Saturday, March 30, 2013

triple rum black pepper cake.


It's been a while since I made cake. It's been an even longer while since I made cupcakes. I'll rectify that problem soon enough.

I know I've been complaining about the barely sufficient chances I get to bake these days but slowly, and perhaps grievously, I've been getting used to it. In fact, sometimes the thought of switching on the oven and getting out my mixing bowl is slightly off-putting. Even still, I always end up getting off my butt to bake something, because I know that once that spatula is in my hands and once the cake is sent off to bake in the warm oven, I won't regret it. I get such an immense satisfaction from baking that for the short period of time I potter about the kitchen, it's like I'm being transported to another dimension- a world full of flour and butter and sugar and none of papers and research and corrections. Yes indeed. If you love to bake, throw aside the homework and bake. It's good for your soul. Don't quote me on this.


So. The product of my temporary stress relief yesterday was this triple rum black pepper cake. There is rum in the cake itself, the syrup and the glaze. I skipped the glaze because I felt that the cake would be plenty sweet enough without it. Still, without the extra rum component, this cake is packed full of rum. You can taste it in every crumb of the cake, and it tingles on your tastebuds. It is loud and obvious. Watch out. On the other hand, the black pepper isn't that distinct. You can barely detect a small amount of heat beneath the rum, rum and rum.

Somehow, I expected the cake to turn out dense the crumb was rather springy. It definitely makes a satisfying snack for any part of the day.


Triple Rum Black Pepper Cake
makes a 10-12 inch bundt cake
recipe adapted from Baked Elements

For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup dark rum
1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the syrup:
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1/4 cup dark rum

For the buttered rum drizzle:
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/2 stick butter, melted
3 tbsp dark or spiced rum

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 10 or 12 inch bundt pan.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, black pepper and salt together.

Stir the buttermilk, rum and vanilla extract together.

Cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts and buttermilk mixture in 2 parts, alternating the two.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake for about 1 hour or until an inserted skewer comes out mostly clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes before unmolding onto a rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make the syrup: Combine the butter, sugar and water in a saucepan and place on medium-high heat, stirring until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring, increase heat to high and let the syrup bubble for 3 minutes. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl, stir to release excess heat then stir in the rum.

Place the cake back into the pan and use a skewer to poke holes in it. Drizzle the syrup over the cake. Let the cake stand for at least 3 hours.

Before serving, invert the cake onto a serving plate. Make the buttered rum drizzle: Whisk the melted butter into the sugar until combined. Add the rum and continue whisking until glossy. Drizzle the glaze over the cake. Allow the glaze to set for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

banana whoopie pies.


Hello world! This is my third post in a week. Unbelievable. I doubt that such a frequency would ever occur again for a long while.

Anyway, (normally, the use of the word "anyway" would mean that I'm getting to the subject proper but no, I shall continue to deviate to another topic) this has been an awesome week not just because I got to bake more than usual, but also because I have discovered my hidden love for soulful rock-ish music. Or at least, I think the genre is rock. The bands I'm currently in love with are 3 Doors Down and The Fray, in addition to The Script, which I realized a bit earlier that I am absolutely infatuated with. My favourite songs now are, from 3 Doors Down, Here Without You and When I'm Gone while for The Fray, How to Save A Life, Over My Head and You Found Me(!). And I love Thrift Shop too. Completely unrelated but just saying. (You love Thrift Shop too right? Admit it. How can anyone not love Thrift Shop?)


And now, I shall talk whoopie pies. Because that's what this post is supposed to be about. I have no issues whatsoever with them, except maybe for the fact that they had a bit more cinnamon than I could care for. Think of them as banana bread in semi-spherical sandwich-able form. They could have been a bit more banana-y, but then again, it would be unfair to compare them to the flavour this amazing banana bread has, since having to be made into a cookie poses some limitations to the amount of liquid you can add to the batter. The original recipe called for them to be filled with a milk chocolate swiss meringue buttercream, but I got lazy and simply slathered some leftover chocolate buttercream and peanut butter, for others. Crunchy, of course.

