Tag Archives: recipes

Christmas Is Here: Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cookies

Christmas is just around the corner. Are you busy wrapping up your work to prepare for a week’s worth of feasting and gifting? Well, for me, I have finished work for the year and aside from packing, tying up loose ends, spring cleaning and cooking for dinner parties, I’m mostly relaxing in the apartment, idling when I can and savouring some me-time and time with my husband.

For five years now, Christmas has mostly been rather quiet for us. If we’re not back in Singapore to celebrate the season with our families, we spend the holidays all wrapped up in the freezing cold, with each other in our cosy home. The shops are almost always closed during Christmas Eve and Day in Europe, and unlike Singapore, there’s nowhere to go during the holidays. At first, this came as a bit of a shock, because we didn’t know where to get groceries, or even a bottle of mineral water if we happen to be travelling. Over the years, however, we have come to appreciate the quiet time that is Christmas.

When there is nothing else to distract us, we focus on being with people. I’m not just talking about merry-making, but we catch up, talk about hopes and dreams for the new year, learn more about each other or about our friends and families, and most importantly, we appreciate and give thanks for the wonderful people in our lives. It is afterall the season of Joy and Love.

What better way to spend quality time with people whom you love than to sit around on the floor, huddled together under thick duvets by the drafty windows, laughing over mugs of hot chocolate? What better way to say thank you to your loved ones with a cosy dinner at your home? And what better way to send them home with good memories of the night, each with a bag of warm cookies in hand? I honestly can’t think of better ways to celebrate the season than with good food and good times together, but that’s just me.

Wherever you are, whatever you do and whoever you are with, I hope you enjoy the holidays. And I wish that the new year will bring you love, happiness and good health.

Happy Christmas, everyone!

Here’s the recipe for my Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cookies, if you’re interested:

Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cookies:
(adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

230g unsalted butter, room temperature
300g soft light brown sugar
50g liquid glucose
2 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g plain flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 and 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g 70% chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Lindt)
100g flaked coconut

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

2. Beat butter, sugar and glucose on the stand mixer with a paddle attachment for about 8 minutes on medium speed till creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat at medium speed till combined (scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula after each addition to incorporate the unmixed parts). Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the vanilla extract.

4. Add flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the roughly chopped chocolate chunks and flaked coconut.

5. Arrange 6 tablespoon-sized drops of cookie dough on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Ensure that these drops are spaced well apart (more than 2 inches apart) to allow for expansion. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-9 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. At this point, the cookies will be quite flat, and frighteningly soft and pliable. Leave the cookies to cool slightly on the tray before transferring the cookies onto the cooling rack.

6. You can choose to eat them while they are warm (not hot!) and wash them  down with a glass of cold milk, or have them at room temperature. I like them warm. When the cookies have cooled completely, store them in an air-tight container. These cookies should remain slightly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Enjoy!

*Updated: This post is featured on Foodgawker and Tastespotting. Check out my profiles on Foodgawker and Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

My Curry Puff Can Sing

M really, REALLY loves his curry puffs. That was the first thing I learnt about him when we were dating. Actually, maybe it’s one of two things that I first knew about M. The other is chicken curry, but since chicken curry is inside a curry puff, I suppose I could call it The First One-Big-Thing I knew about M. Now, M loves a good curry puff so much, that sometimes, I’m not sure which or who he would save in a fire – a puff or me. I’m not offended, because I mean let’s face it – a curry puff looks good and tastes good blistered and flaky – I can’t possible pull that off.

For his birthday last year, M asked me if I could make curry puffs for him. Well, I procrastinated, for a year, but thank goodness, my in-laws bought some Mr. Ting curry puffs and asked my parents to bring them over when they visited us in London. It was a sweet surprise for M. Almost a year later, I decided it was time to honour the request of my dearest husband. M decided to take part too, as he’s personally vested in this, so he made the chicken curry (a very thick version so we can pack it into the puff, you don’t want the curry to be making the pastry soggy…) with LOTS of tender, loving care. I’ve never seen him so focussed on getting the curry perfect for puffs. As for me, I used some of the pastry that was left over from making Portuguese egg tarts, and made more fresh puff pastry to accommodate the big pot of curry.

