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Japanese Salmon Fried Rice




Happy Mother’s Day!



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With the aroma of spring onions, garlic and ginger, this salmon fried rice is packed with Asian flavours and it is so flavourful, delicious, and deeply satisfying as a quick-mix meal. Also, it uses minimal ingredients and takes little time to make – excluding the time to cook rice, it takes literally less than 30 mins to finish. Funny enough, this Japanese Salmon Fried Rice was made because I overcooked my salmon fillets one night; just before I surrendered and decided to eat the salmon anyway, my body refused and the idea of breaking the salmon into small pieces to make fried rice popped up. That’s when magic happened.  

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I came up with this recipe taking reference from Just One Cook Book. People usually say it’s best to use leftover rice to make fried rice so that all the grains can remain separated. However, let’s face it – sometimes making fried rice is a last-min decision just because WE CRAVE FRIED RICE AND WE WANT IT TODAY. If that’s the case, you can simply reduce the amount of water used to cook rice ( 85% water :  100% rice) and quickly pop them in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of ingredients.



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To me, the essence of the seasoning of this fried rice has to be sesame oil. Confession: I love adding sesame oil whenever I make Asian dishes, because its strong nutty taste enriches and brings out all the flavours of the dish. Also, I’d recommend using tamari soy sauce as it comes with a stronger taste and aroma.

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If you are an international student like me who loves food, you’d understand how essential it is to do meal prep cost-effectively without sacrificing taste. In Australia, a pack of salmon fillet costs me approximately AUD13. Yes, compared to other meat types like chicken, salmon still remains a luxurious option. But when you think about it, this salmon fried rice can possibly be splitted into 4-5 portions to freeze, so budget-wise it’s not too bad at all :). Thanks for reading and have a great week ahead!

Ingredients :

  • 3 cup cooked rice
  • 460g salmon fillet
    • Marinade: 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper)  
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced  
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • white pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the baking pan with aluminum foil. Prepare the marinade and coat the salmon fillets evenly with it. Place the salmon on the foil and loosely wrap it to prevent it from drying out in the oven. Bake for 15-20 mins until cooked through. Let cool and break the salmon into small pieces for later use.
  2. While the salmon is cooking, add 1 tbsp of oil to the wok and heat the wok over medium high heat. When the wok is hot, add the eggs and mix with a spatula until the eggs are almost cooked. Take the eggs out and set aside.
  3. Add another tbsp oil to the wok, add spring onions, ginger, and garlic. Stir-fry until they’re nicely coated with oil and you can smell their aroma.
  4. Add the rice and break the chunk of rice with your spatula. Stir fry until the rice is nicely separated and well mixed.
  5. Add the prepared eggs and salmon pieces to the rice and break them into smaller pieces as you continue to stir fry.
  6. Season the fried rice with sesame oil, soy sauce, white pepper, black pepper and salt. Enjoy while it’s hot.






3 comments
Earthy Soul – Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse with Baileys Ladyfingers (topped with chocolate soil)




If you’re hosting a party soon and looking for a fancy-looking dessert recipe to impress your hungry guests, you’ve found the right place. This Hazelnut Bailey Chocolate Mousse Cup is made of the same rich & smooth hazelnut dark chocolate mousse used for the chocolate semi-sphere I shared before, with devilicious baileys-soaked lady fingers layered between. You think it cannot get any better? How about if I tell you it’s finished off with some crunchy hazelnut chocolate soil on top? Conventionally, people would put mint leaves onto the “soil” but I didn’t have any mint that day so I skipped it. Dig into these layers with a spoon and I promise you it’s one of the most satisfying feelings ever.



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I came up with this idea when I was asked to prepare party food for a bunch of young adults. I got so pumped and I thought about what would make the best dessert to get the party going? Alcohol. Duh. Rum, Cointreau, limoncello and Coffee Liqueur are the to-go alcohol that I would use for desserts, but it’s about time I tried THE renowned Baileys, a creamy and smooth Irish whisky-and-cream-based liqueur that is usually served cold (with ice-cream, yum!). As you can all imagine, Baileys is delicious just as it is, but it goes extremely well with chocolate too. I didn’t hold myself back when I was dipping my ladyfingers into Baileys (I mean, why I should I?), so there could be 2 shots of baileys in each cup and everyone loved it. But you’re wary of getting your friends drunk, do try to limit yourself with it.

