Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting



Sometimes, a classic is what you crave for. At a time like this, having lemon cupcakes on hand can give you comfort. These cupcakes also keep well in the freezer so you might want to bake a batch just for emergencies. Oh, and they go great with a pot of hot tea.

Lemon Cupcakes

1 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons refined sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk

1. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt twice. Set aside.
2. Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest at medium speed for 10 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at time beating about 30 seconds after each addition.
4. At low mixer speed, add flour mixture in stages alternately with milk starting and ending with flour mixture.
5. Divide batter into paper-lined muffin tins.
6. Bake at 350°F for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on racks.

Makes about 16 3-oz. cupcakes.


Lemon Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cups confectioner's powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk

1. Cream butter and lemon zest until light and fluffy.
2. Add sugar and milk and continue beating until smooth.
3. Transfer to piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
3. Pipe decorative rosettes on top of cupcakes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Parisian Macarons




They say there are certain qualities one must look for in a good Parisian macaron. It must have a satiny finish, must have a distinctive 'foot' and must be dry on the outside but have a chewy center when you bite into it.

These delicate creations are a joy to eat as they are to make. Truth be told, that's just a bit of a masochist in me talking. You see, I must have tried at least half a dozen recipe variations to come up with a fairly decent batch. Some were too wet, too flat, cracked up, or grainy. It somehow turned into quite a challenge to finally be able to make good Parisian macarons.

And just when I was about to give up, a happy accident occurred. I had leftover Italian meringue icing from a birthday cake order to which I decided to add powdered sugar and ground almonds. Piped them out and baked them at a very low temperature oven and what do you know...they turned out almost identical to store-bought macarons.

I think I'm done with macarons for now. So here's the recipe:

Meringue:
1 1/2 cups refined sugar
1/2 cup water
3 large eggwhites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
gel food color, as desired
1/2 cup confectioner's powdered sugar, sifted with
1/2 cup ground almonds

1. In a heavy saucepan, boil together sugar and water (without stirring) until thread stage.
2. Just before syrup reaches thread stage, in a mixer with whisk attachment, beat eggwhites with cream of tartar at highest mixer speed until you get very fine bubbles.
3. While the mixer is running, carefully pour boiling syrup into eggwhite foam. Beat until you get a glossy meringue with stiff peaks.
4. You can add food color and almond extract at this stage.
5. Carefully fold in sugar-almond mixture.
6. Transfer meringue into pastry bag fitted a 1/2 inch round tip. Pipe one-inch disks of meringue two inches apart onto Silpat-lined baking sheets. Let dry at least 20 minutes on counter.
7. Bake at 275°F for about 20 minutes or until dry. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sifted confectioner's powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Cream butter till light and fluffy.
2. Add sifted powdered sugar.
3. Add milk and vanilla a teaspoon at a time.
4. Beat icing till fluffy and smooth.
5. Transfer to pastry bag with a round tip.
6. Pipe in center of half the cooled macarons.
7. Top with the other half.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

I know what you must be thinking. "There she goes again with her cheesecake obsession". I just can't help it. I'm hooked. And from all my recipe stacks I'm still a long way away from baking my last. So just indulge me please.

But just imagine this: put together two of my all-time favorite treats of cheesecake and dulce de leche. And oh boy, do we have a party! Goodbye dieting. Let's meet again in a few weeks.

You can easily make dulce de leche at home. Just boil unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk (label removed). Let simmer for 4 hours. Make sure the cans are submerged in water the whole time. Cool the cans for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight) before using. And remember: never, never open a hot can. I cannot stress this enough. Unless you want a trip to the ER.

Here's the recipe:

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons refined sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/3 cup melted butter

Mix all ingredients and press onto bottom of a 9" springform pan. Chill until ready to use.

Filling:
2 bars (225 grams each) cream cheese
3/4 cup refined sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dulce de leche


To decorate:

2 tablespoons dulce de leche
8 pieces white chocolate buttons


Mix together cream cheese and refined sugar till smooth. Add eggs. Stir in sour cream, flour and vanilla extract. Set aside one cup of filling. Pour the rest into the prepared crust.

Blend together the remaining filling and dulce de leche. Randomly spoon this mixture on top of filling. With a spatula, make swirls to make marble designs.