The result? Suffice to say that we were excellent partners-in-crime. The curry puff was perfectly flaky and fragrant, and yes, I would even go as far as bonkers-land to tell you that my curry puff ‘sings’! If you don’t believe me, watch this video. Yet, no frying was needed! This is definitely one of the best kitchen collaborations between us. We wolfed down two immediately, and exercised some self-restraint by popping the rest in the freezer. These kept well for a few weeks, all you have to do is to thaw the puffs out for a few minutes, and bake them as and when your craving hits.

The recipe for the puff pastry is the same as the one for my Portuguese egg tarts, except that I scaled the proportions of the ingredients up to match 200g of strong white bread flour. This should make about 10 large curry puffs. At Step 7 of the recipe, after cutting the pastry roll into 30g portions, with the cut side facing up (the orientation is very important because you want the flakes to appear like scales of a fish on the puff), press down each portion with the heel of your palm and roll out till you a circular pastry dough that is 12-15cm in diameter. Arrange the curry (preferably with a thick potato base i.e. add lots of potatoes in while cooking the curry, then mash the curry to create a thick luscious and dry-ish gravy) on one-half of the pastry circle, leaving a space round the edges for sealing. Bring the two halves of the circle together and seal by making indentations with the tines of a fork. Bake at 210 degrees Celsius for 18 minutes. If you want to keep them, freeze them before baking and let thaw for a few minutes (not too long though because you don’t want the butter in the pastry to melt – if that happens, the pastry wouldn’t puff up nicely and that means your puffs won’t sing like mine do, no Grammies!), then bake as per instructions.

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

Portuguese Egg Tarts

Portuguese egg tarts. Mmmm. My love affair with them began many years ago. I shan’t try to talk about it again (with stars in my eyes, if I might add), but suffice to say that after my trip to Porto, I am irrevocably in love with these wobbly golden nuggets. I was determined to learn how to make Portuguese egg tarts but was discouraged by the fact that puff pastries are difficult to master. Many a times, people have suggested using ready-to-roll puff pastry, but to me, that defeats the purpose of learning to make something from scratch. After all, pastry wasn’t something I had attempted properly before (except when I was a kiddo, when dad taught me how to make croissants – I learned nothing because I was not interested) and it remained something that I would like to master.

So on a crazy day in January, I decided that I was going to conquer it all – pastry, custard, the works. I flipped through one of my birthday presents  - Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess – and found an exceedingly simple recipe. I was skeptical that something as delicious and layered as puff pastry could be made so easily, but hey it was Nigella’s recipe, and she has a knack of simplifying the most laborious tasks, so I went with her, bought a tonne of butter and some strong white bread flour. After a quick long-distance phone call to my dad to ask about the principles of making puff pastry, there was no looking back. I was ready to roll, quite literally.

Pastry making wasn’t daunting at all. It was quite an experience and really quite satisfying for a bake geek like me, as I worked through the dough and thought about what my dad mentioned during the phonecall. Seeing the layers come together thrilled me to no end, and watching the pastry huff-puff into a beautiful shade of fluffy gold was nothing short of…orgasmic (excuse me). Funnily, it was the custard that got me a little flustered. I was so intent on getting the pastry right that I neglected the custard. A few seconds of looking away was all it took for the custard to scramble ever so slightly while it was cooking, I was a little miffed at myself but thank goodness, I could salvage it by running the custard through a sieve to pick the scrambled bits out. It was mostly smooth, with some bits that escaped the clutches of the sieve, I wasn’t completely happy with it, but I knew that I was being careless more than anything else. Anyway, my point to you is, don’t ever look away when you’re cooking the custard, tend to it like your life depends on it or you’ll find yourself scrambling to save a kitchen disaster you could have averted by simply paying attention, something that I was clearly incapable of….

Now, before I leave you with the recipe, I urge you to try making puff pastry. It’s therapeutic, fun and this recipe worked beautifully. The pastry was flaky, buttery and puffed really well; I used it to make chicken curry puffs (post to follow soon), and it was mind-blowing. Try it, you won’t regret ditching the ready-to-roll pastries.

Here’s the recipe:

Portuguese Egg Tarts

For the puff pastry:
(adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess)

Makes 10 tarts (each to fill a hole in a standard muffin tray)

150g strong white bread flour
Pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 cm slices, cold
2 teaspoons lemon juice
7-8 tablespoons iced water

1. Freeze flour and butter together for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 210 degrees Celsius.

2. Briefly pulse this mixture in food processor with salt. The butter should still be in good-sized chunks and should not be disintegrated.

