Friday, October 12, 2012

butterless coconut cupcakes

I have not been posting for awhile.. main reason was that I was trying to refrain from baking since I was trying to cut down my calories to lose those 'baby fat' from pregnancy. My son turned one last month and I still have 8 kg to go to pre-pregnancy weight. It's already hard enough to control one's diet, I didn't want to make it worse by having oven fresh homemade treats and not getting to eat them.

These coconut cupcakes are really easy to make but what prompted me to do was the fact that it is butterless, and only needs 4 ingredients, which I have ready at home.

I made a big modification on the milk amount, the original called for 1 1/2 cups but when I started mixing, the batter was really runny at the point of 3/4 cup so I decided to stop and try out. It turned out fine.

Coconut cupcakes

1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup self raising flour
3/4 cup castor sugar (cut down from 1 cup)
3/4 milk

1. Preheat oven at 175 degree C
2. Toast the coconut in a shallow pan until slightly brown to bring out the aroma
3. Mix together the coconut, flour and sugar. Slowly pour in the milk while mixing and mix til all combined.
3. Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

recipe adapted from

I used some chocolate chips as decoration for some of the cupcakes but it is totally fine to skip this step as I don't think the chocolate chips complimented the coconut taste that well.

The texture of the cake is dense, flavourful and kind of reminds me of the traditional 'kueh', esp at the centre of mine which was very slightly under-baked. One thing to note, the fact that it is butterless means it will stick to the mold VERY MUCH. So unless you don't mind heavy cleaning, remember to grease or use liners.

I was very impatient to try one while the cupcake was still warm, so quite a bit of the batter actually sticked to the liner as you can see from the photo above. However, for those that I waited until they really cooled off came out clean with hardly anything sticking to the paper liner at all.

Though I am quite happy with the result, I am really curious how it will turn out if I would have sticked to 1 1/2 cups of milk instead. Maybe I will try again... but if there is anyone out there game to try, be sure to let me know the result, k? Oh, if I am to make these again, I will try adding a dash of salt to see whether it will bring out the sweetness more.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

childhood coconut tarts

I wrote about my craving for my childhood coconut tarts in my last post... and so happened that I had a trip back to Penang last week. So how could I not drop by the shop and buy some for myself?

So here it is...

I used the plastic bag that came with the tarts as the base for me to shot the tart :p

The shop has moved from it's old location at the back alley to one that is along a main road. The shape of the tart has changed slightly as well. It used to be elongated oval shape but now it's round. But the taste and texture are still the same as I remember it to be.

The base is made of flaky pastry, the filling is of rich sweet savoury coconut paste (that contains full body shredded coconut) and the it's topped with buttery crumble. All the different textures make each bite a truly enjoyable experience... aaaaww....

Saturday, July 28, 2012

coconut icebox cookies

I am not particularly fond of coconut, nor do I distain the taste of it. Considering that coconut is such a common ingredient in our diet here (think curry, nasi lemak, laksa, kueh...), I am surprised that it never crossed my mind to bake something with it.

It all started one fine day last month, when I was sitting in the bus on my way to work. For some unknown reasons, I started imagining the taste of coconut tarts from a neighbourhood bakery in my childhood home back in Georgetown, Penang (which is also a UNESCO heritage site by the way). It started mild, then grew stronger and stronger with each day passing. The buttery, rich, sweet + savoury taste together with semi crunchy texture of the coconut tarts invaded my mind in such an explosive manner that I had to do something about it - I baked something with coconut to eat!

Well, you would naturally think that I will make some coconut tarts... No, no, if I do that, I knew I would definitely be disappointed... It would be a futile effort to rival childhood memory. So I took an easier path, I made coconut cookies.

Coconut Icebox Cookies

1/2 c butter (I used 1/4 c butter and 1/4 c oil since I ran out of butter)
1 cup white sugar (I cut to 3/4 c)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract (I didn't use since I do not have it at home)
1 3/4 c sifted flour (I used cake flour but think all purpose may be better)
3/4 tsp salt (I actually used slightly more)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c shredded coconut (I toasted it slightly to bring out the fragrance)

1. Cream the butter until smooth; add sugar and continue creaming until light and fluffy. Stir in egg, vanilla and coconut flavouring.
2. Mixed the sifted flour, baking soda and salt. Alternately add the flour mixture and the shredded coconut into the creamed mixture.
3. Form the dough into logs about 2 inches in diameter. Tightly wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight (I did overnight)
4. Preheat oven at 190 degree C. Remove dough from the fridge and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Bake on ungreased sheet until edges are golden, about 10 mins. Cool on wire rack.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.