Uh, in case you really do click on the "leftover chocolate buttercream" link and notice the date, I assure you that I froze the buttercream and not leave it to ferment in some godforsaken corner of my overstuffed fridge. Really. Even though I froze it, I was planning to use it sooner but my, does time fly. Hahaha. Haha. Ha.

It's the weekend and although it's already Sunday (boo hoo), whoopie!


Banana Whoopie Pies
adapted from Baked Elements
makes 15 to 20 pies

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 bananas, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs

chocolate buttercream, peanut butter, etc, for filling the pies

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare baking sheets.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.

Stir the sugar and oil together. Add the sour cream and bananas and whisk until combined. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough about 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are just starting to brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool completely on them before filling.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

lacy panty cakes with whiskey sauce.


How can you pass over something with a title like this? More intriguingly, the recipe didn't come accompanied with a picture. Of course, if you read the narration carefully, you'll find that this is a pancake recipe. But not just any pancake recipe, a pancake with graham cracker crumbs in the batter. Like, graham crackers are one of the best things to ever exist on this earth to put in cakes, tarts, pies and why not pancakes? But. I did something even better. I used those Lotus caramelized biscuits instead of graham crackers. Genius.

These pancakes come accompanied with a whiskey sauce but if you ask me, this sauce beats this recipe's by a thousand miles.


Lacy Panty Cakes with Whiskey Sauce
recipe adapted from Baked

P.S. The flavour from the crackers/biscuits are more noticeable if you don't crush them too finely.

For the whiskey sauce:
1/2 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whiskey
1/2 cup cream

Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved, stir in the whiskey and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the cream and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the pancakes:
4 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (or Lotus caramelized biscuit crumbs!)
1 cup sour cream
3 tbsp whiskey

butter, for oiling the griddle

Whisk the eggs until pale and thick, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Sift the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Stir in the cracker crumbs. Pour in the whisked eggs and stir until combined. Stir in the sour cream and whiskey until incorporated.

Cook the pancakes and serve warm with a hearty drizzle of whiskey sauce.

Monday, March 18, 2013

oopsy daisy cake.


You may not know (of course you won't, and if you do I'll be worried), but I'm practically doing a little jig here in my chair because oh em gee I'm blogging! It has been at least 120 hours since I've last posted something, which also means that it has been around that much time since I last baked. It may not sound very long to some of you but to me, it's a lifetime. Baking is an addiction not to be belittled. Really.


So, I have a cake to show you all today! (When was the last time I baked a layer cake for the life of me I can't recall... I know, I know- I'll go check the archives.) The oopsy daisy cake is a basically a milk chocolate cake with peanut butter filling and vanilla peanut butter frosting, except that I subbed half the sugar for brown sugar in the frosting so now it's vanilla peanut butter brown sugar frosting. Talk about a mouthful. The cake was born when one day, the dark chocolate to be used in the cake got swapped accidentally for milk chocolate, hence the name.


What you get is the classic combination of peanut butter and milk chocolate and while I feel compelled to like the cake, I have to admit that I don't agree with having milk chocolate in cake. The chocolate flavour was too mild, reminiscent of a brownie with too little chocolate. Not very memorable. But the peanut butter filling was great! I nearly never reject anything that has peanut butter in it. Plus, I added a touch of salt into the filling as well, a la Reese's peanut butter cup. I thought that the frosting was on the sweet side but as I subbed half the sugar with brown sugar as I had mentioned, there was a bit of flavour to the sweetness. The miniscule amount of peanut butter filling added in there was really too little to make a difference, but I guess that's why it's called vanilla peanut butter frosting and not peanut butter vanilla frosting. The upside to this kind of frosting is that it's entirely smooth with zero grittiness from powdered sugar.



I don't usually upload so many pictures but I figured that hey, since I don't get to post so often now, you guys won't mind a bit of picture overload. Right?