3. Turn out the pulsed mixture to a large bowl, add juice and water. Go easy on the water, you should only add a little bit at a time, until it’s just enough to bind the dough. 7-8 tablespoons of water worked for me, but you may need less or more, so be careful here. At this point, don’t worry if the butter chunks are still visible, they’re meant to make their presence felt. This is key to getting the pastry to puff and form layers at the later stage. Wrap the dough up with cling film and freeze it for 1/2 hour.

4. It is important to work very quickly at this point, to prevent the butter from melting. If you feel that the butter isn’t cold, feel free to pop the dough into the freezer for a bit, before continuing with any of the steps. Cold butter is absolute key to getting good puff pastry. Dust a clean working surface with the bread flour, roll out the dough into a rectangle. This will be a little bit difficult because the butter chunks are still there. Don’t worry about getting a homogeneous layer, because you’re not supposed to at this stage. Fold the rectangle in 1/3 sections, like you would a business letter (basically, left and right edges of the rectangle should be folded inwards, and you should get a folded pastry that is 1/3 of the original size). Turn the folded ‘letter’ such that closed end of the ‘letter’ faces you. Roll the pastry out to flatten it. Fold the left and right edges in again, like what you did before, ‘business-letter’-style.

5. Repeat the roll and fold, then finally roll the pastry out again. By doing this, you’re creating invisible layers, the cold butter when heated in the oven, will help with the puffing to create separate layers of pastry. If the butter melts at any point when you’re working with the dough, the flour absorbs it and you will end up with greasy, soggy pastry, which is not what you want.

6. To create concentric layers for the egg tart (notice how the pastry layers puff outwards in circles?), roll up the rectangle along the length of the pastry like you would a Swiss roll. Freeze this roll for another 1/2 hour.

7. Grease the holes in the muffin pan with butter. Cut the roll into 25-30g portions. You should see circular layers on the cross-section of the dough (see photo of dough above). Making sure that the cross-section is facing up (like in the photo), press the dough evenly into each hole until a lip forms slightly over the edge of the hole. You will find that the rest of the dough pieces will start to feel greasy as the butter melts, so it is a good idea to pop the dough pieces into the freezer as you work on each muffin hole.

8. Finally, place the muffin pan into the freezer for about 15 min. If you have extra pastry dough, don’t worry, just keep them frozen and you can use them another day. I kept mine for a few weeks and they were still very good when I made curry puffs. In the meantime, prepare the custard.

For the custard:
Makes about 7 tarts (I was putting a recipe together randomly for this and didn’t manage to make enough for 10, feel free to scale this up or scale the pastry portions down).

100ml whipping cream
100ml whole milk
Pinch of salt
Dash of ground cinnamon
1 strip of lemon peel (about 5cm by 1cm long)
50g caster sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

1. Lightly beat the 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks together and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in milk and cream. Do not bring this to boil. Add salt, lemon peel, cinnamon, followed by the beaten eggs. Keep stirring while cooking till the custard coats the spoon. Make sure the pan isn’t too hot as the eggs might scramble. Strain the custard to remove the lemon peel and set it aside to cool.

To assemble:

Spoon about 2 tablespoon of the custard into each of the pastry-covered holes in the muffin pan (each should be 2/3 full). Bake at 210 degrees Celsius for 18 minutes, then using the broiler function, bake it for another 2 minutes. This should brown the custard further in patches, which are characteristic of Portuguese egg tarts. Remove the tarts from the oven and let cool slightly as they will be too hot to eat. But have them warm, and you’ll be handsomely rewarded.

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker. Check out my profile on Foodgawker to see my other featured posts!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

Look Ma, No Cracks!

Nope, I’m not back in the kitchen, not properly or full-time-ish anyway, but I’m picking out the pictures and recipes that have been collecting dust in my drafts (bin) since… alphatime. So just this January (aka, yonks ago), I bought myself a Kate. No, not Kate Spade – that’s an old joke (for non-Singaporeans, just google Kate Spade and elections, then go figure…). No, it’s not Kate Middleton either – that’s much too posh (say it with you mouth in a perfect O) and I certainly can’t afford the ring that comes with her. But this, oh this cranberry sexy thing is what I’m talking about. This blushing new bride was admired for right about less than a day, and then, as Madonna coos, ‘like a virgin, touched for the very first time’, she was no longer. Ahem.