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I made my own ladyfingers this time using the recipe by Anna Olson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezR5UUqiOJc), as I always preferred making things from scratch if possible. But if you’re running out of time or feeling a little bit lazy, feel free to get them in supermarket. For those who don’t know what a ladyfinger is, it is essentially a simple sponge biscuit that resembles the shape of a large finger. It’s commonly used in layered dessert such as Tiramisu, and all sorts of parfaits; or it can be dipped in chocolate and enjoyed as it is. I love it for its subtleness and versatility. Make this boozy mousse cup and get indulged in all the creamy chocolatey goodness!

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Ingredients (make 10 mousse cup):

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • 35 caster sugar
  • 25g nutella

Ladyfingers (modified from http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/chocolate-dipped-lady-fingers/12698/)

  • ½ cup (64g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 tbsp (63g) cornstarch
  • 3 eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 9 tbsp (113g) sugar
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar

Hazelnut Chocolate soil

  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 110g granulated sugar
  • 50g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 50g  hazelnut, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions:

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse

  1. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate on low heat until melted. Let it cool slightly. Stir in butter and nutella. Set aside.
  2. Using a whisk, lightly beat egg yolks until pale and creamy. Add to the chocolate mixture, mix well.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat egg white until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat egg white to stiff peaks.
  4. Gently stir in the chocolate-egg yolk mixture (in three additions) into the egg whites, mix until no obvious egg white is visible.  
  5. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Ladyfingers (extracted from http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/chocolate-dipped-lady-fingers/12698/)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and set aside. Whip the egg yolks with 3 Tbsp of the sugar until thick and pale and they hold a ribbon when the beaters are lifted. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then slowly add the remaining 6 Tbsp of sugar and continue whipping until the whites hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted.
  3. Fold the whites into the yolk mixtures using a whisk, then fold in the flour until just incorporated. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe lady fingers onto the prepared trays that are 4-inches long and an inch apart (they will spread a little once piped). Bake for about 8 minutes, until the fingers are an even golden brown. Allow the fingers to cool completely before removing them from the trays.

Hazelnut Chocolate soil

  1. Using a double boiler or microwave, melt butter and allow it to cool to room temperature.
    While the butter is cooling, put sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  Mix well with a whisk and set aside.
  2. While whisking, slowly add the melted butter into the sugar cocoa mixture. Continue to mix until the mixture resembles dark soil.
  3. Add the chopped hazelnut and mix to provide the soil texture. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Assemble

  1. Put the hazelnut chocolate mousse in a piping bag with a plain round nozzle, pipe the mousse into the bottom of the cup. Then, break the ladyfingers into pieces (I broke one ladyfinger into 3 parts) and soak them generously in Baileys, and put them on top of the mousse.
  2. Repeat step one to create alternating layers of hazelnut chocolate mousse and Baileys-soaked ladyfingers, with the hazelnut chocolate mousse as the top layer in the end (Save half an inch of space for the chocolate soil).
  3. Cover the top hazelnut chocolate mousse with chocolate soil. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 
Yum




12 comments
Layers of goodness – Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse Sphere (with Coffee Creme Patissiere & White Wine Poached Pear & Crispy Chocolate Base)

This post is all about celebration – about finishing my first basic term @LCB passing all my assessment, about flying to Brisbane in a few days for vacation, and about finally successfully making a mousse sphere for the first time (after contemplating on it for a thousand years). This hazelnut chocolate mousse sphere is my cup of tea, hands down – it marries my favourite flavours into one dessert that tastes absolutely divine. I’ve always wanted to make mousse spheres but I was too scared to, until I recently watched Zumbo’s just dessert which motivated me to be a better “dessert maker”. While I was watching all those amatuer home-bakers produce their eye-opening, beautiful desserts, my heart ached for creating some of my own.

