Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Daring Baker's Challenge

First time baking flourless chocolate cake, and I paired it with a Ginger-Honey ice cream [adapted from The Kitchen Sink's recipe], made by hand =)

Frankly speaking, while the cake wasn't bad, I still prefer flour (?) cakes. The usual chocolate cakes have a more robust feel and taste to it that a flourless cake lacks. Also, they achieve greater heights and is fluffy-er, which I love.

While most daring bakers seem to think that the cake is rich and dense, I found the cake to be more delicate than a usual chocolate cake. Very very dark, yes, thanks to my 70% dark chocolate, but also delicate and light on the palatte, so much so that the ginger ice cream over-whelmed the taste of the cake.

I also over-whipped the eggwhites, which resulted in a too-dry cake. However, it kinda moistened up the next day, which is surprising, in a good way.

I don't think this cake needs anything more than a heap spoonful of good old fashion fruit preserve =) Thanks to Dharm and Wendy for a wonderful challenge!

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Chocolate Valentino [or: Easy peasy flourless chocolate cake]

Preparation Time: 20 minutes


16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped

½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter

5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}

8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C

9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.

10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Deep fried Nian Gao

Nian gao [年糕] is kind of a caramel sticky cakey thing that really has few equivalent in Western culture. It is intensely sweet, very sticky and comes wrapped in lotus leaves. The Chinese buy it at Chinese New Year, because it's name has auspicious connotations [something like the coming year will be a successful one], but we usually don't eat it, and just let it get mouldy [which has auspicious connotations as well, believe it or not] before throwing it out.

And if we do eat it, there's only one way to do so: sandwiched between slices of yam and sweet potato, battered and deep fried. As my mom is strongly against deep-frying at home, we only get to eat it when my aunts are nice enough to bring some over for us. When the yams and potatos are sliced thin enough, when the nian gao is still warm enough to be melted, gooey and delicious, this is a treat to die for.
This year, however, I managed to convince my mom to let me try and deep fry some of our own. It's my first-ever attempt at deep frying anything, and I have to say its really fun! Especially when there's someone to do the clean up after =P
I used the batter recipe from Cheap Eat, with some modification. My nian gao was 400g, I added 200g for my yam and sweet potato, so I made 6 batches of batter. I halved the number of eggs, because I thought 6 eggs in a batter is ridiculous, and still ended up with an excess of batter. Not too much, around 1 batch, I would say.
The verdict? The fried nian gaos deflated and went soft as soon as it cooled, all hints of crispiness gone with the heat. In all fairness, every other nian gao I've ever had behaved in the same way, unless they are pen-fried again before serving, so I guess the recipe is OK =)
And then, there were these fellas:

With the leftover batter, I dipped and deep fried some chocolate mint squares! I was just curious about what the result would be like =P They were nice, melty gooey chocolate in a batter casing. But, again, disappointingly, they didn't stay crisp =)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Kueh Bahulu Tiramisu

This happened all because I was munching on a kueh bahulu while searching for a tiramisu recipe. I was looking for something to make to bring to a girlfriends sleep-over, and thought that tiramisu would be a great idea, since the theme was booze, and anything boozy was welcomed

One of the recipe I was going through emphasized how important it was to use only Italian sponge fingers. As always, when someone says 'impossible', I think 'really???'

And then my brain wondered over first to the kueh I'm munching, and then to that giant container of the kueh we have leftover from the Chinese New Year festivities, and the proverbial light bulb went off in my head.

I don't know if anyone has ever noticed, but kueh bahulu is really similar to Italian sponge fingers. They both have a crisp, almost hard outter shell with a softer, but still dry inner sponge. The only difference laid in the shape, which did made it a little tricky.

The result: I thought it tasted really good. In fact, I would say that it suited my taste even better than the sponge fingers, because the kueh is a little more substantial than the fingers, and holds its shape and texture a lot better than the fingers, so you can taste the cake-like texture even days after the tiramisu was made. I've always found restaurant tiramisu to be too soft, with the sponge layer almost disappearing into the cream. I will definitely use this in all future tiramisu.

However, if you are a fan of that exact melt-in-your-mouth texture, like my sister, this then might not be as palatable. My sister found the kueh a little denser than the fingers. But, when all's said and done, if you can use up left-over kueh, [or save a lot of money; these kuehs costs like S$1 for 12] and get a bucketful of fantastic tiramisu, I think its worth a shot

Amelia's very light, very very boozy kueh bahulu tiramisu


25 - 30 kueh bahulu

3 egg whites [if you are uncomfortable with raw eggs substitute with mascapone or cream. This is cheaper and less fattening, since mascapone costs a bomb and cream is fattening]

1 cup of sugar/2 1/2 cup of icing sugar

400 ml whipping cream

250ml mascapone cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup booze [whatever kind you have. Brandy/Cognac/rum, whatever]

1/2 cup coffee liqueur [replace half with expresso if you don't want it ultra boozy. I was making it for girls night in, so of course we wanted it extra boozy]

  1. Quarter the kueh if you don't mind chunks, or cut into slices if you want nice layers. Lay down the first layer and brush with the coffee liqueur
  2. Whip cream til stiff peak. [google for tips if its your first time. Seriously, unless u want butter] Set aside in fridge.
  3. Beat egg whites until soft peak, beat in sugar little by little to make a stiff meringue.
  4. Beat the rum/whatever a third at a time into the meringue. It'll deflate a little, but its fine. If it starts looking very watery, hold the rest of the booze.
  5. Stir the cheese into the egg white mixture until smooth. Stir any left-over booze into the mixture now.
  6. Mix a bit of the whipped cream into the mixture to lighten it first, before folding the rest of the cream into the mixture gently. Don't kill yourself trying to keep everything inflated. Lightness here is a bonus not a necessity.
  7. Spoon over the kueh to make the first layer, and repeat with as many layers as you want.
  8. Tastes best left overnight in the fridge. Just before serving, dust top with cocoa powder or shaved/grated chocolate