Kate lost it, *coughsiamtooembarrassedtosayitoutloudcoughs*, to the most perfectly bronzed Swiss dude that stepped out of my kitchen. Hairless, poreless, smelling like the tropics (think coconut!), and with skin that puts most people to shame, I’d say he was the perfect thing to hook up with Kate. Yes I am the dreamcatcher dream matchmaker, thank you very much.

Anyway, getting these two hotties together could have gone either way for me – ego-boosting or soul-destroying. I’m glad it was the former because I’ve always had a fear of Swiss dudes, and to me, it’s just so darn hard to get the skin right. Too much tanning, and one winds up looking like cracked dirty feet; too little and one looks like erm, alabaster me or the equivalent of a pink baby pig. But Kate seemed to bring a little bit of lady luck with her, for I have conquered the Swiss that had long refused to tame in my hands, and now he’s just…..perfect. Poreless, scrumptious, soft and so delicious with all that toasted coconut whipped cream within. Oops, did I just say whipped cream? Sorry, Kate, everyone seems to know your ‘preferences’ now…

Here’s how to get YOUR Swiss dude that smells and tastes like a beach holiday:

Pandan soufflé Swiss roll with toasted coconut whipped cream
(adapted from Okashi by Keiko Ishida)

For the roll:

1 egg
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
35g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
10g corn flour
60g coconut milk
3 egg whites
85g caster sugar
1 teaspoon pandan extract
1 tablespoon pandan juice (6-7 pandan leaves, finely chopped and pounded with 1 tablespoon water, squeeze juice out and pass through sieve to remove any debris)
1/2 teaspoon green liquid colouring

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 12 inch by 9 inch cake pan with baking parchment, making sure the edges high enough to peek out from the tray as you’ll be using these to handle the sponge later.
2. Combine 1 egg, 3 egg yolks, vanilla, pandan extract, pandan juice, green colouring in a small bowl and lightly beat to incorporate. Set this mixture aside.
3. Sift flours together twice, and set aside.
4. Heat butter in a small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted. Add sifted flour to melted butter and cook till you get a dough that comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove this dough to a bowl, and add the egg mixture from Step 2 in small amounts. Gradually mix the dough and egg mixture into a smooth batter with each addition. Add coconut milk to the batter and combine well. Strain the batter through a sieve and set the batter aside.
5. In a clean bowl, whip up egg whites till foamy. Add half of the sugar and beat for a few minutes, then add the remaining sugar and beat till stiff and glossy peaks are formed.
6. Gently fold one-third of this meringue mixture from Step 5 to the batter from Step 4 till roughly incorporated. Fold in the remaining meringue until just incorporated. Pour this batter into the cake pan and smooth the surface out with a scraper. Bake the sponge for 18 minutes, then remove the tray from the oven, loosely cover the cake with a piece of aluminium foil and place it on a cooling rack to cool completely. Remember to keep the foil on, so the moisture won’t be lost from the cake. This will prevent the sponge from cracking when you try to roll it.

For the sponge filling:

200g whipping cream, cold
2 tablespoons caster sugar
25g dessicated coconut
5g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

1. Melt unsalted butter in a shallow pan, add a pinch of salt and lightly toast the dessicated coconut in it. The coconut flakes should turn golden brown.
2. Beat whipping cream and sugar till just about stiff. Do not overbeat this as the cream will split. Gently mix in the toasted coconut, and set aside.
3. Peel the baking parchment off the sponge, and carefully turn the sponge over such that brown skin is in contact with the peeled parchment (or use a new parchment if it’s easier to lay that out). Lift the cooled sponge (using edges of the baking parchment) onto a clean tea towel. Gently roll the sponge up using the tea towel as a guide and hold it loosely for a minute or two. Unroll the sponge again, remove the baking parchment, and leave the sponge on the tea towel. Spread the cream evenly across the green surface of the sponge (I like to have the browned skin outside the roll) with a spatula. Using the tea towel as guide, roll the sponge up again, carefully re-positioning the towel as the cake comes into contact with the cream. You don’t want the cream to get on the towel! Cut the edges of the roll to make it pretty and neat, and there you have it, your very own Swiss stud!

