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

Friday, June 22, 2012

black sesame milk

I usually don't try to use blending machine to make my own drink or dessert, thinking that cleaning up is a chore... Hubby has bought the vitamix machine awhile ago. Seriously, it is an excellent machine for mixing and blending. He uses it for making sauces mainly, and always, the sauce turns out beautifully. But I had yet to try until now.
Last weekend, while clearing the dry goods containers, I realised there were quite some stock left.. nuts, seeds, dried mushroom, barley...  Then, I saw the sesame seeds and suddenly, I got a craving for sesame paste/milk. I recalled seeing an almond milk recipe recently... so I thought it was a good chance for me to try out the machine. The sesame amount I had was just nice for making black sesame milk.
Black Sesame Milk

80g black sesame seeds
450g fresh milk (I used low fat since that was all I got)
30g glutinous rice flour (I used glutinous rice to grind)
sugar to taste

1. Put black sesame seeds, glutinous rice and milk into vitamix blender and blend until resemble liquid paste form. (alternatively, blend the sesame seeds first, then add glutinous rice flour and milk to mix if blender does not allow blender and mixing)
2. Sift the liquid paste.
3. Heat up the sifted sesame milk on a pan over medium heat. Stirring until liquid starting to bubble.
4. When the desired consistency is reached, turn off heat, add in sugar to taste.
5. Serve warm or chilled.

Recipe modified from 君之's almond milk recipe.
I tried 2 versions, one without sifting and one with... thinking that the unsifted one will have more texture and flavour. How wrong! The sifted one was silky smooth and rich and the taste was just right with enough punch of the sesame taste without any bitter or burned flavour.  The unsifted one was too 'sandy' to glide down the throat and has a bitter aftertaste. So step 2 cannot be skipped.
From the picture above and below, one can tell the distinct difference between the unsifted (above) and the sifted one (below). I ended up sifting the one above too.
If there is any complain, the sesame milk has a slightly raw taste compared to the ready made ones in dessert houses. So the next time I make,  I will probably try lightly toasting the sesame seeds first.

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #20 Asian Dessert Buffet (June 2012) hosted by Moon of Food Playground.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Earl grey tea cake with lemon syrup

Earl Grey tea is one of my favourite scent, not drink. I love love love the smell of it, whether raw or freshly brewed, but I am a coffee person, period. Baking with tea, especially with Earl Grey tea, has always been on my to do list.

Last weekend, I finally got down to try experimenting with it. It went a slightly more winded route than I originally planned...

When I was making the cake batter, I felt something was amiss but couldn't make out what was it. The moment I mixed everything together in the final step, put baking pan into the oven and close the oven door, it struck me: I forgot the sugar!!

Too late to do anything but in order to salvage my effort, I thought glazing may be the answer if the cake batter can hold it's shape. So I frantically searched the Internet for glazing recipe that goes well with Earl Grey tea cake while the cake was baking in the oven.

Having found quite a few recommendations that lemon syrup compliments Earl grey tea cake, I set out to work, my heart wishing hard that the cake will not collapse or be too tough since it lacks sugar to hold the structure. According to Ask The Experts, sugar plays multiple roles in the science of baking.

In the mean time, from the window of the oven, I can see that the cake has risen well but that doesn't guarantee it will not collapse after being taken out from oven. When the baking time was up and toothpick inserted confirmed it was done, I took the cake out and poured all the syrup on the cake. 30 mins later and realizing that the cake was still holding strong, with all the syrup absorbed, my heart jumped with joy...

But wait, how about the taste?? Slicing one slice for myself, I almost couldn't believe that it was simply awesome! It was soft, fluffy and moist, with just enough sweetness and lots of flavours. Seriously, I think it was the most memorable cake I ever made, mainly bcoz I was expecting it to fail.

Too bad that the cranberries and chocolate chips all sank to the bottom, I should have floured them slightly, but the overall taste was good. As for the Earl grey taste, it was really mild. The next time I make it again, I will either increase the tea leaves amount or cut down on the cranberries, since I find it overpowering the tea taste.

So cake without sugar?? Not that I will go down that route often, but maybe for this recipe, I will try again :)

Earl Grey Tea Cake with Lemon Syrup

2 Earl Grey tea bags
1/4 cup boiling water
1/3 cup milk
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar (totally missed out in my case)
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour (I use cake flour + 1 tsp salt + 1 tsp baking powder)
1 cup cranberries (optional)
1/4 cup chocolate chips

juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree C, grease pan.
2. Empty tea leaves from tea bags into a cup and add the boiling water.
3. Set aside for 3-5 mins
4. Stir in the milk and transfer to a mixing bowl
5. Add the butter, sugar, eggs and flour.
6.  Use electric beater on low to beat until just combined.
7. Increase the speed to medium and beat until mixture is pale and creamy (may look slightly curdled)
8. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-22 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean

9. While cake is baking, add the juice, zest and icing sugar in a bowl.
10. Mix until the sugar fully dissolved.

11. Pour the lemon syrup onto the cake once it's out of the oven
12. Wait until syrup fully absorbed by the cake before turing the cake out from the pan

recipe adapted from nigella lawson's community recipe and flick your food for the lemon syrup.

Since I have done the cake without the sugar, I am not too sure if the cake will be too sweet  if full sugar amount is used. Unless if you have a really sweet tooth, I would recommend cutting down the 2/3 cup of sugar to maybe 1/2 or even 1/4 cup. And if you really have moderate capacity for sweetness like me (I like my dessert/cake/muffin mildly sweet but full of flavours), you may even try omitting the sugar? Well, part of the fun of baking is experimenting to suit your own taste right?

Monday, June 4, 2012

black bottom cheesecakes

I would like to think that cheesecake is one of the easier treats to make... well, there may be lots of people out there begging to differ. I can only say what works easier for me.

Some people claim that cookies are easy, but it's hard for me to get a consistent result for different recipes, sometimes they are too soft / too cakelike, sometimes they are off the taste slightly... they hardly turn out too hard for my case though. So, I can't claim cookies are easy for me.

Some people claim that cupcakes are easy, but for me, I tend to cut down the sugar too much (I seem to have this problem, bcoz I like my cake to be less sweet) and the cupcakes turn out not fitting the taste of people around me.

For cheesecakes, most of the times (well, most), they turn out delectable and they go down well with most  of the people around me, so I don't have to end up finishing most by myself :).

This black bottom cheesecake recipe is a nice twist from conventional crusted cheeseke. The chocolate taste from the bottom compliments the cheesecake portion well. The cake texture also goes well with the smoother texture of the cheesecake. 

Black Bottom Cheesecake

cream cheese filling:
8 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 granulated white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
chocolate chips (optional)

chocolate bottom:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated white sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven at 175 degree C, line muffin pan.
2. With electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together sifted flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a seperate bowl, mix together water, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until smooth. 
4. Divide the chocolate batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Top each with cheesecake batter evenly. Sprinkler chocolate chips on top of each muffin.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 mins. The cheesecake should have set and chocolate cake portion springy to touch. 
6. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.

This recipe is adapted from Joy Of Baking

I really like to simplicity of this recipe. Yes, there are 2 portions to make but both are not complicated. The result is mouthfuls of rich wholesome taste - wonderful mix of chocolate and cheese, goes really well with coffee too.

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