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Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Pick Me Up….

Well, well, well….it’s been a while since I’ve actually been on time posting a DB challenge. I’m not too sure whether it’s cos I’m so excited about it, or whether it’s cos I really won’t get the time to do it tomorrow since I’m gonna be stuck at work all day till late at night!

If people were to ask me what my signature cake is, it’d be a really toss up between Tiramisu and Chocolate Banana Cake. Tiramisu cos I’ve become such an expert at it and after all trials and errors, have found what I think in my opinion is the best tiramisu. Chocolate Banana cos it was born of my craving for Secret Recipe’s Choc Banana Cake and over time I’ve come up with my version of which has never failed me in any event.

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.

When Feb’s challenge was announced, I was like “Yes!! Something right down my alley! I should nail this with my eyes blindfolded!” Now I’m beginning to sound cocky but what-the-heck…we are all allowed to be like that once in a while! :p

Although loving my personal recipe for tiramisu, this challenge was in many ways new to me. For one, I’ve never done it the traditional way with zabaglione and marsala wine. And for another, I’ve never made my own cheese, much more mascarpone cheese! *Whee!* This is so exciting!

For those who don’t know, this Italian dessert is literally translated as “pick me up”. And this name is indeed well suited for this ever so tempting and mouth-watering wonder! I modified the recipe a little as I like my tiramisu a little bit more cheesy and definitely with more alcohol in it! I was tempted to try new flavours but in the end decided classic was definitely the way to go.

TIRAMISU

(Recipe source: Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
1.5 cups brewed espresso, warmed
1/4 cup tia maria + 1/4 cup amarula liquer
2 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Method:
For the zabaglione:

  • Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
  • In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
  • Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:

  • Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
  • Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
  • Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
  • Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:

  • Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:

  • Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.

  • Working quickly, dip the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
  • Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
  • Repeat to create 2 more layers, using as many ladyfingers as required and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
  • To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

MASCARPONE CHEESE

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

Ingredients:
474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Method:

  • Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
  • It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
  • Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2″ to 3″ long) ladyfingers.

Ingredients:
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner’s sugar,

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
  • Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
  • Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5″ long and 3/4″ wide strips leaving about 1″ space in between the strips.
  • Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
  • Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
  • Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
  • Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
  • Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

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Hhmm…this month’s DB challenge was one interesting challenge – not just in its name but also in the combination of the dessert itself! With a base of shortcrust pastry, filled with jam and topped with a nice, spongy layer – tell me isn’t this an unusual dessert?! :)

June 2009 daring baker’s challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of A Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history back to the 1800’s in England. Some say it is a tart while some say it is a pudding…well, I’ll let you decide if it’s a tart or a pudding…my verdict is that it’s a tart but who cares! It’s the taste that matters! :)

For the jam filling, I’ve chosen to make my mum’s famous pineapple jam. As a kid, mum used to make this jam every Chinese New Year for her famous pineapple tarts. I still remember many a time where I complained about being forced to help her with this stupid task. Now, overseas and alone, one misses simple joys such as this.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Ingredients:

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract (optional)
4 tbsp cold water

Method:

  • Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
  • Lightly beat the egg yolks with the vanilla extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
  • Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Frangipane

Ingredients:

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
125g (4.5oz) almond meal
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Method:

  • Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy.
  • Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle but don’t worry it’ll be fine.
  • After all three are in, pour in the vanilla extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again.
  • With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Pineapple Jam

Ingredients:

2 pineapples
4 cloves
Raw sugar, to taste (approximately 2-3cups, I didn’t measure)

Method:

  • Clean and peel pineapple. Cut into chunks.
  • Place pineapple into a blender and add some water. Blend it but don’t overdo it as you want the pineapple pulp.
  • Run it through a sift but not till juice is fully drained. Leave a little juice with the pulp.
  • Heat a non-stick pan or pot on medium heat. Add a little bit of oil followed by pineapple pulp.
  • Add sugar and stir it well. You’ll most likely have to adjust sweetness later so don’t add too much sugar at early stage.
  • Allow it to slowly cook over low-medium heat. Give it a stir every 10-15 minutes just to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  • Jam will slowly thicken and turn a nice golden brown colour. Add sugar to taste. If you want it drier then cook a bit longer. If not, remove from heat and allow to cool when it is sticky and semi-dry.
  • Refrigerate when cool. Store in an airtight container.