If you like pandan and coconut flavours, don’t forget to check out my pandan chiffon cake here!

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker and Tastespotting. Check out my profiles on Foodgawker and Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

What I Have Been Up To and…My First Guest Post!

I miss you guys, I really do. So here I am, clearing the cobwebs to say……I’m STILL alive and that I hope you haven’t forgotten about me. It’s been a while since I wrote anything here. I’ve got tonnes of comments and emails to reply to (I’m sorry, please give me some time). I have not baked or cooked anything recently. The last thing I made was tau yew bak  (braised pork belly), which took me 4 hours on Chinese New Year’s Eve and that was it. So it must have been a week? And that’s a ridiculous record in my books because it means that I’ve been feeling pent up from the lack of my favourite activities. Nothing remotely interesting happened over the last week. I’ve just been holed up in the study, poring over mountains of journals and books, with a pencil and my laptop fired up to get me to the finishing line. I shan’t say too much here, all shall be revealed by the end of this week. And yes, hopefully, you’ll see me resurrecting my annoying self on Facebook, Twitter and the blog when ‘things are revealed’.

It sounds like I had a sucky week, eh? That was pretty much the case, except for the one thing that I’ve been looking forward to for a month now. You see, I started putting my heart, soul and food (but of course..) out for the world to see on 14 February 2010. As the first birthday of my blog approaches (I’m thinking of making something to celebrate this, any ideas?), I marvel at the journey that I’ve been on for the past year, especially with regards to all the cooking and baking I’ve done. Personal growth as a humble home cook aside, I’ve also had the great fortune of meeting quite a few bloggers through all that writing. One of them is none other than Notabilia, who has invited me to pen my very first guest post. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the birthday celebrations for my blog, so thank you for this party, Notabilia.

For this month’s ‘Cooking With…’ instalment over at Notabilia’s, I created a fusion pastry of sorts, something that is inspired by my home country, Singapore, and my current time in London. Over the years in Europe, I’ve become acquainted with beautifully crafted pastries that have not seen the light of day in Singapore.

One of the pastries that has me eating out of its hand (or feet, you’ll see why) is the French macaron. I became enamoured with these delicate babies when my friend took me for birthday tea at Ladurée in Harrods slightly more than a year ago, and it is an understatement to say that my life was changed after that. A few months later, I took the first bite of Pierre Hermé’s ingenious creations, and I became obsessed, in the most psychotic of ways, with these almond cookies. I endeavoured to make them in my kitchen, the first time without incorporating almonds, and without using the proper method. They were delicious but were without feet. Then I tried making them again, this time using the proper method, and lo and behold, I got lucky. One macaron flavour then paved way for another in my kitchen. I was making them regularly in 2010, constantly thinking of new flavours to try out, and I am always excited to get my hands dirty.

So what are these feet that we’re talking about? You know the ruffle-y bit underneath that smooth surface, the bits that are getting cosy with the filling? That’s the feet. Getting them to appear is a bit of a terrifying, stressful venture that drives bakers nuts, and yes, all macaron aficionados should inspect these cookies for proper anatomy. So we’ve got the appearance sorted. How about the taste? Well, a macaron should have a crispy exterior that yields to a slightly chewy centre, and then the shell should cave to the most luscious cores, such as creams, ganache etc. The difficulties are apparent in making a macaron. We need to master the perfect balance between crisp and chewy textures, and we need a good filling. We also need feet. Such a massive amount of effort goes into making these babies that it’s no wonder bakeries hold these ransom for exorbitant amounts of cash. It is also for this reason, that I have gotten round to making macarons at home.

I’m happy to say that feet are aplenty since my first proper attempt, and I hope they continue to pitter-patter their way through my life or at the very least, take The Pleasure Monger to its second birthday (you see, the business of getting feet or no feet seems to be jinxed and I hope that I didn’t just do my luck in). Enough about macarons and getting all nostalgic on my side, let’s bring you over to my first guest post at Notabilia’s to have a look at the recipe! In the meantime, wait for my return!

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

 

Chinese New Year: Bake, Learn, Laugh and Eat

I’ve had the great fortune of meeting the lovely E of heavenwildfleur in person on a few occasions over the last couple of months and certainly feel very blessed to have made a wonderful and incredibly talented friend like her. When she invited me to her place for a bake day in the weekend leading to Chinese New Year, I couldn’t possibly say no, could I? So I kicked my books aside, packed my baking tools and some ingredients, and barged my way into her very lovely home. The rest was baking history, really.