Oopsy Daisy Cake
makes an 8 inch cake
adapted from Baked Explorations

For the milk chocolate layers:
2 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup hot coffee
1/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare 2 8-inch round pans.

Place the chocolate and cocoa powder together in a bowl. Pour the hot coffee over and whisk until combined. Whisk in the milk.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into another bowl.

Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the chocolate mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out mostly clean. Cool cakes in the pan for 20 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the peanut butter filling:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Beat the butter until smooth. Add the peanut butter and mix until combined. Add the icing sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until smooth.

For the vanilla peanut butter brown sugar frosting:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cubed
1 tbsp + 1 tsp peanut butter filling, recipe above
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk the sugars and flour together in a saucepan. Whisk in the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer and beat on high speed until cool, at least 7 minutes. Lower the speed, add the butter and mix until fully incorporated before increasing the speed to medium-high to beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter filling and vanilla and mix to combine. If the frosting is too soft to be used at this point, chill in the fridge for a while.

For assembly:
3/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
dark chocolate shavings (I didn't use)

Place one cake layer on serving platter. Spread the peanut butter filling evenly over, followed by a thin layer of vanilla peanut butter brown sugar frosting. Stack the next cake layer on top. Frost the top and sides with the frosting. Sprinkle peanuts around the perimeter of the cake (although it's up to you, really) and shave chocolate all over the top.

I like to refrigerate my cakes until the frosting is cold and firm before serving but you can serve it once it's assembled.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

hot milk with honey lavender marshmallows.


Hello hello. So I made honey lavender marshmallows, or tried to, more accurately, the other. They didn't quite set and that was pretty disappointing because they tasted so good. I wanted to top a cup of hot milk off with a few fluffy cubes of marshmallows but I realized that I could do that too even though the marshmallows weren't what I pictured them to be. Instead of cubes, they would just be more like marshmallow-fluff-consistency.


Aesthetics aside, the fact that the marshmallows didn't set meant that they were not as fluffy as they were supposed to be. I've actually made this recipe a few times before, the original version, and the marshmallows turned out ethereally cloud-like. They melted beautifully too. This time, they were denser, which I think was due to the extra liquid. The only adjustments I did were swapping all of the corn syrup for equal parts honey and adding dried lavender buds that were crushed. Technically, the recipe shouldn't turn out a flop. I have a pretty good idea where the recipe went wrong. An embarrassing one too. I used too much water to sprinkle the powdered gelatin over, and I knew it then and there. I was just too lazy to pour the extra water out of the bowl. As you can see, big mistake.


I got over my initial disappointment of the marshmallows not setting properly once I tasted them. They were like little fluffy explosions of honey with a beautiful floral tint from the lavender. I totally understand now why this combination is so popular.

If you would like to try these marshmallows, refer to this post for the basic recipe and swap the 1 cup of corn syrup for 1 cup of honey, and add 2 tsp of dried lavender that has been ground when making the sugar syrup. You won't regret it. And don't forget to have some with warmed milk!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

s'more-style chocolate cognac pudding with marshmallow topping.


Hey all you sugar-loving like-minded people out there! There's this dessert you need to take note of, and it's called S'more-style Cognac Pudding. It's deep dark chocolate cognac pudding layered with sweet-salty ritz crunch and billowy fluffy marshmallow topping. Feel the love.


I took this recipe from Baked Elements and just changed it up a bit by swapping cognac for whiskey, since a bottle of cognac was opened already and the whiskey was not. The marshmallow topping was also supposed to contain a touch of alcohol but I left it out because I was too lazy to retrieve the bottle again, the sloth I am. More importantly, and I would bold, italicize and underline this if I weren't so unwilling to let the sudden interjection of outstanding words disrupt the uniformity of this post, is the ritz crunch. Originally, I was supposed to use a graham cracker crust that would be crushed into large pieces for the crunch element in this dessert but I decided to do things differently. I opted to use Momofuku's recipe for the crunch instead and I'm not in the least bit sorry for wrecking the flow of the initial recipe.