Assembling the tart:

  • Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.
  • Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll.
  • When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  • Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base.
  • Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.
  • The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
  • When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

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Wow! Can you believe it?! Winter is here! Half the year has just passed us by without us realising it! Man! Talk about time flying! I’ve now officially been in Sydney for 6 months. Winter here is so different from Hobart! Iy’s probably averaging about 15C here and people are wrapped up in scarves and thick winter coats! On top of that, we actually get clear, blue skies with sunshine in winter!Sydney siders sure get a watm winter in comparison to the rain and snow in Hobart!  People who know me will know that my favourite season of the year is in fact spring, but people who don’t know me that well think it’s winter! This is because I abolutely LOVE the cold! Trust me, when I say I love it, I really literally love the cold! I love the thought of laying in bed with a hottie, snuggled between my doona, hot cup of tea in my hands, a good book or movie – man the luxuries of winter! And above it all, SNOW – my favourite part of winter! Every year in Hobart, whenever the mountain snows, I switch into a 5 year old kid all over again! I get all excited, and people around me are dragged up the mountains with me cos I NEVER get bored of the snow! :)

People often say that winter months don’t favour the females especially since we eat and can’t stop eating! Well, in my case, I just wanna cook. I don’t particular enjoy or savour my own cooking, but I love cooking up a storm! It’s really sad that now I don’t have the luxury of time to cook whenever I want to. Who knows what I mean when I say that you aer just too drained – emotionally, mentally and physically – when you get home from work that the most decent meal you can whip up is something instant? Well, that’s my life in short now.

Well, I finally reached the brink of my cooking/baking deprivation so on my day off last week, I whipped up a storm in the kitchen! This here was one of my creations of the day – sticky date pudding! Alan and I often visit Badde Manor in Glebe – whether it’s for lunch, dinner, tea or dessert. (Yeah, we are quite boring people! :) ) They’ve got this simply divine sticky date pudding there, of which I can never resist! Well, when I saw this recipe in the Donna Hay winter pullout from the Sunday Telegraph, I knew that I HAD to make it! Boy! It was so simple it was unbelievable! Yum! Sweet, warm, gooey and melt in your mouth – simply irresistible! :)

Sticky Date Pudding

adapted from Donna Hay – June/July 09 Winter Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self raising flour

Toffee Sauce:

  • 150g butter, chopped
  • 1 cup single cream
  • 1  1/2 cups brown sugar

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a square cake tin and line with baking paper.
  • Place dates, water and bocarbonate of soda in a bowl and stand for 5 minutes.
  • Place date mixture, butter and sugar in a blender and process till well combined.
  • Add eggs  and flour and process till just combined.
  • Pour into tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or till cooked.
  • Cool in the tin for 10-15minutes then cut into square.

Sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir till butter is melted. Bring to the boil and cook till thicken slightly.
  • Serve pudding with sauce and ice cream or double cream.

    Notes:

    • Recipe processes ingredients for pudding in a food processor. I don’t have one so into the blender it went!
    • Pudding can be cut into squares and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Heat it up briefly before serving.

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      I know I’ve no reason to go missing now that I’ve settled in to Sydney. However….remember how I said Sydney has not treated me well?! Sighz…since coming here, we’ve had nothing but bad luck one after another. The last misfortune to befall upon me (hopefully it’s the last), is the crash of my hardrive! I lost EVERYTHING in my hardrive! All my photos, my recipes, my documents – EVERYTHING!! As a result, I had nothing for me to blog on as all my food pictures died with it! 

      Thankfully I’ve still got the DB-ers to fall back on! If it wasn’t for the fact that I’d joined this group, with my crazy lifestyle here, I’ve not had time to cook a decent meal in a long time. So it is with great honour and joy for me to announce this month’s DB challenge. The May 09 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of “make life sweeter! ” and Courtney of “Coco Cooks“. They’ve chosen Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

       

      As with many of the previous challenges, this was my first strudel and with it came all the excitement of making something new! I thought I’d try a classic apple strudel, a savoury chicken and mushroom strudel and something with a bit of a twist – strawberry and ricotta strudel. I’m not sure whether it’s cos I kneaded my dough too much, or if I didn’t roll it out thinly enough, but my strudel didn’t come out as flaky and thinly layered as it should be. Hhmm…it looked and tasted more of a cross between a puff pastry and shortcrust pastry. Oh well, at least the filling was nice. I’ll definitely attempt the recipe again – perhaps with a mango filling! Mmmm…yum! :)

      Recipe

      Preparation time
      Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

      15-20 min to make dough
      30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
      20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
      10 min to fill and roll dough
      30 min to bake
      30 min to cool

      Strudel Dough:
      from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

      1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
      1/8 teaspoon salt
      7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
      2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
      1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

      1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Dig a hole in the middle of flour, add the water/oil mixture to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.