The cookies are delicious and crispy, they actually taste like 'aerated' butter cookies with coconut goodness. Every mouthful is so additive that I kept reaching for more. I really think the salt is important, or rather important to me bcoz I really like the sweet savoury taste of the coconut cookies. Maybe it is my childhood memory again, or maybe it's a Chinese thing? We seem to have more sweet savoury traditional cookies.

While the whole process took longer than the usual cookies, it works for me. I started doing the dough at night after putting baby to sleep and the next day, after I put him to nap in the late morning, I took out the dough to bake.

Oh, it is crucial that you do not take out both dough logs at one go. If you take both out, by the time you finished slicing the first log, the second dough would be too soft and sticky to work. So, take one out, finished slicing and arranging on the sheet before repeating for the second.

Having done this, I am contemplating to try more recipes with coconut in future.... :)... so let's see if I do.

Monday, July 16, 2012

semolina chocolate cookies

I like the texture and the slightly nutty taste of semolina flour. I have tried baking cakes with it, and posted 2 of them before: citrusy yogurt semolina cake and orange semolina cupcake. This is another attempt at using this flour, thought in a less common way, by using it in cookie recipe.

Semolina flour is not a common baking ingredient in this part of the world. Other than sugee cake, I have yet to know of any other common type of bake goods here that is made of it. So, when I presented the cookies to my family, they showed me the  'question mark' face :p. But, after tasting, they gave thumbs up.

Semolina Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup butter or oil (I used butter)
1/2 sugar (I used slightly less)
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup flour (I used cake flour)
1 cup chocolate chips (I used big round chips)
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

1. Preheat oven at 18- degree C
2. Cream butter/oil and sugar until the mixture turned pale and sugar has dissolved
3. Add egg and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly
4. Add sifted flour, semolina and baking powder and mix well
5. Fold in the chocolate chips
6. Place small discs on baking sheet
7. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 12-15 mins.

Recipe adapted from easily good eats. From the blog, one can tell this recipe is relatively flexible, if you are not a fan of chocolate chips (well, I really don't know that many people who doesn't like chocolate chips cookies), you can always replace the chips with dry fruits.

If there is one thing I would like to change about the recipe, it is maybe to add a pinch of salt to it, I think it will help to bring out the taste of the chocolate. But all in all, I am pretty happy with the result: crispy, buttery, nutty, chocolatey, tasty.

My mum brought some down for neighbour's kids, they kept asking for more. Though I know most kids couldn't stop at 1 chocolate cookie anyway, I still feel proud of the cookies.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

jelly cheesecake

I used to go to a neighbourhood bakery in Tiong Bahru area for their jelly cheesecake, which comes in 2 flavour: green (with lime flavoured jelly) and red (with strawberry flavoured jelly, if I am not mistaken). I prefer the green over the red simply bcoz I like the complimentary taste of the sourness of the lime jelly against the sweet, creamy and rich backdrop of the cheesecake.

But after shifting house and moving away from that area, I seldom go back. So when this recipe came out in the Straits Times, I simply had to try!
Jelly Cheesecake

9 McVitie's Original Digestive biscuits
70g butter, melted
250g cream cheese (room temperature, I used low fat)
295g condensed milk (I cut down to 2/3)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp gelatin
50ml hot water
strawberries for decoration (optional)
One 90g lime-flavoured jelly crystals (I used Tortally brand, as recommended in the newspaper recipe)
1. Crush the biscuits, they should resemble fine bread crumbs. (I put mine in a clean plastic bag and crushed using hand)
2. Put the biscuit crumbs in a bowl, add the butter and mix well.
3. Pour the biscuit mixture into a 8-inch round or square baking tin. Press the mixture and pat down firmly.
4. Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour.
5. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until it is smooth.
6. Add condense milk and lemon juice. Continue to mix.
7. Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water. Strain it if there are insoluble granules. Add to cream cheese mixture and mix well.
8. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the baking tin and spread evenly.
9. Bisect the strawberries, cut out the stalk and trim if necessary.
10. Arrange the strawberries on the cream cheese mixture according to pattern desired. Gently push them into the cream cheese mixture slightly, deep enough to ensure that they will not slide.
11. Leave in the fridge to refrigerate overnight.
12. Follow the instruction on the jelly crystals box to make the jelly solution. Let it cool to room temperature.
13. Pour the jelly mixture until it covers the strawberries (or more if desired)
14. Put the tin back into the fridge to refrigerate until the jelly has set.