Bake cheesecake at 325 F baine-marie style for about one hour. Cool completely. Chill at least 6 hours or overnight before serving. Before serving decorate the top with dulce de leche and white chocolate buttons.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mocha Java Chip Cupcakes...for Grown-ups only



Just like the next person, I really enjoy a cup of good java. Whether hot or cold, it is the perfect pick-me-up.

One flavor I personally enjoy is a frosty tumbler of mocha java chip. So why not make cupcakes as a tribute to this favorite. A word of warning though: keep these goodies away from the kids. The double effect of caffein from the chocolate and coffee would have them bouncing off the walls in no time. Better safe than sorry.

Mocha Cupcakes


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups refined sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Mix together milk, water cocoa powder and coffee granules. Set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar for 5 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time.
5. At low mixer speed, add flour mixture alternately with the liquid mix.
6. Spoon into paper-lined muffin pans.
7. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes.
8. Cool cupcakes completely on racks.

Mocha Java Chip Buttercream


2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon hot water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh milk
2 cups sifted confectioner's powdered sugar
1/4 cup grated dark chocolate

Decoration

chocolate coffee beans

1. Dissolve coffee granules in hot water. Cool to room temperature. Add to milk.
2. Cream butter at medium speed till light and fluffy.
3. At low mixer speed, add powdered sugar in two batches.
4. Slowly add in coffee/milk mixture until fully incorporated.
5. Stir in grated chocolate.
5. Pipe rosettes on top of cupcakes.
6. Decorate with chocolate coffee beans.

Makes 24 pieces regular-sized cupcakes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chunky Monkey Bundtlettes



I have to admit, I love banana cake. There is something so comforting about it (in my case I think anything with sugar IS comforting). But just like anything, one looks for variety in the familiar. So here's my take on shaking things up a bit when it comes to an old favorite.

I got this idea from the world-famous Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor. Baking it in a bundtlette pan makes it a little bit fancier and certainly not lowly like a plain old banana loaf.

Make sure you grease and flour the pan well as this tends to stick to the pan because of its high sugar content. If you're not too fond of a very dark banana cake then mix the mashed bananas with the sour milk to prevent browning.

You can dress this up with a shake of powdered sugar on top or if you're really in the mood, a drizzle of warm dark chocolate ganache. Ooh...

Chunky Monkey® Bundtlettes

2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup refined sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup sour milk (milk+ 1 tsp lemon juice)
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour pan(s). Set aside.
2. Sift together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a mixer at medium speed for about 5 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time mixing until blended.
5. Stir in mashed bananas.
6. At low mixer speed add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour milk beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
7. Stir in chocolate and nuts.
8. Spoon into prepared pans.
9. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes.
10. Cool in pan 5 minutes then transfer to rack to cool.

Makes 12 bundtlettes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Basic Tips for Beginner Bakers

So you really want to bake? You've finally convinced your husband (or wife or parents) to buy you an oven? I would suggest you take a lesson or two on beginner baking from the numerous baking schools in the city. They offer a whole wealth of knowledge from the best kitchen tools to where to buy ingredients at a steal.

But if you want to be self-taught or simply don't have the time or resources, I suggest you read. A lot. Almost all books I've read about beginner baking talk about the same tips for novice bakers. I'll be listing some important notes that I personally think anyone who is thinking of getting into baking should know by heart.

1. Read the recipe in its entirety before starting.

2. Make sure that you have all the necessary ingredients and gather them together.

3. Preheat your oven before you commence. Saves you both time and energy.

4. Use only the freshest ingredients. Believe me, people will notice the difference.

5. Invest in standard measuring spoons and cups for both dry and liquid ingredients.

6. Prepare the pan(s) needed, greasing them as necessary. Make sure to use the correct size of pan called for in the recipe.

7. Let butter or margarine stand a little to soften before using if you don't want butter flying around your kitchen.

8. Get to know your oven. No two ovens are alike and most times the temperature reading is not accurate. It is advisable to put a portable oven thermometer inside to test its accuracy.

9. Test for doneness a good 5 minutes before the prescribed baking time. Butter cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Sponge and chiffon cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Pies and cookies are done when golden brown and fragrant.

10. Cooling is also vital. Let butter cakes cool in pan for about 10 minutes then remove from pan to cool completely on rack. Invert the pans onto racks at once for chiffon and sponge cakes. Remove cookies from baking sheets at once to cool on racks.