      2. Continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.

      3. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

      4. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
      Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

      5. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

      Note: I used canola oil as I didn’t have vegetable oil at home. Instead of cider vinegar, I used white wine vinegar. As for the table cloth, I used bedsheet! :)

      Apple Filling:

      4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
      About 8-10 tbsp of raw sugar
      3/4 cups raisins
      1 tsp ground cinnamon
      1 – 2 tbsp apple mead

      1. Cut apple into chunks. Place all ingredients except for mead into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat. 

      2. Allow it to simmer slowly and soften, approximately 10 minutes. 

      3. Turn off the heat and add the mead. Stir it in well and leave it to cool. 

      Chicken and Mushroom Filling:

      2 pieces chicken breast fillet
      10 swiss brown mushrooms
      A handful of fresh sage
      1/2 tin campbell’s chicken and mushroom soup
      A block of camembert cheese

      1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add chicken and salt and allow it to boil. 

      2. In the meantime, slice mushrooms and place into a large bowl. Once chicken is cooked, shred it into thick, chunky slices and add to mushrooms.

      3. Add sage and chicken and mushroom soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

      Strawberry and Ricotta Filling:

      1 punnet strawberries, washed and halved
      About 8-10 tbsp of raw sugar
      1 tbsp brandy
      1 tbsp strawberry liquer
      Ricotta cheese

      1. Place strawberries and sugar into a saucepan and cook over medium heat. 

      2. Allow strawberries to soften and sugar to caramelize. Add in brandy and liquer and just simmer briefly.

      3. Pour into a bowl and allow it to cool.

      Assembling – Apple and Chicken&Mushroom:

      1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

      2. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described above. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. 

      3. Spread the filling about 3 inches from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch wide strip. For chicken, top filling with cheese. 

      4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

      5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

      Assembling – Strawberries and Ricotta:

      1. Cut dough into square pieces. You’ll find that when you lift it up with your hands, it doesn’t hold its shape as the dough’s really thin.

      2. Melt some butter in a pan. Lightly brown dough and drain on kitchen towel.

      3. Layer with strawberries, a dollop of ricotta. Top with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with some sauce from strawberry filling. 

      Note: While typing out this post, I realised why my strudel wasn’t flaky. I missed out the most important step – the spreading of the butter and breadcrumbs! Darn! Guess now I’ve got the perfect excuse to make a mango strudel! :)

       

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      It’s been awhile since I last updated this blog. So much has happened I don’t even know where to begin….

      And just so you know, this time round, I do have a valid reason for being MIA. Now, for the moment everyone’s been waiting for…*drumroll*….Alan and I relocated to Sydney at the end of Dec 08/early Jan 09! So yes, it’s a big change for both of us as we’ve been in tassie for 6 years and no where will ever feel like home the way tassie has been for us both, especially for me. Tassie is where I discovered myself, where I discovered my passion in life& where I found myself accepted and loved by the ones around me. Tassie will always hold a very special place in my heart and will always be home to me.

      Anyway, because of the relocation, we haven’t had internet connection at home since the end of Nov and just getting around to going online has been a real pain! We are still trying to settle the internet and phone line at our new place in Sydney but things are not looking too good so it’s going to be awhile before I can fully update this blog religiously.

      Next, I’m really excited to announce that after missing the last 2 challenges, I’m back with Feb’s DB challenge! Gosh! Just slightly short of a year since joining the DBers, I didn’t realise how big a part of my life they’ve become. I’ve been feeling so empty and guilty for missing the last 2 challenges, I told myself that even if it means having to go to an internet café and post feb’s challenge, I’ll do it! Yeah I know I’m a bit late as the dateline as yesterday. But I was at work till really late at night and back again at work at 5am so getting to somewhere with internet access to do this post is a challenge in itself!

