Monday, February 27, 2012
The momfuku milk bar cookbook is to me what Willy Wonka's chocolate factory is to chocolate fanatics. It's a playground of wonderful ideas that never cease to excite me. Like seriously, blueberries and cream cookies? Cereal milk panna cotta? Ritz crunch? And did I mention, the most festive looking birthday cake ever? Confetti never fails to add to the party atmosphere, I swear. And dedicating a whole cake to those sprinkles is like a dream come true to me!
As much as I wanted to follow the recipe in the book, it was way too complicated and cumbersome. Instead, I decided to take a basic vanilla cupcake and throw in some sprinkles into the batter but I stuck to the accompanying birthday cake frosting and addition of birthday cake crumb(!). If you would like to view the original recipe, please head over here.
By the way, this is by no means my favourite vanilla cupcake yet. I've gathered a few potential recipes and I'm planning to bake them all and do a comparison. This one is just one of them. Although, I must say that this recipe has already lost some points on the looks scale because after baking, the crust is rather moist and sticky. Rather unappealing, if you ask me.
Having said that, the cupcake was really moist and wasn't crumbly in the least, which is typical of cakes made using the reverse-creaming method. I would like the cake to have a more open crumb, meaning fluffier. There was a very strong vanilla flavour which I felt was a bit too much. It would be better if the vanilla could be toned down and the cake have a slightly more eggy and buttery flavour. Or something like that. Truth be told, I'm not exactly sure of what I want in my ultimate vanilla cupcake. I guess I'll know it when I eat it. Which I know, isn't very helpful but...
The birthday cake frosting was glossy, light and fluffy. It melts on your tongue. Unfortunately, it's quite sweet. Not the sweetest frosting I've ever had but it could potentially put off some people. There's not much I can do about it, since it is a icing sugar based buttercream.
Cupcakes are so adorable! I should really make more of them.
adapted from Cupcake Project
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk
sprinkles, as much as you want
Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. Using the back of a spoon or your fingers, rub them together to infuse the vanilla flavour into the sugar.
In another bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in the sugar and mix until uniformly combined. Cut in butter until you achieve a fine crumb texture.
Whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until just combined. Gradually add milk until just combined. The batter will be quite liquid. Stir in sprinkles.
Divide the batter among the paper liners and bake for about 14 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Birthday Cake Frosting
makes enough to frost 16 cupcakes
I did not follow the recipe exactly. Firstly, I replaced the shortening with butter and secondly, I omitted the salt and citric acid. That's because I don't think there's a need for salt in frosting and I didn't have any citric acid. I guess the use of shortening is to make the frosting appear whiter but shortening isn't so appealing to me. If you're concerned about aesthetics, stick to the original recipe. I already knew that my frosting wouldn't be as white as it should be as I didn't use a clear vanilla extract.
P.S. Isn't baking powder in a frosting a little weird? Why is it in there?
1 stick butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 ounces cream cheese
1 tbsp glucose
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tbsp clear vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
pinch baking powder
pinch citric acid
Combine the butter, shortening and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer on its lowest speed, stream in the glucose, corn syrup and vanilla. Beat on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is silky smooth and a glossy white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the icing sugar, salt, baking powder and citric acid and mix on low speed just to incorporate. Crank the speed back up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until you have a brilliant stark white, beautifully smooth frosting. It should look just like it came out of a plastic tub at the grocery store! Use the frosting immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
The recipe for the perfect muffin has always remained elusive to me. I want a muffin not just superior in taste, but also have that big crunchy top we all covet. At least, I've made my life a bit easier by not specifying the type of muffin top that I like. Muffins can rise two ways- mostly upwards, almost like a mountain, and upwards and sideways, so that they look more like gently sloping hills. As long the top is crunchy, I have no complaints. But I don't want the crunch to come from sprinklings of coarse sugar before baking or streusels, I want the natural crust muffins develop from baking.
I've had the Flour Bakery cookbook for almost a year now, yet it did not occur to me to try the muffin recipes inside. It wasn't until a search on the internet for the best muffin recipe which led to the exact same recipe in the book that I decided to try it out.
I like the fact that the recipe produced muffins with mushrooming tops, the up and outwards kind, but it wasn't the ideal recipe yet. Perhaps it was due to my substitution of ingredients. I swapped the melted butter for oil and cut down on the sugar. Also, instead of 1 cup each of whole milk and sour cream, I used an equal amount of buttermilk. I've always felt that butter will dominate over the delicate flavour of buttermilk and 1 1/3 cups of sugar for 12 muffins seemed overly excessive. hindsight, I should have kept that same amount of sugar. Even though its only for 12 muffins, each of those muffins are huge! When I quartered the recipe, I filled the muffin holes to the brim to get 3 so the same amount of batter could easily have yielded 4 slightly larger than regular muffins. In the end, because I reduced the sugar, I felt that the muffins were not sweet enough.