We searched high and low for reliable recipes for two of the many Chinese New Year goodies that we wanted to snack on, the mandatory pineapple tarts and kueh bangkit, a coconut biscuit that crumbles pleasurably and melts in your mouth. Luckily for us, there are some very trustworthy Singaporean bloggers we can rely on, and we turned to The Little Teochew for pineapple tarts and Lily’s Wai Sek Hong for kueh bangkit.

We started off at about 11.30am with the pineapple tarts and soon I found myself bringing the tart dough together whilst E got on with cooking the tapioca flour for the kueh bangkit. It was a lot of fun, and very eye-opening too as it is the first time that I’ve baked with someone (so talented and knowledgeable to boot), so it was incredible (for me, not sure if it was the case for E….) to banter over bakes and cakes. I learnt a lot during this session and realised the value of discussing recipes. Most of the time, I bake on my own, mutter to myself when something goes wrong and try to rectify mistakes alone. Talking the recipes (and life) out with E really helped and lent a new dimension to the bits and bobs of baking! It was also very fun to think out of the box and brainstorm ways to shape the pineapple tarts and kueh bangkit without proper moulds. If you would like to know, we used standard cookie cutters for the tarts and made a depression in the middle for the pineapple jam using the end of a rolling pin. As for the kueh bangkit, we made gnocchi-like shapes, round ones, rectangle ones, curry puff-like ones (don’t ask) before settling on moulding the dough into ‘windmills’ and making the indents with tines of a fork. In a way, we took ‘hand-made’ to the next level with these goodies.

You would think that with all the discussion, two pairs of hands, one talented brain (E’s) and one puny putrefying lump of neurons (mine), we would have triumphed over the recipes and emerged with perfect trays of pineapple tarts and kueh bangkit. I kid you not but it took us 3 trays of tarts and 2 trays of kueh bangkit before we mastered the baking times and temperatures. My lump of neurons must have let E’s brain and the recipes down. Numerous attempts, tonnes of squatting down in front of the oven, lots of laughs and a bak kut teh lunch later, we dusted our hands at about 5pm with 100 pineapple tarts and 90 pieces of kueh bangkit. The sun had set by then and though two of us whipped out our ginormous DSLRs to capture our deeds (what did you expect when you put two food bloggers together?), I didn’t manage to get nice pictures of the trays of goodies laid out in their naked glory (E, post your pictures please….), so I packed some home for the shoot on the next day.

If you swung by to eavesdrop on how the recipes went, I can tell you that they were pretty reliable! The goodies didn’t taste like how we would have liked them to be on the day they were baked, but having let them ‘rest’, they were way better on the next day. We think they are probably like macarons, since they taste better after being rested. We have no idea why but are happy that our efforts didn’t go to waste. We did make some changes to (or would tweak) the recipes to make them work better in our hands. I had to add one more egg yolk to the pineapple tart dough to bring the crumbs together before letting the dough rest. E found that it might be better to remove the pandan leaves after the third round of cooking so they don’t burn and overpower the coconut flavour in the kueh bangkit. We also had to adjust the oven temperatures and baking times. As promised, the pastry for the pineapple tarts was crumbly and flaky (although I did think that it could do with a more buttery flavour) and the kueh bangkit had a pleasant texture to it, slightly crunchy on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth on the inside. These recipes are good templates to work on with future attempts. I think they are keepers, alongside with that for my clementine macarons, and I would certainly revisit them when I bake for Chinese New Year again!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

 

 

Get Cracking for Christmas with a Chocolate and Coconut Roulade

So we have been back in sunny Singapore for almost a week now, and yes, I have been rather quiet on the blog as I have been whisked away to a flurry of culinary activities. I haven’t been cooking or baking, just eating LOADS only to realise that my old pair of jeans doesn’t fit anymore – oh, the horror!!! I have covered all the local dishes that I want to eat in just one week. I’m even doing repeats on the hawker rounds. Do the math and you’ll realise why I’m exploding in my jeans. In some ways, I wish I’m stuck in the snow blizzard, which is all the rage in London now, so I might be snowed in and be deprived of evil things I call food. But given the foodie I am, my pantry will be bursting with things I could work with to create meals befitting the holidays, and I’d still be fat anyway. Can’t win, can I?