      Feb’s challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE‘s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. It was exciting just knowing that this month’s challenge is a recipe from non other than my home country’s famous chef – Chef Wan!! Being the month for Valentine’s Day and all, the challenge was meant to be something we could do for our valentine. Well, I’ve never been much of a valentine day celebrator, so I decided that I’ll be making mine for a good friend of mine who celebrated her birthday yesterday! Who said valentines day has to be about lovers. I feel that the greatest love one could have is the love shared with friends who’ve seen you through good and bad times!

      choc-ic-cake-6

      In line with the theme, I made mine in an 8 inch round cake tin and cut it into a heart shape thereafter. Early this month when Kaye and I went for coffee, she said she hasn’t been successful in finding the “ultimate” chocolate cake here! So, I decided I’m going to give her an overdose of chocolate! Rich, muddy chocolate cake with creamy, gooey dark chocolate ripple ice cream! Yum!! :p Since this is my first time making this cake, and this ice cream, I decided what the heck, I might as well make another first timer – homemade Turkish delight!

      choc-ic-cake-2

      Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino

      Recipe from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan

      Ingredients:

      16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
      ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
      5 large eggs separated

      Method:
      1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
      2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
      3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
      4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry). 
      5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
      6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
      7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
      8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
      9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. 
      Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
      10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

       As for the Turkish delight, I got my recipe from Gastronomy Domine.Being my first time, I didn’t know what to expect and what turned out was simply a delight! Just bear in mind though, when you remove the TD from the fridge it’ll be really hard and difficult to chew. Once it’s been left at room temperature for a while, you’ve got yourself yummy Narnia like TDs! :p

      turkish-delight-2

      Turkish Delight

      Ingredients:

      2 cups sugar
      2  1/4 cups water
      Juice of 1/2 lemon
      1/2 cup cornflour 
      1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (this stops the mixture from crystalising)
      1/2 tbsp essence of rose water
      1/2 cup icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar for Americans)
      1/8 cup extra cornflour

      Method:

      1. Boil the sugar with the lemon juice and 3/4 cups of water. Use a jam thermometer and remove from the heat when the syrup reaches the soft ball stage (115C).

      2. While you are boiling the sugar syrup, combine the cream of tartar and a cup of cornflour with 1.5 cups of cold water. (Using cold water should prevent lumps.) Mix well and bring up to a simmer, stirring all the time. Continue stirring at a simmer until the mixture has made a thick, gluey paste. Stir the sugar syrup into this paste. (If you end up with lumps at this stage, push everything into a saucepan through a sieve with the back of a ladle.)

      3. Simmer the sugar and cornflour mixture, stirring every few minutes, until it’s a golden-honey colour and about 120C (this is halfway between soft and hard ball on your jam thermometer, and will take about an hour).

      4. Divide the mixture into two, and pour it into prepared trays lined with oiled cling film. I used a small tupperware as I wanted turkish delights with a bit of height to them and found that with my trays they were really flat.

      5. Add rose water and a few drops of pink food colouring and stir. Cover and chill for a few hours until set.

      6. Turn it out and slice the set Turkish Delight into cubes, and roll in a mixture of 1/2 cup icing sugar and 1/8 cup cornflour so that they don’t stick together. Store in airtight boxes between layers of greaseproof paper, well-dusted with the icing sugar/cornflour mixture.

      turkish-delight-3

      As for my amazing Chocolate Ripple Ice Cream, I got it off The Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis. In my hastiness I forgot to take a photo of the finish tub of ice cream, and when I opened the freezer today, all that greeted me was a miserable one scoop left in the tub! Obviously, it wasn’t picture worthy, so you’ll all just have to take my word that it was sensational and use your imagination to picture the final product! :)

      Chocolate Ripple Ice Cream

      Ingredients:

      4 egg yolks

      75g castor sugar

      1 tsp cornflour

      300ml semi-skimmed milk

      250g dark bitter chocolate

      25g butter, diced

      2 tbsp golden syrup

      90 ml single cream

      200 ml whipping cream

      Method:

      1. Combine egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk till thick and foamy. 

      2. Heat milk to just boiling and gradually add to yolk mixture, whisking constantly.

      3. Return mixture to pan and cook over gentle heat, stirring constantly until custard thickens and is smooth. 

      4. Pour it into a bowl and stir in 150g of chocolate  till melted. Cover, leave to cool then chill. 

      5. Melt remaining chocolate with butter in a saucepan. Add in golden syrup. Heat gently, stirring until chocolate and butter have melted.