As I used oil instead of melted butter, I could taste the buttermilk in the muffins. But I realized that I wasn't looking for the slight tanginess in my perfect muffin. I would prefer a bit of egginess and perhaps a bit of butteriness too. I would definitely give this recipe another shot and swap only half the melted butter for oil.
I was mostly disappointed with the non-crusty tops the muffins ended up with. Even the other two muffins I managed to brown had sad soft crusts. I'm not very sure why this happened. Not enough sugar? From the use of oil instead of butter? Anyone knows?
These muffins are lighter than most muffin recipes but are still a little dense, especially after cooling. I'm eyeing this other recipe which looks rather promising. I think I'll give that one a try too.
Big Blueberry Muffins
adapted from the Flour Bakery cookbook
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup sugar
10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups blueberries or any other berries
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 12-hole muffin tin.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, melted butter, milk and sour cream. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until just combined. The batter should be lumpy. Fold in the blueberries.
Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups, filling them all the way to the brim. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and centers set. (Mine took only 18 minutes.)
Thursday, February 23, 2012
It looks like I've hit the dreaded and unavoidable writer's block. Well then, I guess the pictures would have to speak for themselves!
These taste like Reese's peanut butter cup in cookie form, really.
A whole bunch of salty-sweet love packed into a cookie.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
adapted from here
1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
6 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp coarse salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
2 cups coarsely chopped peanut butter cups, divided
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract and milk. Blend until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the chopped peanut butter cups.
Divide the dough onto the baking sheets, spacing each ball of dough 2 to 3 inches apart. Gently press a few pieces of the reserved peanut butter cups into the top of each. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
I had some frozen mango puree and I was wondering what I could do with it. I didn't want to make just typical mousses and panna cottas so I thought why not use it in muffins? A mango muffin with actual mango puree and not just chunks sounded like a novel idea.
I searched online and I came up with a grand total of 0 mango muffin recipes using mango puree. All of my searches only had mango cubes folded in at the end. I decided to just wing it, taking a banana muffin recipe as a base and adapting it by replacing all the banana puree with mango puree.
I was a little disappointed, that's for sure. After baking, the muffins lacked any mango scent and the mango puree was indiscernible. All that's left was a caramelized sweetness somewhat similar to brown sugar but more complex. It's nice, but its completely different from what you would associate with mango.
On the bright side, the muffins were fluffy and the additions of candied ginger and dark chocolate complemented each other really well. Now there's some food for thought for your next batch of chocolate chip muffins.
Because the recipe didn't quite work out, I shall not post one. However, I bet the original banana muffin recipe will be a great hit!
Saturday, February 18, 2012
This one of the rare times I don't refer to a Pierre Herme macaron recipe. Well, technically, the shells are still his recipe but the ganache isn't. It's basically a white chocolate ganache but the white chocolate I used isn't your typical chalk-coloured confection. It's a メロンchocolate I brought back from Japan. It comes in a beautifully pale pastel shade of green and does not taste harshly of artificial flavourings. My only problem with it is that it's too sweet. When turned into a ganache and sandwich between macaron shells that already contain such a high percentage of sugar, it was a little unbearable. The tiny cube of melon mochi I added in the middle became the least sweet component of the macaron. (Mochi is considered sweet.)
Still, I was so happy to be able to churn out beautiful looking shells, inside and out. Before this batch, I encountered a few failures. Pancake-flat. Hollow. Gummy insides. I didn't know what could have gone wrong. I thought I had already conquered the macaron? I was ready to throw in the towel and give the french method a shot.
You see, I was trying to make green macarons to suit the melon theme so I added a few drops to the egg whites that were going to be whipped instead of the one that is just going to be mixed with the almonds and icing sugar. The theory, I reasoned with myself, is that the colouring doesn't get as evenly mixed if I just dump it in the almond-icing sugar bowl. Maybe I should elaborate a little more.
I use the italian meringue method, but I do one thing differently. I don't mix the egg white, almonds and icing sugar together into a paste before folding in the whipped egg whites. I find that in the effort to loosen that stiff paste and integrate the meringue homogeneously, I lose track of the consistency of the batter, resulting in flatter macarons than I would have liked. That's why if I add the colouring to the almond-icing sugar bowl, the colouring won't get mixed in at all until I add in the meringue. And when I finally mix it in, I would have already reached the perfect consistency but there would be streaks of colouring.
So... that's the story.
Anyway, the reason why I failed was because I added the colouring into the egg whites that were going to be whipped. What happened was once I whipped them to soft peaks and poured in the sugar syrup, they deflated like phhhhoooooffffff..... until it became a soupy mess. If you've made an italian meringue before, the sugar syrup wouldn't do that to the egg whites. In fact, it would only make them stronger, thicker and shinier. It wasn't a question about the temperature of the sugar syrup or the stage at which I stopped beating the egg whites before adding the syrup. It was the colouring's fault.