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As I said, this dessert is celebratory, so I decided to apply some of the skills I learnt from school to it. It is also inspired by the Shiny Mirror Glaze Mousse Dome with Crispy Chocolate Base and Ganache Topping created by Cupcake Savvy’s Kitchen. Cutting through the sphere, you get a smooth French hazelnut chocolate mousse, creamy coffee creme patissiere, and a layer of refreshing poached pear that balances the richness & sweetness of chocolate. The dessert’s crunchy texture is provided by a crispy rice puff chocolate base (who doesn’t like indulging him/herself in loads of cocoa rice puffs???), and I finished it off with a shiny chocolate mirror glaze that renders the dessert a sophisticated look. How does that not sound heavenly?

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Special thanks to my friend who made me this stunning board with my baking motto – Simple Ideas, Big Whisks – written on it. <3 hazelnut_mousse_sphere_with_mirror_glaze10

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Realistically speaking, baking at home can be a bit tricky at times because you don’t always get the equipment or tools you need for your recipe. Like this time, I didn’t have a smaller sphere mold for my coffee creme patissiere so I had to carefully spoon it into the large mold, which could create a bit of a problem in terms of even layerings. But well, as as a pastry chef wanna-be, I need to be adaptive and make use of what I’ve got at home. Although the end result isn’t as perfect as I wanted, I am already quite happy with it. Anyway, give this recipe a go – If you are a hard-core chocolate fans, I think you will fall in love with it. Have a good weekend!

Ingredients:

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 35 caster sugar
  • 25g nutella

Coffee Creme Patissiere (coffee pastry cream)

  • 150g milk + 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp coffee liqueur
  • 25g egg yolk
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 10g corn flour
  • 10g butter

White Wine Poached Pear

  • 2 fresh pear, cored
  • 300ml white wine
  • 300ml water
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 orange, zest of
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick

Crispy Chocolate Base

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100g choco rice puff

Chocolate Mirror Glaze

  • 100g sugar
  • 35g cocoa powder
  • 40g water
  • 70g double cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp water

Instructions:

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse

  1. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate on low heat until melted. Let it cool slightly. Stir in butter and nutella. Set aside.
  2. Using a whisk, lightly beat egg yolks until pale and creamy. Add to the chocolate mixture, mix well.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat egg white until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat egg white to stiff peaks.
  4. Gently stir in the chocolate-egg yolk mixture (in three additions) into the egg whites, mix until no obvious egg white is visible.  
  5. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Coffee Creme Patissiere (coffee pastry cream)

  1. Using a saucepan, heat milk and instant coffee powder over medium heat and bring it to boil.
  2. While the milk is being heated, add egg yolk, sifted corn flour, caster sugar in a bowl. Mix well with a whisk until you can a thick, creamy consistency.
  3. With a steady mixing motion, pour 1/3 of the milk mixture to the egg mix to temper the egg.
  4. Pour the above mixture into the saucepan and cook over medium heat while whisking vigorously for at least 3 mins, until all starch is cooked. You will know it’s almost ready when it starts to bubble. Continue cooking for 1-2 mins. Remove it from the heat.
  5. Whisk in the butter and coffee liqueur until incorporated.
  6. Pour the custard into a bowl and cover the custard surface with a plastic wrap. This will prevent a skin from forming on top.
  7. Let the custard cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.

White Wine Poached Pear

  1. Put all ingredients (except the pears) in a pan.
  2. Peel and core pears, gently poach (NOT boil) pears in syrup.
  3. Cook the pears for about 1 hour until they are soft. Use a stick to test every once in a while to see if the pears are done.
  4. When done, take out the pears from the pan to stop the cooking process.
  5. Cut one poached pear into small cubes, and blend the another one into puree or mash it with a fork. Pour the pear cubes into the puree and mix well. Refrigerate until ready for use.

Crispy Chocolate Base

  1. Using a double boiler, melt chocolate on low heat until melted. Pour the chocolate onto the rice puff and shape the mixture into a 2-cm thick layer.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins, and use a circular cutter that fits the size of the spheres to cut 6 circular bases. Refrigerate until ready to use. (If the base is too hard to cut through, run the cutter in a hot water bath and dry it before usage.)

Chocolate Mirror Glaze

  1. Add gelatin and cold water into a bowl. Stir and set aside until ready to use.
  2. In a saucepan, add sugar, cocoa powder, water and cream. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to boil while stirring continuously. Cook for about 2 mins until the mixture is smooth and no lump is visible.
  4. Turn off the heat, add the gelatin mix and stir well.
  5. Set aside and let cool to at least 35 C for usage.