11. Frost and decorate cakes only after they have cooled completely.

12. Bake as often as you can. It is such a rewarding experience.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Red Velvet Craze

Red Velvet Cake has achieved celebrity status these last couple of years in Manila. Almost all home bakers are offering this on their menu. It is a hit to both adults and kids alike.

You gotta hand it to people from the Southern US for coming up with this delightful concoction. Where on earth can you find a cake that when you slice into it will reveal a richly red cake that will no doubt stain your lips and teeth? And the cream cheese frosting that covers it...simply divine.

Of all the recipes for red velvet cake I tried, the one from Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit
is the one for me. She did a lot of research to perfect the recipe and I think she did an excellent job. This cake is moist with a tender crumb and the rich red color is fantastic.

This is not really a chocolate cake. The addition of cocoa powder is done only to enhance the dark red color because you can't actually taste the chocolate.

For the cream cheese frosting, I used my own recipe:

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups confectioner's powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Continue beating until you get a smooth and fluffy icing.


Whether you make cupcakes or a whole cake with the recipe, it will surely be a hit. Trust me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

My Favorite Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Ah, warm cookies and milk. Good times. Notice how many fond memories you have over this duo? Create some more with this very easy and fuss-free recipe. Half the fun is in making these traditional hand-molded cookies which can be a bonding activity with the kids.

I bet this recipe will be a classic in your household. It is in mine. Happy Baking!


Peanut Butter Cookies


3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup refined sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a bowl, sift together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugars until creamy at medium speed of mixer, about 5 minutes.
4. Add peanut butter and cream for another minute.
5. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla.
6. At low speed, add flour mixture in four parts, blending thoroughly.
7. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets two inches apart. Alternately, you can scoop dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.
8. Press balls down with a fork, making a crisscross mark on each with fork tines.
9. Bake at 375°F for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch the time so you end up with soft and chewy cookies.
10. Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.
Store airtight.

Makes about 60 medium-sized cookies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cheesecake Love Part 3: Bite-sized Blueberry Cheesecakes


Every time I make cheesecakes, they always disappear before the end of the day. I always end up rummaging through the fridge at midnight wishing I'd made more. Well, one day as I was window shopping at Amazon, I happen to come across this wonderful new product to solve my dilemma...the Norpro mini cheesecake pan. With its non-stick finish and removable bottom, this pan is a dream.

Not only does this extend the life of a batch of cheesecake, this is also a great way to serve this dessert at parties or picnics. And the baking time is dramatically shorter so it makes my job so much easier. And who doesn't want that, right?

Miniature New York Cheesecakes with Blueberry Topping

Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons refined sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/3 cup melted butter

1. Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Press crust onto bottom and sides of mini cheesecake pan. (I use the end of a mini rolling pin to press the crumbs onto the pan.)
3. Chill until needed.


Filling:

1- 225 gram bar cream cheese
1/2 cup refined sugar
2 medium-sized eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

1 cup blueberry pie filling

1. To prepare filling, beat together cream cheese and refined sugar until smooth.
2. Add eggs one at a time.
3. Stir in flour, sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
4. Pour filling over prepared crust.
5. Bake at 325°F for 15 minutes.
8. Cool thoroughly. Remove cheesecakes from pan then chill overnight
9. Before serving, top each cheesecake with a teaspoon of blueberry pie filling.

Makes about 18 pieces miniature cheesecakes.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ooey Gooey Fudgy Brownies



Rich fudgy brownies may well be on top of everyone's comfort food list. I bet it is one of the very first bars beginner bakers learn how to make. And with good reason. It is quite simple to prepare and can be done without the aid of a mixer.

There are a few tips I can share to achieve fudgy and moist brownies. One, line your baking pan with aluminum foil so you can easily lift the brownie off the pan for easier cutting. Two, use a wooden spoon to mix your brownies so you don't incorporate too much air.

Next tip is it is always to better underbake a little than overbake so watch that clock! There's possibly nothing worse than dry crumbly brownies. Lastly, cut brownies into bars only when it is cool and if you have it use a plastic disposable knife for clean slices.


