Friday, March 16, 2012

Baking Basics: How To Properly Measure Flour

Some of my friends ask me why the results they get from my recipes are not the same as mine. So I try to go through each step with them to figure it out. Sometimes results vary because we have different ovens. Other times it is caused by different egg sizes. But more often than not, it differs in the way we measure flour.

Of course I would say that for the purpose of accuracy it is recommended that you weigh the flour you are going to use. But not everyone has a kitchen scale at home. So knowing how to measure is the next logical thing. And I'm going to teach you how.

Here are some tips on properly measuring flour:

  1. If your flour is in a bag or big tub, try to loosen it up a little before measuring.
  2. Never dip your measuring cup into the bag.
  3. And never tap the measuring cup as you fill it with flour.
  4. With a big spoon, slowly fill your cup with flour (Remember, no tapping!). Try to make it overflow.
  5. Then, with a spatula or the back of a knife, run the blade across the cup to make it level.
Now you know how to properly measure flour.

Watch out for other posts about baking basics. Happy Baking!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Churros con Chocolate

I saw an episode of To Spain With Love where the host Annie Sibonney went on a night out in swinging Madrid. I found out that Madrilenos like to have a travelling feast. To start off the evening, they go for tapas and drinks in a bar in Market Square where the stalls open at dusk much like our local Banchetto or Mercato Centrale. Then they make their way around the city to go dancing and get a bite here and there. Dinner doesn't normally start until midnight. There's no such thing as eating too late.

And guess what? They eat churros con chocolate as a "one for the road" at 5am! Something to warm the stomach as one heads home to sleep. Now that's what I call a complete night out.

Here in Manila, you can have your fill of close-to-authentic churros con chocolate at Dulcinea. Not at dawn, though, but just as good. I remember sharing these crunchy treats dipped in hot chocolate with my Mom as a break from shopping at the mall. I've been missing her lately so I decided to make churros con chocolate at home. It's not the same ordering it at Dulcinea without her.

This recipe was adapted from the Food Network.

Churros con Chocolate

1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
4 cups oil for frying
1/4 cup refined sugar
ground cinnamon (optional)

Hot chocolate
4 pieces tablea chocolate
2 cups fresh milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup refined sugar


To make the churro dough, heat the water, margarine, and salt to a rolling boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the flour and stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, approximately 1 minute and remove from heat. Beat eggs until smooth and add to the saucepan while stirring the mixture.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a star tip. Squeeze 4-inch strips of dough into the hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and roll the churros in the sugar mixture. Set aside until ready to serve.

To prepare the hot chocolate for dipping, place the chocolate and half the milk in a saucepan over very low heat and cook, stirring, until the chocolate has melted. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk and whisk into the chocolate with the sugar. Cook on low heat, whisking constantly until the chocolate thickens, approximately 5 minutes. Remove and whisk until smooth. Pour chocolate into cups and serve with churros.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Nutella® Chocolate Mug Cake

There are days (a lot of them lately) when I simply don't want to bake because of the summer heat and the crazy price of LPG. So when the kids and I saw a post from Casa Veneracion about microwave chocolate cupcakes, we decided to try it for our Sunday dinner dessert. The kids had so many ideas. They wanted to put M & M's, gum, cookies and cream chocolate, etc. It was hilarious. Finally, we all agreed on Nutella and a few M &M's for the little ones' cups.

I made a few changes to the original recipe to put a personal spin to it. It's a pretty simple procedure even the kids can do it. Supervised, of course.

Nutella® Chocolate Mug Cake

7 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup refined sugar
1 tablespoon coffee granules
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh milk
2 to 3 teaspoons Nutella® chocolate hazelnut spread
dusting of confectioner's powdered sugar

  1. Combine all ingredients except Nutella in a bowl mixing until smooth.
  2. Divide between two mugs or 3 tea cups (Make sure the mugs you use are microwave-safe!).
  3. Drop a teaspoon of Nutella in the mug. Push down with a teaspoon.
  4. Microwave on High for 1.5 to 2 minutes.
  5. Cool 10 minutes. (They are way too hot served immediately.)
  6. Dust tops with powdered sugar before serving.
This is also yummy when served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. The hot and cold combination is just superb. A word to the wise, a mug cake is meant to be shared. One serving is huge!