Archive | cakes

Recipe for German Chocolate Cake and our Olympic Mitts Winner

Olympic Mitts

Remember about our Olympic giveaway last month? After compiling all entries from comments, Facebook fans, and (mostly) newsletter subscribers, we ended up with 442 entries. Whew!

So what I did to randomize the process in the fairest manner I could make it, is to have all entries on a spreadsheet.

There were double entries for the subscribers and fans, and single ones for the comments–as stated in the ‘rules’.

I added an additional column for the randomized sequence, which I generated through the Sequence Generator. Then I copied the resulting list into the new column, so that each entry will have a random number assigned to it. Sounds fancy, but it’s really simple.

I picked one random winner through Random.org again…and the winner is — Shawna, a longtime newsletter subscriber!

You will receive an email from me. :) Congratulations!!!

- – - – - – - – -

Now let’s move on to the German Chocolate Cake that doesn’t have anything to do with Germany, but has everything to do with chocolate and caramel decadence.

German Chocolate Cake

I'm sorry if I just met you! Clearly it's a sign that I should make up for all the lost years and make you every month. (Good thing my doctor doesn't read this blog.)

Hail be to Samuel German who created Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate for the Baker’s Chocolate brand, for which this recipe was created. Got it? Eventually the ‘s was dropped. [This convolution reminds me of none other than Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Mmm...]

So you see friends, if you are like me, you can stop wondering why in the world Germans have some coconut in their cake. Excuse my ignorance. The first time I ate this cake was right after I baked it. No joke.

German Chocolate Cake

It might not look like much, that light brown on dark brown action. I have to say, I have mistakenly underestimated this cake before I took a bite.

Was I the last person to discover this cake? It’s okay. You can tell me the truth. I’m totally fine with that. As long as you think it’s completely alright that I make this several times a month to make you jealous until you make it yourself. If not, head over to Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle which, according to @Lovelylanvin, makes a really good one!

Because. What could be better than moist and fluffy chocolate cake layers with custard-y caramel filling with coconut and pecans?

German Chocolate Cake

Four of my most favorite things in the world--chocolate cake + condensed milk cooked with eggs + coconut + pecans--in one life-altering bite.

I just could not stop eating it. I blame the cake entirely. I haven’t been on a scale since this cake was baked, but I’ve gone back to running regularly. That’s how guilty I feel, but oh so good! It’s a required indulgence.

The recipe for this cake was adapted from this lovely, lovely book:

Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum (she blogs!)

I love Rose’s meticulously detailed recipes that hold your hand through the whole process of preparing, baking, and assembling the cakes. I’ve made a few already from this book and I highly recommend it! No, this is not your last-minute go-to cake book. You need to plan ahead, not only to read the recipe carefully and check that you have all the ingredients, but also for making the cakes. They’re not quick fixes, but you will be rewarded with cakes that you didn’t think could possibly come from your own kitchen. They are indeed heavenly…amazing! cakes.
Go get it if you really want to bake cakes that impress.

Get the recipe for the German Chocolate here (PDF download included)

Posted in baking, books and publications, cakes, chocolate, coffee buddy, contest, dessert13 Comments

Light and Super Creamy No-Bake Cheesecake

Can you have a good cheesecake with just little sugar and no eggs? Can it be smooth and creamy, and melts in your mouth and before you could even think, you’ve already reached for your next bite? Why, yes and yes! Say hello to our family’s lifelong addiction: the no-bake cheesecake. This is also perfect for those who don’t like the heaviness of regular cheesecake. Perhaps you could even say it’s a tad better for indulgences, too. Maybe…I like to think that. -Joy

No-Bake Cheesecake

This is a personal invitation to try another favorite of our family. Signed, sealed, posted, it's yours to enjoy.

No-bake cheesecake and our family goes way, way back in the 80′s. My mother would spend Friday or Saturday nights on the dining table after dinner with her bowls, wooden spoons, stand mixer and springform pan to make cheesecake. The truth is, for the longest time I thought cheesecake was only made using my mom’s no-bake method. Hahaha.! Unfortunately, my mom doesn’t have the recipe anymore. I think everyone in our family will agree –that was gut-wrenchingly sad.