Assembly

  1. Put the hazelnut chocolate mousse into the mold. Smoothen out the surface with a spoon until you can an even layer as the outer layer of the sphere. Freeze for 15 mins.
  2. Then, put the coffee creme patissiere in the mold. Freeze for 15 mins.
  3. Then, pour the pear mixture into the mold. Leave some space for the next step of closing the sphere with the hazelnut chocolate mousse. Freeze for 15 mins.
  4. Then, close all the spheres with a thin layer of the hazelnut chocolate mousse. Smoothen the surface with a off-set spatula. Freeze for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight to let it set completely.
  5. Carefully push the spheres out of the mold and put them on to a cooling rack. Pour the mirror glaze (at 35 C). Set it set. And put the glazed sphere on to the circular chocolate base.
  6. Sprinkle some chopped hazelnut on top as decorations.

Yum




8 comments
First Week of LCB, Sydney (ft. Sun dried tomato, olive, caper pasta)




SO, I’ve officially embarked on my baking journey and I just had my the first week of studying at LCB, Sydney as a patisserie student. How exciting! Honestly, I hadn’t experienced such a hectic schedule since I graduated from uni. It was quite an overwhelming week during which I was poured with tons of new information that I literally walked home like a zombie every day (especially with all the tools I had to carry). The long school hours was out of my expectations too – 7:30 or 8:30am to 6pm – but luckily I can feel that my biological clock is slowly adjusting to this new lifestyle, because I start to wake up by 9am no matter what.

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On the plus side, I feel blessed that now I get to be surrounded with amazing, knowledgeable chefs and classmates of common interests the moment I enter the campus. This week, we were taught to make several basic French desserts, namely scones, friand, pound cake, victoria sponge cake. I must confess that I also struggled a bit with making these “relatively easy” cakes because I predictably got nervous and disorientated working in a new kitchen. The photos I took of them don’t look nice enough (without my proper camera), so please pardon me that I don’t show my works here yet haha. But I promise that I will show you guys my bakes made in LCB kitchen later.

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Funny enough, for the past few weeks, I’ve been cooking more savory than sweet at home as I have to feed my own tummy. So I decided to share with you my favourite pasta recipe – it’s so easy, nutritious, and bursting with flavours that I’d make it every time I crave pasta for a quick dinner. I am in love with this pasta dish for its flexibility, for I consider it the base that I can feel free to twist around based on the ingredients available at home. For examples, sometimes I’d also add mushroom or tuna to the dish when I feel like it. Therefore, be as creative with this simple recipe as you can, and surprise yourself with the result!

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Ingredients (serve 2):

  • 200g spaghetti (or other pasta)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomato, sliced into strips
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1 tsp dried italian herbs
  • a handful of olives , each cut in half
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Toasted Pine nut, for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente, about 13 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 4-5 mins. Add garlic and cook for another 1 minute (be careful not to burn the garlics). Add tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar, and dried herbs. Reduce heat to low, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked pasta, olives, capers and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Yum




3 comments
Chinkiang Vinegar Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs (鎮江糖醋排)




TIME FOR SAVORY! I know, I know, I’ve been sharing dessert recipes to the point that my life appeared to consist of nothing but sugar and butter (aka a standard baker’s life). Well, I do cook as well. So if you’re looking for an easy Chinese dinner recipe for a family feast, you found the right place.

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The reason why I finally decided to post a savory dish on my blog is that it means something more than just one of my favourite chinese dishes. It is a dish that represents the start of my true cooking journey. This dish was among the very first dishes I made on my own for a purpose: international dinner, a “tradition” that everyone had to follow in our shared student apartment to showcase our own home cuisines way back during my exchange. I had panicked so much due to my lack of cooking experiences at the time (I tried to look up as many Chinese/HK recipes as I could online and I felt as f lots of my brains cells died in the process haha). But, phew, I did a pretty good job in the end and my friends were all impressed! Many had asked me why I became so passionate about cooking, and now you know why.