Fudge Brownies


1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (for darker color)
1/2 cup refined sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons light corn syrup (for moist, chewy brownies)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9" x 9" pan with aluminum foil. Grease pan with butter.
2. Sift flour and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Over low heat or in a microwave, melt butter.
4. Stir in cocoa powder and set aside to cool.
5. To cooled chocolate mixture, add sugars, syrup and eggs. Beat till just mixed.
6. Stir in flour mixture and mix till flour is just incorporated (Don't overmix.).
7. Pour into prepared pan and top with nuts.
8. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes.
9. Cool in pan then cut into squares.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cheesecake Love Part 2: New York Cheesecake with Mango Compote


This is the second installment of my cheesecake series. I told you, I'm obsessed with cheesecake.

If you're looking for a recipe for basic New York Cheesecake, this is it. You can easily make variations by changing the flavoring and crust as well as the topping.

I urge you to follow the baking instructions detailed here especially the baine-marie style of baking. You won't regret it. The possibility of cracking and overbaking is eliminated and you are left with a rich and velvety cheesecake that everyone will rave about.


New York Cheesecake with Mango Compote


Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons refined sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Press crust onto bottom of an ungreased 9" springform pan. Chill until needed. (This recipe is also good for 2- 6" mini cheesecake pans).

Filling:
2 bars (225 grams each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup refined sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. To prepare filling, beat together cream cheese and refined sugar until smooth.
2. Add eggs one at a time.
3. Stir in flour, sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
4. Pour filling over prepared crust.
5. Wrap bottom of pan with a big piece of aluminum foil.
6. Place springform pan inside a roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to go one inch up the side of springform pan (baine-marie style).
7. Bake in a slow oven 300°F for about one hour. (Center should still be jiggly. It will firm up as it chills.)
8. Cool thoroughly then chill overnight before serving.

Mango Compote:
1/2 cup mango preserves
1/4 cup water
2 cups fresh mango balls

1. Warm mango preserves and water.
2. Gently stir in mango balls. Turn off heat.
3. Cool thoroughly. Spoon over cheesecake.


Makes 8 to 10 generous servings.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cheesecake Love Part 1: Oreo Cheesecake

I must admit, I'm addicted to cheesecakes. I make them at home and almost always order cheesecake whenever I go out to eat. Who can resist that creamy, melt -in-your-mouth goodness. I particularly like this cheesecake because of the chocolate crust.

You may notice from the procedure that making cheesecakes is not complicated at all. In fact, it is simpler than a lot of cakes I bake. The only thing I don't like about it is having to wait overnight before I can indulge.

Here's the recipe:

Oreo Cheesecake
(Serves 8 to 10)

Crust:
1 pack (about 12 pieces) Oreo cookies
1/4 cup butter, melted

1. Grind up Oreo cookies in food processor.
2. Add melted butter and mix well.
3. Press on bottom of an ungreased 9" springform pan. Chill in refrigerator until needed.

Filling:
2 bars (225 grams each) cream cheese
1 cup refined sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. To prepare filling, beat together cream cheese and refined sugar till smooth.
2. Add eggs one at a time.
3. Stir in flour, sour cream and vanilla extract.
4. Pour filling over prepared crust.
5. Wrap bottom of pan with a big piece of aluminum foil.
6. Place cheesecake pan inside a roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into pan to go one inch up the side of springform pan (baine-marie style).
7. Bake in a slow oven 300°F for about one hour. (Center should still be jiggly. It will firm up as it chills.)
8. Cool thoroughly then chill overnight before serving.

Note: You can decorate the cheesecake with whipped cream rosettes and mini Oreos. It is a good idea to use a warm knife to slice cheesecake for a clean cut.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ooey Gooey Golden Cream Puffs


There's something comforting about eating a cream puff. One bite and the crunchy caramel breaks and the soft sweet buttery cream filling fills your mouth and you are in heaven.

I always have to remind myself to limit myself to one a day. I remember one summer in my early teens how I gained so much weight from eating these sinful goodies every afternoon after swimming lessons. To this day I still carry around the proof of that indulgence.

Making cream puffs require a three-step process. First is making the pate a choux or the pastry shells which requires a high baking temperature of 400°F. Next comes cooking the creme anglaise or cream filling. The last step is making the caramel to top the cream puffs.

This is a dessert you can make even without a mixer. Here's the recipe:

Pate a Choux (Pastry Shell)

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour


In a heavy saucepan, combine water, butter and salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Add in flour and mix over low flame till dough leaves the sides of the saucepan. Let cool till warm. Using a whisk, beat in egg yolks one at a time. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip with1/2 inch opening. Pipe 1 1/2 rounds of pastry two inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 400° F for 30 minutes of till dry and golden. Cool on wire racks before filling with cream.