Uh, what are we going to do now?!

Sometime between my teenage years and our move to Canada, there was a cheesecake void in our household, we all got busy and us kids moved cities away for high school and university.

No-Bake Cheesecake

It wasn’t until 2002 or 2003 that I discovered (and had the inclination to make) a no-bake cheesecake recipe online. It didn’t quite taste like my mom’s but the methodology was close. I tweaked the ingredients until we were all satisfied with the taste. Then, at some point–GASP!–I lost the recipe. Gone. Not in my computer. Not in my mom’s. Our family friend, Tita Thess (go check her out, she makes gorgeous bead jewelry) even asked for the recipe many moons ago, but it turns out I never sent it to her. In between moving and traveling, and not being in the kitchen much, the recipe was gone. There was no trace of it.

….

For the longest time, I’ve put off creating a recipe from scratch to replicate my mom’s no-bake cheesecake because a) it’s so time-consuming to get the combination; and b) I almost had it and then I lost it! Exasperating to say the least. However, these are the things in life you just have to be grown up about and deal with–so I did. These were the only things I remembered it had and outlines my starting point:

  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • some amount of sour cream
  • some amount of Knox unflavoured gelatin
  • graham crackers
  • sugar
  • butter
  • lemon zest (god…that lemon zest that I would forever associate with cheesecake!)

It’s rather vague to say the least. I’m looking at my notes on my calendar (yes, I know) and it was still back in the beginning of February. And let’s just say that my weight is pretty much indicative of the amount of cheesecake I’ve consumed to reach until March to get the recipe right. I just can be so dedicated to finding a “solution” to my problem that I will not stop until everything is resolved — in this case, until the taste, texture and consistency is correct.

How hard could it be to come up with our “holy grail” recipe?

I got the recipe for the crust right the 1st try, but the cake was lumpy because of the difference in temperature between the dissolved gelatin and the cream cheese mixture. It tasted good (not the best–too sweet), but one never should have to associate cheesecake with the word lumpy (= lame).

No-Bake Cheesecake

It doesn't look like much right out of the pan, but for our family this elicits groans with, "Put the topping already!"

On the second try, the cheesecake tasted better (still not perfect), but the texture was smoother. However, the cheesecake held up so well it almost looked fake, like when you buy cheesecake at a cheap establishment and it’s almost like buying white Jell-O. Not good.

No-Bake Cheesecake

You can make it party-ready by using the smooth edge of a table knife to scrape and smooth the cheesecake. Works like a charm.

And then the third: melts-in-your-mouth no-bake cheesecake. And I made it again and again. And it’s done.

No-Bake Cheesecake

It IS as good as it looks.

   Get the recipe for the No-Bake Cheesecake now! (PDF download included)

Posted in cakes, coffee buddy, dessert, experiments, original Gourmeted recipe9 Comments

Strawberry Ganache Fudge Cake: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

I love you more than rainbows.” – Ryan Bingham (best original song, Crazy Heart) When I heard that, I went “AWWW”. How cute was that speech at the Oscar’s?! [I'm a total sap!] I’m watching it as I type, can you tell?

This (raw) fudge cake might just be more lovable than those colorful arches.

Strawberry Ganache Fudge Cake: the indulgent-tasting cake that looks good and makes you feel good

The oh-so-decadent-looking ganache–would you believe me when I say it’s made of dates, agave syrup, avocado, and cacao powder? Grins. No, it’s not April Fool’s Day yet. This total eye candy is good for you!

In the beginning I wasn’t sure it would be as good as Elle said it would. It’s not that I don’t trust her, or Ani Phyo (the cookbook author). It’s just that the ingredient combination was a bit foreign to me. Really? Avocado?! I grew up eating avocados as dessert topped with powdered milk and sugar, so the sweet part I got. But…with chocolate? You’re kidding!