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Back to the actual food. To me, hands down, the thing that I like the most about Chinese cooking is its extensive use of “Sweet & Sour” – I know you feel it too, it is truly addictive. The proof is its popularity in the Chinese take-outs in foreign countries. Honestly, as someone who was born and raised in Hong Kong, I still can’t resist ordering sweet and sour pork every single time I dine in a Chinese restaurant.

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Regarding the dish, please don’t worry about the sauce being overly sour, because the sourness of the Chinkiang (or Zhenjiang) vinegar will be nicely balanced by the sweetness of sugar to become the yummiest sauce ever. Just prepare yourself a bowl of rice to have with it and you’re so good to go. I made this for my family and fingers crossed that they’ll like it. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork ribs, each cut into 3 pieces
    • Marinade:
      • 2 tbsp corn flour
      • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
      • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 small ginger piece, cut into thin slices
  • 4 garlic cloves, cut into thin slices
  • 2 shallots, cut into thin slices
  • 1 large onion (or 2 small onions), cut into small chunks
  • 1 1/2  tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) Chinkiang  vinegar  
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water
  • 1 rock sugar (but if you don’t have it, use 4 tbsp raw sugar instead)
  • some roasted white sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Wash the spare ribs under running water, drain and dry well with kitchen towel.
  2. Cut each spare rib into 3 sections
  3. Marinade the spare ribs with corn flour, light soy sauce and white pepper for at least an hour.  
  4. Heat your pan with medium high heat. Add in spare ribs, cook each side for 2 mins until golden brown.
  5. Add in gingers, garlic, and shallots, stir well and sauté until they become fragrant.
  6. Add Shaoxing cooking wine, dark soy sauce, and sugar, stir well.
  7. Add Chinkiang vinegar, water, and sugar, stir well.
  8. Bring to boil, braise over low heat for 30-45 mins until ribs become tender and sauce thickens.
  9. When served, sprinkle roasted white sesame seeds on top.
2 comments
The Cool Beans – Tiramisu Macaron with Coffee Mascarpone Buttercream Filling




I’ve waited SO LONG to have this post about THE intimidating macarons. I don’t know about you, despite how lush and tempting macarons Look, I often find them too pricey to bring home as a student. So, I might as well learn to make them myself, right?   

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It’s no exaggeration to say that these tiramisu macarons are heavenly. Tell me, how can you resist it when you get a crispy coffee-flavoured almond meringue shell with a marshmallow interior, with some creamy rich and creamy mascarpone cheese buttercream layered between? The bitterness from the coffee justly tones down the macarons’ high level of sweetness that’d be considered a put off for certain people.  Have a bite and you’d be brought straight to Paris.

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I am quite a perfectionist when it comes to baking. This is a double-edged sword, because while it always pushes me to strive for the best result, sometimes I could just break down for a not-so-good-looking muffin. However, ironically,  here I am, ready to talk about the making of macarons –  something that constantly forces me to deal with imperfection.  Sometimes I’d pipe out macarons that aren’t the same shape and size on the baking sheet; sometimes the macaroon shells would crack when I was eagerly peeping through the oven door; sometimes the famous and essential “feet” simply wouldn’t show.  In other words, there are  tons of reasons for me to face frustration when making these little treats, or for me to doubt myself. But there’s one thing that I know for sure –  to master anything I have to start somewhere, and coming to terms with initial failures is the way to go because that’s how I figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it.

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If I have to mention the most important thing that I have learnt about making macarons, it’d be it is not as hard as it seems, yet it has to be made with absolute precision. In order to create the smooth top shell layers and the little famous “feet”, you must rest the macaron for at least 30 mins before baking, and make sure the oven is kept at low temperature (i.e. 150C). Also, as many would agree, when compared with the traditional French meringue method, using the Italian meringue method produces more stable result. If you feel uncertain about reading the written instructions alone, do check out some tutorial videos with clear demonstration online (The Scran Line is  good source where you’d find lots of creative macarons recipes). I hope you will try it out for yourself! 😉

Ingredients:

Yields about 20 Macaroons (40 shells)

  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 80 g egg white, separated into two portions, 40g each 
  • 32.5 ml water 
  • 2 tsp instant coffee, melted in 1 tsp water

Filling:

