizeable spoonful of Jif. And while I was standing in front of the fridge, door opened, I saw a half-opened pack of marshmallows. Lightbulb moment. Thus, these muffins were born.

It took a long time for me to decide which recipe to use. I googled peanut butter muffins but the results were quite different from what I wanted. For starters, there were many recipes for peanut butter banana muffins, peanut butter and honey muffins, healthy peanut butter muffins (no interest, thank you), but barely any for a plain peanut butter muffin. Of course, I took into consideration recipes like peanut butter chocolate chip muffins because I could just omit the chocolate chips. But even still, I couldn't find an appealing recipe.

So I decided to search for peanut butter cupcakes instead. And there was a world of difference. There were so many suitable sources I could choose from that I was in a bit of a fix, frankly. In the end, I decided that the recipe I choose had to contain baking soda, for fluffy muffins. It must also have a high ratio of peanut butter to butter, because I wanted these muffins to be the very ambassador of peanut butter. I could decide if I wanted to use a recipe with melted butter or oil, or creamed butter. It was a hard toss-up between this recipe and this recipe, and in the end, I went for the one with the creamed butter, as it is more likely to yield the crunchy muffin tops I love so much.

And it did! I loved these peanut butter marshmallow-filled muffins to the core (note the marshmallow middle reference too). They were sufficiently peanut-buttery, fluffy, moist and the tops were scrumptiously crunchy. Plus, they had gooey marshmallow centres! Can you say perfect fluffernutter muffin?

You need these in your life. Please.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow-Filled Muffins
makes 20 mini-muffins
adapted from here

I made these muffins in shallow muffin tins to get more crunchy tops and less "stumps". Make sure you let the muffins get sufficiently browned or the tops won't be as crunchy! Turn the heat up to 400F for the last 2 or 3 minutes of baking time to achieve that if they've yet to achieve your desired coloration.

225g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
60g butter
150g peanut butter
220g brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
100ml buttermilk

marshmallows, halved if necessary

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare mini muffin tins.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and baking soda together.

Cream the butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Add the brown sugar and salt and beat until lightened and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and stir to incorporate. Add an egg and stir to incorporate fully before adding the next.

Add half the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Blend in the buttermilk. Stir in the rest of the flour mixture.

Halfway fill each muffin cup, press a marshmallow into the centre and cover with more batter. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out mostly clean, with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool in the muffin tin for about 5 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack. Eat immediately.