My apprehension disappeared as soon as I prepared and tasted it. Oh…my…god!

Chocolate ganache

Raw ganache: the stuff of raw dessert heaven!

This chocolate frosting is UNreal in flavor. Wow. You wouldn’t think it has avocado in it. It is as good-no even better-than it looks.

Each cake layer is made of ground walnuts, cacao powder, medjool dates and salt. The major challenge for me when I made this was shaping the cake into 2 stackable layers. My smallest springform pan was 8 inches, and that produced a layer too thin to hold its shape. I ended up using a smaller-diameter fondue pot that I lined with aluminum foil tso I can easily pop out the layer once it’s compressed into a compact disc.

Pressing the cake into one compact disc

This is my low-tech solution to shaping the cake layers. It works.

I was eager to devour it after putting on the first layer of ganache, especially after tasting it with some leftover cake crumbs. I love eating tasting everything while making stuff.

First cake layer

First cake layer frosted with ganache

The original recipe called for fresh raspberries. I had strawberries at the time, so I sliced and macerated them in agave syrup for extra softness and moisture.

First layer of the strawberry ganache fudge cake

Mascerated sliced strawberries

After much fussing around with the frosting to make it look decent (I’m not good with icing at all), I had to wait 2 hours for the cake to firm up before cutting it.

Strawberry Ganache Fudge Cake

A piece of chocolate heaven.

It was love at first bite. I know I say that about a lot of desserts, but wow, this was on its own level of chocolate goodness. If I was to make a list of 100 Things To Eat Before You Die, this will definitely make the cut. Ultra smooth and creamy ganache on two layers of nutty cakes and a soft layer of macerated strawberries in the middle – what could be better? It’s raw and it’s healthy for you, that’s what! This is pure indulgence without the guilt.

Don’t even entertain second thoughts, just make this now. This is pure indulgence without the guilt.

Continue Reading

Posted in books and publications, cakes, chocolate, dessert, fruits, healthier choices17 Comments

Tiramisu: Heaven on a Dessert Plate

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Thank you Aparna and Deeba! This was certainly quite a challenge (with some standing-by-the-stove endurance involved) and the payoff is heavenly!

Homemade Tiramisu -- everything from scratch

Tiramisu is probably our family’s favorite non-Filipino cake. If it’s on the menu at a restaurant we’re dining in, that’s what we’ll get for dessert. You know how much we love it? This is the only photo of a slice I could get before it disappeared. We tasted it before it should have been eaten. It’s just not possible to let it sit there. Have Tiramisu, Will Eat! The couple of slices that were left to themselves for a few more hours tasted even better, I have to say.

As I type this, a SECOND pan of tiramisu is cooling in the fridge, I kid you not. I didn’t make the ladyfingers from scratch, though. One would think that with our addiction to this Italian dessert, we would have made it at some point in our lives. Up until this challenge, no one in the family has made it. We always ordered it. Daring Bakers has changed that and I bet we will be making this on a regular basis. By “we” I mean ME. I will labor on it for hours and we will consume it in minutes.

You will find the recipes from both the lovely sites I linked above. I will post an adapted and PDF recipe within the coming week. It is so very long so I’ll rewrite and reformat it so it’s not so daunting to print (or make)! I’ll also post more photos of the cake-making process tomorrow, while we watch the hockey game. Hehe. Go Canada! Addendum: They have not been posted because — who know the hockey game would be so close that I can’t even concentrate on anything but?! I was busy with the game and preparing food. Mmm…wings!

Tomorrow is the last day of the Olympics so rest assured regular posting will resume and the newsletter will be out soon! Watch out for that because we will be giving away those red Olympic mittens!

P.S. Much thanks to friend Adrienne who featured my tiramisu in her equally delicious culinary travel blog. If I ever go to Italy–to have a taste of real tiramisu, among numerous other gastronomic adventures–she will be my go-to person!