The crunch had a sharp yet complementary contrast of sweet and salty and they mostly managed to retain their crunch even when sandwiched between the chocolate pudding. Actually, while I do appreciate the texture contrast immensely, I have to admit that slightly soggy ritz crunch tastes infinitely better at times. Moisture conveys flavour. It's a fact. Believe it. If you really have a thing against sogginess, reserve some crunch to sprinkle on at the side while you eat but honestly, please give the soggy crackers a chance.

And the chocolate pudding, how can I not wax lyrical about it. It's dark, it's intense, it's addictive. You will want more pudding than crunch, trust me. And if you've never added alcohol to chocolate pudding, you've been deprived.

Oh and if you absolutely have to make the marshmallow topping a day before, do take note that the meringue will weep a little. I don't think that it's catastrophical but don't be alarmed if you see some liquids pooling below the meringue.


S'mores-Style Chocolate Cognac Pudding with Marshmallow Topping
makes 6 servings
partially adapted from Baked Elements

For the ritz crunch:
110g ritz crackers, roughly crushed
100g sugar
20g milk powder
2g salt
98g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 275F. Prepare a baking sheet.

Toss the crackers, sugar, milk powder and salt together until evenly mixed. Add in the melted butter and toss to coat evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until they look slightly toasted and smell buttery and delicious. Set aside to cool and break into clusters. You may have more than you need but that's a good thing.

For the chocolate cognac pudding:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp instant espresso powder
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp cognac
1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt together in a saucepan. Whisk in the egg yolks to blend. Gradually whisk in the milk, then the cream. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, remove from heat, and continue to whisk for 15 seconds to release excess heat. Add the chocolate, cognac and butter and whisk until the chocolate and butter are melted and the mixture is smooth. Let the pudding cool slightly, about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Spoon 1/3 cup of pudding into each of 6 1-cup glasses. Top with some of the ritz crunch and cover with another 1/3 cup of pudding per glass. Smooth the tops. Refrigerate glasses for at least 2 hours, until ready serve.

For the marshmallow topping:
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 1/4 tsp cognac

Whisk all the ingredients together constantly in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, until the mixture reaches 160F. Remove from heat and whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks, 6 to 8 minutes.

Top each chilled pudding with marshmallow topping. Use a blowtorch to lightly toast the topping if desired. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 4, 2013

peanut madness chunks.


I. Cannot. Believe. It. I missed National Peanut Butter Lover's Day?! Okay fine, I'm no American but the love for peanut butter knows no bounds right? This is unacceptable. I must post something peanut-butter-ish. And posting I am.


If you were to brandish a knife at me and ask me how I really feel about these cookies, I would say that they do not have enough peanut butter flavour. Peanut, yes. But peanut butter, no. (Well, I guess that's why they are called peanut madness chunks, not peanut butter madness chunks. Wait, does that even make any sense?) Are they delicious cookies though? Yes.


Barely 5 minutes out and warm from the oven, the cookies sport an outer ring of crispiness while remaining soft and gooey in the middle. There are more add-ins than dough in these cookies so a lot of the gooey comes from the chocolate chips too.


P.S. Anyone else wondering why cookies with more mix-ins than dough seem to have longer baking times than cookies with more dough than mix-ins? The mix-ins don't have to be cooked, y'all. The dough does! Er, theoretically.


Peanut Madness Chunks
makes 27 cookies
adapted from Baking by Flavour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
9 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp shortening (I replaced with butter)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole unsalted peanuts, toasted
18 (0.6 ounces each) Reese's peanut butter cups, roughly chopped and refrigerated (I substituted half the equivalent with chocolate chips)

Whisk the flour, cream of tartar and salt together.

Beat the butter and shortening together until smooth and combined. Add the sugars and beat until pale and fluffy. Beat in the peanut butter and egg until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the peanuts and peanut butter cups until evenly distributed.

Refrigerate the dough for 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Scoop 2 tbsp-mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving a 3 inch border between. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until just set with pale golden edges. Cool on the baking sheets.