Creme Anglaise (Cream Filling)

1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup refined sugar
2 cups fresh milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine cornstarch and sugar in a saucepan. Add in milk. Bring to a low simmer while stirring constantly. Pour half cup of the hot mixture into beaten egg yolks. Add egg yolk mixture back to the sauce pan with the rest of the cream. Cook until the mixture till thick and coats the back of a spoon. Add vanilla extract and butter. Cool completely before piping into center of pastry shells.

Caramel

1 1/2 cups refined sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Boil till lightly golden . Use immediately to coat top of cream-filled pastry.

Note: Cool caramel completely before serving.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mini Almond Bundt Cakes

When I was little I used to hate the smell and taste of almond extract. It used to make me think of bathroom deodorizer. But just like cilantro, it's an acquired taste and I've grown to like, if not love, the new dimension of flavor almond extract gives to cakes and other desserts.

I thought I'd try it on mini bundt cakes. I just used my old pound cake recipe and replace the citrus flavors with almond. So here's the recipe. Hope you'll try it out and be converted like me.



Mini Almond Bundt Cakes

1 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups refined sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup fresh milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
6 large egg whites
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1. Sift flour and baking powder. Set aside.
2. Cream butter and half of sugar for 10 minutes at medium speed of mixer.
3. Add egg yolks one at a time.
4. Add in vanilla and almond extracts.
5. At low mixer speed, add flour mixture alternately with milk. Set batter aside.
6. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and remaining sugar till stiff but not dry.
7. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
8. Pour into mini bundt pans.
9. Bake at 325°F for 20 to 25 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
10. Cool in pan 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before pouring topping.

To make topping:
1. Mix powdered sugar, water and almond extract till smooth.
2. Pour topping on mini bundt cakes then sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Makes about 12 mini bundt cakes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Vanilla Créme Bruleé that makes you sigh

Creme Brulee is one of my favorite desserts. The presentation alone is enough to exude oohs and aahs from everyone. It's not too rich or heavy in my opinion. And the size is just right when you're trying hard not to indulge too much.

Although making creme brulee looks very complicated, it's really very simple to make. You can even make it in advance to save time.


Vanilla Créme Bruleé

4 cups heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
2/3 cup refined sugar
1 vanilla bean

additional refined sugar for caramel topping

1. Whisk together egg yolks and refined sugar. Set aside.
2. In a heavy saucepan, heat heavy cream and vanilla bean (split in half lengthwise) till small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Let stand about 10 minutes. Remove vanilla pod.
3. Carefully pour heated cream into the eggyolk-sugar mixture.
4. Strain mixture into a glass pitcher and divide into oven-proof ramekins.
5. Place ramekins into a roasting pan. Pour hot water into pan till level reaches about an inch up the sides of the ramekins.
6. Bake at 300°F for a 30 minutes.
7. Cool on counter then chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
8. To serve, sprinkle about a teaspoon of sugar on top of creme brulee. Caramelize sugar with a kitchen torch or broiler.
9. Serve immediately. Makes 16 servings.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chunky Chocolate Chip Chip Cookies (where it all began)


As far back as I can remember, chocolate chip cookies with walnuts are the first ever baked product I made. All at the tender age of 15. If I'm not mistaken I was using a tiny oven toaster then. I got the original recipe from a old copy of Good Housekeeping magazine more than 20 years ago and I've tweaked it a bit.

I've tested a lot of recipes for chocolate chip cookies but here's one that I'd rather stick with.

Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup refined sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Cream butter, shortening, refined sugar and brown sugar for about 5 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time.
4. At low speed, add flour mixture until just mixed.
5. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts by hand.
6. Using a 1 oz. scoop, drop cookie dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
7. Bake in 350F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
8. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Welcome to my kitchen!

My passionate love affair with baking has been on-and-off for the last 15 years. Nothing warms my insides more than the smell of sweet treats coming out of the oven.

Here you'll find some of my kitchen adventures and misadventures and hopefully have a laugh or two. I'll also be sharing some of my favorite recipes every now and then.

So relax and let me pour you a cup of coffee while we chat.