  • 100 g softened butter
  • 100g mascarpone cheese
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp (5ml) coffee liqueur

Instructions :

Macaron shells:

  1. Place the icing sugar and almond flour in a food processor, and pulse for 30 seconds until well combined and fine in texture. Sift the flour-sugar mixture through a sieve into a mixing bowl, and pour in the first portion of egg whites. With a spatula, mix together until well combined. You can still be quite vigorous at this stage.
  2. Now you prepare the syrup. Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and do NOT stir. Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C. When the syrup reaches 115C, simultaneously start whisking the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks on a medium speed.
  3. When the sugar reaches 118C, pour it over the egg whites (pour the hot syrup on the side of the mixing bowl to avoid cooking the egg whites). Turn the mixer to high speed and continue beating for about 5-7 mins, until the meringue is cooled down to 50C and glossy stiff peaks have formed. In two additions, add the meringue over the almond mixture, and, using a spatula, gently fold in until combined and smooth. Work the batter until it flows in very thick ribbons when the spatula is lifted.
  4. Pipe rounds of batter about 3.5cm in diameter, spacing them 2cm apart on baking trays lined with baking parchment. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter to flatten the macarons and to remove air bubbles.
  5. Tap the tray on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes, until a skin forms on the shells.
  6. Preheat the oven to 150C, then put the trays in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Out of the oven, slide the shells on to the work surface. Let cool.

Coffee mascarpone buttercream filling:

  1. Add softened butter and mascarpone cheese to a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on a medium speed until smooth.
  2. Add icing sugar and coffee liqueur, continue beating for an extra minute until combined and smooth.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble:

 

  1. Place the mascarpone buttercream filling into a piping bag topped with a rose nozzle and pipe it on the inside of the macarons and sandwich them together.
  2. Serve macarons at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a week.

Yum




4 comments
Because Why Not – Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Cake with Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting




This joyful looking cake came into existence for two reasons. First, apparently I loved making chocolate desserts too much and I must stay away from it (right?). Second, it doesn’t hurt to go for some classic sometimes. By classic, I mean the marriage of salty and sweet – Peanut Butter & Jelly – made famous by Americans. Of course, this combination shouldn’t be limited to a breakfast/snack sandwich; think about it, if it works brilliantly between two slices of bread, it surely can make a great cake too.

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I originally designed this layer cake for my friend’s birthday, and this is a new recipe modified mainly to improve the cake’s texture. My first PB&J cake was bit on the dry and tough side. Therefore, in my second attempt, I put in more eggs and oil, and I also decided to fold meringue into the cake batter at last instead of incorporating whole eggs. Such changes increased the volume of the cake with richer taste and finer structure.

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One indispensable component of this cake is the jam. The slightly tart strawberry jam with a citrus touch perfectly undercuts the richness of the buttercream. People who have been in my baking life would know that I always prefer making things from scratch, for I want to have great control of my baked goods (here comes the even greater satisfaction afterwards!). I couldn’t resist making my own strawberry jam for the cake (see note for instructions), but again, you can by all means purchase your favourite jam :). Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

(make one 6-inch cake)

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cup (188g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup (58g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) crunchy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup (75g) granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites + 25g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting:

  • ¾ cup (150g) white granulated sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tar tar
  • 1 ½ ( (345g) cups unsalted butter, softened  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) creamy peanut butter

For the homemade strawberry jam (or ½ cup store bought jam)

  • 250g  strawberries
  • 4 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest of

Toppings:

  • Fresh strawberry slices
  • Extra peanut butter swiss buttercream

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line one 6 inch cake with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In another mixing bowl (make sure it’s oil free), add egg whites, icing sugar and cream of tar tar. Using an electric beater, beat on high speed until soft peak forms. Transfer the meringue into another bowl; set aside.  
  5. Using the same mixing bowl you used to make the meringue, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add oil and continue beating for 2 min until incorporated.
  6. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, peanut butter and vanilla. Continue to beat at medium speed until well combined.
  7. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Mix on low speed until no flour can be seen.
  8. Finally, gently fold the prepared meringue into the cake batter with a spatula. Mix gently with folding motion until just incorporated.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 50 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the peanut butter swiss buttercream.