Posted in baking, cakes14 Comments

Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake and a Fall Giveaway

I’ll tell you one of my guilty obsessions this past summer: Rachel Zoe. [I know. Heehee.] For the past two hours, instead of writing up the recipe for this Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake, I had to fix this website due to my BIG mistake of upgrading WordPress (my blogging platform). Yup, it screwed up the layout. All I could mutter was one of Rachel’s infamous phrases: I DIE. Thankfully, I was able to fix everything back to normal, and I still have enough time to give you a recipe and other fun stuff. Yay.

Remember the Quick Apple Crumble with Cranberries from a couple of days ago? You can make it into something else…something even more wonderful that it already is:
Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake

Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake

Four taste-testers don’t lie: this is some heavenly combination! A layer of light and moist cake underneath a generous overlay of sweet apple chunks and plumped up dried cranberries, then the coating of  crunchy, buttery cornmeal streusel… I mean, could it get any better than that?

All it took was a bite...

All it took was a bite...

When you think about it, it’s a cake, that’s a pie, that’s a crisp! Haha. Oh, and  just one of the many ways to enjoy the gifts of the Fall season that I so love.

Speaking of Fall...we’re excited to collaborate with Vault Communications and Aloutte Cheese for a fantastic Fall Wine and Cheese Party Giveaway! It’s been a while since we’ve thrown a contest, oh dear. But check it out!

Gourmet Fall Cheese Tasting Party Giveaway

  • Mariposa Gourmet Two-Toned  Wooden Cheese Board w/ Wine & Cheese Access. (Board is made of Natural Wood.)
  • Cheese Markers
  • Customized Cheese Rating Cards w/ Pens (Party of 10) – customized with your name and date/year of party.
  • Alouette recipe cards for entertaining
  • Alouette coupons for Baby Brie, Spreadable and Crumbles
  • Slow Down & Savour Tips

Let's Slow Down & Savour Life Wine & Cheese Giveaway

Let's Slow Down & Savour Life Wine & Cheese Giveaway

That’s right, you’ll get all of these lovely items (a $150 value). Wine, wine glass and fruits not included. ** IMPORTANT: PRIZES CAN ONLY BE SHIPPED IN THE U.S. **

To enter, just answer this question in the comments section:

How do you slow down and savour life’s moments?

If you tweet about it, let us know in the comments. Each legitimate and unique comment to this post qualify as one entry.

Contest ends October 29, at 12 noon. Good luck!

[Contest disclosure: We have received the same items from Alouette Cheese, c/o Vault Communications. We have no advertising/sponsorship commitments with either company.]

Oh, and here’s the recipe:

Apple Crumble Upside Down Cake

It’s a cake, that’s a pie, that’s a crisp– light, moiDownload the print-ready PDF recipe for Apple Crumble Upside Down Cakest cake underneath a generous layer of sweet apple chunks and cranberries, sprinkled with the crunchy and buttery cornmeal streusel.

Ingredients [Serves 8]

Apple Filling

  • 3 medium-sized apples, peeled, quartered, chopped into ¼ x ½  x ½ -inch chunks and fills about 5 cups. Use what you have on hand or your preferred variety. (I used Okanagan Fuji apples.)
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon triple sec liqueur (optional)

Crumble/Streusel topping

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Cake

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

1. Place the rack in the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch round, 2-inch-deep nonstick cake pan; set aside.

3. For the apple filling

  • Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Toss the apple chunks in it.
  • Melt butter over high heat on a Dutch oven until it begins to turn amber in color and the milky froth from the butter has almost cleared (don’t allow it to burn).
  • Add the apples into the pot and reduce heat to medium-high. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries and stir. Cover for another 5 minutes or until the apples begin to soften and break down in the steam. Juice will collect on the bottom of the pan.
  • Remove from the heat and pour over a strainer with a large bowl underneath to catch the juice.
  • Pour the juice back into the Dutch oven over high heat and mix it with heavy cream and triple sec liqueur (if used). Stir until the mixture is reduced and thickened. It’s done when you drag your wooden spoon on the bottom of the pan and it leaves a trailing line. Turn off the heat and toss the apples and cranberries in it.
  • Transfer the fruits and any remaining liquid into the prepared cake pan. Lightly press into an even layer. Set aside.