The colouring I used, I later found out, has... vegetable fat. Oh. Em. Freaking. Gee. Yes.
If you add fat to egg whites, they won't beat up into meringues. That's why my italian meringue never formed! It was such a eureka moment!
So, the moral of the story is Don't Ever Ever Ever Add Colouring Into Your Egg Whites That Are Going To Be Beaten. Or DEEEACIYEWTAGTBB for short. Pierre Herme was right all along.
I hope this helps some of you who just can't seem to achieve that successful macaron. Good luck!
Friday, February 17, 2012
Cinnamon. Coffee. Chocolate. O. M. G. It's the magical Cs!
It's another recipe by Dorie and while I was searching for it, I got the impression that many of those who made the cinnamon squares were not so impressed with it. But haha, I am here to prove that wrong!
I made sure not to overbake it by the slightest bit so that it would remain perfectly moist and I let the cake stand for a day to let the flavours gel and meld before cutting in to it. The first bite, I guarantee you, will be this huge explosion of sweet spices and you'd need to put down your fork for a moment and woah before you continue with your next bite. And the next. And the next.
I did tweak the recipe slightly though. I subbed half the sugar with brown sugar and replaced half the melted butter with applesauce. I discovered that although applesauce is relatively tasteless, it still does give off an apple-ly scent after baking.
And you know what? The cake smelled like a giant apple cinnamon bun~
adapted from here
1 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp + 2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (I doubled it)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 4
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and line an 8 inch square baking pan.
Stir the 2 tbsp of sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and espresso together in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking powder, salt and remaining 1 tbsp cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and gently whisk until you have a homogenous batter. Now, using the whisk or a rubber spatula, fold in the butter with a light touch, just until the butter is absorbed. You'll have a smooth, shiny batter.
Scrape half the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the chocolate over the batter and dust with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cover with the rest of the batter and smooth the top again.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out mostly clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for 15 minutes before unmolding.
To make the frosting, heat the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water just until they melt. Be careful not to overheat the mixture so much that it thins out; the chocolate should be smooth, very shiny, thick and spreadable.
Frost the cake and allow the frosting to set at room temperature. It can keep at room temperature for 2 days, wrapped in plastic.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I thought I should stray away from the norm and present you with something non-chocolate for this special occasion. Nah, just kidding. I made the tarts two days ago and I just didn't feel like typing up the post until today.
Anyway, these creations are a recipe from Baked. They have a unique oat tart crust which is sort of nutty and crunchy, kinda like a graham cracker crust except more wholesome. The butterscotch pudding... well, I had better that's for sure, but the entire ensemble as a whole is yet another stroke of genius from the guys at Baked.
Butterscotch Pudding Tarts
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
makes 8 4-inch tarts
For the oat wheat pie crust:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup whole milk
Put the rolled oats in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds until ground, but not powdered. Add the flours, brown sugar and salt and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are small and the dough looks crumbly, like coarse sand. Add the milk and pulse until the dough comes together. Scoop the dough out and form it into a large disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 3 hours. (I just divided the dough equally and pressed it into the pans.)
Roll out the dough and fit it into your tart pans. Prick the surfaces with a fork and place them in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Bake at 325F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. (It took mine a lot longer than 15 minutes though.)
For the butterscotch pudding:
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 tsp salt
3 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp whiskey
Place the egg yolks in a large heat-proof bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of water and stir gently to moisten. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves then increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture begins to turn a dark amber colour. Swirl the pan, if necessary, to create an even colour, but do not stir, Remove from heat, let stand for 1 minute, then stir in the cream. Pour the caramel into a small bowl and set aside.
In another saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in the milk and whisk to combine. Add the vanilla extract. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the caramel. Whisk together until combined then pour 1/3 of the mixture over the eggs. Whisking constantly, add 1/2 of the remaining milk mixture. Transfer the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk mixture and whisking the whole time, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until very thick.
Remove from heat and add the butter and whiskey. Keep whisking vigorously for about 1 minute to cool the pudding slightly and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
To assemble the tarts: Whisk the pudding again until smooth. Divide it equally among the tart shells and sprinkle some crumbled Butterfinger bar (or toasted walnuts) over. Cover the tarts with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Tightly covered, they can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Take two slices of bread, buttering one slice on one side, and the other slice with a half and half of peanut butter and nutella. Slice a banana on the bias, and sandwich them between the slices of bread. Preheat your waffle iron and...
Saturday, February 11, 2012
If rainbow sprinkles could double as a pillow, I'll totally buy one and hug it to sleep every single waking and sleeping moment of the day.
Sprinkles are a food group. Well, to me, anyway.