For the Peanut butter Swiss Buttercream:

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool. This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-low speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add vanilla and peanut butter, and beat until well combined.
  4. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with a round tip for later use.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface.
  2. Cut the cake into three even layers.
  3. Peel the parchment paper from the base of the cake layers and place one layer onto a plate or a cake board placed on a revolving cake stand (if you have it).
  4. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  5. Pipe a generous amount of frosting evenly on the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it a thin layer of strawberry jam.
  6. Top it with the second cake layer and repeat step 5, and top it with the third cake layer.
  7. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  8. Put the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for an hour to get the frosting nice and firm. Once the cake is chilled, frost your cake evenly with another layer of frosting using the same method. Get rid of all the peaks and blemishes in the process.
  9. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, put thin strawberry slices and spinkle cocoa powder as garnish if desired.
  10. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour.

Note:
Instructions for the homemade strawberry jam: 

  1. Prepare the strawberries by washing them and drying them with a kitchen towel. Remove their stems. Crush strawberries in batches or cut them into small cubes.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for 5-10 mins until the jam has reached 105C, then turn off the heat.
  3. Let the jam cool to room temperature. Put the jam into jars and refrigerate until ready for use.

Yum




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Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Present to you my beloved recipe of coconut rum pecan banana bread – a sneaky twist on a classic banana bread. This recipe results in a super moist, delicious banana bread that’s packed with coconut flavours, enhanced with a touch of rum aroma and a nutty crunch.

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Do you guys have a favourite thing to make? People around me asked me that many times before and I usually couldn’t provide a definite answer. Yet, I guess there’s been an answer inside my heart all along – quick bread. Quick bread is any bread that can be made in a matter of minutes without necessarily using yeast in the process. In other words, they’re my kind of comfort food; quick and easy. It might be a bit embarrassing to say – at the earliest stage of my baking life, I didn’t have any baking tools except a loaf pan in my student dorm kitchen. To satisfy my hungry soul, what I did was keep exploring and trying out as many loaf recipes found online as possible. This crazy experiment resulted in many delicious loaves coming out of my oven (and inevitably some weight gain as well, but who cares? jk lol).

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

As you may already know, the key to amouth-watering banana bread is using OVERRIPE bananas. Yeap, if you don’t have them ready at home, you have to wait until all the banana skins have almost turned black and rotten. This is when the bananas have become mushy enough and, of course, the sweetest as most of the starch content is broken down into sugar. Trust me, it is totally worth the patience. Why wait? Provide your friends and family with the best banana experience by serving big slices of this banana bread as their breakfast or afternoon snack.

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp salt
  • ½  tsp cinnamon
  • ½  cup (100g) dark brown sugar
  • ½  cup (115g) butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • ¼  cup (60ml) coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) rum
  • 50g & 1 extra tbsp (for sprinkling) shredded coconut  
  • 80g pecan, roughly chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease it with butter or oil; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, sift in and combine well the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 3 mins until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating for 1 min.
  5. Add mashed bananas, coconut milk and rum, and continue beating until incorporated.
  6. Pour in the dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches, stirring continuously.
  7. Add in shredded coconut and pecans. Stir the batter gently with a spatula until everything is just incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle some shredded coconut on top. Tap the pan several times to break any air bubbles. Bake the cake for 50-55 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. When the cake is cool enough to handle, remove it from the pan and let it continue to cool on the wire rack before making the glaze; this will take about 30 mins.
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Hopeless Romantic – Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting




Red Velvet Cake – always alluring by how romantic and gorgeous it looks. This is a recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction; her method of separating the eggs into yorks and whites in the process rendered the cake extra light and fluffy. Also, given that it’s my second time making it, I’m proud to say that I’ve adjusted the recipe to get the texture, flavour, and sweetness just right to my taste. My apologies, but how can I miss this chance to declare, that it’s indeed a BLOODY good cake :p?

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You are the one who’s in control of how red the cake should appear: rose, crimson, or even blood red. Start with a few drops of coloring and eyeball it as you go. Just be extra careful when handling with food coloring; otherwise, you may create a domestic crime scene and end up spending a day trying to clean your kitchen (which i may or may not have done it myself).