Case in point: Just before we flew back to Singapore, we had some coconut milk in the fridge, and of course the baking aficionado in me always ensure a plentiful supply of flour, eggs, and what-not in the pantry. I needed to clear the perishables, and I wanted to make something for Christmas before I lost the sole governance of my cramp but beloved kitchen, so I dived into my recipe books and searched for ideas.

Two Christmases ago, my cousin, MS, visited us from the States and I had made Delia Smith’s flourless chocolate log cake for the occasion. I remember approaching the recipe with much excitement as I was told that flourless cakes are incredibly light. It was also my first time making a log cake and I was rather nervous about rolling the cake up. The nerves were probably very, very appropriate because I was a novice then and naturally, the cake cracked when I rolled it up. My ego was bruised after that attempt, so was M, almost physically so, because I had thrown a hissy fit after disfiguring the poor cake. Although the log cake was delightfully light, airy and chocolatey, I refused to make one again because I was afraid of screwing things up. This year, I summoned the courage and gave the elusive log cake another shot.

M bought me a chocolate recipe book (Chocolat by Stéphan Lagorce) about a year ago, and I have neglected it since I wasn’t confident of tempering with chocolate. I decided to try out the roulade recipe in the book this year and thought it would be lovely to give the cake a tropical twist by filling it with whipped coconut cream. It was a perfect idea, in my opinion. I could use up the residual coconut milk in the fridge. I could practise the ‘never-say-die’ attitude and try making a beautiful log cake. And I could have a little Christmas with M before we returned to Singapore.

But things are never quite perfect in reality. I did finish up the coconut milk. I did have a little Christmas with M. The roulade rolled up beautifully when it was warm, but when I rolled it again after the cake was cooled, it cracked! I was upset but to be honest, I kinda expected it. I am nowhere near being an expert at baking even though I have improved over the years. Thankfully for M, I am a lot more mature now and have learnt not to throw too big a tantrum if I fail in the kitchen. The roulade was delicious though. It was very moist and light, and insanely fragrant with the whipped coconut cream filling. I would say that the chocolate and coconut combination is a dream and really, a small stroke of genius. M loved the imperfect roulade very much. I loved it too, but I think I would be a teeny bit happier if the roulade didn’t crack. Third time’s the charm, and hopefully, I will make a perfect log cake on my next attempt.

Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Roulade with Whipped Coconut Cream Filling

For the log:
(adapted from Chocolat by Stéphan Lagorce)

4 eggs, separated
150g caster sugar
90g plain flour
10g cornflour
10g cocoa powder
30g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 and 1/2 tablespoons milk
10g icing sugar
Salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 12inch by 8inch baking tray with parchment.
2. Beat yolks and caster sugar till mixture turns very pale and fluffy.
3. Sift and mix flour, cocoa powder together.
4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and mix till combined.
5. Add butter and milk, and beat to combine.
6. In another bowl, beat egg whites with icing sugar and pinch of salt till stiff peaks form.
7. Gently fold egg whites into the mixture from Step 5 until incorporated.
8. Spread this mixture evenly into the lined baking tray and bake for 11 minutes in preheated oven. Remove the tray from oven and cool the cake in the tray for a few minutes on a cooling rack.
9. Flip the cake onto a clean tea towel, leave the baking parchment on, and roll the cake up. You might need a rolling pin in the middle to guide the rolling. The tea towel should now be on the outside of the roulade and the baking parchment should be in the centre.
10. Hold the roulade in the log shape for about 2 minutes, unroll the roulade and cool completely before filling the cake with the coconut cream. My roulade rolled beautifully when it was warm but cracked when I re-rolled the cake after it cooled completely. Next time, I might leave the cake to cool in the log shape before unrolling it to fill, although this might affect the texture of the cake.

For the whipped coconut cream filling:
(own recipe)

280g unsweetened coconut cream (the part that settles above the water when you leave a can standing for a few days in the fridge)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Beat ingredients till light and fluffy.
2. Fill the cooled roulade, and roll roulade up.
3. Decorate with a sprinkle of icing shade and dark chocolate shavings if you like, just like I did!

Store the finished roulade in the fridge, and serve chilled.

Enjoy!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker, Tastespotting and Foodpress. Check out my profiles on Foodgawker and Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!