The first creation I ever bought from Cold Stone Creamery was the Birthday Cake Remix, because it has sprinkles in it. But yeah, and also because I love cake batter anything.
So confetti cookies? I'm so there.
It's a recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar and its a two part process but I'm not complaining because I got to stash away a portion of birthday cake crumbs! for future calorific purposes. The recipe makes huge chewy cookies, but I decided to make just 1 big one for myself and mini-fy the rest to give away. I'm rationing the love.
The recipe calls for an addition of glucose or corn syrup to give the cookies their signature chewiness but because I overbaked my cookies slightly, the centre wasn't as gooey as expected. I didn't mind much- I got super crunchy golden brown edges to compensate!
I thought that these cookies had too much sugar in them, so I cut back on the amount a touch. They were still a little sweet, but still bearable. I really wanted to saturate the dough with sprinkles but I had to tell myself to chill or I would just be eating sugar.
Gonna make confetti cupcakes soon!
makes 15 to 20 huge ones
recipe taken from here
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp glucose or 1 tbsp corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup milk powder
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
birthday cake crumb, recipe follows
Birthday Cake Crumb
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp light brown sugar
6 tbsp cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
2 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Make the birthday cake crumb: Heat oven to 300F. Line a sheet pan.
Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt and sprinkles and mix until well combined. Add the oil and vanilla, and stir until the mixture forms small clusters. Spread the clusters on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to touch; they will dry and harden as they cool.
Let the crumbs cool completely before using. Stored in an airtight container, it can be kept for up to 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
Make the cookies: Combine the butter, sugar and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream on medium high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs and vanilla, beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
On low speed, add the flour, milk powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and sprinkles. Mix until just incorporated. Still on low speed, add the birthday cake crumbs and mix just until evenly distributed.
Portion out the dough onto a lined baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. The cookies are meant to be taken out to bake while still cold.
Bake for 18 minutes at 350F or until very lightly browned on the edges. The centers will show just the beginning signs of color. (My cookies were ready at the 13, 14 minute mark so do keep your eyes peeled at around this time!)
Cool the cookies completely before storing in an airtight container. They can be kept for 5 days at room temperature, or 1 month in the freezer.
Friday, February 10, 2012
I get attracted to exotic recipes.
I would flip pass a recipe for a chocolate chip cookie and stop at a page that says alfajores, or something like that. There's nothing wrong with the classics but trying new, exciting things is probably one of the most fun aspects of baking.
When I read Dorie's Baking From My Home to Yours a while back, I bookmarked many recipes, including this one for kugelhopf. What really pulled me in was the fact that it had a foreign name, and that it was baked in a kugelhopf pan. Ha.
Kugelhopf, I gather, is basically like a brioche in a not so conventional shape. I did a bit of research on what others had to say about this recipe and my results were a little less than promising. Some said that the kugelhopf did not match up to their expectations, and some even said that it was way too dry. Although, I did find a few who would gladly make this bread (cake?) again and again.
Nevertheless, I stuck to my plan and baked the kugelhopf. It certainly wasn't dry. Even if I did skip the butter and sugar soak after baking. In fact, it was the very opposite. It was soft, moist and so bouncy that it could double as a golden pillow. However, I did find it lacking it sweetness so the icing sugar really helped. And it was also a bit yeasty- probably because I let it rise for too long.
All in all, I wouldn't make it again but it's a pretty decent recipe.
For the full recipe and instructions, please head on over to here.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
I guess you could call these healthy.
No butter, no oil, and they don't taste like diet trash.
I tweaked the original recipe slightly for a milkier taste by replacing some of the milk for condensed milk. Although they had an inviting milky scent, it wasn't so evident in the taste so I would swap in more condensed milk.
I folded in little mochi bits and Japanese candied beans I had on hand for fun and for the sake of appearance but they all sank into the batter. Not exactly what I had in mind but they provided a very nice texture contrast. The mochi bits transformed into a semi-melted state which made them chewier than usual.
I was a little disappointed with how short they turned out though. I thought that they would rise a lot more and be much fluffy. Perhaps I underestimated how much the batter would rise and used larger muffin cups than I was supposed to.
Still, the cakes were moist and had a fine, slightly compact texture which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I was seriously eyeing a second cupcake after I demolished my first one.
Steamed Milk Cakes
adapted from here
I think chocolate chips would be a great addition!
2 tbsp condensed milk
120g cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
Whisk the sugar, cake flour and baking powder together. Stir in the milk and condensed milk and mix just until the streaks of flour disappear. The batter will be a little lumpy but that's okay. At this point, you can fold in any additions you might want to add.
Spoon the batter into paper liners and steam at high heat for about 15 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
Best eaten warm!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Plasir sucre- chocolate and hazelnut.
Arabella- Milk chocolate, ginger, mango (my switch- supposed to be passionfruit).
I prefer the Arabella.