4. For the crumble/streusel topping:

  • Mix flour, brown sugar and cornmeal in a medium bowl with a fork. Drizzle melted butter while continuing to mix it until it forms pea-sized chunks.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the streusel mixture evenly on top of it.
  • Bake it in the pre-heated 425°F oven for 5 minutes. Watch closely once you hit the 4-min mark. It might start to burn depending on your baking sheet.
  • Take it out of the oven and set aside to cool on a trivet for 5 minutes. Toss the crumble with a small spoon to prevent it from burning if it is already getting dark. Set aside.

5. Decrease oven temperature to 350°F with the rack in the same position.

6. For the cake:

  • Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Beat the brown sugar and eggs in a large bowl until thick and homogenous, for about 45 seconds.
  • Slowly beat in butter until thoroughly combined. Add heavy cream and vanilla and continue to mix. Pour flour mixture and blend until just combined.
  • Pour batter into the cake pan and spread evenly over fruit.
  • Bake in the pre-heated oven until cake is golden grown, about 35 to 40 minutes. When you insert a toothpick into the center it will come out clean.
  • Cool pan on wire rack for 20 minutes before running a knife around the sides of the cake pan.
  • Carefully invert cake pan onto a large plate, and allow the cake to cool for another 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy with some vanilla ice cream, fresh whipped crème or crème fraîche on top.


Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, contest, dessert, experiments, liquor33 Comments

Update: Dobos Torte

I dropped off the universe, didn’t I? And left you hanging about my Dobos Torte. It wasn’t intentional. I had just been busy with work, entertaining house guests, taxes (lovely), health issues, and catching up with friends. Sorry lovelies!

So finally, here’s a slice of the Dobos Torte shot to show off its fabulous layers. This gives me flashbacks (I almost said backflash…hmm) of the dreadful sinking feeling when I discovered that each layer will be baked individually. And in the process, perfect the technique to: quickly change the cookie sheets, run the hot one with cool water, wipe it dry, put new paper with the circular pattern to follow, and spread another layer of batter thinly…precisely. After baking the second layer in the oven, it began to feel like an assembly line and I was working in the kitchen from one counter to another in orchestrated moves. I really did not want it to end. But as with any Daring Bakers challenge, just when you start enjoying it, you move to the next one! Hey, I’m not complaining. I’m always relieved after I finish each challenge.

Dobos Torte

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel, although you may find variations with 6 to 12 layers. József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, invented it in 1885 and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was Download the PDF recipe for Dobos Tortea secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

The Dobos Torte or Torta entails baking the sponge sheets, making the caramel wedges, preparing the buttercream, and assembling the cake. As per the recipe and notes of our hosts, Lorraine and Angela, I heeded their advice to cool the layers in the fridge first, separated by parchment paper and well-wrapped. I made the buttercream while the layers were cooling, at three in the morning. That’s how I roll when I couldn’t sleep. Let’s make buttercream while the rest of the world is in deep sleep! As I said in my previous post, it was heavenly and I was pointing my toes as I walked in delight. I had to restrain myself from eating the bowl of buttercream. I wrapped the bowl and put it in the fridge before I could commit that sin.

Caramel wedges -- Dobos Torte

The next evening, I took out the best sponge layer to create the caramel wedges. This part is tricky and requires that your mind isn’t sleeping: you pour caramel made of sugar and water, with lemon juice, over on sponge layer, let it cool for a bit, slice, and fully cool. I cut the sponge layer into 12 slices first before pouring the caramel. I think that saved me half a woe of cutting. After the caramel solidifies enough to be cut, you use a heated and well-oiled knife to cut through the caramel. I didn’t heat the knife because I couldn’t think of how to do so, but I oiled it before making my first attempt at cutting. After a few light strokes, it had become evident to me that it would not work out because not only was the caramel sticking, it was breaking and the sponge cake was tearing apart. Look at the center of my caramel layer on the right (iPhone shot!) and you will see the slight tear in the middle right there.