Recipe adapted from Jelly Hearts recipe published in the Straits Times (I didn't record the date)

The cheesecake tasted exactly how I remembered it to be: delicious, refreshing, and with interesting contrasting texture.

The bakery's version is plainer, without the strawberries. But I find that the strawberries complemented the jelly and the cheesecake well and they looked so pretty set in the jelly. I should have used more for a more elaborate pattern.
For those that experienced the jelly cheesecake for the first time (like my hubby and mum), after getting through the initial shock of the striking green colour, they actually like the cheesecake, esp my mum.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

lemongrass jelly

The description of the recipe goes like this .... simple, fresh and sophisticated. Intrigued, I tried my hands on making since the recipe looks easy and hassle-free enough.

Alas... how wrong! On the first trial, the jelly didn't solidify, so I ended up with bowls of lemongrass liquid after refrigerating them overnight. I guessed it was the water to gelatine ratio that went wrong. I drank them all, refreshing as they were, I was determine to make again.

So on the 2nd trial, I cut down the water and increase the gelatine. Viola! Lemongrass jelly at last.

Lemongrass Jelly

400 ml water
5 packet of lemongrass tea (I got mine from Bangkok on a recent trip there, replace with 1 tbs of chopped lemon grass stems if you are using fresh lemongrass)
3 tsp of gelatine or agar powder
juice of 1/2 lemon
sugar to taste
mint leaves (optional, for decoration)

1. Bring the water to boil, add the lemongrass, stir, reduce heat and let simmer for approx 5-7 mins.
2. Remove from heat and let rest for approx 10 mins.
3. Remove the lemongrass tea leave packet or strain the mixture if you are using fresh lemongrass.
4. Add the gelatine or agar powder and stir until fully resolved.
5. Add the lemon juice and sugar to taste.
6. Pour into jelly mold or any individual container
7. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until jelly has set.
8. Decorate with mint leaves before serving if desired.

I find the taste a nice twist from conventional jelly flavours, and will probably complement a spicy main course well, but it is slightly flat for my palate. I would probably experiment by adding some crushed mint leaves into the jelly or use the jelly in some fruit salad.

I am submitting this post for Aspiring Baker #20 Asian Dessert Buffet hosted by Moon of Food Playground.

Monday, June 25, 2012

walnut paste

Having tried making black sesame milk and realising that it is in fact quite easy to make Chinese traditional dessert at home, I proceeded to try making walnut paste using the same recipe the next day.
For benefit of those not familiar, walnut paste, almond paste and black sesame paste are popular desserts at Chinese dessert houses, especially those at southern China, Hong Kong and countries in South East Asia e.g. Singapore and Malaysia.

This time, I toasted the walnut slightly in the toaster before blending, taking lesson learned from making the black sesame milk. Since I was quite adamant about making walnut paste instead of walnut milk, I doubled the walnut amount. I also make sure that I sifted all walnut milk and boiled the milk slightly longer until it reached paste consistency.
This time, in my opinion, the paste turned out better than the store bought ones. It was really silky smooth and unmistakeably 'walnutty'.... One word of caution, be careful of the portion as it is really filling, and bcoz it is good, not finishing the whole bowl is really a waste.
Since I doubled the walnut amount, the leftover walnut pieces from the sifting process was quite a lot as you can see from the picture above. So not willing to let it go to waste, I tried making walnut pudding using a recipe I found online. The pudding turned out to be a disaster. From the photo below, one would have thought that it looks ok. It tasted quite horrible. And I ended up throwing all the pudding away, which is a shame. I will be on the look out for recipes that can make use of leftover nuts from now on :).

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #20 Asian Dessert Buffet hosted by Moon of Food Playground

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