      6. Stir in single cream. Heat gently, stirring until smooth, then leave to cool.

      7. In an ice cream maker, stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture till thick. 

      8. Add alternate spoonfuls of chocolate sauce and ice cream into a plastic tub and freeze for at least 5-6 hours. 

      choc-ic-cake-7

       

       

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      Time sure flies! Before you know it another month has passed and it’s time for another DB challenge. After exploring 2 month’s of savory delights, we have once again returned to wonderful world of sweet delicacies. This month, I am really proud that for once, instead of leaving it till the week of posting to complete my challenge, I had mine all done and completed by the first week of November! :)

      caramel cake

      Well, it’s time to unveil this month’s challenge – Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. This month, our hostesses are: Dolores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex from Blondie and Brownie and Jenny from Foray into Food. I decided that not being a caramel fan myself, I was gonna bless some people with this really lovely cake. And the lucky winners were the boys involved in the Teen Challenge program here in Tassie. For those who do not know, Teen Challenge is program that’s been running for more than 30 years, helping young people with life-controlling problems, namely drugs and alcohol. I was in-charge of event setup for our church women’s conference recently and was privileged enough to have these boys come along and assist me with the setup. If it wasn’t for them, I honestly would not have known how I’d be able to complete the event successfully! Therefore, I decided that I’d bless them with something that will hopefully brighten their day. And since I wasn’t going to get a chance to sample the cake, I made 2 tiny cupcakes for myself and Krys just so I could get a taste of the cake. 

      caramel cake

      Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

      By Shuna Fish Lydon 

      Ingredients:

      10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
      1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
      1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
      1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
      2 each eggs, at room temperature
      splash vanilla extract
      2 Cups all-purpose flour
      1/2 teaspoon baking powder
      1 cup milk, at room temperature

      Method:

      Preheat oven to 350F

      Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

      In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

      Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

      Sift flour and baking powder.

      Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

      Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

      Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. 

      Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

      CARAMEL SYRUP

      Ingredients:
      2 cups sugar
      1/2 cup water
      1 cup water (for “stopping” the caramelization process)

      Method:

      In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

      When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

      Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

      Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

      CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

      Ingredients:

      12 tablespoons unsalted butter 
      1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
      4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
      2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
      Kosher or sea salt to taste

      Method:
      Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

      Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

      In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner’s sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner’s sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

      Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
      To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

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      It’s once again my favourite season of the year! I know I’m a bit late in celebrating spring but if you are in Tassie, spring kinda just starts right about now! :) Most people who know me (or think they know me) would say my favourite season’s winter since I love the cold and snow. However, few know that the real me loves spring most of all! It’s the season where growth begins, the season where the sun starts peaking out at you again, the season wit all the colours and beauty God intended for this earth. In other words, it’s the perfect season! :)

      If your gardens are overflowing with apples you have no idea what to do with, or if you go to the market and can’t help but buy heaps of apples and after you go home stare and wonder what you are going to do with them, then I have the ultimate solution for you! There are so many recipes out there for apple pies, and apple tarts, and apple crumbles, but this here my friend, is the perfect afternoon tea cake. It’s the cake you cut and serve up with a hot cup of English tea on a beautiful, sunny spring afternoon. It is an Apple Streusel Cake! :)

      I am not exaggerating…trust me…! From the first time I saw it in the Women’s Weekly cake book, I knew I had to try it and it definitely didn’t disappoint! Light and soft in texture, with a crispy streusel topping, this is the next best thing that will make you the the star of every afternoon tea party! :)

      Apple Streusel Cake

      (from The Australian Women’s Weekly – Cooking Class Cakes)

      Ingredients:

      • 3 medium apples (450g)
      • 1 tbsp caster sugar
      • 1/4 cup water
      • 185g butter, softened
      • 3/4 cup caster sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 2  1/4 cups self-raising flour
      • 3/4 cup milk

      Cinnamon Streusel Toppping:

      • 3/4 cup plain flour
      • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 60g butter, chopped
      • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
      • 2 tsp water, approximately

      Method:

      • Cinnamon Streusel Topping: Combine flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Rub in butter and add sugar. Using one hand, add in enough water to make mixture come together in a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes. Coarsely grate topping mixture before sprinkling on unbaked cake.
      • Preheat oven to moderate (about 175-180C). Grease square pan and line with baking paper.
      • Peel, core and quarter apples; slice thinly. 
      • Combine apple, sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer covered for 10 minutes or until apple is tender. Drain well.
      • Meanwhile, beat butter and extra sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. 
      • Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour and milk, in 2 batches. 
      • Spread two thirds of the mixture evenly over base of prepared pan, top evenly with apple then spread the remaining mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon streusel topping. 
      • Bake cake for approximately 50 minutes or will skewer inserted comes out clean. Stand cake for 5 minutes then turn cake onto wire rack and allow it to cool top-side up.

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