The knife just won’t cut it, no pun intended. I had to think of another way to cut it without breaking it. My next brilliant idea: use a pizza cutter. Oiled.

And it worked! The oiled pizza cutter made cutting these wedges a breeze, if I dare say so! I wiped it regularly with a paper towel that’s been well-dampened with oil and it was like magic. So there…that was my A-HA! moment with the caramel wedges.

Once the wedges were cut, I placed 12 toasted and peeled hazelnuts/filberts on the top of the cake for the wedges to lean on. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t perfect. I had to move them around several times.

Now onto the finished product.

You’ll notice from the first photo above that the butter cream looks shiny and gooey. I tried eating it cold (check out the cold cake with dull-looking buttercream) and at room temperature, and I’m all for the latter. It looks, tastes, and feels better in the mouth. The sponge layers are soft-er, and the flavor of the chocolate buttercream tastes like Christmas morning in your mouth: it will make you smile because it’s so smooth and rich. The chocolate layered with sponge cake creates a good balance of textures. The lemon-y caramel wedges were (I think) meant to counteract the sweet cake.

Dobos Torte

I have to say that the sponge layers were a bit dry. It could be my baking, the cooling, or something, but it lacked the softness and moisture that I wish was there. Even with the buttercream, it was lacking in overall cake moisture. The caramel wedges were a bit too tangy for me, but our house guests LOVED them. It was too strong of a contrast for me. Perhaps next time I make this (if I will), I will decrease the lemon juice, and add a dollop of crème fraîche when served. It’s already making me drool.

Somebody asked me how food on this site seem to look perfect, and if they are really perfect. The answer? They’re certainly not. The topmost picture? I didn’t even notice the dark spot behind the caramel wedge until I was resizing it. I did try to take a photo of the slice at another angle, but that didn’t turn out well because of the chocolate right here. Oops. But I’m showing it here to show you just one of the many food styling gaffs I make. When the chocolate softened, the wedge slipped and I had reposition it again and I didn’t even check the back. Hehe. I think I’ll have to check my camera in case I accidentally wiped chocolate on it!

Dobos Torte

Just like the headshots you see in magazines, these food photos are not as perfect in real life. I just try to emphasize the good features. :-)

Posted in baking, cakes, chocolate, coffee buddy, dairy, Daring Bakers, dessert21 Comments

Better Than Ultimate Brownies

** You may also want to check out the Easy Fudge Brownie recipe **

Every now and then, an idea will spark for me from even the smallest triggers in life. This in particular was the result of a discussion about surprises. Mine was to be about dessert. The person that this surprise was for is someone special, so one cannot simply buy something from the store. I wanted to know what would make the best of the best. A kind of channeling of Tyler Florence, if you will.

I gave it a thought and I knew exactly what to do. Since my brother does not like cake, and my nieces and nephews tend to be picky, and my sister will eat generally anything with a sweet tooth, the only thing that made sense for me to prepare were brownies.

A quick google search led me here, The Ultimate Brownie Recipe. And I thought I had all the ingredients listed.

The result is this:

Ultimate Brownie

What was I missing? 3 unsweetened cocoa squares. Over 25% of the ingredient I needed was already used from what I thought was a full box of unsweetened cocoa.  What did I do? I dug up some semi-sweet chocolate chips and measured out on the scale 3 oz of the sweetened stuff.  I also reduced the amount of sugar by 1/4th cup to compensate for the sweetness coming from the chocolate chips.

Another thing I did differently was the choice of flour. I didn’t know the immediate impact on brownies but I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. I am also not a fan of nuts in my brownies, so I omitted the walnuts.

The result is this adapted recipe:

Better Than Ultimate Brownies Download the recipe

Ingredients:

  • 5 1-oz squares of unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 9 x 13 pan.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate squares and chips, and butter; set aside.

3. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. [I definitely recommend a stand mixer for this.] Add melted chocolate mixture, salt and bread flour and mix until just blended. Let the batter sit on the counter for 20 minutes before pouring into the greased pan. Let air bubbles escape by tapping the pan.

4.Bake for 30 minutes and test with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, take the brownies out to cool before serving.

I believe my substitutions made these brownies above and beyond that of the original Ultimate Brownies! Each square is dense and chocolate-y, and has a nice chewiness to it. It’s better than store-bought or just-put-in-the-oven brownies. If you happen to be lucky enough to have some left over after a few days, you’ll be fighting over the the last few bites of super-moist and ultimately soft and chewy brownies. A little sacrifice of instant gratification truly pays off for these. ;-)

Give them a try in your kitchen and let us know how they turn out!

Posted in baking, cakes, chocolate, dailies, dessert, featured, food g33kery, healthier choices, reviews, snacks, sweets42 Comments

How To Turn Mistakes Into Happy Cupcakes

Ever bought a lot of something without trying it and ended up not liking it? That’s my usual hoarding story. Errr.. That’s where this cupcake story is all about.

Sure I’ve dreamed of making yogurt cakes before, thanks to inspiring food bloggers; but I really didn’t think of making these cupcakes beforehand. I only thought to make it after a grocery shopping mistake: I bought yogurt that I’ve never tried before in its non-fat version and I hated it. [FYI, it was Activia nonfat]. Absolutely hated it. I think it’s an “acquired” taste and I missed my Stonyfield yogurts so. I don’t understand why I couldn’t find it here in Vancouver, or know if it is even available in my neck of the woods.

Anyway, I would’ve been willing to just charge the bill of this shopping mishap to experience had it been just a small quantity. But nope! I got two! BIG! TUBS! As much as I would be so, so happy to just toss it, the Asian (or is it third world?) mentality of making the most of what we have and not wasting has won over my unhappy taste buds. I know, I know…I should approach this the same way we use wine for cooking: cook only with wine you like/enjoy. Luckily, this tribute to my cultural mentality induced a Cinderella transformation of the yogurt into delicious bursts of freshness in your mouth. Can you read that again? Yes, I mean it!

It started off with butter and superfine sugar. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t partake of this at this point. I love butter.

And then the egg yolks. I’ve read about this ‘method’ of separately adding the egg yolks to your batter and then folding the whisked egg whites later. I thought–brilliant! I think that really made the cupcakes light and airy and some kind of dreamy.

Here is the batter after folding in the egg whites.

I also made candied orange peels to garnish these delicate cupcakes. I looked for recipes online and some  involved baking. I kept it simple by cooking it only on the stove. I really love this photo for some reason: it’s orange, it’s vigorously boiling and it looks so nice. [Just bear with me here. :)]

I turned off the heat when the syrup started to thicken.

And I just stirred/agitated the syrup as it crystallized back to sugar.

And voila! It’s orange peel picking time. Messy, but it does the job. Probably not the most efficient way to do this, but ah…I swear it played out a lot better in my mind when I orchestrated the whole production. Oops.

There’s minimal icing. After you make the icing in the recipe you might say, that is not enough for twelve cupcakes! Believe it or not, it does. You just need a hint of sweetness. I’m all about balance these days. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top, really. These are demure cupcakes in every sense of the word: reserved in sweetness and coy in tanginess; but the combination of subtle flavors creates that lovely zest in your mouth. It almost makes me think that if Clinique’s Happy scent were half as in-your-face zesty, and they were cupcakes, these would be The Happy Cupcakes:

If you’re having a sweet tooth but want something fresh and not too heavy and indulgent, this is definitely my recommended poison. I took several doses. ;)

Here’s the recipe if you’re willing to give these yummy bites a try:

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Posted in baking, cakes, experiments, healthier choices, snacks7 Comments

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Cake Cones

I’ve talked to a lot of people and it seems like they don’t know what I’m talking about when I say Chocolate Covered Strawberry Marshmallows. I’ve devoured boxes and boxes of these as a child and when they were suddenly discontinued before I turned 10, I was forced to move on to other (evil) snacks. I searched for it online a couple of weeks ago but found only marshmallow cones categorized under “retro candy” (that made me feel OLD). Not chocolate dipped and not strawberry-flavored. As you can tell by now, I’m very specific about what I want and will insist upon it as much as possible. Refusing to accept I won’t be able to enjoy this evil dessert, I took it upon myself to make them for Valentine’s Day.