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In fact , I had difficulties trying to pinpoint what a red velvet cake tasted like. In the most basic terms, its sponge cake’s flavour profile contains three major components, namely vanilla, chocolate, and buttermilk, working with and complementing one another. Essentially, together with the rich cream cheese frosting, a red velvet cake is a light chocolate cake with a little citrus kick. Still a bit confused? Well, I guess the only way to find that out is to try it out yourself, and win the heart of your special someone.

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Ingredients:

Cake

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups (360g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp (22g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature2
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2  tbsp (30ml) vanilla extract
  • liquid or gel red food coloring
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature/ or 1 cup (240ml) whole milk + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 500g full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature5
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) whole milk
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt (i.e. everything listed under dry ingredients).
  4. In another mixing bowl, using an electric beater, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add oil and continue beating for 2 min until incorporated.
  5. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, and beat at medium speed until well combined. Meanwhile, use a hand whisk to vigorous beat egg whites until floamy and thick; set aside.
  6. Add buttermilk (or milk + lemon juice) and vanilla extract to thin out the mixture.
  7. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Stir gently with a spatula to combine everything until no flour can be seen. Avoid over-mixing.
  8. Finally, gently fold the prepared egg whites into the cake batter with a spatula.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the two prepared cake tins. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 45 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter (at room temperature) at medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar using a tablespoon, and beat until smooth.
  3. Add milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 1 hour to get firm so as to hold its shape while you work on it later.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface (reserve and crumble the unwanted cake parts into small pieces for decoration).
  2. Peel the parchment paper from the base of the cake layers and place one layer onto a plate or a cake board placed on a revolving cake stand (if you have it).
  3. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  4. Put a generous amount of frosting on the middle of the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it with the second cake layer. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  5. Put the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for an hour to get the frosting nice and firm. Once the cake is chilled, frost your cake evenly with another layer of frosting using the same method. Get rid of all the peaks and blemishes in the process.
  6. Transfer the remaining cream cheese frosting into a pastry bag tipped with a tip that you prefer. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, sprinkle cake crumbles, stick thin strawberry slices to the side as garnish if desired.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Enjoy!




8 comments
Back to Basics – Bakery-Style Almond Butter Coconut Soft Chewy Cookies

It feels SUPERB to be back in my baking mood after surviving an emotionally intense week. Lots of things happened recently; probably too many. People always say baking helps elevate our mood, but I realise I can only bake well when feeling fully energised – does it make sense? Anyhow, let’s just focus on something fairly simple to make, yet truly satisfying to enjoy today, shall we?

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In fact, I’ve had this cookie recipe – success-guaranteed – in store for a while, but I just didn’t have the right opportunity to share it with you until now. It’s my all-time comfort recipe as it simply turns out perfect every. single. time. I used peanut butter the first time I made it (which was marvellous), and I substituted almond butter this time as I still got a whole jar of waiting to be gulped down at home.

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Similar to the brookies I previously shared in August, these cookies are soft, chewy, and sweet, yet their slightly crispy outer layer can now better withstand the passage of time. Yeap, we’re talking about one of those insanely tempting over-sized cookies seducing you through those timeless, nostalgic bakery windows. What’s the secret? A right amount of brown sugar and don’t overbake them. Pssss, If you want them to be extra evil (and make all your friends jealous of your little kitchen triumph), don’t hesitate to add in dark chocolate chips so that the cookies would literally melt in your mouth.

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Ingredients:

Make 18 largecookies 

  • 1 1/2 cup (188g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) butter
  • 1/3 cup (75g) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 60g almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (100g) almond, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup dessicated coconut

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, baking soda, and salt. These are your dry ingredients.
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric beater, beat white sugar, brown sugar, and butter on medium high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and creamy.
  4. Add egg, vanilla and almond butter to the mixture, and continue to beat at medium speed until well mixed. 
  5. Slowly add the prepared dry ingredients. Beat for another 1-2 mins until well incorporated.
  6. Finally, with a spatula, gently stir in and mix well chopped almonds and desiccated coconut.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Roll the dough into balls, and space each one about 2-inches apart on the sheet to allow space for spreading. Flatten the dough a bit with a spoon or your palm.
  9. Bake for 12 mins (don’t overbake). Remove from the oven and let cool.
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