I’ve never made marshmallows before and just the thought of melting sugar and corn syrup made me dizzy, but again, I was determined to make this happen in spite of all my kitchen fears. I found this recipe for homemade marshmallows, and I added the recommended strawberry puree, except that I cooked it a little with sugar and lemon juice and used a lesser amount. I poured this pink marshmallow goodness into ice cream cones. This is where my little experiment took a different turn. The marshmallow mixture fell flat at the top instead of how I dreamed it would twirl up to the sky like an ice cream twirl. Instead of crying over it, I stuck on top of each cone a cupcake and shaved it into the conical ice cream shape. The marshmallows were sticky enough to hold the cupcakes, pressing it onto the cone several times did the trick. I then dipped this cake-mallow-cone combo in melted Callebaut milk chocolate, sprinkled some cane sugar crystals to give it a little crunch, and let it cool in the fridge for half an hour.

The result: a seriously sinful treat worthy of Hansel and Gretel’s insatiable sweet teeth. [I almost said sweet tooths!]

I wish I could say these a snap to create to entice you into making them right at this very moment, but the hard truth is some great things require time and a bit of effort. One thing I can assure you is that these were 100% fun to make, down to cooking the sugar for the marshmallows. And have I mentioned they are yummy yummy yummy?! The most labor intensive step was whipping the candy syrup into the strawberry puree with gelatin, but only if you use a hand mixer. That shiny, sexy and expensive KitchenAid stand mixer would be your best friend for this delicious treat.

If you want to take the tooth-aching route, use the milk chocolate dip like I did. Otherwise, I suggest you either mix 2 parts dark with 2 parts milk chocolate, or go with the dark altogether.

This would be a great make-ahead dessert so you can have these at your next party. Or just make it as a treat for yourself. Whatever you do, make sure you try it!

Here’s the visual step-by-step guide:



The recipes are here: Continue Reading

Posted in baking, cakes, chocolate, dessert, experiments, fun, sweets8 Comments

Devil’s Food Cupcake

Hi hi! Teddy here and here is my first post! Mommy and Daddy talk about this Show, Semi-Homemade, and I’m here to show you how easy it is to make something delicious, satisfying, and pretty! The process starts with Devil’s food Cake Mix from Duncan Hines and prepare as the package suggests! But follow the directions carefully, you don’t want to over-beat the batter! An over-beaten batter makes cupcakes stiff! You want your guests to love your cupcakes!

One box should have enough for about 18 regular sized cupcakes. Once you have filled your pans to 2/3 the size of the cup (Don’t forget the papers before you pour it in!), give the pans some tapping so any air bubbles that are trapped come to the surface. Make sure your oven is preheated and cook as the box says. Start with the lowest time for the length. Your nose will tell you when it is getting close to being done!

When the timer goes off the first time, poke a few of the cupcakes with a toothpick. Cupcakes are done when the pick comes out clean! Still have bits on the pick? Leave it in the oven for a few minutes more!

Now they are done, put the trays on a cooling rack or heating pad for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, take some strawberries, not too large, but not too small, and cut thin slices from those strawberries width-wise so it has those pretty looking heart shapes! (Well, not really, because you have to cut off the tops, too, but you get the idea!) Put a cupcake in the center of a tea saucer, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, and surround the cupcake with the slices! Enjoy! I hope you liked my post! Bye!

Posted in bakeware, baking, cakes, chocolate, dailies, dessert, fun, sweets6 Comments